Criticism of Mormonism/Books/The Kingdom of the Cults (Revised)/Index

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Index to claims made in The Kingdom of the Cults (Revised edition)

A FairMormon Analysis of: The Kingdom of the Cults (Revised), a work by author: Walter Martin, Hank Hanegraaff (editor)

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This is an index of claims made in this work with links to corresponding responses within FairMormon Answers. An effort has been made to provide the author's original sources where possible. This index only treats the section of the book dealing with Mormonism.

Response to claim: 179 - the Mormons have around 50,000 "missionaries" active today

The author(s) of The Kingdom of the Cults make(s) the following claim:

 Author's quote: In keeping with the acceleration of cult propaganda everywhere, the Mormons have around 50,000 "missionaries" active today

Author's sources:
  1. Author's opinion

FairMormon Response

Fact checking results: This claim contains propaganda - 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

Why the scare quotes around the word 'missionaries?' If they aren't missionaries, then what are they?


Response to claim: 180 - The book claims that Latter-day Saints are cautioned against the use of "caffeine-bearing drinks, such as Coca-Cola"

The author(s) of The Kingdom of the Cults make(s) the following claim:

The book claims that Latter-day Saints are cautioned against the use of "caffeine-bearing drinks, such as Coca-Cola."

Author's sources:
  1. No source provided.

FairMormon Response

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

Cautioned yes. Prohibited, no.


Question: Is it true that Mormons are forbidden from drinking cola drinks such as Coke, Pepsi and Dr Pepper?

Many members of the Church choose to abstain from cola drinks as part of their personal application of the Word of Wisdom, however, the use of cola products does not result in a restriction of Church privileges

Many members of the Church choose to abstain from cola drinks as part of their personal application of the Word of Wisdom. But, use of cola products per se does not result in a restriction of Church privileges, while the use of coffee, tea, tobacco, alcohol, or illicit drugs certainly would. Abuse of caffeine (or any other drug or substance) would, however, certainly contradict the spirit and intent of the Word of Wisdom.

Spencer W. Kimball made his own and the Church's view of cola drinks clear:

I never drink any of the cola drinks and my personal hope would be that no one would. However, they are not included in the Word of Wisdom in its technical application. I quote from a letter from the secretary to the First Presidency, 'But the spirit of the Word of Wisdom would be violated by the drinking or eating of anything that contained a habit-forming drug.' With reference to the cola drinks, the Church has never officially taken any attitude on this at but I personally do not put them in the class as with the tea and coffee because the Lord specifically mentioned them [the hot drinks].[1]

Bruce R. McConkie observed:

Some unstable people become cranks...There is no prohibition in Section 89 as to the eating of white sugar, cocoa, chocolate...or anything else except items classified under tea, coffee, tobacco and liquor. If some particular food disagrees with an individual, then that person should act accordingly without reference to the prohibitions in this particular law of health.[2]

President Heber J. Grant was encouraged to forbid cola drinks officially, but declined to do so:

On October 15, 1924, representatives of the Coca-Cola Company called on President Grant to complain that non-Mormon Dr. T. B. Beatty, state Health Director, was using the church organization to assist in an attack on Coca-Cola. They asked President Grant to stop him, but he refused at first, saying that he himself had advised Mormons not to drink the beverage. Beatty, however, had been claiming that there was four to five times as much caffeine in Coke as in coffee, when in fact, as the representatives showed, there were approximately 1.7 grains in a cup of coffee and approximately .43 grains or about a fourth as much in a equivalent amount of Coke. After a second meeting, President Grant said that he was "sure I have not the slightest desire to recommend that the people leave Coca-Cola alone if this amount is absolutely harmless, which they claim it is." Beatty, however, insisted that he would still recommend against its use by children. The question was left unresolved, and evidence indicates that while the First Presidency has taken no official stand on the use of cola drinks, some members urge abstinence.[3]

The Ensign included a wise caution in Dec 2008:

...the Word of Wisdom does not specifically prohibit caffeine. However, I believe that if we follow the spirit of the Word of Wisdom we will be very careful about what we consume, particularly any substance that can have a negative impact on our bodies. This is true regarding any drug, substance, or even food that may be damaging to one's health. This includes caffeine.[4]

Official statement of policy from the First Presidency regarding cola drinks

An official statement of policy from the First Presidency is available:

With reference to cola drinks, the Church has never officially taken a position on this matter, but the leaders of the Church have advised, and we do now specifically advise, against the use of any drink containing harmful habit-forming drugs under circumstances that would result in acquiring the habit. Any beverage that contains ingredients harmful to the body should be avoided.[5]

The Church Handbook of Instructions: "The only official interpretation of “hot drinks” (D&C 89:9) in the Word of Wisdom is the statement made by early Church leaders that the term “hot drinks” means tea and coffee"

The 2010 Church Handbook of Instructions notes:

The only official interpretation of “hot drinks” (D&C 89:9) in the Word of Wisdom is the statement made by early Church leaders that the term “hot drinks” means tea and coffee.

Members should not use any substance that contains illegal drugs. Nor should members use harmful or habit-forming substances except under the care of a competent physician.[6]

See also: Thomas J. Boud, MD, "The Energy Drink Epidemic," Ensign, December 2008. off-site


Response to claim: 181 - Tithing is claimed to be one-tenth of gross income

The author(s) of The Kingdom of the Cults make(s) the following claim:

Tithing is claimed to be one-tenth of gross income.

Author's sources:
  1. No source provided.

FairMormon Response

Fact checking results: This claim is false

The First Presidency has issued the following statement about what constitutes tithing:

The simplest statement we know of is the statement of the Lord himself, namely, that the members of the Church should pay ‘one-tenth of all their interest annually,’ which is understood to mean income. No one is justified in making any other statement than this.[7]

Whether a member interprets "income" as "gross," "net," or some other way is up to them. If "no one" is entitled to make any other statement, surely that includes anti-Mormon authors!


Question: Can one pay tithing on only net or surplus income and still be a temple worthy and faithful Latter-day Saint?

First Presidency statement: "The simplest statement we know of is the statement of the Lord himself, namely, that the members of the Church should pay 'one-tenth of all their interest annually,' which is understood to mean income"

Members of the Church covenant to pay tithing—the word comes from "tithe," meaning "a tenth."

This has naturally led to the question, "A tenth of what? Gross income? Net income? Pre-tax? Post-tax?"

Quite simply, the method is left up to the individual. The First Presidency issued the following statement in 1970, which is repeated the current (2006) Church Handbook of Instructions:

The simplest statement we know of is the statement of the Lord himself, namely, that the members of the Church should pay 'one-tenth of all their interest annually,' which is understood to mean income. No one is justified in making any other statement than this. [8]

No member is ever to be told how to calculate their tithing

Each member is to prayerfully decide how to interpret this statement. No member is ever to be told how to calculate their tithing. No member is authorized to tell another how to pay tithing.

Each year, members of the Church meet with their bishop and declare their tithing status—they either indicate that they are full tithe payers, or not. No questions are asked about the means whereby this is determined—such matters are between the member and the Lord.

Anyone who claims otherwise bears the burden of proof, and should be required to produce a statement which differs from the First Presidency's statement of 1970, to which leaders have repeatedly appealed since. This includes the most recent Church handbook.[9]


Response to claim: 181, n3 - Utah "shows that rates of divorce, child abuse, teenage pregnancy, and suicide are above the national average and climbing"

The author(s) of The Kingdom of the Cults make(s) the following claim:

Utah "shows that rates of divorce, child abuse, teenage pregnancy, and suicide are above the national average and climbing."

Author's sources:
  1. No source provided.

FairMormon Response

Fact checking results: This claim contains propaganda - 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

If the same faulty logic is applied to Evangelicals as is applied to Mormons in this case, they do not fare well either.


Question: Is the suicide rate in Utah higher than the national average?

On a geographical basis, Utah performs well on low rates of suicide

It is claimed by some that the suicide rate in Utah is higher than the national average, and that this demonstrates that being a Latter-day Saint is psychologically unhealthy.

On a geographical basis, Utah performs well on low rates of suicide. This may be correlated to the willingness of Utah's population to seek treatment, as evidenced by rates of anti-depressant medication prescription. (See LDS antidepressant use.) Religion is generally protective against suicide, and studies on Latter-day Saints bear this out.

It is unfortunate that critics wish to trivialize a serious problem such as suicide—a leading cause of death in the United States—by using it as a club to beat a specific religion. They do this without any data implicating the Church, and much data which argues against the patients' religion as a causative factor.

Religion is generally a patient's ally in mental health. Cheap slogans and finger pointing do nothing to help address the real problems faced by the mentally ill who are at risk of depression, schizophrenia, and other risk factors for suicide. While Utah does well in comparison to its neighbors, there is clearly much to be done to understand the western United States' higher suicide rates, and to help lower the rates of suicide and attempted suicide nationally and internationally.

Critics should avoid concluding that Utah data = Mormon data. This is often not true, and in this case the Mormon influence may be lowering Utah's suicide rates below those of its neighboring states.

If we follow the flawed logic of the critics, one is better off as an American by not being a Southern Baptist, since states in which they are the most common religion almost always have worse suicide rates than the nation as a whole. Clearly this logic is specious and ought to be rejected.

Note that the intermountain and western US has consistently higher suicide rates than most other states. The "suicide belt" shown here has been noted, however, since at least the 1980s (see Seiden, "Death in the West," (1984) cited below in endnotes). Source of data:McIntosh (2004), cited below. Map by Mike Parker for FAIR, © 2007.

As is often the case, critics do not tell the whole story.

The data underlying this attack come from U.S. death data. Studies of cause of death (using ICD-10 codes X60-X84, Y87.0) have been extracted by state. In 2002, Utah ranked #11 (tied with Oregon) in the nation for number of suicides per 100,000 people in the population.[10]

It has long been recognized that the intermountain United States — Montana, Idaho, Wyoming, Colorado, Utah, Nevada, Arizona, and New Mexico — has a higher suicide rate than the rest of the country

It has long been recognized that the intermountain United States — Montana, Idaho, Wyoming, Colorado, Utah, Nevada, Arizona, and New Mexico — has a higher suicide rate than the rest of the country, in what has been labeled the "suicide belt."[11] The reasons for this are not entirely clear, though numerous theories have been advanced.[12]

Of these high-risk states, Utah has one of the lowest suicide rates

The critics also do not tell us that of these high-risk states, Utah has one of the lowest suicide rates:

State Rank (1 is worst)
2002 data
Suicide rate per 100,000
2002 Data
Rank (1 is worst)
2004 data
Suicide rate per 100,000
2004 Data
Wyoming
1
21.1
5
17.4
Montana
3
20.2
2
18.9
Nevada
4
19.5
3
18.9
New Mexico
5
18.8
4
18.7
Arizona
6
16.2
11
15.3
Colorado
7
16.1
6
17.3
Idaho
9
15.2
7
16.9
Utah
11
14.7
9
15.6

(Note that relatively small numbers can make rankings fluctuate from year to year, and that aggregate data from several years is the most reliable measure of suicide rates.)[13]

Government studies on suicide rate do not cite religion or spiritual beliefs

Critics hope that by condemning Utah, readers will condemn the LDS Church by association.

However, government studies on suicide rate do not cite religion or spiritual beliefs. One cannot extrapolate from these data and presume that the LDS population is the "reason" for the higher suicide rates. Since the suicide rates are lower than the surrounding north western states, one could just as easily conclude that the LDS Church protects against suicide!

Critics also ignore that religion is generally a protective factor against suicide; religions provide both social support for people who are struggling, and religious beliefs which condemn suicide can be a disincentive to acting on suicidal thoughts.[14] Studies of "high religious groups" (including LDS) have shown benefits for emotional maturity, self-esteem, and lower depression rates.[15] Studies of countries with high levels of religious belief have shown a correlation with lower rates of suicide.[16]

Some studies of LDS patients and non-LDS patients have shown no differences in the rate of suicidality based on being homemakers and working outside of the home.[17] Suicide rates in LDS patients went down as their religious involvement went up.[18] Inactive LDS males experience a suicide rate roughly four times that of active LDS males. Non-LDS males experience a suicide rate roughly six times that of active LDS males.[19]:177 This same research shows that U.S. white males (aged 20-34) had suicide rates two and one-half to seven times that of active LDS males of equal age. Active LDS males, aged 15–19, have an equal suicide rate to that of national rates.[19]:179

Evangelical Christians and suicide

Since many of the critics who attack the Church on this issue are conservative Evangelical protestants, it is perhaps fair to ask how well Evangelicals fare on measures of mental health when the same shoddy methodology is applied to them.

If we play the same game as the evangelical critics, we could choose the states with high concentrations of conservative Protestants. There are thirteen states in which the Southern Baptist Convention has more congregations than any other denomination.[20] The suicide rates for these states are tabulated below:[21]

State Rank (1 is worst)
2004 data
Suicide rate per 100,000
2004 Data
US National average > 36 11.1
Alabama 24 12.1
Arkansas 20 13.1
Florida 15 13.7
Georgia 36 10.9
Kentucky 16 (tie) 13.5
Louisiana 27 11.9
Mississippi 23 12.1
Missouri 22 12.4
North Carolina 14 12.0
Oklahoma 14 14.4
South Carolina 19 11.5
Tennessee 18 (tie) 13.4
Texas 39 10.2
Utah 9 15.6

All but three of these states are in the top half of suicides, and all but two (Georgia at 10.9 and Texas at 10.2/100,000) are above the national average.

A closer look at the numbers shows that supposedly "Mormon" Utah is not that different from the "conservative Protestant Bible belt"

A closer look at the numbers shows that supposedly "Mormon" Utah is not that different from the "conservative Protestant Bible belt."

The relatively low numbers of suicides, when compared to the whole population, can mislead us. Utah ranks #9, and Texas fares best at #39. Utah's 2006 population was estimated by the U.S. Census Bureau at 2,550,063.[22] We can thus calculate:

The difference between the rates is: 15.6 - 10.2/100,000 = 5.4/100,000.

Number of "units" of 100,000 people: 2,550,063 / 100,000 = 25.5

Number of "additional" suicides compared to Texas: 25.5 units of /100,000 x 5.4/100,000 = 138 suicides

Thus, Utah's higher suicide rate results in 138 more suicides than it would if it had the rate of Texas. Each suicide is a tragedy, but these relatively small figures demonstrate how cautious we must be creating "single cause" models of a complex phenomenon like suicide, since small shifts in numbers (Utah had only 377 suicides in 2004, versus 2300 for Texas) can markedly impact rates.

It is far more likely, that (as with Utah) the higher-than-average suicide rates of the thirteen states examined above are due to factors which they share with the intermountain west, such as lower population densities, a more rural lifestyle, etc. And, just as active membership in the LDS faith is protective against suicide, so too membership in conservative Christian denominations likely has similar psychological benefits.


Response to claim: 182 - "Mormons...flourish a pseudo-mastery of Scripture before the uninformed Christian's dazzled eyes"

The author(s) of The Kingdom of the Cults make(s) the following claim:

 Author's quote: Mormons…flourish a pseudo-mastery of Scripture before the uninformed Christian's dazzled eyes and confuse him, sometimes beyond description.

Author's sources:
  1. Author's opinion

FairMormon Response

Fact checking results: This claim contains propaganda - 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

One wonders if this is intended to discourage conservative Christians from even considering scriptural evidence from a Mormon.


Response to claim: 182 - The book refers to the "young and boastful Joseph Smith"

The author(s) of The Kingdom of the Cults make(s) the following claim:

The book refers to the "young and boastful Joseph Smith…"

Author's sources:
  1. No source provided.

FairMormon Response

Fact checking results: This claim contains propaganda - 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


Question: Was Joseph Smith prone to boasting?

Joseph made a statement that sounded boastful, and unbecoming a prophet

Joseph Smith is reported as saying:

I have more to boast of than ever any man had. I am the only man that has ever been able to keep a whole church together since the days of Adam... Neither Paul, John, Peter, nor Jesus ever did it. I boast that no man ever did such work as I. The followers of Jesus ran away from Him; but the Latter-day Saints never ran away from me yet.” (History of the Church, 6:408–409. Volume 6 link

This attitude strikes some as boastful, and unbecoming a prophet.

There are two issues here:

Joseph's quote, if accurate, is taken out of context

Assuming that the quote is accurate in History of the Church, it is evident that Joseph's quote is taken out of context. What was Joseph's intent, and why did he use this approach? As it turns out, he was drawing from the Bible and applying its lessons to his own situation. In the original context, Joseph was facing intense persecution by many people, including some he had previously considered to be his friends. The statement about "boasting" was supposedly made about a month before he was killed. He made it after reading 2 Corinthians 11: to the congregation. Note the following statement by Paul, in this scripture:

Paul: "let no one think me foolish; but if you do, receive me even as foolish, that I also may boast a little"

Again I say, let no one think me foolish; but if you do, receive me even as foolish, that I also may boast a little. That which I am speaking, I am not speaking it as the Lord would, but as in foolishness, in this confidence of boasting. Since many boast according to the flesh, I will boast also. For you, being so wise, bear the foolish gladly. (2 Corinthians 11:16-19, NASB)

Paul then launches into a literary tirade where he claims many things to make himself look the fool, to contrast himself with those who the Corinthians were listening to for their words of salvation, instead of to him. His words were meant to compare and contrast what the Saints at Corinth were doing against what he was offering.

Joseph employed the exact same literary approach that Paul the Apostle did

Do the critics dismiss the words of Paul and deny his calling as an Apostle because he used such a literary approach that included boasting? No, they do not. Yet, they dismiss Joseph Smith when it is clear by his own statements, in context, that he engaged in the exact same literary approach. Consider the words of Joseph right after reading this chapter of Paul's to the congregation:

My object is to let you know that I am right here on the spot where I intend to stay. I, like Paul, have been in perils, and oftener than anyone in this generation. As Paul boasted, I have suffered more than Paul did, I should be like a fish out of water, if I were out of persecutions. Perhaps my brethren think it requires all this to keep me humble. The Lord has constituted me curiously that I glory in persecution. I am not nearly so humble as if I were not persecuted. If oppression will make a wise man mad, much more a fool. If they want a beardless boy to whip all the world, I will get on the top of a mountain and crow like a rooster: I shall always beat them. When facts are proved, truth and innocence will prevail at last. My enemies are no philosophers: they think that when they have my spoke under, they will keep me down; but for the fools, I will hold on and fly over them.[23]

It would appear that Paul recognizes the necessity of boasting at times against the wicked and hard-hearted

Joseph then makes the statements that the critics attack, in the same way that Paul made outrageous "boasts" to contrast his position with the position of those who the Corinthians were starting to listen to. Paul starts the next chapter of 2 Corinthians with the statement "boasting is necessary, though it is not profitable." So, it would appear that Paul recognizes the necessity of boasting at times against the wicked and hard-hearted (though it may do little good, being unprofitable), yet the critics do not allow Joseph to follow Paul's advice and, of necessity, boast at times.

Perhaps the critics are unaware of Paul's advice? Or perhaps they apply a double standard where Paul is allowed such literary and rhetorical license, but Joseph is not?

Such double standards are, sadly, the stock-in-trade of sectarian anti-Mormonism.

In short, Joseph is using the scripture in Paul as a counter-argument (or a rhetorical device)--he is responding to his critics, and demonstrating that (as with Paul) true messengers from God are often persecuted by those who should listen, while the false and apostate are praised.


Response to claim: 182 - Joseph Smith's statement that "no man knows my history" resulted in "endless suspicion by Mormon historians and non-Mormons"

The author(s) of The Kingdom of the Cults make(s) the following claim:

It is claimed that Joseph Smith's statement that "no man knows my history" resulted in "endless suspicion by Mormon historians and non-Mormons" who began researching it.

Author's sources:
  1. No source provided.

FairMormon Response

Fact checking results: This claim contains propaganda - 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 is an absurd claim: The history of the Church has been of intense interest to historians since the Church was formed.


Response to claim: 182 - Joseph Smith practiced "occult peep-stone seeking"

The author(s) of The Kingdom of the Cults make(s) the following claim:

Joseph Smith practiced "occult peep-stone seeking."

Author's sources:
  1. No source provided.

FairMormon Response

Fact checking results: This claim contains propaganda - 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


Question: Were Joseph Smith's spiritual experiences originally products of magic and the occult?

Joseph's family believed in folk magic, and that Joseph himself used several different seer stones in order to locate lost objects

It is a known fact that Joseph's family believed in folk magic, and that Joseph himself used several different seer stones in order to locate lost objects.[24] Brant Gardner notes,

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.

Joseph's family shared folk magic beliefs that were common to the day. Joseph's mother, Lucy, felt it important to note in her history that the family did not let these magical endeavors prevent the family from doing the necessary work to survive:

But let not my reader suppose that, because I shall pursue another topic for a season, that we stopped our labor and went at trying to win the faculty of Abrac, drawing Magic circles or sooth saying to the neglect of all kinds of business. We never during our lives suffered one important interest to swallow up every other obligation. But, whilst we worked with our hands, we endeavored to remember the service of, and the welfare of our souls.[25]

Joseph's involvement with Josiah Stowell's attempt to locate a lost Spanish treasure is well documented in Church history

Stowell requested Joseph's assistance in a mining operation looking for old coins and precious metals. This effort, in fact, resulted in charges being brought against Joseph by Stowell's relatives for being a "glasslooker" in 1826. Joseph was ultimately charged with being a "disorderly person" and released. (For more detailed information, see: Joseph Smith's 1826 glasslooking trial)

Some, however, believe that all of Joseph's early spiritual experiences, particularly the First Vision and the visit of Moroni, were originally magical or occult experiences that were only later couched in spiritual terms. For example, the Hurlbut affidavits relate stories of Moroni's visit that cast the angel in the role of spiritual treasure guardian, with one (Willard Chase) even claiming that the angel appeared in the form of a toad.

D. Michael Quinn has been the most prolific author on the subject of "magic" influences on the origins of Mormonism. According to William Hamblin:

Quinn's overall thesis is that Joseph Smith and other early Latter-day Saint leaders were fundamentally influenced by occult and magical thought, books, and practices in the founding of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. This is unmitigated nonsense. Yet the fact that Quinn could not discover a single primary source written by Latter-day Saints that makes any positive statement about magic is hardly dissuasive to a historian of Quinn's inventive capacity.[26]

Joseph Smith and his followers undoubtedly believed in supernatural power

Joseph Smith and his followers undoubtedly believed in supernatural power. And, they may have had some ideas about how to access that power that now strike us as inaccurate and even strange. This is not surprising, given the two centuries and massive scientific advances which separate our culture from theirs. However, there is no evidence that Joseph and others considered these things to be "magic," or the "occult," nor did they consider "magic" or the "occult" to be positive things.


Response to claim: 182 - Joseph Smith practices "treasure digging"

The author(s) of The Kingdom of the Cults make(s) the following claim:

Joseph Smith practices "treasure digging."

Author's sources:
  1. No source provided.

FairMormon Response

Fact checking results: This claim contains propaganda - 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


Question: Was Joseph Smith's participation in "money digging" as a youth a blot on his character?

Money digging was a popular, common and accepted practice in their frontier culture

Joseph Smith and some members of his family participated in "money digging" or looking for buried treasure as a youth. This was a common and accepted practice in their frontier culture, though the Smiths do not seem to have been involved to the extent claimed by some of the exaggerated attacks upon them by former neighbors.

In the young Joseph Smith's time and place, "money digging" was a popular, and sometimes respected activity. When Joseph was 16, the Palmyra Herald printed such remarks.

The local newspapers reported on "money digging" activities

  • "digging for money hid in the earth is a very common thing and in this state it is even considered as honorable and profitable employment"
  • "One gentleman...digging...ten to twelve years, found a sufficient quantity of money to build him a commodious house.
  • "another...dug up...fifty thousand dollars!" [27]

And, in 1825 the Wayne Sentinel in Palmyra reported that buried treasure had been found "by the help of a mineral stone, (which becomes transparent when placed in a hat and the light excluded by the face of him who looks into it)." [28]

The Smith's attitude toward treasure digging was similar to a modern attitudes toward gambling, or buying a lottery ticket

Given the financial difficulties under which the Smith family labored, it would hardly be surprising that they might hope for such a reversal in their fortunes. Richard Bushman has compared the Smith's attitude toward treasure digging with a modern attitudes toward gambling, or buying a lottery ticket. Bushman points out that looking for treasure had little stigma attached to it among all classes in the 17th century, and continued to be respectable among the lower classes into the 18th and 19th. [29]

Despite the claims of critics, it is not clear that Joseph and his family saw their activities as "magical."

For a detailed response, see: Joseph Smith/Occultism and magic


W.I. Appleby (1843): "If Mr. Smith dug for money he considered it was a more honorable way of getting it than taking it from the widow and orphan"

W.I. Appleby:

If Mr. Smith dug for money he considered it was a more honorable way of getting it than taking it from the widow and orphan; but few lazy, hireling priests of this age, would dig either for money or potatoes.[30]


Joseph Smith (1838): "Was not Joseph Smith a money digger?"

Joseph's tongue-in-cheek response to one of a list of questions that were asked of him during a visit at Elder Cahoon's home:

Was not Joseph Smith a money digger? Yes, but it was never a very profitable job for him, as he only got fourteen dollars a month for it.[31]


Response to claim: 182 - Joseph Smith committed "adultery before the polygamy prophecy"

The author(s) of The Kingdom of the Cults make(s) the following claim:

Joseph Smith committed "adultery before the polygamy prophecy."

Author's sources:
  1. No source provided.

FairMormon Response

Fact checking results: This claim contains propaganda - 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


Question: What is Lorenzo Snow claimed to have said about plural marriages being adultery prior to 1843?

One critic of the Church attributes the following quote to Lorenzo Snow during the Temple Lot Case:

A man that violated this law in the Doctrine and Covenants, 1835 edition, until the acceptance of that revelation by the church, violated the law of the church if he practiced plural marriage. Yes sir, he would have been cut off from the church, I think I should have been if I had. Before the giving of that revelation in 1843 if a man married more wives than one who were living at the same time, he would have been cut off from the church. It would have been adultery under the laws of the church and under the laws of the state, too. – Temple Lot Case, p.320-322 [Bold and italics by the author.]

The critic concludes:

According to Lorenzo Snow, Joseph had zero business marrying his plural wives before 1843 and he should have been cut off from the Church as it was adultery under the laws of the Church and under the laws of the State. Joseph’s marriage to Fanny Alger in 1833 was illegal under both the laws of the land and under any theory of divine authority; it was adultery.” [32]


Question: Did Lorenzo Snow state that polygamy was actually adultery prior to 1843?

Lorenzo Snow did not state that polygamy was adultery prior to 1843

Brian Hales responds to this assertion:

One example of the weaknesses that are repeated over and over in his essay is illustrated when Runnells allegedly quotes Lorenzo Snow’s 1892 Temple Lot deposition. According to Runnells, Snow gave this testimony:

A man that violated this law in the Doctrine and Covenants, 1835 edition, until the acceptance of that revelation by the church, violated the law of the church if he practiced plural marriage. Yes sir, he would have been cut off from the church, I think I should have been if I had. Before the giving of that revelation in 1843 if a man married more wives than one who were living at the same time, he would have been cut off from the church. It would have been adultery under the laws of the church and under the laws of the state, too. – Temple Lot Case, p.320–322 [Bold and italics by Runnells.]

Then Runnells concludes:

According to Lorenzo Snow, Joseph had zero business marrying his plural wives before 1843 and he should have been cut off from the Church as it was adultery under the laws of the Church and under the laws of the State. Joseph’s marriage to Fanny Alger in 1833 was illegal under both the laws of the land and under any theory of divine authority; it was adultery.”

It is obvious Runnells never viewed the actual 1892 Temple Lot deposition transcripts. Curiously, the last sentence in the paragraph above, the one that he emphasized with bold and italics, is incorrectly cited. Importantly, the words “and under the laws of the state too” are fabrication.[33] They are not in the original transcript; that is, Lorenzo Snow did not say them so far as any record is concerned. Notwithstanding, Runnells confidently asserts: “According to Lorenzo Snow, Joseph had zero business marrying his plural wives before 1843.” If Runnells had actually consulted the depositions, which are available at the Church History Library, he would have learned that later in that same deposition, RLDS attorney Kelley questioned Snow who directly disagreed with Runnells’ conclusion:

Q. Could he [Joseph Smith] receive a revelation and act upon it, that was contrary in its teachings and provisions to the laws of the church to govern the church, without a violation of those laws?

A. Yes sir, I see that distinctly and understand it and I want you to understand it too. [34]

This sort of problematic research and writing is common throughout the remainder of Runnells’ treatment of Joseph Smith’s plural marriages raising important questions regarding the accuracy and credibility of his conclusions.

Rather than provide a point-by-point rebuttal to Runnells’ claims, it might be most beneficial to refer him and other readers to JosephSmithsPolygamy.org where he can find the latest research dealing with all controversial topics regarding Joseph Smith’s Polygamy including supposed polyandry, young wives, Fanny Alger, sexuality, polygamy denials, Joseph’s interactions with Emma Smith, and other historical and theological considerations. [35]


Question: Are the original Temple Lot Case transcripts available online?

The original 1650-page transcripts were not available online until recently. Only a 507-page abstract was available online prior to this

The original 1650-page Temple Lot Case transcripts were not available anywhere online until recently. They are now available online at the Church History Library at the following link: MS 1160: United States testimony 1892, Church History Library, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

All that was previously available online, which was commonly cited, were abstract summary transcripts (507 pages) which have been heavily edited by the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (now the Community of Christ). The edited transcripts that were available online were published by the RLDS Church and contain information that is not present in the original transcript. (see The Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, Complainant, Vs. the Church of Christ at Independence, Missouri [36])

A quote from the 507 page abstract is used by critics of the Church to prove that Lorenzo Snow claimed adultery

Here is the quote used by one critic of the Church, which is taken from the 507-page Abstract of Evidence Temple Lot Case:

[Question] A man that violated this law in the Doctrine and Covenants, 1835 edition, until the acceptance of that revelation by the church, violated the law of the church if he practiced plural marriage.
[Answer by Lorenzo Snow] Yes sir, he would have been cut off from the church, I think I should have been if I had. Before the giving of that revelation in 1843 if a man married more wives than one who were living at the same time, he would have been cut off from the church. It would have been adultery under the laws of the church and under the laws of the state, too. [37]

A scan of the relevant portion of page 320 of the Abstract of Evidence Temple Lot Case

The source of the edited quote in the original transcript is quite different from that in the abstract, and does not contain the statement about adultery

Here is the source of the heavily edited quote as it exists in the original 1650-page Temple Lot case transcript:

Page 128

321 Q. Could he [Joseph Smith] receive a revelation and act upon it, that was contrary in its teachings and provisions to the laws of the church to govern the church, without a violation of those laws?

A. Yes sir, I see that distinctly and understand it and I want you to understand it too.

323 Q. Could Joseph Smith receive a revelation and act upon it that was contrary in its teachings and provisions to the laws of the church as accepted by the church at that time, without being at the same time in violation of the laws of the church?

A. Why he might do so. Joseph Smith did, but I don’t consider he was a violator of any of the laws of the church, for he was the law of the church. I never knew of the church rejecting a revelation he gave to them. [38]

A scan of the relevant portion of page 128 of the original Temple Lot case transcript

A more complete explanation, with full page scans, may be viewed on Brian Hales' website Joseph Smith's Polygamy.


Question: I've seen Temple Lot court transcripts online. Are these not accurate?

The 507-page Temple Lot court transcript available online are heavily edited abstracts of the original. The original 1650-page transcript is not available online

There is at least one Temple Lot court summary transcript available online which contain the disputed phrase "and under the laws of the state too". This transcript can be viewed here: Abstract of Evidence Temple Lot Case U.S.C.C.. This is a 507 page abstract, but it is not the original transcript. The original transcript is 1650 pages long and was not available online until recently.

Brian Hales clarifies:

The Temple Lot legal case transcript covers more than 1,650 pages and is NOT available online....

The originals are housed at the Eighth District Court in Kansas City, Missouri, with a carbon copy at the Community of Christ Archives. The LDS Church History Library offers both microfilm and digital photographs of the microfilm (unrestricted). A 507-page version has been published and distributed by several booksellers including Herald House and Price Publishing Company; however, heavy editing makes this version of little or no use to polygamy researchers. Apparently parts of the original transcript have been digitally transcribed by Richard D. Ouellette.

The statement quoted by [Jeremy] Runnells is from one of the edited versions and I’m not surprised that the RLDS editor added some commentary that has been mistaken as in the original.

Here’s the transcript:

189 Q. And the man that violated this law in this book [Doctrine and Covenants 1835 edition] until the acceptance of that revelation by the church violated the law of the church if he practiced plural marriage? A. Yes Sir. He was cut off from the church. I think I should have been if I had.

190 Q. What would be the condition of the man that would marry more than one person prior to the giving of that revelation in 1843? A. What would be the condition of a man that would do that?

191 Q. Yes sir? A. Why he would be cut off from the Church.

192 Q. Would not it have been adultery under those revelations I have just read? A. Yes sir. I expect it would be.

193 Q. You are one of the apostles in the church at the present time are you not . . . [39]

A scan of this page of the transcript may be viewed on Hales' website Joseph Smith's Polygamy here: Lorenzo Snow’s Temple Lot Testimony.


Response to claim: 182 - Joseph Smith proclaimed that the Book of Mormon "is the most correct of any book on earth"

The author(s) of The Kingdom of the Cults make(s) the following claim:

Joseph Smith proclaimed that the Book of Mormon "is the most correct of any book on earth."

Author's sources:
  1. No source provided.

FairMormon Response

Fact checking results: The author has stated erroneous information or misinterpreted their sources


Question: Why did Joseph Smith say that the Book of Mormon was the "most correct book"?

Joseph Smith: "I told the brethren that the Book of Mormon was the most correct of any book on earth"

In the History of the Church, the following entry is recorded as having been made by Joseph Smith on November 28, 1841.[40]

Sunday, 28.--I spent the day in the council with the Twelve Apostles at the house of President Young, conversing with them upon a variety of subjects. Brother Joseph Fielding was present, having been absent four years on a mission to England. I told the brethren that 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.

Critics of the Church assert that the phrase "the Book of Mormon was the most correct of any book on earth" means that the Prophet Joseph Smith was declaring the Book of Mormon to be without error of any kind. Since each edition of the printed Book of Mormon since 1829 (including editions published during the life of Joseph Smith) has included changes of wording, spelling, or punctuation, critics declare Joseph Smith's statement to have been demonstrably false, thus proving that he was a false prophet.

Joseph Smith referred to the Book of Mormon as the "most correct book" because of the principles it teaches

When Joseph Smith referred to the Book of Mormon as the "most correct book" on earth, he was referring to the principles that it teaches, not the accuracy of its textual structure. Critics of the Book of Mormon have mistakenly interpreted "correct" to be synonymous with "perfect," and therefore expect the Book of Mormon to be without any errors in grammar, spelling, punctuation, clarity of phrasing, and other such ways.

But when Joseph Smith said the Book of Mormon was the "most correct of any book," he was referring to more than just wording, a fact made clear by the remainder of his statement: He said "a man would get nearer to God by abiding by its precepts, than by any other book." When read in context, the Prophet's statement refers to the correctness of the principles it teaches. The Book of Mormon is the "most correct of any book" in that it contains the fulness of the gospel and presents it in a manner that is "plain and precious" (1 Nephi 13:35,40).


Question: Does the Book of Mormon contain mistakes?

Mormon said "And now if there be fault, it be the mistake of men"

It should first be noted that the Book of Mormon itself does not claim to be free of errors. As Mormon himself stated in the introduction to the Book of Mormon:

And now if there be fault, it be the mistake of men: wherefore condemn not the things of God, that ye may be found spotless at the judgment seat of Christ. (1830 Book of Mormon title page)

Moroni said "because of the imperfections which are in it"

Mormon's son Moroni also acknowledges that the record that has been created is imperfect:

And whoso receiveth this record, and shall not condemn it because of the imperfections which are in it, the same shall know of greater things than these. Behold, I am Moroni; and were it possible, I would make all things known unto you. Mormon 8:12


Question: Is any book of scripture perfect?

No book of scripture is "perfect"

Latter-day Saints do not subscribe to the conservative Protestant belief in scriptural inerrancy. We do not believe that any book of scripture is perfect or infallible. Brigham Young explained:

When God speaks to the people, he does it in a manner to suit their circumstances and capacities.... Should the Lord Almighty send an angel to re-write the Bible, it would in many places be very different from what it now is. And I will even venture to say that if the Book of Mormon were now to be re-written, in many instances it would materially differ from the present translation. According as people are willing to receive the things of God, so the heavens send forth their blessings.[41]

So while the Book of Mormon has come down to us with fewer doctrinal errors and corruptions than the Bible, even it could be improved if we were ready to receive further light and knowledge.

Infelicities of language are also to be expected when produced by revelators with little education, said George A. Smith:

The Book of Mormon was denounced as ungrammatical. An argument was raised that if it had been translated by the gift and power of God it would have been strictly grammatical.... When the Lord reveals anything to men, he reveals it in a language that corresponds with their own. If you were to converse with an angel, and you used strictly grammatical language he would do the same. But if you used two negatives in a sentence the heavenly messenger would use language to correspond with your understanding.[42]


Response to claim: 182 - Joseph Smith said "I have more to boast of than ever any man had"

The author(s) of The Kingdom of the Cults make(s) the following claim:

Joseph Smith said "I have more to boast of than ever any man had. I am the only man that has ever been able to keep a whole church together since the days of Adam…"

Author's sources:
  1. History of the Church, 6:408-409

FairMormon Response

Fact checking results: The author has stated erroneous information or misinterpreted their sources

The source used by the author has been distorted to change its meaning.


Question: Was Joseph Smith prone to boasting?

Joseph made a statement that sounded boastful, and unbecoming a prophet

Joseph Smith is reported as saying:

I have more to boast of than ever any man had. I am the only man that has ever been able to keep a whole church together since the days of Adam... Neither Paul, John, Peter, nor Jesus ever did it. I boast that no man ever did such work as I. The followers of Jesus ran away from Him; but the Latter-day Saints never ran away from me yet.” (History of the Church, 6:408–409. Volume 6 link

This attitude strikes some as boastful, and unbecoming a prophet.

There are two issues here:

Joseph's quote, if accurate, is taken out of context

Assuming that the quote is accurate in History of the Church, it is evident that Joseph's quote is taken out of context. What was Joseph's intent, and why did he use this approach? As it turns out, he was drawing from the Bible and applying its lessons to his own situation. In the original context, Joseph was facing intense persecution by many people, including some he had previously considered to be his friends. The statement about "boasting" was supposedly made about a month before he was killed. He made it after reading 2 Corinthians 11: to the congregation. Note the following statement by Paul, in this scripture:

Paul: "let no one think me foolish; but if you do, receive me even as foolish, that I also may boast a little"

Again I say, let no one think me foolish; but if you do, receive me even as foolish, that I also may boast a little. That which I am speaking, I am not speaking it as the Lord would, but as in foolishness, in this confidence of boasting. Since many boast according to the flesh, I will boast also. For you, being so wise, bear the foolish gladly. (2 Corinthians 11:16-19, NASB)

Paul then launches into a literary tirade where he claims many things to make himself look the fool, to contrast himself with those who the Corinthians were listening to for their words of salvation, instead of to him. His words were meant to compare and contrast what the Saints at Corinth were doing against what he was offering.

Joseph employed the exact same literary approach that Paul the Apostle did

Do the critics dismiss the words of Paul and deny his calling as an Apostle because he used such a literary approach that included boasting? No, they do not. Yet, they dismiss Joseph Smith when it is clear by his own statements, in context, that he engaged in the exact same literary approach. Consider the words of Joseph right after reading this chapter of Paul's to the congregation:

My object is to let you know that I am right here on the spot where I intend to stay. I, like Paul, have been in perils, and oftener than anyone in this generation. As Paul boasted, I have suffered more than Paul did, I should be like a fish out of water, if I were out of persecutions. Perhaps my brethren think it requires all this to keep me humble. The Lord has constituted me curiously that I glory in persecution. I am not nearly so humble as if I were not persecuted. If oppression will make a wise man mad, much more a fool. If they want a beardless boy to whip all the world, I will get on the top of a mountain and crow like a rooster: I shall always beat them. When facts are proved, truth and innocence will prevail at last. My enemies are no philosophers: they think that when they have my spoke under, they will keep me down; but for the fools, I will hold on and fly over them.[43]

It would appear that Paul recognizes the necessity of boasting at times against the wicked and hard-hearted

Joseph then makes the statements that the critics attack, in the same way that Paul made outrageous "boasts" to contrast his position with the position of those who the Corinthians were starting to listen to. Paul starts the next chapter of 2 Corinthians with the statement "boasting is necessary, though it is not profitable." So, it would appear that Paul recognizes the necessity of boasting at times against the wicked and hard-hearted (though it may do little good, being unprofitable), yet the critics do not allow Joseph to follow Paul's advice and, of necessity, boast at times.

Perhaps the critics are unaware of Paul's advice? Or perhaps they apply a double standard where Paul is allowed such literary and rhetorical license, but Joseph is not?

Such double standards are, sadly, the stock-in-trade of sectarian anti-Mormonism.

In short, Joseph is using the scripture in Paul as a counter-argument (or a rhetorical device)--he is responding to his critics, and demonstrating that (as with Paul) true messengers from God are often persecuted by those who should listen, while the false and apostate are praised.


Response to claim: 183 - According to D. Michael Quinn, Joseph Smith Sr. was a "mystic" and a treasure digger

The author(s) of The Kingdom of the Cults make(s) the following claim:

According to D. Michael Quinn, Joseph Smith Sr. was a "mystic" and a treasure digger.

Author's sources:

FairMormon Response

Fact checking results: This claim contains propaganda - 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


Question: Did Joseph Smith, Sr. practice "divination"?

Peter Ingersoll, a former neighbor of the Smiths, claimed that Joseph Smith, Sr., practiced "divination"

It has been claimed that Joseph Smith, Sr., practiced "divination," and that this is evidence for the strong role which "magick" played in the Smith family's early life. This claim relies on one of the Hurlburt-Howe affidavits, given by Peter Ingersoll, a former neighbor of the Smiths.

Ingersoll's affidavit reads:

‘Was a neighbor of Smith from 1822 to 1830. The general employment of the family was digging for money. Smith senior once asked me to go with him to see whether a mineral rod would work in my hand, saying he was confident it would. As my oxen were eating, and being myself at leisure, I went with him. When he arrived near the place where he thought there was money, he cut a small witch-hazel, and gave me direction how to hold it. He then went off some rods, telling me to say to the rod, ‘Work to the money,’ which I did in an audible voice. He rebuked me for speaking it loud, saying it must be spoken in a whisper. While the old man was standing off some rods, throwing himself into various shapes, I told him the rod did not work. He seemed much surprised, and said he thought he saw it move. It was now time for me to return to my labor. On my return I picked up a small stone, and was carelessly tossing it from one hand to the other. Said he, (looking very earnestly,) ‘What are you going to do with that stone?’ ‘Throw it at the birds,’ I replied. ‘No,’ said the old man, ‘it is of great worth.’ I gave it to him. ‘Now,’ said he, ‘if you only knew the value there is back of my house!’ and pointing to a place near, ‘There,’ said he, ‘is one chest of gold and another of silver.’ He then put the stone which I had given him into his hat, and stooping forward, he bowed and made sundry maneuvers, quite similar to those of a stool-pigeon. At length he took down his hat, and, being very much exhausted, said, in a faint voice, ‘If you knew what I had seen, you would believe.’ His son, Alvin, went through the same performance, which was equally disgusting.

‘Another time the said Joseph senior told me that the best time for digging money was in the heat of summer, when the heat of the sun caused the chests of money to rise near the top of the ground. ‘You notice,’ said he, ‘the large stones on the top of the ground; we call them rocks, and they truly appear so, but they are in fact, most of them chests of money raised by the heat of the sun.’’.... [44]

Some of Ingersoll's claims are clearly false, based on other, more reliable testimony

Some of Ingersoll's claims are clearly false, based on other, more reliable testimony. It is telling that the critics often wish to jettison Ingersoll's claims as those of a teller-of-tall-tales or a liar when it is clear that he cannot be trusted. Yet, when no evidence exists (pro- or con-) save Ingersoll's testimony, they then present his witness as a reliable data point for conclusions about the early years of Joseph Smith and his family. Of Ingersoll's claims, Richard L. Anderson noted:

Peter lived near Joseph Smith and was employed to go with him to Pennsylvania to move Emma's personal property to the Smith farm in the fall of 1827. Ingersoll claims that after this, Joseph told him he brought home white sand in his work frock and walked into the house to find "the family" (parents, Emma, brothers and sisters) eating. When they asked what he carried, he "very gravely" told them (for the first time) that he had a "golden Bible" and had received a revelation that no one could see it and live. At that point (according to Ingersoll), Joseph offered to let the family see, but they fearfully refused, and Ingersoll says that Joseph added, "Now, I have got the damned fools fixed, and will carry out the fun."

Rodger Anderson [author of the book under review by Anderson] agrees with me that this is just a tall tale. Why? Family sources prove they looked forward to getting the plates long before this late 1827 occurrence, and Joseph had far more respect for his family than the anecdote allows. So Rodger Anderson thinks that Ingersoll at first believed Joseph and then retaliated: "it seems likely that Ingersoll created the story as a way of striking back at Smith for his own gullibility in swallowing a story he later became convinced was a hoax" (p. 56). That may be, and there are perhaps others making affidavits with similar motives. But the more provable point is that good stories die hard. Facts were obviously bent to make Joseph Smith the butt of many a joke. So anecdotes could be yarns good for a guffaw around a pot-bellied stove.

Ingersoll has another story in this class. Joseph planned to move Emma and the plates to Pennsylvania at the end of 1827. Then Ingersoll has Joseph playing a religious mind game with Martin Harris: "I . . . told him that I had a command to ask the first honest man I met with, for fifty dollars in money, and he would let me have it. I saw at once, said Jo, that it took his notion, for he promptly give me the fifty." Willard Chase tells a similar story, not identifying his source. But in this case both Joseph Smith and Martin Harris gave their recollections. Both say that Martin was converted to Joseph Smith's revelations first and then offered the money out of conviction, not because of sudden street-side flattery. The best historical evidence is not something told by another party, especially one with hostility to the person he is reporting....

Rodger Anderson recoils at my suggestion that the affidavits were "contaminated by Hurlbut," but he has merely argued harder for one road to this same result. Rodger Anderson then contends that Hurlbut's influence does not matter, since many of the statements were signed under oath before a magistrate. This is one of scores of irrelevancies. The question is credibility, not form. As Jesus essentially said in the Sermon on the Mount, the honest person is regularly believable, not just under oath. Nor does the act of signing settle all, since it is hardly human nature to read the fine print of a contract or all details of prewritten petitions. Rodger Anderson finds Ingersoll's sand-for-plates story "the most dubious" (p. 56) and thus admits that Ingersoll is "the possible exception" in "knowingly swearing to a lie" (p. 114). But Ingersoll does not tell taller stories than many others glinting in the hostile statements reprinted by Rodger Anderson. Like the persecuting orthodox from the Pharisees to the Puritans, the New York community was performing an act of moral virtue to purge itself of the stigma of an offending new religion. Hurlbut contributed to the process of mutual contamination of similar stories and catch-words....

Rodger Anderson closes his survey with the appeal to accept "the Hurlbut-Deming affidavits" as significant "primary documents relating to Joseph Smith's early life and the origins of Mormonism" (p. 114). Some tell of "early life," but many only repeat tall tales or disclose the prejudice that Joseph Smith said faced him from the beginning. There are some authentic facts about the outward life of young Joseph, but his inner life makes him significant. It is this other half that the testimonials brashly claim to penetrate but cannot. To the extent that the Prophet's spiritual experiences are the primary issue, the Hurlbut-Deming statements are not primary documents.

Here I have discussed some aspects of their objective shortcomings, but I do not intend to take much time answering countercharges. Those who think like Rodger Anderson will continue to reason that the Hurlbut-Deming materials contain serious history because "many based their descriptions on close association with the Joseph Smith, Sr., family" (p. 114). That is too sloppy for my taste. Downgrading a reputation is serious business, and I want a reasonable burden of proof to be met on each major contention. Knowing the family is not enough—knowing specific incidents is required. The mathematics of true personal history is fairly simple: half-truths added to others still retain their category of half-truths; conclusions without personal knowledge have zero value; and any number multiplied by zero is still zero.

A final, highly personal reaction: I once discussed a negative biography with a friend, literature professor Neal Lambert. After pointing out shortcomings in method and evidence, I self-consciously added an intuitive judgment: "and I think there is a poor tone to the book." Instantly picking up my apologetic manner, Neal answered vigorously, "But tone is everything." In reality, attitude penetrates the judgments we make, whether in gathering the Hurlbut-Deming materials or in defending them. With few exceptions, the mind-set of these testimonials is skeptical, hypercritical, ridiculing. But history is a serious effort to understand, and tools with the above labels have limited value. [45]


Response to claim: 183 - Joseph Smith Jr. was "interested in treasure seeking even after he became president of the LDS Church

The author(s) of The Kingdom of the Cults make(s) the following claim:

Joseph Smith Jr. was "interested in treasure seeking even after he became president of the LDS Church.

Author's sources:
  1. D. Michael Quinn, Early Mormonism and the Magic World View, revised and enlarged edition, (Salt Lake City: Signature Books, 1998), ( Index of claims )

FairMormon Response

Fact checking results: The author has stated erroneous information or misinterpreted their sources


Question: Was Joseph Smith commanded by the Lord to go to Salem, Massachusetts to hunt for treasure in the cellar of a house?

Joseph and several other leaders traveled to Salem hoping to find money that could be used to satisfy some of the Church's outstanding debt

The trip was apparently made on their own initiative, and was not commanded by the Lord. Joseph did not "prophesy" that they would find money in Salem, but instead made the trip because he became convinced that the story that the treasure existed might true. Upon failing to locate the money, they spent their time preaching to the people in Salem.

The trip to the East was an effort to find a means to relieve some of the outstanding debt that the Church

On July 25, 1836, Joseph, Hyrum, Sidney Rigdon and Oliver Cowdery began a journey from Kirtland to the East Coast for the purpose of seeking a means to relieve some of the outstanding debt that the Church had incurred. The men visited New York City in order to consult with their creditors regarding their debt.[46] Four days later, upon completing their business in New York, they then continued on to Salem, Massachusetts.

After visiting New York City, the men traveled to Salem upon hearing that a large amount of money would be available to them there

The trip to Salem is the subject of the revelation contained in D&C 111. The introduction states:

At this time the leaders of the Church were heavily in debt due to their labors in the ministry. Hearing that a large amount of money would be available to them in Salem, the Prophet, Sidney Rigdon, Hyrum Smith, and Oliver Cowdery traveled there from Kirtland, Ohio, to investigate this claim, along with preaching the gospel. The brethren transacted several items of church business and did some preaching. When it became apparent that no money was to be forthcoming, they returned to Kirtland.

This was a period in which great financial difficulties were being experienced by the Church in Kirtland—hence the motivation to search after the alleged treasure.

The revelation itself indicates that the Lord did not command the prophet to go to Salem to obtain money

I, the Lord your God, am not displeased with your coming this journey, notwithstanding your follies. (DC 111:1) (emphasis added)

B.H. Roberts provides additional information regarding the reason for the trip.

While the Prophet gives a somewhat circumstantial account of this journey to Salem and his return to Kirtland in September, he nowhere assigns an adequate cause for himself and company making it—the object of it is not stated. Ebenezer Robinson, for many years a faithful and prominent elder in the church, and at Nauvoo associated with Don Carlos Smith—brother of the Prophet—in editing and publishing the Times and Seasons, states that the journey to Salem arose from these circumstances. There came to Kirtland a brother by the name of Burgess who stated that he had knowledge of a large amount of money secreted in the cellar of a certain house in Salem, Massachusetts, which had belonged to a widow (then deceased), and thought he was the only person who had knowledge of it, or of the location of the house. The brethren accepting the representations of Burgess as true made the journey to Salem to secure, if possible, the treasure. Burgess, according to Robinson, met the brethren in Salem, but claimed that time had wrought such changes in the town that he could not for a certainty point out the house "and soon left."[47]

The trip to Salem was apparently a "venture of their own design"

The trip to Salem was apparently "a venture of their own design, not one of divine direction."[48] Two weeks after receiving the revelation recorded in D&C 111, Joseph wrote the following letter to his wife Emma from Salem.

Salem, Mass., August 19th, 1836.
My beloved Wife:—Bro. Hyrum is about to start for home before the rest of us, which seems wisdom in God, as our business here can not be determined as soon as we could wish to have it. I thought a line from me by him would be acceptable to you, even if it did not contain but little, that you may know that you and the children are much on my mind. With regard to the great object of our mission, you will be anxious to know. We have found the house since Bro. Burgess left us, very luckily and providentially, as we had one spell been most discouraged. The house is occupied, and it will require much care and patience to rent or buy it. We think we shall be able to effect it; if not now within the course of a few months. We think we shall be at home about the middle of September. I can think of many things concerning our business, but can only pray that you may have wisdom to manage the concerns that involve on you, and want you should believe me that I am your sincere friend and husband. In haste. Yours &c., Joseph Smith, Jr.[49]

The letter indicates that Joseph had not yet given up hope of locating the actual physical treasure for which they had originally come. The four men spent their time in Salem preaching and sightseeing.

Salem's "treasure"

The Lord indicates, however, that there is some benefit to be derived from their presence there. The "treasure" referred to has to do with planting seeds for the future preaching of the Gospel:

I have much treasure in this city for you, for the benefit of Zion, and many people in this city, whom I will gather out in due time for the benefit of Zion, through your instrumentality. Therefore, it is expedient that you should form acquaintance with men in this city, as you shall be led, and as it shall be given you...For there are more treasures than one for you in this city. (DC 111:2-3,DC 111:10)

Richard Lloyd Anderson notes that in D&C 111, "the definition of riches came in doublets, a scriptural pattern of restating one idea in two aspects."Richard L. Anderson, "The Mature Joseph Smith and Treasure Searching," Brigham Young University Studies 24 no. 4 (1984). PDF link
Caution: this article was published before Mark Hofmann's forgeries were discovered. It may treat fraudulent documents as genuine. Click for list of known forged documents.
Discusses money-digging; Salem treasure hunting episode; fraudulent 1838 Missouri treasure hunting revelation; Wood Scrape; “gift of Aaron”; “wand or rod”; Heber C. Kimball rod and prayer; magic; occult; divining lost objects; seerstone; parchments; talisman The following parallels are noted:

Phrase #1 Phrase #2
I have much treasure in this city for you, for the benefit of Zion (verse 2, part a) and many people in this city, whom I will gather out in due time for the benefit of Zion (verse 2, part b)
Concern not yourselves about your debts, for I will give you power to pay them. (verse 5) Concern not yourselves about Zion, for I will deal mercifully with her. (verse 6)
I have much treasure in this city for you, for the benefit of Zion, and many people in this city, whom I will gather out in due time for the benefit of Zion, through your instrumentality. (verse 2) And it shall come to pass in due time that I will give this city into your hands, that you shall have power over it, insomuch that they shall not discover your secret parts; and its wealth pertaining to gold and silver shall be yours. (verse 4)

Anderson suggests that "such similar phrasing suggests that paying debts and the welfare of Zion were but different forms of the same hope." The "gold and silver" mentioned in Verse 4 is equated with the "treasure" of "many people" in Verse 2, which suggests that "the gathering of the converts is at the same time a gathering of their resources."

Fulfillment of the revelation

It became evident to the leaders of the Church that the "treasure" referred to by the Lord was the conversion of people in Salem to the Gospel. In 1841, five years after the revelation was given, Erastus Snow and Benjamin Winchester were called to serve a mission in Salem. Cannon notes that the elders were sent explicitly for the purpose of fulfilling the revelation:

[Hyrum Smith and William Law] gave Erastus Snow a copy of the Salem Revelation and requested to fulfill it. Snow and Winchester arrived in Salem in September of 1841. They preached at public meetings, published a pamphlet addfressed to the citizens of Salem, and challenged the notorious Mormon apostate, John C. Bennett to debate. Their efforts bore fruit. By March of 1842 they had organized the Salem Branch with 53 members. By the end of that summer, the branch had 90 members.[50]

These conversions were sufficiently noticed to have been commented on by two of Salem's newspapers, the Salem Gazette on Dec. 7, 1841, and The Salem Register on June 2, 1842.


Response to claim: 184 - Brigham Young wanted to suppress Lucy Mack Smith's history because it had "many mistakes"

The author(s) of The Kingdom of the Cults make(s) the following claim:

Brigham Young wanted to suppress Lucy Mack Smith's history because it had "many mistakes."

Author's sources:
  1. Millennial Star, 17:297-298, personal letter dated January 31, 1885.

FairMormon Response

Fact checking results: This claim contains propaganda - 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

There isn't enough in the historical record to determine why Brigham wanted to destroy all copies of Lucy's history.


Question: Did Brigham Young attempt to suppress and destroy all copies of Lucy Mack Smith's Biographical Sketches of Joseph Smith?

Editing history of Lucy's biography

Lavina Fielding Anderson recounts the history of Lucy's biography:

The project, which began in the winter of 1844-45, ended almost exactly a year later with the creation of two finished manuscripts (in addition to the rough draft). One of the finished manuscripts stayed in Nauvoo with Lucy and eventually came into possession of Orson Pratt, an LDS apostle, who took it with him to England and published it in 1853. It generated considerable controversy; and Brigham Young, twelve years after the fact, ordered the Saints to deliver up their copies to be destroyed. A “corrected” edition was published, but not until 1901-03, first serially by the Improvement Era and then as a compilation. This project was authorized by Young’s third successor, Lorenzo Snow, and implemented by his fourth, who also happened to be Lucy’s grandson, Joseph F. Smith. Meanwhile, the second finished copy had gone to Utah where it now reposes in the Historian’s Office. [51]

Dan Vogel notes:

Once published, Smith's Biographical Sketches was suppressed by Brigham Young, who condemned it as inaccurate, ordered its destruction, and instructed church historians to begin working on a corrected version. Young's concern centered on Smith's favorable portrayal of her son William, whom Young disliked (see Bushman 1984, 194, n. 4; Shipps 1985, 91-107). Pratt issued a statement in 1855 claiming that he believed Lucy's manuscript 'was written under the inspection of the Prophet [Joseph Smith]; but from evidences since received, it is believed that the greater part of the manuscripts did not pass under his review, as there are items which are ascertained to be incorrect' (Deseret News 5 [21 March 1855]: 16) [52]

Brigham Young did attempt to destroy all copies of Lucy Mack Smith's Biographical Sketches of Joseph Smith, but we do not have enough information to know the reason why

Critics assume, in the absence of information, that it was because there was information which would embarrass the Church.

Brigham Young began to complain about errors in Lucy's history almost as soon as it was published in 1855. He assigned George A. Smith and Elias Smith to begin working on corrections in 1856; Elias was still working on them in 1866. It was published by President Joseph F. Smith in 1902, based on the corrections by GAS and Elias Smith. It is not known exactly what the changes were that were made, nor do we know the relationship of the 1954 edition mentioned in the letter to the original or to the 1902 version (Preston Nibley edited a version, but we are not sure if it is the one mentioned or not). Orson Pratt himself pointed out that he had erred in suggesting the manuscript had been completed prior to the death of Joseph Smith.

Brigham's response was unusual, both for being out of all proportion to the actual errors that existed and for coming principally more than a decade later. Anderson suggests that his reaction had much more to do with the rift between Pratt and Young than with the contents of history itself.

Anderson also notes that,

[T]he main differences between Lucy’s 1844-45 rough draft and Pratt’s 1853 publication are omissions and additions...About 10 percent of Lucy’s original material was omitted, much of it personal family references and Lucy’s original preface." [53]

The revisions were apparently made to transform Lucy's history from a personal family history and center it more on Joseph Smith, Jr. and the Church. There were several main changes between Lucy's rough draft and the version published by Orson Pratt.

  1. Lucy's preface, in which she introduces herself, was omitted.
  2. The story of Lucy's father, Solomon Mack was omitted.
  3. The story of Lucy's illness in 1802-1803 was revised.
  4. Lucy’s reference to folk magic was omitted in Orson Pratt's version. Lucy originally stated "… Let not my reader suppose that because I shall pursue another topic for a season that we stopt our labor and went <at> trying to win the faculty of Abrac drawing Magic circles or sooth saying to the neglect of all kinds of buisness [sic]."


Response to claim: 184 - "It is interesting to observe that Smith could not have been too much moved by the heavenly vision, for he shortly took up once again the habit of digging for treasure"

The author(s) of The Kingdom of the Cults make(s) the following claim:

 Author's quote: It is interesting to observe that Smith could not have been too much moved by the heavenly vision, for he shortly took up once again the habit of digging for treasure along with his father and brother, who were determined to unearth treasure by means of 'peep stones,' 'divining rods,' or just plain digging.

Author's sources:
  1. No source provided

FairMormon Response

Fact checking results: This claim contains propaganda - 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

Response to claim: 184 - Joseph is claimed to have gone "on record as denying that he had ever been a money-digger

The author(s) of The Kingdom of the Cults make(s) the following claim:

Joseph is claimed to have gone "on record as denying that he had ever been a money-digger."

Author's sources:
  1. Joseph Smith, History, 1:55

FairMormon Response

Fact checking results: This claim is false

Joseph never denied having been a "money digger". He spoke of it.


Joseph Smith (1838): "Was not Joseph Smith a money digger?"

Joseph's tongue-in-cheek response to one of a list of questions that were asked of him during a visit at Elder Cahoon's home:

Was not Joseph Smith a money digger? Yes, but it was never a very profitable job for him, as he only got fourteen dollars a month for it.[54]


Response to claim: 184 - Joseph "took part in and personally supervised numerous treasure-digging expeditions" and "claimed supernatural powers"

The author(s) of The Kingdom of the Cults make(s) the following claim:

Joseph "took part in and personally supervised numerous treasure-digging expeditions" and "claimed supernatural powers."

Author's sources:
  1. Rev. John A. Clark, Gleanings by the Way, (Philadelphia: W.J. and J.K. Simon; New York: Robert Carter, 1842), 225 off-site

FairMormon Response

Fact checking results: This claim contains propaganda - 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 claim relies upon a hostile source Gleanings by the Way (1842) , written by the Rev. John A. Clark. There are no sources provided for Clark's statements, although it is likely that he relies upon the Hurlbut affidavits:

"...Jo Smith, who has since been the chief prophet of the Mormons, and was one of the most prominent ostensible actors in the first scenes of this drama, belonged to a very shiftless family near Palmyra. They lived a sort of vagrant life, and were principally known as money-diggers. Jo from a boy appeared dull and utterly destitute of genius; but his father claimed for him a sort of second sight, a power to look into the depths of the earth, and discover where its precious treasures were hid. Consequently long before the idea of a GOLDEN BIBLE entered their minds, in their excursions for money-digging, which I believe usually occurred at night, that they might conceal from others the knowledge of the place where they struck upon treasures, Jo used to be usually their guide, putting into a hat a peculiar stone he had through which he looked to decide where they should begin to dig.


Response to claim: 184 - A hearing 1826 ruled that Joseph was "guilty of money-digging"

The author(s) of The Kingdom of the Cults make(s) the following claim:

A hearing 1826 ruled that Joseph was "guilty of money-digging."

Author's sources:

FairMormon Response

Fact checking results: This claim is false

the hearing was not a trial; it could not have a "guilty" verdict. No verdict was issued and Joseph was released without being fined.


Question: What is Joseph Smith's 1826 South Bainbridge "trial" for "glasslooking"?

Joseph Smith appeared at a pre-trial court hearing in 1826 for "glasslooking"

In 1825 Josiah Stowel sought out the young Joseph Smith, who had a reputation for being able to use his seer stone to locate lost objects, to help him to locate an ancient silver mine. After a few weeks of work, Joseph persuaded Stowel to give up the effort. In 1826, some of Stowel's relatives brought Joseph to court and accused him of "glasslooking" and being a "disorderly person." Several witnesses testified at the hearing.

Joseph was released without being fined or otherwise punished - there was no verdict of "guilty" or "not guilty" because this was only a hearing rather than a trial

Joseph was ultimately released without being fined and had no punishment imposed upon him. Years later, a bill from the judge was discovered which billed for court services.

Gordon Madsen summarized:

"The evidence thus far available about the 1826 trial before Justice Neely leads to the inescapable conclusion that Joseph Smith was acquitted." [55]

A review of all the relevant documents demonstrates that:

  1. The court hearing of 1826 was not a trial, it was an examination
  2. The hearing was likely initiated from religious concerns; i.e. people objected to Joseph's religious claims.
  3. There were seven witnesses.
  4. The witnesses' testimonies have not all been transmitted faithfully.
  5. Most witnesses testified that Joseph did possess a gift of sight

The court hearing was likely initiated by Stowel's relatives as a concern that he was having too much influence on Stowel

It was likely that the court hearing was initiated not so much from a concern about Joseph being a money digger, as concern that Joseph was having an influence on Josiah Stowel. Josiah Stowel was one of the first believers in Joseph Smith. His nephew was probably very concerned about that and was anxious to disrupt their relationship if possible. He did not succeed. The court hearing failed in its purpose, and was only resurrected decades later to accuse Joseph Smith of different crimes to a different people and culture.

Understanding the context of the case removes any threat it may have posed to Joseph's prophetic integrity.


Response to claim: 186 - The angel Moroni was originally identified as Nephi

The author(s) of The Kingdom of the Cults make(s) the following claim:

The angel Moroni was originally identified as Nephi.

Author's sources:
  • 1851 edition of the Pearl of Great Price.
  • Jerald and Sandra Tanner, Mormonism—Shadow or Reality?, 5th edition, (Salt Lake City: Utah Lighthouse Ministry, 1987), 136.
  • Times and Seasons, vol. 3, 753

FairMormon Response

Fact checking results: The author has stated erroneous information or misinterpreted their sources


Question: Did Joseph Smith originally identify the angel that visited him as "Nephi" instead of "Moroni"?

The text in question

The text in question reads as follows:

While I was thus in the act of calling upon God, I discovered a light appearing in the room which continued to increase untill the room was lighter than at noonday and <when> immediately a personage <appeared> at my bedside standing in the air for his feet did not touch the floor. He had on a loose robe of most exquisite whiteness. It was a whiteness beyond any <thing> earthly I had ever seen, nor do I believe that any earthly thing could be made to appear so exceeding[g]ly white and brilliant, His hands were naked and his arms also a little above the wrists. So also were his feet naked as were his legs a little above the ankles. His head and neck were also bare. I could discover that he had no other clothing on but this robe, as it was open so that I could see into his bosom. Not only was his robe exceedingly white but his whole person was glorious beyond description, and his countenance truly like lightning. The room was exceedingly light, but not so very bright as immediately around his person. When I first looked upon him I was afraid, but the fear soon left me. He called me by name and said unto me that he was a messenger sent from the presence of God to me and that his name was Nephi....(emphasis added)[56]

Orson Pratt would later observe:

The discrepency in the history … may have occurred through the ignorance or carelessness of the historian or transcriber. It is true, that the history reads as though the Prophet himself recorded [it, that he] was [doing the] writing: but … many events recorded were written by his scribes who undoubtedly trusted too much to their memories, and the items probably were not sufficiently scanned by Bro. Joseph, before they got into print.[57]

The identity of the angel that appeared to Joseph Smith in his room in 1823 was published as "Moroni" for many years prior to the erroneous identification of the angel as "Nephi"

The Church teaches that Moroni was the heavenly messenger which appeared to Joseph Smith and directed him to the gold plates. Yet, some Church sources give the identity of this messenger as Nephi. Some claim that this shows that Joseph was 'making it up as he went along.' One critic even claims that if the angel spoke about the plates being "engraven by Moroni," then he couldn't have been Moroni himself.

The identity of the angel that appeared to Joseph Smith in his room in 1823 and over the next four years was known and published as "Moroni" for many years prior to the publication of the first identification of the angel as "Nephi" in the Times and Seasons in 1842. Even an anti-Mormon publication, Mormonism Unvailed, identified the angel's name as "Moroni" in 1834—a full eight years earlier. All identifications of the angel as "Nephi" subsequent to the 1842 Times and Seasons article were using the T&S article as a source. These facts have not been hidden; they are readily acknowledged in the History of the Church:

In the original publication of the history in the Times and Seasons at Nauvoo, this name appears as "Nephi," and the Millennial Star perpetuated the error in its republication of the History. That it is an error is evident, and it is so noted in the manuscripts to which access has been had in the preparation of this work. [58]

Joseph F. Smith and Orson Pratt understood the problem more than a century ago, when they wrote in 1877 to John Taylor:

"The contradictions in regard to the name of the angelic messenger who appeared to Joseph Smith occurred probably through the mistakes of clerks in making or copying documents and we think should be corrected. . . . From careful research we are fully convinced that Moroni is the correct name. This also was the decision of the former historian, George A. Smith." [59]

The timeline of events related to the "Nephi/Moroni" error

The following time-line illustrates various sources that refer to the angel, and whether the name "Moroni" or "Nephi" was given to them.

As can be readily seen, the "Nephi" sources all derive from a single manuscript and subsequent copies. On the other hand, a variety of earlier sources (including one hostile source) use the name "Moroni," and these are from a variety of sources.

Details about each source are available below the graphic. Readers aware of other source(s) are encouraged to contact FairMormon so they can be included here.

Nephi or Moroni Timeline.PNG

This is not an example of Joseph Smith changing his story over time, but an example of a detail being improperly recorded by someone other than the Prophet, and then reprinted uncritically. Clear contemporary evidence from Joseph and his enemies—who would have seized upon any inconsistency had they known about it—shows that "Moroni" was the name of the heavenly messenger BEFORE the 1838 and 1839 histories were recorded.


Response to claim: 186 - "This unfortunate crossing up of the divine communication system was later remedied by thoughtful Mormon scribes who have exercised great care to ferret out all the historical and factual blunders not readily explainable in the writings of Smith"

The author(s) of The Kingdom of the Cults make(s) the following claim:

 Author's quote: This unfortunate crossing up of the divine communication system was later remedied by thoughtful Mormon scribes who have exercised great care to ferret out all the historical and factual blunders not readily explainable in the writings of Smith...

Author's sources:

FairMormon Response

Fact checking results: This claim contains propaganda - 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

Response to claim: 187, n10 - "Reformed Egyptian" has never been seen by any "leading Egyptologist"

The author(s) of The Kingdom of the Cults make(s) the following claim:

"Reformed Egyptian" has never been seen by any "leading Egyptologist."

Author's sources:

FairMormon Response

Fact checking results: The author has stated erroneous information or misinterpreted their sources

The Book of Mormon makes it clear that "reformed Egyptian" is the Nephite term only (Mormon 9:32-34).

The work repeats itself: p. 199.

Question: What is "reformed Egyptian"?

The term "reformed Egyptian" is the name which the Nephites have given to a script based upon Egyptian characters, and modified over the course of a thousand years

Moroni makes it clear that "reformed Egyptian" is the name which the Nephites have given to a script based upon Egyptian characters, and modified over the course of a thousand years (See Mormon 9:32). So, it is no surprise that Egyptians or Jews have no script called "reformed Egyptian," as this was a Nephite term.

There are, however, several variant Egyptian scripts which are "reformed" or altered from their earlier form

There are, however, several variant Egyptian scripts which are "reformed" or altered from their earlier form. Hugh Nibley and others have pointed out that the change from Egyptian hieroglyphics, to hieratic, to demotic is a good description of Egyptian being "reformed." By 600 BC, hieratic was used primarily for religious texts, while demotic was used for daily use. off-site

One can see how hieroglyphics developed into the more stylized hieratic, and this process continued with the demotic:

Development of hieratic script from hieroglyphs; after Jean-François Champollion. off-site

What could be a better term for this than an Egyptian script that has been "reformed"?

Examples from the Holy Land 7th and 6th century before Christ

More recent research provides further corroboration:

The fourth presentation at BYU’s Willes Center for Book of Mormon Studies conference on 31 August 2012 was on “Writing in 7th Century BC Levant,” by Stefan Wimmer of the University of Munich. It was entitled “Palestinian Hieratic.” He examined an interesting phenomena in Hebrew inscriptions, the use of Egyptian hieratic (cursive hieroglyphic) signs.

Basically Hebrew scribes used Egyptian signs for various numerals, weights and measures. The changes in the form of these signs parallel similar chronological changes in the form of Egyptian hieratic characters, which indicates continued contact of some sort between Egyptian and Hebrew scribes, probably over several centuries. (If there had been a single scribal transmission with no ongoing contact, the changes in the Hebrew forms of hieratic signs would not parallel contemporary changes in Egyptian hieratic forms.) No other Semitic language used Egyptian hieratic signs except Hebrew (with one possible Moabite example.)

There are a couple of hundred examples of such texts, the majority dating from the late seventh century, and geographically mainly from Jerusalem southward. The phenomena ends after the Babylonian captivity. (In other words, Palestinian hieratic is most common in precisely the time and location of Lehi and Nephi, and only exists in Hebrew.)[60]

Additionally,

Documents from the kingdoms of both Israel and Judah, but not the neighboring kingdoms, of the eighth and seventh centuries contain Egyptian hieratic signs (cursive hieroglyphics) and numerals that had ceased to be used in Egypt after the tenth century (Philip J. King and Lawrence E. Stager, Life in Biblical Israel (Louisville, Kentucky: Westminster John Knox Press, 2001), 311.)

German Egyptologist Stefan Wimmer calls this script "palestinian Hieratic." See Stefan Wimmer, Palästinisches Hieratisch: Die Zahl- und Sonderzeichen in der althebräischen Schrift, Ägypten und Altes Testament 75 (Germany: Harrassowitz Wiesbaden, 2008).

Further examples

William Hamblin provides additional example of such reformation of Egyptian, including:

  • Byblos Syllabic texts
  • Cretan hieroglyphics
  • Meroitic
  • Psalm 20 in demotic Egyptian
  • Proto-Sinaitic and the alphabet[61]

Given that Moroni says the Nephites then modified the scripts further, "reformed Egyptian" is an elegant description of both the Old World phenomenon, and what Moroni says happened among the Nephites.


Response to claim: 188 - The book claims that Sidney Rigdon "virtually challenged the whole state to do pitched battle with the 'Saints'" and as a result they were "subsequently persecuted and expelled"

The author(s) of The Kingdom of the Cults make(s) the following claim:

The book claims that Sidney Rigdon "virtually challenged the whole state to do pitched battle with the 'Saints'" and as a result they were "subsequently persecuted and expelled."

Author's sources:

FairMormon Response

Fact checking results: The author has stated erroneous information or misinterpreted their sources

Partially true. Sidney did indeed make an inflammatory speech. This did not, however, initiate persecution against the Latter-day Saints. Sidney's speech was prompted by the persecution that the Saints had experienced so far, including his own tar and feather experience and the expulsion of the Saints from Independence, Missouri.


Response to claim: 189 - In Kirtland, Nauvoo, Jackson County, etc., the Mormons had a chance to win converts to Smith's religion because they were strangers and the character of the prophet was unknown in those areas

The author(s) of The Kingdom of the Cults make(s) the following claim:

 Author's quote: In Kirtland, Nauvoo, Jackson County, etc., the Mormons had a chance to win converts to Smith's religion because they were strangers and the character of the prophet was unknown in those areas.

Author's sources:

FairMormon Response

Fact checking results: This claim is false

The members of the Church and Joseph were repeated subjects of skeptical or hostile publications and newspaper reports. The charges against Joseph were typically close at hand.


Response to claim: 189-190 - It is claimed that Eber D. Howe "did tremendous research during Joseph's lifetime" on Joseph's character, and that Joseph "never dared to answer Howe's charges"

The author(s) of The Kingdom of the Cults make(s) the following claim:

It is claimed that Eber D. Howe "did tremendous research during Joseph's lifetime" on Joseph's character, and that Joseph "never dared to answer Howe's charges."

Author's sources:
  1. Eber D. Howe, Mormonism Unvailed (Painesville, OH, 1834), 261. (Affidavits examined)

FairMormon Response

Fact checking results: This claim is false

The claim is absurd. Howe has the distinction of writing the first anti-Mormon book, but this says little about his "tremendous research," since most of his material was from someone else's efforts. Howe relied on hostile affidavits collected after the fact by Doctor Philastus Hurlbut, a man who had sworn to wash his hands in Joseph Smith's blood. Hurlbut was unable to publish the affidavits himself after his trial for making death threats against Joseph . He sold this material to Eber D. Howe, who published them.

Response to claim: 190 - Latter-day Saints "pretend" that Howe's work was the result of a "revengeful vendetta of one Dr. Philastus Hurlbut." The "fact" that stories published by Howe were "publicly circulated previous to Hurlbut's excommunication" is claimed to be "incontestable"

The author(s) of The Kingdom of the Cults make(s) the following claim:

Latter-day Saints "pretend" that Howe's work was the result of a "revengeful vendetta of one Dr. Philastus Hurlbut." The "fact" that stories published by Howe were "publicly circulated previous to Hurlbut's excommunication" is claimed to be "incontestable."

Author's sources:

FairMormon Response

Fact checking results: This claim is false

The role of Hurlbut in gathering the affidavits is a matter of historical record. If Martin has evidence that these claims were being made before Hurlbut collected them, he should present the evidence. Assertion is not evidence.


Question: What are the Hurlbut affidavits?

The Hurlbut affidavits are a collection of affidavits from Joseph Smith’s neighbors which claim that the Smith family possessed a number of character flaws

Many critics cite a collection of affidavits from Joseph Smith’s neighbors which claim that the Smith family possessed a number of character flaws. These affidavits were collected by Doctor Philastus Hurlbut ("Doctor" was his first name, not a title). [62] Hurlbut had been excommunicated from the Church on charges of "unvirtuous conduct with a young lady," [63] and for threatening the life of the Prophet.

  1. There are many statements from Joseph's contemporaries attesting to his good character—These people did not sign sworn affidavits, but their accounts are recorded in their journals and histories.
  2. It is also important to note that none of these statements regarding Joseph Smith, Jr. was a firsthand account from the Prophet himself, but instead represent second or third-hand accounts. It is interesting that Fawn Brodie and other modern anti-Mormons readily dismiss the affidavits supporting the Spalding theory (which has since been discredited), suggesting the Hurlbut "prompted" those making statements, yet accepts without question the affidavits attesting to the bad character of Joseph Smith and his family.
  3. Finally, Hurlbut's motive in collecting the affidavits is a factor. The Hurlbut affidavits were collected by a man who not only had a grudge to settle with the Church, but who had actually been brought before a judge for issuing a death threat against Joseph Smith, Jr. His family had likewise lost a court case brought by the Smiths, and young Joseph's testimony played a significant role in their victory. (This occurred despite the Hurlbuts being more wealthy and prominent in the community than the poverty-stricken Smiths.)

Hurlbut had been hostile to the Smith family long before he collected his affidavits

Hurlbut's hostility to the Smiths may have been of long date. In 1819, the Smiths sued a local family of Hurlbuts over the sale of a pair of horses and some work they had done for him. (Aside from the name, it is not known if there was a family connection.) One author explains:

Joseph Smith's introduction to the legal system came at an early age. His father and oldest brother, Alvin, initiated a lawsuit in January 1819 against Jeremiah Hurlbut arising from his sale of a pair of horses to the Smiths for $65. The Smith boys had been working for Hurlbut to both pay down the $65 obligation and for other goods the previous summer. Twelve witnesses were called during the trial, including Hyrum and Joseph Smith Jr. Under New York law, being just thirteen, Joseph's testimony about the work he had performed was admissible only after the court found him competent. His testimony proved credible and the court record indicates that ever item that he testified about was included in the damages awarded to the Smiths. Although Hurlbut appealed the case, no records have survived noting the final disposition of that case; perhaps it was settled out of court. The significance of this case is not limited to the fact that a New York judge found the young Joseph, just a year prior to his First Vision, to be competent and credible as a witness. Also, the suit being brought against a prominent Palmyra family and involving two other prominent community leaders as sureties on appeal may have contributed to Joseph Smith Jr.'s memory of his family's estrangement from much of the Palmyra community....

Under applicable New York law, "qualified citizens" [for jury duty] were limited to male inhabitants of the county where the trial was being held between the ages of twenty-one and sixty; and who at the time had personal property in the amount of not less that $250 or real property in the county with a value of not less than $250. In the rural community of Palmyra this effectively meant that those qualified to be on the jury would be the more affluent and prominent men of the area. Ironically, none of the Smiths would have qualified to be a juror.

The trial was held on February 6, 1819. Twelve jurors were impaneled, all men and property owners. The Smiths called five witnesses, Hurlbut [the farmer they were suing] seven. Both Joseph Jr. and Hyrum were called to testify. This appears to be young Joseph's first direct interaction with the judicial [130] process. He had turned thirteen years old a month and a half previously. New York law and local practice permitted the use of child testimony, subject to the court's discretion to determine the witness' competency. The test for competency required a determination that the witness was of 'sound mind and memory.' A New York 1803 summary of the law for justices of the peace notes that 'all persons of sound mind and memory, and who have arrived at years of discretion, except such as are legally interested, or have been rendered infamous, may be improved as witnesses.' This determination of competency rested within the discretion of the judge....

From the record it appears that Judge Spear found Joseph Jr. competent, and he indeed did testify during the trial. This is evident in a review of the List of Services that was part of the court file. Joseph Jr.'s testimony would have been required to admit those services he personally performed....[64]

Hurlbut's collection of the statements was made at the request of an anti-Mormon committee in Kirtland, Ohio

At any rate, Hurlbut's later collection of statements was made at the request of an anti-Mormon committee in Kirtland, Ohio. [65] According to B.H. Roberts:

It was simply a matter of "muck raking" on Hurlbut's part. Every idle story, every dark insinuation which at that time could be thought of and unearthed was pressed into service to gratify this man's personal desire for revenge, and to aid the enemies of the Prophet in their attempt to destroy his influence and overthrow the institution then in process of such remarkable development. [66]

Hurlbut was unable to publish the affidavits himself after his trial for making death threats against Joseph Smith, so he sold them to E.D. Howe for publication in his book Mormonism Unvailed

Hurlbut was unable to publish the affidavits himself after his trial for making death threats against Joseph Smith, Jr. (And, it is possible that his family's animus dated back far longer.) He sold his material to Eber D. Howe, who published it in his anti-Mormon book Mormonism Unvailed in 1834. In addition to the affidavits attacking the character of the Smith family, Hurlbut gathered statements from the family and neighbors of Solomon Spalding in order to "prove" that Spalding's unpublished manuscript was the source for the Book of Mormon. Mormonism Unvailed contained the first presentation of the Spalding theory of Book of Mormon origin. Some critics, such as Fawn Brodie, are selective in their acceptance of Hurlbut's affidavits—They readily accept affidavits that attack the character of the Smith family, yet admit that some "judicious prompting" by Hurlbut may have been involved in those affidavits that were gathered to support the Spalding theory. [67]

E.D. Howe thought that Joseph was "lazy," "indolent" and "superstitious"

Howe's bias is evident throughout the book. He introduces the Smith family with the following:

All who became intimate with them during this period, unite in representing the general character of old Joseph and wife, the parents of the pretended Prophet, as lazy, indolent, ignorant and superstitious—having a firm belief in ghosts and witches; the telling of fortunes; pretending to believe that the earth was filled with hidden treasures, buried there by Kid or the Spaniards. [68]


Response to claim: 190 - It is claimed that there are "no contemporary pro-Mormon statements from reliable and informed sources who knew the Smith family and Joseph intimately"

The author(s) of The Kingdom of the Cults make(s) the following claim:

It is claimed that there are "no contemporary pro-Mormon statements from reliable and informed sources who knew the Smith family and Joseph intimately."

Author's sources:

FairMormon Response

Fact checking results: This claim is false

It is convenient that the author inserts the "reliable and informed" qualifiers—this allows him to simply insist that any evidence in the Smiths' favor simply isn't reliable or informed. Joseph's mother and four siblings were members of the Presbyterian church. They were eventually suspended for not attending for eighteen months. If the family had been as reprobate as the Hurlbut affidavits claimed, it is unlikely their neighbors would have tolerated them in the church for as long as they did.


Question: Are there no contemporary pro-Mormon statements from reliable and informed sources who knew the Smith family and Joseph intimately?

There are contemporary legal documents and later remembrances of those who knew the Smiths, and regarded them as trustworthy and hard-working

It is claimed that there are "no contemporary pro-Mormon statements from reliable and informed sources who knew the Smith family and Joseph intimately."[69] There are certainly no "contemporary" documents from the anti-Mormon side. All the negativity comes after Joseph's announcement about his vision and the plates. Most of the negative reports (such as the Hurlbut-Howe affidavits) came well after the Church's organization.

But, the claim is false, as will be shown below—there are contemporary legal documents and later remembrances of those who knew the Smiths, and regarded them as trustworthy and hard-working.

Many affidavits claim that the Smiths were lazy, Yet, contemporary documents and tax records tell a very different story

Many affidavits claim that the Smiths were lazy. Yet, contemporary documents and tax records (which are surely reliable, surely informed, and cannot be the victims of bias like neighbors' testimony can be) tell a very different story.

For a detailed response, see: Lazy Smiths?

Joseph's use as a witness in 1819 indicates that the trial judge and jury found him both trustworthy and competent to give evidence

A year prior to the First Vision, Joseph Smith was thirteen years old. His family sued a neighboring farmer over a dispute regarding some horses they had purchased. One author explained that Joseph's use as a witness indicates that the trial judge and jury found him both trustworthy and competent to give evidence:

<onlyinclude> Under New York law, being just thirteen, Joseph's testimony about the work he had performed was admissible only after the court found him competent. His testimony proved credible and the court record indicates that ever item that he testified about was included in the damages awarded to the Smiths. Although Hurlbut [the farmer they were suing] appealed the case, no records have survived noting the final disposition of that case; perhaps it was settled out of court. The significance of this case is not limited to the fact that a New York judge found the young Joseph, just a year prior to his First Vision, to be competent and credible as a witness....

The trial was held on February 6, 1819. Twelve jurors were impaneled, all men and property owners. The Smiths called five witnesses, Hurlbut seven. Both Joseph Jr. and Hyrum were called to testify. This appears to be young Joseph's first direct interaction with the judicial process. He had turned thirteen years old a month and a half previously. New York law and local practice permitted the use of child testimony, subject to the court's discretion to determine the witness' competency. The test for competency required a determination that the witness was of 'sound mind and memory.' A New York 1803 summary of the law for justices of the peace notes that 'all persons of sound mind and memory, and who have arrived at years of discretion, except such as are legally interested, or have been rendered infamous, may be improved as witnesses.' This determination of competency rested within the discretion of the judge....

From the record it appears that Judge Spear found Joseph Jr. competent, and he indeed did testify during the trial. This is evident in a review of the List of Services that was part of the court file. Joseph Jr.'s testimony would have been required to admit those services he personally performed. His testimony was certainly combined with Hyrum's. Hyrum was born February 11, 1800, and was therefore nineteen years old at the time this case was tried.[70]


Response to claim: 190 - John C. Bennett, one of Josephs "former assistants" is claimed to have "boldly exposed the practice of polygamy in Nauvoo"

The author(s) of The Kingdom of the Cults make(s) the following claim:

John C. Bennett, one of Josephs "former assistants" is claimed to have "boldly exposed the practice of polygamy in Nauvoo."

Author's sources:

FairMormon Response

Fact checking results: The author has stated erroneous information or misinterpreted their sources

Bennett, a serial adulterer, was repeatedly chastened by Church leadership and finally excommunicated. He retaliated by accusing Joseph Smith of similar crimes.

Response to claim: 191 - "Each succeeding president of the Mormon Church claims...an infallible prophetic succession"

The author(s) of The Kingdom of the Cults make(s) the following claim:

 Author's quote: "Each succeeding president of the Mormon Church claims...an infallible prophetic succession."

Author's sources:

FairMormon Response

This error is repeated again on p. 243.

Fact checking results: This claim is false

This claim is absurd.


Question: Do Mormons consider their prophets to be infallible?

Latter-day Saints do not believe that prophets and apostles are incapable of error, despite being called of God and receiving revelation

Some people hold inerrantist beliefs about scriptures or prophets, and assume that the LDS have similar views. This leads some to assume that prophets are infallible. [71]

Joseph Smith himself taught that ‘a prophet was a prophet only when he was acting as such’.[72] The Church has always taught that its leaders are human and subject to failings as are all mortals. Only Jesus was perfect, as explained in this statement from the First Presidency:

The position is not assumed that the men of the New Dispensation —its prophets, apostles, presidencies, and other leaders—are without faults or infallible, rather they are treated as men of like passions with their fellow men."[73]

Lu Dalton, writing in the Church's periodical for women, explained:

We consider God, and him alone, infallible; therefore his revealed word to us cannot be doubted, though we may be in doubt some times about the knowledge which we obtain from human sources, and occasionally be obliged to admit that something which we had considered to be a fact, was really only a theory.[74]

Other authors have long taught the same thing:

1887 B. H. Roberts, Letter written November 4, 1887, London, Millennial Star 49. 48 (November 28, 1887): 760-763; a portion of which reads: “Relative to these sermons [Journal of Discourses] I must tell you they represent the individual views of the speakers, and the Church is not responsible for their teachings. Our authorized Church works are the Bible, Book of Mormon, Doctrine and Covenants, and the Pearl of Great Price. In the Church very wide latitude is given to individual belief and opinion, each man being responsible for his views and not the Church; the Church is only responsible for that which she sanctions and approves through the formal actions of her councils. So it may be that errors will be found in the sermons of men, and that in their over zeal unwise expressions will escape them, for all of which the Church is not responsible” (762)

1889 Charles W. Penrose, Editorial: Judge Anderson and ‘Blood Atonement,’ Deseret Weekly 39. 25 (December 14, 1889): 772a-773c. [Editor is Charles W. Penrose; in his response to the lengthy statement by Judge Anderson, he quotes from the same pamphlet which the Judge had quoted from: Blood Atonement, by Elder Charles W. Penrose, published in 1884; Penrose quotes a statement which the Judge had not] “’The law of God is paramount. When men give their views upon any doctrine, the value of those views is as the value of the man. If he is a wise man, a man of understanding, of experience and authority, such views are of great weight with the community; but they are not paramount, nor equal to the revealed law of God’” (773ab)

1892 21 March 1892: Elder Charles W. Penrose, at the time a counselor in the Salt Lake Stake Presidency: "At the head of this Church stands a man who is a Prophet . . . we respect and venerate him; but we do not believe that his personal views or utterances are revelations from God." Millennial Star 54 (21 March 1892): 191

1902 Joseph F. Smith to Lillian Golsan, July 16, 1902. "[T]he theories, speculations, and opinions of men, however intelligent, ingenious, and plausible, are not necessarily doctrines of the Church or principles that God has commanded His servants to preach. No doctrine is a doctrine of this Church until it has been accepted as such by the Church, and not even a revelation from God should be taught to his people until it has first been approved by the presiding authority–the one through whom the Lord makes known His will for the guidance of the saints as a religious body. The spirit of revelation may rest upon any one, and teach him or her many things for personal comfort and instruction. But these are not doctrines of the Church, and, however true, they must not be inculcated until proper permission is given.” - Joseph F. Smith Correspondence, Personal Letterbooks, 93–94, Film Reel 9, Ms. F271; cited in Dennis B. Horne (ed.), Determining Doctrine: A Reference Guide for Evaluation Doctrinal Truth (Roy, Utah: Eborn Books, 2005), 221–222. Also in Statements of the LDS First Presidency, compiled by Gary James Bergera (Signature, 2007), page 121. Bergera indicates it is a letter from JFS to Lillian Golsan, July 16, 1902.

1907 March 26, 1907. [The following was first published in “An Address. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to the World”, in Millennial Star 69. 16 (April 18, 1907): 241-247; 249-254; also in Improvement Era 10 (May 1907): 481-495; reprinted also in Messages of the First Presidency, Volume IV, compiled by James R. Clark (Bookcraft, SLC 1970): 142-157; “We refuse to be bound by the interpretations which others place upon our beliefs, or by what they allege must be the practical consequences of our doctrines. Men have no right to impute to us what they think may be the logical deduction from our beliefs, but which we ourselves do not accept. We are to be judged by our own interpretations and by our own actions, not by the logic of others, as to what is, or may be, the result of our faith”, page 154.

1921 B.H. Roberts: As to the printed discourses of even leading brethren…they do not constitute the court of ultimate appeal on doctrine. They may be very useful in the way of elucidation and are very generally good and sound in doctrine, but they are not the ultimate sources of the doctrines of the Church, and are not binding upon the Church. The rule in that respect is—What God has spoken, and what has been accepted by the Church as the word of God, by that, and that only, are we bound in doctrine. When in the revelations it is said concerning the Prophet, Seer, and Revelator that the Church shall “give heed unto all his words and commandments which he shall give unto you as he receiveth them—for his word ye shall receive as if from mine own mouth, in all patience and faith”—(Doc & Cov., Sec. 21)—it is understood, of course, that his has reference to the word of God received through revelation, and officially announced to the Church, and not to every chance word spoken.[75]

The prophets are not perfect, but they are called of God. They may speak as men, but may speak scripture as well. Every person may know for themselves whether they speak the truth through the same power that their revelation is given: the power of the Holy Ghost.


Response to claim: 191-192 - Brigham Young and the Mountain Meadows massacre

The author(s) of The Kingdom of the Cults make(s) the following claim:

Brigham Young and the Mountain Meadows massacre.

Author's sources:

FairMormon Response

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


Henry B. Eyring (2007): "What was done here long ago by members of our Church represents a terrible and inexcusable departure from Christian teaching and conduct"

Henry B. Eyring:

On September 11, 1857, some 50 to 60 local militiamen in southern Utah, aided by some American indian[s], massacred about 120 emigrants who were traveling by wagon to California. The horrific crime, which spared only 17 children age six and under, occurred in a highland valley called the Mountain Meadows, roughly 35 miles southwest of Cedar City. The victims, most of them from Arkansas, were on their way to California with dreams of a bright future“ (Richard E. Turley Jr., ”The Mountain Meadows Massacre,“ Ensign, Sept. 2007).

What was done here long ago by members of our Church represents a terrible and inexcusable departure from Christian teaching and conduct. We cannot change what happened, but we can remember and honor those who were killed here.

We express profound regret for the massacre carried out in this valley 150 years ago today and for the undue and untold suffering experienced by the victims then and by their relatives to the present time.

A separate expression of regret is owed to the Paiute people who have unjustly borne for too long the principal blame for what occurred during the massacre. Although the extent of their involvement is disputed, it is believed they would not have participated without the direction and stimulus provided by local Church leaders and members. [76]


Response to claim: 193 - "The god of Mormonism elevates 'white' races as supreme and has demeaned African-Americans"

The author(s) of The Kingdom of the Cults make(s) the following claim:

 Author's quote: [T]he god of Mormonism elevates "white" races as supreme and has demeaned African-Americans and Native Americans as "unrighteous."

Author's sources:
  1. No citation provided.

FairMormon Response

Fact checking results: The author has stated erroneous information or misinterpreted their sources

The author ignores the fact that the "Curse of Ham" was a Protestant invention used to justify slavery.

Gospel Topics: "Today, the Church disavows the theories advanced in the past that black skin is a sign of divine disfavor or curse, or that it reflects actions in a premortal life; that mixed-race marriages are a sin; or that blacks or people of any other race or ethnicity are inferior in any way to anyone else"

"Race and the Priesthood," Gospel Topics on LDS.org:

Today, the Church disavows the theories advanced in the past that black skin is a sign of divine disfavor or curse, or that it reflects actions in a premortal life; that mixed-race marriages are a sin; or that blacks or people of any other race or ethnicity are inferior in any way to anyone else. Church leaders today unequivocally condemn all racism, past and present, in any form.

Since that day in 1978, the Church has looked to the future, as membership among Africans, African Americans and others of African descent has continued to grow rapidly. While Church records for individual members do not indicate an individual’s race or ethnicity, the number of Church members of African descent is now in the hundreds of thousands.

The Church proclaims that redemption through Jesus Christ is available to the entire human family on the conditions God has prescribed. It affirms that God is “no respecter of persons”24 and emphatically declares that anyone who is righteous—regardless of race—is favored of Him. The teachings of the Church in relation to God’s children are epitomized by a verse in the second book of Nephi: “[The Lord] denieth none that cometh unto him, black and white, bond and free, male and female; . . . all are alike unto God, both Jew and Gentile.[77]—(Click here to continue)


Gospel Topics: "Even after 1852, at least two black Mormons continued to hold the priesthood"

Gospel Topics on LDS.org:

Even after 1852, at least two black Mormons continued to hold the priesthood. When one of these men, Elijah Abel, petitioned to receive his temple endowment in 1879, his request was denied. Jane Manning James, a faithful black member who crossed the plains and lived in Salt Lake City until her death in 1908, similarly asked to enter the temple; she was allowed to perform baptisms for the dead for her ancestors but was not allowed to participate in other ordinances. The curse of Cain was often put forward as justification for the priesthood and temple restrictions. Around the turn of the century, another explanation gained currency: blacks were said to have been less than fully valiant in the premortal battle against Lucifer and, as a consequence, were restricted from priesthood and temple blessings.[78] —(Click here to continue)


Question: What are the "curse of Cain" and the "curse of Ham"?

There is a distinction between the “curse” and the “mark” of Cain

The "curse of Cain" resulted in Cain being cut off from the presence of the Lord. The Genesis and Moses accounts both attest to this. The Book of Mormon teaches this principle in general when it speaks about those who keep the commandments will prosper in the land, while those who don't will be cut off from the presence off the Lord. This type of curse was applied to the Lamanites when they rejected the teachings of the prophets.

The exact nature of the "mark" of Cain, on the other hand, is unknown. The scriptures don't say specifically what it was, except that it was for Cain's protection, so that those finding him wouldn't slay him. Many people, both in an out of the Church, have assumed that the mark and the curse are the same thing.


Question: When did a biblical curse become associated with the "Hamites?"

The origin of the "curse of Ham" pre-dates the establishment of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints by hundreds of years

The basis used is Genesis 9:18-27:

18 And the sons of Noah, that went forth of the ark, were Shem, and Ham, and Japheth: and Ham is the father of Canaan.
19 These are the three sons of Noah: and of them was the whole earth overspread.
20 And Noah began to be an husbandman, and he planted a vineyard:
21 And he drank of the wine, and was drunken; and he was uncovered within his tent.
22 And Ham, the father of Canaan, saw the nakedness of his father, and told his two brethren without.
23 And Shem and Japheth took a garment, and laid it upon both their shoulders, and went backward, and covered the nakedness of their father; and their faces were backward, and they saw not their father’s nakedness.
24 And Noah awoke from his wine, and knew what his younger son had done unto him.
25 And he said, Cursed be Canaan; a servant of servants shall he be unto his brethren.
26 And he said, Blessed be the Lord God of Shem; and Canaan shall be his servant.
27 God shall enlarge Japheth, and he shall dwell in the tents of Shem; and Canaan shall be his servant.
Genesis 9:18-27 (emphasis added)

Although these verses clearly state that Canaan is cursed, it is not clear that the curse would be extended to his descendants. The use of Genesis 9 to associate a biblical curse with the descendants of Ham actually began in the third and fourth centuries A.D. [79] This "curse" became associated with the Canaanites. Origen, an early Christian scholar and theologian, makes reference to Ham's "discolored posterity" and the "ignobility of the race he fathered." [80] Likewise, Augustine and Ambrose of Milan speculated that the descendants of Ham carried a curse that was associated with a darkness of skin. This concept was shared among Jews, Muslims and Christians. The first "racial justification" for slavery appeared in the fifteenth century in Spain and Portugal. In the American colonies, the "curse of Ham" was being used in the late 1600's to justify the practice of slavery. [81] As author Stephen R. Haynes puts it, "Noah's curse had become a stock weapon in the arsenal of slavery's apologists, and references to Genesis 9 appeared prominently in their publications." [82]


Question: When did the "mark of Cain" become associated with black skin?

The biblical “mark of Cain” associated with black skin by Protestants to justify slavery

The idea that the “mark of Cain” and the "curse of Ham" was a black skin is something that was used by many Protestants as a way to morally and biblically justify slavery. This idea did not originate with Latter-day Saints, although the existence of the priesthood ban prior to 1978 tends to cause some people to assume that it was a Latter-day Saint concept.

Dr. Benjamin M. Palmer, pastor of the First Presbyterian Church in New Orleans from 1856 until 1902, was a "moving force" in the Southern Presbyterian church during that period. Palmer believed that the South's cause during the Civil War was supported by God. Palmer believed the Hebrew history supported the concept that God had intended for some people to be formed "apart from others" and placed in separate territories in order to "prevent admixture of races." [83] Palmer claimed that, "[t]he descendants of Ham, on the contrary, in whom the sensual and corporeal appetites predominate, are driven like an infected race beyond the deserts of Sahara, where under a glowing sky nature harmonized with their brutal and savage disposition." [84] Palmer declared:

Upon Ham was pronounced the doom of perpetual servitude—proclaimed with double emphasis, as it is twice repeated that he shall be the servant of Japheth and the servant of Shem. Accordingly, history records not a single example of any member of this group lifting itself, by any process of self-development, above the savage condition. From first to last their mental and moral characteristics, together with the guidance of Providence, have marked them for servitude; while their comparative advance in civilization and their participation in the blessings of salvation, have ever been suspended upon this decreed connexion [sic] with Japhet [sic] and with Shem. [85]

Unfortunately, among some, the Protestant concept that God has separated people by race has persisted even into modern times.

God has separated people for His own purpose. He has erected barriers between the nations, not only land and sea barriers, but also ethnic, cultural, and language barriers. God has made people different one from another and intends those differences to remain. (Letter to James Landrith from Bob Jones University, 1998) [86]


Question: How did the "curse of Ham" or "curse of Cain" become associated with Mormonism?

Early members of the Church brought this culturally-conditioned belief in the "curse of Ham" with them into Mormonism

Prior to 1978, the doctrinal folklore that blacks are the descendants of Cain and Ham and that they carry the “mark of Cain” was a belief among some members of the Church, and is occasionally heard even today. The dubious “folk doctrine” in question is no longer even relevant, since it was used to incorrectly explain and justify a Church policy that was reversed over thirty years ago. Prior to the 1978 revelation, however, the Saints used the “mark of Cain” to explain the policy of denying priesthood ordination to those of African descent—a policy for which no revelatory prophetic explanation was ever actually given.

Early members of the Church were, for the most part, converts from Protestant sects. It is understandable that they naturally brought this culturally-conditioned belief in the "curse of Ham" with them into Mormonism. Many modern members of the Church, for instance, are unaware that Joseph Smith ordained at least one African-American man to the priesthood: Elijah Abel.

At some point during Brigham Young's administration, the priesthood ban was initiated. No revelation, if there ever was one, was published, although many throughout the history of the Church have assumed that the reason for the ban must be that blacks were the cursed seed of Cain, and therefore not allowed the priesthood (usually stemming from a misreading of Abraham 1). The correct answer as to why the ban was put into place is: we don't know. For further information on the priesthood ban, see Blacks and the priesthood.

Bruce R. McConkie in 1978, after the revelation granting blacks the priesthood:

It is time disbelieving people repented and got in line and believed in a living, modern prophet. Forget everything that I have said, or what President Brigham Young…or whomsoever has said in days past that is contrary to the present revelation. We spoke with a limited understanding and without the light and knowledge that now has come into the world. We get our truth and our light line upon line and precept upon precept. We have now had added a new flood of intelligence and light on this particular subject, and it erases all the darkness and all the views and all the thoughts of the past. They don’t matter any more. It doesn’t make a particle of difference what anybody ever said about the Negro matter before the first day of June of this year. It is a new day and a new arrangement, and the Lord has now given the revelation that sheds light out into the world on this subject. [87]

Prior to this statement by Elder Bruce R. McConkie in 1978, the doctrinal folklore that blacks are the descendants of Cain and Ham and that they carry the “mark of Cain” was a belief among some members of the Church, and is occasionally heard even today. The dubious “folk doctrine” in question is no longer even relevant, since it was used to incorrectly explain and justify a Church policy that was reversed over thirty years ago. Prior to the 1978 revelation, however, the Saints used the “mark of Cain” to explain the policy of denying priesthood ordination to those of African descent—a policy for which no revelation or prophetic explanation was ever actually given.

The speculation was that in the premortal existence, certain spirits were set aside to come to Earth through a lineage that was cursed and marked, first by Cain’s murder of his brother and covenant with Satan (Genesis 4:11–15; Moses 5:23–25, Moses 5:36–40), and then again later by Ham’s offense against his father Noah. The reasons why this lineage was set apart weren’t clear, but it was speculated they were somehow less valiant than their premortal brethren during the war in heaven. In this life, then, the holy priesthood was to be withheld from all who had had any trace of that lineage.

As neat and coherent as that scenario might seem, the scriptures typically cited in its support cannot logically be interpreted this way unless one starts with the priesthood ban itself and then works backward, looking for scriptures to support a predetermined belief.


Response to claim: 193 - The Book of Mormon describes the "Native-American" curse as a "skin of blackness"

The author(s) of The Kingdom of the Cults make(s) the following claim:

The Book of Mormon describes the "Native-American" curse as a "skin of blackness."

Author's sources:
  1. 2 Nephi 5:21

FairMormon Response

Fact checking results: The author has stated erroneous information or misinterpreted their sources

The Book of Mormon describes the Lamanites as being cursed with a "skin of blackness"


Question: What was the Lamanite curse?

The Book of Mormon talks of a curse being placed upon the Lamanites

And he had caused the cursing to come upon them, yea, even a sore cursing, because of their iniquity. For behold, they had hardened their hearts against him, that they had become like unto a flint; wherefore, as they were white, and exceedingly fair and delightsome, that they might not be enticing unto my people the Lord God did cause a skin of blackness to come upon them. 2 Nephi 5:21

It is claimed by some that the Church believed that Lamanites who accepted the Gospel would become light-skinned, and that "Mormon folklore" claims that Native Americans and Polynesians carry a curse based upon "misdeeds on the part of their ancestors."

One critic asks, "According to the Book of Mormon a dark skin is a curse imposed by God on the unrighteous and their descendants as a punishment for sin. Do you agree with that doctrine? (Book of Mormon, 1 Nephi 12:22-23, Alma 3:6, 2 Nephi 5:21-22, Jacob 3:8, 3 Nephi 2:15-16, Mormon 5:15; references to the "Lamanites" are taken to be referring to Native American "Indians".)" [88]

Although the curse of the Lamanites is often associated directly with their skin color, it may be that this was intended in a far more symbolic sense than modern American members traditionally assumed

The curse itself came upon them as a result of their rejection of the Gospel. It was possible to be subject to the curse, and to be given a mark, without it being associated with a change in skin color, as demonstrated in the case of the Amlicites. The curse is apparently a separation from the Lord. A close reading of the Book of Mormon text makes it untenable to consider that literal skin color was ever the "curse." At most, the skin color was seen as a mark, and it may well have been that these labels were far more symbolic and cultural than they were literal.


Response to claim: 194 - Editions of the Book of Mormon printed after 1981 changed the word "white" to "pure" in order to "delete" "racist overtones"

The author(s) of The Kingdom of the Cults make(s) the following claim:

Editions of the Book of Mormon printed after 1981 changed the word "white" to "pure" in order to "delete" "racist overtones."

Author's sources:
  1. 2 Nephi 30:6

FairMormon Response

Fact checking results: This claim is false

Joseph Smith made the change in 1836.


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

3. Having the color of purity; pure; clean; free from spot; as white robed innocence....5. Pure; unblemished....6. In a scriptural sense, purified from sin; sanctified. Psalm 51.[89]

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


Response to claim: 194 - Brigham Young made degrading comments about race in the Journal of Discourses

The author(s) of The Kingdom of the Cults make(s) the following claim:

Brigham Young made degrading comments about race in the Journal of Discourses.

Author's sources:

FairMormon Response

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


Question: Did Brigham Young say that race mixing was punishable by death?

Brigham Young said that race mixing was punishable by death

Yes, Brigham Young did makes statements to this effect. One of the most well known is this one from March 8, 1863:

Shall I tell you the law of God in regard to the African race? If the white man who belongs to the chosen seed mixes his blood with the seed of Cain, the penalty, under the law of God, is death on the spot. This will always be so. The nations of the earth have transgressed every law that God has given, they have changed the ordinances and broken every covenant made with the fathers, and they are like a hungry man that dreameth that he eateth, and he awaketh and behold he is empty. [90]

It was a complex issues (after all, laws against interracial marriage still existed in a number of states until June of 1967 (Utah was not one of them), when the Supreme Court finally argued that they were unconstitutional - a hundred years after some of Brigham Young's comments). President Young's views were connected to his views on priesthood and sealings, they were affected by his own cultural upbringing, and they were affected by changes that happened in the late 1840s. Among these was the challenge of black men actually marrying white women in the Church, and the stir this caused among certain groups of Church membership. While there were a couple of instances where violence actually happened (and several cases of interracial marriage),

Brigham Young didn't ever actually try to have someone killed for doing this, and this was typical of Young's over the top rhetoric that he used from time to time at the pulpit

Brigham Young didn't ever actually try to have someone killed for doing this, and we assume that some of this (although based in racist attitudes that were prevalent in American society and held by Brigham Young) was typical of Young's over the top rhetoric that he used from time to time at the pulpit for effect.


Response to claim: 194 - The Urim and Thummim were "supernatural spectacles"

The author(s) of The Kingdom of the Cults make(s) the following claim:

The Urim and Thummim were "supernatural spectacles."

Author's sources:

FairMormon Response

Fact checking results: This claim contains propaganda - 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 Urim and Thummim were never described in the Bible, nor in Church history as being "supernatural."


Question: Did Joseph Smith use the Nephite interpreters to translate? Or did he use his own seer stone?

Joseph Smith used both the Nephite interpreters and the seer stone, and both were called "Urim and Thummim"

Joseph Smith used both the Nephite Interpreters and his own seer stone during the translation process, yet we only hear of the "Urim and Thummim" being used for this purpose.

  1. He described the instrument as ‘spectacles’ and referred to it using an Old Testament term, Urim and Thummim.
  2. He also sometimes applied the term to other stones he possessed, called ‘seer stones’ because they aided him in receiving revelations as a seer. The Prophet received some early revelations through the use of these seer stones.
  3. Records indicate that soon after the founding of the Church in 1830, the Prophet stopped using the seer stones as a regular means of receiving revelations. Instead, he dictated the revelations after inquiring of the Lord without employing an external instrument.

Emma Smith confirmed that Joseph switched between the Nephite interpreters and his own seer stone during the translation

Emma Smith Bidamon described Joseph's use of several stones during translation to Emma Pilgrim on 27 March 1870 (original spelling retained):

Now the first that my <husband> translated, [the book] was translated by use of the Urim, and Thummim, and that was the part that Martin Harris lost, after that he used a small stone, not exactly, black, but was rather a dark color.”[91]

Joseph Smith's small, egg-shaped seer stone. Emma said that "he used a small stone, not exactly, black, but was rather a dark color." Photograph by Welden C. Andersen and Richard E. Turley Jr. Copyright © The Church Historian's Press.


Response to claim: 194 - The first edition of the Book of Mormon listed Joseph Smith as "author and proprietor"

The author(s) of The Kingdom of the Cults make(s) the following claim:

The first edition of the Book of Mormon listed Joseph Smith as "author and proprietor."

Author's sources:

FairMormon Response

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

The next page also listed him as "translator". The "author and proprietor" statement was required in order to obtain the copyright.


Question: Why is Joseph Smith listed as "author and proprietor" of the 1830 Book of Mormon instead of as "translator"?

Copyright law in 1830 in New York, where the Book of Mormon was first published, provided for the granting of copyrights to "authors and proprietors" but did not offer the same to translators

Joseph Smith is listed as the "author and proprietor" in the 1830 edition of the Book of Mormon. Critics of the Church consider this evidence that Joseph wrote the book himself. However, in order to secure the copyright, Joseph had to apply as the "author and proprietor." As one historian noted:

The fact is, Joseph Smith was complying with federal law (see I Statutes 124, 1790, as amended by 2 Stat. 171, 1802), which dictated the words the district clerk had to write when a person was taking out a copyright on a book. It can be demonstrated historically that many translators, including those who produced the 1824 edition of the King James Version of the Bible, were listed as "Author" to conform to this law.[92]

The first edition of the Book of Mormon contained a transcript of the secured copyright making this clear:

Northern District of New York, to wit:

BE IT REMEMBERED, That on the eleventh day of June, in the fifty-third year of the Independence of the United States of America, A. D. 1829, JOSEPH SMITH, JUN., of the said District, hath deposited in this office the title of a Book, the right whereof he claims as author, in the words following, to wit: "The Book of Mormon: an account written by the hand of Mormon, upon plates taken from the Plates of Nephi. Wherefore it is an abridgment of the Record of the People of Nephi; and also of the Lamanites; written to the Lamanites, who are a remnant of the House of Israel; and also to Jew and Gentile; written by way of commandment, and also by the spirit of Prophesy and of Revelation. Written, and sealed up, and hid up unto the Lord, that they might not be destroyed; to come forth by the gift and power of God, unto the interpretation thereof; sealed by the hand of Moroni, and hid up unto the Lord, to come forth in due time by the way of Gentile; the interpretation thereof by the gift of God; an abridgment taken from the Book of Ether. Also, which is a Record of the People of Jared, which were scattered at the time the Lord confounded the language of the people when they were building a tower to get to Heaven: which is to shew unto the remnant of the House of Israel, how great things the Lord hath done for their fathers; and that they may know the covenants of the Lord, that they are not cast off forever: and also to the convincing of the Jew and Gentile, that Jesus is the Christ, the Eternal God, manifesting Himself unto all nations. And now if there be fault, it be the mistake of men; wherefore condemn not the things of God, that ye may be found spotless at the judgment seat of Christ.—By Joseph Smith. Jun. Author and Proprietor."

In conformity to the act of the Congress of the United States, entitled, "An act for the encouragement of learning, by securing the copies of Maps, Charts, and Books, to the authors and proprietors of such copies, during the times therein mentioned;" and also the act, entitled, "An act supplementary to an act, entitled, "An act for the encouragement of learning, by securing the copies of Maps, Charts, and Books, to the authors and proprietors of such copies, during the times therein mentioned, and extending the benefits thereof to the arts of designing, engraving, and etching historical and other prints."

R. R. LANSING

Clerk of the Northern District of New York

The title page of the 1830 Book of Mormon

The State of New York would have rejected the copyright if it had been assigned to "God" or "the angel Moroni" as the "author and proprietor"

It would be unreasonable if Joseph Smith were to apply for the copyright and assign "God" or "the angel Moroni" as the "author and proprietor". This complaint is not a serious issue, but merely an effort to find fault. Besides, the 1830 edition also states that the book was a translation of ancient records.

The 1830 Book of Mormon clearly identifies Joseph Smith as the translator of the work

Notice in the first paragraph of the copyright form above that even though Joseph Smith legally claimed his right as "author" he still inserted information making it clear that the text originated from an ancient, pre-written "abridgment" that came forth to the modern world "by the gift and power of God" and through an act of "interpretation" or translation.

It should also be pointed out that in the Preface of the 1830 edition of the Book of Mormon the Prophet Joseph Smith designated himself as the "Author" but also indicated no less than six times that he was the translator of the text. Likewise, it can be seen in the 1830 testimony of the Eight Witnesses that Joseph Smith is called the "Author and Proprietor of this work" but it is also said that he "translated" the golden plates in order to obtain the text of the Book of Mormon.

Page 1 from the 1830 edition of the Book of Mormon: "I would inform you that I translated, by the gift and power of God...."


Response to claim: 195 - "The conflicting methods Smith used for translating the Book of Mormon leaves little doubt that the story changed often through its progressive history"

The author(s) of The Kingdom of the Cults make(s) the following claim:

 Author's quote: The conflicting methods Smith used for translating the Book of Mormon leaves little doubt that the story changed often through its progressive history.

Author's sources:
  1. David Whitmer, An Address to All Believers in Christ, 12.
  • Deseret News Church Section, September 20, 1969, 32.
  • Emma Smith, The Saint's Herald, 310.

FairMormon Response

Fact checking results: The author has stated erroneous information or misinterpreted their sources

The author wishes to contrast the story of the translation using the Urim and Thummim with the use of a seer stone placed in a hat. In reality, both methods are believed to have been employed and the timeline documenting their use is consistent.


Question: How exactly did Joseph Smith translate the gold plates?

Joseph Smith only stated that he translated the Book of Mormon by the "gift and power of God"

All that we know for certain is that Joseph translated the record "by the gift and power of God." (D&C 135:3) We are given some insight into the spiritual aspect of the translation process, when the Lord says to Oliver Cowdery:

"But, behold, I say unto you, that you must study it out in your mind; then you must ask me if it be right, and if it is right I will cause that your bosom shall burn within you; therefore, you shall feel that it is right." (D&C 9:8)

Beyond this, the Church does not take any sort of official stand on the exact method by which the Book of Mormon translation occurred. Joseph Smith himself never recorded the precise physical details of the method of translation:

"Brother Joseph Smith, Jun., said that it was not intended to tell the world all the particulars of the coming forth of the Book of Mormon; and also said that it was not expedient for him to relate these things"[93]

It is important to remember that what we do know for certain is that the translation of the Book of Mormon was carried out "by the gift and power of God." These are the only words that Joseph Smith himself used to describe the translation process.


Gospel Topics: "According to these accounts, Joseph placed either the interpreters or the seer stone in a hat, pressed his face into the hat to block out extraneous light, and read aloud the English words"

Gospel Topics on LDS.org:

[T]he scribes and others who observed the translation left numerous accounts that give insight into the process. Some accounts indicate that Joseph studied the characters on the plates. Most of the accounts speak of Joseph’s use of the Urim and Thummim (either the interpreters or the seer stone), and many accounts refer to his use of a single stone. According to these accounts, Joseph placed either the interpreters or the seer stone in a hat, pressed his face into the hat to block out extraneous light, and read aloud the English words that appeared on the instrument. The process as described brings to mind a passage from the Book of Mormon that speaks of God preparing “a stone, which shall shine forth in darkness unto light.”[94]


Russell M. Nelson: "The details of this miraculous method of translation are still not fully known. Yet we do have a few precious insights"

Russell M. Nelson:

The details of this miraculous method of translation are still not fully known. Yet we do have a few precious insights. David Whitmer wrote: “Joseph Smith would put the seer stone into a hat, and put his face in the hat, drawing it closely around his face to exclude the light; and in the darkness the spiritual light would shine. A piece of something resembling parchment would appear, and on that appeared the writing. One character at a time would appear, and under it was the interpretation in English. Brother Joseph would read off the English to Oliver Cowdery, who was his principal scribe, and when it was written down and repeated to Brother Joseph to see if it was correct, then it would disappear, and another character with the interpretation would appear. Thus the Book of Mormon was translated by the gift and power of God, and not by any power of man.” (David Whitmer, An Address to All Believers in Christ, Richmond, Mo.: n.p., 1887, p. 12.)[95]


Response to claim: 197 - Charles Anthon claimed that he never told Martin Harris that the translation of the characters from the gold plates was correct

The author(s) of The Kingdom of the Cults make(s) the following claim:

Charles Anthon claimed that he never told Martin Harris that the translation of the characters from the gold plates was correct.

Author's sources:
  1. Letter from Charles Anthon to E.D. Howe, Feb. 17, 1834.

FairMormon Response

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

Anthon did not like being associated with the Book of Mormon. If he did not reassure Martin, as he later claimed to Howe, why did Martin return reassured and ready to mortgage his farm to publish Joseph's translation?


Question: Did Charles Anthon validate the characters that Martin Harris brought to him that had been copied from the Book of Mormon plates?

If Anthon did not validate the characters, then why did Martin Harris immediately return home and finance the Book of Mormon?

If Charles Anthon really did tell Martin that the characters and translation were bogus, it would therefore be very strange for Martin Harris to immediately return home, help Joseph translate the Book of Mormon, provide funds, and eventually mortgage his farm to help print it.

On the other hand, Anthon clearly had no desire to have his name associated with "Mormonism," and so he has clear motives to alter the story after the fact.[96]

Martin Harris said that Anton validated the characters

Martin Harris' account of the visit to Charles Anthon was included in Joseph Smith's 1838 history:

64 I went to the city of New York, and presented the characters which had been translated, with the translation thereof, to Professor Charles Anthon, a gentleman celebrated for his literary attainments. Professor Anthon stated that the translation was correct, more so than any he had before seen translated from the Egyptian. I then showed him those which were not yet translated, and he said that they were Egyptian, Chaldaic, Assyriac, and Arabic; and he said they were true characters. He gave me a certificate, certifying to the people of Palmyra that they were true characters, and that the translation of such of them as had been translated was also correct. I took the certificate and put it into my pocket, and was just leaving the house, when Mr. Anthon called me back, and asked me how the young man found out that there were gold plates in the place where he found them. I answered that an angel of God had revealed it unto him. 65 He then said to me, 'Let me see that certificate.' I accordingly took it out of my pocket and gave it to him, when he took it and tore it to pieces, saying that there was no such thing now as ministering of angels, and that if I would bring the plates to him he would translate them. I informed him that part of the plates were sealed, and that I was forbidden to bring them. He replied, 'I cannot read a sealed book.' I left him and went to Dr. Mitchell, who sanctioned what Professor Anthon had said respecting both the characters and the translation.(Joseph Smith History 1:64–65).

Anthon denied that he had ever validated the characters and translation, but his two accounts contradict one another

Anthon denied that he had ever validated either the characters or Joseph's translation, though his two written accounts contradict each other on key points.[97] For example:

  • in his first letter, Anthon refuses to give Harris a written opinion
  • in his second letter, Anthon claims that he wrote his opinion "without any hesitation" because he wished to expose what he was certain was a fraud.

A clue as to what Anthon said may be found in Martin Harris' reaction. Martin committed himself to financing the translation of the Book of Mormon.


Response to claim: 199 - Nobody has found "the slightest trace" of a language known as "reformed Egyptian"

The author(s) of The Kingdom of the Cults make(s) the following claim:

Nobody has found "the slightest trace" of a language known as "reformed Egyptian."

Author's sources:
  1. Author's opinion.

FairMormon Response

Fact checking results: The author has stated erroneous information or misinterpreted their sources

The Book of Mormon makes it clear that "reformed Egyptian" is the Nephite term only (Mormon 9:32-34).

Question: What is "reformed Egyptian"?

The term "reformed Egyptian" is the name which the Nephites have given to a script based upon Egyptian characters, and modified over the course of a thousand years

Moroni makes it clear that "reformed Egyptian" is the name which the Nephites have given to a script based upon Egyptian characters, and modified over the course of a thousand years (See Mormon 9:32). So, it is no surprise that Egyptians or Jews have no script called "reformed Egyptian," as this was a Nephite term.

There are, however, several variant Egyptian scripts which are "reformed" or altered from their earlier form

There are, however, several variant Egyptian scripts which are "reformed" or altered from their earlier form. Hugh Nibley and others have pointed out that the change from Egyptian hieroglyphics, to hieratic, to demotic is a good description of Egyptian being "reformed." By 600 BC, hieratic was used primarily for religious texts, while demotic was used for daily use. off-site

One can see how hieroglyphics developed into the more stylized hieratic, and this process continued with the demotic:

Development of hieratic script from hieroglyphs; after Jean-François Champollion. off-site

What could be a better term for this than an Egyptian script that has been "reformed"?

Examples from the Holy Land 7th and 6th century before Christ

More recent research provides further corroboration:

The fourth presentation at BYU’s Willes Center for Book of Mormon Studies conference on 31 August 2012 was on “Writing in 7th Century BC Levant,” by Stefan Wimmer of the University of Munich. It was entitled “Palestinian Hieratic.” He examined an interesting phenomena in Hebrew inscriptions, the use of Egyptian hieratic (cursive hieroglyphic) signs.

Basically Hebrew scribes used Egyptian signs for various numerals, weights and measures. The changes in the form of these signs parallel similar chronological changes in the form of Egyptian hieratic characters, which indicates continued contact of some sort between Egyptian and Hebrew scribes, probably over several centuries. (If there had been a single scribal transmission with no ongoing contact, the changes in the Hebrew forms of hieratic signs would not parallel contemporary changes in Egyptian hieratic forms.) No other Semitic language used Egyptian hieratic signs except Hebrew (with one possible Moabite example.)

There are a couple of hundred examples of such texts, the majority dating from the late seventh century, and geographically mainly from Jerusalem southward. The phenomena ends after the Babylonian captivity. (In other words, Palestinian hieratic is most common in precisely the time and location of Lehi and Nephi, and only exists in Hebrew.)[98]

Additionally,

Documents from the kingdoms of both Israel and Judah, but not the neighboring kingdoms, of the eighth and seventh centuries contain Egyptian hieratic signs (cursive hieroglyphics) and numerals that had ceased to be used in Egypt after the tenth century (Philip J. King and Lawrence E. Stager, Life in Biblical Israel (Louisville, Kentucky: Westminster John Knox Press, 2001), 311.)

German Egyptologist Stefan Wimmer calls this script "palestinian Hieratic." See Stefan Wimmer, Palästinisches Hieratisch: Die Zahl- und Sonderzeichen in der althebräischen Schrift, Ägypten und Altes Testament 75 (Germany: Harrassowitz Wiesbaden, 2008).

Further examples

William Hamblin provides additional example of such reformation of Egyptian, including:

  • Byblos Syllabic texts
  • Cretan hieroglyphics
  • Meroitic
  • Psalm 20 in demotic Egyptian
  • Proto-Sinaitic and the alphabet[99]

Given that Moroni says the Nephites then modified the scripts further, "reformed Egyptian" is an elegant description of both the Old World phenomenon, and what Moroni says happened among the Nephites.


Response to claim: 200 - The book claims that archaeological evidence refutes the Book of Mormon

The author(s) of The Kingdom of the Cults make(s) the following claim:

The book claims that archaeological evidence refutes the Book of Mormon.

Author's sources:
  1. Author's opinion.

FairMormon Response

Fact checking results: The author has stated erroneous information or misinterpreted their sources


Question: What criticisms are raised with regard to Book of Mormon archaeology compared to that of the Bible?

Sectarian critics who accept the Bible claim that the Bible has been "proven" by archaeology

Sectarian critics who accept the Bible, but not the Book of Mormon, sometimes claim that the Bible has been "proven" or "confirmed" by archaeology, and insist that the same cannot be said for the Book of Mormon.

The claim that there is no archaeological evidence supporting the Book of Mormon is incorrect

The claim that, unlike the Bible, there is no archaeological evidence supporting the Book of Mormon is based on naive and erroneous assumptions. Without epigraphic New World evidence (which is currently extremely limited from Book of Mormon times), we are unable to know the contemporary names of ancient Mesoamerican cities and kingdoms. To dismiss the Book of Mormon on archaeological grounds is short-sighted. Newer archaeological finds are generally consistent with the Book of Mormon record even if we are unable (as yet) to know the exact location of Book of Mormon cities.

  • What would a "Nephite pot" look like? What would "Nephite" or "Lamanite" weapons look like?
  • Think about the Old World--how do you tell the difference between Canaanite pots and houses and garbage dumps, and Israelite pots and houses and garbage dumps? You can't. If we didn't have the Bible and other written texts, we'd have no idea from archaelogy that Israelites were monotheists or that their religion differed from the Canaanites who lived along side them.
  • We also know very little about the names of cities in the New World from before the Spanish Conquest. So, even if we found a Nephite city, how would we know? We don't know what the pre-Columbian name for a city was (or how to pronounce them)--so, even if we had found, say, "Zarahemla," how would we know?

Note: Many of the topics sometimes addressed in archaeological critiques of the Book of Mormon are treated in detail on the Book of Mormon "anachronism" page.


Question: What archaeological evidence might be considered the minimal irrefutable proof needed to convince a non-believing world of the authenticity of the Nephite scripture?

For critics, every time something is found that correlates with the Book of Mormon, it is considered a "lucky guess" and dismissed

A reasonable question for those suggesting that there is no archaeological evidence for the Book of Mormon would be “What archaeological evidence might be considered the minimal irrefutable proof needed to convince a non-believing world of the authenticity of the Nephite scripture?”

Some people might suggest that finding the existence of horses or chariots would constitute proof for the Book of Mormon. This is doubtful. Finding such items would merely demonstrate that such things existed in the ancient New World, and while such discoveries may be consistent with the Book of Mormon, they hardly amount to “proof.”

As an example, the Book of Mormon mentions barley which, until recently, was thought not to exist in the ancient Americas. Critics considered barley to be one of the things that “Joseph Smith got wrong.” However, pre-Columbian New World barley has now been verified, without people flocking to join the Church because of this discovery. For critics, finding such items are too often seen as “lucky guesses” on the part of Joseph Smith. The Book of Mormon mentions cities, trade, warfare, towers, and the use of armor—all of which did exist in the ancient Americas—yet their existence has not convinced critics that the Book of Mormon is an authentic ancient text.


Question: How would an archaeologist distinguish a Christian's pot from that of a non-Christian?

Physical evidence doesn’t provide much information unless it is placed within a context

When examining ancient evidence archaeologists work with a very fragmentary record. In general, they find physical evidence, but such evidence in and of itself doesn’t provide much information unless it is placed within a context—a framework by which it can be understood. For instance, if an archaeologist finds a pot (or, more likely, a fragment of a pot), it provides little evidence concerning the civilization that created or used the pot. Contextual clues—such as other artifacts uncovered near the pot—may provide some clues about the timeframe in which the pot was last used, but it certainly doesn’t provide conclusive evidence as to what the civilization, or the individuals in that civilization, were like.

Critics, for example, sometimes deride the idea that Nephites were, for much of their written history, “Christians.” In the critics' view, there should be archaeological remains indicating a Christian presence in the ancient New World. How, exactly, would an archaeologist distinguish a Christian's pot from that of a non-Christian? What would a Christian pot look like? One must also keep in mind that, according to the Book of Mormon, the New World “Christians” were a persecuted minority who were wiped out over fifteen hundred years ago. How much archaeological evidence would we really expect to have survived the intervening centuries?

For the archaeologist, the strongest contextual clues come from writing or markings that are sometimes found on the physical evidence. These are of two general types: epigraphic and iconographic. Epigraphic evidence consists of a written record, such as this text you are reading, while iconographic evidence consists of pictures, or icons. For instance, the word “cross” is epigraphic, but a picture of a cross is iconographic. Epigraphic evidence, providing it can be translated, provides a record of what people thought or did. Iconographic evidence is much more symbolic and its interpretation depends on the context in which the image is used.

The only way archaeologists can determine names is through written records

As noted by Dr. William Hamblin, "the only way archaeologists can determine the names of political kingdoms, people, ethnography, and religion of an ancient people is through written records."

"Iconography can be helpful, but must be understood in a particular cultural context which can only be fully understood through written records. (Thus, the existence of swastikas, for example, on late medieval mosques in Central Asia or on Tibetan Buddhist temples in Tibet does not demonstrate that Muslims and Buddhists are Nazis, nor, for that matter, that Nazis are Buddhists. Rather, medieval swastikas demonstrate that different symbolic meanings were applied to the same symbol in early twentieth century Germany, Muslim Central Asia, and in Tibet.)"[100]

Many ancient peoples, however, wrote on perishable materials that have deteriorated through the centuries. Egypt, for example, wrote on materials that have survived through the ages, whereas the kingdom of Judah generally did not.

"[F]rom archaeological data alone," notes Hamblin, "we would know almost nothing about the religion and kingdom of ancient Judah. Indeed, based on archaeological data alone we would assume the Jews were polytheists exactly like their neighbors. Judaism, as a unique religion, would simply disappear without the survival of the Bible and other Jewish written texts."

"...Methodologically speaking, does the absence of archaeologically discovered written records demonstrate that a certain kingdom does not exist? Or to put it another way, does the existence of an ancient kingdom depend on whether or not twenty-first century archaeologists have discovered written records of that kingdom? Or does the kingdom exist irrespective of whether or not it is part of the knowledge horizon of early twenty-first century archaeologists? Or, to state the principle more broadly, does absence of evidence equal evidence of absence?"[101]


Question: What do we find when we turn to the records of the ancient (i.e. before A.D. 400) Americas?

Of the approximately half dozen known written language systems in the New World only the Mayan language can be fully read

Understanding that a written record (epigraphic or iconographic) is necessary for building archaeological context, what do we find when we turn to the records of the ancient (i.e. before A.D. 400) Americas?

Of the approximately half dozen known written language systems in the New World (all of which are located in Mesoamerica), only the Mayan language can be fully read with confidence. Scholars can understand some basic structure of some of the other languages, but they cannot fully understand what the ancients were saying. In other words, there is a problem with deciphering the epigraphic record. According to the experts, “the pronunciation of the actual names of the earliest Maya kings and other name-glyphs from other writing systems is not known with certainty.”[102]

For the time period in which the Nephites lived, scholars are aware of only a very limited number of inscriptions from the entire ancient New World that can be read with any degree of certainty. Even with these fragments, however, scholars are still uncertain from these inscriptions just how the ancients pronounced the proper names and place names (toponyms). Four of these readable inscriptions merely give dates or a king’s name—a very limited cultural context. Another five inscriptions contain historical information and proper names—the mention of the cities Tikal and Uaxactun (for which the ancient pronunciation remain uncertain) and five kings from these two cities (whom we know by iconographic symbols and whose ancient pronunciation remains uncertain).[103]

With such sparse epigraphic information, how could we possibly recognize—even if they we discovered archaeologically—that we had found the location of cities we know as Bountiful and Zarahemla, or if the religious rulers were actually named Nephi or Moroni? The critics like to claim that there is no archaeological evidence for the Book of Mormon, but the truth is that there is scant archaeological data to tell us anything about the names of ancient New World inhabitants or locations—and names are the only means by which we could archaeologically identify whether there were Nephites in ancient America.


Question: How would Book of Mormon archaeology compare to that of the Bible?

There is a lack of readable New World inscriptions from Nephite times

Religious critics frequently like to compare the lack of archaeological support for the Book of Mormon with what they are certain is voluminous archaeological support for the Bible. There is a drastic difference, however, between the two worlds (Old and New) when it comes to epigraphic data, iconographic data, the continuity of culture, and toponyms.

We have already noted the dearth of readable New World inscriptions from Nephite times. From biblical lands, however, we know of thousands of contemporary inscriptions that have survived to modern times. We have pointed out that very few toponyms (place-names) can be read in the surviving few epigraphic fragments from the Nephite-era New World. In contrast, we find for the Bible lands not only scores of epigraphic records identifying ancient Mediterranean cities, but we also sometimes find a “continuity of culture” that preserves city names. In other words, many modern Near Eastern cities are known by the same name as they were known anciently (this is not the case for ancient America). Knowing the exact location of one city helps biblical archaeologists locate other cities, simply by calculating the distances.[104]

Even acknowledging the archaeological advantages for determining the location and historical actuality of biblical lands, we find that only slightly more than half of all place names mentioned in the Bible have been located and positively identified.[105] Most of these identifications are based on the preservation of the toponym. For biblical locations with no toponym preserved, only about 7% to 8% of them have been identified to a degree of certainty and about another 7% to 8% of them have been identified with some degree of conjectural certainty.[106] The identification of these locations without place names could not have been made were it not for the identification of locations with preserved toponyms. If few or no Biblical toponyms had survived in a continuous, unbroken "language chain" from the Bible's era to our own, the identification of biblical locations would be largely speculative.

Despite the identification of some biblical sites, many important Bible locations have not been identified. The location of Mt. Sinai, for example, is unknown, and there are over twenty possible candidates. Some scholars reject the claim that the city of Jericho existed at the time of Joshua. The exact route taken by the Israelites on their Exodus is unknown, and some scholars dispute the biblical claim that there ever was an Israelite conquest of Canaan.[107]


Response to claim: 200 - The Smithsonian Institution has refuted Book of Mormon archaeological claims

The author(s) of The Kingdom of the Cults make(s) the following claim:

The Smithsonian Institution has refuted Book of Mormon archaeological claims.

Author's sources:
  1. Smithsonian statement.

FairMormon Response

Fact checking results: The author has stated erroneous information or misinterpreted their sources


Question: Does the Smithsonian Institution send out a letter regarding the use of the Book of Mormon as a guide for archaeological research?

In response to inquiries from Mormons and non-Mormons, the Smithsonian Institution sends out a standard letter denying that they use the Book of Mormon as a guide for archaeological research

The Smithsonian Institution sends a form letter to those who inquire about their use of the Book of Mormon for archaeological purposes. The National Geographic Society has a similar letter. The content of the letter has changed over the years; the current version (revised 1998) reads:

Your inquiry of February 7 concerning the Smithsonian Institution's alleged use of the Book of Mormon as a scientific guide has been received in this office for response.

The Book of Mormon is a religious document and not a scientific guide. The Smithsonian Institution has never used it in archaeological research, and any information that you have received to the contrary is incorrect.

Your interest in the Smithsonian Institution is appreciated.

The letter is correct: The Book of Mormon is a religious document and not a scientific guide

Taken at face value, the letter is correct: The Book of Mormon is a religious document and not a scientific guide. Its purpose is "to the convincing of the Jew and Gentile that Jesus is the Christ, the Eternal God, manifesting himself unto all nations" (Title Page), not to give a history of all (or even most) ancient Americans.

Previous editions of the letter contained a detailed list of alleged "problems" with the Book of Mormon

A previous edition of the letter contained a detailed list of alleged "problems" with the Book of Mormon. Critics of the Church use this older letter as proof that the Book of Mormon has no archaeological support and is therefore false. One critic even claims that "generations of youth" in the Church have been taught that the Smithsonian uses the Book of Mormon to guide their research.

John Sorenson, an LDS anthropologist, wrote a detailed critique and encouraged the Smithsonian to update their letter to reflect the latest scientific evidence:

For many years, the Smithsonian Institution has given out a routine response to questions posed to them about their view and relation between the Book of Mormon and scientific studies of ancient American civilizations. Statements in their handout pointed out what somebody at the Institutions claimed were contradictions between the text of the scriptures and what scientists claim about New World Cultures.

In 1982 John Sorenson wrote a detailed critique of the Smithsonian piece that was published by FARMS. It pointed out errors of fact and logic in the statement. He revised that in 1995 and included the recommendation that the Smithsonian Institution completely modify their statement to bring it up-to-date scientifically. FARMS officers later conferred with a Smithsonian representative who indicated a willingness to make changes. More recently members of Congress have questioned the Institution about the inappropriateness of a government agency taking a stand regarding a religious book. - Anonymous, "Smithsonian Statement on the Book of Mormon Revisited," Journal of Book of Mormon Studies 7/1 (1998): 77–77. off-site wiki

While archaeology could be useful in determining where the events of the Book of Mormon took place, the Book of Mormon does not contain the sort of historical detail that would make it useful for non-Mormon archaeologists.

That the Smithsonian does not use the Book of Mormon in its research says nothing about the book's divinity and truthfulness.

For further details, see: John L. Sorenson, "A New Evaluation of the Smithsonian Institution "Statement regarding the Book of Mormon," FARMS (1995).


Response to claim: 201 - The author states that "elephants never existed on this continent"

The author(s) of The Kingdom of the Cults make(s) the following claim:

The author states that "elephants never existed on this continent."

Author's sources:
  1. Author's opinion.

FairMormon Response

Fact checking results: The author has stated erroneous information or misinterpreted their sources


Question: In what context are elephants mentioned in the Book of Mormon?

Elephants are only mentioned once in the Book of Mormon in connection with the Jaredites. They were noted as being among the most useful animals. The Jaredites are estimated to have arrived in the New World between 2600 and 2100 BC.

And they also had horses, and asses, and there were elephants and cureloms and cumoms; all of which were useful unto man, and more especially the elephants and cureloms and cumoms. (Ether 9:19)

There is no mention in the Book of Mormon of elephants having existed in the New World during the Nephite period.


Wikipedia: Mammoths "were members of the family Elephantidae"

Mammoths could have easily been present in North America at the time of the Jaredites (the only time that elephants are mentioned in the Book of Mormon). The Wikipedia article "Mammoth" notes:

A mammoth is any species of the extinct genus Mammuthus, proboscideans commonly equipped with long, curved tusks and, in northern species, a covering of long hair. They lived from the Pliocene epoch (from around 5 million years ago) into the Holocene at about 4,500 years ago[1][2] in Africa, Europe, Asia, and North America. They were members of the family Elephantidae which contains, along with mammoths, the two genera of modern elephants and their ancestors. [108]


Johnson: "Probably it is safe to say that American Proboscidea have been extinct for a minimum of 3000 years"

The Elephant is only mentioned in the Book of Ether. If the elephants had died off at least 3000 years ago, they would still have been well within range of the Jaredite era. Ludwell Johnson wrote in 1952:

Discoveries of associations of human and proboscidean remains [Elephantine mammals, including, elephants, mammoths, and mastodons] are by no means uncommon. As of 1950, MacCowan listed no less than twenty-seven” including, as noted by Hugo Gross, a “partly burned mastodon skeleton and numerous potsherds at Alangasi, Ecuador...There can no longer be any doubt that man and elephant coexisted in America.... Probably it is safe to say that American Proboscidea have been extinct for a minimum of 3000 years." [109]


Miller and Roper: "This was long enough to bring them (mammoths) to the time of the Jaredites"

Elephants are only mentioned in the Book of Ether. Wade E. Miller and Matthew Roper note that mammoths survived until the time of the Jaredites: [110]

Along with a number of large mammals thought to have become extinct about 10,000 years ago, it’s now known that the mammoth survived for a few thousand years longer. This was long enough to bring them to the time of the Jaredites. A date for a mammoth in northern North America was cited at 3,700 years before the present. [111] An Alaskan mammoth was dated at 5,720 years ago. [112] In the contiguous United States Mead and Meltzer provided an age of 4,885 years for a dated mammoth specimen. [113] As more mammoth (elephant) finds are made, even younger dates will no doubt arise. Generally, when animal species’ populations decrease, they survive longer in southern refugia. Small populations could well have survived in Mesoamerica well past the close of the Pleistocene. The fact that known dates of mammoths in Mesoamerica are numerous up to the end of this epoch helps support this view. It should be pointed out that the mammoth never did range as far south as South America.


Miller and Roper: "Evidence for the survival of the elephant can be found in Native American myths and traditions"

Wade E. Miller and Matthew Roper note that "evidence for the survival of the elephant can be found in Native American myths and traditions": [114]

Gulf of Mexico: "giant beasts with long noses that could trample people and uproot trees"

Indigenous people along the northern coast of the Gulf of Mexico have traditions of giant beasts with long noses that could trample people and uproot trees.[115]

The Abenaki (New England region): "a kind of arm which grows out of his shoulder"

Abenaki tradition tells of a great “elk” that could easily walk through more than eight feet of snow, whose skin was said to be tough and had “a kind of arm which grows out of his shoulder, which he makes use of as we do ours.” [116]

The Naskapi (Quebec region): "large ears and a long nose with which he hit people"

The Naskapi people tell of a large monster that once trampled them and left deep tracks in the snow had large ears and a long nose with which he hit people. [116]

The Penobscot (Maine region): "huge animals with long teeth which drank water for half a day at a time"

The Penobscot culture hero Snow Owl is said to have gone on a long journey to a far valley in search of his missing wife. When he reached the valley he saw what appeared to be hills without vegetation moving slowly about. Upon closer inspection he found that these were the backs of huge animals with long teeth which drank water for half a day at a time and when they laid down could not get back up. Snow owl was able to trap the large beasts by making them fall on sharpened stakes where he then was able to shoot and kill them. [116]

Native American groups from Canada to the Gulf of Mexico

Similar traditions have been documented for Native American groups from Canada to the Gulf of Mexico persuading some scholars that they are based upon a core memory of actual historical encounters with elephant-like species who may have survived into the region as late as 3,000 years ago. [117]

Mexico: "long tapering arms and could tear up trees as if they were lettuce"

Pre-Columbian traditions from Mexico tell of monstrous ogre-like giants who once inhabited the region and were subsequently killed following the arrival of Aztec ancestors. These tales attribute some human characteristics to these legendary giants, while other ones seem less so. The giants were said to have long tapering arms and could tear up trees as if they were lettuce. [118]

Mexico: "a vague memory of prehensile trunks, something like the `extra arm’ of the Giant Elk in Abenaki and Iroquois myth"

These legends say, notes Adrienna Mayor, “… that the giants destroyed by the ancestors pulled down trees and ate grass, elephant-like behavior.” and she suggests that these stories may reflect “a vague memory of prehensile trunks, something like the `extra arm’ of the Giant Elk in Abenaki and Iroquois myth.” While this cannot be proven, she thinks it possible that “…localized mammoth species (and other large Pleistocene animals and birds) may have survived to later dates in the Valley of Mexico and the Southwestern United States.” … and also that “some aspects of the legendary giant-ogres may have originated in ancestral memories of Columbian mammoths and may have been later confirmed by discoveries of fossils.” [119]


Response to claim: 201 - The book claims that the metals described in the Book of Mormon "have never been found in any of the areas of contemporary civilizations of the New World"

The author(s) of The Kingdom of the Cults make(s) the following claim:

The book claims that the metals described in the Book of Mormon "have never been found in any of the areas of contemporary civilizations of the New World."

Author's sources:
  1. Author's opinion.

FairMormon Response

Fact checking results: The author has stated erroneous information or misinterpreted their sources


Question: What was known about iron in ancient America?

Iron is documented among the pre-Columbian peoples: They used exposed iron sources or meteorite iron

Iron is documented among the pre-Columbian peoples. Even if they did not practice smelting (extracting iron from ore), they used exposed iron sources or meteorite iron. Production of iron artifacts from such sources is documented in San Jose Mogote by 1200 B.C.[120] Several tons of Olmec-era iron artifacts are known:[121] "the Olmec were a sophisticated people who possessed advanced knowledge and skill in working iron ore minerals."[122] Mesoamerica did use quite a bit of iron ore, but much of it was used without smelting, establishing a cultural/religious connotation that would have retarded experimentation with the ore for any other purpose (ascription of religious value to any physical artifact delays changes in that artifact).


Sorenson: "Iron use was documented in the statements of early Spaniards, who told of the Aztecs using iron-studded clubs"

John L. Sorenson:[123]

Iron use was documented in the statements of early Spaniards, who told of the Aztecs using iron-studded clubs. [124] A number of artifacts have been preserved that are unquestionably of iron; their considerable sophistication, in some cases, at least suggests interest in this metal [125]....Few of these specimens have been chemically analyzed to determine whether the iron used was from meteors or from smelted ore. The possibility that smelted iron either has been or may yet be found is enhanced by a find at Teotihuacan. A pottery vessel dating to about A.D. 300, and apparently used for smelting, contained a "metallic-looking" mass. Analyzed chemically, it proved to contain copper and iron. [126]


Sorenson: "Lumps of hematite, magnetite, and ilmenite were brought into Valley of Oaxaca"

John L. Sorenson:

Without even considering smelted iron, we find that peoples in Mesoamerica exploited iron minerals from early times. Lumps of hematite, magnetite, and ilmenite were brought into Valley of Oaxaca sites from some of the thirty-six ore exposures located near or in the valley. These were carried to a workshop section within the site of San Jose Mogote as early as 1200 B.C. There they were crafted into mirrors by sticking the fragments onto prepared mirror backs and polishing the surface highly. These objects, clearly of high value, were traded at considerable distances.[127]


Response to claim: 201 - BYU professor Thomas Stuart Ferguson called Book of Mormon geography "fictional"

The author(s) of The Kingdom of the Cults make(s) the following claim:

BYU professor Thomas Stuart Ferguson called Book of Mormon geography "fictional."

Author's sources:
  1. Jerald and Sandra Tanner, Ferguson's Manuscript Unveiled, 1988.

FairMormon Response

Fact checking results: This claim contains propaganda - 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

Ferguson wasn't an archeologist.


Question: Was Thomas Stuart Ferguson an archaeologist?

Ferguson never studied archaeology at a professional level - he was self-educated in that area

As John Sorensen, who worked with Ferguson, recalled:

[Stan] Larson implies that Ferguson was one of the "scholars and intellectuals in the Church" and that "his study" was conducted along the lines of reliable scholarship in the "field of archaeology." Those of us with personal experience with Ferguson and his thinking knew differently. He held an undergraduate law degree but never studied archaeology or related disciplines at a professional level, although he was self-educated in some of the literature of American archaeology. He held a naive view of "proof," perhaps related to his law practice where one either "proved" his case or lost the decision; compare the approach he used in his simplistic lawyerly book One Fold and One Shepherd. His associates with scientific training and thus more sophistication in the pitfalls involving intellectual matters could never draw him away from his narrow view of "research." (For example, in April 1953, when he and I did the first archaeological reconnaissance of central Chiapas, which defined the Foundation's work for the next twenty years, his concern was to ask if local people had found any figurines of "horses," rather than to document the scores of sites we discovered and put on record for the first time.) His role in "Mormon scholarship" was largely that of enthusiast and publicist, for which we can be grateful, but he was neither scholar nor analyst.

Ferguson was never an expert on archaeology and the Book of Mormon (let alone on the book of Abraham, about which his knowledge was superficial). He was not one whose careful "study" led him to see greater light, light that would free him from Latter-day Saint dogma, as Larson represents. Instead he was just a layman, initially enthusiastic and hopeful but eventually trapped by his unjustified expectations, flawed logic, limited information, perhaps offended pride, and lack of faith in the tedious research that real scholarship requires. The negative arguments he used against the Latter-day Saint scriptures in his last years display all these weaknesses.

Larson, like others who now wave Ferguson's example before us as a case of emancipation from benighted Mormon thinking, never faces the question of which Tom Ferguson was the real one. Ought we to respect the hard-driving younger man whose faith-filled efforts led to a valuable major research program, or should we admire the double-acting cynic of later years, embittered because he never hit the jackpot on, as he seems to have considered it, the slot-machine of archaeological research? I personally prefer to recall my bright-eyed, believing friend, not the aging figure Larson recommends as somehow wiser. [128]


Peterson and Roper: "We know of no one who cites Ferguson as an authority, except countercultists"

Daniel C. Peterson and Matthew Roper: [129]

"Thomas Stuart Ferguson," says Stan Larson in the opening chapter of Quest for the Gold Plates, "is best known among Mormons as a popular fireside lecturer on Book of Mormon archaeology, as well as the author of One Fold and One Shepherd, and coauthor of Ancient America and the Book of Mormon" (p. 1). Actually, though, Ferguson is very little known among Latter-day Saints. He died in 1983, after all, and "he published no new articles or books after 1967" (p. 135). The books that he did publish are long out of print. "His role in 'Mormon scholarship' was," as Professor John L. Sorenson puts it, "largely that of enthusiast and publicist, for which we can be grateful, but he was neither scholar nor analyst." We know of no one who cites Ferguson as an authority, except countercultists, and we suspect that a poll of even those Latter-day Saints most interested in Book of Mormon studies would yield only a small percentage who recognize his name. Indeed, the radical discontinuity between Book of Mormon studies as done by Milton R. Hunter and Thomas Stuart Ferguson in the fifties and those practiced today by, say, the Foundation for Ancient Research and Mormon Studies (FARMS) could hardly be more striking. Ferguson's memory has been kept alive by Stan Larson and certain critics of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, as much as by anyone, and it is tempting to ask why. Why, in fact, is such disproportionate attention being directed to Tom Ferguson, an amateur and a writer of popularizing books, rather than, say, to M. Wells Jakeman, a trained scholar of Mesoamerican studies who served as a member of the advisory committee for the New World Archaeological Foundation?5 Dr. Jakeman retained his faith in the Book of Mormon until his death in 1998, though the fruit of his decades-long work on Book of Mormon geography and archaeology remains unpublished.


Peterson: "Thomas Stuart Ferguson's biographer...makes every effort to portray Ferguson's apparent eventual loss of faith as a failure for 'LDS archaeology'"

Daniel C. Peterson: [130]

In the beginning NWAF was financed by private donations, and it was Thomas Ferguson's responsibility to secure these funds. Devoted to his task, he traveled throughout California, Utah, and Idaho; wrote hundreds of letters; and spoke at firesides, Rotary Clubs, Kiwanis Clubs, and wherever else he could. After a tremendous amount of dedicated work, he was able to raise about twenty-two thousand dollars, which was enough for the first season of fieldwork in Mexico.

Stan Larson, Thomas Stuart Ferguson's biographer, who himself makes every effort to portray Ferguson's apparent eventual loss of faith as a failure for "LDS archaeology,"22 agrees, saying that, despite Ferguson's own personal Book of Mormon enthusiasms, the policy set out by the professional archaeologists who actually ran the Foundation was quite different: "From its inception NWAF had a firm policy of objectivity. . . . that was the official position of NWAF. . . . all field directors and working archaeologists were explicitly instructed to do their work in a professional manner and make no reference to the Book of Mormon."


Gee: "Ferguson is largely unknown to the vast majority of Latter-day Saints; his impact on Book of Mormon studies is minimal"

John Gee: [131]

Biographies like the book under review are deliberate, intentional acts; they do not occur by accident.4 Ferguson is largely unknown to the vast majority of Latter-day Saints; his impact on Book of Mormon studies is minimal.5 So, of all the lives that could be celebrated, why hold up that of a "double-acting sourpuss?"6 Is there anything admirable, virtuous, lovely, of good report, praiseworthy, or Christlike about Thomas Stuart Ferguson's apparent dishonesty or hypocrisy? Larson seems to think so: "I feel confident," Larson writes, "that Ferguson would want his intriguing story to be recounted as honestly and sympathetically as possible" (p. xiv). Why? Do we not have enough doubters? Yet Larson does not even intend to provide the reader with a full or complete biographical sketch of Ferguson's life, since he chose to include "almost nothing . . . concerning his professional career as a lawyer, his various real estate investments, his talent as a singer, his activities as a tennis player, or his family life" (p. xi). In his opening paragraph, Larson warns the reader that he is not interested in a well-rounded portrait of Ferguson. Nevertheless, he finds time to discourse on topics that do not deal with Ferguson's life and only tangentially with his research interest.


Response to claim: 202 - "Mormon theology" claims that Native Americans are "descendants of the Lamanites" and that they are "of the Semitic race"

The author(s) of The Kingdom of the Cults make(s) the following claim:

"Mormon theology" claims that Native Americans are "descendants of the Lamanites" and that they are "of the Semitic race."

Author's sources:
  1. W.C. Boyd, The Contributions of Genetics to Anthropology.
  • Bentley Glass.

FairMormon Response

Fact checking results: The author has stated erroneous information or misinterpreted their sources

LDS doctrine holds that Lehi was one ancestor of Amerindians. He is not the only ancestor, nor is he necessarily a predominant one.


Question: Are all Amerindians the exclusive descendants of the Book of Mormon prophet Lehi?

Even critics of the Church acknowledge that their criticisms are based upon the assumption that Amerindians are the exclusive descendants of Lehi

In their more candid moments, those who present this argument concede that their criticisms revolve around a key assumption. One critic of the Church writes of how some Mormons have argued that

Bottleneck effect, genetic drift, Hardy-Weinberg violations and other technical problems would prevent us from detecting Israelite genes [in Amerindians].[132]

This is a technical way of explaining a relatively simple fact: if a small group is placed in contact with a larger group and allowed to intermarry, it becomes harder to detect the small group’s “genetic signature.”

It is as if one placed a teaspoon of red dye in an Olympic swimming pool, mixed well, and then withdrew a sample. Critics are in the position of someone who complains loudly because the sampled water does not seem to be “red”!

The same critic of the Church then goes on to say:

I agree entirely. [!] In 600 BC there were probably several million American Indians living in the Americas. If a small group of Israelites entered such a massive native population it would be very, very hard to detect their genes 200, 2000 or even 20,000 years later. But does such a scenario fit with what the Book of Mormon plainly states or what the prophets have taught for 175 years? Short answer. No! Long answer. Nooo![132]

This is really quite astonishing. The critic has obliged us by shooting himself in the foot. He admits that there are many genetic objections to his attack, unless we accept that the American Indians are only descendants of Lehi and Mulek.

Contrary to the critic's assertion, the short answer is that he is ignorant of the facts.

For those who are interested, we turn to the long answer.

Remember, the critic claims that we must accept his version, because

  1. the Book of Mormon ‘plainly’ teaches it; and
  2. “the prophets” have taught this doctrine (and no other, we must presume) for 175 years.

Yet, the same critic goes on to state in July 2008:

[LDS scholars] believe that they have conclusively shown that the Lehites entered a continent inhabited by millions, entered the large pre-existing civilizations, and then their DNA was diluted away so that we can't detect it. They also set up the straw man that I am arguing that according to the Book of Mormon all American Indians are descended from Hebrews. I have never claimed this. The vanishing geography theory is utter desperation.[133]

The critical argument is entirely dependent upon a “whole empty hemisphere” model of the Book of Mormon

So, by critic's own admission, his model is in fatal trouble if a “whole empty hemisphere” model (as opposed to what he mockingly refers to as the "vanishing" geography model) is not taught by both the Book of Mormon and the prophets. That he would make such a claim, and put his theory on such shaky ground, illustrates how poorly he understands the Book of Mormon and writing about it that has gone on for decades prior to Watson and Crick's discovery of the double helix.

  1. LDS leaders and members have been of a variety of opinions regarding the degree of contribution which Book of Mormon peoples provided to the Amerindian gene pool.
  2. Church spokesmen indicate that there is no official position.
  3. As Church members have understood that there was more than one "group" of Indians, they have read the Book of Mormon as being only a partial history of Amerindian ancestors
  4. If Lehi had any descendants, population genetics virtually guarantees that all Amerindians have him as a common ancestor.
  5. Church discussions of Lamanite ancestry (or Israelite ancestry generally) is not about genetics, but is focused on covenant promises and blessings.


Response to claim: 202 - Now, if the Lamanites, as the Book of Mormon claims, were the descendants of Nephi, who was a Jew of the Mediterranean Caucasoid type

The author(s) of The Kingdom of the Cults make(s) the following claim:

 Author's quote: Now, if the Lamanites, as the Book of Mormon claims, were the descendants of Nephi, who was a Jew of the Mediterranean Caucasoid type...

Author's sources:
  1. Author's opinion.

FairMormon Response

Fact checking results: This claim is false

The Book of Mormon does not claim that the Lamanites were the descendants of Nephi." Also not considered are the Mulekites, the Jaredites, and the likely presence of people on the continent before Lehi's arrival.


Response to claim: 202-203 - The Book of Mormon was "corrected" without "consulting the missing golden plates"

The author(s) of The Kingdom of the Cults make(s) the following claim:

The Book of Mormon was "corrected" without "consulting the missing golden plates."

Author's sources:

FairMormon Response

Fact checking results: This claim contains propaganda - 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

Both the translation and corrections were the result of a revelatory process—Joseph did not need the plates physically present to translate or to correct the text. He could not read the plates, save with God's aid. Why would God need the plates to be physically present?


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."[134] 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.[135] 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 (2013) 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: 203 - The name "Benjamin" was changed to "Mosiah"

The author(s) of The Kingdom of the Cults make(s) the following claim:

The name "Benjamin" was changed to "Mosiah" in Mosiah :21.

Author's sources:
  1. Mosiah 21:28

FairMormon Response

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


Question: When and where was the name "Benjamin" changed to "Mosiah" in the Book of Mormon?

Book of Mormon Central, KnoWhy #99: Which Nephite King Had The Gift Of Interpretation? (Video)

The changes were made between the 1830 and all subsequent editions

In the text currently found in Mosiah 21:28 of the Book of Mormon, the 1830 edition reads "Benjamin", while all subsequent editions read "Mosiah." Likewise, a reference to Benjamin in what is now Ether 4:1 was changed to "Mosiah" in 1849. Some critics of the Church claim that either God made a mistake when He inspired the record or that Joseph made a mistake when he translated it.

The first notable change is in what is now Mosiah 21:28

1830 edition:

And now Limhi was again filled with joy on learning from the mouth of Ammon that king Benjamin had a gift from God, whereby he could interpret such engravings; yea, and Ammon also did rejoice.[137] (emphasis added)

1837 edition:

And now Limhi was again filled with joy on learning from the mouth of Ammon that king Mosiah had a gift from God, whereby he could interpret such engravings; yea, and Ammon also did rejoice. (emphasis added)

The change of the proper name "Benjamin" to "Mosiah" in what is now Mosiah 21:28 was made in the 1837 edition of the Book of Mormon by Joseph Smith. This change is present in all editions since that time. The change to Ether 4:1 was made in the 1849 edition, after the Prophet's death.[138]

The text of what is now Ether 4:1, which was an abridgment of the record of the Jaredites by Moroni, was changed in a similar manner

1830 edition:

...and for this cause did king Benjamin keep them, that they should not come unto the world until after Christ should shew himself unto his people."[139](emphasis added)

1847 edition:

...and for this cause did king Mosiah keep them, that they should not come unto the world until after Christ should show himself unto his people. Ether 4:1(emphasis added)

The use of the proper name "Benjamin" may represent either an abridgment error on the part of Mormon and Moroni, or it may be a legitimate description of what Ammon actually said to King Limhi based upon his current knowledge of the situation in Zarahemla

The reason for both of these changes was never recorded. The use of the proper name "Benjamin" in the two instances described may represent either an abridgment error on the part of Mormon and Moroni, or it may be a legitimate description of what Ammon actually said to King Limhi based upon his current knowledge of the situation in Zarahemla. The Prophet apparently noted a possible discrepancy based upon his reading of the text, and changed the name "Benjamin" to "Mosiah." Both Mormon and Moroni acknowledged that the record that they had created was not perfect.

Royal Skousen, in his Analysis of Textual Variants in the Book of Mormon believes that the name "Benjamin" is correct and did not need to be changed

Royal Skousen, in his Analysis of Textual Variants in the Book of Mormon believes that the name "Benjamin" is correct and did not need to be changed:

Skousen notes,

In other words, these seeming contradictions can be reconciled. King Benjamin could have still been alive when the people of Limhi arrived in the land of Zarahemla, and he could have later had access to the records, including the Jaredite record. If king Limhi and Ammon arrived in Zarahemla before the end of the fourth year of king Mosiah's reign, then we could interpret the statement in Mosiah 6:5 that "king Benjamin lived three years and he died" as meaning that king Benjamin did not live to see the completion of four years of retirement. Prior to his deth, king Benjamin still had access to the record, and the Lord could have told him that the prophesies in those records were not to be revealed at that time. Later king Mosiah translated the Jaredite record (presumably after king Benjamin's death).[140]


Question: Does the Book of Mormon contain mistakes?

Mormon said "And now if there be fault, it be the mistake of men"

It should first be noted that the Book of Mormon itself does not claim to be free of errors. As Mormon himself stated in the introduction to the Book of Mormon:

And now if there be fault, it be the mistake of men: wherefore condemn not the things of God, that ye may be found spotless at the judgment seat of Christ. (1830 Book of Mormon title page)

Moroni said "because of the imperfections which are in it"

Mormon's son Moroni also acknowledges that the record that has been created is imperfect:

And whoso receiveth this record, and shall not condemn it because of the imperfections which are in it, the same shall know of greater things than these. Behold, I am Moroni; and were it possible, I would make all things known unto you. Mormon 8:12


Question: What does the Book of Mormon actually say about the finding of the record of the Jaredites, and the name of the king who could translate it?

A number of chapters prior to the description of this event, King Benjamin is reported to have died after turning over the kingship to his son Mosiah

The people of King Limhi were living under domination of the Lamanites, and had been separated for a number of years from the main body of the Nephites located in Zarahemla. Limhi's group sent out a "a small number of men" to search for the city of Zarahemla. These men became lost, but they did locate "a land which was covered with dry bones; yea, a land which had been peopled, and which had been destroyed." Amongst the ruins they located a record "engraven on plates of ore." Assuming this land to be the land of Zarahemla, the search party returned to report to Limhi, bringing the plates with them. Limhi did not have the ability to translate this record and was therefore unable to determine what was contained upon these plates.

Ammon, while exploring, encountered the people of Limhi "not many days" after the plates were obtained. The 1830 Book of Mormon reports that "Limhi was again filled with joy, on learning from the mouth of Ammon that King Benjamin had a gift from God, whereby he could interpret such engravings; yea, and Ammon did also rejoice." However, a number of chapters prior to the description of this event, King Benjamin is reported to have died after turning over the kingship to his son Mosiah.

The Book of Mormon itself gives two parallel descriptions of the event

L. Ara Norwood notes that the Book of Mormon itself gives two parallel descriptions of the event.[141]One of these descriptions is found in Mosiah 8:13-14, which states:

In Ammon's first person account, he simply refers to "the king of the people who are in the land of Zarahemla" without naming the king

13 Now Ammon said unto him: I can assuredly tell thee, O king, of a man that can translate the records; for he has wherewith that he can look, and translate all records that are of ancient date; and it is a gift from God. And the things are called interpreters, and no man can look in them except he be commanded, lest he should look for that he ought not and he should perish. And whosoever is commanded to look in them, the same is called seer.

14 And behold, the king of the people who are in the land of Zarahemla is the man that is commanded to do these things, and who has this high gift from God. Mosiah 8:13-14(emphasis added)

This appears to be a first-person account of what Ammon actually said to King Limhi. Note that Ammon refers to "the king of the people who are in the land of Zarahemla," without mentioning the name of that king.

The other description, in which the name "Benjamin" was later changed to "Mosiah," was a third-person account written by Mormon

The other description (the one that was modified) is found in Mosiah 21:25-28. Note that this passage is written in the third person by Mormon, and that it does not quote the words of Ammon directly. This indicates the possibility that Mormon may actually have written the name "Benjamin" during his abridgment of the record.

25 Now king Limhi had sent, previous to the coming of Ammon, a small number of men to search for the land of Zarahemla; but they could not find it, and they were lost in the wilderness.

26 Nevertheless, they did find a land which had been peopled; yea, a land which was covered with dry bones; yea, a land which had been peopled and which had been destroyed; and they, having supposed it to be the land of Zarahemla, returned to the land of Nephi, having arrived in the borders of the land not many days before the coming of Ammon.

27 And they brought a record with them, even a record of the people whose bones they had found; and it was engraven on plates of ore.

28 And now Limhi was again filled with joy on learning from the mouth of Ammon that king Mosiah [changed from "Benjamin" as printed in the 1830 edition] had a gift from God, whereby he could interpret such engravings; yea, and Ammon also did rejoice. Mosiah 21:25-28 (emphasis added)

Ammon may have left Zarahemla prior to King Benjamin's death and might have been unaware that Mosiah was now the king

Norwood also notes the possibility that Ammon left Zarahemla prior to King Benjamin's death:

In other words, if Ammon told Limhi that the person who had this gift to translate was "the king over the land of Zarahemla" without mentioning who that king was by name, we have no idea whether Ammon was thinking of Benjamin, Mosiah, or either. If this is how it occurred, then it is likely that either Mormon, or an unnamed Zeniffite scribe, interpolated the passage at Mosiah 21:28 and inserted the name Benjamin. Likewise, Moroni, following the lead of his father, would have interpolated the passage at Ether 4:1 and inserted Benjamin as well.20 This would have constituted an historical error by Moroni, but an understandable one.[141]


Response to claim: 203 - The Book of Mormon plagiarizes the King James Bible

The author(s) of The Kingdom of the Cults make(s) the following claim:

The Book of Mormon plagiarizes the King James Bible.

Author's sources:

FairMormon Response

Fact checking results: This claim contains propaganda - 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

Why would Joseph plagiarize the one text his readers would be sure to know, and be sure to be offended by if he did?


Question: Does the Book of Mormon plagiarize the King James Bible?

The Book of Mormon emulates the language and style of the King James Bible because that is the scriptural style Joseph Smith, translator of the Book of Mormon, was familiar with

Critics of the Book of Mormon claim that major portions of it are copied, without attribution, from the Bible. They present this as evidence that Joseph Smith wrote the Book of Mormon by plagiarizing the Authorized ("King James") Version of the Bible.

Quotations from the Bible in the Book of Mormon are sometimes uncited quotes from Old Testament prophets on the brass plates, similar to the many unattributed Old Testament quotes in the New Testament; others are simply similar phrasing emulated by Joseph Smith during his translation.

Critics also fail to mention that even if all the Biblical passages were removed from the Book of Mormon, there would be a great deal of text remaining. Joseph Smith was able to produce long, intricate religious texts without using the Bible; if he was trying to deceive people, why did he "plagiarize" from the one book—the Bible—which his readership was sure to recognize?


Response to claim: 204 - Martin Harris is claimed to said that he saw the plates with his "spiritual eyes" rather than his "naked eyes"

The author(s) of The Kingdom of the Cults make(s) the following claim:

Martin Harris is claimed to said that he saw the plates with his "spiritual eyes" rather than his "naked eyes."

Author's sources:
  1. Recollections of John H. Gilbert, 1892, Typescript, BYU, 5-6.

FairMormon Response

Fact checking results: The author has stated erroneous information or misinterpreted their sources

The author selectively focuses on a few reported quotes in which Martin mentioned "spiritual eyes," and ignores the multitude of quotes in which Martin said straight out that he saw the angel and handled the plates with his hands.

Logical Fallacy: Texas Sharpshooter—The author located some pattern in the data that he or she believes was the cause of something else, despite the lack of any supporting connection, and asserted that this was, in fact, the actual cause.

Why does the author only focus on statements which do not fit with the majority of the statements that Martin gave about seeing the plates?

Question: Did Martin Harris tell people that he did not see the plates with his natural eyes, but rather the "eye of faith"?

A former pastor, John A. Clark, said that a "gentleman in Palmyra" told him that Harris said that he saw the plates with the "eye of faith"

John A. Clark, a former pastor who considered Joseph Smith a fraud and the Book of Mormon “an imposture,” states,

To know how much this testimony [of three witnesses] is worth I will state one fact. A gentleman in Palmyra, bred to the law, a professor of religion, and of undoubted veracity told me that on one occasion, he appealed to Harris and asked him directly,-”Did you see those plates?” Harris replied, he did. “Did you see the plates, and the engraving on them with your bodily eyes?” Harris replied, “Yes, I saw them with my eyes,-they were shown unto me by the power of God and not of man.” “But did you see them with your natural,-your bodily eyes, just as you see this pencil-case in my hand? Now say no or yes to this.” Harris replied,-”Why I did not see them as I do that pencil-case, yet I saw them with the eye of faith; I saw them just as distinctly as I see any thing around me,-though at the time they were covered over with a cloth.[142]

John A. Clark did not interview Martin Harris - he was repeating what someone else told him

The source cited is “Martin Harris interviews with John A. Clark, 1827 & 1828,” Early Mormon Documents 2:270. However, rather than being an interview between Clark and Harris, as implied by the title of reference work using in the citation, Clark’s actual statement clearly says that he received his information from a “gentleman in Palmyra…a professor of religion,” who said that he had talked with Harris. This is not an interview between Clark and Harris.

Larry E. Morris notes that the “claim that ‘Harris told John A. Clark’ is not accurate. This is not secondhand testimony but thirdhand—’he said that he said that he said.’….As if that weren’t enough, Clark does not name his source—making it impossible to judge that person’s honesty or reliability. What we have is a thirdhand, anonymous account of what Martin Harris supposedly said.” (Larry E. Morris, FARMS Review, Vol. 15, Issue 1.)

Clark's account mixes elements from both before and after Harris viewed the plates as one of the Three Witnesses and portrays Harris as contradicting himself

The two elements that are mixed together in Clark's account are the following:

  1. Martin Harris said that he only saw the plates through the "eye of faith" when they were covered with a cloth prior to his experience as a witness.
  2. Martin Harris saw the plates uncovered as one of the three witnesses.

Note also that the date assigned to these comments places them prior to the publication of the Book of Mormon, yet Clark’s statement appears to include elements from both before and after Harris viewed the plates as a witness. Harris “saw them” with his eyes when he acted as one of the Three Witnesses, but he only saw them through the “eye of faith” when they were covered with a cloth prior to his being a witness. Clark’s third-hand hostile relation of another hostile source, makes no distinction between these events, and instead portrays Harris as contradicting himself.

When Martin Harris said that he had seen the angel and the plates with his "spiritual eyes" or with an "eye of faith" he may have simply been employing some scriptural language that he was familiar with. Such statements do not mean that the angel and the plates were imaginary, hallucinatory, or just an inner mental image—the earliest accounts of Martin Harris' testimony makes the literal nature of the experience unmistakable.

Rather than being hallucinatory or "merely" spiritual, Martin claimed that the plates and angel were seen by physical eyes that had been enhanced by the power of God to view more objects than a mortal could normally see (cf. DC 76:12; DC 67:10-13).


Question: Did Martin Harris tell people that he only saw the plates with his "spiritual eye"?

John H. Gilbert, who printed the Book of Mormon, reported that Harris said that he saw the plates with his "spiritual eye"

John H. Gilbert:

Martin was in the office when I finished setting up the testimony of the three witnesses,—(Harris—Cowdery and Whitmer—) I said to him,—"Martin, did you see those plates with your naked eyes?" Martin looked down for an instant, raised his eyes up, and said, "No, I saw them with a spir[i]tual eye."[143]

Pomeroy Tucker told of Harris using the phrase "seeing with the spiritual eye"

Pomeroy Tucker in his book Origin, Rise, and Progress of Mormonism (1867) also refers to Harris using the phrase "spiritual eye":

How to reconcile the act of Harris in signing his name to such a statement, in view of the character of honesty which had always been conceded to him, could never be easily explained. In reply to uncharitable suggestions of his neighbors, he used to practise a good deal of his characteristic jargon about "seeing with the spiritual eye," and the like. [144]

Martin elsewhere emphasized that the vision was also with the "natural eye," to enable them to "testify of it to the world"

In 1875, Martin said:

"The Prophet Joseph Smith, and Oliver Cowdery and David Whitmer and myself, went into a little grove to pray to obtain a promise that we should behold it with our eyes natural eyes, that we could testify of it to the world (emphasis added)."[145]

Harris did not, then, see "spiritual eye" and "natural eye" as mutually exclusive categories. Both described something about the witness experience.


Response to claim: 204 - The Mormons are loath to admit that all three of these witnesses later apostatized from the Mormon faith and were described in the most unflattering terms

The author(s) of The Kingdom of the Cults make(s) the following claim:

 Author's quote: The Mormons are loath to admit that all three of these witnesses later apostatized from the Mormon faith and were described in the most unflattering terms ("counterfeiters, thieves, [and] liars") by their Mormon contemporaries.

Author's sources:

FairMormon Response

Fact checking results: This claim is false

The fact that the witnesses left the Church is actually taught in Church. The fact that none of them ever denied their testimony that they saw the angel and the plates, despite the fact that they all disagreed with Joseph Smith later in their lives when they could have "exposed the fraud" so to speak, makes their testimony even more powerful. New documents, such as the recently discovered William McLellin notebook, continue to provide proof that the witnesses never denied their testimony of the Book of Mormon.


Response to claim: 204 - The book claims that Joseph Smith "wrote prophecies and articles against the character of the witnesses," and that this makes their testimony "suspect"

The author(s) of The Kingdom of the Cults make(s) the following claim:

The book claims that Joseph Smith "wrote prophecies and articles against the character of the witnesses," and that this makes their testimony "suspect."

Author's sources:
  1. DC 3:12
  • 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), 3:228. Volume 3 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), 3:232. Volume 3 link

FairMormon Response

Fact checking results: This claim contains propaganda - 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 witnesses persisted in their testimony despite falling out with Joseph. This strengthens their witness.


Question: What did Oliver Cowdery's associates say about his character?

William Lang, who apprenticed in Cowdery's law office long after he left the Church, knew him for many years

William Lang, who apprenticed in Cowdery's law office, knew him for many years. Lang was a member of the Ohio bar, and served as "prosecuting attorney, probate judge, mayor of Tiffin, county treasurer, and two terms in the Ohio senate. He was nominated by his party for major state offices twice." [146]

Lang wrote of Cowdery:

Mr. Cowdery was an able lawyer and a great advocate. His manners were easy and gentlemanly; he was polite, dignified, yet courteous...With all his kind and friendly disposition, there was a certain degree of sadness that seemed to pervade his whole being. His association with others was marked by the great amount of information his conversation conveyed and the beauty of his musical voice. His addresses to the court and jury were characterized by a high order of oratory, with brilliant and forensic force. He was modest and reserved, never spoke ill of any one, never complained. [147]


1843 announcement in the Seneca Advertiser, Tiffin, Ohio, with Oliver Cowdery and his partner's law practice.

Harvey Gibson, a political opponent of Oliver's, and another lawyer, said that Cowdery was an "irreproachable gentleman"

Harvey Gibson, a political opponent of Oliver's, and another lawyer (whose statue now stands in front of the Seneca County courthouse) wrote:

Cowdery was an able lawyer and [an] agreeable, irreproachable gentleman. [148]


Question: What did Martin Harris's non-Mormon associates say about his character?

Even early anti-Mormons who knew Harris believed that he was “honest,” and “industrious,” “benevolent,” and a “worthy citizen”

Even early anti-Mormons who knew Harris, or knew those acquainted with Harris, believed that he was “honest,” and “industrious,” “benevolent,” and a “worthy citizen.” [149] Wrote the local paper on Harris' departure with the Saints:

Several families, numbering about fifty souls, took up their line of march from this town last week for the “promised land,” among whom was Martin Harris, one of the original believers in the “Book of Mormon.” Mr. Harris was among the early settlers of this town, and has ever borne the character of an honorable and upright man, and an obliging and benevolent neighbor. He had secured to himself by honest industry a respectable fortune—and he has left a large circle of acquaintances and friends to pity his delusion.[150]

Pomeroy Tucker, who knew Harris but didn’t believe in the Book of Mormon, once noted:

How to reconcile the act of Harris in signing his name to such a statement [his Book of Mormon testimony], in view of the character of honesty which had always been conceded to him, could never easily be explained. [151]

Martin Harris's association with a number of LDS "splinter groups"

Some have argued that Harris' tendency to associate with a number of LDS "splinter groups" indicates that he was "unstable and easily influenced by charismatic leaders." [152]

This claim fundamentally distorts Harris' activities during this period. [153] Wrote Matthew Roper:

Martin was excommunicated in December 1837 in Kirtland, Ohio, where he remained for the next thirty-two years. During this time, Harris associated himself with Warren Parrish and other Kirtland dissenters who organized a church. On March 30, 1839, George A. Smith wrote a letter from Kirtland describing some of the divisions in the Parrish party. "Last Sabbath a division arose among the Parrish party about the Book of Mormon; John F. Boynton, Warren Parrish, Luke Johnson and others said it was nonsense. Martin Harris then bore testimony of its truth and said all would be damned if they rejected it." Such actions suggest a significant degree of independence for which Harris is generally not given credit. [154]

Harris managed to frustrate many other religious groups by his continued insistence on preaching the Book of Mormon instead of their tenets. He eventually returned to the Church and died in full fellowship.

The witnesses were men considered honest, responsible, and intelligent. Their contemporaries did not know quite what to make of three such men who testified of angels and gold plates, but they did not impugn the character or reliability of the men who bore that testimony.


Question: What did David Whitmer's associates say about his character?

Throughout Richmond, Missouri, the non-Mormons knew David Whitmer as an honest and trustworthy citizen

Throughout Richmond, Missouri, the non-Mormons knew David Whitmer as an honest and trustworthy citizen. When one anti-Mormon lectured in David’s hometown and branded David as disreputable, the local (non-Mormon) paper responded with “a spirited front-page editorial unsympathetic with Mormonism but insistent on ‘the forty six years of private citizenship on the part of David Whitmer, in Richmond, without stain or blemish.’” [155]

...The following year the editor penned a tribute on the eightieth birthday of David Whitmer, who “with no regrets for the past” still “reiterates that he saw the glory of the angel.” This is the critical issue of the life of David Whitmer. During fifty years in non-Mormon society, he insisted with the fervor of his youth that he knew that the Book of Mormon was divinely revealed. Relatively few people in Richmond could wholly accept such testimony, but none doubted his intelligence or complete honesty. [156]

Another newspaper declared:

And no man can look at David Whitmer's face for a half-hour, while he charit[abl]y and modestly speaks of what he has seen, and then bodldly and earnestly confesses the faith that is in him, and say that he is a bigot or an enthusiast.[157]

Twenty two non-Mormon citizens signed the following statement, including, Mayor, county clerk, county treasurer, postmaster, revenue collector, county sheriff, two judges, two medical doctors, four bankers, two merchants, and two lawyers:

We the undersigned citizens of Richmond Ray CO Mo where David Whitmer Sr has resided since the year AD 1838, Certify that we have been long and intimately acquainted with him, and know him to be a man of the highest integrity, and of undoubted truth and veracity....[158]

Another said:

Mr. Whitmer is an old citizen of this town, and is known by every one here as a man of the highest honor, having resided here since the year 1838.[159]

Upon Whitmer's death, the local newspaper wrote:

He lived in Richmond about half a century, and we can say that no man ever lived here, who had among our people, more friends and fewer enemies. Honest, conscientious and upright in all his dealings, just in his estimate of men, and open, manly and frank in his treatment of all, he made lasting friends who loved him to the end.[160]


Response to claim: 204 - Oliver Cowdery is claimed to have denied his testimony in the Times and Seasons

The author(s) of The Kingdom of the Cults make(s) the following claim:

Oliver Cowdery is claimed to have denied his testimony in the Times and Seasons.

FairMormon Response

Fact checking results: The author has stated erroneous information or misinterpreted their sources

The source is a poem by Eliza Snow, the first part of which reads:

Amazed with wonder! I look round Or prove that Christ was not the Lord
To see most people of our day, Because Peter cursed and swore?
Reject the glorious gospel sound, Or Book of Mormon not his word
Because the simple turn away. Because denied, by Oliver?
Or does it prove there is no time, Or prove, that Joseph Smith is false
Because some watches will not go? Because apostates say tis so?

Oliver Cowdery held to his testimony of the Book of Mormon even on his deathbed.


Question: Did Oliver Cowdery ever deny his Book of Mormon witness because he thought that Joseph Smith was a fallen prophet?

There is a wealth of evidence which demonstrates that Oliver never denied his testimony, even after his disagreements with Joseph Smith

As a lawyer, while writing to Phineas Young, Oliver said:

I have cherished a hope, and that one of my fondest, that I might leave such a character, as those who might believe in my testimony, after I should be called hence, might do so, not only for the sake of the truth, but might not blush for the private character of the man who bore that testimony. I have been sensitive on this subject, I admit; but I ought to be so—you would be, under the circumstances, had you stood in the presence of John, with our departed Brother Joseph, to receive the Lesser Priesthood—and in the presence of Peter, to receive the Greater, and looked down through time, and witnessed the effects these two must produce,—you would feel what you have never felt, were wicked men conspiring to lessen the effects of your testimony on man, after you should have gone to your long sought rest.[161]

Surely Oliver's concern for his testimony included his testimony as a witness.

Eventually Oliver left the law practice he had started after leaving the Church, and journeyed to Kanesville, Iowa, with his wife and daughter and finally reunited with the Church in 1848. Before he was baptized he bore his testimony to the congregation that had gathered for a conference.

I wrote, with my own pen, the entire Book of Mormon (save a few pages) as it fell from the lips of the Prophet Joseph, as he translated it by the gift and power of God, by the means of the Urim and Thummim, or as it is called by the book, Holy Interpreters. I beheld with my eyes, and handled with my hands, the gold plates from which it was transcribed. I also saw with my eyes and handled with my hands the Holy Interpreters. That book is true. ...It contains the everlasting gospel, and came forth to the children of men in fulfillment of the revelations of John, where he says he saw an angel come with the everlasting gospel to preach to every nation, kindred, tongue and people. It contains principles of salvation; and if you, my hearers, will walk by its light and obey its precepts, you will be saved with an everlasting salvation in the kingdom of God on high.[162]

Oliver rejoined the Church and prepared to journey to Utah to unite with the main body of the Latter-day Saints but he died while living temporarily in Richmond, Missouri. Oliver Cowdery had contracted tuberculosis. In March 1850, while on his deathbed, Oliver used his dying breaths to testify of the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon. Lucy P. Young, his half-sister, was at his bedside and reported:

Oliver Cowdery just before breathing his last, asked his attendants to raise him up in bed that he might talk to the family and his friends, who were present. He then told them to live according to the teachings contained in the Book of Mormon, and promised them, if they would do this, that they would meet him in heaven. He then said, ‘Lay me down and let me fall asleep.’ A few moments later he died without a struggle.[163]

In November 1881, over 30 years after Oliver's death, his former law partner Judge W. Lang claimed in a letter that Oliver had admitted that the Book of Mormon was a fraud. Lang's letter claimed that the Book of Mormon was derived from the Spalding manuscript by Oliver, and that Sidney Rigdon and Joseph Smith approved the final draft. This claim cannot be considered credible for a number of reasons, among them the fact that the Spalding manuscript bears no resemblance to the Book of Mormon (something even the critics agree with), and the fact that Sidney Rigdon was never associated with Joseph Smith prior to the publication of the Book of Mormon. The basis for Lang's claim seems to be the standard Spalding theory of Book of Mormon authorship.


Response to claim: 204 - Martin Harris is claimed to have "denied the teaching of Brigham Young" after he was rebaptized

The author(s) of The Kingdom of the Cults make(s) the following claim:

Martin Harris is claimed to have "denied the teaching of Brigham Young" after he was rebaptized.

Author's sources:
  1. No source provided.

FairMormon Response

Fact checking results: This claim contains propaganda - 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

Without a source, it is difficult to assess this claim.


Response to claim: 204 - David Whitmer is claimed to have said that "it was a vision and not an actual visitation by an angelic person"

The author(s) of The Kingdom of the Cults make(s) the following claim:

David Whitmer is claimed to have said that "it was a vision and not an actual visitation by an angelic person."

Author's sources:
  1. David Whitmer, An Address to All Believers in Christ by a Witness to the Divine Authenticity of The Book of Mormon (David Whitmer: Richmond, Virginia, 1887).

FairMormon Response

Fact checking results: This claim is false

Whitmer's actual words are:

In June, 1829, the Lord called Oliver Cowdery, Martin Harris, and myself as the three witnesses, to behold the vision of the Angel, as recorded in the fore part of the Book of Mormon, and to bear testimony to the world that the Book of Mormon, and to bear testimony to the world that the Book of Mormon is true. I was not called to bear testimony to the mission of Brother Joseph Smith any farther than his work of translating the Book of Mormon, as you can see by reading the testimony of us three witnesses.

Whitmer endorses his printed testimony, and insists that the Book of Mormon was true and that he saw the angel. He says nothing about it not being "an actual visitation."


Question: Did David Whitmer say that his encounter with the angel Moroni was not an actual visitation?

Whitmer here endorses his printed testimony, and insists that the Book of Mormon was true and that he saw the angel

It is claimed that in his pamphlet An Address to All Believers in Christ, David Whitmer said that his encounter with the angel "was a vision and not an actual visitation by an angelic person" (Martin, Kingdom of the Cults, 204).

Those making this claim have here distorted Whitmer's witness and the document they are quoting.

The critics quote p. 32 of Whitmer's pamphlet for this claim. Their summary, however, greatly distorts the document. Whitmer actually wrote:

In June, 1829, the Lord called Oliver Cowdery, Martin Harris, and myself as the three witnesses, to behold the vision of the Angel, as recorded in the fore part of the Book of Mormon, and to bear testimony to the world that the Book of Mormon, and to bear testimony to the world that the Book of Mormon is true. I was not called to bear testimony to the mission of Brother Joseph Smith any farther than his work of translating the Book of Mormon, as you can see by reading the testimony of us three witnesses.[164]

Whitmer here endorses his printed testimony, and insists that the Book of Mormon was true and that he saw the angel.

Whitmer says nothing about it not being "an actual visitation"

He says nothing about it not being "an actual visitation." In other accounts, Whitmer insisted that "I was not under any hallucination, nor was I deceived! I saw with these eyes, and I heard with these ears! I know whereof I speak!"[165]

When writing to someone who had tried to draw the same false conclusion as the critics, Whitmer explained:

Of course we were in the spirit when we had the view, for no man can behold the face of an angel, except in a spiritual view, but we were in the body also, and everything was as natural to us, as it is at any time.[166]

Whitmer claimed that he had physically handled the plates

Early hostile newspapers claimed that the witnesses' descriptions did not match, but were clear that both Harris and Whitmer had at some point physically handled and examined the plates:

Whitmar’s [sic] description of the Book of Mormon, differs entirely from that given by Harris; both of whom it would seem have been of late permitted, not only to see and handle it, but to examine its contents. Whitmar relates that he was led by Smith into an open field, on his father’s farm near Waterloo, when they found the book lying on the ground; Smith took it up and requested him to examine it, which he did for the space of half an hour or more, when he returned it to Smith, who placed it in its former position, alledging that the book was in the custody of another, intimating that some Divine agent would have it in safe keeping.[167]

Thus, David Whitmer also physically handled the plates according to this account, though not at the same time as the angelic vision.


Response to claim: 204-205 - The Book of Mormon contains passages from the King James Bible

The author(s) of The Kingdom of the Cults make(s) the following claim:

The Book of Mormon contains passages from the King James Bible.

Author's sources:

FairMormon Response

Fact checking results: This claim contains propaganda - 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

Why would Joseph plagiarize the one text his readers would be sure to know, and be sure to be offended by if he did?


Response to claim: 205 - The Book of Mormon is said to "follow an error" in the King James Bible in Isaiah 4:5

The author(s) of The Kingdom of the Cults make(s) the following claim:

The Book of Mormon is said to "follow an error" in the King James Bible in Isaiah 4:5 / (2 Nephi 14:5). The phrase "For upon all the glory shall be a defense" should actually be "For over all the gloary  [check spelling] there will be a canopy."

Author's sources:

FairMormon Response

Response to claim: 205 - The Jaredites are claimed to have "enjoyed glass windows" in their barges

The author(s) of The Kingdom of the Cults make(s) the following claim:

The Jaredites are claimed to have "enjoyed glass windows" in their barges.

Author's sources:

FairMormon Response

Fact checking results: This claim is false

The Book of Ether specifically says that if the Jaredites were to put windows in their barges, this would result in the barges being "dashed to pieces." There are no windows in the barges, and no mention of glass at all (see Ether 2:23).


Question: Is the Book of Mormon reference to windows that can be "dashed in pieces" an anachronism?

It seems likely that Ether 2:23 means that the barges themselves would break if they had windows or openings built into them

Ether 2:23:

What will ye that I should do that ye may have light in your vessels? For behold, ye cannot have windows, for they will be dashed in pieces;

The mention of windows that could be "dashed in pieces" in Ether 2:23 seems to be anachronistic, since glass windows were not invented until the late Middle Ages. However, the term "window" originally referred to an opening through which the wind could enter. It is found 42 times in the Bible, where it does not refer to glass windows as we know them. In one passage (2 Kings 13:17), we read that a window in the palace was opened. So windows sometimes had doors or shutters. The same is true of the window that Noah built into the ark (Genesis 6:16; Genesis 8:6).

It seems likely that Ether 2:23 means that the barges themselves would break if they had windows or openings built into them. In the next verse, the Lord explains that this is because they would go through extremely turbulent conditions at sea, sometimes being buried beneath the waves. Windows would mean weakening the wooden structure, by creating openings, making it more fragile and thus liable to be "dashed in pieces." If we read only the sentence containing the word "windows" and read it out of context, then the antecedent of "they" would, indeed, be "windows." But it is probable that the antecedent is "vessels," the last word in the preceding sentence.[168]


Response to claim: 205 - The Book of Mormon mentions "steel" and a "compass"

The author(s) of The Kingdom of the Cults make(s) the following claim:

The Book of Mormon mentions "steel" and a "compass."

Author's sources:

FairMormon Response

Question: What was known about steel in ancient America?

The steel of the Book of Mormon is probably not modern steel. Steel, as we understand today, had to be produced using a very cumbersome process and was extremely expensive until the development of puddling towards the end of the 18th century. Even in ancient times, however, experienced smiths could produce steel by heating and hammering pig-iron or, earlier still, the never-molten iron from a bloomery to loose the surplus of carbon to get something like elastic steel. Early smiths even knew that by quenching hot steel in water, oil, or a salt solution the surface could be hardened.

Any Mesoamerican production likely depended upon the first method, which requires lower temperatures and less sophistication. Laban's "steel sword" is not anachronistic; Middle Eastern smiths were making steel by the tenth century B.C.[169]


Hamblin: "there are no references to Nephite steel after 400 B.C."

William Hamblin: [170]

Steel is mentioned only five times in the Book of Mormon, once in the Book of Ether (7.9), and four times in the Nephite records (1 Ne 4.9, 1 Ne 16.18, 2 Ne 5.15 and Jar 1.8). Of these, two refer to Near Eastern weapons of the early sixth century B.C. 1 Ne 4.9 states that the blade of Laban’s sword was “of most precious steel.” Nephi’s Near Eastern bow was “made of fine steel” (1 Ne 16.18). The next two references are to steel among generic metal lists. The first is to the time of Nephi, around 580 B.C.:

“work in all manner of wood, and of iron, and of copper, and of brass, and of steel, and of gold, and of silver, and of precious ores” (2 Ne 5:15)

The second is from Jarom 1:8, around 400 B.C.:

“workmanship of wood, in buildings, and in machinery, and also in iron and copper, and brass and steel, making all manner of tools of every kind to till the ground, and weapons of war–yea, the sharp pointed arrow, and the quiver, and the dart, and the javelin, and all preparations for war”

Notice that these two texts are what is called a “literary topos,” meaning a stylized literary description which repeats the same ideas, events, or items in a standardized way in the same order and form.

Nephi: “wood, and of iron, and of copper, and of brass, and of steel” Jarom: “wood, …iron and copper, and brass and steel” The use of literary topoi is a fairly common ancient literary device found extensively in the Book of Mormon (and, incidentally, an evidence for the antiquity of the text). Scholars are often skeptical about the actuality behind a literary topos; it is often unclear if it is merely a literary device or is intended to describe specific unique circumstances.

Note, also, that although Jarom mentions a number of “weapons of war,” this list notably leaves off swords. Rather, it includes “arrow, and the quiver, and the dart, and the javelin.” If iron/steel swords were extensively used by Book of Mormon armies, why are they notably absent from this list of weapons, the only weapon-list that specifically mentions steel?

Significantly, there are no references to Nephite steel after 400 B.C.


Question: Was the Liahona simply a magnetic compass that was out of place in 600 B.C.?

To use the word compass as a name for a round or curved object is well attested in both the King James Version of the Bible and the Oxford English Dictionary

It is claimed that the description of the Liahona as a "compass" is anachronistic because the magnetic compass was not known in 600 B.C. One critical website notes that "the COMPASS which DIRECTED one's course wasn't invented yet for many centuries." [171]

To use the word compass as a name for a round or curved object is well attested in both the King James Version of the Bible and the Oxford English Dictionary. The Book of Mormon refers to the Liahona as "a compass" not because it anachronistically pointed the way to travel, but because it was a perfectly round object.

1 Nephi 16:10, 30

10 And it came to pass that as my father arose in the morning, and went forth to the tent door, to his great astonishment he beheld upon the ground a round ball of curious workmanship; and it was of fine brass. And within the ball were two spindles; and the one pointed the way whither we should go into the wilderness.

30 And it came to pass that I, Nephi, did go forth up into the top of the mountain, according to the directions which were given upon the ball.

This object did give directions, however this object was referred as "a compass" because it was a perfectly round object.

The purpose of the two spindles is not explained, however, one assumes that one of them provided directional information

The fact that the Liahona is referred to as a "compass" and that it contained spindles leads one to assume that it was used like a modern compass. However, there is no indication that either of the spindles pointed to magnetic north. If one of the spindles was used to provide directional information, the inference is that it simply pointed the direction that they were to go, which would not be magnetic north.

The Book of Mormon does specifically indicate, however, that the Liahona was used to direct the travels of Lehi's party based upon writing that appeared upon the object

As Nephi put it, the "directions which were given upon the ball":

29 And there was also written upon them a new writing, which was plain to be read, which did give us understanding concerning the ways of the Lord; and it was written and changed from time to time, according to the faith and diligence which we gave unto it. And thus we see that by small means the Lord can bring about great things.

30 And it came to pass that I, Nephi, did go forth up into the top of the mountain, according to the directions which were given upon the ball. 1 Nephi 16:29-30 (emphasis added)

This 13th century frontispiece from the Codex Vindobonensis 2554 shows God as creator using a compass—so named not because it is used for navigation, but because it is used to draw arcs and circles.

Alma2 explained why the director the Lord gave to Lehi was called the Liahona

...I have somewhat to say concerning the thing which our fathers call a ball, or director — or our fathers called it Liahona, which is, being interpreted, a compass; and the Lord prepared it (Alma 37:38).[172]

Believing it was called a compass because it pointed the direction for Lehi to travel is a natural interpretation by the modern reader

  • As a verb, the word "compass" occurs frequently in the King James Version of the Bible[173]; and it generally suggests the idea of surrounding or encircling something. Note the following usages:
    • Also he made a molten sea of ten cubits from brim to brim, round in compass, and five cubits the height thereof; and a line of thirty cubits did compass it round about. 2 Chronicles 4:2
    • They compassed me about; yea, they compassed me about: but in the name of the Lord I will destroy them. Psalms 118:11
    • And ye shall compass the city, all ye men of war, and go round about the city once. Thus shalt thou do six days. Joshua 6:3
    • From the wicked that oppress me, from my deadly enemies, who compass me about. Psalms 17:9
  • A third common situation in the KJV is the use of the phrase "to fetch a compass" (e.g., Numbers 34:5; Joshua 15:3; Acts 28:13), which if not recognized as a verbal phrase could be wrongly seen as presenting "compass" as a noun.

In every case, it is clear that, at least in Jacobean England, the word was regularly treated as meaning either a round object, or something which moved in a curved fashion. The Book of Mormon text uses a form of Jacobean English--and does not contain expressions that were introduced after 1700. This has implications for how we read the text. The critic treats something important as insignificant.

Further evidence of the archaic meaning of the word comes from a study of the rather lengthy listing for the word in the Oxford English Dictionary. It includes definition 5.b.:

"Anything circular in shape, e.g. the globe, the horizon; also, a circlet or ring."
  • the clock can also be referred to as a compass, yet it points at the time.

If critics insist on reading this as a "mariner's compass," even this may not be as anachronistic as they have assumed

Naturally-occurring magnetic ore was being mined by the 7th century B.C., and its magnetic properties were first discussed by the early philosopher Thales of Miletos around 600 B.C.[174]

Non-LDS astronomer John Carlson reported finding a Olmec hematite artifact in Mesoamerica, which was radio-dated to 1600 to 1000 B.C. If Carlson is right, this usage "predates the Chinese discovery of the geomagnetic lodestone compass by more than a millennium."[175] Other researchers have suggested the metal is simply part of an ornament,[176] though Mesoamericanist Michael Coe has suggested the use of such ores as floating compasses.[177] Such examples demonstrate how a single find can radically alter what archaeology tells us is "impossible" with regard to the Book of Mormon text.

As Robert F. Smith observed:

it is worth noting that the function of magnetic hematite was well understood in both the Old and New Worlds before Lehi left Jerusalem. Magnetite, or lodestone, is, of course, naturally magnetic iron (Fe3O4), and the word magnetite comes from the name of a place in which it was mined in Asia Minor by at least the seventh century B.C., namely Magnesia.[a] Parenthetically, Professor Michael Coe of Yale University, a top authority on ancient Mesoamerica, has suggested that the Olmecs of Veracruz, Mexico, were using magnetite compasses already in the second millennium B.C. This is based on Coe's discovery during excavations at San Lorenzo-Tenochtitlán of a magnetite "pointer" which appeared to have been "machined," and which Coe placed on a cork mat in a bowl of water in a successful test of its function as a true floater-compass.[b] The Olmecs (Jaredites?) of San Lorenzo and their relatives in the Oaxaca Valley were utilizing natural iron ore outcroppings by the Early Formative period (c. 1475-1125 B.C.), and at the end of the San Lorenzo phase and in the Nacaste phase (c. 1200-840 B.C.). Mirrors and other items were also fashioned from this native magnetite (and ilmenite).[178]

Response to claim: 205 - Laban uses a steel sword and Nephi had a steel bow

The author(s) of The Kingdom of the Cults make(s) the following claim:

Laban uses a steel sword and Nephi had a steel bow.

Author's sources:
  1. 1 Nephi 4:9

FairMormon Response

Fact checking results: This claim contains propaganda - 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 author admits that biblical usage has "steel" equal to "bronze," and then criticizes the Book of Mormon for potentially following the same convention.


Response to claim: 205-206 - The Jaredites had steel swords, but "steel" in the Bible is actually bronze or iron

The author(s) of The Kingdom of the Cults make(s) the following claim:

The Jaredites had steel swords, but "steel" in the Bible is actually bronze or iron.

Author's sources:
  1. Ether 7:9

FairMormon Response

Fact checking results: This claim contains propaganda - 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 author admits that biblical usage has "steel" equal to "bronze," and then criticizes the Book of Mormon for potentially following the same convention.


Response to claim: 206 - Interpreting "steel" as "bronze" undermines the claim that the Book of Mormon was translated correctly

The author(s) of The Kingdom of the Cults make(s) the following claim:

Interpreting "steel" as "bronze" undermines the claim that the Book of Mormon was translated correctly.

Author's sources:
  • William Hamblin, "Handheld Weapons in the Book of Mormon" 1985, FARMS.

FairMormon Response

Fact checking results: The author has stated erroneous information or misinterpreted their sources

The KJV Bible uses "steel" for "bronze"—does this mean it is utterly unreliable?

Response to claim: 206 - The compass was not yet invented. "Mormons" are claimed to defend this by using Acts 28:13, which is correctly rendered as "circle" instead of "compass"

The author(s) of The Kingdom of the Cults make(s) the following claim:

The compass was not yet invented. "Mormons" are claimed to defend this by using Acts 28:13, which is correctly rendered as "circle" instead of "compass".

Author's sources:
  1. Acts 28:13

FairMormon Response

Fact checking results: The author has stated erroneous information or misinterpreted their sources

The author ignores numerous other examples. The question is not whether the word could be otherwise translated—the question is whether in KJV-style English the term "compass" could be used as the Book of Mormon does. And, the answer is clearly, "Yes." The author seems to want to insist on some type of perfect, ideal "translation," which neither Joseph nor the Saints believe in.

Response to claim: 206 - The Bible says that the Messiah was to be born in Bethlehem, but the Book of Mormon says that he would be born "at Jerusalem"

The author(s) of The Kingdom of the Cults make(s) the following claim:

The Bible says that the Messiah was to be born in Bethlehem, but the Book of Mormon says that he would be born "at Jerusalem."

Author's sources:

FairMormon Response

Fact checking results: The author has stated erroneous information or misinterpreted their sources

Bethlehem is in the "land of Jerusalem" - it is only five miles away.


Question: Why does the Book of Mormon say that Jesus would be born "at Jerusalem which is the land of our forefathers" when the Bible states that he was born in Bethlehem?

The town of Bethlehem is in the "land of Jerusalem" since it is only five miles away

Some have noted that Alma 7:10 says that Jesus would be born "at Jerusalem which is the land of our forefathers." Yet, every schoolchild knows that Jesus was born in Bethlehem. They claim that this is a mistake, and evidence that Joseph Smith forged the Book of Mormon.

The town of Bethlehem is in the "land of Jerusalem." In fact, Bethlehem is only 5 miles south of Jerusalem: definitely "in the land," especially from the perspective of Alma, a continent away. Even locals considered Hebron, twenty five miles from Bethlehem, to be in the "land of Jerusalem." This is, in reality, another literary evidence for the Book of Mormon. While a forger would likely overlook this detail and include Bethlehem as the commonly-understood birthplace of Jesus, the ancient authors of the Book of Mormon use an authentic term to describe the Savior's birthplace—thereby providing another point of authenticity for the Book of Mormon.

A picture of Bethlehem taken from Jerusalem in 2006. The photo was taken from Kibbutz Ramat Rachel. Bethlehem is located in Palestinian territory about five miles away from Jerusalem.

This is an old criticism that has been dealt with at least as far back as 1842

This is an old criticism that has been dealt with at least as far back as 1842.[179] but continues to pop up now and again.

BYU professor Daniel C. Peterson pointed out the absurdity of this argument:

To suggest that Joseph Smith knew the precise location of Jesus' baptism by John ("in Bethabara, beyond Jordan" (1 Ne. 10:9) but hadn't a clue about the famous town of Christ's birth is so improbable as to be ludicrous. Do the skeptics seriously mean to suggest that the Book of Mormon's Bible-drenched author (or authors) missed one of the most obvious facts about the most popular story in the Bible — something known to every child and Christmas caroler? Do they intend to say that a clever fraud who could write a book displaying so wide an array of subtly authentic Near Eastern and biblical cultural and literary traits as the Book of Mormon does was nonetheless so stupid as to claim, before a Bible-reading public, that Jesus was born in the city of Jerusalem? As one anti-Mormon author has pointed out, "Every schoolboy and schoolgirl knows Christ was born in Bethlehem." [Langfield, 53.] Exactly! It is virtually certain, therefore, that Alma 7:10 was foreign to Joseph Smith's preconceptions. "The land of Jerusalem" is not the sort of thing the Prophet would likely have invented, precisely for the same reason it bothers uninformed critics of the Book of Mormon.[180]

This is consistent with the usage of the ancient Middle East

It is important to note what Alma's words were. He did not claim Jesus would be born in the city of Jerusalem, but "at Jerusalem which is the land of our forefathers."

Thus, the Book of Mormon makes a distinction here between a city and the land associated with a city. It does this elsewhere as well:

This is consistent with the usage of the ancient Middle East. El Amarna letter #290 reports that "a town of the land of Jerusalem, Bit-Lahmi [Bethlehem] by name, a town belonging to the king, has gone over to the side of the people of Keilah."[181] (One over-confident 19th century critic blithely assured his readers that "There is no such land. No part of Palestine bears the name of Jerusalem, except the city itself."[182] While this was perhaps true in the 19th century, it was not true anciently. A supposed "howler" turns into evidence for the text's antiquity.

Thus, the Book of Mormon gets it exactly right — the town of Bethlehem is in the "land of Jerusalem." In fact, Bethlehem is only 5 miles south of Jerusalem: definitely "in the land," especially from the perspective of Alma, a continent away. Even locals considered Hebron, twenty five miles from Bethlehem, to be in the "land of Jerusalem."

The use of the term "land of Jerusalem" is authentic ancient usage

Hugh Nibley noted in 1957:

while the Book of Mormon refers to the city of Jerusalem plainly and unmistakably over sixty times, it refers over forty times to another and entirely different geographical entity which is always designated as "the land of Jerusalem." In the New World also every major Book of Mormon city is surrounded by a land of the same name.

The land of Jerusalem is not the city of Jerusalem. Lehi "dwelt at Jerusalem in all his days" (1 Nephi 1:4), yet his sons had to "go down to the land of our father's inheritance" to pick up their property (1 Nephi 3:16,22). The apparent anomaly is readily explained by the Amarna Letters, in which we read that "a city of the land of Jerusalem, Bet-Ninib, has been captured."17 It was the rule in Palestine and Syria from ancient times, as the same letters show, for a large area around a city and all the inhabitants of that area to bear the name of the city.18 It is taken for granted that if Nephi lived at Jerusalem he would know about the surrounding country: "I, of myself, have dwelt at Jerusalem, wherefore I know concerning the regions round about" (2 Nephi 25:6; italics added). But this was quite unknown at the time the Book of Mormon was written—the Amarna Letters were discovered in 1887. One of the favorite points of attack on the Book of Mormon has been the statement in Alma 7:10 that the Savior would be born "at Jerusalem which is the land of our forefathers" (italics added). Here Jerusalem is not the city "in the land of our forefathers"; it is the land. Christ was born in a village some six miles from the city of Jerusalem; it was not in the city, but it was in what we now know the ancients themselves designated as "the land of Jerusalem." Such a neat test of authenticity is not often found in ancient documents.[183]


Response to claim: 206 - "Anyone who thinks that children under age eight cannot sin has not visited the classrooms of today's schools"

The author(s) of The Kingdom of the Cults make(s) the following claim:

*The Bible is claimed to contradict the Book of Mormon teaching that children cannot sin under eight years of age.
  • The Bible is claimed to place sin at the point of conception.
  •  Author's quote: Anyone who thinks that children under age eight cannot sin has not visited the classrooms of today's schools.

    Author's sources:

  1. Moroni 8:8

FairMormon Response

Fact checking results: This claim contains propaganda - 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 author can restrict Christ's grace to little children, but members of the Church of Jesus Christ refuse to believe that little children are held guilty before God. They are saved from their imperfections and errors through Christ's grace.


Question: What to Latter-day Saints believe regarding the concept of "original sin"?

Latter-day Saints believe that "original sin" as commonly understood in many branches of western Christianity was not a doctrine taught by the Bible, Jesus, or the apostles

The Second Article of Faith states that "We believe that men will be punished for their own sins, and not for Adam’s transgression." There is a form of "original sin" in LDS theology, but it is a matter that has been resolved through the atonement of Christ:

And our father Adam spake unto the Lord, and said: Why is it that men must repent and be baptized in water? And the Lord said unto Adam: Behold I have forgiven thee thy transgression in the Garden of Eden. Hence came the saying abroad among the people, that the Son of God hath atoned for original guilt, wherein the sins of the parents cannot be answered upon the heads of the children, for they are whole from the foundation of the world. (Moses 6:53-54, emphasis added.)

Thus, LDS theology explicitly rejects the idea that Adam's "original sin" results in a condemnation of the entire human race. Efforts to insist that all of humanity is thereby tainted, all desires are corrupted, or all infants are damned without baptism are untrue. Because of temptation and the instinctive desires of physical bodies, human beings wrestle with the desire to sin (Matthew 26:41; Mosiah 3:19), but Adam's actions in the Garden of Eden have no bearing on this.

As Wilford Woodruff taught:

What is called the original sin was atoned for through the death of Christ irrespective of any action on the part of man; also man's individual sin was atoned for by the same sacrifice, but on condition of his obedience to the Gospel plan of salvation when proclaimed in his hearing.” [184]

Concluded Elaine Pagels:

Astonishingly, Augustine’s radical views prevailed, eclipsing for future generations of Western Christians the consensus of the first three centuries of Christian tradition. [185]

Original sin is the innovation. It is a post-biblical novelty without scriptural support.

Given that the doctrine is explicitly repudiated by modern revelation, the Saints feel no need to accept it.

Clearly, any effort to exclude the Church from Christendom because they reject original sin must also exclude several hundred million Eastern Orthodox and Anabaptists. Clearly, such a standard would be nonsensical.


Question: Is original sin a biblical doctrine?

Many authors have noted that the modern doctrine of "original sin" is at variance with much of both the Old and New Testament

James Barr wrote:

Our ideas about the origin of evil have an effect on our ideas about humanity and its potentialities and limitations in the present-day world” (59-60)...

For the traditional Christian conception of the origins of evil, the dominant passages are in St. Paul [Rom 5.12; 5.18; I Cor 15.21-22, 47, 49]….

The most noticeable thing about them is the stress they throw upon the disobedience of Adam…. Its effect was instant and completely catastrophic. There is no matter of degree or development. The slightest sin was total and universal in its effect: sin, it seems, completely, and not partially, altered man’s relation to God…. Later theologians worked out, on this basis, the doctrine of original sin” (60-1).

“All this has been the familiar and traditional Christian position. It is so familiar, so deeply implanted in our traditions, that it comes as something of a surprise to realize that it is after all a rather rare emphasis within the New Testament itself; and, in particular, it is an emphasis that seems to be lacking from the teaching of Jesus himself….

There is no doctrine of original sin to be found in Jesus’ teaching…. And, if it is not in Jesus’ teaching, it is equally absent from many other parts of the New Testament…. It is intrinsically Pauline” (61-2).

“Nowhere in the entire Hebrew Bible is the disobedience of Adam and Eve cited as explanation for sin or evil in the world. This reference…simply does not occur…. The Old Testament, far from taking the universal sinfulness of man as an obvious and ineluctable fact, seems rather, taken as a whole, to insist upon the possibility of avoiding sin” (67).

“The main Jewish tradition, as we know it since the Middle Ages, has refused to accept any sort of doctrine of original sin…. Moral problems are serious choices for the Jew, and they are serious choices because one has freedom to sin or not to sin. There is indeed the idea of the two yesers, formations or inclinations, the good and the bad, both of which are implanted in man and between which he has to choose…. Adam, like the other men of the first beginnings, was often regarded with admiration: he was a very great man. As Ben Sira put it, looking back over the worthies of the Bible who should be remembered: ‘Shem and Seth were honored among men but Adam is above every living being in the creation’ [Ecclesiasticus 49.16]” ;(68). “all this then raises the serious question: was St. Paul really at all right in his understanding the story of Adam and Eve as the cataclysmic entrance of sin and death?” (69). [186]

A better question may be, is the understanding of St. Paul adopted by the western Christian tradition actually correct? Where did this reading of Paul come from? Why would "Paul's" conception of original sin vary so profoundly from both the Jewish and New Testament tradition?

Interestingly, it all starts with one man, well after the death of Jesus and the apostles—Augustine of Hippo.


Question: What is the origin of the doctrine of original sin?

There is no evidence that the doctrine existed before Augustine

One non-LDS author observed:

The idea of ‘original sin’ has been so commonly identified with traditional Christianity that the rejection of the one has seemed to imply a rejection of the other. It is supposedly an unquestioned assumption of Christian soteriology. In truth, the teaching that all...men are guilty of Adam’s sin, that each person must pay the penalty for, as Augustine declared (De corrept. et grat., 28), is really the product of his legalistic and Neo-platonic imagination. No scholarly work, whether treating the Scriptures or the Fathers, has demonstrated…that the idea of ‘original sin’ belongs to ‘the faith once delivered to the saints’ (Jude 3) or ever existed before Augustine. The same may be said for his theories of Grace and Predestination which accompany it, all of which are the result of his ‘Neo-platonic world-view’ [quoting G. Nygren, ‘The Augustinian Conception of Grace,’ Studia Patristica 2 (1955): 260]. Many of his contemporaries opposed him [and] … were scandalized by his lack of traditionalism—and not without justification” (39). [187]

We learn, then, that:

  • there is no evidence that the doctrine existed before Augustine
  • Augustine's view drew on his legal training, and his background in Greek Neo-Platonism.
  • there was great opposition to Augustine's views, because his concept of "original sin" was not the traditional Christian teaching, but a drastic novelty.
  • Augustine's novel view of original sin led to alteration in other doctrine, such as his ideas on Grace and Predestination.

Augustine's mistranslation

Part of Augustine's error can be explained by the fact that he did not read or speak Greek. He was forced, then, to rely on Latin translations of both the scriptures and the writings of other early Christians.

As Azkoul goes on to observe:

The moralist problem concerning the transmission of guilt and death to the descendants of Adam which preoccupied Augustine made a traditional reading of the verse [Romans 5:12] impossible. He not only abused it, but the entire witness of St. Paul with its Hebraic background. Unfortunately, the Bishop of Hippo [i.e., Augustine] did not know Greek and depended on the Latin translation of the New Testament. It was Ambrosiaster who provided, perhaps unwittingly, with Romans 5.12 as a proof-text” (42). The Latin text was rendered: ‘Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world and death by sin, so death passed upon all men, for all have sinned.’ The correct translation from the Greek reads: ‘Wherefore, as by one man sin entered the world and through sin death; on account of death all have sinned’ (42-3). Neither Origen [whom Augustine read: CD xi. 23] or Ambrosiaster gave voice to the doctrine of ‘original sin.’…. Quite simply, then, Augustine strayed from the truth, the Apostolic Tradition, and any attempt to justify his innovations by an appeal to some questionable principle of historical interpretation—‘doctrinal development’—will not help“. [188]

On the need for infant baptism

Of the consequences of Augustine's mistake, Stephen Duffy writes:

“his [Augustine’s] interpretation [of Romans 5.12], mistaken as it was, and deriving from the erroneous Old Latin version, would play a crucial role in the development of the later doctrine of original sin.” Ambrosiaster, the name given to an anonymous late fourth century commentator on the writings of Paul “does not seem [to think that] we are punished for Adam’s sin, but for our own: ‘…We are not made guilty by the fact of birth, but by evil deeds’ [On Romans 5.12-14; Questions on the Old and New Testaments 21f]” (63)...

“While granting that the tragic fall-out from Adam’s sin has contaminated all, Greek Christianity negates any transmission of guilt from Adam to his posterity. And the Eastern anthropology is in general more optimistic than that of the West. The two Gregories [Nyssa and Nazianzus] and Chrysostom maintain that the newborn are free from sin and so they are unperturbed about children dying without baptism….

Gregory of Nyssa, e.g., asserts that sin is congenital and that even Christ’s humanity was prone to sin [hamartetiken]” (63). Didymus the blind (ca. 313-398), last head of the famous catechetical school of Alexandria, speaks of the sin of Adam in virtue of which all are under sin, which is transmitted, it seems, by the sexual union of their parents. This involuntary, hereditary sin calls for purification not punishment [On 2 Corinthians 4.17 and Against the Manichaeans 8]” (64). “All this falls short of the classical Augustinian doctrine of original sin but key elements of that doctrine were already taking shape, especially in the West” (64). [189]

LDS readers see this as clear evidence of the apostasy impacting Christian doctrine—the loss of the apostles led Augustine and others to try to resolve difficult issues. Augustine was influenced by his culture, his practice of law, and his philosophical neo-platonism. These led him and others to gradually alter Christian doctrine, and yet these alterations would snowball. Augustine's adoption of original sin led, logically, to the need to baptize infants—an idea totally at variance with earlier Christian practice and doctrine.

Effect on ideas of grace and predestination

One error (Augustine's view of original sin) led to other alterations to Christian doctrine, which previous generations would have found incomprehensible:

According to Augustine, ‘original sin’ precluded any human cooperation with the divine Grace…. The human will is powerless to choose the good by virtue of the evil inherited from Adam. Unable to choose, he must be drawn irresistibly to God by grace. Original sin and predestination are both innovations without support in the Tradition of the Church. [190]

Azkoul then translates from G.F. Wiggers, Versuch einer pragmatischen Darstellung des Augustinisimus und Pelagianismus (Hamburg 1821: 448):

“In reference to predestination the Fathers before Augustine were entirely at variance with him and in agreement with Pelagius…. No ecclesiastical author had ever yet explained the Epistle to the Romans (e.g., Rom. 5.12) as Augustine had…. It was only by a doubtful inference, too, that he appealed to Cyprian, Ambrose, Gregory of Nazianzus, etc….’” [191]


Question: Is the concept of "original sin" part of all Christian theology?

Original sin is not part of all Christian theology

Many western Christians assume that "original sin" is a core part of Christian theology. While this may be true for theologies descended from Augustine's innovation, it is not true of Christianity as a whole.

For example, the Eastern Orthodox have quite a different view:

“In the Eastern patristic tradition …this experience is different from the Western, more legalistic, post-Augustinian, medieval conception of ‘original sin’ which makes every human guilty of the sin committed by Adam in paradise” (471). In the Eastern tradition “salvation is not only a liberation from death and sin; it is also the restoration of the original human destiny, which consists in being the ‘image of God’…. Humanity finds its ultimate destiny in communion with God, that is, in theosis, or deification” (472). [192]

And:

“The East did not accept Augustine’s notion of original sin and saw its consequence not as guilt but as mortality. Guilt is only acquitted through the personal exercise of the free will, through personal sin” (356). [193]

Other denominations also rejected Augustine's alteration to the doctrine. This author is a Mennonite theologian:

“Anabaptists insisted that Jesus’ atonement had canceled Original Sin’s guilt and restored children everywhere to an initial state of grace. Infant baptism, then, was no longer needed to wash away this sin. Anabaptists thus viewed humankind not as a massa perditionis but as initially graced” (86). [194]


Response to claim: 207 - The Book of Mormon and D&C are claimed to contradict one another

The author(s) of The Kingdom of the Cults make(s) the following claim:

The Book of Mormon and D&C are claimed to contradict one another. According to the author, the Book of Mormon states that ""remission of sins is the accomplishment of baptism,"" while the D&C states ""the direct opposite,"" by claiming that remission of sins occurs before baptism. The author claims that "Mormon theologians conspicuously omit any serious discussion of the contradiction."

Author's sources:
  1. 3 Nephi 12:2

FairMormon Response

Fact checking results: The author has stated erroneous information or misinterpreted their sources

"Mormon theologians" understand that there is no contradiction; the critics are reading these texts through their own theology, not through an LDS view of the matter.

The work repeats itself: p. 227.

Question: Do Doctrine and Covenants 20:37 and 2 Nephi 31:17 or 3 Nephi 12:2 contradict one another regarding the order in which one receives baptism and a remission of sins?

These scriptures are not contradictory, for at least three reasons

It is claimed that LDS scriptures such as DC 20:37 (first case) and 2 Nephi 31:17, 3 Nephi 12:2, and Moroni 8:11 (second case) are contradictory about the order in which one receives baptism and a remission of sins and that that "Mormon theologians" have ignored this issue.

As is typical in such charges of self-contradiction, the critics either:

  • misinterpret LDS scripture;
  • compare verses of scripture which are not speaking about identical issues;
  • read Protestant terminology or theology into LDS scripture.

In this case, the critics have committed all three mistakes. As such, it is not surprising if "Mormon theologians" have spent little on the issues. The critics are looking to find fault, and so strain at gnats. LDS thinkers understand LDS doctrine, and so see clearly that there is no contradiction.

These scriptures are not contradictory, for at least three reasons—any one of which is sufficient to disprove the critics' claim. We will first list the scriptural texts, and then discuss each of the three reasons for which they are not properly seen as contradictory.

Scriptures to be considered

The first case

And again, by way of commandment to the church concerning the manner of baptism—All those who humble themselves before God, and desire to be baptized, and come forth with broken hearts and contrite spirits, and witness before the church that they have truly repented of all their sins, and are willing to take upon them the name of Jesus Christ, having a determination to serve him to the end, and truly manifest by their works that they have received of the Spirit of Christ unto the remission of their sins, shall be received by baptism into his church (DC 20:37).

The second case

Wherefore, do the things which I have told you I have seen that your Lord and your Redeemer should do; for, for this cause have they been shown unto me, that ye might know the gate by which ye should enter. For the gate by which ye should enter is repentance and baptism by water; and then cometh a remission of your sins by fire and by the Holy Ghost (2 Nephi 31:17).

...Yea, blessed are they who shall believe in your words, and come down into the depths of humility and be baptized, for they shall be visited with fire and with the Holy Ghost, and shall receive a remission of their sins (3 Nephi 12:2).

And their little children need no repentance, neither baptism. Behold, baptism is unto repentance to the fulfilling the commandments unto the remission of sins (Moroni 8:11).

Reason #1: The scriptures are discussing two slightly different issues

There is a difference between "received of the Spirit of Christ" (which is given to every man—see Moroni 7:16—but may be received or not depending on choices and heed paid to it) and the baptism of "fire and the Holy Ghost" which happens after baptism, as Joseph Smith taught:

There is a difference between the Holy Ghost and the gift of the Holy Ghost. Cornelius received the Holy Ghost before he was baptized, which was the convincing power of God unto him of the truth of the Gospel, but he could not receive the gift of the Holy Ghost until after he was baptized. Had he not taken this sign or ordinance upon him, the Holy Ghost which convinced him of the truth of God, would have left him. [195]

Reason #2: The audience and presumed intent for the audience are slightly different

Note too that those in the first instance have repented and expressed a desire to be baptized, which desire and sincerity can then lead to a remission of their sins, (i.e., the intent is what matters, and a willingness to follow through on that intent).

In the second case, Nephi is encouraging those who may not have accepted the Messiah to do so, and to obey the commandments and example given by the Messiah—including baptism. So, his target audience is those who have perhaps not yet "desire[d] to be baptized." When they have that desire (by hearkening to the Spirit of Christ), they will then repent and hearken to it, and will choose to be baptized. This decision to repent and follow Jesus will ultimately lead to forgiveness, and the baptism of fire and the purging out of sin that comes with the receipt of the Holy Ghost (after baptism).

In short, the audience in the first case is further along in the process than the audience in the second.

Reason #3: The question presupposes that "forgiveness" is a single, unique event, when in fact it is an on-going process

Here, we see that the critics are viewing this question through the lenses of conservative protestantism.

The critics are assuming that the Book of Mormon matches their view of salvation, in which someone is "saved" once and finally by some type of "altar call" or confession. By contrast, LDS theology sees salvation, repentance, forgiveness, and purification and transformation by the Holy Ghost as on-going processes. The experience begins before baptism, leads us to baptism, and is the fulfillment of the promises and covenants of baptism, which must then be persisted in as we "endure to the end."

As the second case scriptures explain, as we learn of Jesus we are humbled and desire to repent. Repentance requires that we appreciate that we have not kept all of God's commandments, and we regret not doing so. We become resolved to keep God's commandments from henceforth, and the first commandment which we can obey is to choose baptism. The baptism is an outward sign of our repentance and determination to keep God's commandments, and this willingness to covenant with Jesus allows us (as the first case notes) to "receive...of the Spirit of Christ," which begins the process of remitting our sins. If we do not persist in our intention to follow Jesus, however, and were to suddenly choose not to be baptized, we would have returned to sin.

When we have been baptized, we receive the gift of the Holy Ghost, which purifies us as if by fire, as sin and evil are burned out of us, and we walk in newness of life, following Jesus. We must then endure to the end, for if we do not, the remission of our sins (which we have only received because we have chosen to enter a covenant with Christ) will be null and void. The subsequent verses of 2 Nephi 31 explain this clearly:

18 And then are ye in this strait and narrow path which leads to eternal life; yea, ye have entered in by the gate; ye have done according to the commandments of the Father and the Son; and ye have received the Holy Ghost, which witnesses of the Father and the Son, unto the fulfilling of the promise which he hath made, that if ye entered in by the way ye should receive.

19 And now, my beloved brethren, after ye have gotten into this strait and narrow path, I would ask if all is done? Behold, I say unto you, Nay; for ye have not come thus far save it were by the word of Christ with unshaken faith in him, relying wholly upon the merits of him who is mighty to save.

20 Wherefore, ye must press forward with a steadfastness in Christ, having a perfect brightness of hope, and a love of God and of all men. Wherefore, if ye shall press forward, feasting upon the word of Christ, and endure to the end, behold, thus saith the Father: Ye shall have eternal life (2 Nephi 31:18-20).


Response to claim: 207 - The author claims that the Book of Mormon condemns polygamy, and that this contradicts the D&C

The author(s) of The Kingdom of the Cults make(s) the following claim:

The author claims that the Book of Mormon condemns polygamy, and that this contradicts the D&C.

Author's sources:

FairMormon Response

Fact checking results: The author has stated erroneous information or misinterpreted their sources

The author ignores the verse which states the conditions under which plural marriage is allowed.


Question: Does the Book of Mormon condemn polygamy?

"For if I will, saith the Lord of Hosts, raise up seed unto me, I will command my people; otherwise they shall hearken unto these things"

Jacob 2:24-29 states:

24 Behold, David and Solomon truly had many wives and concubines, which thing was abominable before me, saith the Lord.

25 Wherefore, thus saith the Lord, I have led this people forth out of the land of Jerusalem, by the power of mine arm, that I might raise up unto me a righteous branch from the fruit of the loins of Joseph.

26 Wherefore, I the Lord God will not suffer that this people shall do like unto them of old.

27 Wherefore, my brethren, hear me, and hearken to the word of the Lord: For there shall not any man among you have save it be one wife; and concubines he shall have none;

28 For I, the Lord God, delight in the chastity of women. And whoredoms are an abomination before me; thus saith the Lord of Hosts.

29 Wherefore, this people shall keep my commandments, saith the Lord of Hosts, or cursed be the land for their sakes.

Critics of the Book of Mormon generally refrain from citing the very next verse:

30 For if I will, saith the Lord of Hosts, raise up seed unto me, I will command my people; otherwise they shall hearken unto these things. (Jacob 2:30).

The Book of Mormon makes it clear that the Lord may, under some circumstances, command the practice of plural marriage. </blockquote>


Question: Why does Doctrine and Covenants 132 speak favorably about some Old Testament practitioners of plural marriage, while Jacob 2 is negative?

These two texts are not discussing the same thing at all

Jacob demonstrates that some of David and Solomon's actions were contrary to Torah, and contrary to God's established order. If God will not justify even the kings of Israel in such behavior (Jacob seems to argue) why do you think he will justify you in taking plural wives which I, Jacob, have not approved as God's representative among you?

On the other hand, the Doctrine and Covenants' intention is to explain under what circumstances God has and would not only permit but command plural marriage through his prophets.

These two texts are not discussing the same thing at all. This is not immediately obvious, but becomes clear as we look closer.

At some point after David and Solomon, it was encoded into Mosaic law that a man was not to have many wives

One of the challenges is that at some point after these events (David and Solomon), it was encoded into Mosaic law that a man was not to have many wives—and this (back when polygamy was still considered acceptable in mainstream Judaism) was later interpreted by the Rabbis to mean that a man could have as many as four wives.

This injunction on the number of wives seems to be carried over into the polemic given in Jacob. The key in this interpretation of the text is the phrase "Behold, David and Solomon truly had many wives and concubines...". This is a citation of the Old Testament text found in Deuteronomy 17:17, although the rendering is much closer to the NIV than to the KJV. (Deuteronomy in its present form was probably not written before the Lehites' departure, but a similar body of law and thought would have gone back to Lehi's day.)

Here is the relevant passage from the New International Version of the Bible (NIV), which describes the responsibilities and powers of the king.

Deuteronomy 17:14-20 (NIV, emphasis added)

14 When you enter the land the Lord your God is giving you and have taken possession of it and settled in it, and you say, "Let us set a king over us like all the nations around us,"
15 be sure to appoint over you the king the Lord your God chooses. He must be from among your own brothers. Do not place a foreigner over you, one who is not a brother Israelite.
16 The king, moreover, must not acquire great numbers of horses for himself or make the people return to Egypt to get more of them, for the Lord has told you, "You are not to go back that way again."
17 He must not take many wives, or his heart will be led astray. He must not accumulate large amounts of silver and gold.
18 When he takes the throne of his kingdom, he is to write for himself on a scroll a copy of this law, taken from that of the priests, who are Levites.
19 It is to be with him, and he is to read it all the days of his life so that he may learn to revere the Lord his God and follow carefully all the words of this law and these decrees
20 and not consider himself better than his brothers and turn from the law to the right or to the left. Then he and his descendants will reign a long time over his kingdom in Israel.

Compare this with the KJV:

Deuteronomy 17:14-20 (KJV, emphasis added)

14 When thou art come unto the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee, and shalt possess it, and shalt dwell therein, and shalt say, I will set a king over me, like as all the nations that are about me;
15 Thou shalt in any wise set him king over thee, whom the LORD thy God shall choose: one from among thy brethren shalt thou set king over thee: thou mayest not set a stranger over thee, which is not thy brother.
16 But he shall not multiply horses to himself, nor cause the people to return to Egypt, to the end that he should multiply horses: forasmuch as the LORD hath said unto you, Ye shall henceforth return no more that way.
17 Neither shall he multiply wives to himself, that his heart turn not away: neither shall he greatly multiply to himself silver and gold.
18 And it shall be, when he sitteth upon the throne of his kingdom, that he shall write him a copy of this law in a book out of that which is before the priests the Levites:
19 And it shall be with him, and he shall read therein all the days of his life: that he may learn to fear the LORD his God, to keep all the words of this law and these statutes, to do them:
20 That his heart be not lifted up above his brethren, and that he turn not aside from the commandment, to the right hand, or to the left: to the end that he may prolong his days in his kingdom, he, and his children, in the midst of Israel.

It is probable that Jacob is effectively quoting this passage (or a precursor to it) from the Brass Plates

It is probable that Jacob is effectively quoting this passage (or a precursor to it) from the Brass Plates, and whether or not some of those wives/concubines were given to these men by God is to an extent irrelevant to his point. In other words, the passage in the Book of Mormon and the passage in the Doctrine and Covenants, quite possibly, are really not discussing the same issue at all.

Jacob was not just saying that David and Solomon had more than one wife, he says that they "truly had many wives," as if to say, "there is no question that David and Solomon had many wives." The fact that the Old Testament strictly forbade the practice of taking many wives for a king (both Solomon and David were kings) leads one to conclude that they were in violation of Torah. The reason to suggest it as a recitation of Deuteronomy 17:17 is because of the context.

If it is not a recitation, then there is no previous indication that this is an abomination (at least within the scriptures that we have today) and that this would be a new rule. How then could it be retroactively applied to Solomon and David? This ultimately is the point—Jacob was defending the new 'party line' on polygamy from the scriptures.

The Book of Mormon account is basing its statements on an interpretation of Mosaic Law to defend a new (to them) negative position on polygamy. The Doctrine and Covenants, by contrast, wishes to explain how and when polygamy can be acceptable to God. One states that the abomination of Solomon and David was in their breaking the commandments in Torah according to the text, and while there are many polygamous figures in the Old Testament, very few "truly had many wives." It is doubtful that the Nephite proponents of polygamy restricted their proof texts to only David and Solomon.

It was the murder of Uriah and the taking of his wife that was the sin David committed, not polygamy

What were the wrongdoings of David and Solomon from Jacob's perspective? Was polygamy the sinful act they committed, or was it something else? Obviously, polygamy was accepted by the Lord at times, since many of His prophets participated in the practice. In fact, the Bible says that God gave David his plural wives:

2 Samuel 12:7-8 (emphasis added)

7 And Nathan said to David, Thou art the man. Thus saith the LORD God of Israel, I anointed thee king over Israel, and I delivered thee out of the hand of Saul;
8 And I gave thee thy master's house, and thy master's wives into thy bosom, and gave thee the house of Israel and of Judah; and if that had been too little, I would moreover have given unto thee such and such things.

Would God give anyone something that was sinful, wrong, or evil? Absolutely not. If polygamy was not the sin that David committed, then what was it? The very next verse in the Bible explains the sin.

2 Samuel 12:9 (emphasis added)

Wherefore hast thou despised the commandment of the LORD, to do evil in his sight? thou hast killed Uriah the Hittite with the sword, and hast taken his wife to be thy wife, and hast slain him with the sword of the children of Ammon.

It was the murder of Uriah and the taking of his wife that was the sin David committed, not polygamy. David already had plural wives. These wives were given to him by God. Polygamy was not the sin David was guilty of, but murder and coveting another's wife was. David committed this murder (or rather caused it to happen) so he could have Uriah's wife as his own. In other words, David took an additional wife that the Lord did not give him. But the fact that he had plural wives was in no wise a sin.

The Doctrine and Covenants confirms what the Bible tells us concerning this matter.

DC 132:39

David's wives and concubines were given unto him of me, by the hand of Nathan, my servant, and others of the prophets who had the keys of this power; and in none of these things did he sin against me save in the case of Uriah and his wife;

It was the fact that Solomon allowed some of his wives to turn his heart away from the Lord that resulted in sin, not polygamy

What of Solomon? Was polygamy his sin? Not according to the Bible.

1 Kings 11:1-6 (emphasis added)

1 BUT king Solomon loved many strange women, together with the daughter of Pharaoh, women of the Moabites, Ammonites, Edomites, Zidonians, and Hittites;
2 Of the nations concerning which the LORD said unto the children of Israel, Ye shall not go in to them, neither shall they come in unto you: for surely they will turn away your heart after their gods: Solomon clave unto these in love.
3 And he had seven hundred wives, princesses, and three hundred concubines: and his wives turned away his heart.
4 For it came to pass, when Solomon was old, that his wives turned away his heart after other gods: and his heart was not perfect with the LORD his God, as was the heart of David his father.
5 For Solomon went after Ashtoreth the goddess of the Zidonians, and after Milcom the abomination of the Ammonites.
6 And Solomon did evil in the sight of the LORD, and went not fully after the LORD, as did David his father.

It was the fact that Solomon allowed some of his wives to turn his heart away from the Lord, just like Uriah's wife did with David, that resulted in sin or evil. It was not polygamy that was evil. The Book of Mormon explains that only when God commands it can a man have more than one wife at a time.

Now, let's return to the second chapter of Jacob:

Jacob 2:23 (emphasis added)

But the word of God burdens me because of your grosser crimes. For behold, thus saith the Lord: This people begin to wax in iniquity; they understand not the scriptures...

Remember that verse 30 could be the "exception clause." That is why it is important to look at the full account in the scriptures, and not selectivity pick one or two verses.

Jacob 2:23 (emphasis added)

...for they seek to excuse themselves in committing whoredoms, because of the things which were written concerning David, and Solomon his son.

The Lord had not given permission for the people to have more than one wife at that time. The people were selectively using the scriptures to obtain more than one wife. Because the Lord had not given His permission, it was wrong to have more than one wife at a time, and Jacob can demonstrate how both these kings were also condemned by the Law for their unapproved actions.

Jacob 2:24

Behold, David and Solomon truly had many wives and concubines, which thing was abominable before me, saith the Lord.

It was not the concubines or the multiple wives that was abominable, but the fact that not all of it was specifically approved by the Lord

It was not the concubines or the multiple wives that was abominable, it was abominable because there was some abuse and not all of it was specifically approved by the Lord.

Jacob 2:27-30

27 Wherefore, my brethren, hear me, and hearken to the word of the Lord: For there shall not any man among you have save it be one wife; and concubines he shall have none;
28 For I, the Lord God, delight in the chastity of women. And whoredoms are an abomination before me; thus saith the Lord of Hosts.
29 Wherefore, this people shall keep my commandments, saith the Lord of Hosts, or cursed be the land for their sakes.
30 For if I will, saith the Lord of Hosts, raise up seed unto me, I will command my people; OTHERWISE they shall hearken unto these things.

Their plural wives and concubines were an abomination in that not all of them were approved by the Lord. They were kings who used their temporal power to take that which God had not approved.


Response to claim: 207 - The Book of Moses and Book of Abraham are claimed to be in conflict with one another

{{IndexClaim

The author(s) of The Kingdom of the Cults make(s) the following claim:

The Book of Moses and Book of Abraham are claimed to be in conflict with one another. The Book of Moses talks of one God creating the earth, while the Book of Abraham talks of more than one god creating the earth.

Author's sources:
  1. Moses 2:1

FairMormon Response

Fact checking results: The author has stated erroneous information or misinterpreted their sources

"God" may be spoken of as "one" in some senses, and as "more than one" in other senses. This is true even for creedal Christianity.


Question: Why does the Book of Mormon and Book of Moses describe "God" as creating, while the Book of Abraham describes "Gods?"

Latter-day Saints believe that God is one, but accept the Biblical witness that this is a oneness of purpose, intent, mind, will, and love

The scriptures affirm that there is "One God" consisting of Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. A great debate in Christian history has been the nature of this oneness.

Protestant critics do not like the fact that Latter-day Saints reject the nonbiblical Nicene Creed, which teaches a oneness of substance. Latter-day Saints believe that God is one, but accept the Biblical witness that this is a oneness of purpose, intent, mind, will, and love, into which believers are invited to participate (see John 17:22-23). Thus, it is proper to speak of "God" in a singular sense, but Latter-day Saints also recognize that there is more than one divine person—for example, the Father and the Son.

This is not a contradiction; it merely demonstrates that the Latter-day Saints do not accept Nicene trinitarianism.


Response to claim: 207 - Joseph Smith's "Civil War Prophecy" is claimed to have been "drawn chiefly from material already published at the time"

The author(s) of The Kingdom of the Cults make(s) the following claim:

Joseph Smith's "Civil War Prophecy" is claimed to have been "drawn chiefly from material already published at the time."

Author's sources:
  • 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), 1:301. Volume 1 link
  • Boston Daily Advertiser & Patriot, December 10, 1832.
  • D&C 87

FairMormon Response

Fact checking results: The author has stated erroneous information or misinterpreted their sources

Mormons were mocked for spreading the prophecy; it was not "obvious" to everyone else that a civil war was in the offing.
  • This claim is also made in One Nation Under Gods: p. 461

Question: What is Joseph Smith's 1832 prophecy of the Civil War?

The prophecy was given 25 December 1832 and is given in Doctrine and Covenants 87:1-8

1 VERILY, thus saith the Lord concerning the wars that will shortly come to pass, beginning at the rebellion of South Carolina, which will eventually terminate in the death and misery of many souls;

2 And the time will come that war will be poured out upon all nations, beginning at this place.

3 For behold, the Southern States shall be divided against the Northern States, and the Southern States will call on other nations, even the nation of Great Britain, as it is called, and they shall also call upon other nations, in order to defend themselves against other nations; and then war shall be poured out upon all nations.

4 And it shall come to pass, after many days, slaves shall rise up against their masters, who shall be marshaled and disciplined for war.

5 And it shall come to pass also that the remnants who are left of the land will marshal themselves, and shall become exceedingly angry, and shall vex the Gentiles with a sore vexation.

6 And thus, with the sword and by bloodshed the inhabitants of the earth shall mourn; and with famine, and plague, and earthquake, and the thunder of heaven, and the fierce and vivid lightning also, shall the inhabitants of the earth be made to feel the wrath, and indignation, and chastening hand of an Almighty God, until the consumption decreed hath made a full end of all nations;

7 That the cry of the saints, and of the blood of the saints, shall cease to come up into the ears of the Lord of Sabaoth, from the earth, to be avenged of their enemies.

8 Wherefore, stand ye in holy places, and be not moved, until the day of the Lord come; for behold, it cometh quickly, saith the Lord. Amen. (D&C 87:1-8)

Attempts to explain away this prophecy fail on multiple grounds. It is no surprise that nineteenth-century members of the Church consistently saw the Civil War as a fulfillment of prophecy, and evidence of Joseph Smith's prophetic gifts.


Question: After the end of the rebellion in South Carolina, did the Church not mention the Civil War prophecy for many years?

Joseph Smith reiterated the prophecy in 1842, and added more detail, 19 years before the Civil War

12 I prophesy, in the name of the Lord God, that the commencement of the difficulties which will cause much bloodshed previous to the coming of the Son of Man will be in South Carolina.

13 It may probably arise through the slave question. This a voice declared to me, while I was praying earnestly on the subject, December 25th, 1832. (D&C 130:12-13)

Orson Pratt preached about the prophesy in 1832, 29 years before the Civil War

Orson Pratt testified that he began preaching the prophecy soon after it was given. In 1870, he said:

I went forth before my beard was gray, before my hair began to turn white, when I was a youth of nineteen, now I am fifty-eight, and from that time on I published these tidings among the inhabitants of the earth. I carried forth the written revelation, foretelling this great contest, some twenty-eight years before the war commenced. This prophecy has been printed and circulated extensively in this and other nations and languages. It pointed out the place where it should commence in South Carolina. That which I declared over the New England States, New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio, and many other parts in the East, when but a boy, came to pass twenty-eight years after the revelation was given.

When they were talking about a war commencing down here in Kansas, I told them that was not the place; I also told them that the revelation had designated South Carolina, "and," said I, "you have no need to think that the Kansas war is going to be the war that is to be so terribly destructive in its character and nature. No, it must commence at the place the Lord has designated by revelation."

What did they have to say to me? They thought it was a Mormon humbug, and laughed me to scorn, and they looked upon that revelation as they do upon all others that God has given in these latter days—as without divine authority. But behold and lo! in process of time it came to pass, again establishing the divinity of this work, and giving another proof that God is in this work, and is performing that which He spoke by the mouths of the ancient prophets, as recorded in the Book of Mormon before any Church of Latter-day Saints was in existence.[196]

Thus, Orson Pratt indicates that not only did he preach regarding Joseph's prophesy in 1832, but that he was ridiculed for it. He would also remember:

Now I am aware that it is almost impossible for even some of the Latter-day Saints to get that confidence and that strong faith in the events which God intends to accomplish on this land in the future to believe in such a thing, to say nothing about outsiders, that do not believe a word of it. Outsiders do not believe it any more than they believed me when I was a boy and took that revelation which was given in 1832, and carried it forth among many towns and cities and told them there was to be a great and terrible war between the North and the South, and read to them the revelation. Did they believe it? Would they consider that there was any truth in it? Not in the least, "that is a Mormon humbug" they would say. "What! this great and powerful nation of ours to be divided one part against the other and many hundreds of thousands of souls to be destroyed by civil wars!" Not a word of it would they believe. They do not believe what is still in the future.[197]

The Church printed the prophecy in the Pearl of Great Price in 1851, ten years before the Civil War

The Church also printed the prophecy in the Pearl of Great Price in 1851, and continued to publicize it until the Civil War. Clearly, they did not keep it "under wraps" until the Civil War became inevitable.[198]

Orson Pratt also included the full prophecy from December 1832 on the front page of his publication The Seer in April 1854, seven years before the Civil War

Orson Pratt also included the full prophecy from December 1832 on the front page of his publication The Seer in April 1854, with interpretation and editorial comment for 6 pages.[199] There are also many extant manuscript copies of the prophecy, in the handwriting of men who left the church before Joseph Smith died, and some who didn't (WW Phelps, Thomas Bullock, Willard Richards [who died before the Civil War], Edward Partridge, Algernon Sidney Gilbert, Frederick G. Williams).[200]

The Philadelphia Sunday Mercury quoted the prophecy in 1851, ten years before the Civil War

Robert Woodford's Ph.D. thesis also located a an article in a Philadelphia paper quoting the revelation from 1851, with comments, from May 1861; it was reprinted in England a month later:

Philadelphia Sunday Mercury, Sunday May 5, 1861

A MORMON PROPHECY

We have in our possession a pamphlet, published at Liverpool, in 1851, containing a selection from the ‘revelations, translations and narratives’ of Joseph Smith, the founder of Mormonism. The following prophecy is here said to have been made by Smith, on the 25th of December, 1832. In view of our present troubles, this prediction seems to be in progress of fulfilment, whether Joe Smith was a humbug or not:

‘A REVELATION AND PROPHECY BY THE PROPHET, SEER, AND REVELATOR, JOSEPH SMITH. Verily thus saith the Lord…. Amen [complete text quoted]’

The war began in South Carolina. Insurrections of slaves are already dreaded. Famine will certainly afflict some Southern communities. The interference of Great Britain, on account of the want of cotton, is not improbable, if the war is protracted. In the meantime, a general war in Europe appears to be imminent. Have we not had a prophet among us?[201]

Clearly, members of the Church did not hide the prophecy, and spread it far and wide among themselves and among others from the 1830s until its fulfillment in the 1860s.


Question: Did the Church cover up the fact that the Civil War prophecy was made during the 1832 rebellion in South Carolina?

No American statesman in 1832 believed that the doctrines of secession then talked of would result in a great civil war

It is claimed that Mormons "cover up the fact that the 'prophecy' was made in the midst of an earlier rebellion in December 1832. That rebellion ended quietly a few months later."[202]

This claim, however, is false. Gil Scharffs noted that critics "are correct when they say Joseph Smith announced the Civil War prophecy when rebellion in South Carolina was threatening. A large 1832 rebellion never materialized and the threat ended a few months later."[203]

No American statesman in 1832 believed that the doctrines of secession then talked of would result in a great civil war. None of them had the foresight to see that a great rebellion would occur, beginning in South Carolina; that it would terminate in the death and misery of many souls; that the Southern States would be divided against the Northern States; that the Southern States would call on Great Britain, and that war would eventually be poured out upon all nations. No one foresaw that this would be the result except Joseph Smith--when but twenty-seven years of age--and he saw it only by the spirit of prophecy and revelation. To be required to believe that the prophecy was merely the fortunate conjecture of a more than ordinary astute mind, requires a greater amount of credulity than to concede the inspiration of the Prophet; and then the question would still remain, why is it that sagacious minds in other generations have not paralleled this astuteness of Joseph Smith's? Why did not some of the brilliant minds in the Senate or House of Representatives in 1832 make such a prediction? There was not a lack of brilliant minds in either Senate or House at that time, yet none seemed equal to the task.[204]

The fact that there were rumors of war is in fact a fulfillment of prophecy itself! (Matthew 24:6-7) The question is not were there rumors of war, but the question should be, did the events take place just as Joseph Smith said they would. As soon as Joseph uttered the words "Thus saith the Lord" he was tied to the prophecy being true or false, and if the events did not happen as he said, then, and only then, could it be declared a false prophecy.

Wars would shortly come to pass, beginning with the rebellion of South Carolina, which would eventually terminate in war being poured out upon all nations and in the death and misery of many souls

It was because of this fact that the Lord made known to Joseph Smith this revelation stating that wars would shortly come to pass, beginning with the rebellion of South Carolina, which would eventually terminate in war being poured out upon all nations and in the death and misery of many souls. It may have been an easy thing in 1832, or even 1831, for someone to predict that there would come a division of the Northern States and the Southern States, for even then there were rumblings, and South Carolina had shown the spirit of rebellion. It was not, however, within the power of man to predict in the detail which the Lord revealed to Joseph Smith, what was shortly to come to pass as an outgrowth of the Civil War and the pouring out of war upon all nations. It must be conceded that no one, except Joseph Smith, ever entered into such detail in relation to this conflict or stated with such assurance that the time would come when all nations would be involved in war, The revelation begins with these words: "Verily, thus saith the Lord, concerning the wars that will shortly come to pass beginning at the rebellion of South Carolina, which will eventually terminate in the death and misery of many souls; and the time will come that war will be poured out upon all nations, beginning at this place." This, certainly, is a bold prediction which no one, other than Joseph Smith, dared to make.[205]:2:123


Question: Was Joseph Smith's 1832 prophecy of the Civil War invalid because a civil war was "inevitable," and "anyone" could have predicted it?

There is no evidence that Americans were predicting a Civil War between 1832-1851

So, was the prophecy "so obvious" that anyone could have predicted it? The critics must prove this contention.

Where is the evidence that most Americans were predicting a Civil War between 1832-1851? Why was Orson Pratt ridiculed if this was obvious to everyone? This seems a desperate attempt by the critics to dismiss a "hit" by Joseph. Everything can look obvious in retrospect if one doesn't know history.

There is, in fact, good contemporary evidence that this prophecy was mocked by prominent authors only 4 years before the Civil War began

A newspaper article from 1857 reported a garbled version of the prophecy, but the author's scorn is clear:

New beauties are being revealed in the Mormon faith almost every day, and new prophecies of Joe Smith fulfilled. When any event of state occurs, or any remarkable circumstance happens, some of the Mormon apostles find a prophecy of Joseph’s (probably dated twenty-five years ago), which has just been fulfilled by the occurrence. These prophecies are never spoken of until after the occurrence. The fact is, the leaders frame the prophecy themselves after its fulfillment. Joe Smith did at one time prophecy that before the year 1860, the Union would be divided, the havoc of war spread over our glorious Republic, battles be fought whose equal was never before known, father would be arrayed against son, and brother against brother, and that our glorious Republic would be stained with human blood from North to South, the Constitution be trampled upon, and the Government fall to the ground; and then would the little band of Mormons rear the standard of their creed aloft, and proclaim to the world that the millennial year had been ushered in, and the reign of Christ begun. (emphasis added)

But methinks the Mormons can entertain but little hope of the fulfillment of that prophecy, as the Union has stood the strongest test and did not even shake. But when I shall see the above prophecy come to pass, I shall probably then change my mind about the truth of the revelation. At present, I see no chance of its verification within the time specified.[206]


Response to claim: 208 - Joseph "prophesied that he would possess the house he built at Nauvoo 'for ever and ever,'" yet the Nauvoo House was never completed

The author(s) of The Kingdom of the Cults make(s) the following claim:

Joseph "prophesied that he would possess the house he built at Nauvoo 'for ever and ever,'" yet the Nauvoo House was never completed.

Author's sources:
  1. DC 124:22-23
  • DC 124:59
  • 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), 1:160. Volume 1 link

FairMormon Response

Fact checking results: The author has stated erroneous 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: 208 - It is claimed regarding Joseph's prophecy concerning the restoration of Israel that he expected it to occur within his lifetime

The author(s) of The Kingdom of the Cults make(s) the following claim:

It is claimed regarding Joseph's prophecy concerning the restoration of Israel that he expected it to occur within his lifetime, when in reality the prophecy in Ezekiel 37 "began to be fulfilled in 1948, more than a hundred years after Smith's death."

Author's sources:
  1. Ezekiel 37:
  • No source provided for Joseph Smith's prophecy of the restoration of Israel.

FairMormon Response

Fact checking results: The author has stated erroneous information or misinterpreted their sources

The statement from Joseph occurred around 1832 (see History of the Church, 4:375. Volume 4 link where Hyde dates this to ""about nine years"" before 1841). The author's grasp of Zionism and Israeli history is poor. European Jews began immigrating in large numbers to Palestine in 1882, and immigration was already increasing from the 1840s-1880s. The ""gathering of the Jews"" began well before the establishment of the state of Israel, as the author appears to believe (see [here]). The author does not believe that a dedication by Hyde has any effect, but he cannot prove that it did not, just as those with faith cannot prove that it did.

Response to claim: 208 - The author claims that "numerous students of Mormonism" such as E.D. Howe, Pomeroy Tucker and William A. Linn believe that the Book of Mormon was based upon the writings of Solomon Spalding

The author(s) of The Kingdom of the Cults make(s) the following claim:

The author claims that "numerous students of Mormonism" such as E.D. Howe, Pomeroy Tucker and William A. Linn believe that the Book of Mormon was based upon the writings of Solomon Spalding. Spalding is claimed to have "written a number of 'romances' with biblical backgrounds similar to those of the Book of Mormon."

Author's sources:
  1. No source provided.

FairMormon Response

Fact checking results: This claim is false

Howe (1834), Tucker (1867), and Linn (1902) are not ""students of Mormonism""—they were critics of the Church. It is telling that the author cites no one since 1902. Ever since critic Fawn Brodie wrote, the Spalding theory has been considered a dead end. Recent critics have tried to resuscitate it, without success.


Question: What is the Spalding Theory of Book of Mormon authorship?

One of the earliest theories of Book of Mormon authorship was that Joseph plagiarized the unpublished manuscript of a novel written by the Reverend Solomon Spalding

Since the Book of Mormon was first published, many have been unwilling to accept Joseph Smith's account of how it was produced. It's easy to dismiss Joseph's story of angels, gold plates, and a miraculous interpretation process; it's much harder to come up with an alternative explanation that accounts for the complexity and consistency of the Book of Mormon, as well as the historical details of its production.

Many critics, unwilling to credit the uneducated, backwater farm boy Joseph Smith as the Book of Mormon's author, have looked to possible sources from which he could have plagiarized. One of the earliest theories was that Joseph plagiarized the unpublished manuscript of a novel written by the Reverend Solomon Spalding (1761–1816).

Spalding was a lapsed Calvinist clergyman and author of an epic tale of the ancient Native American "Mound Builders." The theory postulates that Spalding wrote his manuscript in biblical phraseology and read it to many of his friends. He subsequently took the manuscript to Pittsburg, where it fell into the hands of a Mr. Patterson, in whose office Sidney Rigdon worked, and that through Sidney Rigdon it came into the possession of Joseph Smith and was made the basis of the Book of Mormon.

It is claimed by some that Joseph Smith either plagiarized or relied upon a manuscript by Solomon Spaulding to write the Book of Mormon. There is a small group who hold to the theory that the production of the Book of Mormon was a conspiracy involving Sidney Rigdon, Joseph Smith, Oliver Cowdery and others. These individuals search for links between Spalding and Rigdon. Joseph Smith is assumed to have been Rigdon's pawn.

Initial critics of the Book of Mormon tended to take one of two stances—either:

  1. The Book of Mormon was a clumsy, obvious forgery upon which no intelligent person would waste time; and/or
  2. Joseph Smith was the Book of Mormon's obvious author.

Ironically, with the appearance of the Spalding theory, critics quickly began to claim that Joseph Smith could not have written the Book of Mormon, and attributed the Book of Mormon's writing to Spalding and (usually) Sidney Rigdon.

It is interesting to note the after-the-fact admission from critics that prior to the Spalding theory, the Book of Mormon was difficult to account for. Unfortunately for the modern critic, the collapse of the Spalding theory means that they are likewise ill-placed to attribute the Book of Mormon's text to Joseph Smith.

There are three major problems with this theory

  1. The historical record indicates that Sidney Rigdon first learned of the Book of Mormon from Parley P. Pratt and his missionary companions in November 1830, and that Rigdon did not meet Joseph Smith until December of that same year. All of this was long after the Book of Mormon was translated and published. Critics can only marshal circumstantial evidence of a conspiracy in which Rigdon met Joseph much earlier, then later pretended to be converted to Mormonism.
  2. The purported Spalding manuscript was not brought forward for analysis because no one knew where it was, or if it even existed. In 1884 an authentic Solomon Spalding manuscript titled "Manuscript Story—Conneaut Creek" was recovered by Lewis L. Rice in Honolulu, Hawaii and taken to the Oberlin College Library in Ohio. The unfinished story bore hardly any resemblance to the Book of Mormon.[207]:10 The text was published by the RLDS Church in 1885 under the title "Manuscript Found." The LDS Church also published the text. (See "Further Reading," link, for links to online texts).
  3. Claims that Spalding wrote a second manuscript is easily discredited by the fact that the published Spalding manuscript clearly shows that it was not finished, even after Spalding moved away from many of the people who claimed to have heard him read from the later story.[208]


  • Matthew Roper, "The Mythical "Manuscript Found" (Review of: Who Really Wrote the Book of Mormon? The Spalding Enigma)," FARMS Review 17/2 (2005): 7–140. off-site

Response to claim: 209 - It is claimed that the "theological portions" of the Book of Mormon were added to Spalding's writings by Joseph Smith, Oliver Cowdery and Sidney Rigdon

The author(s) of The Kingdom of the Cults make(s) the following claim:

It is claimed that the "theological portions" of the Book of Mormon were added to Spalding's writings by Joseph Smith, Oliver Cowdery and Sidney Rigdon.

Author's sources:
  1. Testimony of John Spaulding, Martha Spaulding printed in Eber D. Howe, Mormonism Unvailed (Painesville, OH, 1834), 278. (Affidavits examined)

FairMormon Response

Fact checking results: This claim contains propaganda - 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 author needs to provide some evidence for this remarkable assertion.


Response to claim: 210 - "the Mormons have attempted to use a manuscript that is admittedly not the one from which Smith later copied and amplified the text of what is now known as the Book of Mormon"

The author(s) of The Kingdom of the Cults make(s) the following claim:

 Author's quote: It is fairly well established historically, then, that the Mormons have attempted to use a manuscript that is admittedly not the one from which Smith later copied and amplified the text of what is now known as the Book of Mormon…

Author's sources:

FairMormon Response

Fact checking results: This claim contains propaganda - 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

It is easy for critics to postulate the existence of a second manuscript which cannot be produced.


Response to claim: 210, n15-16 - It is claimed that the Spalding Manuscript "Manuscript Story" contains at least 75 similarities to the Book of Mormon

The author(s) of The Kingdom of the Cults make(s) the following claim:

It is claimed that the Spalding Manuscript "Manuscript Story" contains at least 75 similarities to the Book of Mormon.

Author's sources:

FairMormon Response

Fact checking results: The author has stated erroneous information or misinterpreted their sources

The Spalding theory is implausible on historical grounds. "Similarities" mean very little unless they are complex, unique, and unable to be explained except by copying.


Question: Is the Spalding theory of Book of Mormon authorship credible?

The theory requires a second manuscript that doesn't exist, with invented contents, and the invention of a means of getting the alleged manuscript to Joseph Smith via Sidney Rigdon

Modern supporters of the Spalding authorship theory simply ignore the inconvenient fact that the extant Spalding manuscript recovered in the late 19th century bears no resemblance to the Book of Mormon, that it was an unfinished draft, and that no postulated second manuscript has been discovered.

They also ignore the complete lack of any persuasive evidence for contact between Sidney Rigdon and Joseph Smith prior to the Book of Mormon's publication.

Until the purported second manuscript appears, all these critics have is a nonexistent document which they can claim says anything they want. This is doubtlessly the attraction of the "theory" and shows the lengths to which critics will go to disprove the Book of Mormon.

It is interesting to consider that the best explanation such critics can propose requires that they invent a document, then invent its contents, and then invent a means of getting the document to Joseph via Rigdon.

An alleged missing, second Spalding manuscript

The existing Spalding manuscript is obviously unrelated to the Book of Mormon. It is therefore postulated by some that there must exist a second manuscript, despite the fact that the existing manuscript was never completed.

The discovery and publishing of the manuscript put to rest the Spaulding theory for several decades. But in the early 20th century the theory surfaced again, only this time its advocates claimed there was a second Spaulding manuscript that was the real source for the Book of Mormon. However, supporters of the revised Spaulding theory have not produced this second purported manuscript. They do, however, rely upon early works such as a 1908 book written by William Heth Whitsitt called Sidney Rigdon, The Real Founder of Mormonism. The entire book is based upon Whitsitt's initial assumption that Rigdon and Spalding wrote the Book of Mormon. Whitsitt then proceeds to fit the known facts to match that assumption. One of the most amusing parts of the book is the attempt to explain the experience of the Three Witnesses. In Whitsitt's book, Sidney plays the Angel Moroni and the Spalding manuscript itself (the second, undiscovered one) actually plays the part of the gold plates! According to Whitsitt:

It is suspected that Mr. Rigdon was somewhere present in the undergrowth of the forest where the little company were assembled, and being in plain hearing of their devotions he could easily step forward at a signal from Joseph, and exhibit several of the most faded leaves of the manuscript, which from having been kept a series of years since the death of Spaulding would assume the yellow appearance that is well known in such circumstances. At a distance from the station which they occupied the writing on these yellow sheets of paper would also appear to their excited imagination in the light of engravings; Sidney was likewise very well equal to the task of uttering the assurances which Smith affirms the angel was kind enough to supply concerning the genuineness of the "plates" and the correctness of the translation.

See: Solomon Spaulding, Manuscript Found: The Complete Original "Spaulding Manuscript", edited by Kent P. Jackson, (Religious Studies Center, Brigham Young University, 1996). off-site


Response to claim: 211 - The author claims that Deuteronomy 13:1-10 "perfectly" describes Joseph Smith

The author(s) of The Kingdom of the Cults make(s) the following claim:

The author claims that Deuteronomy 13:1-10 "perfectly" describes Joseph Smith.

Author's sources:
  1. Deuteronomy 13:1-10

FairMormon Response

Fact checking results: The author has stated erroneous information or misinterpreted their sources

he author is claiming that Joseph taught that his hearers should "go after other gods." The text also says that such a preacher of idolatry should be put to death. Joseph, his followers, and his enemies believed he was a Christian preacher—only later critics have tried to cloud this.


Question: Do Mormons worship a "different Jesus"?

LDS Christians and other Christians agree on the vast majority of points on Jesus' nature, mission, and indispensable role in salvation

Some Christians claim that despite the Saints' witness of Christ, they worship "a different Jesus" and so are not entitled to consider themselves "Christians." Rather than illuminating LDS Christians' or non-LDS Christians' beliefs about Jesus, this accusation is simply an attempt to spread discord and confusion.

LDS Christians and other Christians agree on the vast majority of points on Jesus' nature, mission, and indispensable role in salvation.

The LDS differ from other Christians only in that they tend to believe additional things about Jesus

The LDS differ from other Christians only in that they tend to believe additional things about Jesus, since they have other scriptures (such as the Book of Mormon) which provide them with further information. This information complements the Biblical beliefs which they share with the whole Christian world.

The most important recent document to discuss the beliefs of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints regarding our Lord and Savior is found in "The Living Christ: The Testimony of the Apostles." [209]

Latter-day Saints believe the following:

A protester at the April 2003 LDS General Conference attempts to convince others that members of the Church do not believe in the Biblical Jesus.  Members of the Church may believe some different things about Jesus, but this does not mean they worship a different being than the protester.
  • Jesus is the Christ, the promised Messiah
  • Jesus of Nazareth is the Only Begotten Son of the Father
  • Jesus was born of a virgin birth to Mary
  • Jesus is perfect, without sin
  • Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father, but by Him
  • Jesus performed miracles. He:
    • healed the sick
    • opened eyes of the blind
    • opened ears of the deaf
    • forgave sins
    • cast out demons and evil spirits
    • changed water into wine
    • multiplied loaves and fishes
    • raised the dead
  • Jesus was foreshadowed by, and fulfilled, the law of Moses
  • Jesus suffered and died for the sins of all humanity
  • Jesus was crucified under Pontius Pilate, died, was buried, and rose again
  • Jesus appeared in resurrected form to Mary, Thomas, the apostles, five hundred brethren at once
  • Jesus ascended to the Father to sit down on the right hand of His power
  • Jesus converted Saul of Tarsus on the road to Damascus
  • Jesus will come again to reign in glory with all the faithful

To be sure, there are doctrinal differences between some Christians and the Latter-day Saints. But, this is true of virtually all Christians:

Christians have argued, often passionately, over every conceivable point of Christian doctrine from the filioque to the immaculate conception. There is scarcely an issue of worship, theology, ethics, and politics over which some Christians have not disagreed among themselves. [210]

Latter-day Saints have no quarrel with the idea that some of their beliefs about Jesus may differ from those of other Christians

Latter-day Saints have no quarrel with the idea that some of their beliefs about Jesus may differ from those of other Christians. If there were no differences in belief at all, it would make little sense to have the hundreds of Christian denominations which exist.

But, it is insulting and unfair to insist that the LDS do not worship the "same" Jesus as other Christians. By analogy, a Protestant might consider Martin Luther an inspired instrument in the hands of God to reform the wayward Christian Church. A Catholic might rather consider Luther to be a wayward priest who was gravely mistaken. Clearly, the opinions about Luther may differ, but it would be absurd to insist that Catholics and Lutherans are each talking about a different Luther.


Response to claim: 211 - The Bible prohibits adding to the Word of God

The author(s) of The Kingdom of the Cults make(s) the following claim:

The Bible prohibits adding to the Word of God, and "[i]t does no good for the Mormon to argue that Revelation 22:18-20 only pertains to the book of Revelation," since in 1981 the Joseph Smith Translation modified it.

Author's sources:

FairMormon Response

Fact checking results: The author has stated erroneous information or misinterpreted their sources

The author here tries to cover the fact that the verse in Revelation does not apply to the entire Bible, but we must not let him slip this by us. Humans may not add to or alter the word of God. God, however, may do what he wishes. Can God not command a prophet to do so? If Joseph's claims are true, then he may be restoring changes made by someone else to the text. The author also mistakenly assumes that the Joseph Smith Translation must be a textual restoration.


Question: Does the fact that the Bible states that nothing should be "added to" or "taken away" from the book mean that the Book of Mormon is false?

Those who claim this misuse Revelation, misunderstand the process by which the Bible canon was formed, and must ignore other, earlier scriptures to maintain their position

Some Christians claim that the Book of Mormon cannot be true because nothing should be "added to" or "taken away from" the Holy Bible. However, those who claim this misuse Revelation, misunderstand the process by which the Bible canon was formed, and must ignore other, earlier scriptures to maintain their position. Their use of this argument is a form of begging the question whereby they presume at the outset that the Book of Mormon and other scriptures are not the Word of God, which is precisely the point under debate. In its proper context, the passage in Revelation actually supports the teachings of the Book of Mormon that many plain and precious things would be taken away from the Bible. It also shows clearly the need for another book of scripture like the Book of Mormon to restore those lost and sacred teachings. If the Book of Mormon and other modern scriptures are the work of uninspired men or the arm of flesh, then of course one ought not to trust them. If, however, they are indeed the word of the Lord to prophets, then all who desire to be saved ought to carefully heed them.

The verse often cited (as by Martin, above) is Revelation 22:18-19:

For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book: And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book.

The book of Revelation was written prior to some of the other biblical books

Some claim that this verse states that the Bible is complete, and no other scripture exists or will be forthcoming.

However, the critics ignore that:

  • The book of Revelation was written prior to some of the other biblical books, and prior the Bible being assembled into a collection of texts. Therefore, this verse can only apply to the Book of Revelation, and not the Bible as a whole (some of which was unwritten and none of which was yet assembled together into 'the Bible'). While the traditional date of the book of Revelation is A.D. 95 or 96 (primarily based on a statement by Irenaeus), many scholars now date it as early as A.D. 68 or 69. The Gospel of John is generally dated A.D. 95-100. (For more information on the dating of Revelation, see Thomas B. Slater's Biblica article).
  • The New Testament is made up of first the four Gospels and then second the epistles of the apostles. Since the book of Revelation is neither a gospel nor an epistle, it was placed at the end of the canon in its own category. Therefore, John cannot have intended the last few sentences of Revelation to apply to the entire Bible, since he was not writing a 'final chapter' for the New Testament and since the Bible would not be completed and canonized for some centuries later.
  • Other scriptures (such as Deuteronomy 4:2, Deuteronomy 12:32, and Proverbs 30:6) likewise forbid additions; were the critics' arguments to be self-consistent, they would have to then discard everything in the New Testament and much of the Old, since these verses predate "other scripture" added by God through later prophets.
  • Further evidence that Rev. 22:19 is not referring to the entire bible when it reads "words of the book of this prophecy" is found if one reads Revelation 1:3,11:

Blessed is he that readeth, and they that hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written therein: for the time is at hand...Saying, I am Alpha and Omega, the first and the last: and, What thou seest, write in a book, and send [it] unto the seven churches which are in Asia; unto Ephesus, and unto Smyrna, and unto Pergamos, and unto Thyatira, and unto Sardis, and unto Philadelphia, and unto Laodicea.

It is self evident that the book referred to at the very beginning of Revelation is the same book being referred to at the very end of Revelation

Everything that John saw and heard in between these two statements are the contents of that book.

Even if the passage in Revelation meant that no man could add to scripture; it does not forbid that God may, through a prophet, add to the Word of God. If this were not possible, then the Bible could never have come into existence.

Noted Biblical scholar Bart Ehrman wrote:

The very real danger that [New Testament] texts could be modified at will, by scribes who did not approve of their wording, is evident in other ways as well. We need always to remember that the copyists of the early Christian writings were reproducing their texts in a world in which there were not only no printing presses or publishing houses but also no such thing as copyright law. How could authors guarantee that their texts were not modified once put into circulation? The short answer is that they could not. That explains why authors would sometimes call curses down on any copyists who modified their texts without permission. We find this kind of imprecation already in one early Christian writing that made it into the New Testament, the book of Revelation, whose author, near the end of his text, utters a dire warning [quotes Revelation 22:18–19].

This is not a threat that the reader has to accept or believe everything written in this book of prophecy, as it is sometimes interpreted; rather, it is a typical threat to copyists of the book, that they are not to add to or remove any of its words. Similar imprecations can be found scattered throughout the range of early Christian writings.[211]

The Book of Mormon prophet Nephi saw the same things that John the Beloved saw, but was not authorized to write them

This threat was a real threat in John's eyes. Unfortunately, it appears that the threat went unheeded. The Book of Mormon prophet Nephi saw the same things that John the Beloved saw, but was not authorized to write them (1 Nephi 14:21-25). He made this interesting prophesy.

Wherefore, thou seest that after the book [the Bible] hath gone forth through the hands of the great and abominable church, that there are many plain and precious things taken away from the book, which is the book of the Lamb of God (1 Nephi 13:28).

Nephi is later promised that the Lord would send forth other books such as the Book of Mormon to restore those precious and plain things that were taken away.

These last records [The Book of Mormon, the Doctrine and Covenants, etc], which thou hast seen among the Gentiles, shall establish the truth of the first [The Bible], which are of the twelve apostles of the Lamb, and shall make known the plain and previous things which have been taken away from them... (1 Nephi 13:40)

The ancient Book of Mormon prophet Nephi understood how critics would respond to the Book of Mormon. His answer for the critics is this:

Yea, wo be unto him that hearkeneth unto the precepts of men, and denieth the power of God, and the gift of the Holy Ghost! Yea, wo be unto him that saith: We have received, and we need no more! And in fine, wo unto all those who tremble, and are angry because of the truth of God! For behold, he that is built upon the rock receiveth it with gladness; and he that is built upon a sandy foundation trembleth lest he shall fall. Wo be unto him that shall say: We have received the word of God, and we need no more of the word of God, for we have enough! For behold, thus saith the Lord God: I will give unto the children of men line upon line, precept upon precept, here a little and there a little; and blessed are those who hearken unto my precepts, and lend an ear unto my counsel, for they shall learn wisdom; for unto him that receiveth I will give more; and from them that shall say, We have enough, from them shall be taken away even that which they have. Cursed is he that putteth his trust in man, or maketh flesh his arm, or shall hearken unto the precepts of men, save their precepts shall be given by the power of the Holy Ghost. (2 Nephi 28:26-31)


Response to claim: 212 - Joseph is claimed to have "declared theological war on Christianity" by branding "all Christian sects as 'all wrong'"

The author(s) of The Kingdom of the Cults make(s) the following claim:

Joseph is claimed to have "declared theological war on Christianity" by branding "all Christian sects as all wrong"

Author's sources:

FairMormon Response

Fact checking results: The author has stated erroneous information or misinterpreted their sources

Christian sects were declaring each other to be in error for centuries before Joseph's arrival. It was this conflict that troubled him and led to his prayer in the grove. Joseph did not say the churches were "all wrong," i.e., entirely mistaken on all points. He did report the message from God that they all lacked something, or taught some things that were not true. But, Joseph saw much of value in other Christians:

Have the Presbyterians any truth? Yes. Have the Baptists, Methodists, etc., any truth? Yes. They all have a little truth mixed with error, We should gather all the good and true principles in the world and treasure them up, or we shall not come out true "Mormons".[212]


Response to claim: 212 - The book claims that the LDS brought persecution upon themselves and that they were the "initial antagonists"

The author(s) of The Kingdom of the Cults make(s) the following claim:

The book claims that the LDS brought persecution upon themselves and that they were the "initial antagonists."

Author's sources:

FairMormon Response

Fact checking results: This claim is false

Christians have been disagreeing theologically about practically every issue for nearly two thousand years. Joseph did not suddenly start this practice. Since when is preaching different doctrines license for violence, rape, dispossession, and murder? Is the author trying to excuse these crimes because the Mormons said things their neighbors didn't like? Even if the Saints did "start the fight," it is extraordinary that a Christian minister like the author resorts to the claim that "they started it." Jesus taught "bless them that curse you." The author has decided to continue a fight he is convinced that the Mormons started, and excuse those who persecuted the Saints for their beliefs.


Response to claim: 213, n20 - It is claimed that Blacks were denied the priesthood because they were "under a curse for their lack of valiance in their premortal existence"

The author(s) of The Kingdom of the Cults make(s) the following claim:

It is claimed that Blacks were denied the priesthood because they were "under a curse for their lack of valiance in their premortal existence."

Author's sources:

FairMormon Response

Fact checking results: The author has stated erroneous information or misinterpreted their sources

This idea has been repudiated by Church leaders.

The work repeats itself: p. 235.

Gospel Topics: "Today, the Church disavows the theories advanced in the past that black skin is a sign of divine disfavor or curse, or that it reflects actions in a premortal life; that mixed-race marriages are a sin; or that blacks or people of any other race or ethnicity are inferior in any way to anyone else"

"Race and the Priesthood," Gospel Topics on LDS.org:

Today, the Church disavows the theories advanced in the past that black skin is a sign of divine disfavor or curse, or that it reflects actions in a premortal life; that mixed-race marriages are a sin; or that blacks or people of any other race or ethnicity are inferior in any way to anyone else. Church leaders today unequivocally condemn all racism, past and present, in any form.

Since that day in 1978, the Church has looked to the future, as membership among Africans, African Americans and others of African descent has continued to grow rapidly. While Church records for individual members do not indicate an individual’s race or ethnicity, the number of Church members of African descent is now in the hundreds of thousands.

The Church proclaims that redemption through Jesus Christ is available to the entire human family on the conditions God has prescribed. It affirms that God is “no respecter of persons”24 and emphatically declares that anyone who is righteous—regardless of race—is favored of Him. The teachings of the Church in relation to God’s children are epitomized by a verse in the second book of Nephi: “[The Lord] denieth none that cometh unto him, black and white, bond and free, male and female; . . . all are alike unto God, both Jew and Gentile.[213]—(Click here to continue)


Joseph Fielding Smith: "We know of no scripture, ancient or modern, that declares that at the time of the rebellion in heaven that one-third of the hosts of heaven remained neutral"

We know of no scripture, ancient or modern, that declares that at the time of the rebellion in heaven that one-third of the hosts of heaven remained neutral. ... That one-third of the hosts of heaven remained neutral and therefore were cursed by having a black skin, could hardly be true, for the negro race has not constituted one-third of the inhabitants of the earth. —(Click here to continue) [214]


Question: Was the idea that Blacks were neutral in the "war in heaven" ever official doctrine?

The "neutral in the war in heaven" argument was never doctrine. In fact, some Church leaders, starting with Brigham Young, explicitly repudiated the idea

This idea was repudiated well before the priesthood ban was rescinded. President Brigham Young rejected it in an account recorded by Wilford Woodruff in 1869:

Lorenzo Young asked if the Spirits of Negroes were Nutral in Heaven. He said someone said Joseph Smith said they were. President Young said No they were not. There was No Nutral spirits in Heaven at the time of the Rebelion. All took sides. He said if any one said that He Herd the Prophet Joseph Say that the spirits of the Blacks were Nutral in Heaven He would not Believe them for He herd Joseph Say to the Contrary. All spirits are pure that Come from the presence of God. The posterity of Cane are Black Because He Commit Murder. He killed Abel & God set a Mark upon his posterity But the spirits are pure that Enter their tabernacles & there will be a Chance for the redemption of all the Children of Adam Except the Sons of perdition. [215]

The First Presidency under Joseph F. Smith also rejected this idea

there is no revelation, ancient or modern, neither is there any authoritative statement by any of the authorities of the Church … [in support of the idea] that the negroes are those who were neutral in heaven at the time of the great conflict or war, which resulted in the casting out of Lucifer and those who were led by him. [216]

Joseph Smith never taught the idea that those born with black skin were "neutral" during the war in heaven

Brigham Young, when asked this question, repudiated the idea. Wilford Woodruff recorded the following in his journal:

December 25, 1869: I attended the School of the Prophets. Many questions were asked. President Young answered them. Lorenzo Young asked if the spirits of Negroes were neutral in heaven. He said someone said Joseph Smith said they were. President Young said no they were not. There were no neutral spirits in heaven at the time of the rebellion. All took sides. He said if anyone said that he heard the Prophet Joseph say that the spirits of the Blacks were neutral in heaven, he would not believe them, for he heard Joseph say to the contrary. All spirits are pure that come from the presence of God. The posterity of Cain are black because he commit[ted] murder. He killed Abel and God set a mark upon his posterity. But the spirits are pure that enter their tabernacles and there will be a chance for the redemption of all the children of Adam except the sons of perdition. [217]

The idea that anyone who came to earth was "neutral" in the premortal existence is not a doctrine of the Church. Early Church leaders had a variety of opinions regarding the status of blacks in the pre-existence, and some of these were expressed in an attempt to explain the priesthood ban. The scriptures, however, do not explicitly state that the status or family into which we were born on earth had anything to do with our "degree of valiance" in our pre-mortal life.

Other religions would not have had reason for such a teaching because they do not believe in the pre-existence or the "war in heaven."

The scriptures themselves do not state that anyone was neutral in the pre-existence.


Question: Did Church leaders ever teach that Blacks were neutral in the "war in heaven?"

Yes, some Church leaders promoted the idea as a way to explain the priesthood ban

Despite the explicit denial of this concept by Brigham Young, the idea that people born with black skin as a result of their behavior in the pre-existence was used by several 20th century Church leaders in order to try and provide an explanation for the priesthood ban.

The First Presidency, in a statement issued on August 17, 1949, actually attributed the ban to "conduct of spirits in the premortal existence"

The First Presidency stated in 1949:

The position of the Church regarding the Negro may be understood when another doctrine of the Church is kept in mind, namely, that the conduct of spirits in the premortal existence has some determining effect upon the conditions and circumstances under which these spirits take on mortality. [218]

Joseph Fielding Smith said in 1954 that there were no "neutrals in the war in heaven," but that rewards in this life may have "reflected actions taken in the pre-existence

In the 1954 book Doctrines of Salvation (compiled by Bruce R. McConkie), Joseph Fielding Smith stated that "there were no neutrals in the war in heaven," but suggested that the rewards received in this life reflected actions taken in the pre-existence:

NO NEUTRALS IN HEAVEN. There were no neutrals in the war in heaven. All took sides either with Christ or with Satan. Every man had his agency there, and men receive rewards here based upon their actions there, just as they will receive rewards hereafter for deeds done in the body. The Negro, evidently, is receiving the reward he merits. [219]

Bruce R. McConkie said in 1966 that they were "less valiant" in the pre-existence

The most well known of these was the statement made by Bruce R. McConkie in his book Mormon Doctrine. McConkie offered the following opinion:

Those who were less valiant in the pre-existence and who thereby had certain spiritual restrictions imposed upon them during mortality are known to us as the negroes. Such spirits are sent to earth through the lineage of Cain, the mark put upon him for his rebellion against God and his murder of Abel being a black skin...but this inequality is not of man’s origin. It is the Lord’s doing, based on His eternal laws of justice, and grows out of the lack of spiritual valiance of those concerned in their first estate. [220]

These statements by Church leaders reflected ideas which were prevalent in society during the 1950s and 1960s

These statements by 20th century leaders did not represent thinking that was unique to the Church, but instead reflected ideas which were much more prevalent in society during the 1950's and 1960's.

When the priesthood ban was lifted in 1978, McConkie retracted what he had said previously

Elder McConkie retracted his previous statements regarding the priesthood ban when it was lifted in 1978:

Forget everything I have said, or what...Brigham Young...or whomsoever has said...that is contrary to the present revelation. We spoke with a limited understanding and without the light and knowledge that now has come into the world. [221]


Question: Did the Church repudiate the idea of neutrality in the "war in heaven?"

President Kimball was reported as repudiating this idea following the 1978 revelation

Some members and leaders explained the ban as congruent with the justice of God by suggesting that those who were denied the priesthood had done something in the pre-mortal life to deny themselves the priesthood. President Kimball was reported as repudiating this idea following the 1978 revelation:

President Kimball "flatly [stated] that Mormonism no longer holds to...a theory" that Blacks had been denied the priesthood "because they somehow failed God during their pre-existence." [222]

The modern Church rejects this theory

Today, the Church disavows the theories advanced in the past that black skin is a sign of divine disfavor or curse, or that it reflects actions in a premortal life; that mixed-race marriages are a sin; or that blacks or people of any other race or ethnicity are inferior in any way to anyone else. Church leaders today unequivocally condemn all racism, past and present, in any form. [223]

Modern Church leaders teach that everyone who came to earth in this day was "valiant" in the premortal existence

Elder M. Russell Ballard, talking of today's youth, said in 2005:

Remind them that they are here at this particular time in the history of the world, with the fulness of the gospel at their fingertips, because they made valiant choices in the premortal existence. [224]


Response to claim: 214 - According to Hebrews 7, Jesus Christ changed the priesthood and eliminated the need for the Aaronic Priesthood

The author(s) of The Kingdom of the Cults make(s) the following claim:

According to Hebrews 7, Jesus Christ changed the priesthood and eliminated the need for the Aaronic Priesthood.

Author's sources:

FairMormon Response

Fact checking results: The author has stated erroneous information or misinterpreted their sources

The idea that the Melchizedek Priesthood superseded the Aaronic Priesthood is a correct one, but this does not necessarily imply that there is no Aaronic Priesthood.


Question: Why do Mormons use the Aaronic Priesthood, since Hebrews 7 states that the Aaronic/Levitical Priesthood was "changed" to the unique priesthood "after the order of Melchizedek" held by Jesus Christ?

The idea that the Melchizedek Priesthood superseded the Aaronic Priesthood is a correct one, but this does not necessarily imply that there is no Aaronic Priesthood

As other Christians see it, the Aaronic Priesthood is like a small glass of water that is replaced by a fruit juice (the Melchizedek Priesthood). They are distinguished from each other, in most Christians' eyes, as quite separate things.

The LDS would use a different metaphor to explain things: they might compare the Aaronic Priesthood to a glass of water that is filled only part way. Instead of being replaced by an entirely different drink, more water is poured into it until it is a full glass (the Melchizedek Priesthood).

From a Mormon perspective, the two priesthoods are really the same substance: the power of God delegated to man

From whence do the two priesthoods originate? The same source—God. What is the purpose of the two priesthoods? They bring mortals to the Lord (note that only the Melchizedek Priesthood can do so entirely—see Hebrews 7:11—but the Aaronic Priesthood was instrumental in keeping ancient Israel holy and pure). The Aaronic Priesthood is merely a limited form of the Melchizedek Priesthood, or (as LDS scriptures call it) an "appendage" to it (D&C 107:13–14).

Elder M. Russell Ballard of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles illustrated the doctrine clearly:

Since all priesthood is Melchizedek, the Aaronic Priesthood being a portion of it, one does not lose the Aaronic Priesthood when he is ordained to the Melchizedek Priesthood [...][225]

Why does the Aaronic Priesthood persist in the Church?

So, if the Church possesses the Melchizedek priesthood, then why would the Aaronic Priesthood persist today? The Aaronic priesthood serves as a 'preparatory priesthood' (see D&C 84:26.) Just as the Levitical authority in ancient Israel acted as a "schoolmaster" to prepare Israel to receive Christ (see Galatians 3:24–25), in the modern Church the Aaronic priesthood serves to school young men for service in God's kingdom on earth.

The modern Aaronic priesthood's organizational structure follows the pattern established by the New Testament Church, and consists of Deacons (see Philippians 1:1, 1 Timothy 3:8,10,12–13), Teachers (Acts 13:1,1 Corinthians 12:28–29), and Priests (see Acts 6:7), and countless references in the Old Testament to Levitical/Aaronic 'priests').

Each Aaronic priesthood office is trusted with more responsibility, providing LDS young men with the opportunity to progress and mature until they are ready to receive the priesthood in full—the Melchizedek Priesthood.

Aaronic priesthood duties and function similar to ancient Israel

Despite some modern differences from ancient Israel, the Aaronic Priesthood is not much different compared to ancient times.

The Aaronic priesthood performs two ordinances (some Christian groups would call these 'sacraments').

  1. Baptism: John the Baptist held the Aaronic Priesthood, which holds the keys of baptism, and baptism is of course a fundamental part of salvation through Christ (see Acts 2:38).
  2. Sacrifice: The modern Church does not, of course, sacrifice animals because Jesus Christ sacrificed Himself for us, giving us the last great sacrifice (see Ephesians 5:2). Yet, the Church rejoices in and recalls His sacrifice for us by partaking of the sacrament ("communion" or "the Lord's supper" in other denominations) Matthew 26:26-29). Thus, the modern priest repeats a ceremony of atonement and sacrifice through the sacrament of the Lord's supper; this plays a similar theological role to the animal sacrifices offered by Aaronic priests anticipation of Christ's atonement and resurrection.

Separation of priesthood duties in the New Testament Church

It should be noted that all priesthood was not equivalent in the New Testament Church either. For example, many members had been baptized with water (an ordinance of the Aaronic priesthood) but had not yet received the Holy Ghost until one of the apostles laid hands upon them (a Melchizedek priesthood function). (See Acts 8:15–19, Acts 19:2–6).


Response to claim: 215, n21 - Jesus' priesthood is said to be "untransferable." The LDS claim that Melchizedek conferred his priesthood on Abraham "finds no support in scripture

The author(s) of The Kingdom of the Cults make(s) the following claim:

Jesus' priesthood is said to be "untransferable." The LDS claim that Melchizedek conferred his priesthood on Abraham "finds no support in scripture."

Author's sources:

FairMormon Response

Fact checking results: The author has stated erroneous information or misinterpreted their sources

The LDS do not need to rely only on biblical scripture for their knowledge of such things. There is nothing in the Bible that precludes Abraham receiving the priesthood from Abraham. The author's claim about a non-transferable priesthood is based on a translation error that has been long since corrected. Theological necessity, however, keeps the idea popular in some circles.


Question: Was the priesthood held by Jesus priesthood not 'transferable' to members of the Church?

The Bible supports that Latter-day Saints position that the Priesthood is the authority God has given man to perform the ordinances

It is claimed that only Jesus held the priesthood, and that such priesthood was not 'transferable' to members of the Church. However, the claim that priesthood is non-transferrable fails on linguistic, scriptural, scholarly, and logical grounds.

The Bible supports that Latter-day Saints position that the Priesthood is the authority God has given man to perform the ordinances (e.g. baptism, sacrament, sealing, etc.) that Jesus has declared to be necessary, in order that the atonement may have full effect in our lives.

The claim that the priesthood is not transferable is based upon old scholarship

In Bauer's Greek-English lexicon, we read:

Aparabatos, on (see parabaino; belonging to later Greek [Phryn. 313 Lob];not LXX) Hebrews 7:24 usually interpreted 'without a successor'. But this meaning is found nowhere else. Aparabatos rather has the sense of permanent, unchangeable" [followed by citations].[226]

Thus, it is the priesthood which is unchangeable, rather than being non-transferable. Claims that the priesthood is not transferable are not supported by the Biblical text. Rather, the priesthood is a permanent and necessary part of the Church—any Church claiming it is unnecessary does not meet the Biblical model.

The ten-volume Theological Dictionary of the New Testament agrees, in which the word aparabatos is discussed:

This is a rare word found only in later Greek.... Its usual sense is 'unchangeable,' 'immutable.'"
[after giving examples from secular literature: Plutarch, Josephus, Epictetus, etc]
Hebrews 7.24 says of Christ that because He remains to eternity He has an unchangeable and imperishable priesthood. Instead of the passive 'unchangeable' [743] many expositors suggest the active sense 'which cannot be transferred to another;" 'Christ has a priesthood which cannot be transferred to anyone else' [citing Bengel]. This is a natural interpretation and yields a good sense, but it does not really fit the context. We should keep to the rendering 'unchangeable,' the more so as the active sense is not attested elsewhere." (742-3).[227]

The statement 'yields a good sense' suggests that those who choose that translation are probably doing so for theological reasons, not grammatical or linguistic reasons; and the TDNT author is voting against such a choice.

In a review of Walter Martin's book, The Maze of Mormonism, in which Martin bases his argument against the Melchizedek Priesthood on the interpretation of "unchangeable" being "non-transferable, Richard Lloyd Anderson informs us that:

Instead of treating descriptions in the Acts or Pastoral Letters concerning the bestowal of apostolic authority on others, Martin prefers to base his case on a dubious translation of Hebrews 7:24, maintaining that Christ's priesthood is "untransferable." But his vintage 1889 citation from Thayer's lexicon for this use is squarely contradicted by the best authorities in the field. The lexicon of Arndt-Gingrich (in agreement with Moulton-Milligan) gives more than a dozen secular uses of the period to show that the term in question (aparabatos) "rather has the sense permanent, unchangeable." The point of the passage is not that Christ's priesthood cannot be transferred, but that it permanently remains superior, as does he, to all other authority.[228]

So we see that it is incorrect to interpret "unchangeable" as "non-transferable."

Additional evidence

The rather late Christian understanding that Jesus would be the last High Priest of the Melchizedek order (see Hebrew 7:24, marginal reading no. 5 in most King James Version translations) is based on an erroneous interpretation of the Greek word aparabaton which does not mean "intransmissible" but means "unchangeable" when referring to Jesus' priesthood.[229]

And:

God's promises to Abraham are extended to all who come unto Christ: Jesus was a priest after the order of Melchizedek, who was the priest who blessed Abraham, in whose loins was Levi. The superiority of Christ's Melchizedek Priesthood over the Levitical priesthood and the Law of Moses is developed in chapter 7. Melchizedek was a type of Christ. His priesthood was more enduring than the Levitical priesthood, which was limited to blood lines and was not given with an oath and whose priests did not continue because of death and needed daily renewal (Heb. 7:3,21,23,27). The Melchizedek order of priesthood, however, was directed by Jesus Christ, who, unlike the high priest under the Law of Moses on the annual Day of Atonement (Lev. 16:4), did not need to "offer sacrifice for his own sins, for he knew no sins" (JST Heb. 7:26). His priesthood was aparabatos meaning "permanent, unchangeable, and incomparable" (Heb. 7:24). No other priesthood will succeed it. It will be the permanent power of salvation and eternal lives within Christ's church forever more[230].[231]

Modern Bible translations

More modern versions of the Bible agree with this interpretation.

Hebrews 7
24 (NIV)
but because Jesus lives forever, he has a permanent priesthood. (emphasis added)
Hebrews 7
24 (NASB)
but Jesus, on the other hand, because He continues forever, holds His priesthood permanently. (emphasis added)
Hebrews 7
24 (RSV)
but he holds his priesthood permanently, because he continues for ever. (emphasis added)

The interpretation of "unchangeable" to mean "non-transferable" does not stand up to scripture, correct doctrine, Biblical scholarship, or Greek terminology.

Why the opposition to priesthood?

It is understandable that creedal Protestant Christians (who make up the vast majority of sectarian anti-Mormons) desperately need the priesthood, as understood by Latter-day Saints, to be non-existent today. The whole idea of authority, direct from God, being necessary for the saving ordinances of mankind, completely undermines and destroys the traditionally accepted doctrine that one is "saved by faith alone." It also completely destroys their own claims to authority, since they are the result of a break-off from the Roman Catholic faith.

If the Catholics did not have the priesthood authority, then the Protestants cannot have taken it with them. Hence, they are anxious to claim a "priesthood of all believers," or claim priesthood isn't needed at all.

If the Catholics did have the authority, then Protestants were wrong to leave in the first place. And, the Church rejected the view that the priesthood was "non-transferrable." Biblical scholarship has now "caught up" to this view, but Joseph Smith had it right in the first place.

Reading Hebrews 7:24

As seen above, most of the argument against the LDS doctrine of priesthood is based upon Hebrews 7:24:

But this man, because he continueth ever, hath an unchangeable priesthood.(emphasis added)

Some Christians interpret the word "unchangeable" as meaning non-transferable. Therefore, they say, the Priesthood that Christ held (the Melchizedek Priesthood) could not be transferred to anyone. But, as we have seen, this relies on an out-dated reading of the Greek. Such a view was defensible in the 19th century; it can no longer be sustained.

But, even if we grant this obsolete reading, could this be the correct interpretation? If so, there is a glaring contradiction within this very chapter, for verse twelve says the priesthood has changed:

For the priesthood being changed, there is made of necessity a change also of the law.(Hebrews 7:12) (emphasis added)

Either the priesthood is transferable (changeable), from Christ to others, or it is not. Which verse are we to believe? Let's take a closer look at this "unchangeable" priesthood in Hebrews 7:11-24:

  • 11 If therefore perfection were by the Levitical (Aaronic) priesthood, (for under it the people received the law,)

(under the Aaronic priesthood, the people received the law of Moses -- an eye for an eye)

  • what further need was there that another priest should rise after the order of Melchisedec, and not be called after the order of Aaron?

(Those that hold the authority of the higher, or Melchizedek Priesthood, also hold the authority of the lessor, or the Aaronic Priesthood)

  • 12 For the priesthood being changed,

(Here is a glaring contradiction to what the some Christians claim, for it clearly says the priesthood "changed." Let's continue to examine just what changed, and what the term means in context.)

  • there is made of necessity a change also of the law.

(The Law of Moses changed, not the priesthood. In other words, when Christ came, he gave a higher law. For example, the law was no longer an "eye for an eye," it was "turn the other cheek." Along with this higher law, came a higher priesthood, which is what is meant by "changed.")

  • 13 For he of whom these things are spoken pertaineth to another tribe, of which no man gave attendance at the altar. 14 For it is evident that our Lord sprang out of Juda; of which tribe Moses spake nothing concerning priesthood.

(Moses did not speak about the Melchizedek Priesthood and the higher law, which the Lord had, but he did speak of the Aaronic Priesthood, or the lower law.)

  • 15 And it is yet far more evident: for that after the similitude of Melchisedec there ariseth another priest,

(This priest is Jesus Christ)

  • 16 Who is made, not after the law of a carnal commandment,

(The Law of Moses—An Eye for an Eye)

  • but after the power of an endless life.

(The higher law, which Christ brought, which will lead us to eternal life.)

  • 17 For he testifieth, Thou art a priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec.

(Christ, and the priesthood authority He holds -- the Melchizedek Priesthood -- is eternal -- without end.)

  • 18 For there is verily a disannulling of the commandment going before for the weakness and unprofitableness thereof.

(The Law of Moses was abolished with the institution of the higher Law brought by Christ.)

  • 19 For the law [Mosaic Law] made nothing perfect

(We could not become perfect as our Father in Heaven commanded us to be by obedience to the Mosaic Law, for it does not contain the authority for the saving ordinances of salvation—the "keys" to bind in heaven and on earth, or in today's terminology, temple ordinances)

  • but the bringing in of a better hope did;

(A better hope, or a higher law, which brought the authority for the saving ordinances)

  • by the which we draw nigh unto God.

(It is through this higher law, by partaking of the temple ordinances, that we can "draw nigh" unto God, or become like Him, which is to "be perfect" {as God is perfect} as He commanded us—Matthew 5:48.)

  • 20 And inasmuch as not without an oath he was made priest:

(This is in reference to the oath and covenant of the priesthood.)

  • 21 (For those priests

(The priests of the Aaronic, or Levitical, priesthood)

  • were made without an oath;

(The Aaronic, or lessor, priesthood, does not require an oath or covenant.)

  • but this [This = Higher, or Melchizedek Priesthood] with an oath

Ezra Taft Benson discussed this idea:

"When a priesthood holder takes upon himself the Melchizedek Priesthood, he does so by oath and covenant. This is not so with the Aaronic Priesthood. The covenant of the Melchizedek Priesthood is that a priesthood holder will magnify his calling in the priesthood, will give diligent heed to the commandments of God, and will live by every word which proceeds "from

the mouth of God" (see D&C 84:33-44). The oath of the Melchizedek Priesthood is an irrevocable promise by God to faithful priesthood holders. "All that my Father hath shall be given unto them" (see D&C 84:38). This oath by Deity, coupled with the covenant by faithful priesthood holders, is referred to as the oath and covenant of the priesthood."[232]

  • by him that said unto him, The Lord sware and will not repent, Thou art a priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec:)

(The Melchizedek Priesthood is eternal)

  • 22 By so much was Jesus made a surety of a better testament. 23 And they truly were many priests, because they were not suffered to continue by reason of death: 24 But this man (Jesus Christ), because he continueth ever, [Eternal] hath an unchangeable [Eternal] priesthood.

(In context, this verse (24) that some Christians use to try to argue against the priesthood, is saying that since Jesus Christ is eternal, so is the authority He has. It is this same authority that Christ passed on to his Apostles, and they, passed on to others in the Church.)

This explanation should make it plain that the law, or schoolmaster (see Galatians 3:24), to lead the people unto Christ was administered by the Aaronic, or Levitical, Priesthood. However, perfection cannot be obtained through this priesthood alone, as Paul explained. Therefore, it was necessary for the Lord to send another priest after the order of Melchizedek. The priesthood thus being changed, there was "of necessity a change also of the law."[233]

The fulness of the gospel of Jesus Christ, therefore, was introduced by him to take the place of the law of Moses. But, this does not mean that priesthood transfer to mankind has or must cease. In fact, Jesus actions in the Bible, and the conduct of the apostles after His resurrection, show precisely the opposite pattern.


Response to claim: 216 - The priesthood is the "priesthood of all believers"

The author(s) of The Kingdom of the Cults make(s) the following claim:

The priesthood is the "priesthood of all believers."

Author's sources:

FairMormon Response

Fact checking results: The author has stated erroneous information or misinterpreted their sources

The author is welcome to his opinion, but his view on this is recent in Christian history, and is not biblical.


Question: Is there a "Priesthood of All Believers" which eliminates the need for unbroken lines of priesthood authority?

Peter's reference to the priesthood was drawn from the ancient Israelite views of the priesthood, a view in which only a select group hold the priesthood

It is claimed that there is no need for unbroken lines of priesthood authority since the Bible teaches that all believers hold the priesthood. However, Peter's reference to the priesthood was drawn from the ancient Israelite views of the priesthood, a view in which only a select group hold the priesthood. Neither the Bible nor other early Christian writings support the idea that all Christians hold priesthood authority to govern the Church or administer its ordinances. Instead, this doctrine is a novelty necessitated by the protestant break with Rome.

Here, we examine some of the scriptural passages cited in defense of the concept of a priesthood of all believers.[234]

"A royal priesthood"

  • "But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light" (1 Peter 2:9).

This was the principal passage cited by Martin Luther in defense of a priesthood of all believers. What Luther failed to note is that Peter was actually referring to an Old Testament passage, in which the Lord told the Israelites through Moses,

  • "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" (Exodus 19:5-6).

Yet of the Israelites present at the mount of revelation, only the Levites were chosen for priesthood service.

The Gospels and Acts

Based on the belief in the "priesthood of all believers," a Protestant minister often feels that the Bible (or God) has called him to work. But Christ made it clear that this is not the way it works. He said, "Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity" (Matthew 7:21-24).

Only a believer would prophecy in the name of Christ or, in his name, cast out devils. Yet the Savior said that he would cast out those he never knew. It is wrong to profess to do something in the name of Christ when one does not have the authority to do so. Note that Christ said that there would be "many" who would claim to have performed good works in his name who would be rejected, so this is not just an occasional person.

That specific authority was required to perform ordinances in the early Church is made clear by the story found in chapter 8 of Acts: "Now when the apostles which were at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent unto them Peter and John: Who, when they were come down, prayed for them, that they might receive the Holy Ghost: (For as yet he was fallen upon none of them: only they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.) Then laid they their hands on them, and they received the Holy Ghost. And when Simon saw that through laying on of the apostles' hands the Holy Ghost was given, he offered them money, Saying, Give me also this power, that on whomsoever I lay hands, he may receive the Holy Ghost. But Peter said unto him, Thy money perish with thee, because thou hast thought that the gift of God may be purchased with money" (Acts 8:14-20). Simon was not trying to buy the Spirit, but the "power" to "lay hands" on people so they could receive the Holy Ghost. This power is what we call "priesthood." Simon had already been baptized in the name of Christ, but this did not authorize him to lay on hands for the gift of the Holy Ghost.

At the last supper, Christ told his apostles, "Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you" (John 15:16). This ordination did not take place because they were baptized, but came after they had chosen to follow Christ. In Luke 6:13, we read that "when it was day, he [Jesus] called unto him his disciples: and of them he chose twelve, whom also he named apostles." So only twelve of Christ's followers were chosen to be apostles. Mark gives more details concerning this event: "And he goeth up into a mountain, and calleth unto him whom he would: and they came unto him. And he ordained twelve, that they should be with him, and that he might send them forth to preach, And to have power to heal sicknesses, and to cast out devils" (Mark 3:13-15). From this, it is clear that the apostles received, at that time, "power" that other followers of Christ did not have. He later gave that same power or priesthood to seventy others (Luke 10:1-20).

The account in Acts 19:1-6 is also instructive on the concept of authority to baptize and confer the gift of the Holy Ghost: "And it came to pass, that, while Apollos was at Corinth, Paul having passed through the upper coasts came to Ephesus: and finding certain disciples, He said unto them, Have ye received the Holy Ghost since ye believed? And they said unto him, We have not so much as heard whether there be any Holy Ghost. And he said unto them, Unto what then were ye baptized? And they said, Unto John's baptism. Then said Paul, John verily baptized with the baptism of repentance, saying unto the people, that they should believe on him which should come after him, that is, on Christ Jesus. When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. And when Paul had laid his hands upon them, the Holy Ghost came on them; and they spake with tongues, and prophesied."

These men (twelve in number according to verse 7), said they had been baptized "unto John's baptism," probably meaning by someone claiming authority from the John the Baptist, who had been killed by Herod Antipas long before the time of Paul. But Paul doubted the truth of this statement, knowing that John had told people of Christ who, coming after him, would baptize them with the Holy Ghost (Matthew 3:11; John 1:29-34). So Paul taught them about Jesus, after which "they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus" and Paul "laid his hands upon them" for the gift of the Holy Ghost.

Early Christian history

Christians in the first centuries do not seem to have endorsed the idea of a priesthood of all believers either—instead, this was a later idea developed by Luther to justify his break with Roman Catholicism, which claimed priesthood inheritance from the apostles.


Response to claim: 216-217 - Mormons look forward to "communication with the dead"

The author(s) of The Kingdom of the Cults make(s) the following claim:

Mormons look forward to "communication with the dead."

Author's sources:

FairMormon Response

Fact checking results: This claim is false

Latter-day Saints look forward to the resurrection promised to all, and for a continuation of their loving relationships with those who have passed away. The "Mormon author" Joseph Heinerman also appears in the anti-Mormon film The God Makers.


Response to claim: 217 - The author claims that Latter-day Saints show a "denial of the true deity of Jesus Christ"

The author(s) of The Kingdom of the Cults make(s) the following claim:

The author claims that Latter-day Saints show a "denial of the true deity of Jesus Christ."

Author's sources:

FairMormon Response

Fact checking results: This claim is false

Members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints proclaim that Jesus of Nazareth is Christ, Lord, and God.


Gospel Topics on LDS.org: "Members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints unequivocally affirm themselves to be Christians"

Members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints unequivocally affirm themselves to be Christians. They worship God the Eternal Father in the name of Jesus Christ. When asked what the Latter-day Saints believe, Joseph Smith put Christ at the center: “The fundamental principles of our religion is the testimony of the apostles and prophets concerning Jesus Christ, ‘that he died, was buried, and rose again the third day, and ascended up into heaven;’ and all other things are only appendages to these, which pertain to our religion.”1 The modern-day Quorum of the Twelve Apostles reaffirmed that testimony when they proclaimed, “Jesus is the Living Christ, the immortal Son of God. … His way is the path that leads to happiness in this life and eternal life in the world to come.” —(Click here to continue) [235]


Response to claim: 218 - "church theologians from the earliest days of church history have affirmed that Christianity is monotheistic in the strictest sense of the term"

The author(s) of The Kingdom of the Cults make(s) the following claim:

 Author's quote: [A]ll church theologians from the earliest days of church history have affirmed that Christianity is monotheistic in the strictest sense of the term.

Author's sources:

FairMormon Response

Fact checking results: This claim contains propaganda - 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 author should try to persuade a Jew or Muslim that Christianity (with its trinitarian God) is monotheistic in "the strictest sense of the term." Like other Christians, Latter-day Saints believe that God is one, and that more than one divine person may be properly spoken of as "God" (the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost). Christians have used various methods to reconcile these two ideas. Latter-day Saints reject Nicene trinitarianism, and have adopted a solution more in line with modern Christian ideas of "social trinitarianism."


Question: Are Mormons polytheists because they don't accept the Nicene Creed?

Latter-day Saints are not polytheists in any reasonable sense of the term that does not also exclude most other Christians who deny the Modalist heresy

Some Christians say Mormons are polytheists because they believe humans can become gods. Is this an accurate characterization of LDS belief? Trying to reduce LDS thought to a simple term or "slogan" in this way distorts LDS doctrine.

Latter-day Saints worship one God

The Saints worship one God. There are no competing divinities in whom they put their trust. LDS scripture contains such language (1 Nephi 13:41, 2 Nephi 31:21, Mosiah 15:1-5, Alma 11:26-37, Mormon 7:7, DC 20:28, Moses 1:20), but it is qualified in somewhat the same way that Creedal Christians have found a way of saying "three"—as in Trinity—and yet also one.

Almost invariably when someone claims Mormons are polytheists, they are not seeking a clear explanation of Mormon thought on the nature of God, but are simply using a word with negative connotations in our religious culture as a club to intimidate or confuse others. Consider, for example, a conversation that Evangelical Christian author Richard Abanes, in his book Becoming Gods (pp. 107-8), claims to have had with a LDS bishop:

Abanes: "Don't you believe in the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost?"
Bishop: "We certainly do, and they are one God."
Abanes: "Don't you believe the Father is a god?"
Bishop: "Yes, of course."
Abanes: "And the Son is a god?"
Bishop: "Yes"
Abanes: "And the Holy Ghost is a god."
Bishop: "Yes"
Abanes: "That's three gods."
Bishop: "No, they're one God."

The author goes on to describe that he felt he had entered some sort of Twilight Zone scenario, and goes on to declare all Mormons "polytheists." Yet, any Latter-day Saint, upon reading the conversation outlined above, would recognize the creation of a simplified version, or "strawman," of LDS belief. One might also seriously consider how an Evangelical Christian would answer these same questions. The reality is certainly more complex than the "strawman" above would lead us to believe.

There really is not a single word that adequately captures LDS thought on the nature of God. Pertinent key technical terminology includes the following:

  • Monotheism (belief that there is only one God)
  • Tritheism (understanding the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost as distinct Gods)
  • Polytheism (worship of, or belief in, more than one God)
  • Henotheism (worship of one God without denying the existence of other Gods; also called Monolatry)
  • Trinitarianism (belief that God consists of three Persons in one substance)
  • Social Trinitarianism (belief that the oneness of the three Persons is not one of substance but is social in nature [e.g., unity of thought, etc.])
  • Modalism (belief that there is only one God that does not exist as three separate Persons but rather manifests itself in three different "modes" [i.e., as Father, Son, or Holy Ghost])

Usually the very same people who are pressing the case that Mormons are polytheists are some stripe of Evangelical Christians who claim to be monotheists. But Trinitarians are not Monotheists by definition (just ask a Jew or Muslim).

The facts that the LDS do not believe the Father, Son and Holy Ghost are one in substance, and believe in deification/theosis (that humans may eventually become deified and become partakers in the divine nature), has been used to paint Mormons as polytheists. When we examine the technical terminology above, though, it becomes clear that a key point of demarcation is worship versus acknowledgment of existence. If members of the Church worshiped an extensive pantheon like the Greeks or Romans, then the label would be appropriate. In the context of doctrinal differences over the relationship among the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, however, or the doctrine of deification (which is a profoundly Christian doctrine and not just a Mormon one), use of the word "polytheistic" as a pejorative is both inaccurate and inappropriate.

Instead of using a single-word label, one must actually articulate the belief (using fully-developed sentences or paragraphs). The single-word label that will adequately describe the full breadth of LDS thought on the nature of God has yet to be coined.

Human deification and monotheism

The Bible contains language indicating human beings can put on the divine nature and be called "gods" (see John 10:33, 34; Ps. 82:6, Deut. 10:17, etc.). They are instructed to become one with Jesus just as he is one with his Father. The key point to realize is that any existence of other beings with godly attributes has no effect on who Latter-day Saints worship. According to Jeff Lindsay, a popular LDS online apologist:

We worship God the Father in the name of Jesus Christ - not glorious angels or Abraham or Moses or John the Baptist, no matter how great they may be in the kingdom of heaven as sons of God who have become "like Christ" (1 Jn 3:2). The only reasonable definition of polytheism requires that plural gods be worshiped - but the beings that Christ calls "gods" are not who we worship at all. In terms of worship, we are properly called monotheists.[236]

Additionally, there is abundant evidence of deification being taught by various commonly accepted Christians. If belief in theosis makes one a polytheist, many Christians would have to be so labeled - including such figures as C. S. Lewis and John Calvin. Clearly, this is not the way in which the term "polytheist" is normally used, but critics of the Church are often willing to be inconsistent if the Church can be made to look alien or "unchristian."

"Monotheism" is sufficiently broad to include the kind of oneness enjoyed by the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, as well as that promised to those who become one with them when fully sanctified.


Response to claim: 219 - "God is spirit, and they that worship Him must worship Him in spirit and in truth"

The author(s) of The Kingdom of the Cults make(s) the following claim:

"God is spirit, and they that worship Him must worship Him in spirit and in truth"

Author's sources:

FairMormon Response

Fact checking results: The author has stated erroneous information or misinterpreted their sources

The Latter-day Saints agree with this scripture, but (along with many Christian commentators) reject the idea that this scripture is describing God's nature as "only" a spirit.


Question: Does the Mormon doctrine that God has a physical body contradict the Bible's statement in John 4:24 that "God is a Spirit"?

Deuteronomy 4:28 says that our God can see, eat and smell

Some Christians object to the LDS position that God has a physical body by quoting John 4:24:

God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth. (Italics in KJV original).

Adopting a critical reading of this verse leads to some strange conclusions if we are consistent. Deuteronomy 4:28 says that our God can see, eat and smell. Can an unembodied spirit do that? Deuteronomy 4:24 and Hebrews 12:29 say that God is a consuming fire, 1 Jn 1:5 says God is light, and 1 Jn 4:4,16 says that God is love. Is He just those things? Clearly not, and the LDS conclude that neither is He just a spirit.

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

Secondly, the reader should be aware that the indefinite article (“a”, as in "a dog" or "a spirit") does not exist in Greek. Thus, the addition of the word "a" in English occurs at the discretion of the translators.[237]

This leaves two Greek words: theos pneuma [θεος πνεμα]—“God spirit”. The JST resolves this translational issue by saying “for unto such hath God promised his spirit”. The word pneuma, which is translated spirit, also means ‘life’ or ‘breath’. The King James Version of Revelation 13:15 renders ‘pneuma’ as life. Thus "God is life," or "God is the breath of life" are potential alternative translations of this verse.

Also, if God is a spirit and we have to worship him in spirit, do mortals have to leave our bodies to worship him?

Latter-day Saints believe that man is also spirit and is, like God, housed in a physical body

Thus, the Latter-day Saints believe that man is also spirit (DC 93:33-34; Numbers 16:22; Romans 8:16) and is, like God, housed in a physical body. We were, after all, created in the "image" of God (Genesis 1:26-27).

It is interesting that in 1 Corinthians 2:11, Paul wrote about "the spirit of man and the Spirit of God." Elsewhere he spoke of the resurrection of the body and then noted that it is a "spiritual" body (1 Corinthians 15:44-46), though, rising from the grave, it is obviously composed of flesh and bones, as Jesus made clear when he appeared to the apostles after his resurrection (Luke 24:37-39).

Paul also told the saints in Rome, "But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you" (Romans 8:9).

One Commentary insists:

That God is spirit is not meant as a definition of God's being—though this is how the Stoics [a branch of Greek philosophy] would have understood it. It is a metaphor of his mode of operation, as life-giving power, and it is no more to be taken literally than 1 Jn 1:5, "God is light," or Deuteronomy 4:24, "Your God is a devouring fire." It is only those who have received this power through Christ who can offer God a real worship.[238]


Response to claim: 219-220 - Mormons "misuse" John 10:34, which claims "Ye are gods" to "falsely" imply that Jesus "endorsed godhood for man"

The author(s) of The Kingdom of the Cults make(s) the following claim:

Mormons "misuse" John 10:34, which claims "Ye are gods" to "falsely" imply that Jesus "endorsed godhood for man." The author claims that this does not agree with the context of John 10:24-36.

Author's sources:

FairMormon Response

Fact checking results: This claim contains propaganda - 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 author needs argument, not just assertion.


Gospel Topics: "Latter-day Saints see all people as children of God in a full and complete sense"

"Becoming Like God," Gospel Topics on LDS.org:

Latter-day Saints see all people as children of God in a full and complete sense; they consider every person divine in origin, nature, and potential. Each has an eternal core and is “a beloved spirit son or daughter of heavenly parents.” Each possesses seeds of divinity and must choose whether to live in harmony or tension with that divinity. Through the Atonement of Jesus Christ, all people may “progress toward perfection and ultimately realize their divine destiny.” Just as a child can develop the attributes of his or her parents over time, the divine nature that humans inherit can be developed to become like their Heavenly Father's.[239]—(Click here to continue)

  • An extended discussion of this issue can be found in:
    • Michael S. Heiser, "You've Seen One Elohim, You've Seen Them All? A Critique of Mormonism's Use of Psalm 82," FARMS Review 19/1 (2007): 221–266. off-site wiki
    • David Bokovoy, "Ye Really Are Gods": A Response to Michael Heiser concerning the LDS Use of Psalm 82 and the Gospel of John; Review of "You've Seen One Elohim, You've Seen Them All? A Critique of Mormonism's Use of Psalm 82," by Michael S. Heiser," FARMS Review 19/1 (2007): 267–313. off-site wiki
    • Michael S. Heiser, "Israel's Divine Counsel, Mormonism, and Evangelicalism: Clarifying the Issues and Directions for Future Study," FARMS Review 19/1 (2007): 315–323. off-site wiki

Response to claim: 220-221 - Adam-God doctrine taught by Brigham Young

The author(s) of The Kingdom of the Cults make(s) the following claim:

Adam-God doctrine taught by Brigham Young

Author's sources:

FairMormon Response

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


Question: What is the Adam-God Theory?

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

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

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

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

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

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


Stephen E. Robinson: "Yet another way in which anti-Mormon critics often misrepresent LDS doctrine is in the presentation of anomalies as though they were the doctrine of the Church"

BYU professor Stephen E. Robinson wrote:

Yet another way in which anti-Mormon critics often misrepresent LDS doctrine is in the presentation of anomalies as though they were the doctrine of the Church. Anomalies occur in every field of human endeavor, even in science. An anomaly is something unexpected that cannot be explained by the existing laws or theories, but which does not constitute evidence for changing the laws and theories. An anomaly is a glitch.... A classic example of an anomaly in the LDS tradition is the so-called "Adam-God theory." During the latter half of the nineteenth century Brigham Young made some remarks about the relationship between Adam and God that the Latter-day Saints have never been able to understand. The reported statements conflict with LDS teachings before and after Brigham Young, as well as with statements of President Young himself during the same period of time. So how do Latter-day Saints deal with the phenomenon? We don't; we simply set it aside. It is an anomaly. On occasion my colleagues and I at Brigham Young University have tried to figure out what Brigham Young might have actually said and what it might have meant, but the attempts have always failed. The reported statements simply do not compute—we cannot make sense out of them. This is not a matter of believing it or disbelieving it; we simply don't know what "it" is. If Brigham Young were here we could ask him what he actually said and what he meant by it, but he is not here.... For the Latter-day Saints, however, the point is moot, since whatever Brigham Young said, true or false, was never presented to the Church for a sustaining vote. It was not then and is not now a doctrine of the Church, and...the Church has merely set the phenomenon aside as an anomaly.[240]


Matthew Brown (2009): "Brigham Young repeated these ideas and expounded upon them during the next 25 years. His viewpoints have been variously classified as doctrine, theory, paradox, heresy, speculation, and some of the mysteries"

Matthew Brown:

On the 9th of April 1852 President Brigham Young stepped up to the pulpit in the old tabernacle on Temple Square and informed a group of Elders, who had gathered there for General Conference, that he was going to straighten them out on an issue which they had been debating about. The topic of disagreement centered upon who was the Father of Jesus Christ in the flesh—Elohim or the Holy Ghost. President Young surprised the people who were in attendance by announcing that it was neither one of them....Brigham Young repeated these ideas and expounded upon them during the next 25 years. His viewpoints have been variously classified as doctrine, theory, paradox, heresy, speculation, and some of the mysteries.[241]—(Click here to continue)


Response to claim: 222 - The book claims that Latter-day Saints "attempt to veil their evil doctrine in semi-orthodox terminology"

The author(s) of The Kingdom of the Cults make(s) the following claim:

The book claims that Latter-day Saints "attempt to veil their evil doctrine in semi-orthodox terminology."

Author's sources:

FairMormon Response

Fact checking results: This claim contains propaganda - 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 author is charging members of the Church with willfully trying to hide their beliefs and intent. The author should stop trying to declare what members believe, and let Latter-day Saints explain their own beliefs.


Response to claim: 222 -"Mormon doctrine" is that "God the Father is a mere man"

The author(s) of The Kingdom of the Cults make(s) the following claim:

"Mormon doctrine" is that "God the Father is a mere man."

Author's sources:

FairMormon Response

Fact checking results: This claim is false

LDS do not consider the Father "a mere man," or a "mere" anything.


Response to claim: 223 - The author equates the word "spirit" with "immaterial nature"

The author(s) of The Kingdom of the Cults make(s) the following claim:

The author equates the word "spirit" with "immaterial nature."

Author's sources:

FairMormon Response

Fact checking results: The author has stated erroneous information or misinterpreted their sources

This conception owes more to the metaphysics of Greece which were merged with Christian thought than it does with the Bible.

Response to claim: 223 - "Mormons indeed have sworn allegiance to a polytheistic pantheon of gods"

The author(s) of The Kingdom of the Cults make(s) the following claim:

 Author's quote: Mormons indeed have sworn allegiance to a polytheistic pantheon of gods…

Author's sources:

FairMormon Response

Fact checking results: This claim is false

The claim is nonsense: Latter-day Saints have "allegiance" only to God the Father and His Son, Jesus Christ.


Response to claim: 224 - The "Mormon teaching" that God was seen "face to face" in the Old Testament has been "refuted" through language and comparative textual analysis

The author(s) of The Kingdom of the Cults make(s) the following claim:

The "Mormon teaching" that God was seen "face to face" in the Old Testament has been "refuted" through language and comparative textual analysis. God said that that no man could see His face and live (Exodus 33:20

Author's sources:

FairMormon Response

Fact checking results: The author has stated erroneous information or misinterpreted their sources


Question: How could Joseph Smith have seen God if the Bible says that God cannot be seen by mortals?

Numerous Biblical verses attest that God has been seen by select humans

Some Christians claim that the Bible teaches that God cannot be seen by mortals, and so claims by Joseph Smith and others to have seen God the Father or Jesus Christ must be false. However, numerous Biblical verses attest that God has been seen by select humans. John 1:18, which the critics use to argue otherwise, has been interpreted differently by early Christians to avoid the self-contradiction which the critics' reading creates for the Bible.

If God can say "I change not," (Malachi 3:6) and he has appeared to mortals in the past, as the Bible bears record, why would he change his tactics and refuse to appear to modern prophets?

The most commonly used Biblical citation invoked by the critics is probably John 1:18, which reads “No man hath seen God at any time; the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him.”

Early Christian author Irenaeus wrote in A.D. 180 that this scripture should be read “For "no man," he says, "hath seen God at any time," unless "the only-begotten Son of God, which is in the bosom of the Father, He hath declared [Him]."[242]

Interestingly, Joseph Smith's revision of the Bible agrees with Irenaeus' reading:

No man hath seen God at any time except he hath borne record of the Son . . .(italics represent changes in JST)

Irenaeus' "unless" (or Joseph's "except") makes all the difference. Irenaeus knew that righteous men had seen God in the past:

Furthermore, by adopting this approach, Irenaeus' interpretation of John 1:18 harmonized with the rest of the Bible and the qualifications which the Bible provides for those who may see God. The requirements are:

  1. Must be "of God" “Not that any man hath seen the Father, save he which is of God, he hath seen the Father.” (John 6:46.) Some critics will argue that only Jesus "is of God", but that position is unscriptural. Moses too was "of God"(Deuteronomy 33:1), as well as Samuel (1 Samuel 9:10), Shemaiah (1 Kings 12:22), and Elijah (1 Kings 17:24).
  2. Must have "peace and holiness" within you "Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which, no man shall see the Lord" (Hebrews 12:14.)
  3. Must be pure in heart "Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God" (Matthew 5:8.)

As the numerous Biblical references demonstrate, the idea of seeing God is hardly foreign to Hebrew or early Christian thought. There are also non-scriptural examples: Philo the Jew taught that the name Israel was compounded of 3 words “ish” “rah” “El”, which means “man seeing God;” this view is also found in the apocryphal Prayer of Joseph. [243] And, an early Christian document called the Clementine Homilies portrays the apostle Peter as agreeing with Irenaeus' view:

For I maintain that the eyes of mortals cannot see the incorporeal form of the Father or Son, because it is illumined by exceeding great light. . . . For he who sees God cannot live. For the excess of light dissolves the flesh of him who sees; unless by the secret power of God the flesh be changed into the nature of light, so that it can see light.[244]

Joseph Smith revealed the same essential truth (D&C 67:11, D&C 84:22).

It is the critics' view of John 1:18 that is novel and at odds with the earliest Christian understanding of the scripture, not Joseph Smith's.


Response to claim: 225 - Biblical scriptures describing God's body parts are claimed to be metaphorical. Why then does God not have feathers or wings, as described in the Bible?

The author(s) of The Kingdom of the Cults make(s) the following claim:

Biblical scriptures describing God's body parts are claimed to be metaphorical. Why then does God not have feathers or wings, as described in the Bible?

Author's sources:

FairMormon Response

Fact checking results: The author has stated erroneous information or misinterpreted their sources

Jesus is God, and he clearly had a body like humans do, and was resurrected with that body. Why, then, do the critics object to the Latter-day Saints saying that God has a body, when the entire message of Christianity is that God descended to earth and was incarnated and then resurrected?


Question: Why do the Latter-day Saints believe God has a body?

Latter-day Saints believe God has a body in human form simply because our scriptures and our prophets unanimously testify on this point

One thing that sets Latter-day Saints apart from nearly all of the rest of Christianity is the doctrine that God the Father possesses a body in human form. In fact, many of our Christian brothers and sisters see this belief as positively strange, and some even question our claim to the title “Christian” because of it.

“The Father has a body of flesh and bones, as tangible as man’s; the Son also” (DC 130:22).

In other words, if we want to know what kind of being God is, who better to believe than those who have actually seen Him? There are multiple Biblical examples, such as:

  • the prophet Ezekiel, who described his vision of God by saying he saw “high above all, upon the throne, a form in human likeness” (Ezekiel 1:26, New English Bible.).
  • Stephen, whose last words were, “Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of man standing on the right hand of God” (Acts 7:56.).
  • John, who saw God sitting on the throne in heaven (Revelation 4:2).
  • Moses was not allowed to see God’s face in one vision (God was angry at the Israelites at the time), but God said he would “cover thee with my hand while I pass by; and I will take away mine hand, and thou shalt see my back parts: but my face shall not be seen” (Exodus 33:22-23).
  • Moses did see God previously, however: “the Lord spake unto Moses face to face, as a man speaketh unto his friend” (Exodus 33:11).
  • Jacob “wrestled a man” one night in the wilderness, and after this encounter “Jacob called the name of the place Peniel [Hebrew for “the face of God”]: for I have seen God face to face, and my life is preserved” (Genesis 32:24-32).

Some of these references may refer to visions of God the Son, but some of them, like Stephen’s and John’s, certainly refer to the person of the Father.

Edmond LaB. Cherbonnier of Trinity College (a non-Mormon scholar) summarizes this phenomenon as follows:

In short, to use the forbidden word, the biblical God is clearly anthropomorphic (i.e. “in the form of man”)—not apologetically so, but proudly, even militantly.[245]

Christopher Stead (another non-Mormon scholar) of the Cambridge Divinity School agrees that

The Hebrews…pictured the God whom they worshipped as having a body and mind like our own, though transcending humanity in the splendour of his appearance, in his power, his wisdom, and the constancy of his care for his creatures.[246]

The LDS doctrine of God’s embodiment rests primarily on eyewitness testimony. We believe God has a body in human form because everyone who has seen Him has described Him in this way.


Question: What are the common objections to a belief in God's corporeality?

Most other Christians interpret the Bible differently than we do on this point

Obviously, most other Christians interpret the Bible differently than we do on this point, and they put forward several standard objections to this kind of “anthropomorphism.” However, these objections do not hold up under close scrutiny. This will be shown for several common objections to the LDS doctrine, most of which can be found in a tract published by Catholic Answers, Inc., entitled, Does God Have a Body?[247]

Objection: “Being ‘in the image of God’ means humans have a rational soul.”

“And God said, Let us make man in our image [Hebrew tselem], after our likeness [Hebrew demuth]” (Genesis 1:26). This statement in the first chapter of the Bible seems pretty clear to Latter-day Saints. However, our fellow Christians will often say that this is to be interpreted figuratively, in the sense that humans have “rational souls,” which set us apart from the animals. However, just a few chapters later the author of Genesis repeats "God created man, in the likeness [Hebrew demuth] of God made he him" and then adds some interesting commentary about the birth of Adam's son Seth: "And Adam lived an hundred thirty years, and begat a son in his own likeness [Hebrew demuth], after his image [Hebrew tselem]; and called his name Seth” (Genesis 5:1-3).

Adam was created in God’s image and likeness, and one of Adam’s sons had Adam’s image and likeness. Exactly the same words were used to describe both scenarios by the same prophetic author only one verse apart. Either Adam looked like God, or Seth was the only one of Adam’s sons who possessed a “rational soul.” If there is a good reason to interpret one passage in one way, and the other in another way, the critics must provide it. Only a prior commitment to refusing to see man in the form of God (or God in the form of a man) would lead one to interpret the terms differently.

Objection: “The Bible also says God has wings, etc. ”

Of course, it is true that the Biblical writers employed numerous metaphors when talking about God. However, just because some statements about God are metaphorical doesn’t mean that every statement is. When the Psalmist speaks of God covering us with His feathers, and giving refuge under His wings, the metaphor is completely clear. As Jesus said, “How often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not!” (Matthew 23:37.) Exactly what is the metaphorical interpretation of God’s “back parts” that Moses saw? When Stephen reported his vision, the text gives no clue as to any metaphorical interpretation; he simply reported what he saw, as did the others.

Objection: John 4:24 says, “God is a Spirit."

See also: FAIR Wiki article God is a Spirit

There are several problems with this objection. First, Paul wrote, “But he that is joined unto the Lord is one spirit” (1 Corinthians 6:17). To say that God is “a spirit” is grammatically equivalent to the statement that a man joined to the Lord is “one spirit,” and yet, Christians obviously have bodies as well as spirits.

Second, there are no indefinite articles (“a” or “an”) in ancient Greek, so the passage can be translated “God is a Spirit” or “God is Spirit.” Most modern translations have chosen the latter, because John’s statement “God is Spirit” is parallel to two passages in his first epistle, “God is light” (1 Jn 1:5) and “God is love” (1 Jn 4:8). In context, all of these passages seem to be referring to God’s activity toward men rather than to the nature of His “Being,” and of course we would never say that God is “a love” or “a light.”

Furthermore, Christopher Stead of the Cambridge Divinity School (another non-Mormon scholar) explains how such statements would have been interpreted within ancient Judaism:

By saying that God is spiritual, we do not mean that he has no body … but rather that he is the source of a mysterious life-giving power and energy that animates the human body, and himself possesses this energy in the fullest measure.[248]

It must always be remembered that the Bible was written by Hebrews, and the New Testament writers were all Jews. We saw at the beginning of this article that the Hebrews consistently pictured God in human form.

As another commentator noted:

That God is spirit is not meant as a definition of God's being—though this is how the Stoics [a branch of Greek philosophy] would have understood it. It is a metaphor of his mode of operation, as life-giving power, and it is no more to be taken literally than 1 Jn 1:5, "God is light," or Deuteronomy 4:24, "Your God is a devouring fire." It is only those who have received this power through Christ who can offer God a real worship.[249]

Finally, Latter-day Saints do not believe that “spirit” is incorporeal (i.e. “without substance”), and neither did the earliest Christians. The great Protestant historian, Adolf von Harnack, wrote,

God was naturally conceived and represented as corporeal by uncultured Christians, though not by these alone, as the later controversies prove.[250]

For instance, the great Christian writer, Tertullian (ca. 200 A.D.) wrote,

For who will deny that God is a body, although ‘God is a Spirit?’ For Spirit has a bodily substance of its own kind, in its own form.[251]

Why did Christians start believing otherwise? J.W.C. Wand, a historian and former Anglican bishop of London, writes that one of the Greek philosophical schools (Neoplatonism), which was popular in the days of the Roman Empire, exerted a particular influence in this respect. (See below for more information about the influence of the Greek philosophers.):

It is easy to see what influence this school of thought [Neoplatonism] must have had upon Christian leaders. It was from it that they learnt what was involved in a metaphysical sense by calling God a Spirit. They were also helped to free themselves from their primitive eschatology and to get rid of that crude anthropomorphism which made even Tertullian believe that God had a material body.[252]

Objection: Christians have always believed that God is an unchangeable, simple, immaterial spirit essence.

Unfortunately, this is not the case. Origen (circa A.D. 225) wrote,

For it is also to be a subject of investigation how God himself is to be understood—whether as corporeal, and formed according to some shape, or of a different nature from bodies—a point which is not clearly indicated in our teaching.[253]

Origen (who did not believe in corporeality) nevertheless admitted there was considerable confusion among Christians of that era about this very question, but why?

Origen gives us another clue in a sermon on the book of Genesis:

The Jews indeed, but also some of our people, supposed that God should be understood as a man, that is, adorned with human members and human appearance. But the philosophers despise these stories as fabulous and formed in the likeness of poetic fictions.[254]

The Jews, and Christians who followed the standard Jewish interpretations, believed that God had a body in human form. Why did Origen reject this? Simply because the philosophers thought it was silly. For instance, the Middle Platonist philosopher Plutarch wrote the following:

Socrates and Plato held that (God is) the One, the single self-existent nature, the monadic, the real Being, the good: and all this variety of names points immediately to mind. God therefore is mind, a separate species, that is to say what is purely immaterial and unconnected with anything passible [i.e. changeable].[255]

Another Greek philosopher, Empedocles (ca. 444 B.C.) claimed that God

does not possess a head and limbs similar to those of humans…[He is] a spirit, a holy and inexpressible one.[256]

Greek converts to Christianity wanted to make their faith more appealing to people in their own culture, and so they adopted a definition of God from the Greek philosophers, whose thought was widely respected at the time. The temptation is always there to make one’s faith more popular by “modernizing” it, but the Apostle Paul had warned against exactly this kind of thing. “Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ” (Colossians 2:8). What was the “philosophy” current in Paul’s day? Greek philosophy. Similarly, Father Jean Daniélou, a Catholic historian and later a Cardinal, wrote that,

If we now examine the forms of thought and philosophical systems current at the time when Christianity first made its appearance in the world, it is clear that they were by no means ready to assimilate this Christian conception: on the contrary, they were wholly antagonistic thereto.[257]

However, within a few generations that had all changed, and philosophy ruled Christian theology.[258] Latter-day Saints understand this process as one consequence of the Great Apostasy.

Objection: John 1:18 says, “No man has seen God at any time.”

See also: FAIR Wiki article: No_man_has_seen_God

Some mainstream Christians object that the passages in the Bible that describe God’s human form must be taken figuratively, because Jesus said, “No man has seen God at any time” (John 1:18). Similarly, God told Moses, “there shall no man see me, and live” (Exodus 33:20). Of course, God said that to Moses right before he told him that He would pass by so Moses could see His “back parts,” but not his face (Exodus 33:21-23), and God was angry at the time, so it may have been a special circumstance. Still, this presents an odd problem, considering the number of times the Bible reports that people did see God. Samuel Meier, Associate Professor of Hebrew and Comparative Semitics at Ohio State University, writes of this problem:

A deity’s physical manifestation is seen by human beings. The appearance of gods and their involvement with humans are common motifs in ancient Near Eastern and classical mythology. That similar phenomena are found in the Bible seems problematic at first, for a persistent tradition in the Hebrew Bible affirmed that death comes to any human who sees God (Genesis 16:13; Genesis 32:30; Genesis 24:10-11; Genesis 33:20; Deuteronomy 5:24-26; Deuteronomy 18:16; Judges 6:22-23; Judges 13:22; cf Exodus 20:19; Isaiah 6:5). In most of these contexts, however, the narration undermines this sentiment by depicting the pleasant surprise of those who survive. The text presents this perspective as a misperception to which human beings subscribe, for no humans in the Bible ever die simply because they have seen God. On the contrary, throughout the Bible God wants to communicate intimately with humans. The problem of how God can adequately show himself to humankind without harm is a conundrum that is never really resolved in the Bible.[259]

Latter-day Saints can harmonize these passages with those that describe visions of the Father by referring to Moses’ vision of God, as described in the Pearl of Great Price. “And he saw God face to face, and he talked with him, and the glory of God was upon Moses; therefore Moses could endure his presence … [Moses said] For behold, I could not look upon God, except his glory should come upon me, and I were transfigured before him” (Moses 1:2,14). An identical solution is offered by Peter in an early (second or third century) Jewish Christian work called the Clementine Homilies:

For I maintain that the eyes of mortals cannot see the incorporeal form of the Father or Son, because it is illumined by exceeding great light … For he who sees God cannot live. For the excess of light dissolves the flesh of him who sees; unless by the secret power of God the flesh be changed into the nature of light, so that it can see light.[260]

In the same document, another conversation between Peter and Simon Magus is reported:

And Simon said: ‘I should like to know, Peter, if you really believe that the shape of man has been moulded after the shape of God.’ And Peter said: ‘I am really quite certain, Simon, that this is the case … It is the shape of the just God.[260]

The point of these passages is not that no one has or will have a vision of God’s person, but rather that men cannot see God as He is. We must be changed and protected by the grace of God to withstand His presence, and even then we cannot fully comprehend His majesty. However, this will not always be the case. As John further wrote, “Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is” (1 Jn:3).


Response to claim: 227 - The author claims that it is a contradiction that D&C 20:37 states that baptism follows repentance while 3 Nephi 12:22 and Moroni 8:11 states that repentance follows baptism

The author(s) of The Kingdom of the Cults make(s) the following claim:

The author claims that it is a contradiction that D&C 20:37 states that baptism follows repentance while 3 Nephi 12:22 and Moroni 8:11 states that repentance follows baptism.

Author's sources:
  1. DC 20:37

FairMormon Response

  • The work repeats itself: p. 207.

Fact checking results: The author has stated erroneous information or misinterpreted their sources


Question: Do Doctrine and Covenants 20:37 and 2 Nephi 31:17 or 3 Nephi 12:2 contradict one another regarding the order in which one receives baptism and a remission of sins?

These scriptures are not contradictory, for at least three reasons

It is claimed that LDS scriptures such as DC 20:37 (first case) and 2 Nephi 31:17, 3 Nephi 12:2, and Moroni 8:11 (second case) are contradictory about the order in which one receives baptism and a remission of sins and that that "Mormon theologians" have ignored this issue.

As is typical in such charges of self-contradiction, the critics either:

  • misinterpret LDS scripture;
  • compare verses of scripture which are not speaking about identical issues;
  • read Protestant terminology or theology into LDS scripture.

In this case, the critics have committed all three mistakes. As such, it is not surprising if "Mormon theologians" have spent little on the issues. The critics are looking to find fault, and so strain at gnats. LDS thinkers understand LDS doctrine, and so see clearly that there is no contradiction.

These scriptures are not contradictory, for at least three reasons—any one of which is sufficient to disprove the critics' claim. We will first list the scriptural texts, and then discuss each of the three reasons for which they are not properly seen as contradictory.

Scriptures to be considered

The first case

And again, by way of commandment to the church concerning the manner of baptism—All those who humble themselves before God, and desire to be baptized, and come forth with broken hearts and contrite spirits, and witness before the church that they have truly repented of all their sins, and are willing to take upon them the name of Jesus Christ, having a determination to serve him to the end, and truly manifest by their works that they have received of the Spirit of Christ unto the remission of their sins, shall be received by baptism into his church (DC 20:37).

The second case

Wherefore, do the things which I have told you I have seen that your Lord and your Redeemer should do; for, for this cause have they been shown unto me, that ye might know the gate by which ye should enter. For the gate by which ye should enter is repentance and baptism by water; and then cometh a remission of your sins by fire and by the Holy Ghost (2 Nephi 31:17).

...Yea, blessed are they who shall believe in your words, and come down into the depths of humility and be baptized, for they shall be visited with fire and with the Holy Ghost, and shall receive a remission of their sins (3 Nephi 12:2).

And their little children need no repentance, neither baptism. Behold, baptism is unto repentance to the fulfilling the commandments unto the remission of sins (Moroni 8:11).

Reason #1: The scriptures are discussing two slightly different issues

There is a difference between "received of the Spirit of Christ" (which is given to every man—see Moroni 7:16—but may be received or not depending on choices and heed paid to it) and the baptism of "fire and the Holy Ghost" which happens after baptism, as Joseph Smith taught:

There is a difference between the Holy Ghost and the gift of the Holy Ghost. Cornelius received the Holy Ghost before he was baptized, which was the convincing power of God unto him of the truth of the Gospel, but he could not receive the gift of the Holy Ghost until after he was baptized. Had he not taken this sign or ordinance upon him, the Holy Ghost which convinced him of the truth of God, would have left him. [261]

Reason #2: The audience and presumed intent for the audience are slightly different

Note too that those in the first instance have repented and expressed a desire to be baptized, which desire and sincerity can then lead to a remission of their sins, (i.e., the intent is what matters, and a willingness to follow through on that intent).

In the second case, Nephi is encouraging those who may not have accepted the Messiah to do so, and to obey the commandments and example given by the Messiah—including baptism. So, his target audience is those who have perhaps not yet "desire[d] to be baptized." When they have that desire (by hearkening to the Spirit of Christ), they will then repent and hearken to it, and will choose to be baptized. This decision to repent and follow Jesus will ultimately lead to forgiveness, and the baptism of fire and the purging out of sin that comes with the receipt of the Holy Ghost (after baptism).

In short, the audience in the first case is further along in the process than the audience in the second.

Reason #3: The question presupposes that "forgiveness" is a single, unique event, when in fact it is an on-going process

Here, we see that the critics are viewing this question through the lenses of conservative protestantism.

The critics are assuming that the Book of Mormon matches their view of salvation, in which someone is "saved" once and finally by some type of "altar call" or confession. By contrast, LDS theology sees salvation, repentance, forgiveness, and purification and transformation by the Holy Ghost as on-going processes. The experience begins before baptism, leads us to baptism, and is the fulfillment of the promises and covenants of baptism, which must then be persisted in as we "endure to the end."

As the second case scriptures explain, as we learn of Jesus we are humbled and desire to repent. Repentance requires that we appreciate that we have not kept all of God's commandments, and we regret not doing so. We become resolved to keep God's commandments from henceforth, and the first commandment which we can obey is to choose baptism. The baptism is an outward sign of our repentance and determination to keep God's commandments, and this willingness to covenant with Jesus allows us (as the first case notes) to "receive...of the Spirit of Christ," which begins the process of remitting our sins. If we do not persist in our intention to follow Jesus, however, and were to suddenly choose not to be baptized, we would have returned to sin.

When we have been baptized, we receive the gift of the Holy Ghost, which purifies us as if by fire, as sin and evil are burned out of us, and we walk in newness of life, following Jesus. We must then endure to the end, for if we do not, the remission of our sins (which we have only received because we have chosen to enter a covenant with Christ) will be null and void. The subsequent verses of 2 Nephi 31 explain this clearly:

18 And then are ye in this strait and narrow path which leads to eternal life; yea, ye have entered in by the gate; ye have done according to the commandments of the Father and the Son; and ye have received the Holy Ghost, which witnesses of the Father and the Son, unto the fulfilling of the promise which he hath made, that if ye entered in by the way ye should receive.

19 And now, my beloved brethren, after ye have gotten into this strait and narrow path, I would ask if all is done? Behold, I say unto you, Nay; for ye have not come thus far save it were by the word of Christ with unshaken faith in him, relying wholly upon the merits of him who is mighty to save.

20 Wherefore, ye must press forward with a steadfastness in Christ, having a perfect brightness of hope, and a love of God and of all men. Wherefore, if ye shall press forward, feasting upon the word of Christ, and endure to the end, behold, thus saith the Father: Ye shall have eternal life (2 Nephi 31:18-20).


Response to claim: 228 - The book claims that for LDS, God is not "incomprehensible"

The author(s) of The Kingdom of the Cults make(s) the following claim:

The book claims that for LDS, God is not "incomprehensible."

Author's sources:

FairMormon Response

Fact checking results: This claim contains propaganda - 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

Mortal minds cannot comprehend everything about God. However, Latter-day Saints do not regard God's nature or character as incomprehensible—He is, quite simply, Our Father: a personal being who loves us and wishes us to return to him. It is strange that understanding God's intent and relationship to humanity is regarded as a negative thing by the author.


Response to claim: 229 - Brigham Young said that Jesus was not begotten by the Holy Ghost

The author(s) of The Kingdom of the Cults make(s) the following claim:

Brigham Young said that Jesus was not begotten by the Holy Ghost.

Author's sources:
  1. Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses 1:50-51.

FairMormon Response

Fact checking results: The author has stated erroneous information or misinterpreted their sources

LDS doctrine teaches that Christ was the Son of the Father. Little is known, save that the virgin Mary was "carried away in the Spirit for the space of a time" prior to Jesus' birth and conception (1 Nephi 11:19).


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.”[262]

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." [263]

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.) [264]

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. [265]

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. [266]

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. [267]


Response to claim: 229 - "Mormon theology" is claimed to teach that "polytheism is the divine order" and that these gods are "polygamous"

The author(s) of The Kingdom of the Cults make(s) the following claim:

"Mormon theology" is claimed to teach that "polytheism is the divine order" and that these gods are "polygamous."

Author's sources:
  1. Parley P. Pratt, Key to the Science of Theology, 23.

FairMormon Response

Fact checking results: This claim is false

This claim is nonsense. "Mormon theology" teaches no such thing.


Response to claim: 229-230 - Mormons are claimed to teach that Jesus was conceived "by actual sexual relations" with Mary

The author(s) of The Kingdom of the Cults make(s) the following claim:

Mormons are claimed to teach that Jesus was conceived "by actual sexual relations" with Mary.

Author's sources:
  1. James Talmage, The Articles of Faith, 473.

FairMormon Response

  • This claim is also made in Becoming Gods, p. 183
  • This claim is also made in One Nation Under Gods:

Fact checking results: The author has stated erroneous information or misinterpreted their sources


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.”[268]

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." [269]

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.) [270]

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. [271]

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. [272]

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. [273]


Response to claim: 231 - Brigham Young is claimed to have denied the virgin birth

The author(s) of The Kingdom of the Cults make(s) the following claim:

Brigham Young is claimed to have denied the virgin birth. The author refers to Adam-God as "Brigham Young's doctrine of the virgin Birth."

Author's sources:
  1. Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses 1:50-51.

FairMormon Response

Fact checking results: This claim is false

In this very passage, Brigham: "When the Virgin Mary conceived the child Jesus, the Father had begotten him in his own likeness. He was not begotten by the Holy Ghost." Brigham even mentions "the Virgin Mary"—how does this deny the virgin birth?


Response to claim: 232 - It is claimed that "no General Authority has ever contradicted" Brigham Young's teachings on Adam-God

The author(s) of The Kingdom of the Cults make(s) the following claim:

It is claimed that "no General Authority has ever contradicted" Brigham Young's teachings on Adam-God.

Author's sources:

FairMormon Response

Fact checking results: This claim is false

Brigham was unable to convince all of the apostles of his day that Adam-God was proper doctrine. Charles W. Penrose said in 1902:

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has never formulated or adopted any theory concerning the subject treated upon by President Young as to Adam.[274]:789

In October 1976 general conference, President Spencer W. Kimball declared the Church's official position on Adam-God:

We warn you against the dissemination of doctrines which are not according to the Scriptures and which are alleged to have been taught by some of the General Authorities of past generations. Such, for instance, is the Adam-God theory. We denounce that theory and hope that everyone will be cautioned against this and other kinds of false doctrine.[275]


Response to claim: 233 - "Apparently Brigham was ignorant of the biblical pronouncement that 'without the shedding of blood there is no remission" of sin

The author(s) of The Kingdom of the Cults make(s) the following claim:

Brigham said that "keeping the commandments of God will cleanse away the stain of sin." According to the author, "Apparently Brigham was ignorant of the biblical pronouncement that 'without the shedding of blood there is no remission [of sin]"

Author's sources:
  1. Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses 2:4.

FairMormon Response

Fact checking results: This claim contains propaganda - 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 author is implying that Brigham Young did not understand the need for Christ's atonement.
  • Brigham is merely asserting that if one does not strive to keep the commandments after repenting of sin, one has not truly repented, and treats the atonement of Christ lightly. In this case, the "commandment" to be kept is the command to be baptized, the whole point of which is to access the atonement:
Has water [of baptism], in itself, any virtue to wash away sin? Certainly not; but the Lord says, "If the sinner will repent of his sins, and go down into the waters of baptism, and there be buried in the likeness of being put into the earth and buried, and again be delivered from the water, in the likeness of being born—if in the sincerity of his heart he will do this, his sins shall be washed away. Will the water of itself wash them away? No; but keeping the commandments of God will cleanse away the stain of sin.


Response to claim: 234 - Mormons believe that Adam and Eve "were foreordained to sin" and that the Fall of Adam was necessary

The author(s) of The Kingdom of the Cults make(s) the following claim:

Mormons believe that Adam and Eve "were foreordained to sin" and that the Fall of Adam was necessary.

Author's sources:
  1. 2 Nephi 2:25

FairMormon Response

Fact checking results: The author has stated erroneous information or misinterpreted their sources

The LDS believe that God foresaw the likelihood of sin, but the choice remained a free agent act of Adam and Eve's. It is ironic that the critics (who often believe in some from of Calvinist predestination) complain about Adam and Eve being "foreordained to sin." In much of creedal Christianity, God creates humanity out of nothing (ex nihilo) and thus creates in them the nature to sin. The only alternative to seeing the Fall of Adam as necessary to God's plan is to see the Fall as a disaster from which God had to recover and go to "plan B."


Response to claim: 235 - The author states that Joseph Smith said that the Garden of Eden was located in Missouri rather than Mesopotamia

The author(s) of The Kingdom of the Cults make(s) the following claim:

The author states that Joseph Smith said that the Garden of Eden was located in Missouri rather than Mesopotamia.

Author's sources:

FairMormon Response

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

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."[276]

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: 235 - The Book of Moses is claimed to state that Cain was the "progenitor of the Negro race" and that his "black skin" was the result of a curse by God

The author(s) of The Kingdom of the Cults make(s) the following claim:

The Book of Moses is claimed to state that Cain was the "progenitor of the Negro race" and that his "black skin" was the result of a curse by God.

Author's sources:

FairMormon Response

Fact checking results: The author has stated erroneous information or misinterpreted their sources

Under the influence of cultural ideas adopted from Protestantism, some Latter-day Saints read the Book of Moses in this way. There is, however, nothing in the Book of Moses that describes Cain as the "progenitor of the Negro race," nor is there anything which calls his curse "black skin." Like the Bible, the Book of Moses says only that "the Lord set a mark upon Cain, lest any finding him should kill him" (Moses 5:40). This reading of the Cain story drew on common Protestant ideas of the time. Yet, the author wishes to blame members of the Church more than his own religious tradition.


Response to claim: 235 - Mormons are claimed to believe that blacks were "less than valiant" in the "war in heaven"

The author(s) of The Kingdom of the Cults make(s) the following claim:

Mormons are claimed to believe that blacks were "less than valiant" in the "war in heaven."

Author's sources:

FairMormon Response

Fact checking results: The author has stated erroneous information or misinterpreted their sources

This idea has been repudiated by Church leaders.

Question: Did the Church repudiate the idea of neutrality in the "war in heaven?"

President Kimball was reported as repudiating this idea following the 1978 revelation

Some members and leaders explained the ban as congruent with the justice of God by suggesting that those who were denied the priesthood had done something in the pre-mortal life to deny themselves the priesthood. President Kimball was reported as repudiating this idea following the 1978 revelation:

President Kimball "flatly [stated] that Mormonism no longer holds to...a theory" that Blacks had been denied the priesthood "because they somehow failed God during their pre-existence." [277]

The modern Church rejects this theory

Today, the Church disavows the theories advanced in the past that black skin is a sign of divine disfavor or curse, or that it reflects actions in a premortal life; that mixed-race marriages are a sin; or that blacks or people of any other race or ethnicity are inferior in any way to anyone else. Church leaders today unequivocally condemn all racism, past and present, in any form. [278]

Modern Church leaders teach that everyone who came to earth in this day was "valiant" in the premortal existence

Elder M. Russell Ballard, talking of today's youth, said in 2005:

Remind them that they are here at this particular time in the history of the world, with the fulness of the gospel at their fingertips, because they made valiant choices in the premortal existence. [279]


Response to claim: 235 - The Indians "have allegedly been cursed by the Mormon deity with dark skins"

The author(s) of The Kingdom of the Cults make(s) the following claim:

The Indians "have allegedly been cursed by the Mormon deity with dark skins."

Author's sources:

FairMormon Response

Fact checking results: This claim contains propaganda - 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


Question: What was the Lamanite curse?

The Book of Mormon talks of a curse being placed upon the Lamanites

And he had caused the cursing to come upon them, yea, even a sore cursing, because of their iniquity. For behold, they had hardened their hearts against him, that they had become like unto a flint; wherefore, as they were white, and exceedingly fair and delightsome, that they might not be enticing unto my people the Lord God did cause a skin of blackness to come upon them. 2 Nephi 5:21

It is claimed by some that the Church believed that Lamanites who accepted the Gospel would become light-skinned, and that "Mormon folklore" claims that Native Americans and Polynesians carry a curse based upon "misdeeds on the part of their ancestors."

One critic asks, "According to the Book of Mormon a dark skin is a curse imposed by God on the unrighteous and their descendants as a punishment for sin. Do you agree with that doctrine? (Book of Mormon, 1 Nephi 12:22-23, Alma 3:6, 2 Nephi 5:21-22, Jacob 3:8, 3 Nephi 2:15-16, Mormon 5:15; references to the "Lamanites" are taken to be referring to Native American "Indians".)" [280]

Although the curse of the Lamanites is often associated directly with their skin color, it may be that this was intended in a far more symbolic sense than modern American members traditionally assumed

The curse itself came upon them as a result of their rejection of the Gospel. It was possible to be subject to the curse, and to be given a mark, without it being associated with a change in skin color, as demonstrated in the case of the Amlicites. The curse is apparently a separation from the Lord. A close reading of the Book of Mormon text makes it untenable to consider that literal skin color was ever the "curse." At most, the skin color was seen as a mark, and it may well have been that these labels were far more symbolic and cultural than they were literal.


Response to claim: 235 - "Mormonism, then, is clearly a religion with a shameful history of white supremacist doctrines and practices"

The author(s) of The Kingdom of the Cults make(s) the following claim:

 Author's quote: Mormonism, then, is clearly a religion with a shameful history of white supremacist doctrines and practices.

Author's sources:

FairMormon Response

The work repeats itself: p. 193.

Fact checking results: This claim contains propaganda - 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

It is amazing that the author completely ignores the fact that the "Curse of Cain" or "Curse of Ham" believe was a Protestant invention that was used to justify slavery, and that Protestant congregations were segregated.


Gospel Topics: "Today, the Church disavows the theories advanced in the past that black skin is a sign of divine disfavor or curse, or that it reflects actions in a premortal life; that mixed-race marriages are a sin; or that blacks or people of any other race or ethnicity are inferior in any way to anyone else"

"Race and the Priesthood," Gospel Topics on LDS.org:

Today, the Church disavows the theories advanced in the past that black skin is a sign of divine disfavor or curse, or that it reflects actions in a premortal life; that mixed-race marriages are a sin; or that blacks or people of any other race or ethnicity are inferior in any way to anyone else. Church leaders today unequivocally condemn all racism, past and present, in any form.

Since that day in 1978, the Church has looked to the future, as membership among Africans, African Americans and others of African descent has continued to grow rapidly. While Church records for individual members do not indicate an individual’s race or ethnicity, the number of Church members of African descent is now in the hundreds of thousands.

The Church proclaims that redemption through Jesus Christ is available to the entire human family on the conditions God has prescribed. It affirms that God is “no respecter of persons”24 and emphatically declares that anyone who is righteous—regardless of race—is favored of Him. The teachings of the Church in relation to God’s children are epitomized by a verse in the second book of Nephi: “[The Lord] denieth none that cometh unto him, black and white, bond and free, male and female; . . . all are alike unto God, both Jew and Gentile.[281]—(Click here to continue)


Response to claim: 236 - According to Latter-day Saints, Jesus Christ was "the spirit brother of the devil"

The author(s) of The Kingdom of the Cults make(s) the following claim:

According to Latter-day Saints, Jesus Christ was "the spirit brother of the devil."

Author's sources:
  1. Moses 4:1-4

FairMormon Response

Fact checking results: This claim contains propaganda - 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


Question: Do Latter-day Saints consider Jesus to be the brother of Satan?

We believe Jesus is the divine Son of God and that Satan is a fallen angel, but that God is the Father of all

Some Christians claim that since Latter-day Saints consider Jesus and Satan to be "brothers" in the sense that they have the same Father, that this lowers the stature of Christ, or elevates that of Satan. Some go so far as to imply that the LDS "really" worship or revere Satan, and are thus not true "Christians."

Jesus, Satan, and all humanity share God the Father as their spiritual sire. However, moral agency led Jesus to obey God the Father perfectly and share fully in the Father's divine nature and power. The same agency led Satan to renounce God, fight Jesus, and doom himself to eternal damnation. The remainder of God's children—all of us—have the choice to follow the route chosen by Satan, or the path to which Christ invites us and shows the way.

Divine parenthood gives all children of God potential; Christ maximized that potential, and Satan squandered it.

To choose the gospel of Jesus Christ and the grace that attends it will lead us home again. If we choose to follow Satan's example, and refuse to accept the gift of God's Only Begotten Son, our spiritual parentage cannot help us, just as it cannot help dignify or ennoble Satan.

In December 2007 the Church issued the following press release on this issue:

Like other Christians, we believe Jesus is the divine Son of God. Satan is a fallen angel.
As the Apostle Paul wrote, God is the Father of all. That means that all beings were created by God and are His spirit children. Christ, however, was the only begotten in the flesh, and we worship Him as the Son of God and the Savior of mankind. [282]

Latter-day Saints do not believe the extra-biblical doctrines which surround many Christians' ideas about God, such as expressed by the Nicene Creed

LDS doctrine does not subscribe to traditional creedal trinitarianism. That is, the LDS do not believe the extra-biblical doctrines which surround many Christians' ideas about God, such as expressed by the Nicene Creed. Specifically, the LDS do not accept the proposition that Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit are "of one substance (homoousios) with the Father," as the Nicene Creed declares.

Rather, LDS doctrine teaches that God the Father is physically and personally distinct from Jesus Christ, His Only Begotten Son. The Father is understood to be the literal father of His spirit children.

LDS believe that Jesus Christ's role is central to our Heavenly Father's plan. Christ is unique in several respects from all other spirit children of God:

It is technically true to say that Jesus and Satan are "brothers," in the sense that both have the same spiritual parent, God the Father

God the Father also had many other spirit children, created in His image and that of His Only Begotten. These children include all humans born on the earth. Some of God's children rebelled against Him, and contested the choice of Jesus as Savior. (See D&C 76:25–27). The leader of these children was Lucifer, or Satan. Those spirit children of God who followed Satan in his rebellion against Christ are sometimes referred to as "demons," or "devils." (See Moses 4:1–4, Abraham 3:24–28).

Thus, it is technically true to say that Jesus and Satan are "brothers," in the sense that both have the same spiritual parent, God the Father.

Cain and Abel were also brothers, and yet no Bible reader believes that they are spiritual equals or equally admirable

However, critics do not provide the context for the idea that Christ and Lucifer were brothers. Cain and Abel were also brothers, and yet no Bible reader believes that they are spiritual equals or equally admirable. In a similar way, Latter-day Saints do not believe that Jesus and Satan are equals. The scriptures clearly teach the superiority of Jesus over the devil and that Michael (or Adam) and Lucifer (Satan) and their followers fought against each other (See Revelation 12:7-8) to uphold the plan of the Father and the Son.

Finally, while it is true that all mortals share a spiritual parent with Jesus (and Satan, and every other spiritual child of God), we now have a different, more important relationship with Jesus. All of God's children, save Jesus, have sinned and come short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23). In sinning, they abandon and betray their divine heritage and inheritance. Only through Jesus can any mortal return home to God the Father. This return becomes possible when a sinner is born again, and adopted by Christ, who becomes the spiritual father to those whom He redeems. (See Romans 8:14–39.)

Critics also ignore the Biblical references that imply that Satan is one of the "sons of God." (See Job:16, Job 2:1)

Cautionary Note to Members

An Anti-Mormon poster at the 2004 Mesa Easter Pageant betrays its poor understanding of what "Mormonism" actually teaches.

Elder M. Russell Ballard cautioned members of the Church:

We occasionally hear some members refer to Jesus as our Elder Brother, which is a true concept based on our understanding of the premortal life with our Father in Heaven. But like many points of gospel doctrine, that simple truth doesn't go far enough in terms of describing the Savior's role in our present lives and His great position as a member of the Godhead. Thus, some non-LDS Christians are uncomfortable with what they perceive as a secondary role for Christ in our theology. They feel that we view Jesus as a spiritual peer. They believe that we view Christ as an implementor for God, if you will, but that we don't view Him as God to us and to all mankind, which, of course, is counter to biblical testimony about Christ's divinity…
Now we can understand why some Latter-day Saints have tended to focus on Christ's Sonship as opposed to His Godhood. As members of earthly families, we can relate to Him as a child, as a Son, and as a Brother because we know how that feels. We can personalize that relationship because we ourselves are children, sons and daughters, brothers and sisters. For some it may be more difficult to relate to Him as a God. And so in an attempt to draw closer to Christ and to cultivate warm and personal feelings toward Him, some tend to humanize Him, sometimes at the expense of acknowledging His Divinity. So let us be very clear on this point: it is true that Jesus was our Elder Brother in the premortal life, but we believe that in this life it is crucial that we become "born again" as His sons and daughters in the gospel covenant. [283]

Early Christian Evidence

An anti-Mormon protester at October 2002 LDS General Conference does little to help others understand LDS doctrine properly.

The early Ante-Nicene Church father Lactantius wrote:

Since God was possessed of the greatest foresight for planning, and of the greatest skill for carrying out in action, before He commenced this business of the world,--inasmuch as there was in Him, and always is, the fountain of full and most complete goodness,--in order that goodness might spring as a stream from Him, and might flow forth afar, He produced a Spirit like to Himself, who might be endowed with the perfections of God the Father... Then He made another being, in whom the disposition of the divine origin did not remain. Therefore he was infected with his own envy as with poison, and passed from good to evil; and at his own will, which had been given to him by God unfettered, he acquired for himself a contrary name. From which it appears that the source of all evils is envy. For he envied his predecessor, who through his steadfastness is acceptable and dear to God the Father. This being, who from good became evil by his own act, is called by the Greeks diabolus: we call him accuser, because he reports to God the faults to which he himself entices us. God, therefore, when He began the fabric of the world, set over the whole work that first and greatest Son, and used Him at the same time as a counselor and artificer, in planning, arranging, and accomplishing, since He is complete both in knowledge, and judgment, and power... [284]

Many things he here taught are not considered "orthodox" by today's standards. However, Lactantius was definitely orthodox during his lifetime. Amazingly, many things here correspond to LDS doctrine precisely in those areas that are "unorthodox." For example,

1. "He produced a Spirit like to Himself," namely Christ. Christ, in this sense, is not the "co-equal," "eternally begotten," "same substance" "persona" of the later creeds.
2. "Then he made another being, in whom the disposition of the divine origin did not remain." God made another spirit who rebelled and who fell from his exalted status. He is the diabolus.
3. Christ is the "first and greatest Son." Not the "only" son.
4. Lastly, since the diabolus and Christ are both spirit sons of God, they are spirit brothers.


Response to claim: 236 - Mormons are claimed to believe that Jesus Christ was married to Mary, Martha and "the other Mary" at Cana

The author(s) of The Kingdom of the Cults make(s) the following claim:

Mormons are claimed to believe that Jesus Christ was married to Mary, Martha and "the other Mary" at Cana.

Author's sources:
  1. Orson Hyde, Journal of Discourses 4:259.

FairMormon Response

Fact checking results: The author has stated erroneous information or misinterpreted their sources

Some 19th-century LDS held this view, but it was not a doctrine of the Church.


Question: Do Mormons believe Jesus Christ was a polygamist?

There is no official doctrine regarding Jesus' marital state

The Bible is silent on the issue of Jesus' (or the Father's) marital state, and there has been no modern revelation stating he was or was not married. This leaves the issue an open question. Jesus' purported polygamy plays little if any role in present-day LDS discourse.

Therefore, the easy answer is that no, Latter-day Saint doctrine does not teach that Jesus was married, polygamist or otherwise. In fact, there is no official Church doctrine on this issue. Members are free to believe as they wish concerning this matter.


Charles Penrose (1912): "We do not know anything about Jesus Christ being married"

Charles W. Penrose:

Question 2: Do you believe that Jesus was married?
Answer: We do not know anything about Jesus Christ being married. The Church has no authoritative declaration on the subject. [285]


Question: Did early Mormon leaders believe that Jesus Christ was a polygamist?

A few Church leaders believed this, but the idea was never official Church doctrine

Since members in the nineteenth century were commanded to practice polygamy, many presumed that Jesus would have had to also practice this law.

Jedediah M. Grant

Jedediah M. Grant said:

This ancient philosopher says they were both John's wives. Paul says, "Mine answer to them that do examine me is this:—.Have we not power to lead about a sister, a wife, as well as other apostles, and as the brethren of the Lord, and Cephas." He, according to Celsus, had a numerous train of wives.

The grand reason of the burst of public sentiment in anathemas upon Christ and his disciples, causing his crucifixion, was evidently based upon polygamy, according to the testimony of the philosophers who rose in that age. A belief in the doctrine of a plurality of wives caused the persecution of Jesus and his followers. We might almost think they were "Mormons."

But if you pass on in their history to seek for uniformity and beauty, you will find some grand flare-ups among them. Look, for instance, at Paul and Peter, disputing and quarrelling with each other....[286]

Grant believed that early writers, hostile to the Christians, charged members and even Jesus, with polygamy (a charge which would have offended sophisticated Roman opinion in the day). Grant sees the obvious parallels with how the Saints have been treated over the same issue, but Jesus' marital state is not his main point, but conflict and persecution. (It is not clear, however, to which source Grant is referring—FAIR has been unable to locate any such reference to Celsus.)

Orson Hyde

Likewise, Orson Hyde remarked:

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

All that I have to say in reply to that charge is this—they worship a Savior that is too pure and holy to fulfil the commands of his Father. I worship one that is just pure and holy enough "to fulfil all righteousness;" not only the righteous law of baptism, but the still more righteous and important law "to multiply and replenish the earth." Startle not at this! for even the Father himself honored that law by coming down to Mary, without a natural body, and begetting a son; and if Jesus begat children, he only "did that which he had seen his Father do."[287]

Hyde is again not focused on Jesus' matrimonial state, and notes that being married and begetting children—polygamously or otherwise—is no evil, but is in accordance with God's commandments from time to time.


Response to claim: 236 - Brigham Young taught that the shedding of Christ's blood was not sufficient to cleanse all sins

The author(s) of The Kingdom of the Cults make(s) the following claim:

Brigham Young taught that the shedding of Christ's blood was not sufficient to cleanse all sins.

Author's sources:
  1. Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses 3:247.

FairMormon Response

Fact checking results: The author has stated erroneous information or misinterpreted their sources

Jesus himself taught that there was sin which was unforgiveable.


Question: What is "blood atonement"?

If a person thereafter commits a grievous sin such as the shedding of innocent blood, only by voluntarily submitting to whatever penalty the Lord may require can that person benefit from the Atonement of Christ

From the Encyclopedia of Mormonism:

The doctrines of the Church affirm that the Atonement wrought by the shedding of the blood of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, is efficacious for the sins of all who believe, repent, are baptized by one having authority, and receive the Holy Ghost by the laying on of hands. However, if a person thereafter commits a grievous sin such as the shedding of innocent blood, the Savior's sacrifice alone will not absolve the person of the consequences of the sin. Only by voluntarily submitting to whatever penalty the Lord may require can that person benefit from the Atonement of Christ.

Several early Church leaders, most notably Brigham Young, taught that in a complete theocracy the Lord could require the voluntary shedding of a murderer's blood-presumably by capital punishment-as part of the process of Atonement for such grievous sin. This was referred to as "blood Atonement." Since such a theocracy has not been operative in modern times, the practical effect of the idea was its use as a rhetorical device to heighten the awareness of Latter-day Saints of the seriousness of murder and other major sins. This view is not a doctrine of the Church and has never been practiced by the Church at any time.

Early anti-Mormon writers charged that under Brigham Young the Church practiced "blood Atonement," by which they meant Church-instigated violence directed at dissenters, enemies, and strangers. This claim distorted the whole idea of blood atonement-which was based on voluntary submission by an offender-into a supposed justification of involuntary punishment. Occasional isolated acts of violence that occurred in areas where Latter-day Saints lived were typical of that period in the history of the American West, but they were not instances of Church-sanctioned blood Atonement.[288]

Reports of "blood atonement" having occurred were exaggerated and sensationalized

As one historian noted,

That the doctrine [of blood atonement] was preached by high officials is a matter of record; the intent of the sermons became a matter of conjecture; and the results therefrom set vivid imaginations working overtime. Blood fairly flowed through the writing of such men as Beadle in Life in Utah or the Mysteries of Mormonism and Polygamy, in Linn's The Story of Mormonism, and even Stenhouse's anonymous chapter on Reformation and Blood Atonement in his Rocky Mountain Saints. Numerous killings, including the Mountain Meadows massacre, were credited as the fruits of the doctrine....

Omitted from quotations used by the anti-Mormons were restraining clauses such as follow from Brigham Young:

. . . The time has been in Israel under the law of God that if a man was found guilty of adultery, he must have his blood shed, and that is near at hand. But now I say, in the name of the Lord, that if this people will sin no more, but faithfully live their religion, their sins will be forgiven them without taking life.

The wickedness and ignorance of the nations forbid this principle's being in full force, but the time will come when the law of God will be in full force.

The doctrine of blood atonement which involved concern for the salvation of those to be subjected to it, could have little meaning in the [p.62] Mountain Meadows massacre, or any other of the murders laid unproved on the Mormon threshold (emphasis added).[289]

There is evidence that some crimes were considered worthy of death, even in the apostolic age among Christians

Despite the critics' claims, there is evidence that some crimes were considered worthy of death, even in the apostolic age among Christians:

Whosoever hateth his brother is a murderer: and ye know that no murderer hath eternal life abiding in him....[Chapter 5] If any man see his brother sin a sin which is not unto death, he shall ask, and he shall give him life for them that sin not unto death. There is a sin unto death: I do not say that he shall pray for it. All unrighteousness is sin: and there is a sin not unto death. We know that whosoever is born of God sinneth not; but he that is begotten of God keepeth himself, and that wicked one toucheth him not" (1 John 3:15; 1 John 5:16-18) (italics added).


Charles Penrose (1912): "Do you believe in "blood-atonement"?

Charles W. Penrose, Improvement Era (September 1912):

Question 9: Do you believe in "blood-atonement," or in other words, do you accept and believe in the principles taught in Brigham Young's sermon of 8th of February, 1857, Journal of Discourses, volume 4, pages 219, 220?

Answer: We believe in "blood atonement" by the sacrifice of the Savior, also that which is declared in Genesis 9:6. A capital sin committed by a man who has entered into the everlasting covenant merits capital punishment, which is the only atonement he can offer. But the penalty must be executed by an officer legally appointed under the law of the land.[290]


Question: Did early Mormon leaders teach that apostasy was the unforgivable sin, and that the only thing an apostate could do to redeem himself was to give his own life, willingly or unwillingly?

Accusations are unsupported which seek to establish these as activities promoted, condoned, or concealed by the Church or its leaders

While one is no doubt able to dig up examples of blood being shed by those of the LDS faith, accusations are unsupported which seek to establish these as activities promoted, condoned, or concealed by the LDS church or its leaders generally.[291]

As Gustave O.Larson noted in the Utah Historical Quarterly:

Denials of murder charges which rode in on the backwash of the Reformation gradually resolved into defensible positions that (1) some known killings of the reform period resulted from motives not related to blood atonement, (2) that in spite of extreme statements by some of its leaders the church did not officially condone taking life other than through legal processes, (3) responsibility for any reversions to primitive practices of blood shedding must rest upon fanatical individuals. The whole experience continued in memory as a reminder of ill effects growing out of good causes carried to extremes.[292]

The Deseret News reported the following on June 17, 2010, reporting the Church's recent statement on the subject of Blood Atonement:

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints released this statement Wednesday:

In the mid-19th century, when rhetorical, emotional oratory was common, some church members and leaders used strong language that included notions of people making restitution for their sins by giving up their own lives.

However, so-called "blood atonement," by which individuals would be required to shed their own blood to pay for their sins, is not a doctrine of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. We believe in and teach the infinite and all-encompassing atonement of Jesus Christ, which makes forgiveness of sin and salvation possible for all people.[293]


Response to claim: 243 - The author claims that Latter-day Saints believe in "infallible prophets"

The author(s) of The Kingdom of the Cults make(s) the following claim:

The author claims that Latter-day Saints believe in "infallible prophets."

Author's sources:
  1. No source provided.

FairMormon Response

  • This error is repeated again on p. 191.

Fact checking results: This claim is false

This claim is absurd.


Question: Do Mormons consider their prophets to be infallible?

Latter-day Saints do not believe that prophets and apostles are incapable of error, despite being called of God and receiving revelation

Some people hold inerrantist beliefs about scriptures or prophets, and assume that the LDS have similar views. This leads some to assume that prophets are infallible. [294]

Joseph Smith himself taught that ‘a prophet was a prophet only when he was acting as such’.[295] The Church has always taught that its leaders are human and subject to failings as are all mortals. Only Jesus was perfect, as explained in this statement from the First Presidency:

The position is not assumed that the men of the New Dispensation —its prophets, apostles, presidencies, and other leaders—are without faults or infallible, rather they are treated as men of like passions with their fellow men."[296]

Lu Dalton, writing in the Church's periodical for women, explained:

We consider God, and him alone, infallible; therefore his revealed word to us cannot be doubted, though we may be in doubt some times about the knowledge which we obtain from human sources, and occasionally be obliged to admit that something which we had considered to be a fact, was really only a theory.[297]

Other authors have long taught the same thing:

1887 B. H. Roberts, Letter written November 4, 1887, London, Millennial Star 49. 48 (November 28, 1887): 760-763; a portion of which reads: “Relative to these sermons [Journal of Discourses] I must tell you they represent the individual views of the speakers, and the Church is not responsible for their teachings. Our authorized Church works are the Bible, Book of Mormon, Doctrine and Covenants, and the Pearl of Great Price. In the Church very wide latitude is given to individual belief and opinion, each man being responsible for his views and not the Church; the Church is only responsible for that which she sanctions and approves through the formal actions of her councils. So it may be that errors will be found in the sermons of men, and that in their over zeal unwise expressions will escape them, for all of which the Church is not responsible” (762)

1889 Charles W. Penrose, Editorial: Judge Anderson and ‘Blood Atonement,’ Deseret Weekly 39. 25 (December 14, 1889): 772a-773c. [Editor is Charles W. Penrose; in his response to the lengthy statement by Judge Anderson, he quotes from the same pamphlet which the Judge had quoted from: Blood Atonement, by Elder Charles W. Penrose, published in 1884; Penrose quotes a statement which the Judge had not] “’The law of God is paramount. When men give their views upon any doctrine, the value of those views is as the value of the man. If he is a wise man, a man of understanding, of experience and authority, such views are of great weight with the community; but they are not paramount, nor equal to the revealed law of God’” (773ab)

1892 21 March 1892: Elder Charles W. Penrose, at the time a counselor in the Salt Lake Stake Presidency: "At the head of this Church stands a man who is a Prophet . . . we respect and venerate him; but we do not believe that his personal views or utterances are revelations from God." Millennial Star 54 (21 March 1892): 191

1902 Joseph F. Smith to Lillian Golsan, July 16, 1902. "[T]he theories, speculations, and opinions of men, however intelligent, ingenious, and plausible, are not necessarily doctrines of the Church or principles that God has commanded His servants to preach. No doctrine is a doctrine of this Church until it has been accepted as such by the Church, and not even a revelation from God should be taught to his people until it has first been approved by the presiding authority–the one through whom the Lord makes known His will for the guidance of the saints as a religious body. The spirit of revelation may rest upon any one, and teach him or her many things for personal comfort and instruction. But these are not doctrines of the Church, and, however true, they must not be inculcated until proper permission is given.” - Joseph F. Smith Correspondence, Personal Letterbooks, 93–94, Film Reel 9, Ms. F271; cited in Dennis B. Horne (ed.), Determining Doctrine: A Reference Guide for Evaluation Doctrinal Truth (Roy, Utah: Eborn Books, 2005), 221–222. Also in Statements of the LDS First Presidency, compiled by Gary James Bergera (Signature, 2007), page 121. Bergera indicates it is a letter from JFS to Lillian Golsan, July 16, 1902.

1907 March 26, 1907. [The following was first published in “An Address. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to the World”, in Millennial Star 69. 16 (April 18, 1907): 241-247; 249-254; also in Improvement Era 10 (May 1907): 481-495; reprinted also in Messages of the First Presidency, Volume IV, compiled by James R. Clark (Bookcraft, SLC 1970): 142-157; “We refuse to be bound by the interpretations which others place upon our beliefs, or by what they allege must be the practical consequences of our doctrines. Men have no right to impute to us what they think may be the logical deduction from our beliefs, but which we ourselves do not accept. We are to be judged by our own interpretations and by our own actions, not by the logic of others, as to what is, or may be, the result of our faith”, page 154.

1921 B.H. Roberts: As to the printed discourses of even leading brethren…they do not constitute the court of ultimate appeal on doctrine. They may be very useful in the way of elucidation and are very generally good and sound in doctrine, but they are not the ultimate sources of the doctrines of the Church, and are not binding upon the Church. The rule in that respect is—What God has spoken, and what has been accepted by the Church as the word of God, by that, and that only, are we bound in doctrine. When in the revelations it is said concerning the Prophet, Seer, and Revelator that the Church shall “give heed unto all his words and commandments which he shall give unto you as he receiveth them—for his word ye shall receive as if from mine own mouth, in all patience and faith”—(Doc & Cov., Sec. 21)—it is understood, of course, that his has reference to the word of God received through revelation, and officially announced to the Church, and not to every chance word spoken.[298]

The prophets are not perfect, but they are called of God. They may speak as men, but may speak scripture as well. Every person may know for themselves whether they speak the truth through the same power that their revelation is given: the power of the Holy Ghost.


Notes

  1. Spencer W. Kimball, Teachings of Spencer W. Kimball, edited by Edward L. Kimball, (Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1982), 202.
  2. Bruce R. McConkie, "Word of Wisdom," in Mormon Doctrine, 2nd edition, (Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1966), 845–846. GL direct link
  3. Thomas G. Alexander, "The Word of Wisdom: From Principle to Requirement," Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought 14 no. 3 (Autumn 1981), 84–85.
  4. Thomas J. Boud, MD, "The Energy Drink Epidemic," Ensign (December 2008), 48–52.
  5. Lester E. Bush, Jr., ed., "Mormon Medical Ethical Guidelines," Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought 12 no. 3 (Fall 1979), 103.
  6. Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Handbook 2: Administering the Church—2010 (Intellectual Reserve, 2010). Selected Church Policies and Guidelines 21.3.11
  7. First Presidency letter, 19 Mar. 1970; quoted in the General Handbook of Instructions (1989): 9-1 by Dallin H. Oaks, Conference Report (Apr. 1994), 46. See also Dallin H. Oaks, "Tithing," Ensign (May 1994), 35.
  8. First Presidency letter, 19 March 1970. This letter has been quoted in numerous talks by general authorities and Church lesson manuals. A convenient examples is Robert D. Hales, "The Divine Law of Tithing," Ensign (December 1986), 14. off-site
  9. Handbook 1:Stake Presidents and Bishops (2010), 14.4.1. In accordance with Church policy, FairMormon will not reproduce the contents of the first volume of the handbook here. Members who wish to consult this volume can do so, however, by asking to see their bishop or branch president's copy.
  10. K.D. Kochanek, S.L. Murphy, R.N. Anderson, C. Scott "Deaths: Final data for 2002. National Vital Statistics Reports," 53/5 (2004), Hyattsville, MD: National Center for Health Statistics. DHHS Publication No. (PHS) 2005-1120. (p. 92, Table 29) [data are by place of residence]. PDF link
  11. Matt Wray, "Suicide Trends and Prevention in Nevada," Dept of Sociology, University of Nevada, Las Vegas from Justice & Democracy Forum, 5 November 2004. (Accessed 30 August 2007). off-site
  12. Some suggested reasons have included: lower population density, greater proportion of males, larger Hispanic and American-Indian populations, heavier alcohol consumption: See Richard H. Seiden, "Death in the West — A Regional Analysis of the Youthful Suicide Rate," West J Med 140/6 (June 1984): 969–973. off-site Risk is also thought to increase with weak social institutions, low social capital, areas of rapid population growth, gun ownership and a "frontier culture" of individualism and self-reliance: see Wray, cited above.
  13. John L. McIntosh, "Rate, Number, and Ranking of Suicide for Each U.S.A. State*, 2004," American Association of Suicidology (accessed 30 August 2007). PDF link
  14. See, for example, "Suicide Prevention: Scientific Information: Risk and Protective Factors," National Institute of Mental Health off-site; AM Schapman, HM Inderbitzen-Nolan, "The role of religious behaviour in adolescent depressive and anxious symptomatology," J Adolesc 25 (2002): 631-643; S Cotton, E Larkin, A. Hoopes, et al, "The impact of adolescent spirituality on depressive symptoms and health risk behaviors," J Adolesc Health 36 (2005): 529e7–529.e14; DB Larson & HG Koenig, "Is God good for your health? The role of spirituality in medical care," Cleve Clin J Med 67/2 (2000): 83–84; DBSJ Larson & ME McCullough, Scientifc research on spirituality and health: a consensus report (Rockville, MD: National Institute of Healthcare Research, 1997).
  15. LC Jensen, J Jensen, T Wiederhold, "Religiosity, denomination, and mental health among young men and women," Psychological Reports 72 (3 Pt 2) on (1 June 1993) 1157–1158.
  16. "In More Religious Countries, Lower Suicide Rates." Gallup survey analysis, 3 July 2008. off-site
  17. DC Spendlove, DW West, WM Stanish, "Risk factors and the prevalence of depression in Mormon women," Soc Sci Med 18/6 (1984):491–495.
  18. SC Hilton, GW Fellingham, JL Lyon, "Suicide rates and religious commitment in young adult males in Utah," American Journal of Epidemiology 155/5 (1 March 2002): 413–419.
  19. 19.0 19.1 Gilbert W. Fellingham, Kyle McBride, H. Dennis Tolley, and Joseph L. Lyon, "Statistics on Suicide and LDS Church Involvement in Males Age 15-34," Brigham Young University Studies 39 no. 2 (2000), 177.
  20. Largest Religious Groups in the United States: Religious Bodies which have the Most Congregations of any Denomination in One or More States, 1990," adherents.com (Accessed 30 August 2007). off-site
  21. John L. McIntosh, "Rate, Number, and Ranking of Suicide for Each U.S.A. State*, 2004," American Association of Suicidology (accessed 30 August 2007). PDF link
  22. U.S. Census Bureau, 2006 Population Estimate (Utah). (Accessed 30 August 2007). off-site
  23. Joseph Smith, History of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 7 volumes, edited by Brigham H. Roberts, (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1957), 6:408. Volume 6 link
  24. Criticisms of Joseph's use of "folk magic" appear in the following publications: “The Book of Mormon and the Mormonites,” Athenaeum, Museum of Foreign Literature, Science and Art 42 (July 1841): 370–74. off-site; Henry Caswall, The Prophet of the Nineteenth Century, or, the Rise, Progress, and Present State of the Mormons, or Latter-Day Saints : To Which Is Appended an Analysis of the Book of Mormon (London: Printed for J. G. F. & J. Rivington, 1843), 28. off-site; John A. Clark, “Gleanings by the Way. No. VII,” Episcopal Recorder (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania) 18, no. 25 (12 September 1840), ??. off-site; James H. Hunt, Mormonism: Embracing the Origin, Rise and Progress of the Sect (St. Louis: Ustick and Davies, 1844), n.p.. off-site; MormonThink.com website (as of 28 April 2012). Page: http://mormonthink.com/transbomweb.htm; La Roy Sunderland, “Mormonism,” Zion’s Watchman (New York) 3, no. 9 (3 March 1838): 34, citing Howe. off-site
  25. Luck Mack Smith, 1845 manuscript history transcribed without punctuation, in Dan Vogel (editor), Early Mormon Documents (Salt Lake City, Signature Books, 1996–2003), 5 vols, 2:285.
  26. William J. Hamblin, "That Old Black Magic (Review of Early Mormonism and the Magic World View, revised and enlarged edition, by D. Michael Quinn)," FARMS Review of Books 12/2 (2000): 225–394. [{{{url}}} off-site]
  27. Palmyra Herald (24 July 1822); cited in Russell Anderson, "The 1826 Trial of Joseph Smith," (2002 FAIR Conference presentation.) FairMormon link
  28. "Wonderful Discovery," Wayne Sentinel [Palmyra, New York] (27 December 1825), page 2, col. 4. Reprinted from the Orleans Advocate of Orleans, New York; cited by 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), 170–171.
  29. Richard L. Bushman, "Joseph Smith Miscellany," (Mesa, Arizona: FAIR, 2005 FAIR Conference) FairMormon link
  30. W.I. Appleby, Mormonism Consistent! Truth Vindicated, and Falsehood Exposed and Refuted: Being A Reply to A. H. Wickersham (Wilmington DE: Porter & Nafe, 1843), 1–24.
  31. Joseph Smith, Elders' Journal of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints [Kirtland, Ohio] 2 no. 3 (July 1838), 43. Also reproduced in Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, 120; History of the Church 3:29; Discourses of the Prophet Joseph Smith, 271.
  32. Jeremy Runnells, "Debunking FairMormon - Letter to a CES Director" (2014)
  33. Footnote 4 in Hales' response: Questions and answers to lines 189–193, Lorenzo Snow, deposition, Temple Lot transcript, respondent’s testimony (part 3), page 121, read:
    189 Q. And the man that violated this law in this book [Doctrine and Covenants 1835 edition] until the acceptance of that revelation by the church violated the law of the church if he practiced plural marriage?
    A. Yes Sir. He was cut off from the church. I think I should have been if I had.
    190 Q. What would be the condition of the man that would marry more than one person prior to the giving of that revelation in 1843? A. What would be the condition of a man that would do that?
    191 Q. Yes sir? A. Why he would be cut off from the Church.
    192 Q. Would not it have been adultery under those revelations I have just read? A. Yes sir. I expect it would be.
    193 Q. You are one of the apostles in the church at the present time are you not . . .
  34. Footnote 5 in Hales' response: Lorenzo Snow, deposition, Temple Lot transcript, respondent’s testimony (part 3), page 128, question 323.
  35. Brian Hales, "Jeremy Runnells—the New Expert on Joseph Smith’s Polygamy?", Rational Faiths (blog), posted 15 July 2014 off-site
  36. The Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, Complainant, Vs. the Church of Christ at Independence, Missouri: Richard Hill, Trustee; Richard Hill, Mrs. E. Hill, C.A. Hall [and Others] ... as Members of and Doing Business Under the Name of the Church of Christ, at Independence, Missouri, Respondents. In Equity. Complainant's Abstract of Pleading and Evidence off-site
  37. A digital abstract of the Temple Lot court proceedings containing this quote may be viewed here: Abstract of Evidence Temple Lot Case U.S.C.C.
  38. Brian Hales, "Lorenzo Snow’s Temple Lot Testimony," Joseph Smith's Polygamy (website) off-site
  39. Brian Hales, "Lorenzo Snow’s Temple Lot Testimony," Joseph Smith's Polygamy (website) off-site
  40. 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
  41. Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses 9:311. [13 July 1862]
  42. George A. Smith, Journal of Discourses 12:335. [15 November 1863]
  43. Joseph Smith, History of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 7 volumes, edited by Brigham H. Roberts, (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1957), 6:408. Volume 6 link
  44. Eber D. Howe, Mormonism Unvailed (Painesville, OH, 1834), 235-236. (Affidavits examined) Reproduced in "The Origin of Mormonism," Christian Enquirer (New York) 5/51 (25 September 1852): [1]. Also available in Dan Vogel (editor), Early Mormon Documents (Salt Lake City, Signature Books, 1996–2003), 5 vols, 2:40-45.
  45. Richard Lloyd Anderson, "Review of Joseph Smith's New York Reputation Reexamined by Rodger I. Anderson," FARMS Review of Books 3/1 (1991): 52–80. [{{{url}}} off-site] [Anderson's references have been silently removed from this citation.]
  46. Donald Q. Cannon, "Joseph Smith in Salem, (D&C 111)" Robert L. Millet and Kent P. Jackson (editors), Studies in Scripture, Vol. 1: The Doctrine and Covenants, (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1989), pp. 433.
  47. Brigham H. Roberts, Comprehensive History of the Church (Provo, Utah: Brigham Young University Press, 1965), 1:410–411. GospeLink (requires subscrip.)
  48. Joseph Fielding McConkie, Craig J. Ostler, Revelations of the Restoration (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Company, 2000), p. 896.
  49. Dean C. Jessee, The Personal Writings of Joseph Smith, revised edition, (Salt Lake City, Utah: Deseret Book, 2002), 350.
  50. Cannon, 436.
  51. Lavina Fielding Anderson (ed.), Lucy's Book: A Critical Edition of Lucy Mack Smith's Family Memoir on Signature Books website.
  52. Dan Vogel, "Lucy Smith history, 1845," (editorial note), Early Mormon Documents 1:227.
  53. Lavina Fielding Anderson (ed.), Lucy's Book: A Critical Edition of Lucy Mack Smith's Family Memoir on Signature Books website.
  54. Joseph Smith, Elders' Journal of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints [Kirtland, Ohio] 2 no. 3 (July 1838), 43. Also reproduced in Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, 120; History of the Church 3:29; Discourses of the Prophet Joseph Smith, 271.
  55. Gordon A. Madsen, "Joseph Smith's 1826 Trial: The Legal Setting," Brigham Young University Studies 30 no. 2 (1990), 106.
  56. JS, History, 1838–1856, vol. A-1, created 11 June 1839–24 Aug. 1843; handwriting of James Mulholland, Robert B. Thompson, William W. Phelps, and Willard Richards; 553 pages, plus 16 pages of addenda; CHL, p. 5; also reproduced in Dan Vogel (editor), Early Mormon Documents (Salt Lake City, Signature Books, 1996–2003), 5 vols, 1:62.
  57. Orson Pratt to John Christensen, 11 March 1876, Orson Pratt Letterbook, LDS Church Archives, Salt Lake City, Utah; cited in Dean C. Jessee (editor), The Papers of Joseph Smith: Autobiographical and Historical Writings (Vol. 1 of 2) (Salt Lake City, Utah: Deseret Book Company, 1989), 277n1. ISBN 0875791999 and Dan Vogel (editor), Early Mormon Documents (Salt Lake City, Signature Books, 1996–2003), 5 vols, 1:62n28.
  58. 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), 1:11–12, footnote 2. Volume 1 link
  59. Letter, Orson Pratt and Joseph F. Smith to John Taylor, 18 December 1877; cited in Dean C. Jessee, ed., The Papers of Joseph Smith: Autobiographical and Historical Writings (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1989), 1:277, nt. 1.
  60. William J. Hamblin, "Palestinian Hieratic," Interpreter blog (1 Sept 2012).
  61. William J. Hamblin, "Reformed Egyptian," FARMS Review 19/1 (2007): 31–35. off-site wiki
  62. "Doctor" was not a title—It was Hurlbut's actual given name.
  63. Benjamin Winchester, The origin of the Spalding story, concerning the Manuscript Found; with a short biography of Dr. P. Hulbert, the originator of the same; and some testimony adduced, showing it to be a sheer fabrication, so far as in connection with the Book of Mormon is concerned. (Philadelphia: Brown, Bicking & Guilbert, Printers, 1834), p. 5.
  64. Jeffrey N. Walker, "Joseph Smith's Introduction to the Law: The 1819 Hurlbut Case," Mormon Historical Studies 11/1 (Spring 2010): 129-130.
  65. Brigham H. Roberts, Comprehensive History of the Church (Provo, Utah: Brigham Young University Press, 1965), 1:41. GospeLink (requires subscrip.)
  66. Brigham H. Roberts, Comprehensive History of the Church (Provo, Utah: Brigham Young University Press, 1965), 1:41. GospeLink (requires subscrip.)
  67. Fawn M. Brodie, No Man Knows My History: The Life of Joseph Smith (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1945), 446–447.
  68. Eber D. Howe, Mormonism Unvailed (Painesville, OH: Telegraph Press, 1834), p. 11.
  69. Walter Martin, The Kingdom of the Cults (Revised) (Minneapolis: Bethany House Publishers, 1997), 190. ( Index of claims )
  70. Jeffrey N. Walker, "Joseph Smith's Introduction to the Law: The 1819 Hurlbut Case," Mormon Historical Studies 11/1 (Spring 2010): 129-130.
  71. Criticisms regarding assumptions of prophetic infallibility are raised in the following publications: John Dehlin, "Why People Leave the LDS Church," (2008).; Bill McKeever and Eric Johnson, Mormonism 101. Examining the Religion of the Latter-day Saints (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Books, 2000), Chapter 18. ( Index of claims ); Jerald and Sandra Tanner, The Changing World of Mormonism (Moody Press, 1979), 437.( Index of claims ); Tower to Truth Ministries, "50 Questions to Ask Mormons," towertotruth.net (accessed 15 November 2007). 50 Answers; Watchman Fellowship, The Watchman Expositor (Page 1)
  72. Joseph Smith, History of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 7 volumes, edited by Brigham H. Roberts, (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1957), 5:265. Volume 5 link; See also Joseph Smith, Jr., Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, selected by Joseph Fielding Smith, (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Company, 1976), 278. off-site
  73. James R. Clark, quoting B. H. Roberts, Messages of the First Presidency, edited by James R. Clark, Vol. 4, (Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1970), p. xiv–xv.
  74. Lu Dalton, Woman's Exponent (Salt Lake City: 15 July 1882), p. 31.
  75. Brigham H. Roberts, “Answer Given to ‘Ten Reasons Why “Christians” Can Not Fellowship with Latter-Day Saints,’” discourse delivered in the Salt Lake Tabernacle, 10 July 1921. Deseret News, 23 July 1921, 4:7. Roberts' previous reply to the same pamphlet also appeared in His earlier response can be found in Brian H. Stuy (editor), Collected Discourses: Delivered by Wilford Woodruff, his two counselors, the twelve apostles, and others, 1868–1898, 5 vols., (Woodland Hills, Utah: B.H.S. Publishing, 1987–1989), 5:134-141. ; it was first published in Millennial Star 58 (July 22, 1896): 417-20; 433-9.
  76. Henry B. Eyring, in “Expressing Regrets for 1857 Massacre,” Church News, Sept. 15, 2007
  77. "Race and the Priesthood," Gospel Topics on LDS.org (2013)
  78. "Race and the Priesthood," Gospel Topics on LDS.org. (2013)
  79. Stephen R. Haynes, Noah's Curse: The Biblical Justification of American Slavery (New York: Oxford University Press, 2002)
  80. Origen, "Genesis Homily XVI," in Homilies on Genesis and Exodus, translated by Ronald E. Heine (Washington: Catholic University of America Press, 1982), p. 215, referenced in Haynes.
  81. Haynes, p. 7-8.
  82. Haynes, p. 8.
  83. Haynes, Noah's Curse: The Biblical Justification of American Slavery, p. 127-8 citing Palmer, "The Import of Hebrew History," Southern Presbyterian Review 9 (April 1856) 591
  84. Haynes, p. 129, citing Palmer, Our Historic Mission, An Address Delivered before the Eunomian and PhiMu Societies of La Grange Synodical College, July 7 1858 (New Orleans: True Witness Office, 1859), 4-5.
  85. Haynes, p. 132, citing Cherry, God's New Israel, 179-180 who in turn is citing one of Palmer's sermons.
  86. Haynes, p. 161.
  87. Bruce R. McConkie, “All Are Alike unto God,” address in the Second Annual CES Symposium, Salt Lake City, August 1978.
  88. Richard Abanes, Becoming Gods: A Closer Look at 21st-Century Mormonism (Harvest House Publishers: 2005). 73, 367 n.138. ( Index of claims ); Fawn M. Brodie, No Man Knows My History: The Life of Joseph Smith (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1945), 43. ( Index of claims );Walter Martin, The Kingdom of the Cults (Revised) (Minneapolis: Bethany House Publishers, 1997), 193, 235. ( Index of claims );Richard Packham, "Questions for Mitt Romney," 2008.;Simon Southerton, Losing a Lost Tribe: Native Americans, DNA, and the Mormon Church (Salt Lake City, UT: Signature Books, 2004) 40, 184. ( Index of claims )
  89. Noah Webster, An American Dictionary of the English Language (New York: S. Converse, 1828), s.v. "white."
  90. Brigham Young, (March 8, 1863.) Journal of Discourses 10:110.
  91. "Emma Smith Bidamon to Emma Pilgrim, 27 March 1870," Early Mormon Documents, 1:532.
  92. Kenneth H. Godfrey, "Not Enough Trouble, review of Trouble Enough: Joseph Smith and the Book of Mormon by Ernest H. Taves and Joseph Smith and the Origins of the Book of Mormon by David Persuitte," Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought 19 no. 3 (Fall 1986), 143.
  93. History of the Church, 1:220. Volume 1 link
  94. "Book of Mormon Translation," Gospel Topics on LDS.org (2013).
  95. Russell M. Nelson, “A Treasured Testament,” Ensign (July 1993).
  96. John W. Welch, "What did Charles Anthon Really Say?," in Reexploring the Book of Mormon, edited by John W. Welch (Provo, Utah: FARMS, 1992), 47–49. GL direct link
  97. Richard L. Bushman, Joseph Smith: Rough Stone Rolling (New York: Knopf, 2005), 65–66.
  98. William J. Hamblin, "Palestinian Hieratic," Interpreter blog (1 Sept 2012).
  99. William J. Hamblin, "Reformed Egyptian," FARMS Review 19/1 (2007): 31–35. off-site wiki
  100. William J. Hamblin (posting under the screen-name, “MorgbotX”), posted 29 January 2004 in thread, “What Would Be Proof of the Book of Mormon,” on Zion’s Lighthouse Bulletin Board (ZLMB) off-site(accessed 10 April 2005).
  101. Hamblin, "What Would be Proof...."
  102. Hamblin citing Joyce Marcus, Mesoamerican Writing Systems (Princeton, New Jersey: Princeton University Press, 1992), 212–220 and Linda Schele and David Freidel, A Forest of Kings (New York: William Marrow & Company, 1990), 440, n28.
  103. See Hamblin, posted 29 January 2004 in thread, “What Would Be Proof of the Book of Mormon,” on Zion’s Lighthouse Bulletin Board (ZLMB) off-site(accessed 10 April 2005).
  104. William J. Hamblin, "Basic Methodological Problems with the Anti-Mormon Approach to the Geography and Archaeology of the Book of Mormon," Journal of Book of Mormon Studies 2/1 (1993): 161–197. wiki off-site GL direct link
  105. Hamblin, "Basic Methodological Problems," 164.
  106. William G. Dever, “archaeology and the Bible: Understanding Their Special Relationship,” Biblical archaeology Review (May/June 1990) 16:3.
  107. Daniel C. Peterson, "Chattanooga Cheapshot, or The Gall of Bitterness (Review of Everything You Ever Wanted to Know about Mormonism by John Ankerberg and John Weldon)," FARMS Review of Books 5/1 (1993): 1–86. off-site
  108. “Mammoth,” Wikipedia (accessed 24 Sept. 2014)
  109. Ludwell H. Johnson, “Men and Elephants in America,” The Scientific Monthly 75 (1952), 220-221.
  110. Wade E. Miller and Matthew Roper, "Animals in the Book of Mormon: Challenges and Perspectives," Blog of Interpreter: A Journal of Mormon Scripture (April 21, 2014)
  111. S. L. Vartanyan, V. E. Garutt, and A. V. Sher, “Holocene dwarf Mammoths from Wrangle Island in the Siberian Arctic,” Nature 362 (1993),337-340.
  112. David R. Yesner, Douglas W. Veltre, Kristine J. Crossen and Russell W. Graham, 5,700-year-old Mammoth Remains from Qagnax Cave, Pribilof Islands, Alaska. In L. D. Agenbroad and R. L. Symington (eds.), The World of Elepahants (Short Papers and Abstracts of the 2nd International Congress, 2005), 200-204.
  113. James I. Mead and David J. Meltzer, “North American late Quaternary extinctions and the radiocarbon record, In P. S. Martin and R. G. Klein (eds.) Quaternary Extinctions: A Prehistoric Revolution, (Tucson, University of Arizona Press. 1984), 440-450.
  114. Wade E. Miller and Matthew Roper, "Animals in the Book of Mormon: Challenges and Perspectives," Blog of Interpreter: A Journal of Mormon Scripture (April 21, 2014)
  115. John R. Swanton, Indian Tribes of the Lower Mississippi Valley and Adjacent Coast of the Gulf of Mexico (Washington: Government Printing Office, 1911), 355.
  116. 116.0 116.1 116.2 W. D. Strong, “North American traditions suggesting a knowledge of the mammoth,” American Anthropologist 36 (1934), 81-88.
  117. Ludwell H. Johnson, “Men and Elephants in America,” The Scientific Monthly 75 (1952), 220-221.
  118. Juan de Torquemada, Monarchia Indiana (Mexico, 1943), 1:38; Jose de Acosta, Natural and Moral History of the Indies (2002), 384.
  119. Adrienne Mayor, Fossil Legends of the First Americans (Princeton and Oxford: Princeton University Press, 2005), 97.
  120. 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 [1985]), 285.
  121. Richard A. Diehl, The Olmecs: America's First Civilization (Thames & Hudson, 2004), 93–94. FairMormon link
  122. John B. Carlson, "Lodestone Compass: Chinese or Olmec Primacy? Multidisciplinary Analysis of an Olmec Hematite Artifact from San Lorenzo, Veracruz, Mexico," Science 189, No. 4205 (5 September 1975): 753-760.
  123. 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 [1985]), 284.
  124. H.H. Bancroft, The Native Races (of the Pacific States), vol. 2 (San Francisco: A. L. Bancroft and Co., 1882), pp. 407-8.
  125. Rene Rebetez, Objetos Prehispanicos de Hierro Y Piedra (Mexico: Libreria Anticuaria, n.d.).
  126. Sigvald Linne, Mexican Highland Cultures, Ethnographical Museum of Sweden, Publication 7, n.s. (Stockholm, 1942), p. 132.
  127. 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 [1985]), 285.
  128. John L. Sorenson, "Addendum," to John Gee, "A Tragedy of Errors (Review of By His Own Hand Upon Papyrus: A New Look at the Joseph Smith Papyri by Charles M. Larson," FARMS Review of Books 4/1 (1992): 93–119. off-site
  129. Daniel C. Peterson and Matthew Roper, "Ein Heldenleben? On Thomas Stuart Ferguson as an Elias for Cultural Mormons," The FARMS Review 16:1 (2004)
  130. Daniel C. Peterson, [https://publications.mi.byu.edu/fullscreen/?pub=1458&index=12 "On the New World Archaeological Foundation," The FARMS Review 16:1 (2004).
  131. John Gee, "The Hagiography of Doubting Thomas," FARMS Review of Books 10:2 (1998).
  132. 132.0 132.1 Simon Southerton, e-mail, “Answering the DNA apologetics,” 15 February 2005, 18h42 (copy in editors' possession).
  133. Simon Southerton, e-mail posted to discussion board, July 5, 2008.
  134. 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
  135. Royal Skousen, "Changes In the Book of Mormon," 2002 FAIR Conference proceedings.
  136. 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.
  137. Book of Mormon, 1830 edition, p. 200.
  138. George A. Horton, Jr., "The Book of Mormon-Transmission from Translator to Printed Text," from The Book of Mormon: The Keystone Scripture, edited by Paul R. Cheesman (Provo, Utah: BYU Religious Studies Center, 1988), pp. 249-250.
  139. Book of Mormon, 1830 edition, p. 546.
  140. Royal Skousen, Analysis of Textual Variants of the Book of Mormon Part Three: Mosiah 17 - Alma 20, The Interpreter Foundation 1420.
  141. 141.0 141.1 L. Ara Norwood, Benjamin or Mosiah? Resolving an Anomaly in Mosiah 21:28, FAIR conference, 2001.
  142. “Martin Harris interviews with John A. Clark, 1827 & 1828,” Early Mormon Documents 2:270.
  143. John H. Gilbert, "Memorandum," 8 September 1892, Early Mormon Documents, 2: 548.
  144. Pomeroy Tucker, Origin, Rise, and Progress of Mormonism (New York: D. Appleton and Co., 1867), 71 in "Pomeroy Tucker Account, 1867," Early Mormon Documents, 3: 122.
  145. Martin Harris Interview with Ole A. Jensen, July 1875 in Ole A. Jensen, "Testimony of Martin Harris (ONe of the Witnesses of the Book of Mormon)," undated (c. 1918), original in private possession, photocopies at Utah State Historical Society, LDS Church Archives, and Special Collections of BYU's Harold B. Lee Library; cited in Dan Vogel (editor), Early Mormon Documents (Salt Lake City, Signature Books, 1996–2003), 5 vols, 2:375.
  146. Richard Lloyd Anderson, Investigating the Book of Mormon Witnesses (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Company, 1981), 40. ISBN 0877478465.; the following quotes on Oliver are also taken from Anderson.
  147. William Lang, History of Seneca County (Springfield, Ohio, 1880), 365.
  148. "Letter from General W. H. Gibson," Seneca Advertiser (Tiffin, Ohio) 12 April 1892.
  149. Richard Lloyd Anderson, Investigating the Book of Mormon Witnesses (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Company, 1981), 96–98. ISBN 0877478465.
  150. “Several families . . .,” Wayne Sentinel (Palmyra, New York) (27 May 1831). off-site
  151. Pomeroy Tucker, Palmyra Courier (24 May 1872); cited by Richard Lloyd Anderson, Investigating the Book of Mormon Witnesses (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Company, 1981), 104. ISBN 0877478465.
  152. Tanner and Tanner, "Roper Attacks Mormonism: Shadow or Reality?" 14.
  153. Richard Lloyd Anderson, Investigating the Book of Mormon Witnesses (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Company, 1981), 167–170. ISBN 0877478465.
  154. Matthew Roper, "Comments on the Book of Mormon Witnesses: A Response to Jerald and Sandra Tanner," Journal of Book of Mormon Studies 2/2 (1993): 164–193. wiki; citing Letter of George A. Smith to Josiah Fleming, 30 March 1838, Kirtland, Ohio.
  155. Richard Lloyd Anderson, Investigating the Book of Mormon Witnesses (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Company, 1981), 74. ISBN 0877478465.
  156. Richard Lloyd Anderson, Investigating the Book of Mormon Witnesses (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Company, 1981), 74. ISBN 0877478465.
  157. David Whitmer, interview with Chicago Times (August 1875); cited in Dan Vogel (editor), Early Mormon Documents (Salt Lake City, Signature Books, 1996–2003), 5 vols, 5:23.
  158. David Whitmer, Proclamation, 19 March 1881; cited in Dan Vogel (editor), Early Mormon Documents (Salt Lake City, Signature Books, 1996–2003), 5 vols, 5:69.
  159. David Whitmer, Interview with Chicago Tribune, 23 January 1888, printed in "An Old Mormon's Closing Hours," Chicago Tribune (24 January 1888); cited in Dan Vogel (editor), Early Mormon Documents (Salt Lake City, Signature Books, 1996–2003), 5 vols, 5:209.
  160. David Whitmer, Interview, "The Last Witness Dead! David Whitmer, the aged Patria[r]ch, Gone to His Rest. His Parting Injunction to His Family and Friends. He Departs in Peace," Richmond (MO) Democrat (26 January 1888); cited in Dan Vogel (editor), Early Mormon Documents (Salt Lake City, Signature Books, 1996–2003), 5 vols, 5:211.
  161. Oliver Cowdery to Phineas Young, 23 March 1846, Oliver Cowdery Collection, "Scriptory Book of Joseph Smith Jr." (kept by George W. Robinson), 22, LDS Church Historical Department (published in Scott H. Faulring, ed, An American Prophet's Record.— The Diaries and Journals of Joseph Smith (Salt Lake City: Signature Books, 1989), emphasis in original; cited in Scott H. Faulring. “The Return of Oliver Cowdery”, FARMS Featured Paper, no date.
  162. Andrew Jenson, LDS Biographical Encyclopedia (Salt Lake City: Andrew Jenson History Company, 1901), 1:246.
  163. Andrew Jenson, LDS Biographical Encyclopedia (Salt Lake City: Andrew Jenson History Company, 1901), 1:246.
  164. David Whitmer, An Address to All Believers in Christ by a Witness to the Divine Authenticity of The Book of Mormon (David Whitmer: Richmond, Virginia, 1887).
  165. See Richard Lloyd Anderson, Investigating the Book of Mormon Witnesses (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Company, 1981), 88. ISBN 0877478465.
  166. Letter of David Whitmer to Anthony Metcalf, March 1887, cited in Anthony Metcalf, Ten Years Before the Mast (Malad, Idaho: Research Publications, 1888), 74. Cited in Richard Lloyd Anderson, Investigating the Book of Mormon Witnesses (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Company, 1981), 86. ISBN 0877478465.
  167. “Gold Bible, No. 6,” The Reflector (Palmyra, New York) 2, no. 16 (19 March 1831), 126–127. off-site
  168. FARMS "Question of the Week," farms.byu.edu off-site
  169. Matthew Roper, "Right on Target: Boomerang Hits and the Book of Mormon," FAIR Conference, 2001.
  170. William Hamblin, "Steel in the Book of Mormon," FairMormon Papers
  171. MormonThink.com page "Book of Mormon Problems" http://mormonthink.com/book-of-mormon-problems.htm
  172. The Liahona is called a compass in 1 Nephi 18:12,21; 2 Nephi 5:12; and Alma 37:38,43-44.
  173. Biblical references to "compass" can be seen with this search of the lds.org scriptures web site.
  174. Robert F. Smith, "Lodestone and the Liahona," in Reexploring the Book of Mormon, edited by John W. Welch (Provo, Utah: FARMS, 1992), Chapter 12. direct off-site
  175. John B. Carlson, "Lodestone Compass: Chinese or Olmec Primacy? Multidisciplinary Analysis of an Olmec Hematite Artifact from San Lorenzo, Veracruz, Mexico," Science 189, No. 4205 (5 September 1975): 753-760. See also R. H. Fuson, "The Orientation of Mayan Ceremonial Centers," Annals of the Association of American Geographers 59 (September 1969): 508-10; E. C. Baity, "Archaeoastronomy and Ethnoastronomy So Far," Current Anthropology 14 (October 1973): 443.
  176. Joseph Needham and Lu Gwei-Djen, Trans-Pacific Echoes and Resonances: Listening Once Again (Singapore: World Scientific Publishing Co., 1985), 21.
  177. Smith, "Lodestone and the Liahona"; see also Michael D. Coe, America's First Civilization (New York, 1970).
  178. Robert F. Smith, "Lodestone and the Liahona," in Reexploring the Book of Mormon, edited by John W. Welch (Provo, Utah: FARMS, 1992), Chapter 12. Citations in the original are [a] Thales of Miletus is the first known to have mentioned its strange properties, c. 600 B.Cc; [b] J. B. Carlson, "Lodestone Compass: Chinese or Olmec Primacy?" Science 189 (September 5, 1975): 753-60; R. H. Fuson, "The Orientation of Mayan Ceremonial Centers," Annals of the Association of American Geographers 59 (September 1969): 508-10; E. C. Baity, "Archaeoastronomy and Ethnoastronomy So Far," Current Anthropology 14 (October 1973): 443; [c] Kent V. Flannery and J. Schoenwetter, "Climate and Man in Formative Oaxaca," Archeology 23 (April 1970): 149; see also Kent Flannery, ed., The Early Mesoamerican Village (New York: Academic Press, 1976), 318.
  179. See John Hardy, Hypocrisy Exposed (Boston: Albert Morgan, 1842), 3-12 off-site Full title. See later responses in John E. Page, "To a Disciple," Morning Chronicle (Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania) (1 July 1842). off-site, John E. Page, “Mormonism Concluded: To ‘A Disciple.’” Morning Chronicle (Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania) (20 July 1842). off-site, and George Reynolds, "Objections to the Book of Mormon," Millennial Star 44/16 (17 April 1882): 244–47.
  180. Daniel C. Peterson, "Is the Book of Mormon True? Notes on the Debate," in Book of Mormon Authorship Revisited: The Evidence for Ancient Origins, edited by Noel B. Reynolds, (Provo, Utah : Foundation for Ancient Research and Mormon Studies, 1997), Chapter 6. ISBN 093489325X ISBN 0934893187 ISBN 0884944697. off-site GL direct link
  181. James B. Pritchard, editor, Ancient Near Eastern Texts Relating to the Old Testament, 3d ed. (Princeton, New Jersey: Princeton University Press, 1969), 489, translation by W. F. Albright and George E. Mendenhall; cited by D. Kelly Ogden, "Why Does the Book of Mormon Say That Jesus Would Be Born at Jerusalem? (I Have a Question)," Ensign (August 1984), 51–52.
  182. Origen Bachelor, Mormonism Exposed Internally and Externally (New York: Privately Published, 1838), 13. off-site
  183. Hugh W. Nibley, An Approach to the Book of Mormon, 3rd edition, (Vol. 6 of the Collected Works of Hugh Nibley), edited by John W. Welch, (Salt Lake City, Utah: Deseret Book Company; Provo, Utah: Foundation for Ancient Research and Mormon Studies, 1988), Chapter 8, references silently removed—consult original for citations, (italics in original).
  184. Wilford Woodruff, "Fulfillment of Ancient Prophesy," in Brian H. Stuy (editor), Collected Discourses: Delivered by Wilford Woodruff, his two counselors, the twelve apostles, and others, 1868–1898, 5 vols., (Woodland Hills, Utah: B.H.S. Publishing, 1987–1989), 1:344. [Discourse given on Sept 1, 1889.]
  185. Elaine Pagels, “The Politics of Paradise: Augustine’s exegesis of Genesis 1-3 versus that of John Chrysostom,” Harvard Theological Review 78 (1985): 68.
  186. James Barr, “The Authority of Scripture. The Book of Genesis and the Origin of Evil in Jewish and Christian Tradition,” in Christian Authority: Essays in Honor of Henry Chadwick, ed. G.R. Evans (Oxford, 1988), 59-75. Italics added; citations from pages as indicated.
  187. Michael Azkoul, “Peccatum Originale: The Pelagian Controversy,” Patristic and Byzantine Review 3 (1984): 39.
  188. Azkoul, 43.
  189. Stephen J. Duffy, The Dynamics of Grace: Perspectives in Theological Anthropology (Collegeville, Minn.: Liturgical Press, 1993), 62-63.
  190. Azkoul, 40.
  191. Azkoul, 51, note 5.
  192. John Meyendorff, “Theosis in the Eastern Christian Tradition,” in Christian Spirituality III: Post Reformation and Modern, edited by Louis Dupre and Don Saliers, (New York, 1989), 470-476.
  193. Paul Meyendorff, “Liturgy and Spirituality I: Eastern Liturgical Theology”, in Christian Spirituality I: Origins, ed. B. McGinn and J. Meyendorff, New York 1985: 350-363.
  194. Thomas Finger, “Anabaptism and Eastern Orthodoxy: Some Unexpected Similarities,’ Journal of Ecumenical Studies 31 (1994): 67-91.
  195. Joseph Smith, Jr., Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, selected by Joseph Fielding Smith, (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Company, 1976), 199. off-site
  196. Orson Pratt, (10 April 1870) Journal of Discourses 13:135.
  197. Orson Pratt, (27 December 1868) Journal of Discourses 12:344.
  198. Paul H. Peterson, "Civil War Prophecy," in Encyclopedia of Mormonism, 4 vols., edited by Daniel H. Ludlow, (New York, Macmillan Publishing, 1992), 1:288.
  199. Editor [Orson Pratt], "A Revelation and Prophecy by the Prophet, Seer, and Revelator, Joseph Smith," The Seer 2/4 (April 1854): 241–247.
  200. Robert Woodford, The Historical Development of the Doctrine and Covenants, Ph.D. Dissertation, Brigham Young University, 1974, 1104–1124.
  201. Woodford, "The Historical Development of the Doctrine and Covenants," 1110, 1111 (figures 12 and 13) [figures contain photocopy of the masthead of each newspaper, and the article itself].
  202. The God Makers, 224, lines 21-24; cited by Gilbert W. Scharffs, The Truth about ‘The God Makers’ (Salt Lake City, Utah: Publishers Press, 1989; republished by Bookcraft, 1994), Chapter 15. Full text FairMormon link ISBN 088494963X. direct off-site
  203. Gilbert W. Scharffs, The Truth about ‘The God Makers’ (Salt Lake City, Utah: Publishers Press, 1989; republished by Bookcraft, 1994), Chapter 15. Full text FairMormon link ISBN 088494963X. direct off-site
  204. Brigham H. Roberts, New Witnesses for God, 3 Vols., (Salt Lake City: Deseret News, 1909[1895, 1903]), 1:319. ISBN 0962254541.
  205. Joseph Fielding Smith, Church History and Modern Revelation (Salt Lake City, UT: Deseret Book Co., 1947).
  206. "O.P.M.," "Mormonism and its Origin, Number 4," The Golden Era San Francisco (18 October 1857). [Thanks to Ted Jones for this reference.]
  207. Matthew Roper, "The Mythical "Manuscript Found" (Review of: Who Really Wrote the Book of Mormon? The Spalding Enigma)," FARMS Review 17/2 (2005): 7–140. off-site,
  208. The Spalding Theory Debunked off-site
  209. Twelve Apostles, "The Living Christ: The Testimony of the Apostles, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints," Ensign (December 2004), 4. off-site
  210. David Steinmetz, "Christian Unity: A Sermon by David Steinmetz," News and Notes 5/6 (April 1990); cited by Stephen E. Robinson, Are Mormons Christians? (Salt Lake City, Utah: Deseret Book Company, 1993),36–37. off-site FairMormon link
  211. Bart D. Ehrman, Misquoting Jesus: The Story Behind Who Changed the Bible and Why (HarperSanFrancisco, [2005] 2007), 54–55. ISBN 0060859512. ISBN 0060738170.
  212. Joseph Smith, Jr., Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, selected by Joseph Fielding Smith, (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Company, 1976), 316. off-site
  213. "Race and the Priesthood," Gospel Topics on LDS.org (2013)
  214. Joseph Fielding Smith, "The Negro and the Priesthood," Improvement Era Vol 27, Num 6, pg 565 (April 1924)
  215. Wilford Woodruff, Wilford Woodruff’s Journal, 9 vols., ed., Scott G. Kenny (Salt Lake City: Signature Books, 1985), 6:511 (journal entry dated 25 December 1869). ISBN 0941214133.
  216. First Presidency letter from Joseph F. Smith, Anthon H. Lund, and Charles W. Penrose, to M. Knudson, 13 Jan. 1912.
  217. Wilford Woodruff's Journal, entry dated Dec. 25, 1869.
  218. First Presidency Statement (George Albert Smith), August 17, 1949. off-site
  219. Joseph Fielding Smith, Doctrines of Salvation (Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1954) , 1:65-66. (emphasis in original)
  220. Bruce R. McConkie, Mormon Doctrine (1966), p. 527.
  221. Bruce R. McConkie, "New Revelation on Priesthood," Priesthood (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1981), 126-137.
  222. Kimball, Lengthen Your Stride, chapter 24, page 3; citing Richard Ostling, "Mormonism Enters a New Era," Time (7 August 1978): 55. Ostling told President Kimball's biographer and son that this was a paraphrase, but an accurate reporting of what he had been told (see footnote 13, citing interview on 10 May 2001).
  223. "Race and the Priesthood," Gospel Topics, lds.org. (2013) off-site
  224. M. Russell Ballard, "One More," Ensign, May 2005, p. 69.
  225. M. Russell Ballard, cited in Priesthood (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Company, 1981), 72.
  226. Reference "aparabatos," in Walter Bauer and Frederick William Danker (editors), A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature , 3rd edition, (Urbana and Chicago, University Of Chicago Press, 2001), 97. ISBN 0226039331.
  227. Gerhard Kittel and Gerhard Friedrich (editors), Geoffrey W. Bromiley (translator), Theological Dictionary of the New Testament (Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1993), 5: 742-743.
  228. Richard Lloyd Anderson, "Book Review of Walter Martin's The Maze of Mormonism," Brigham Young University Studies 6 no. 1 (Autumn 1964), 60.
  229. S. Kent Brown, "The Dead Sea Scrolls: A Mormon Perspective," Brigham Young University Studies 23 no. 1 (Winter 1983), 56.
  230. Article here cites Joseph Smith, Jr., Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, selected by Joseph Fielding Smith, (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Company, 1976), 166,322. off-site
  231. Richard D. Draper, "Hebrews, Epistle to the," in Encyclopedia of Mormonism, 4 vols., edited by Daniel H. Ludlow, (New York, Macmillan Publishing, 1992).
  232. Ezra Taft Benson, Teachings of Ezra Taft Benson (Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1988), 223. ISBN 0884946398. GospeLink (requires subscrip.)
  233. LeGrande Richards, A Marvelous Work and a Wonder (Salt Lake City, Utah: Deseret Book Company, 1976), 84. GospeLink (requires subscrip.) PDF link
  234. Part of this wiki article originally derived from John A. Tvedtnes, "Is There a Priesthood of All Believers?" FairMormon link. Due to the nature of a wiki project, it has since diverged from the source material, due to other editors' additions or alterations.
  235. "Are Mormons Christian?," Gospel Topics on LDS.org
  236. Jeff Lindsay, "If you believe the Father and the Son are separate beings, doesn't that make you polytheistic?" JeffLindsay.com (accessed December 2007). off-site
  237. Leon Morris, The Gospel According to John, (Grand Rapids, Mich. : W.B. Eerdmans Pub. Co., 1995), 271.
  238. J. N. Sanders, A Commentary on the Gospel According to St. John, edited and completed by B. A. Mastin, (New York, Harper & Row, 1968), 147–148.
  239. "Becoming Like God," Gospel Topics on LDS.org (25 February 2014)
  240. Stephen E. Robinson, "The Exclusion by Misrepresentation".
  241. Matthew B. Brown, "Brigham Young’s Teachings on Adam," 2009 FAIR Conference (August 2009).
  242. Irenaeus, "Against Heresies," in Chapter 6 Ante-Nicene Fathers, edited by Philip Schaff (Christian Literature Publishing Co., 1886)1:427. ANF ToC off-site This volume
  243. Charles A. Gieschen, Angelomorphic Christology: Antecedents and Early Evidence (Leiden; New York; Köln: Brill, 1998), 139.
  244. Apostle Peter (attributed), "Clementine Homilies," in 17:16 Ante-Nicene Fathers, edited by Philip Schaff (Christian Literature Publishing Co., 1886)8:322–323. ANF ToC off-site This volume
  245. Edmond LaB. Cherbonnier, "In Defense of Anthropomorphism," in Truman G. Madsen (editor), Reflections on Mormonism: Judaeo-Christian parallels : papers delivered at the Religious Studies Center symposium, Brigham Young University, March 10-11, 1978 (Provo, Utah: Religious Studies Center , Brigham Young University and Bookcraft, 1978), 162, compare G.E. Wright, God Who Acts (London: SCM Press, 1952), 49–50. ISBN 0884943585.
  246. Christopher Stead, Philosophy in Christian Antiquity (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1994), 120.
  247. "Does God Have a Body?," Catholic Answers tract, 1996. Since this article was first written, the title of the tract was changed to “God Has No Body."
  248. Christopher Stead, Philosophy in Christian Antiquity (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1994), 98.
  249. J. N. Sanders, A Commentary on the Gospel According to St. John, , edited and completed by B. A. Mastin, (New York, Harper & Row, 1968), 147–148.
  250. Adolf von Harnack, History of Dogma, tr. Neil Buchanan (New York: Dover, 1961), 1:180 n.1.
  251. Tertullian, "Against Praxeas," in 7 Ante-Nicene Fathers, edited by Philip Schaff (Christian Literature Publishing Co., 1886)3:602. ANF ToC off-site This volume
  252. J.W.C.Wand, A History of the Early Church to A.D. 500 (London: Methuen & Co., 1937), 140.
  253. Origen, "On First Principles," in Preface, 9 Ante-Nicene Fathers, edited by Philip Schaff (Christian Literature Publishing Co., 1886)4:6. ANF ToC off-site This volume Direct jump off-site
  254. Origen, "Homilies on Genesis," in 3:1 Ante-Nicene Fathers, edited by Philip Schaff (Christian Literature Publishing Co., 1886)?:??. ANF ToC off-site This volume[citation needed]
  255. Plutarch, quoted in Eusebius, Preparation for the Gospel, 14:16. off-site Direct jump off-site
  256. Empedocles, in Karl Jaspers, The Great Philosophers (New York: Harcourt Brace, 1981), 3:51.
  257. Jean Daniélou, The Lord of History: Reflections on the Inner Meaning of History, translated by N. Abercrombie (Chicago: Henry Regnery, 1958), 1.
  258. For more information on this topic, see Barry R. Bickmore, "The Doctrine of God and the Nature of Man," in Restoring the Ancient Church: Joseph Smith and Early Christianity (Redding, CA: Foundation for Apologetic Information and Research, 1999).
  259. Samuel A. Meier, “Theophany,” in Bruce M. Metzger and Michael D. Coogan, eds., The Oxford Companion to the Bible (New York: Oxford University Press, 1993), 740. The citations of Genesis 24:10-11 and Genesis 32:20 should be to Exodus 24:10-11 and Exodus 33:20.
  260. 260.0 260.1 Clementine Homilies, 17:16. off-site In Ante-Nicean Fathers 8:223–347. off-site Direct jump off-site
  261. Joseph Smith, Jr., Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, selected by Joseph Fielding Smith, (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Company, 1976), 199. off-site
  262. 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.
  263. 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..
  264. Ezra Taft Benson, "Joy in Christ," Ensign (March 1986), 3–4. (emphasis added) off-site
  265. Bruce R. McConkie, Mormon Doctrine, 2nd edition, (Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1966), 742. GL direct link
  266. Bruce R. McConkie, Mormon Doctrine, 2nd edition, (Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1966), 822. GL direct link
  267. Harold B. Lee, Teachings of Harold B. Lee (Salt Lake City, Utah: Bookcraft, 1996), 14. GospeLink (requires subscrip.)
  268. 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.
  269. 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..
  270. Ezra Taft Benson, "Joy in Christ," Ensign (March 1986), 3–4. (emphasis added) off-site
  271. Bruce R. McConkie, Mormon Doctrine, 2nd edition, (Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1966), 742. GL direct link
  272. Bruce R. McConkie, Mormon Doctrine, 2nd edition, (Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1966), 822. GL direct link
  273. Harold B. Lee, Teachings of Harold B. Lee (Salt Lake City, Utah: Bookcraft, 1996), 14. GospeLink (requires subscrip.)
  274. Charles W. Penrose, "Our Father Adam," Improvement Era (September 1902), 873. reprinted in Charles W. Penrose, "Our Father Adam," Millennial Star 64 no. 50 (11 December 1902), 785–790.
  275. Spencer W. Kimball, "Our Own Liahona," Ensign (November 1976), 77.
  276. "Approaching Mormon Doctrine," from Newsroom: The Official Resource for News Media, Opinion Leaders, and the Public (4 May 2007) at lds.org. off site
  277. Kimball, Lengthen Your Stride, chapter 24, page 3; citing Richard Ostling, "Mormonism Enters a New Era," Time (7 August 1978): 55. Ostling told President Kimball's biographer and son that this was a paraphrase, but an accurate reporting of what he had been told (see footnote 13, citing interview on 10 May 2001).
  278. "Race and the Priesthood," Gospel Topics, lds.org. (2013) off-site
  279. M. Russell Ballard, "One More," Ensign, May 2005, p. 69.
  280. Richard Abanes, Becoming Gods: A Closer Look at 21st-Century Mormonism (Harvest House Publishers: 2005). 73, 367 n.138. ( Index of claims ); Fawn M. Brodie, No Man Knows My History: The Life of Joseph Smith (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1945), 43. ( Index of claims );Walter Martin, The Kingdom of the Cults (Revised) (Minneapolis: Bethany House Publishers, 1997), 193, 235. ( Index of claims );Richard Packham, "Questions for Mitt Romney," 2008.;Simon Southerton, Losing a Lost Tribe: Native Americans, DNA, and the Mormon Church (Salt Lake City, UT: Signature Books, 2004) 40, 184. ( Index of claims )
  281. "Race and the Priesthood," Gospel Topics on LDS.org (2013)
  282. Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, "Answering Media Questions About Jesus and Satan," Press release (12 December 2007). off-site
  283. M. Russell Ballard, "Building Bridges of Understanding," Ensign (June 1998), 62. off-site
  284. Lactantius, Divine Institutes 2.9. in Alexander Roberts and James Donaldson, eds. The Ante-Nicene Fathers, 10 vols. (1885; reprint, Peabody: Hendrickson, 2004), 7:52–53.
  285. Charles W. Penrose, "Peculiar Questions Briefly Answered," Improvement Era 15 no. 11 (September 1912).
  286. Jedediah M. Grant, "UNIFORMITY," (7 August 1853) Journal of Discourses 1:346.
  287. Orson Hyde, "The Judgements of God on the United States--The Saints and the World," (18 March 1855) Journal of Discourses 2:210.
  288. Lowell M. Snow, "Blood atonement," Encyclopedia of Mormonism.
  289. Gustave O. Larson, "The Mormon Reformation," Utah Historical Quarterly 26/1 (January 1958): 60-62.
  290. Charles W. Penrose, "Peculiar Questions Briefly Answered," Improvement Era 15 no. 11 (September 1912).
  291. Criticisms regarding "blood atonement" are raised in the following publications: Richard Abanes, One Nation Under Gods: A History of the Mormon Church (New York: Four Walls Eight Windows, 2003), 232-236 ( Index of claims ); "Achilles" [pen name for Samuel D. Sirrine], The Destroying Angels of Mormondom; or a Sketch of the Life of Orrin Porter Rockwell, the Late Danite Chief; Sally Denton, American Massacre: The Tragedy at Mountain Meadows, (Secker & Warburg, 2003), 16. ; Contender Ministries, Questions All Mormons Should Ask Themselves. Answers; William Hall, The Abominations of Mormonism Exposed (Cincinnati: I. Hart & Co., 1853), ?.; Walter Martin, The Kingdom of the Cults (Revised) (Minneapolis: Bethany House Publishers, 1997), 236. ( Index of claims ); Watchman Fellowship, The Watchman Expositor (Page 3)
  292. Gustave O. Larson, "The Mormon Reformation," Utah Historical Quarterly 26/1 (January 1958): 62.
  293. See Deseret News Thursday, June 17, 2010
  294. Criticisms regarding assumptions of prophetic infallibility are raised in the following publications: John Dehlin, "Why People Leave the LDS Church," (2008).; Bill McKeever and Eric Johnson, Mormonism 101. Examining the Religion of the Latter-day Saints (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Books, 2000), Chapter 18. ( Index of claims ); Jerald and Sandra Tanner, The Changing World of Mormonism (Moody Press, 1979), 437.( Index of claims ); Tower to Truth Ministries, "50 Questions to Ask Mormons," towertotruth.net (accessed 15 November 2007). 50 Answers; Watchman Fellowship, The Watchman Expositor (Page 1)
  295. Joseph Smith, History of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 7 volumes, edited by Brigham H. Roberts, (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1957), 5:265. Volume 5 link; See also Joseph Smith, Jr., Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, selected by Joseph Fielding Smith, (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Company, 1976), 278. off-site
  296. James R. Clark, quoting B. H. Roberts, Messages of the First Presidency, edited by James R. Clark, Vol. 4, (Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1970), p. xiv–xv.
  297. Lu Dalton, Woman's Exponent (Salt Lake City: 15 July 1882), p. 31.
  298. Brigham H. Roberts, “Answer Given to ‘Ten Reasons Why “Christians” Can Not Fellowship with Latter-Day Saints,’” discourse delivered in the Salt Lake Tabernacle, 10 July 1921. Deseret News, 23 July 1921, 4:7. Roberts' previous reply to the same pamphlet also appeared in His earlier response can be found in Brian H. Stuy (editor), Collected Discourses: Delivered by Wilford Woodruff, his two counselors, the twelve apostles, and others, 1868–1898, 5 vols., (Woodland Hills, Utah: B.H.S. Publishing, 1987–1989), 5:134-141. ; it was first published in Millennial Star 58 (July 22, 1896): 417-20; 433-9.