Is the Book of Mormon true? - 06/01/2003
I found your internet site interesting. I read in your site about the mormons, and I have a question. Is the Book of Mormon true? I couldn't find anything on your site to prove the Book of Mormon false. And if you can't prove false the Book of Mormon, how can you prove that Joseph Smith is a false prophet?
Please help me to resolve my concerns.
CONTENDER MINISTRIES RESPONSE:
Greetings Bret, and thanks for contacting Contender Ministries. The question you asked does cut to the heart of the matter, doesn’t it? If the Book of Mormon is false, then Joseph Smith was obviously a false prophet. Joseph Fielding Smith once said of his namesake, “He was either a prophet of God, divinely called, properly appointed and commissioned, or he was one of the biggest frauds the world has ever seen, there is no middle ground.” (Doctrines of Salvation, 1:188). There have been some news stories recently about Mormon scholars who have been excommunicated for research papers that showed that the Book of Mormon is more fiction than fact. But rather than present those news articles, let’s take a look at some of the problems with the Book of Mormon.
First, let’s take a look at some logistical problems. Let’s start with those that concerned LDS apologist and theologian Brigham H. Roberts. As you may know, Roberts authored the six-volume Comprehensive History of the Church. In 1921, a man investigating Mormonism asked Roberts to answer five questions. These questions vexed Roberts, because he could find no suitable answer. He then posed those same five questions to LDS President Heber J. Grant, Grant’s counselors, the Twelve Apostles, and to the Seventy. They too, were unable to provide suitable answers. I’ll pose those same five questions to you? If you can find suitable answers, publish them, because you’ll be the first:
1. Linguistics. Why, if the American Indians were descended from Lehi, was there such diversity in their languages, and why were there no vestiges of Hebrew in any of them?
2. Why does the Book of Mormon say that Lehi found horses when he arrived in America? The horse did not exist in the Americas until the Spaniards brought them over in the sixteenth century.
3. Why was Nephi stated to have a bow of steel? Jews did not know steel at that time, and no iron was smelted in the Americas until the Spanish colonization.
4. Why does the Book of Mormon mention “swords and cimeters” when scimitars (the current spelling) did not come about until the rise of Islam after 500 A.D.?
5. Why does the Book of Mormon mention silk, when silk did not exist in the Americas at that time?
Let me add my own question here. Joseph Smith claimed that the Book of Mormon was the most correct of any book on earth (History of the Church, 4:461). If that’s true, why has it been subjected to thousands of corrections and alterations since it was first published? Also, many of the LDS scholars to whom I referred in the opening paragraph found that the American Indians are genetically more similar to Asians. No Hebrew link can be made through DNA analysis.
There are also doctrinal discrepancies between the Book of Mormon and the Doctrine and Covenants and other source of LDS doctrine. If the Book of Mormon is the most correct book on earth, then why the contradictions? For example:
- D&C 130:3 says, “The idea that the Father and the Son dwell in a man’s heart is an old sectarian notion, and is false.” But in Alma 34:36, it says, “And this I know, because the Lord hath said he dwelleth not in unholy temples, but in the hearts of the righteous doth he dwell.”
- Joseph Smith said, “We have imagined and supposed that God was God from all eternity. I will refute that idea, and take away the veil, so that you may see.” (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p. 345) This introduced the doctrine of eternal progression, which Brigham Young forcefully expounded upon. Yet Moroni 8:18 says, “For I know that God is not a partial God, neither a changeable being; but he is unchangeable, from all eternity to all eternity.”
When Joseph Smith contradicts the Book of Mormon, we can reach only one of two conclusions. Either he did not write the Book of Mormon under divine guidance and is therefore a false prophet, or he decided to contradict the teachings of God, in which case he is a false prophet. Smith also stated that no one could see God without the Holy Priesthood, yet according to his own account, he saw God the Father and Jesus Christ nine years before he himself received the priesthood!
We can also look at Smith’s prophecies directly. In Doctrine and Covenants 87:2, Smith predicted that the American Civil War would “be poured out upon all nations.” This did not occur. In Doctrine and Covenants 84:4-5, he prophesied that a temple would be built in Independence, Missouri during that generation. There is still no such temple. The list goes on. He obviously fails the test of a prophet as outlined in Deuteronomy 18:21-22.
Paul warned of false prophets in 2 Corinthians 11:13, “For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ.” As for the Book of Mormon, and its claim as the “fullness of the everlasting gospel,” Paul wrote in Galatians 1:8-9, “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.”
The evidence is clear that the Book of Mormon cannot be correct, and Joseph Smith was a false prophet who has deceived many. The truth is that the Bible contains the fullness of the gospel of Jesus Christ. We cannot and should not blaspheme Almighty God by presuming that we can someday become gods, as the LDS doctrine of eternal progression teaches. Satan’s first recorded lie to Adam and Eve was a promise that they would be godlike. False prophets have perpetuated that lie ever since.
Someone asked me once why there isn’t a huge apostasy from Mormonism in light of the compelling evidence. I can think of two primary reasons. Many sincere Latter Day Saints simply do not know the evidence, and are discouraged from investigating it. An LDS friend of Jennifer’s was told by her Bishop and her husband to stop investigating the claims of their founding “prophet?” Why discourage honest investigation? Acts 17:11 tells us that the Bereans were of noble character because they “searched the scriptures daily” to see if what Paul was preaching was the truth. The other reason has to deal with courage versus comfort. I’ve personally known a couple of Mormons who left the LDS Church for the true gospel of Jesus Christ after they realized that Joseph Smith was a false prophet. Those are two of the most courageous people I know, as they suffered severe pressure, persecution, and isolation from their LDS families, friends, and community. I’ve known other Mormons who admitted to me that they knew Mormonism was a false religion based on the lies of a false prophet, but were too afraid to leave the Church for fear of the same kind of treatment. They had comfortable lives as tithing members of the LDS Church, and were too afraid to face the potential loss of family, friends, and indeed, their entire social circle should they leave.
Bret, I know that as an elder in the LDS Church, these things are probably unsettling to you. Most Mormons I’ve known have been very sincere, decent people. Many held their religious beliefs strongly. When those beliefs are shown to fail the test in the light of the truth of the gospel, it can be a frightening and life-altering event. You can choose to ignore or excuse the evidence, or you can face it with courage. You tell people to pray to see if the Book of Mormon is true. I encourage you to read your Bible in depth, as a Berean would, to see if I’ve led you astray or have told you the truth. I encourage you to pray in conjunction with your Bible study. In John 14:6, Jesus said, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” Facing the truth can have some difficult consequences on earth. But life on earth is temporary. Denying the truth can have eternal consequences. You are and will be in our prayers.
Ben and Jennifer Rast