Mormon (LDS): My-Forum Defense of the Gospel, p. 7

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>>>The foundation of the Mormon faith is their four standard works- Book of Mormon (hereafter BOM), Doctrine and Covenants, Pearl of Great Price and the King James Version of the Bible.

The foundation of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is Jesus Christ. The four books in our “standard works” are the canonized scripture. In addition, we have additional revelations from God through his living prophet.

>>>We ought not to test doctrine by our feelings or prayers but by Scripture Feelings can be deceptive

See my online chapter “The Bible as a Source of Truth” for my thoughts concerning the Bible.

>>>Not surprising is that they [Mormon missionaries] cannot provide any factual, objective evidence [of the Book of Mormon]

You’re right about that. There are many parallel evidences for the Book of Mormon but no direct evidences. For an elaboration on this, see my essay on”Book of Mormon Evidences: Direct or Parallel”.

OK, I’m listening…what is your factual, objective evidence for the spiritual parts of the Bible?

>>>Few Mormons are privy to the fact that the original 1830 BOM is substantially different than the current editions of the BOM. There are nearly 4000 changes from the 1830 ed. to the current ed.!

See http://www.fairlds.org/apol/ai282.html for links that discuss this in detail.

>>>BYU Professor Thomas Stuart Ferguson [and the other people mentioned in the posting who talk about archeology and the Book of Mormon. The point of the posting was that even Mormon scholars admit there are no direct evidences of the Book of Mormon.]

See my essay on “Book of Mormon Evidences: Direct or Parallel”.

Parallel evidences don’t prove anything. They can help one to have greater faith but will never prove anything. Ferguson’s statement says that, in effect, the archeological evidences are parallel evidences.

OK, I’m listening again: Give us your direct, physical evidences for the spiritual part of the Bible! I’m not talking about the history of the Bible or the cities in the Bible. I’m waiting for you to give direct, physical evidence of the miracles in the Bible, of the resurrection, of the atonement of Jesus Christ. And, please don’t insult us by using the Bible to prove itself!

>>>Whereas the Bible is well supported by detailed and extensive archaeology. Just about every town, city, and land that is mention in the Bible has been located. The Bible, unlike the BOM, is over flowing with physical evidence (e.g., structures, coins, writings, ostraca, papyri, manuscripts, quotations from early church Fathers, etc).

Yes, but those are evidences of the history of the Bible. Where are your physical, direct evidences of the spiritual part of the Bible, the miracles, the atonement? You can use archeology to verify the history of the Bible, but you are like us, you accept the spiritual on faith!

>>>Uninformed Mormon missionaries will often insist that the prestigious Smithsonian Institution and other credible institutions actually utilizes the BOM for an archaeological guide. However that statement is simply false, in point of fact, inasmuch as the many have inquired to the Smithsonian Institution concerning the BOM the Institution had written a response letter to inquiring minds.

See http://www.fairlds.org/apol/ai027.html for a discussion of this letter.

It’s interesting that about a month or two ago [October – November, 2004], the Smithsonian magazine had an interesting article that stated that many scientists are beginning to believe that the earliest peoples of North and South America came by boat not via the land bridge across the Bering Strait. That is an interesting parallel to the Book of Mormon. Not a direct evidence, of course, but an interesting parallel.

>>>Anachronisms in the Book of Mormon

See http://www.fairlds.org/cgi-bin/search/search.pl for links that discuss this.

>>>Since its inception, Mormons are convinced that the BOM contains all the many plain and precious parts that were lost through the hands of men.

I’ve been a Mormon for 69 years, and I’ve never believed, much less been convinced, that the Book of Mormon contained *all* of the many plain and precious parts that were lost [from the Bible] through the hands of men.

>>>See: The Early Teachings of Joseph Smith where we find that Smith did not hold to many present-day essential teachings of the LDS Church, like polytheism (many Gods), the teaching that the Father has a body of flesh and bones, etc.

Most of the visitors to this site don’t have access to published versions of the teachings of Joseph Smith, so you’ll need to give quotations of his teachings.

Concerning the Father having a body of flesh and bones, we have from Doctrine & Covenants, Section 130, verse 22:

The Father has a body of flesh and bones as tangible as man’s; the Son also; but the Holy Ghost has not a body of flesh and bones, but is a personage of Spirit. Were it not so, the Holy Ghost could not dwell in us.

That statement was given by Joseph Smith on April 2, 1843.
“Inhabitants of the Moon are more of a uniform size than the inhabitants of the Earth, being about 6 feet in height. They dress very much like the Quaker Style, and are quite general in Style, or the one fashion of dress. They live to be very old; coming (sic) generally, near a thousand years. This is the description of them as given by Joseph the Seer, and he could ‘see’ whatever he asked the Father in the name of Jesus to see.” “As far back as 1837. I know that he said the moon was inhabited by men and women the same as this earth, and that they lived to a greater age than we do, that they live generally to near the age of 1000 years. He described the men as average near six feet in height, and dressing quite uniformly in something near the Quaker style…” (Oliver B. Huntington Journal, Book 14, original at Huntington Library, San Marino, California. Also found in the Young Woman’s Journal, published by the Young Ladies’ Mutual Improvement Associations of Zion, 1892, vol. 3, pp. 263, 264., given 1837)
The following information is quoted from http://www.fairlds.org/pubs/tagm/tagm23.html No original sources verifying this have been found of which I am aware. The book quotes from an 1881 journal entry, published in 1892 by Oliver B. Huntington, who claimed Joseph Smith said there were moonmen. Huntington would have been about eleven years of age at the time, if he heard this from Joseph Smith personally, or even if the idea came from someone else. In fact, indications are that he heard it secondhand at best.

Van Hale answered the criticism against this assertion in his pamphlet, “How Could a Prophet Believe in Moonmen?” One excerpt:

Did Joseph Smith believe in an inhabited moon? From the historical evidence now available the answer must be: Not proven. But, all things considered, the possibility, or probability, that he did cannot reasonably be denied. For all others of that era the question seems quite insignificant, especially given contemporary beliefs. But in the case of Joseph Smith, he claimed to be a prophet. Some extremists contend that his claim demands that his knowledge in every area be superior to that of others in his era. If he believed any false notion of his day, so these critics say, his credibility must be doubted. Others, not so demanding of infallible insight in a prophet, would be more comfortable with a description of God’s revelation which allowed for the human and the divine. As Rev. J. R. Dummelow so aptly described the authors of the Bible, so might one say of Joseph Smith:

“Though purified and ennobled by the influence of His Holy Spirit, these men each had his own peculiarities of manner and disposition—each with his own education or want of education— each with his own way of looking at things—each influenced differently from one another by the different experiences and disciplines of his life. Their inspiration did not involve a suspension of their natural faculties; it did not even make them free from earthly passion; it did not make them into machines—it left them men.

“Therefore we find their knowledge sometimes no higher than that of their contemporaries . . . . (J. R. Dummelow, One Volume Bible Commentary, p. cxxxv).”

Dummelow’s description of the author of Genesis is equally applicable:

His scientific knowledge may be bounded by the horizon of the age in which he lived, but the religious truths he teaches are irrefutable and eternal (Ibid., p. xxx).

Dummelow, who is not LDS, is considered to be one of the foremost commentators on the Bible.

Biblical prophets sometimes apparently erred, but that does not detract from their being men of God. Some examples:

Jeremiah prophesied that king Zedekiah would “die in peace” (Jer. 54:4-5)) but Zedekiah saw his sons slain, was blinded, chained, and imprisoned, where he died (Jer. 52:10-11). Moses’ pride kept him from entering the promised land. Aaron made a golden calf. There was contention between Paul and Bamabas and Paul and Peter. Two apostles argued over who should sit on the right hand of Jesus.

Prophets are human and have weaknesses. The Prophet Joseph Smith said,

I told them [Church members] 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 (HC 5:181).

Latter-day Saints do not believe their prophets are infallible, not every word they utter always true. See also commentary for Page 79, line 26.

everyone after Joseph Smith himself heard everything secondhand at best.

Secondhand evidence is weak at best. After giving quotations from the Hunnington Journal, you made the following statement:

>>>Since man landed on the moon stories of “the man on the moon” have remained the realm of children’s stories and nursery rhymes. This revelation has to be taken seriously as Joseph Smith confessed that whatever he asked of the Father in the name of the Son, it was given. Thus Joseph Smith credits this revelation to God.

There is no basis at all for your claim that Joseph Smith credited his knowledge about “moonmen” to God.

First of all, you refer to the information from the Huntington Journal as a “revelation”. Yet, if we read from that Journal, as quoted by you in your previous post, we read the following:

“As far back as 1837. I know that he said the moon was inhabited by men….”

There is nothing in that journal entry, made by an old man many years after the event he is reporting, that says or implies that Joseph Smith was speaking as a prophet when he spoke of “moonmen”

In 1837 Oliver Hunnington was a young boy. How did he “know” that Joseph Smith said the moon was inhabited by men? Did he hear it directly from the Prophet? Or, did he hear from someone else who heard it from the Prophet? Is that journal entry really second hand evidence, or is it third hand or fourth hand evidence or more? The answer is that it was a third hand statement by Huntington who got the information from Philo Dibble. To read about the journal entry and a detailed discussion of whether or not Joseph Smith said there were men on the moon go to

http://www.lightplanet.com/mormons/response/history/moonmen_van_hale.htm

You gave no evidence that Joseph Smith, did in fact, credit God as the source of information about “moonmen”. You gave an illogical conclusion that since Joseph Smith claimed to be a prophet everything he said was from the Lord. Here is your statement:

“This revelation has to be taken seriously as Joseph Smith confessed that whatever he asked of the Father in the name of the Son, it was given. Thus Joseph Smith credits this revelation to God.”

You gave nothing to justify your conclusion “Thus Joseph Smith credits this revelation to God.”

You seem to have the belief that if a man is a prophet, everything he says is from the Lord, that he can never speak for himself and give his opinions about topics. In effect you seem to believe that a prophet is infallible. On the other hand, LDS believe there are times when a prophet speaks for the Lord and other times when he speaks his opinions on matters. ***The burden is on you, to prove to us that prophets always speak for the Lord and never speak their own opinions.***

You spoke of prophecies of Joseph Smith:

>>>”For the hour is nigh, and that which was spoken by mine apostles must be fulfilled; for as they spoke so shall it come to pass; For I will reveal myself from heaven with power and great glory, with all the hosts thereof, and dwell in righteousness with men on earth a thousand years, and the wicked shall not stand.” (Doctrine & Covenants 29:10,11, given September, 1830)

>>>Over 160 years have passed since the first prophecy was made yet Jesus Christ has not returned. Given that we are told that the time is “nigh” or “at hand” we can only assume that these prophecies have failed, and thus are not of the LORD.

I hope, that you aren’t claiming to read the mind of God! In terms of our time of months and years, how do you know what the Lord meant by “nigh” or “at hand”? How do you know that 160+ years is long enough to have satisfied the Lord’s meaning by “nigh” or “at hand”? You may be willing to place your private interpretations on those terms, but I’m not.

Then you gave a quotation that supposedly gave a definite time to the coming of the Lord:

>>>The following prophecies regarding the return of the Lord both place an exact time upon His return.

>>>* “President Smith then stated that the meeting had been called, because God had commanded it; and it was made known to him by vision* and by the Holy Spirit. He then gave a revelation of some of the circumstances attending us while journeying to Zion — our trials, sufferings: and said God had not designed all this for nothing, but He had it in remembrance yet; and it was the will of God that those who went to Zion, with a determination to lay down their lives, if necessary, should be ordained to the ministry, and go forth to prune the vineyard for the last time, or the coming of the Lord, which was nigh — even thirty-six years should wind up the scene.” (History of the Church, vol. 2, p. 182, given February, 1835)

>>>Jesus Christ did not return by February, 1891 [sic 1871], and over 100 years have passed without sign of His return.

Without having access to Vol. 2 of the History of the Church, I can’t comment on that quotation directly. Anti-Mormon literature is infamous for taking quotations out of context.

Here is a link that discusses the statements of Joseph Smith about the coming of Christ.

http://www.lightplanet.com/response/answers/return.htm

You gave a quotation from Steinhouse’s Rocky Mountain Saints about the coming of Christ. That book, is a notorious anti-Mormon book, and quotations from it have no value unless they have references to reputable historical sources, sources that are available today.

>>>In the bible, God says that if anyone ads to or takes away from his word then they are a false prophet. Now there are several differences between the doctrine and covenants and the 1833 book of commandments. Quotes from that are supposedly from God himself have been changed significantly. Words have been added, rearranged, and even taken away. I have yet to hear any explanation of why this is.

Actually, God didn’t say that anyone adding to or taking away from his word.

For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book. If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book;

And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book. (Revelation 22:18-19

When John wrote those two verses, the Bible did not exist. It’s pretty clear that he was referring to the book that did exist, his book of Revelation.

>>>section 84:1-5 of D&C makes Joseph Smith a false prophet.

Verses 1-4 state that the city New Jerusalem will be built in Missouri. Verse 4 states the city will be built in “this generation”. In verse 5, the Lord states

“For verily this generation shall not all pass away until an house shall be built unto the Lord….”

I am not willing to be presumptuous and interpret the phrase “this generation” to mean a generation from father to son, i.e. approximately 20 years. I am not willing to be presumptuous and interpret the phrase to mean a longer period of time but still within the lifetime of Joseph Smith, or even within the lifetime of Brigham Young or the other presidents of the LDS church. We look forward to the building of that city and are willing to let the Lord apply his own meaning to the phrase “this generation”.

>>> Section 4, verse 2 of book of commandments, God clearly says that he will not grant Joseph any more gifts. However, in chapter 5 verse 2 of D&C, it has been re-written to account for the rest of Smiths’ supposed gifts.

Here is the Book of Commandments 4:2

“And now, behold this shall you say unto him:–I the Lord am God, and I have given these things unto my servant Joseph, and I have commanded him that he should stand as a witness of these things, nevertheless I have caused him that he should enter into a covenant with me, that he should not show them except I command him and he has no power over them except I grant it unto him; and he has a gift to translate the book and I have commanded him that he shall pretend to no other gift, for I will grant him no other gift.”

Here is that section, spread over several sections, in the 1935 D&C.

“5:2And now, behold, this shall you say unto him–he who spake unto you, said unto you: I, the Lord, am God, and I have given these things unto you, my servant Joseph Smith, Jun., and have commanded you that you should stand as a witness of these things;”

“5:3 And I have caused you that you should enter into a covenant with me, that you should not show them except to those persons to whom I commanded you; and you have no power over them except I grant it unto you.”

“5:4 And you have a gift to translate the plates; and this is the first gift that I bestowed upon you; and I have commanded that you should pretend to no other gift until my purpose is fulfilled in this; for I will grant unto you no other gift until it is finished.”

The BOC states: “and he has a gift to translate the book and I have commanded him that he shall pretend to no other gift, for I will grant him no other gift.”

The D&C states: “you should pretend to no other gift until my purpose is fulfilled in this; for I will grant unto you no other gift until it is finished.”

I don’t see a problem in those statements. The revelation was given in 1829 and referred to the desire of Martin Harris to receive spiritual confirmation (confirmation that later came when he beheld the angel Moroni and the plates). The revelation as recorded in the 1833 BOC states that Joseph had a gift from God to translation the plates and that the Lord would give him no other gift. The revelation as published in the 1835 D&C clarified the statement in the BOC, that the Lord would give Joseph no other gift until the translation was completed.

If you study the history of the church from 1820 to 1829, there is nothing to indicate that the Lord wanted Joseph to translate the plates and then the Lord was finished with Joseph Smith. The history of the church during those 9 years indicates that the Lord had a much larger work for Joseph to perform.

When Joseph beheld the Father and the Son, he asked which church he should join and was told to join none of the churches, for “they were all wrong…that all their creeds were an abomination in his sight”. This implies that the Lord intended that Joseph do more than translate the Book of Mormon.

When the angel Moroni first appeared to Joseph, he said the Priesthood would be revealed by the hand of Elijah to turn the hearts of the children to their fathers. Again, a prophecy of a work larger in scope than the translation of the Book of Mormon.

In February, 1829 (before the revelation that we are discussing was given) the Lord said to Joseph Smith Senior, “Now behold a marvelous work is about to come forth among the children of men. There, O ye that embark in the service of God, see that ye serve him with all your heart, might, mind and strength, that ye may stand blameless before God at the last day”. Again, a prophecy of missionary work to perform a “marvelous work”.

I don’t understand why the anti-Mormon books and web sites that you read spend so much time comparing Mormon sources to show differences between them. You believe Joseph Smith was not a prophet. Therefore, you have to believe that the Book of Commandments was not inspired of God. And, you have to believe that the Doctrine of Commandments was not inspired of God. So, the anti-Mormon sources you read are doing nothing more than comparing two books, neither of which, from their viewpoint, was inspired. The most they can hope to gain is to show that Joseph Smith as a religious writer and leader was inconsistent in what he wrote. The only way the anti-Mormon writers could use these comparisons to show that Joseph Smith was not a prophet of God would be to make the claim that a prophet of God can not make mistakes of any kind, that a prophet can not change his writings in any way, even to clarify meaning when it has become clear to the prophet that people are misunderstanding what he wrote. That is, the anti-Mormon writers would have to make the claim that a prophet had a perfect command of language such that everything he wrote was perfectly clear to everybody who read his writings. In other words, the anti-Mormon writers must claim that a prophet of God is infallible. Joseph Smith never claimed that he was infallible. In fact, he taught that a man is a prophet only when he speaks as a prophet, that is, he can have his own opinions about matters. He can speak under inspiration and he can speak his own thoughts.

>>> Doesn’t it take one unfulfilled prophecy to make a false prophet?

Only if you believe that a prophet is infallible.

>>> Proverbs 30:6
Do not add to His words, lest he rebuke you, and you be found a liar.

You are quoting from Proverbs 30:6 to show that Joseph Smith is a liar because he added to the Lord’s word. To be consistent, you would have to say that all of the biblical prophets who wrote their manuscripts after Proverbs are are also liars since they added to the Lord’s word.

Of course, if the biblical prophets were true prophets then they didn’t add to to the Lord’s word — the Lord added to his own words.

Likewise, if Joseph Smith was a true prophet, then he didn’t add to the Lord’s word — the Lord added to his own words. So, your use of Proverbs 30:6 is irrelevant.

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