Criticism of Mormonism/Websites/MormonThink/Media efforts by MormonThink managing editor Tom Phillips/Responses to claims made in Thomas S. Monson summons

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A response to the seven claims made in the Thomas S. Monson court summons produced by MormonThink editor Tom Phillips

Thomas S. Monson, President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints—Testimony of Joseph Smith (Originally given April 1997, reposted on September 11, 2013)
"The Father and the Son, Jesus Christ, had appeared to Joseph Smith. The morning of the dispensation of the fulness of times had come, dispelling the darkness of the long generations of spiritual night. Volumes have been written concerning the life and accomplishments of Joseph Smith, but for our purposes here today perhaps a highlight or two will suffice: He was visited by the angel Moroni. He translated, from the precious plates to which he was directed, the Book of Mormon, with its new witness of Christ to all the world. He was the instrument in the hands of the Lord through whom came mighty revelations pertaining to the establishment of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. In the course of his ministry he was visited by John the Baptist, Moses, Elijah, Peter, James, and John, that the Restoration of all things might be accomplished. He endured persecution; he suffered grievously, as did his followers. He trusted in God. He was true to his prophetic calling. He commenced a marvelous missionary effort to the entire world, which today brings light and truth to the souls of mankind. At length, Joseph Smith died the martyr's death."
—Thomas S. Monson, "Testimony of Joseph Smith", Originally given when President Monson was a counselor in the First Presidency in April 1997 General Conferece. off-site As President of the Church, this was re-posted on josephsmith.net on September 11, 2013. off-site
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The complaint against President Monson as presented by Tom Phillips, Steve Bloor and Christopher Ralph

That between 3rd February 2008 and 31st December 2013 dishonestly and intending thereby to make a gain for himself or another or a loss or risk of loss to another made or caused to be made representations to [NAME], which were and which you knew were or might be untrue or misleading and thereby induce the said [NAME] to pay an annual tithe to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, namely that:

  1. The Book of Abraham is a literal translation of Egyptian papyri by Joseph Smith.
  2. The Book of Mormon was translated from ancient gold plates by Joseph Smith, is the most correct book on earth and is an ancient historical record.
  3. Native Americans are descended from an Israelite family which left Jerusalem in 600 B.C.
  4. Joseph and Hyrum Smith were killed as martyrs in 1844 because they would not deny their testimony of the Book of Mormon.
  5. The Illinois newspaper called the Nauvoo Expositor had to be destroyed because it printed lies about Joseph Smith.
  6. There was no death on this planet prior to 6,000 years ago
  7. All humans alive today are descended from just two people who lived approximately 6,000 years ago

What is the accusation?

What this all boils down to is this: Does President Monson know the Church is false and nevertheless use his position with the intent to defraud Phillips, Bloor and Ralph during the period spanning from February 3, 2008 through December 2013?

Answer


Question: Did President Monson or the Church as a “body corporate” actually make any or all of these statements during the period spanning from February 3, 2008 through December 2013?
Answer: No.

The answer seems to be “no” with respect to at least some of these claims. For example, we are not aware of any statement from President Monson or the Church as a “body corporate” during that period to the effect that there was no death on the planet before 6,000 years ago.

Question: Are all of these statements demonstrably false?
Answer: No

We can demonstrate that nearly all of them are matters of faith and not demonstrably false. Many of the statements are simply matters of opinion. (E.g., the Book of Mormon is the most correct on Earth.) Nearly all of them cannot be disproven. Of course, while it can be demonstrated that there was death before 6,000 years ago, it cannot be demonstrated that President Monson or the Church have taught this to Phillips, Bloor and Ralph between February 3, 2008 through December 2013.

Question: Did President Monson know these statements are false?
Answer: No

There is no evidence that President Monson thinks what he or the Church has been teaching between February 3, 2008 through December 2013 is false. While some have claimed that he doesn't really believe the Church is true, and has not testified of the foundational doctrines of the Church for many years, he has, in fact, done so. In summary, not all of these statements have been taught by President Monson and the Church during the relevant time period, those that have been taught are not demonstrably false, and there is every indication that President Monson believes the Church is true.

Claims that President Monson doesn't bear witness of foundational doctrines

Summary: It has been claimed that President Thomas S. Monson does not bear testimony of such foundational concepts as the truth of the Book of Mormon, the reality of Joseph Smith's First Vision, and so forth. Some have wondered if this means that he intends to downplay such doctrines, or if he does not believe strongly in them.

The FairMormon Blog responds to these questions

SteveDensleyJr,"A Yankee Lawyer’s Guide to the “Mormon Apocalypse”", FairMormon Blog, (February 17, 2014)


A British man named Tom Philips has filed a fraud action in England against President Thomas Monson and is claiming that it will bring on the “Mormon Apocalypse.” However, rather than inciting fear and panic among the faithful, if they know about the case at all, the most common response is one of bewilderment among Mormons and non-Mormons alike. That is due partly to the fact that it seems quite odd that someone would pursue a case for fraud that is based on faith claims and personal opinions. But, at least for Americans, the odd nature by which the claim has arisen procedurally is equally puzzling.


As an American civil defense lawyer, I think I have been as befuddled by this case as anyone. So I’ve consulted British lawyers and legal sources and come up with the following guide to what Phillips has called, the “Mormon Apocalypse.”

Click here to view the complete article

It is claimed that President Monson does not believe that "The Book of Abraham is a literal translation of Egyptian papyri by Joseph Smith"

The Introduction to the Pearl of Great Price states:

The Book of Abraham. An inspired translation of the writings of Abraham. Joseph Smith began the translation in 1835 after obtaining some Egyptian papyri. The translation was published serially in the Times and Seasons beginning March 1, 1842, at Nauvoo, Illinois. [1]

The Introduction to the Book of Abraham states:

A Translation of some ancient Records that have fallen into our hands from the catacombs of Egypt. The writings of Abraham while he was in Egypt, called the Book of Abraham, written by his own hand, upon papyrus. [2]

It is claimed that President Monson does not believe that "The Book of Mormon was translated from ancient gold plates by Joseph Smith, is the most correct book on earth and is an ancient historical record"

The 2013 Introduction to the Book of Mormon states:

The book was written by many ancient prophets by the spirit of prophecy and revelation. Their words, written on gold plates, were quoted and abridged by a prophet-historian named Mormon. The record gives an account of two great civilizations. One came from Jerusalem in 600 B.C. and afterward separated into two nations, known as the Nephites and the Lamanites. The other came much earlier when the Lord confounded the tongues at the Tower of Babel. ....

Concerning this record the Prophet Joseph Smith said: “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.” [3]

President Monson testified in April 1997 (reposted on September 11, 2013) that the Book of Mormon was translated from gold plates:

Volumes have been written concerning the life and accomplishments of Joseph Smith, but for our purposes here today perhaps a highlight or two will suffice: He was visited by the angel Moroni. He translated, from the precious plates to which he was directed, the Book of Mormon, with its new witness of Christ to all the world. [4]

President Monson said that the Book of Mormon was true on November 1, 2011:

Brothers and sisters, have you read the Book of Mormon? Have you put to the test the promise found in Moroni 10:4, asking your Heavenly Father “with a sincere heart, with real intent, having faith in Christ” whether or not that which is found in that book is truth? ....

Brothers and sisters, many of you probably came to Brigham Young University already knowing that the Book of Mormon is true, that Joseph Smith is indeed a prophet, and that this is the true Church of Jesus Christ. Some of you, however, may still be living on the testimony of others—your parents, your friends, your Church leaders. May I suggest that, as Brother Christensen did, you set aside time every day to find out for yourself if the Book of Mormon is a true book, for it will change your heart and change your life. If you seek this knowledge “with a sincere heart, with real intent, having faith in Christ,” I promise that you will receive an answer. And once you know that the Book of Mormon is true, then it will follow that Joseph Smith was a prophet of God. You will have that burning testimony and knowledge that this church is true. [5]

It is claimed that President Monson does not believe that "Native Americans are descended from an Israelite family which left Jerusalem in 600 B.C."

The Introduction to the Book of Mormon (2006 edition) states:

The book was written by many ancient prophets by the spirit of prophecy and revelation. Their words, written on gold plates, were quoted and abridged by a prophet-historian named Mormon. The record gives an account of two great civilizations. One came from Jerusalem in 600 B.C. and afterward separated into two nations, known as the Nephites and the Lamanites. The other came much earlier when the Lord confounded the tongues at the Tower of Babel. This group is known as the Jaredites. After thousands of years, all were destroyed except the Lamanites, and they are among the ancestors of the American Indians. [6]

Prior to 2006, the Introduction stated, "they are the principal ancestors of the American Indians."

President Monson said that the Book of Mormon was true in April 2011:

What will protect you from the sin and evil around you? I maintain that a strong testimony of our Savior and of His gospel will help see you through to safety. If you have not read the Book of Mormon, read it. I will not ask for a show of hands. If you do so prayerfully and with a sincere desire to know the truth, the Holy Ghost will manifest its truth to you. If it is true—and it is—then Joseph Smith was a prophet who saw God the Father and His Son, Jesus Christ. The Church is true. If you do not already have a testimony of these things, do that which is necessary to obtain one. It is essential for you to have your own testimony, for the testimonies of others will carry you only so far. Once obtained, a testimony needs to be kept vital and alive through obedience to the commandments of God and through regular prayer and scripture study. [7]

It is claimed that President Monson does not believe that "Joseph and Hyrum Smith were killed as martyrs in 1844 because they would not deny their testimony of the Book of Mormon"

President Monson as First Counselor in the First Presidency, testified in April 1997 (reposted on September 11, 2013) that Joseph Smith died as a martyr:

At length, Joseph Smith died the martyr's death. [8]

President Monson testified in October 2005 that Joseph Smith gave his life for his friends

In Carthage Jail he was incarcerated with his brother Hyrum and others. On June 27, 1844, Joseph, Hyrum, John Taylor, and Willard Richards were together there when an angry mob stormed the jail, ran up the stairway, and began firing through the door of the room they occupied. Hyrum was killed, and John Taylor was wounded. Joseph Smith’s last great act here upon the earth was one of selflessness. He crossed the room, most likely “thinking that it would save the lives of his brethren in the room if he could get out, … and sprang into the window when two balls pierced him from the door, and one entered his right breast from without.” 6 He gave his life; Willard Richards and John Taylor were spared. “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” 7 The Prophet Joseph Smith taught us love—by example. [9]

President Monson testified in October 2002 that Joseph Smith sealed his testimony with his blood:

Toward the end of his life, as he was led away with his brother Hyrum to Carthage Jail, he bravely faced what he undoubtedly knew lay ahead for him, and he sealed his testimony with his blood. [10]

President Monson, as a counselor in the First Presidency, testified in June 1994 that Joseph Smith gave his life for his friends

The Prophet Joseph, with his pistol in hand, was attempting to defend his life and that of his brethren, and yet he could tell from the pounding on the door that this mob would storm that door and would kill John Taylor and Willard Richards in an attempt to kill him. And so his last great act here upon the earth was to leave the door and lead Willard Richards to safety, throw the gun on the floor, and go to the window, that they might see him, that the attention of this ruthless mob might be focused upon him rather than the others. [11]

President Monson stated while an Apostle (as a member of the council of the Twelve), and as a Prophet, Seer, and Revelator in October 1974 that Joseph Smith died as a martyr:

There is yet another I choose to nominate—even the Prophet Joseph Smith. His faith, his trust, his testimony are reflected by his own words, spoken as he went to Carthage Jail and martyrdom: “I am going like a lamb to the slaughter; but I am calm as a summer’s morning; I have a conscience void of offense towards God, and towards all men.” (D&C 135:4.) He sealed his testimony with his blood. Joseph Smith qualifies. [12]

It is claimed that President Monson does not believe that "The Illinois newspaper called the Nauvoo Expositor had to be destroyed because it printed lies about Joseph Smith"

It does not appear that President Monson has ever said anything about the Nauvoo Expositor.

It is claimed that President Monson does not believe that "There was no death on this planet prior to 6,000 years ago"

It does not appear that Thomas S. Monson has ever expounded on whether or not there was "no death on this planet prior to 6000 years ago."

For the Latter-day Saint perspective on age of the Earth, see:

"Genesis 1–2: The Creation," Old Testament Student Manual Genesis-2 Samuel, (1980), 26–36

"Home-Study Lesson: Doctrine and Covenants 76:81–119; 77–83 (Unit 17)," 2013 D&C and Church History Seminary Teacher Manual

Invite a student to read Doctrine and Covenants 77:6–7 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for Joseph Smith’s questions about Revelation 5:1 as well as the Lord’s responses. It may be helpful to explain that the 7,000 years refers to the time since the Fall of Adam and Eve. It is not referring to the actual age of the earth including the periods of creation.

The Book of Mormon prophet Lehi taught that

if Adam had not transgressed he would not have fallen, but he would have remained in the garden of Eden. And all things which were created must have remained in the same state in which they were after they were created; and they must have remained forever, and had no end. (2 Nephi 2:22)

Because this is the only scripture that indicates this, it is difficult to interpret the meaning of "all things." Does it mean "all things in the garden", or "all things on the entire earth", or something else?

Current Church manuals take a cautionary approach to interpreting this verse by considering only how it affected Adam and Eve. For example, from 2010 Gospel Principles manual, page 28:

When Adam and Eve were placed in the Garden of Eden, they were not yet mortal. In this state, “they would have had no children” (2 Nephi 2:23). There was no death. They had physical life because their spirits were housed in physical bodies made from the dust of the earth (see Moses 6:59; Abraham 5:7). They had spiritual life because they were in the presence of God. They had not yet made a choice between good and evil.

Adam and Eve were not yet mortal. In this state, "they would have had no children" (2 Nephi 2:23). The statement "there was no death" applies to the Garden of Eden, which is what the paragraph is describing. There is no statement in the manual that there had been no death anywhere in the entire world. There has been a difference of opinion among Church leaders on the extent to which immortality affected God's creations before the Fall.

It is claimed that President Monson does not believe that "All humans alive today are descended from just two people who lived approximately 6,000 years ago"

Elder Thomas S. Monson, of the Council of the Twelve, stated his belief in the existence of Adam and Eve and their descendants in April 1982:

Most prominent among their number was that son of Adam born of Eve, even Cain—a well-known name among men. Powerful in potential, but weak of will, Cain permitted greed, envy, disobedience, and even murder to jam that personal rudder which would have guided him to safety and exaltation. The downward gaze replaced the upward look; Cain fell. [13]

Thomas S. Monson's Testimony of Joseph Smith

Monson.testimony.of.joseph.smith.jpg


Notes

  1. Introduction to the Pearl of Great Price (2013 edition), LDS.org off-site
  2. Introduction to the Book of Abraham (2013 edition), LDS.org off-site
  3. "Introduction," Book of Mormon (2013 edition), off-site
  4. Thomas S. Monson, "Testimony of Joseph Smith," LDS.org (April 1997, reposted on josephsmith.net on September 11, 2013)
  5. Thomas S. Monson, Be A Light to the World," BYU Devotional Address, 1 November 2011.
  6. "Introduction," Book of Mormon, off-site
  7. "Priesthood Power," Ensign (May 2011).
  8. Thomas S. Monson, "Testimony of Joseph Smith," LDS.org (April 1997, reposted on josephsmith.net on September 11, 2013)
  9. Thomas S. Monson, "The Prophet Joseph Smith: Teacher by Example," October 2005 General Conference, LDS.org
  10. Thomas S. Monson, "Models to Follow," October 2002 General Conference, LDS.org.
  11. Thomas S. Monson, "The Prophet Joseph Smith: Teacher by Example," Ensign (June 1994).
  12. Thomas S. Monson, "My Personal Hall of Fame," October 1974 General Conference, LDS.org
  13. Thomas S. Monson, "Sailing Safely the Seas of Life," April 1982 General Conference, LDS.org.