Sunday, October 30, 2011

Book of Mormon Month - Days 29 and 30: Did Joseph REALLY translate the Book of Mormon?

Painting by an unknown painter, circa 1842. Th...Image via Wikipedia
Painting by an unknown painter,
circa 1842. The original is owned
by the Community of Christ archive
Have you ever tried to write a book?

I mean a real good book, like what you hope will be the next Great American Novel, or at least something that people might read and feel a compulsion to share with others so that word-of-mouth is a primary driver of its propagation. It would have to be a book with plots within plots and a multitude of characters playing their roles over long periods of time and across a landscape of cultural differences and story twists. It would have to be internally consistent as far as time sequences, place names and relationships, and the overall treatment of the subject matters it discusses. To add even more interest, it would need to be written as a true-life, perpetual journal handed down over thousands of years from author to author, and it would need to read differently according to which author is speaking.

Not me. I have tried only to write a simple, entertaining fiction novel or two which, of itself, is not easy by any means. (As you can see from the title of this post, it's taken me at least two days to even produce this short article. Even then, I've only succeeded in standing on the shoulders of other giants in quoting their work.)

I'm not uneducated, though. I've been reading and writing stories, poetry, prose, and novels starting from my earliest memories of going to the library after school and on weekends with my librarian mother and holding a pencil to some discarded Xerox paper to the present. In high school, I won as runner up in an English Language Arts scholarship competition against many other schools in my state. In addition, I won a scholarship given out to only four students in my state for space sciences engineering (mostly due to my talent in persuasive writing and not really due to any skill as an engineer). I later switched my major to computer science and ended up graduating with a Bachelor of the Arts degree in business education and Spanish. Now I work for a publishing company.

1851 lithograph of Smith's body about to be mu...Image via Wikipedia
1851 lithograph of martyred
Joseph Smith's body about
to be mutilated by a mob
(Library of Congress).
Yet, even with my relatively broad array of educational and career experiences and my many blog posts and traditional writing, it still requires much effort for me to put very many words onscreen or on paper. I've never even been published for all my efforts, nor had my name "for good and evil among all nations, kindreds, and tongues, or that it should be both good and evil spoken of among all people" as has Joseph Smith! (And, thank goodness for that, judging by what he went through because he simply wouldn't deny what God had wrought through him!)

For example, during the November 2010 National Novel Writing Month, on a good day, writing for about two hours, with a burst of pure, unstoppable inspiration, and with an unhealthy amount of self-confidence, I can barely manage between 1,000 and 2,000 words of manuscript.

Oh, and that's on my iPad with a detachable keyboard, spell check, and the ability to look up anything I desire on the Web for my research. I can also instantly delete and retype something that doesn't work. And, that is raw text that will have to undergo several major revisions before it ever is shown to an editor...IF I pretend to become so brave as to submit it.

If one of my kids, my job, or some random, menial task around my modern, centrally heated, 21st century household interrupts this flow of inspiration, it all comes crashing down.

I've never completed any novel I've undertaken to write. I just can't seem to pull together enough quiet time and coherent thinking to produce more than 150 pages before I lose interest or some other project or crisis distracts me indefinitely. At some point, I just abandon my efforts on one manuscript and start another a year later with the same results.

Ask any writer and they will all agree! It's that hard!

Daniel C. Peterson, Ph.D. (I actually had to look up how to spell "Ph.D." just now, which indicates the large gap in intellect between he and I) has written a number of books at this point in his career. I'll let him tell it in his own words as given in a speech at a Book of Mormon symposium:
I might just add that I had a fairly productive period in terms of writing over the past two years, and I have kept daily records of the number of words I had written. I've averaged just over 3,000 words a week over the past two years of what I would consider publishable prose. Some of it has been published and has resulted so far in at least one very bad book and several articles, in any event, that's a fairly good level of productivity in that I'm not working at it full-time but I'm working fairly consistently at it...
That's a lot of words per week compared to what yours truly can output per week as a hobbyist writer. Then again, Dr. Peterson has actually chosen this unique form of torture for himself as part of a real-life academic career.

The Book of Mormon: An Account Written by the ...Image via Wikipedia
The Book of Mormon: An Account
Written by the Hand of Mormon
upon Plates Taken from the
Plates of Nephi
Now, I'd like you to consider the word count that was required for Joseph Smith to dictate all 500+ pages, in translation even, to a scribe over the slightly more than 2 months it took to produce the all 260,000+ words of the Book of Mormon. Again, from Dr. Peterson's speech:
...the production of the Book of Mormon is a process that's resulting in almost 5,000 words a day for a period of just little over two months. To me that's breathtaking, that's really astonishing. Especially for a person with Joseph Smith's level of education, and people who just say, well he just had a great level of imagination gushed out of him, need to try it. Books don't gush, at least in my experience, I wish they did.
Did you catch that? Dr. Peterson, who has a Ph.D., was prone to writing 3,000 words per week (while juggling his other duties at the university, which include teaching and primary research in his field, and, presumably, more work at home as a husband and father and at church). Yet Joseph Smith, in 1829, with barely above an elementary grades education, taking whatever meager temporal work he could find to barely scrape up a living wage for his wife and family, all while starting an ambitious (to say the least) restoration of the original Christian church, building cities and temples, and being chased by mobs from one end to another of whatever state he happened to reside in, was somehow still capable of producing 5,000 words of text per day.

I'm out of breath just in writing that!

Now, to those who insist that the Book of Mormon is false, I challenge you here and now to explain how Joseph was able to produce it. Was he a literary prodigy? Could he somehow stop or slow down time to make it work in his favor? No. One must first consider that, like other prophets chosen in Biblical times to perform great feats and miracles, Joseph was likewise called of God to perform a "marvelous work and a wonder". Everyone who knew him insisted he was nothing less than a prophet, seer, and revelator (because they, among other reasons for believing, literally had no other explanation for the amazing words and works that came out of him).

Even Joseph's own beloved and devoted wife, Emma, couldn't explain it in any other way. In an interview with her son, who had asked whether his father could have written it beforehand, then somehow memorized or dictated it to her and to Oliver Cowdery, she replied,
Joseph Smith could neither write nor dictate a coherent and well-worded letter, let alone dictating a book like the Book of Mormon. And, though I was an active participant in the scenes that transpired, and was present during the translation of the plates, and had cognizance of things as they transpired, it is marvelous to me, 'a marvel and a wonder,' as much so as to any one else.
Did the devil Beelzebub prompt him to write it? Not likely, as the Savior taught in Mark 3:22-27:

 22 ¶And the scribes which came down from Jerusalem said, He hath Beelzebub, and by the prince of the devils casteth he out devils.
 23 And he called them unto him, and said unto them in parables, How can Satan cast out Satan?
 24 And if a kingdom be divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand.
 25 And if a house be divided against itself, that house cannot stand.
 26 And if Satan rise up against himself, and be divided, he cannot stand, but hath an end.
 27 No man can enter into a strong man’s house, and spoil his goods, except he will first bind the strong man; and then he will spoil his house.

In other words, we only need to take Christ's word for it. Just as Satan would not prompt Jesus to cast out Satan's own demons in the name of God, who Satan is fighting against, Satan would likewise not prompt Joseph to write a book of scripture that glowingly speaks of his nemesis, Jesus Christ, on nearly every page and which denounces Satan's own kingdom at every turn.

In 2002, the work of tracking down every extant version of the Book of Mormon and critically analyzing and comparing each text resulted in the following conclusion:

Ultimately we must realize that the original English-language text [Oliver Cowdery's transcription] of the Book of Mormon is not fully recoverable by human effort. Textual errors are generally not found except by discovering the correct reading in the manuscripts. Unfortunately, only 28 percent of the original manuscript is extant. Conjecture based on internal analysis of the Book of Mormon text has largely been unsuccessful in recovering the correct reading. Still, some conjectures are probably correct. Another important point to keep in mind is that even if we had the entire original manuscript, there would still be errors in the text, mainly because the original manuscript itself has some [grammatical and spelling] errors.

The systematic nature of the original text supports the theory that the text was revealed to Joseph Smith word for word. On the other hand, all subsequent transmissions of the text appear to have been subject to human error. Errors have crept into the text, but no error significantly interferes with either the message of the book or its doctrine. These textual errors have never prevented readers of the book from receiving their own personal witness of its truth.

Joseph Smith, Jr.'s signature.Image via Wikipedia
Joseph Smith, Jr.'s Signature
Critics of the Book of Mormon can rail against Joseph's character (what they think they know of it), the events of his life, the doctrines he revealed, and anything else they can concoct to discredit the man. But there is one thing they have not, can not, and never will be able to do. They will never be able to explain how we got the Book of Mormon using any other account than the one Joseph, his family, his associates, and church members have produced and testified to in blood, sweat, tears, and persecution...that he dictated it from the ancient metal plates by the Holy Spirit of God.

If you are an anti-Mormon writer or you like to read anti-Mormon literature, and if you want anyone to take your arguments against the LDS Church seriously, you need to do the work of scholars rather than the "work" of scholarly poseurs. You need to actually study and publish your own intellectually and logically satisfying counter-arguments to the points made by even this small handful of LDS scholars.


  1. I respect the BOM as an incredible literary work, having read it several times, I understand the high regard in which you value it. But please help me with this, I ask with all sencerity and respect, when it comes to matters of theology, salvation and our eternal souls, does the character of the one presenting a restored gospel make any difference? Being somone not raised LDS, is it unreasonable for me to inquire about it's founder? PRO-LDS site confirms cases of Smith's polyandrous relationships amoung many other issues and I sincerly cannot help but question his character as a true prophet of God.

  2. Is there a more specific item with regards to said relationships that you'd like to discuss? It's a big topic, but I'll see if I can shed some light on the matter.

    Also, please keep in mind that even the Bible shows character flaws...sometimes deep and even serious major and minor prophets alike. If we were expected to judge the truth of God's words based on the reputation (either perceived or real) of the flawed humans the Bible talks about, we would have a very hard time proclaiming it as true, would we not?

  3. Thank you for your responce, I greatly appreciate it.
    I totally agree there are flawed characters in the Bible. The difference is when a prophet sinned or failed in some way, it was followed with repentance and a contrite heart. Paul was a ruthless persecuter of Christians, but after his conversion he was not the same man.
    According to there is no debate that Smith actively and continally married many woman who were married to men still living. As difficult as plural marriage is to reconcile for some, polyandry takes it many steps further. LDS authority explains plural marriage was neccesary "to raise up seed". I cannot find the purpose for polyandry. If these woman were already sealed to their husbands for all eternity, why would Smith also be sealed to them?
    I understand Smith was not perfect, I don't expect any human to be, but when history tells of an ongoing, inexplicable lifestyle, I can't help but have sincere concern. Thank you for your time. -Tom

  4. To accuse the early Mormon church of wrongdoing regarding polygamy, you will also need to indict the Biblical patriarchs. They were under no condemnation by God for their plural marriages. Only Solomon and David suffered castigation for taking on concubines outside of the law of plural marriage. doesn't officially speak for the Church. The Church has not issued any statements either way about what did or didn't happen.


    What about Jonah?

    What about Balaam?

    What about David?

    What about Judas, who was called as an apostle, yet betrayed the Lord for 30 pieces of silver?

    Compare their endings to Joseph Smith's. Joseph was faithful to the Lord in his testimony of the work he had been called to do. Your admiration for the Book of Mormon is significant in this regard. If Joseph Smith hadn't been inspired by God in its translation, the Church of Jesus Christ would not have been restored. The book itself is a testament to the veracity of the work Joseph Smith did. We can revere a prophet for the good accomplished while forgiving the flaws.

    I don't know how Joseph Smith will be judged for his choices. I'm not God to make that decision, thank goodness. I hope you would not put yourself in God's place either. Focus on the fruits, not on the mistakes.

  5. Thank you for your responce, but why won't you address polyandry?

    1. Can you tell me what you mean by polyandry? What exactly are you referring to? You seem to be wanting to get at something, but want me to fill in the blanks. I would rather hear your full question directly from you.

    2. Having read your blog, it's obvious you're an intelligent person, you know LDS history and I respectfully suggest you know exactly what I mean. I'll explain my question nevertheless.

      It's a fact Joseph Smith had at least 33 wives (polygamy).

      But it's also a fact Smith married at least 11 women who were already married to other living men (polyandry).

      LDS apologist Samuel Katich confirms the Church's acceptance of this fact in an article published on the pro-LDS website (LDS FAIR). Smith's wives are also verified on the LDS website

      Of these already married women, many of them had husbands who were FAITHFUL LDS men.

      D&C 132:61 commands plural marriage "if they are virgins". If these woman were already married to faithful LDS men, can you please give me any reason why Joseph Smith took them as his own, and how he did not violate D&C 132:61?

      Can you explain how Joseph Smith's Polyandry does not contradict the entire notion of eternal families?

      You've mentioned Biblical patriarchs who practiced polygamy, but can you give me examples of any who have ever righteously taken an already married woman to be his wife?

      Again, I am not trying to inflame or shock. I have sincere questions about a prophet's character and trustworthiness.

  6. Thank you for clarifying. I knew that was what you were getting at, but I wanted you to say it in your own words. So many people hit me with questions under false pretenses, hoping to make me an "offender for a word", that I feel the need to be cautious in my replies, making sure I have all the details of the question on their minds. But now I know you don't have that as your goal.

    Having said that, here is a primer on what is known about Joseph Smith on this topic.

    I've read the article you refer to by Katich. I don't base my testimony on his conclusions, no matter how flattering they may be toward Joseph Smith. He, by his own admission, is by no means the authority on the matter. He is not the only person to have written his opinions, and he won't be the last. He notes, himself, in his article that "Important to note is the fact that Joseph did not specifically document the reasons, thus, the explorations of thought presented below are based on an interpretation that fits within the framework of LDS theology."

    Furthermore, in the footnotes of the article, he states: "The views expressed in this paper are solely mine. They do not represent the official teachings or views of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints on this subject. I recognize Richard Lloyd Anderson and Scott H. Faulring's remarks on this subject. Namely, that we do not have explanations from Joseph Smith on each of his plural marriages, and as such, we should withhold judgment until such a time that we do have that information. That said, this paper reflects a faithful and sensible attempt towards understanding and interpreting the subject based on available information. While I cite authors Todd Compton and Richard Van Wagoner for the historical data they have compiled, this paper does not necessarily reflect, consider, or agree with their speculative opinions on the subject. This article is subject to revision as more information becomes available."

    The rest of the footnotes are excellent in further casting light on how people of that time thought about, considered, and came to accept plural marriage as a general practice, and, for those few that the present topic applies to, the doctrine and symbol of sacrifice that it represented.

    "It was in these ways that Joseph's requests were an Abrahamic test of individual willingness to submit to the Lord's will. Those who willingly submitted themselves at all costs were proven and strengthened in faith as well as received a much larger responsibility in terms of fulfilling the commandment to take plural wives...Joseph's inquiries into the souls of these men and women highlight principles of faith and loyalty as well as jealousy and betrayal. They were made to prove and develop them as servants in the restored Church. They either went on to become stronger for the experience, or became faithless and departed from that which they once held as truth."

    Read Katich's conclusion, then read the footer note #71.

    Another key commonality in all of this is that those whom Joseph invited to plural marriages were also invited to pray and receive their own witness of the truth of it. None of them were coerced or tricked into doing something they didn't want to do. Read the article again and you'll see that thread very clearly.

    1. The other aspect of this extremely limited practice is explained as follows: "It should be remembered that all things in the Church are not revealed at once. Instruction is given line upon line, as the Church is ready and able to receive it [as also occurred in the early Christian church under the Apostles...see Acts 10 and Acts 21:26-28 for what then was as scandalous and unthinkable to Jews, and even some formerly Jewish Christians, as reintroducing the doctrine of plural marriage was in Victorian America]. During this time, the reasoning behind these sealings may well have been that for a woman to wait until death and then be proxy sealed to one who would not accept the gospel in this life, put too great of a risk on the exaltation of that woman in the eternity to follow. At the time, Joseph seemed to be the best assurance towards meeting that ultimate eternal goal. This uncertainty about whether the dead would accept the gospel or not was later overcome through revelation and by the end of the nineteenth century, family links were being forged between those living who had accepted the gospel and those who had died without the gospel."

      Now, read footnote #42.

      I cannot provide a direct analog from the Bible of what we're discussing here. Either something like this (along with a great many other things we don't know about) happened and wasn't recorded, or it never happened. I can't speak to that. But I can point you to other things that happened in the Bible, particularly the Old Testament that seem to defy the laws of the 10 Commandments. See "Why would Abraham lie?" and then read Isaiah 55:8-11 for more perspective on this.

      The truth is, all we'll ever have on this topic is speculation, supposition, and opinion until God sees fit to reveal more. If that is a test of faith to some more than others, then that is what God has willed and it will help determine who is willing to follow Him even if they don't have all the answers they want (or think they want). There really is no firm set of evidence (yet) or a single revelation (yet) or declaration (yet) or proclamation (yet) from the Church leaders that definitively gives us the whole picture of what happened during that time.

      The only thing I can really speak to definitively is that, in addition to there no longer being a practice of the doctrine of plural marriage, there is (nor ever has there been) any such thing as any random male Church member proposing marriage to any other man's wife. It simply is not now a practice, nor was it then a practice, as it clearly was but only from the prophet to select individuals he was testing and trying, or to whom he was offering a more sure way to exaltation than they currently had. Beyond that, I can only speculate like the rest of the world has.

      As for Joseph's character, again, I can no more speak definitively on it than I can of yours. I didn't personally know the man, though I've read so much about him I sometimes feel that I do. Ultimately, I can only report what I've read and make my own conclusions. My conclusion is that despite his relatively minor flaws, he really was a good man, trustworthy and of good character. He really did receive revelation from God even in his last days and moments. Joseph did his best to fulfill the mission given to him. I am not his judge. God is.

      I base my testimony of the work he did, the fruits it produced, and of the truthfulness of the LDS church on personal revelation alone. Overwhelmingly, that was the pattern of the individuals asked to participate in plural marriages as well. Each gained his/her own testimony of what they were being asked to do.

    2. By that same process of studying, praying, and applying the teachings found in the Book of Mormon, I know this: The Book of Mormon is 100% true scripture. After 20 years of researching and applying its teachings on my own, and seeing it applied in the lives of many great men and women, I have found that there is no explanation other than that it came from God. No other story I know of adequately accounts for its existence. For my own testimony, everything else falls into place from there. If the Book of Mormon is true scripture, then the Church of which it is a keystone is a true church.

      You should read it yourself, all of it, then pray and make your own decision.

    3. Thank you for your time. My questions are with all sincerity, as I'm sure you agree, trusting any man to be the voice of God is a very serious matter to say the least!

      You said you base your testimony on the work Joseph Smith did, the fruits it produced. I belive "fruits" include the way he practiced his daily life and should be able to answer for it.

      I honestly hoped for more of an answer to this issue, considering Jospeh Smith's restoration of the gospel was intended to clear up confusion about God, mankind, and the plan of salavation. But how can I believe his message if there is no answer/reason to how polyandry can co-exist with eternal marraige?

      It's seems the more I study (pro-mormon) literature about the practices of Joseph Smith, the teachings of Brigham Young and many other issues I find the following answers repeated:

      1. There is no official statement of the Church

      2. We don't really know why it happened this way

      3. We don't know that we teach it

      4. All we have on this topic is speculation

      I realize I'll never have everything answered concerning God and why things happen, and that there is a great deal of faith required to believe in something we don't see, but the gospel message of the Jesus Christ (although a difficult path) is plainly clear.

      When it comes to placing my trust and eternal soul in Joseph Smith to introduce a "restored" gospel of Jesus, instituting new laws, ordinances and requirements never mentioned by Jesus or His apostles, there are just too many questions about this man and no real answers given.

      "But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed" Gal.1:8

      Thanks again

  7. The Gospel of Jesus Christ in the Bible is the same as the Gospel of Jesus Christ in the Book of Mormon, and vice versa. There is no difference between them. Read it for yourself and you see this is the case. Each volume of scripture simply testifies the same as the other. Are there "higher doctrines" that Christ didn't touch upon? Of course. This can be directly observed in the account of the Mount of Transfiguration. What happened during that event? Does anyone know? They don't, because it was not written. Yet it happened and it obviously was of the greatest importance. We happen to believe it had to do with the endowment given in the Temple. But we have that knowledge because of a prophet. Does any other faith have anything else to say about that obviously important event beyond what the scriptures state? Is it wrong for God to reveal it to a flawed human being through His Own Grace? Are we really to put our wisdom before His? Let God speak and let us obey.

    Lots of churches don't have official statements on lots of things their leaders have done or said. The purpose of the church is not to issue official statements on everything anyone says. It is to bring people to Christ in the way God sees fit in a given age. Wouldn't you agree? Joseph Smith never claimed to be perfect. Joseph Smith never claimed to be Christ. Joseph Smith merely pointed us to Christ, as did the prophets who were called after him to do the same.

    For the Jews, the way God taught them to come to Christ was through the symbolism of the Law of Moses. For early Christians it was by listening to and accepting the testimonies of the apostles who were direct witnesses of Christ's divinity. For Latter-day Saint Christians it is by listening to the words of modern prophets whom God has chosen to help them through the calamities they're experiencing _now_ that the early Christians never imagined.

    You say that you are being sincere, and I still want to believe that. Yet I see in your response the echoes of the oft-repeated pattern of anti-mormon arguing from a pre-concluded premise...that the LDS faith is utterly corrupt and wrong from its founding...without considering that they themselves don't have enough information to make their conclusions definitive either.

    I would urge you to do the actual experiment of reading the actual Book of Mormon (not just what its critics say). Sincerely study it. Suspend your doubts and disbeliefs ("help thou my unbelief")(doubt comes not from God, who is the God of Truth, but from Satan) and pray to know if it's true scripture and a companion to the Bible in testifying of Jesus the Christ. I know that it is true scripture, in _spite_ of any doubts I have had about it or about Joseph Smith (a flawed human being whom I do not worship...I worship God in the name of Jesus Christ).

  8. I have read the BOM, I have sincerely studied it. I agree the gospel of Jesus in the BOM is very similar to that of the Bible, but as you know most LDS doctrine is not contained in the BOM. It's not until D&C, Pearl of Great Price and Journal of Discourses where great Biblical differences emerge.

    To point to the transfiguration as anything more than what is written is presumptuous. In fact the Bible tells us what was said. "And, behold, there talked with him two men, who were Moses and Elijah: Who appeared in glory, and spake of his decease which he should accomplish at Jerusalem" (Lk.9:30-31) Jesus was soon to die and Moses and Elijah were confirming the glory to come!

    Again, to rely on a modern prophet to reveal "restored" information such as higher doctrine not spoken of in the Bible, would it not be wise to know and trust everything about this person? Yet when someone has sincere questions, they are labeled "anti-mormon" How is my searching for answers a pre-concluded premise while your (what some might call) blind faith is not?

    I will agree to read the BOM again, sincerely study it and suspend my doubts and disbeliefs and pray to know it's truthfulness if you agree to read the Bible, use critical thinking to see the plain, OVERARCHING message of Jesus and compare it to all of LDS theology :)

  9. Yes and no.

    While I respect the essential doctrinal statement of the Nicene Creed (AD 325), that is the basic concept of three uncreated, eternal Persons existing in one common substance and essence as well as salvation coming only through faith in Jesus Christ, I reject any ecclesiastical or magisterial authority, that is one external supreme Church (Rome, Eastern Orthodox, Jehovah Witness etc.) that determines what scriptures say by revelation of their God-given authority.

    Instead the Bible teaches that anyone who puts their faith in Jesus Christ are instantly placed by the Holy Spirit into one united spiritual body, (the church), who's one supreme authority is Christ. The Bible teaches throughout the New testament that these members of the spiritual body are directed to associate themselves together in local assemblies and congregations, submitting to local elders (also called bishops, pastors, deacons) who only exercises ministerial authority using the Bible as God's written revelation to man.

    Basically, I depend on Jesus Christ and what the Bible teaches to guide my life. I believe the importance of discipleship, accountability of believers to each other and most importantly striving to obey Christ's commandments.

    1. Then what do we make of churches that insist that a person who doesn't accept 100% the Nicene Creed is not Christian? What do we make of what they would call "so-called" Christians?

      I also depend on Jesus Christ and what the Bible teaches to guide my life. I also believe I am saved. I also believe the importance of discipleship, accountability of believers to each other and most importantly striving to obey Christ's commandments.

      So, why am I not Christian?

  10. Actually, I don't agree with any church requiring membership, acceptance of creeds, or any other extra-Biblical commandments/ordinances as a means of salvation or to be considered a Christian.

    In fact Rob, I believe that if you've done what Christ said you and I need to do, you certainly are a Christian!

    But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name(John 1:12)

    Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life.(John 5:24)

    That's it! That's what's so fantastic about the gospel of Jesus! He dosent command us to become a member of some building, accept a creed, eat this, but don't eat that. What does He say? He wants us to believe. If there were anything else, He would've told us. He wants us to put our faith in Him and love Him with all our heart!

    Remember what Jesus said when the disciples asked Him about the greatest commamdment?

    Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang ALL the law and the prophets.(Matthew 22:36-40)

    It's not an easy thing to do by any means, it absolutley requires a HUGE life change in order to obey, but if we can live by these two commandments, everything else follows!

    1. I like your interpretation of Christ's message, don't get me wrong. Nothing bad about a "big tent", so to speak.

      Why do you think God called prophets anciently? Why did He stop calling prophets? Are we really so righteous and blessed that we don't need them anymore?

      What part of the Bible teaches that it is the sola scriptura that ever was, is, and ever will be? What was the process for producing the Bible we possess today that causes it to be seen by certain sects of Christendom as the sola scriptura?

      Why did Christ call apostles? Why did he set Peter apart to lead the Church and effectively decide who was in it and who was not? Even after the Gospel was sent to the Gentiles, why was there still a process of excommunication? Why was there still a process of apostolic succession? Of calling priests, teachers, deacons, evangelists, etc.? Why did that stop? And when?

      Why was baptism a commandment from Christ? Why was He baptized and why did he say we must be baptized?

      What happened in Acts 19:13-18?

      What is the central theme of the teachings of the Acts of the Apostles through Revelation?

      What does the scripture in Hebrews 5:1-5 mean when it says "And no man taketh this honour unto himself, but he that is called of God, as was Aaron." (referring back to Ex. 29:4-9 and 40:12-16)? What is "this honour" being spoken of? How is it to be conferred, and how was it conferred if the Bible as we have it today didn't exist until 100s of years after the fact?

  11. All great questions!

    I believe God called prophets as a means of revealing His Word to us, and that Word contains everything we need to have a relationship with Him and eachother!

    The Bible has a wonderfull "Start and finish" completness to it. Starting with creation in Gen. and ending with God's ultimate victory over evil in Revelation. All of the earliest manuscripts near and far agree to eachother in essence and doctrinal meaning, no other ancient writting comes close to the reliabilty of the Bible.

    I can't say that God will never speak to us again, in fact the Bible tells us in the last days "young men will see visions, your old men will dream dreams"(Acts 2:17) But even then, whatever God shows us through dreams and visions MUST agree with what has already been written. God will not contradict Himself.

    Christ called apostles to spread His gospel to the uttermost parts of the earth.

    Someone who lives a continual sinful, immoral life, according to Matthew 18 and 1 Cor.5 must be disciplined, because God doesn't want impurity in His church. You can't just accept everybody who calls himself a Christian, no matter what he does. But this does not mean we are expected to be sinnless, because none of us are! The good news is Jesus said If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from -ALL- unrighteousness.(1 Jn.1:9) He will never turn His back to us if we're repentant!

    He still calls teachers, deacons, evangelists in the Body of Christ to spread that message. I'll speak of priests later.

  12. Baptism is commanded as a physical symbol of spiritual renewal. John the Baptist was preaching repentance and using baptism as a symbol of a new life from the OT Proselyte cleansing ceremony.

    So why was Jesus baptised? He says it. To fulfilled all righteousness. Jesus' righteous life is imputed to us. Our sins imputed to him, and he fulfilled all righteousness. It was a symbol of his coming death and of his coming resurrection. In submitting to baptism, Jesus is showing us how critical obedience is. It's a graphic illustration of dying, being buried, and rising again.

    But we are not saved by water. By grace you are saved through faith. Paul said in 1 Cor1:14 "I thank God that I baptized none of you, but Crispus and Gaius" If baptism was a saving act, how could Paul say this? Baptism is evidence of genuine repentance and an obedient heart. It's an outward proclamation of a new life in Christ.

    The context of John 3:3 shows Jesus is speaking of something entirely different. He's talking to Nicodemus about how salvations comes through spiritual means and not the law by using two themes of spiritual renewal commonly used in the OT and should have been familiar to a Jewish teacher such as him. The "water" of Isiah 44:3 and the "wind" (same OT word for spirit) of Ezekiel 37:9-10. The Jews were very familiar with renewal of waters from heaven and the winds that blow in heaven, needed for human life. OT prophets commonly these physical themes to speak of that spiritual nourishment from God. this represent the regenerating work of the Spirit in the lives of men.

    But having missed the point, Jesus had to lead him to realize that he should accept the Son of God as the One who came down from heaven. "Jesus answered and said unto him, Art thou a master of Israel, and knowest not these things?" Jhn.3:10

    Throughout Acts miracles were used by God through Paul in confirming His Word. These vagabond Jews clearly were not true believers. The way they used Jesus' name obviously shows They were admitting they didn't know Jesus. You know what happens from there.

    The central theme of the teachings of the Acts of the Apostles through Revelation covers everything from the spareading of the gospel, salvation, our relationship to God, our growing in Christ, our relationship to eachother.

    Hebrews 5:1-5 is not referring to future priests but is simply giving the standard OT qualifications for a priest in order to show how Jesus meets all of them. We see three criteria,"No man taketh this honor unto himself" right! he must be chosen by God from men just like Aaron was, sympathetic with men, and sacrificing for men. It shows how Jesus Christ fitting every one.

    And now we read the rest of Hebrews, Jesus is now our priest! He sits at the right hand of God interceding for us. He is our living mediator! He is our perfect priest. In one act on the cross, Christ accomplished what hundreds of thousands of sacrifices by inumerable priests could never do, to open the way to God forever so any man, by faith in Christ can come before God the father!

  13. Thanks for your thoughtful responses to what you must have detected were my mostly rhetorical questions. Some things you've said I do agree with because I have heard living prophets teaching the same and because they concur with my own, Spirit-breathed testimony of the same. Others, like the many discussions I've had with lay and professional Christians, sound like opinions and private interpretations of scripture. Hermeneutics and exegesis can only take one so far before one has to admit that one is reading the scriptures by the light of one's own understanding, or the understanding and philosophies of other men, and not necessarily by the light of the Holy Ghost.

    I don't wish to get into a Bible bash with anyone over particulars of which verse-by-verse exegesis is correct and which is not. In my 20+ years participating as an LDS apologist online, I have found that always generates more heat than light.

    What I do want to point out are two assumptions that often go unchallenged and unanswered (either deliberately or out of genuine ignorance) by the majority of the non-LDS Christians I've conversed with online and in person over the past 2 decades...

    1) The Bible we read today is complete, from start to finish. God never intended for other writings to be revealed or included.
    2) When Christ ascended, there was no need for further revelation. All the rest was just spreading what He had taught the apostles. When they died, all things would be left up to mankind from there.

    1. Assumption #1 misses the entirety of the history of the composition of the Bible. We didn't have the KJV, which is the basis for this claim, until just as the Pilgrims were coming to America. For anyone to claim that the Bible as it is composed from that point on is the version from which all Christians obtained all truth about Christianity is simply untrue and anachronistic. How, then, do we call Christian anyone who followed the Christian faith before that particular edition was published? Indeed, before Tyndale, there was simply no way the common man would even be able to "come unto Christ" by reading His word for himself (which act was a bona fide crime in those days), for the vulgate did not exist without Tyndale. One had to be schooled in Latin to understand the Mass as it was spoken, and/or had to be from a certain class of society to even be considered for a role in or relationship with the Church that would have given him access to an actual biblical text. How, then, are those ignorant masses not excluded from the modern definition of Christianity? They didn't have the advantage of the knowledge of the grace and nature of Christ that we claim saves us because the vast majority of them simply didn't know anything beyond "Go to Mass or go to Hell".

      Assumption #2 ignores the fact that from Acts forward, the common theme woven throughout the Acts and all the epistles was the massive effort the Apostles made in battling all kinds of apostasy that was already occurring in the Church even before Christ had been crucified. In nearly every city where Christians (by which name they weren't even called until hundreds of years after the fact) had been established as congregations, there were major dissensions on everything from the mode of baptism to whether circumcision was necessary. The apostles got little else done than putting out the fires of contention in every congregation to which they preached. It's all right there in the Bible, plain as day for everyone to read. It's a wonder and a miracle that any more Christians were converted with such confusion as developed in those days were it not for the freshness of the miracles of Jesus in the minds of those living in those regions at that time. Generations later, that freshness decayed into an amalgam of differing beliefs and systems of worship. Listen to Apostle D. Todd Christofferson's excellent talk from today's General Conference session for a clear and concise picture of what happened, and why a restoration was sorely needed.

      So, the Bible as we have it today was not lowered from heaven on a golden string from day following the close of the Epistles of John (arguably the last books chronologically speaking, not Revelation), but compiled in many and various forms over thousands of years since even Moses (if we're also allowing the Old Testament to carry its necessary weight). There are texts, such as the Gospel of Thomas, that used to be considered canonical that today would be considered heresy by modern Christians and vice versa.

    2. Furthermore, there are prophets mentioned in the Old Testament for whom we either have no manuscripts to read from today, or which were for reasons lost to us today, were never included as part of the canon of the KJV and onward (though Catholics have some and included them in their canon). These are: The covenant (Ex. 24:7), the wars of the Lord (Num. 21:14), Jasher (Josh. 10:13; 2 Sam. 1:18), the acts of Solomon (1 Kgs. 11:41), Samuel the seer (1 Chr. 29:29), Nathan the prophet (2 Chr. 9:29), Shemaiah the prophet (2 Chr. 12:15), Iddo the prophet (2 Chr. 13:22), Jehu (2 Chr. 20:34), the sayings of the seers (2 Chr. 33:19), Enoch (Jude 1:14), epistles to the Corinthians (1 Cor. 5:9), to the Ephesians (Eph. 3:3), from Laodicea (Col. 4:16), and, as mentioned in the Book of Mormon, the words of Zenock, Neum, and Zenos (1 Ne. 19:10), Zenos (Jacob 5:1), Zenock and Ezias (Hel. 8:20), and a book of remembrance (Moses 6:5).

      In light of ongoing and often stupefying doctrinal confusion among the various sects claiming the Bible as sola scriptura, not to mention the contemporary social, economic, and political issues and upheavals (gay "marriage" primary among them) of which early Christian fathers could never have imagined, the need for revelation has not ceased. God will not be mocked, nor will He be silenced by man. Biblically, no one can claim that his pattern has changed. If it has, it is due to the self-imposed deafness of mankind's wickedness and faithlessness. God's House is a House of Order, Consistency. He is the same today as He was yesterday and will be the same tomorrow. If He called prophets anciently, we should expect that He will call them again modernly, especially in this most critical winding up scene before Christ's Second Coming. If this were football, it would be the last minute huddle at game point. Do you think The Coach would be sitting on the bench? Or talking to the QB and His star players?

      Having served a mission abroad and through my ministry here at home, I know from direct experience that just the Bible alone is not enough to convince people. They need a second, consistent witness before they'll begin to believe. The Book of Mormon provides this second witness, and it's only fair that God has provided it considering the state of general apostasy the early Christian church underwent and continues to suffer as it is tossed about by every wind of doctrine.

      I don't need to take your challenge to read the Bible again. First, because it is written on my heart. Second, because I read it regularly enough to have memorized many verses from it (much to the surprise of a new pastor friend of mine who had previously taken a friendly jab at our theological differences). I love the Bible just as much as I love the Book of Mormon.

      You've said that you believe the Book of Mormon is true in that it agrees with the Bible. Do you love the Book of Mormon as much as you love the Bible?

  14. Thank you again for your response and continued dialogue.

    Let me say first of all, I have never claimed the KJV is the earliest source of all truth about Christianity. And when I refer to the completness of the Bible or the Word of God, I am speaking about the MESSAGE of the inspired revelation of God to man. And this message happened long before the KJV. In fact, even though the early church didn't officially establish some sort of canon until the Council of Hippo and Carthage in 393-397, it was already very clear to the early believers what was the Word of God and what was not. We know this because (as you have already made clear) there was the "massive effort the Apostles made in battling all kinds of apostasy". They already knew what the truth was!

    Of those mentioned throughout the Bible (Jasher, The covenant, the wars of the Lord, the acts of Solomon, etc...), Paul also cites pagan writers in Acts and Jesus speaks of an unkown disaster when the tower in Siloam fell in Luke 13. These were common to the writers and to those listening at the time but still does not change the message of the Word of God.

    With all of the earliest manuscripts of Old and NT ever discovered, while there are some differences in spelling, calculations, grammar, the MEANING of God's revelation to man and the Gospel of Jesus is the same! So, while I will not claim the Bible is absolute letter-by-letter perfection, I will defend it's meaning as trustworthy and unchanged.

    But let me be clear in saying that God is not silenced by any means! The Holy Spirit still leads Christians. "As many as are led by the Spirit, they are the children of God." (Rom. 8:14) I believe the Holy Spirit guides my life in every way. I believe the Holy Spirit impresses His will on my mind, leading me to righteousness. And this happens through prayer and studying His Word.

    Contrary to how you believe, I side with Paul in 2 Tim. that Scripture (The meaning of the Word of God) is able to make us perfect, make us wise unto salvation, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness. Why would I need additional revelation? What is missing in the Bible? It covers every contemporary social, economic, and political issues and upheavals, including gay "marriage"!

  15. Please answer me this, and I am asking a sincere, honest question. How is the authority of the Prophet Joseph Smith different than that of Muhammad, The Pope, The Watchtower Society, Ellen G. White, Mary Baker Eddy, Herbert W. Armstrong or Sun Myung Moon? Every one of them recieved DIRECT modern revelation for God and went on to write their own version of the Bible and/or additional scripture.

    Would you question any of these people? What is your standard to assure their authenticity? You speak of God continuing to call prophets today, but how do we know which are correct and which are "other gospels"?

    Paul taught us to search out what he was teaching, and I hold every teaching to the same criteria the early believers did. What was that? First, the teaching came from a writer who was a well known, trusted servant of God. Secondly, there were no errors about history, geography, or theology. God will not contradict Himself! With the NT texts, the books were authored by a DIRECT Apostle of Christ or someone closely associated with an Apostle. The writing lined up with everything taught by the direct Apostles of Christ. The writings were already used in the early churches long before myth and legend could occur and distort truth.

    This is the reason the early church rejected other Pseudepigrapha and apocryphal writings and are not part of our Bible. Writings such as the History of Susanna, Baruch, the Gospel of Thomas, the Apocalypse of Peter, the Gospel of Nicodemus, the Shepherd of Hermas, Gospel of Andrew, the Gospel of Bartholomew, were either written long after the early churches were established, they lacked the prophetic quality found in other Biblical texts, the writers are either unkown or never claim divine inspiration, and they contain unmistakable contradictions in doctrine taught by other prophets and Apostles of the Bible. They all fail because they don't pass the test of authenticity.

    While there are certainly verses that may fall into opinions and interpretations such as the meaning of "water and spirit" Jesus spoke of, other meaning of the Word of God found in the Bible are indisputable such as the atoning act of Christ accomplishing the work of the priesthood, therefore making Jesus our mediator and our perfect High Priest. But we'll have to agree to disagree when one accepts modern revelation that continues priesthood and ecclesiastical authority as a means of salvation which is not explicitly commanded in the Bible after the crucifixion of Christ.

    I believe the BOM where it agrees with the Bible concerning the nature of God, the sigularity of God much more than the D&C, Pearl of Great Price. But the implications of those differences raise more questions than answers to their authenticity.

  16. Apologies for not getting back to you sooner. We have been quite occupied with a new child in our home. I wish I had more time to give you a more detailed, sourced answer to all your points above, but it's after midnight and I just got the last of my kids to bed. I will do the best I can, but I urge you to read more of the LDS faith's OWN literature, and to momentarily suspend your disbelief and read it as if you were an adherent--sincerely making an attempt to see our beliefs through our eyes. That is the intellectually, and spiritually, honest way to discover truth.

    The need for additional revelation is clear when considering the abundantly documented disunity of the Christian body even during the lifetime of the apostles, and especially shortly before, during, and even after Joseph Smith. The early saints were commanded to be "one body" with no divisions along doctrinal lines, yet such division is exactly what occurred, first with the Catholic Church changing the baptismal and sacramental ordinances, as well as the manner of conferring the priesthood and ordination to the various offices. Second with the split between Catholics and Protestants. Third up to nth with those who, in turn, split from Catholic and Protestants alike until we have literally thousands of denominations, all fighting amongst themselves in some way or another. I've never understood how anyone could, with a straight face, claim that such divisions, some of them bitter and leading to outright physical war between denominations, could be anything close to the kind of unity in the faith that should have existed (one faith, one baptism). Let alone that they were all part of the "mysteries" of God and that somehow it was all okay just as long as they agree on "the basics" (which, of course, is precisely what nobody can agree on).

    That was precisely why Joseph Smith went to the forest to pray. That prayer differentiates him from all the other "prophets" you listed. They sought followers from the beginning, a few out of sincerity, but most out of love of adulation of peers or seeking monetary compensations. Joseph was only seeking answers and never imagined that he would see God and Christ face to face, or that he would be called to translate ancient records and restore Christ's church back to its original unity. And, after what he and his followers endured compared to the "prophets" and their followers you mention above, it's pretty clear to me that LDS persecution experiences were on the same level as those of the early Church, which is a good sign that the Mormons were doing something right (Hell’s bells ring loudest in protest of the righteous). The others didn't come close to that and disbanded or diluted relatively quickly. They were easy pickings for Satan and he divided and dispatched them with ease. The Mormons, not so much.

    1. Authenticity is tricky to determine without direct revelation. First of all, who gets to decide? On what basis? The arguments you have presented are paper thin in the eyes of non-believers we seek to convert. Especially if we're only dealing with only one book whose events occurred 2000 years ago (and more if counting the OT) and for which we have no original manuscripts. In that, Mormons and other Christians have a lot in common. We can't present the original documents as tangible proof of anything. (But you and I both know that's not the point and that this absence is a stumbling block God put into place to separate the wheat from the tares, or the truly faithful from the sign-seekers. We don't believe by sight and signs, but by faith. Faith precedes any miracles.)

      For example, Christians (and I include Mormons in that term, even if others might not) rightly claim that Paul is an apostle, or a direct, special witness of Christ. Yet those whom we might seek to convert to Christianity can simply argue away all of Paul's writings because his only direct encounter with Christ was through a vision he had, and upon which the testimonies of those who were with him are inconsistent (some saying they heard and saw something and others saying they hadn't). WE believe that Paul is a true apostle and that what he said and wrote are scripture precisely because WE have faith in the existence of miracles and visions and prophetic dreams and such. Those we seek to convert often do not. So we must be wise about making circular arguments with respect to authenticity alone as a basis for belief.

      “Writings such as the History of Susanna, Baruch, the Gospel of Thomas, the Apocalypse of Peter, the Gospel of Nicodemus, the Shepherd of Hermas, Gospel of Andrew, the Gospel of Bartholomew, were either written long after the early churches were established, they lacked the prophetic quality found in other Biblical texts, the writers are either unkown or never claim divine inspiration, and they contain unmistakable contradictions in doctrine taught by other prophets and Apostles of the Bible. They all fail because they don't pass the test of authenticity.”

      Understood. I, too, have my reservations about these. But i have fewer reservations about the books I had mentioned that were directly referred to in OT and NT scripture, yet we do not have them on-hand. If those were good enough for OT and NT authors to cite, they must have something useful in them profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness. Otherwise, why mention them at all? And their very mention, yet not being included, strengthens my point about the Bible not having been lowered from Heaven on a golden string. The apostles obviously hoped all these records would be available to future readers, but for reasons obvious to students of scriptural provenance and loss, were not preserved as part of a single, canonical lineage of manuscript.

      "While there are certainly verses that may fall into opinions and interpretations such as the meaning of "water and spirit" Jesus spoke of, other meaning of the Word of God found in the Bible are indisputable..."

    2. That's precisely what I'm getting at. The "water and spirit" argument has been going on for centuries between sects of Christianity who have developed differing initiation rites (baptism, gift of the Holy Ghost or both? sprinkling or immersion? laying on of hands or pentecostal manifestation?) to separate their respective creedal "in groups" and "out groups". Initiation to Christianity is much too important a doctrine to set aside as opinion or interpretation that can we can agree to disagree on or practice as we see fit (or not). Either Christ meant what He said about how one becomes a Christian (Christ follower) or he did not. Nicodemus, still wanting to cling to old doctrines for the sake of political and personal convenience, tried to abstract or re-interpret what he knew Christ was saying so as to still remain in the circle of Pharisaic tradition, but it didn't get him very far, did it? The Savior was onto that and set him straight right then and there. :)

      Even the atoning act of Christ has been disputed ad nauseum over hundreds of years by Catholics, Protestants, and Evangelicals alike. When did the atonement begin and end? At his birth? In the Garden? On the way to the Cross? At the Cross? At resurrection time? At ascension? Did he bleed at every pore as Luke describes? If so, why did no other writer mention that to confirm, leaving us to guess at what Luke meant (figurative or literal)? Was Christ resurrected literally or figuratively? If figuratively, how do we explain his physical presence, along with Thomas and the others witnessing him eating and their touching his hands and side, or walking with him? Are we to take the sacrament weekly, monthly or yearly, if at all (is it a "dead work", even though the Bible from Acts forward clearly shows it was meant to continue)? Is the sacrament to be literally transubstantiative (Catholic), or figurative and symbolic (Protestant, Evangelical, and LDS)? Is it necessary for salvation or just optional? Who has the authority to perform sacramental ordinance, or baptism, or any other Church practice? How is that authority transferred and delegated and administered? Or is authority even necessary if one is sincere enough? What is “enough”?

      See what I mean?

    3. The list of questions that led to division goes on and on and on and on. At the point at which Joseph Smith enters the picture, it is clear from a study of history that the festering boil of internecine contention in the ersatz christianity that had developed up to that point had come to a head and that God intended to start afresh with a new covenant (actually restoring the original). That is why He prepared a second testament of Christ in the Book of Mormon (to establish the truths of the Bible and to show both Jew and Gentile what the really important bits are). That is why we have the Doctrine & Covenants, which is chock full of the answers to all the differences that had developed. That is why we have the Pearl of Great Price, which is most clear in outlining, once and for all, God's plan from pre-existence to final judgment and exaltation, telling us where we came from, why we're here, and what we can expect if we obey.

      I simply do not, and never will understand why Christians would so quickly reject more of God's wisdom and correction, without so much as even reading it, praying about it, and experimenting upon the word (Alma 32) when He has so mercifully extended it to all mankind. One would think ALL of Christianity would leap for joy at these answers. In actuality, those Christians who were truly sincere in seeking a personal relationship with God have leaped for joy at these answers, leaping directly into the waters of baptism and enduring to the end after. LDS history, including my own family's history, is simply resplendent with glorious story after story, all true and doctrinally consistent, of strong and devoted Christians becoming even stronger and more devoted Christians as a result of the Restoration than as a result of any other Christian revival or reformation. And they did so by choice, not by force or indulgence or compromise. They literally left their homes and families and even their worldly opportunities and great riches and started over just so they could have more answers and partake of the promises of the restored Gospel. Isn't it a bit presumptive of anyone to write them off as collectively delusional or, as was the popular theory in Joseph's day, unwitting subjects of his alleged "animal magnetism"? (That term always makes me chuckle...)

      Rather than write them off as such, don't we all owe it to those folks to at least read their histories and put ourselves in their shoes to try to understand why it meant so much to them?

      Why would I need additional revelation? What is missing in the Bible?

      John 10:16
      16 And other sheep I have, which are not of this fold: them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice; and there shall be one fold, and one shepherd.

      Revelation 20:12
      12 And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the BOOKS were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the BOOKS, according to their works.

      John 21:25
      25 And there are also many other things which Jesus did, the which, if they should be written every one, I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that should be written. Amen.

      (Did Christ do anything that was not significant enough to put in the Bible? Wouldn’t additional revelation on those acts and teachings be profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness to all of us? Then, why reject them, if they ever come forth, simply because they didn’t make the “cut” constructed by the KJV translators?)

    4. 2 Nephi 29:3-14
      3 And because my words shall hiss forth—many of the Gentiles shall say: A Bible! A Bible! We have got a Bible, and there cannot be any more Bible.
      4 But thus saith the Lord God: O fools, they shall have a Bible; and it shall proceed forth from the Jews, mine ancient covenant people. And what thank they the Jews for the Bible which they receive from them? Yea, what do the Gentiles mean? Do they remember the travails, and the labors, and the pains of the Jews, and their diligence unto me, in bringing forth salvation unto the Gentiles?
      5 O ye Gentiles, have ye remembered the Jews, mine ancient covenant people? Nay; but ye have cursed them, and have hated them, and have not sought to recover them. But behold, I will return all these things upon your own heads; for I the Lord have not forgotten my people.
      6 Thou fool, that shall say: A Bible, we have got a Bible, and we need no more Bible. Have ye obtained a Bible save it were by the Jews?
      7 Know ye not that there are more nations than one? Know ye not that I, the Lord your God, have created all men, and that I remember those who are upon the isles of the sea; and that I rule in the heavens above and in the earth beneath; and I bring forth my word unto the children of men, yea, even upon all the nations of the earth?
      8 Wherefore murmur ye, because that ye shall receive more of my word? Know ye not that the testimony of two nations is a witness unto you that I am God, that I remember one nation like unto another? Wherefore, I speak the same words unto one nation like unto another. And when the two nations shall run together the testimony of the two nations shall run together also.
      9 And I do this that I may prove unto many that I am the same yesterday, today, and forever; and that I speak forth my words according to mine own pleasure. And because that I have spoken one word ye need not suppose that I cannot speak another; for my work is not yet finished; neither shall it be until the end of man, neither from that time henceforth and forever.
      10 Wherefore, because that ye have a Bible ye need not suppose that it contains all my words; neither need ye suppose that I have not caused more to be written.
      11 For I command all men, both in the east and in the west, and in the north, and in the south, and in the islands of the sea, that they shall write the words which I speak unto them; for out of the books which shall be written I will judge the world, every man according to their works, according to that which is written.
      12 For behold, I shall speak unto the Jews and they shall write it; and I shall also speak unto the Nephites and they shall write it; and I shall also speak unto the other tribes of the house of Israel, which I have led away, and they shall write it; and I shall also speak unto all nations of the earth and they shall write it.
      13 And it shall come to pass that the Jews shall have the words of the Nephites, and the Nephites shall have the words of the Jews; and the Nephites and the Jews shall have the words of the lost tribes of Israel; and the lost tribes of Israel shall have the words of the Nephites and the Jews.
      14 And it shall come to pass that my people, which are of the house of Israel, shall be gathered home unto the lands of their possessions; and my word also shall be gathered in one. And I will show unto them that fight against my word and against my people, who are of the house of Israel, that I am God, and that I covenanted with Abraham that I would remember his seed forever.

      On what basis will you reject these words?

  17. Congratulations on the new baby! I pray for health and happiness in your home!

    "Authenticity is tricky to determine without direct revelation. First of all, who gets to decide? On what basis? The arguments you have presented are paper thin in the eyes of non-believers we seek to convert. Especially if we're only dealing with only one book whose events occurred 2000 years ago (and more if counting the OT) and for which we have no original manuscripts. In that, Mormons and other Christians have a lot in common"

    The BOM claims to be a historical record of actual people, places, and culture, but there is no single non-Mormon scientists or archeologist who supports this claim. Unlike the BOM, there are multiple ancient corroborating manuscripts, external corroborating evidence, geography and archeology supporting the Bible. For any inquiring person, there is real, hard evidence with which to base faith on.

    The fact that Paul was an apostle of Christ is acknowledged and confirmed by the original eyewitness disciples of Jesus (Gal.2:9)

    1. Thanks. He's actually 9 years old. We adopted him from West Africa. It's been an interesting few months!

      You're claiming to have the high road on secular confirmation of biblical authenticity, yet you use arguments that most secularists reject in our attempts at authenticating the Bible.

      Yes, secular scientists agree that the middle-eastern evidences (which have been in gathering for centuries) points to there being such a thing called a Bible that was written at various stages by numerous authors. What they do not agree on is whether the namesakes of those books of scripture were truly the authors or if they were pseudopigraphic writings. What they do not say is that the Bible is true because of manuscripts that have been found. Most secular scientists aren't even looking for evidence of biblical authenticity. So we cannot then be surprised when we look and see that they are not looking for evidence of BoM authenticity, either. They haven't been convinced...yet...that there is merit in looking for it. So-called "mainstream" Christianity has the advantage only because modern-day science grew up in the context of pre-BoM, sola scriptura. Biblical evidences have a head start of over 1,500 years. But, for the Bible AND the BoM, that is no reason to believe that a significant find hasn't emerged that is simply "off the radar" of secular scientists for now. For examples, the Decalogue Stone found in Los Lunas, NM or the Bat Creek inscription in TN are, by accounts and analyses to date, legitimate. The Shroud of Turin is another "unexplainable" that is just now getting credence in secular circles, at least in the idea that it's not a fake.

      Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence.

      Speaking of evidence, keep in mind also that anthropological evidence is subject to confounding factors. There is filtering and masking and merging of culture and language and history. It's especially subject to weather and climate. Have you ever spent any time in Central America (the region where most LDS scholars are in agreement that BoM history occurred)? I have. Two years. Rain, mudslides, deforestation, reforestation, volcanic activity, humidity, human emmigration/immigration, genocide, etc. have had a way of fragmenting what we know down there. The area has had a turbulent history to say the very least. But despite that, there is a LOT we DO know and there are some surprising parallels to BoM history. For example, Stella 5, and the startling parallels to basic Christian themes in ancient Mayan literature and myths. Search my blog for the Title of the Lords of Totonicapan and the Popol Vuj.

      As for Paul and apostleship, don't forget Acts 1:21-26. See

      "The problem here is Acts 1 does not lay down this criterion for all future apostles. Paul, of course, would not meet this requirement, yet I’ve never met a Christian that didn’t view Paul as an apostle.

      "Regarding the replacement of Judas, it appears that there was a group of men who did indeed met this criterion, from which they selected Barsabas and Mathias. Now if this is all we knew about additional apostles, it might be a tough call. But this is not the case.

      "Most LDS critics will admit that Paul was an exception. And while doing so, declare the requirements stated in Acts 1 null and void for future apostles. Paul did not accompany the original apostles from the baptism by John to the day He ascended into heaven.

      "For some reason, however, the critics claim that this is the lone exception and thus, the Lord would not allow any others. Certainly, one is free to make such a claim, but the Bible contains no foundation for it."

      Again, be aware that your arguments hold weight in apologetic circles, but not in secular ones.

  18. You describe Joseph Smith as if he were the one man to FINALLY settle all theological questions by revelation from God. Do you realize every one of these other "prophets" claim the exact same thing?

    They were "disbanded or diluted relatively quickly" and were "divided and dispatched...with ease"


    1.5billion Muslims, 1.2billion Catholics, 17million Seventh-day Adventist, 7.5 million Jehovah's Witnesses, and 7 million members of the Unification Church would disagree with you!!

    The truth is, like Latter Day Saints, all of these movements were started by a "prophet" who claimed DIRECT revelation from God to answer their questions, to correct the Bible, to restore the gospel, and to set us straight "once and for all"

    Every one of them first denounced the credibility of the Bible. Next they go on to correct, alter, add/remove, aspects of the Bible to back-up their specific "revealed" doctrine. Finally, they all introduce "additional/companion" scripture necessary for salvation not found in the Bible.

    Do you trust them as truth based on persecution or change in the lives of their followers? They’ve all suffered persecution; they can all recount very real, meaningful "glorious story after story". Do you accept any of these based on blind faith or a "feeling" inside? Should feelings really be trusted? Is this really enough?

    You say the only "intellectually, and spiritually, honest way to discover truth" is to read LDS faith's own literature and "suspend my disbelief" But how can I make an intellectual or spiritual discovery to truth when I read LDS literature (as I have many times) and find teachings contrary to the Bible, as well as contradictions between BOM, Pearl of Great Price, and D&C?

    In fact, with the lack of historical, archeological, or collaborative evidence supporting the BOM, one must intellectually suspend disbelief in order to accept it! Is this really what you recommend? I don’t have this problem with the Bible.

    What about Joseph Smith? Do I suspend my disbelief concerning Smith's character, magic rocks, polyandry, Kinderhook plates, Book of Abraham Papyrus, the Garden of Eden in Missouri, when there are no official statements from LDS church authority?

    Are you really being intellectually, and spiritually honest with yourself when you're told to ignore these questions, suspend disbelief and "put it on the shelf"??

    1. I apologize if I came across as saying Joseph Smith settled every theological question. He didn't. Not in his lifetime. That wasn't the point. He admitted as much himself in stating that all revelations came to him line-by-line, precept-upon-precept, right there in the D&C itself. This is where I see his character as differing from, say, the likes of Mohammed, for example. While Joseph was bold in his proclamations, he never said that more revelation wasn't possible after him, nor that God might not opt to revoke certain commandments (as He's done in the past *cough*Law of Moses*cough*). Quite to the contrary. Joseph saw himself as the beginning, not the end, of a great work and as being a mere instrument in the hands of God, and not as a replacement or silencer of God.

      In looking at the timestamp of my post, it's no wonder I made such a broad generalization. I hardly remember writing the post, actually. that a real thing?

      Anyways, yes, those religions have amassed millions of followers. Why wouldn't they? People are looking for truth and meaning, but they know not where to find it. There have been large numbers of people from some of those faiths that have crossed over to other faiths in the branches of various trees of religious thought. But truth is not a numbers game. Truth exists independent of how many followers join this or that religion or sect. The LDS Church has, since its inception, declared that fact and has invited people to come within the LDS fold and let us add to that truth they already have found. We've only stated boldly that "this is the true Church" in reference to its founding, being a direct manifestation of God and Jesus Christ to Joseph Smith. If other religions' founders have made the same claim, they have that right, and God grants individual freedom of thought and conscience to all His children to investigate those claims by the light of the Holy Ghost. It's not for you or me to decide what has/has not been confirmed by the Holy Ghost, nor what is in a particular religion's follower's future (i.e. converting to another faith).

      I have personally observed the pattern in the lives of several individuals who were "certain" they had found truth in, say, Baptist theology, only to become disillusioned and join the LDS Church. Likewise the opposite. Who's to say that isn't part of what God already knows and has foreordained (not pre-destined) for that person so that they can discover truth in the way He knows is going to be best for them. The anti-LDS Baptist is just as precious to Him as the LDS anti-Baptist, right? The two greatest commandments still remain "Love God" and "Love your neighbor". Christ still came to earth, atoned for our sins, and was resurrected on the 3rd day. Those fundamental truths don't change.

      And by my studies of near-death experiences (which, oddly, are rejected by certain fundamentalist evangelical eschatological circles, yet are fully embraced by Mormons), I find that the post-death judgment is not harsh or critical, but full of love and neutrality. Why would that be so if it's "heaven or hell only" (not a doctrine of the Bible either)? Could that indicate that the Mormons have afterlife theology correct, because of latter-day revelation, in that people go to a spirit world to be taught further while they await a final judgment and assignment to a degree of glory? Hmmmm.

    2. See my earlier response about biblical evidence. The reason you don't have a problem with biblical evidences is because of confirmation bias. Also, you seem to continue to assume that my acceptance of the BoM evidences is necessary rejection of Biblical evidence and authenticity. Nothing could be further from the truth. I have your same confirmation bias when it comes to Biblical truth. The mark of true intelligence is the ability to step outside of your own biases and at least acknowledge how others with different backgrounds and biases might disagree with you. That makes it possible to have a 3D (4D?) view of your subject and to more effectively argue your thesis without arguing only from the premises. See what I mean?

  19. "On what basis will you reject these words?"

    As with the words in the BOM and the rest of LDS doctrine, there are simply too many problems to trust in its truthfulness. Even with a "Living Prophet" the LDS Church has too many issues that it WILL NOT or CANNOT address. (Adam-God teaching, two hill Cumorahs, etc)

    The LDS church has created many works, commandments and laws required for salvation and “exaltation” never taught by Jesus or His disciples. For example, in order to be saved and receive the indwelling of the Holy Spirit one has to be an active member of the church, but in order to be an active member of the church one must perform covenants in the temple, but in order to perform covenants in the temple, one must receive a temple recommend by their Bishop, but in order to receive a temple recommend, one must be declared "worthy" by their Bishop by completing a multiple number of works, including the Law of Tithing and annual Tithing settlements, The Law of the Fast, obeying the Word of Wisdom, and performing whatever "calling" you may be assigned. To fail in any of these "commandments" is to risk becoming "unworthy" of the Holy Spirit and having that Spirit leave your body, thus losing your salvation! (Preach My Gospel D&C 50:14)

    Joseph Smith has simply ADDED another "wind of doctrine" just like those other “prophets”. Every time someone comes along and adds to the Bible, more confusion takes place, and the plain gospel of Christ is further distorted.

    Paul specifically taught against this type of legalism in Galatians, and until you can show me where these requirements, commandments and ordinances were taught by Jesus and His disciples in order to be saved, it too MUST be considered “another gospel”.

    1. I see that you're insistent on vetting accusations you've undoubtedly read in "The Visitors" and other pamphletry (

      Fine. Let's. :)

      The Adam-God thing was never doctrine. It was mentioned in a third- or fourth-hand account of something Brigham Young may or may not have opined on as written in the Journal of Discourses (and other conversations). The JofD is not doctrine, official proclamation, scripture, or anything of the kind. It is a journal of discourses, some of them informal and personal-opinion-laden and some of them formal. It is not canonical in LDS teachings. Indeed, the prevailing _academic_ view is that the Adam–God doctrine taught by Young and others was an _elaboration_ of Smith's vague references to Adam's unique role in Mormon doctrine. Although Young is generally credited with originating the doctrine, the original source could also have been Young's counselor Heber C. Kimball. That uncertainty later disqualified it as official, canonical belief and it was eventually removed from all future doctrine and practices.

      Show me a religion that doesn't have a history of that same doctrinal vetting process.

      Also, "This morning...I visited with a brother and sister from Michigan, who thought that ‘a prophet is always a prophet'; but I told them that a prophet is a prophet only when he was acting as such" (Joseph Smith, _History of the Church_, 5:265).

      But if we insist on using the JofD as a source, in another instance, Brigham Young stood one morning and spoke at length with a crowd of people about the need to resist, violently if necessary, any incursion by federal troops into the Salt Lake valley. Later that afternoon, he stood again and said that earlier Brigham Young had spoken his opinion about such-and-such, but that "Brigham Young had been talking in the morning, but the Lord was going to talk now."

    2. James 5:17

      [Elijah] was a man subject to like passions as we are, and he prayed earnestly that it might not rain: and it rained not on the earth by the space of three years and six months.

      Joseph Smith (President)

      I told them I was but a man, and they must not expect me to be perfect; if they expected perfection from me, I should expect it from them; but if they would bear with my infirmities and the infirmities of the brethren, I would likewise bear with their infirmities. (Teachings, p. 268)

      A prophet [is] a prophet only when he [is] acting as such. (History of the Church, 5:265; see also Teachings, p. 278)

      I was this morning introduced to a man from the east. After hearing my name, he remarked that I was nothing but a man, indicating by this expression, that he had supposed that a person to whom the Lord should see fit to reveal His will, must be something more than a man. He seemed to have forgotten the saying that fell from the lips of St. James, that [Elijah] was a man subject to like passions as we are, yet he had such power with God, that he, in answer to his prayers, shut the heavens that they gave no rain for the space of three years and six months.... Indeed, such is the darkness and ignorance of this generation, that they look upon it as incredible that a man should have any intercourse with his Maker. (Teachings, p. 89)

      Lorenzo Snow (Quorum of the Twelve)

      I can fellowship the President of the Church if he does not know everything I know.... I saw the ... imperfections in [Joseph Smith].... I thanked God that He would put upon a man who had those imperfections the power and authority He placed upon him ... for I knew that I myself had weakness, and I thought there was a chance for me. (Cited by Neal A. Maxwell, in Conference Report, October 1984, p. 10)

      David O. McKay (Quorum of the Twelve)

      [W]hen God makes the prophet, He does not unmake the man. (Conference Report, April 1962, p. 5-9)

      Harold B. Lee (President)

      There have been times when even the President of the Church has not been moved upon by the Holy Ghost. There is, I suppose you’d say, a classic story of Brigham Young in the time when Johnston’s army was on the move. The Saints were all inflamed, and President Young had his feelings whetted to fighting pitch. He stood up in the morning session of general conference and preached a sermon vibrant with defiance at the approaching army, declaring an intention to oppose them and drive them back. In the afternoon, he rose and said that Brigham Young had been talking in the morning but the Lord was going to talk now. He then delivered an address in which the tempo was the exact opposite of the morning sermon. Whether that happened or not, it illustrates a principle: that the Lord can move upon His people but they may speak on occasions their own opinions. (The Teachings of Harold B. Lee, ed. Clyde J. Williams (Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1996), p. 542)

    3. Gordon B. Hinckley (First Presidency)

      I have worked with seven Presidents of this Church. I have recognized that all have been human. But I have never been concerned over this. They may have had some weaknesses. But this has never troubled me. I know that the God of heaven has used mortal men throughout history to accomplish His divine purposes. (Conference Report, April 1992, p. 77)

      We have critics who appear to cull out of a vast panorama of information those items which demean and belittle some men and women of the past who worked so hard in laying the foundation of this great cause....

      My plea is that as we continue our search for truth, particularly we of the Church, that we look for strength and goodness rather than weakness and foibles in those who did so great a work in their time.

      We recognize that our forebears were human. They doubtless made mistakes. Some of them acknowledged making mistakes. But the mistakes were minor when compared with the marvelous work which they accomplished. To highlight mistakes and gloss over the greater good is to draw a caricature. Caricatures are amusing, but they are often ugly and dishonest....

      There was only one perfect man who ever walked the earth. The Lord has used imperfect people in the process of building his perfect society. If some of them occasionally stumbled, or if their characters may have been slightly flawed in one way or another, the wonder is the greater that they accomplished so much. (“The Continuing Pursuit of Truth,” Ensign, Apr 1986, p. 2)

      Boyd K. Packer (Quorum of the Twelve)

      The Brethren then and now are men, very ordinary men, who have come for the most part from very humble beginnings.... Do you know how inadequate we really are compared to the callings we have received? Can you feel in a measure the weight, the overwhelming weight, of responsibility that is ours? If you look for inadequacy and imperfections, you can find them quite easily. But you may not feel as we feel the enormous weight of responsibility associated with the callings that have come to us. We are not free to do some of the things that scholars think would be so reasonable, for the Lord will not permit us to do them, and it is His church. He presides over it. (CES Symposium on the Doctrine and Covenants and Church History, 22 August 1981)

    4. Neal A. Maxwell (Quorum of the Twelve)

      Soren Kierkegaard wrote some interesting lines concerning the role of the holy apostleship.... Kierkegaard wrote:

      “An Apostle . . . does not become more intelligent, does not receive more imagination, a greater acuteness of mind and so on; on the contrary, he remains himself and by that paradoxical fact he is sent on a particular mission by God. . . . He was called to proclaim this new thing.

      “. . . Divine authority is, qualitatively, the decisive factor. . . . I have not got to listen to St. Paul because he is clever, or even brilliantly clever; I am to bow before St. Paul because he has divine authority; and in any case it remains St. Paul’s responsibility to see that he produces that impression, whether anybody bows before his authority or not. St. Paul must not appeal to his cleverness, for in that case he is a fool; he must not enter into a purely aesthetic or philosophical discussion of the content of the doctrine, for in that case he is side‑tracked. . . . [Instead, he is to say] ‘I cannot and dare not compel you to obey, but through your relation to God in your conscience I make you eternally responsible to God, eternally responsible for your relation to this doctrine, by having proclaimed it as revealed to me, and consequently proclaimed it with divine authority.’ . . .

      “. . . God cannot help men by providing them with physical certainty that an Apostle is an Apostle-which would, moreover, be nonsense. Even miracles, if the Apostle has that gift, give no physical certainty. . . .

      “. . . Therein lies the essence of an Apostle’s life of self-sacrifice, even if he were never persecuted, . . . that he never dares take the time or the quiet or carefreeness in order to grow rich. Intellectually speaking he is like a tireless housewife who herself hardly has time to eat, so busy is she preparing food for others. . . . that a man is called by a revelation to . . . proclaim the Word, to act and to suffer, to a life of uninterrupted activity as the Lord’s messenger (The Present Age and Two Minor Ethico-Religious Treatises [London: Oxford University Press, 1940], pp. 143–61).

      These interesting perspectives, as indicated, provide a different context out of which, as the Lord’s messenger, I hope tonight to proclaim the word humbly, desiring that the spiritual food so given to you will prove to be nourishing. ("O How Great the Plan of Our God," Address to CES Religious Educators, 3 February 1995)

      Bruce R. McConkie (Quorum of the Twelve)

      With all their inspiration and greatness prophets are yet mortal men with imperfections common to mankind in general. They have their opinions and prejudices and are left to work out their problems without inspiration in many instances. (Mormon Doctrine, p. 608)

      [T]he opinions and views, even of a prophet, may contain error, unless those opinions and views were inspired by the Spirit. (“Are the General Authorities Human?” Address delivered at the Institute of Religion Forum at the University of Utah, October 28, 1966)

      [E]very word that a man who is a prophet speaks is not a prophetic utterance. Joseph Smith taught that a prophet is not always a prophet, only when he is acting as such. Men who wear the prophetic mantle are still men; they have their own views; and their understanding of gospel truths is dependent upon the study and inspiration that is theirs. Some prophets—I say it respectfully—know more and have greater inspiration than others. ("Finding Answers to Gospel Questions," Letter dated 1 July 1980. Published in Teaching Seminary Preservice Readings, Religion 370, 471, and 475 (2004))

    5. I saw an email notification that you had responded on this thread, but I don't see it in my comment moderation queue at the moment. If you would like to re-post it, I welcome the opportunity to read and respond to your counterpoints.

  20. I've actually never heard of "The Visitors" and I rarely read anti-Mormon material, everything mentioned I've learned from, Preach My Gospel, and reading LDS scripture.

    I wish there were an official site authorized by your church that would at least acknowledge some of these issues, it would be helpful for members and non-members alike who have honest questions.

    The Adam-God theory was actually much more than some off-handed comment you dismiss it as. It was not only taught by Young on multiple occasions, but many other prophets and apostles for many years including George Q. Cannon, Wilford Woodruff, and Orson Pratt. The teaching is LDS scripture “And also with Michael, or Adam, the father of all, the prince of all, the ancient of days ;”(D&C 27:11)

    In fact, Young was so convinced of this teaching he included it into the temple endowment ceremony in 1877. How could he be wrong while constructing such an important, God-given ceremony?

    Certain church leaders have since attempted to explained what he really meant and how all of these other prophets could be mistaken or misunderstood, but again there doesn't seem to be any official answer except that they were in that instance "speaking as men".

    You must appreciate that to an outside observer, it seems incredibly convenient that whenever a prophet makes a questionable statement (such as a long held teaching of Adam as God, Smith's Garden of Eden location in Missouri, or Smith's statements on the Kinderhook plates) LDS faithful simply insert the standard "A prophet is a prophet only when he is acting as such"

    Which naturally leads me to my next question, was Joseph Smith acting as prophet when he used his rock to translate the BoM, but as a man when using the same rock to find buried treasure before and after the first vision?

    1. Most of what you're referring to was addressed in Jon Krakauer's popular hit-piece book on the LDS church.

      The claims Mr. Krakauer made have been officially acknowledged, challenged, and answered on the LDS church web site at

      All other topics the Church has issued statements about or definitions of are found at

      You are also more than welcome to peruse the thousands of articles, speech transcripts, and other materials at

      "was Joseph Smith acting as prophet when he used his rock to translate the BoM, but as a man when using the same rock to find buried treasure before and after the first vision?"

      Can I see what source you're reading this from, just so that I can make sure to understand what is meant in that context?

      Many of the Old Testament stories that we accept as religion have much in common with magical practices. They are difficult to separate because their differentiation depended not upon the things that were done, but the way those things were perceived.

      Sarah Iles Johnston, professor of Greek and Latin at Ohio State University explains:

      "The modern scholarly quest to establish a division between magic and religion does have some roots in antiquity, insofar as both ancient and modern discussions hinge on terminology: what one chooses to call any particular activity (and, it follows, who is doing the choosing) determines whether the activity is understood as acceptable or discredited, pious or blasphemous, religion or magic. In antiquity, magic (a term that I use as a shorthand way of referring to a variety of ancient Mediterranean words) almost always referred to someone else’s religious practices; it was a term that distanced those practices from the norm–that is, from one’s own practices, which constituted religion." --Shawna Dolansky, Now You See It, Now You Don’t: Biblical Perspectives on the Relationship Between Magic and Religion (Winona Lake, Indiana: Eisenbrauns, 2008), 15.

      Stated simply, “what I do is religion, what you do is magic.”

    2. Urim and Thummim - as corroborated by ancient Israel's use of them in the tabernacle (Exodus 28:30), when fallen Saul sought prophetic guidance (1 Samuel 28:6) and when Israel sought to reconstruct priesthood lineage, but could not without the aid of Urim and Thummim (Ezra 2:63). Most noteworthy is this description from the 1906 Jewish Encyclopedia.

      Objects connected with the breastplate of the high priest, and used as a kind of divine oracle. Since the days of the Alexandrian translators of the Old Testament it has been asserted that mean "revelation and truth" (δήλωσις καὶ ἀλήθεια), or "lights and perfections" (φωτισμοὶ καὶ τελεότητες); the τελειότης καὶ διδαχή of Symmachus (Jerome, "perfectio et doctrina"; Field, "Hexapla" on Deut. xxxiii. 8); and the φωτισμοί καὶ τελειώσεις of Aquila and Theodotion. The Vulgate has "doctrina [after Symmachus; Old Latin, "ostensio" or "demonstratio"] et veritas." There is, however, no foundation for such a view in the Bible itself. Ex. xxviii. 13-30 describes the high-priestly ephod and the breastplate with the Urim and Thummim. It is called a "breastplate of judgment" ("ḥoshen ha-mishpaṭ"); it is four-square and double; and the twelve stones were not put inside the ḥoshen, but on the outside. It is related in Lev. viii. 7-8 that when, in compliance with the command in Ex. xxix. 1-37, Moses consecrated Aaron and his sons as priests, "He [Moses] put upon him [Aaron] the coat, and girded him with the girdle, and clothed him with the robe, and put the ephod upon him, and he girded him with the cunningly woven band [A. V. "curious girdle"] of the ephod, and bound it unto him therewith. And he put the breastplate upon him: and in the breastplate he put the Urim and the Thummim." Deut. xxxiii. 8 (R. V.), in the blessing of Moses, reads: "And of Levi he said: Thy Thummim and thy Urim are with thy godly one, whom thou didst prove at Massah, with whom thou didst strive at the waters of Meribah" (see Steuernagel, "Deuteronomium," p. 125, Göttingen, 1898; Bertholet, "Deuteronomium," p. 106, Freiburg, 1899; Driver, "Deuteronomy," in "International Critical Commentary," p. 398, New York, 1895; Baudissin, "Gesch. des Alttestamentlichen Priesterthums," p. 76). The most important passage is I Sam. xiv. 41, where Wellhausen and Driver have corrected the text, on the basis of the Septuagint, to read as follows: "And Saul said: Lord, God of Israel, why hast thou not answered thy servant this day? If this iniquity be in me or in Jonathan my son, Lord, God of Israel, give Urim; but if it be in thy people Israel, give Thummim. Then Jonathan and Saul were taken by lot; and the people escaped" (Driver, "Notes on the Hebrew Text of the Books of Samuel," p. 89, Oxford, 1890; Budde, "The Books of Samuel," in Polychrome Bible, p. 63; H. P. Smith, "The Books of Samuel," p. 122; Kirkpatrick, "The First Book of Samuel," in "The Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges," 1891, p. 137).

      I Sam. xxviii. 3-6 mentions three methods of divine communication: (1) the dream-oracle, of which frequent mention is made also in Assyrian and Babylonian literature; (2) the oracle by means of the Urim (here, undoubtedly, an abbreviation for "Urim and Thummim"); (3) the oracle by the word of the Prophets, found among all Semitic nations.

    3. The only other mention of actual consultation of Yhwh by means of the Urim and Thummim found in the Old Testament is in Num. xxvii. 21. Eleazar was then high priest, and Moses was permitted by the Lord to address Him directly. But Joshua and his successors could speak to the Lord only through the mediation of the high priest and by means of the Urim and Thummim. It is quite probable that the age of Ezra and Nehemiah was no longer cognizant of the nature of the Urim and Thummim (Ezra ii. 63; Neh. vii. 65; see also I Macc. iv. 46, xiv. 41). Post-exilic Israel had neither the sacred breastplate nor the Urim and Thummim. Ezra ii. 63 tacitly contradicts the assertion of Josephus ("Ant." iii. 8, § 9, end) that the Urim and Thummim first failed in the Maccabean era (B. Niese, "Flavii Josephi Opera," i. 202; see also Soṭah ix. 12; Tosef., Soṭah, xiii. 2; Yer. Ḳid. iv. 1; Ryle, "Ezra and Nehemiah," p. 32). Ecclus. (Sirach) xxxiii. 3 may possibly prove a knowledge of the tradition concerning the use of the Urim and Thummim; but it can not be inferred that answers were received at that time by means of them (V. Ryssel, in Kautzsch, "Apokryphen," p. 394).

      Answer "Yes" or "No."
      The Urim and Thummim are implied, also, whereever in the earlier history of Israel mention is made of asking counsel of the Lord by means of the ephod (Josh. ix. 14; Judges i. 1-2; xx. 18 [rejected as a later gloss from ib. i. 1 by most commentators], 26-28; I Sam. x. 22; xiv. 3, 18, 36 et seq.; xxii. 10, 13; xxiii. 2, 4, 6, 9-12; xxviii. 6; xxx. 7 et seq.; II Sam. ii. 1; v. 19, 23 et seq.; xxi. 1. On the nature of the ephod see G. F. Moore, "Judges," 1895, pp. 380-399, where copious references and the literature are given; idem, "Ephod," in Cheyne and Black, "Encyc. Bibl."; and especially T. C. Foote, "The Ephod," in "Jour. Bib. Lit." [1902] xxi. 1-48). In all cases except I Sam. x. 22 and II Sam. v. 23 et seq., the answer is either "Yes" or "No." It has been suggested by Riehm and others that these two passages have undergone editorial changes. After the death of David no instance is mentioned in the Old Testament of consulting the Lord by means of the Urim and Thummim or the ephod. This desuetude is undoubtedly occasioned by the growing influence of the Old Testament prophecy.

    4. The ancient, and most of the modern, explanations of these mysterious instruments through which Yhwh communicated His will to His chosen people identify them with (a) stones in the high priest's breastplate, (b) sacred dice, and (c) little images of Truth and Justice such as are found round the neck of the mummy of an Egyptian priest (see Muss-Arnolt, "The Urim and Thummim," in "Am. Jour. Semit. Lang." July, 1900, pp. 199-204). The "Tablets of Destiny" which occur in the Assyro-Babylonian account of Creation and otherwise figure in Assyro-Babylonian conceptions suggest the correct explanation of the Hebrew Urim and Thummim. One of the functions ascribed to the Babylonian seer was to deliver oracles and to consult the god, whose answer was either "Yes" or "No." Quite often the god sends to his people an "urtu," a command to do, or not to do, something. "Urtu" belongs to the samestem from which is derived "ertu," the "terminus technicus" for "oracle." The gods speak ("tamu, utammu") to the priest the oracle which they reveal; and the oracle is called "the mysterious word, revelation." Since God "at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past," not only unto the fathers by the Prophets, but to all mankind in ways which it is now almost impossible to trace precisely, it is quite possible that the mythological account of the Tablets of Destiny and the Old Testament Urim and Thummim, both shaping the destiny of king and nation, revert to the same fountainhead and origin. Notwithstanding the fragmentary account of Babylonian literature and the scanty report of Old Testament writers, some points common to both may yet be gathered.

      Babylonian Accounts.
      (1) According to Ex. xxviii. 30 and Lev. viii. 8, the Urim and Thummim rested within the breastplate, that is, on the breast of the high priest; in the Babylonian account the Tablets of Destiny rested on the breast of their possessor. Only so long as they were resting on the breast of the god in the case of the one nation, and on the breast of the high priest in that of the other, were they efficacious.
      (2) In the Babylonian accounts, only those gods who, in some way, were considered the messengers and mediators between the other gods and mankind were the lawful possessors of the Tablets of Destiny. In Israel the Urim and Thummim were entrusted by Yhwh to Moses, and through him to the high priest as the representative of Yhwh and as the mediator between God and the nation to whose decisions, through the Urim and Thummim, even kings bowed.
      (3) There is, to be sure, in the Babylonian records no statement as to the exact number of the Tablets of Destiny. It is known that there were more than one; it may not be too hazardous to assume that there were only two, one lying on each breast: one revealing (or prognosticating ?) good fortune; the other, misfortune. The Old Testament accounts of the Urim and Thummim indicate that there were only two objects (lots ?).
      (4) Marduk, after he had torn the Tablets of Destiny from the breast of his dead foe, sealed them with his own seal. There may be a reminiscence of this in Ex. xxviii. 21. The use of twelve stones, one for each of the twelve tribes, in addition to the two lots (of stone), is perhaps of some significance in this connection.
      (5) Marduk, bearing on his breast the Tablets of Destiny, presided at the annual assembly of the gods, where the fate was determined and the lot was cast for king and nation. It is the general opinion that the Urim and Thummim were consulted only in cases where the safety of king or nation was concerned.

    5. In Israel the development of a strict monotheism necessarily modified the conception of the Urim and Thummim. No description of them is found in the Old Testament; they are mentioned as something familiar both to Moses and to the people—an inheritance received from the time of their ancestors. The very fact that the Old Testament assumes that Moses and the people were acquainted with the nature of the Urim and Thummim confirms the view that the latter were naturally connected with the functions of the high priest as the mediator between Yhwh and His people.

      Etymology of the Words.
      The etymology of and , suggested by Zimmern and others, supports the explanation given here. The so-called plural ending of the wo words expresses the "pluralis intensivus," plurals only in form, but not in meaning. "Urim" may be connected not with = "curse, put under the ban," as Schwally and others have held, but with the Babylonian "u'uru," the infinitive of the "pi'el" of "a'aru," from which are derived also the nouns "urtu" = "command, order, decision" (usually of the gods) and "tertu" (originally with the same meaning). These words occur frequently in Assyro-Babylonian literature in sentences analogous in form to those in which "Urim and Thummim" are used in the Old Testament. The plural ("fires") has no doubt had some influence in shaping the analogous form = "urtu." the present writer connects with the Assyrian "tamu," pi'el "tummu," verbal forms also belonging to the oracular language. "Urim and Thummim" correspond, then, to the Babylonian "urtu" and "tamitu," the latter a synonym of "piristu" = "oracle, oracular decision [of the gods]." That the original meaning of the two words and their significance were known even at the time when the Old Testament records, in which they are mentioned, were written is exceedingly doubtful; that they were not known either to the Greek translators or to the early Masorites is practically certain.

  21. "was Joseph Smith acting as prophet when he used his rock to translate the BoM, but as a man when using the same rock to find buried treasure before and after the first vision?"

    I understand the use of Urim and Thummim in the OT, but aside from your copy and paste articles, could you please tell me why Joseph Smith would use a rock in his hat to translate the BoM if the golden plates already came with the Urim and Thummim?? Were they not intended for this purpose??

    And if treasure hunting as a "village seer" was a respected practice as fairmormon describes Smith, why isn't it a practice now? The truth is they were considered charlatans back then just as they are today.

    By the way, aside from referring readers to Jon Krakauer's book, mentions ABSOLUTELY NOTHING about the Adam-God theory and makes ONE SINGLE mention it!

    "We denounce that theory and hope that everyone will be cautioned against this and other kinds of false doctrine." (

    That's it? That's the official answer? There is solid evidence of multiple LDS prophets and apostles teaching this theory for many years. Brigham Young introduced it into the temple endowment ceremony in 1877. How would this quip remark in anyway help someone who has an honest question about a now debunked teaching of the church? This is another example of the church simply brushing off honest questions with non-answers.

    1. Please forgive the copy/paste. I would have summarized in my own words, but I'm the father of five very busy children, so I don't always have that luxury. I pasted it as a convenience for you to read it without clicking and so that others who might encounter this conversation would have the benefit of seeing it in its entirety.

      It sounds like the church isn't giving you the answer you want them to give you, or at least not in the quantity you'd like, and that it is very upsetting to you. I understand. I know there are true Christians who wish they had answers to questions like why God used a talking donkey to get Balaam back in line. Or what was up with sorting out soldiers by how they drank from a stream. They wish they understood understood why Christ used mud and spit to heal one blind man, but a different method to heal another. And how did the pool of Bethesda being troubled by an angel caused people to be healed (or did it?) Why hasn't the Catholic Church issued a proclamation explaining such miracles, or decrying such obvious witchcraft and stricken these things from the records of scripture?

      Again, a cult is any religion "we" don't like.

      Giants or "nephilim" coming down from heaven or the sky or whatever to mate with human women? What the heck is that about? (Genesis 6:1-4 and Numbers 13:33) Ezekiel seeing a giant wheel in the sky and things coming out of it? I want official explanations! Aliens? What's going on there?

      "And Aaron shall cast lots upon the two goats; one lot for the Lord, and the other lot for the scapegoat." What sorcery is this?!! (well, see Mark 15:24 for that answer, of course)

      Noah, fitting the entirety of earth's astounding biodiversity into an enormous ark built by no less then eight people while God floods the _entire earth_ to the tops of the mountains and beyond? Riiiiight.

      Judah, the royal heir of Israel, sleeping with his own daughter-in-law, Tamar, the widow of his own brother, who was playing the role of a prostiute just to get an heir from him? Surely not a worthy progenitor and family tree of the Messiah, right? Abraham "trading favors" with his wife's handmaiden to get a boy child, then sending her off into the desert to die, then later psychologically terrorizing his own son by pretending to sacrifice him while claiming it was a commandment from God? What a monster!

      Samson and his hair giving him strength? Am I really to believe such nonsense as an outsider looking into the Christian faith. Seven, 24 hour days of creation?

      Elijah calling down fire from the sky to consume a soaking wet altar, then later flying away on a chariot made of fire? Preposterous!

      And cutting off one's own foreskin to show devotion to God is just plain stupid!

    2. These, and a hundred plus other objections are what my atheist friends throw my way whenever they want to criticize what I believe as a Christian. Newcomers to Christianity do not understand that to us, this is our sacred doctrinal and scriptural heritage. Many won't give us a second thought because we're clearly out of our ever lovin' minds to believe such things, right? Yet we act as if these are the most normal things in the world. It is THEY who are strange to US because we see with an eye of faith the things they are willfully blind to because of the vanity and pride and deception of the world. We do this because we have received personal revelation that, no matter what we don't understand about them, God knows the answers, and He will choose to reveal or not to reveal what He will about them. Our lot is to have faith as if we knew all the answers so that eventually we will.

      You have already provided the correct answer in stating that it was a respected practice in Joseph Smith's day to divine answers to life's problems, and even search for riches, using a special rock. That was the culture of his day. But if you read more of the history, and study more of the context, you find that Joseph eventually came to understand that revelation comes by the gift of the Holy Ghost. God didn't just hand him a translated manuscript, or just reveal it directly to his mind. He had to do some thinking and trial and error on his own. He started with what he knew and understood from the world around him. Gradually, as he gained experience with translation and the gift of the Holy Ghost, he came to realize that the rock wasn't even necessary as long as he was close to God and living righteously. The Spirit would tell him all things he needed to know and say right as he sought for it. Eventually, he didn't use the stone he found or the Urim and Thummim (different from the stone, as the U&T was included with the plates). As the process of translation neared an end, he was reading directly from the plates as the words flowed, by the Spirit, into his mind.

      When the Doctrine and Covenants came forth, he no longer needed the Urim and Thummim because his schooling as a prophet had advanced beyond the point of needing them. See Richard L. Bushman (2005). Joseph Smith: Rough Stone Rolling. Alfred A Knopf. p. 142.; "Two Days´ Meeting at Brigham City," Millennial Star 36 [1874]:498–99).

      I must go. My loyal and aged 14 year old golden retriever is not long for this world and I would feel like a jerk if she's lying there taking her last breaths while I'm on the computer. I think I've done my best to allay your concerns on the topics you've presented. The rest is up to you. How long will you wrestle with the Lord on the things you won't understand because of pride? I pray that it won't be long before He opens the eyes of your understanding and gives you sight to see this marvelous work and a wonder that is coming forth.

  22. It's fine if you choose not to post this and I thank you for your time, you seem like a very nice guy, I'll leave you alone.

    Just let me say, I have no trouble accepting unusual methods God has used throughout the Bible. It's true there are some things I will never understand, but I'm okay with that. It's not pride, my salvation is secure in all that God needs me to know.

    You though, are deceiving yourself to blindly accept, without question, clear aberrations and false teachings confirmed in LDS history such as the Adam-God theory that go UNANSWERED by the church and THEN attempt to EQUATE them to biblical miracles. They are not the same!

    I realize you've probably invested most, if not all of your life to the LDS faith and it's easier to just accept these things than challenge them, but the Biblical Jesus offers the free gift of salvation without the works and man-made "yoke of legalism" so many religions want to burden us with.

    I do not frustrate the grace of God: for if righteousness come by the law, then Christ is dead in vain. (Gal 2:21)

    You've challenged me multiple times to step outside my bias and use intellect to discover truth, I think this is wise advice.


We are happy to discuss any and every topic and question. We will give wide berth to a variety of opinions and ideas. The only thing we ask is that you return the favor by respecting our right to believe as we do and by not issuing lengthy, inflammatory diatribes meant to shock and confuse anyone not familiar with LDS teachings. They can certainly get that elsewhere. :)