Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Mormonism’s “Tree of Life”

by Rocky Hulse
August 7th, 2010
In the new August 2010 edition of the Mormon Church monthly magazine, “Ensign,” on page 21 is an article titled “Finding Ourselves in Lehi’s Dream.” Boyd K. Packer who is the current “President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles,” which makes him next in line to become the President/Prophet of the Mormon Church, writes the article.
“Lehi’s Dream” in the article is in reference to a Book of Mormon story. The Book of Mormon is purported, by the Mormon Church, to be a translation of ancient American history that was recorded on plates of gold, written in “Reformed Egyptian” (a language that has never been found), and delivered to Joseph Smith by an angel named Moroni (pronounced ma-roan-eye), who was supposed to be the last record keeper of the ancient plates which he sealed and buried around the year 400 AD.
The Book of Mormon reports on two groups of people who left the Middle East and traveled to the Americas by boat. Ninety percent of the book is about the descendants of Lehi (pronounced Lee-high), who are supposed to have left Jerusalem around the year 600 B.C. Of Lehi’s many sons, Nephi (pronounced Nee-fie) and Laman (pronounced Lay-mun) become the leaders of the two main peoples of the book, the Nephites and Lamanites, respectively. The Nephites (white skinned) are the good guys, and the Lamanites (dark skinned ancestors of the American Indians) are the bad guys.
The Book of Mormon is composed of 15 books. The first book of the Book of Mormon is the book of 1st Nephi.  In Chapter 8 of 1st Nephi, Lehi has a dream, which he calls a vision, about the “Tree of Life.” Mormon Apostle Packer uses Lehi’s dream as a basis for his article. Quoting Mormon Apostle Packer on pg 25 “As we think of you young Latter-day Saints and think of the Book of Mormon and think of the dream or vision that Lehi had, we see that there are prophecies in there that can be specifically applied to your life. Read it again, beginning with 1 Nephi 8, and read on to the counsel that is given. The book of Mormon talks about life after death: what happens to the spirit…and what happens in the spirit world…. All of the things that you need to know are there. Read it and make it a part of your life. Then the criticism or mocking of the world, mocking those in the Church, will be of no concern to you as it is no concern to us (see 1 Nephi 8:33). We just move forward doing the things that we are called to do and know that the Lord is guiding us.”
Lehi’s Dream: Real, or Smith Family History?
On page 22 of the August Ensign, Apostle Packer lists five things that Lehi saw in his dream. In the book Joseph Smith’s Plagiarism of the Bible in the Book of Mormon, by Jerald and Sandra Tanner, a two part book, I found an interesting article in Part Two: Covering Up The Black Hole In The Book of Mormon. The sub-article title is: “Lehi’s Dream Of The Tree Of Life.”
The first two paragraphs of Jerald and Sandra’s article reads as follows:
“Both Joseph Smith’s father and Nephi’s father (in the Book of Mormon) are reported to have had many dreams. Lucy Smith, Joseph Smith’s mother, tells several of her husband’s dreams in her book (Lucy Smith, Biographical Sketches, 1853). These visions were no doubt recounted on many occasions among the family.
One of the dreams of Joseph Smith’s father is recorded in Lucy Smith’s book. According to Lucy Smith, Joseph Smith, Sr., had this dream sixteen years before young Joseph got the plates: ‘In 1811, we moved…to the town of Lebanon, New Hampshire. Soon after arriving here, my husband received another very singular vision, which I will relate…’ (Biographical Sketches, pp. 58-59). Upon reading this dream one is struck by the similarity between it and Lehi’s dream in the Book of Mormon. Lehi’s dream is recorded in chapter 8 of 1 Nephi. His son, Nephi, has the same dream but expounds it in more detail in chapter 11” (Joseph Smith’s Plagiarism of the Bible in the Book of Mormon, pg 161).
The Tanner’s then list 27 parallels between the dreams of Joseph Smith Sr., and Lehi in the Book of Mormon. Let’s compare the five things “Lehi saw,” listed by Apostle Packer to the parallels of Joseph Smith, Sr., as listed by the Tanners on pages 162 and 163 of Joseph Smith’s Plagiarism of the Bible in the Book of Mormon:
The five things Lehi saw as listed by Apostle Packer on pg 22 of the August 2010 Ensign:
  • A great and spacious building
  • A path following a river
  • A mist of darkness
  • An iron rod that led through the mist of darkness
  • The tree of life “whose fruit was desirable to make one happy”
Four of the five things “Lehi saw” are directly from the dream of Joseph Smith, Sr., (only the iron rod is a rope in Joseph Sr’s dream) plus two other items that Apostle Packer mentions as quoted above from page 25 of the article: criticism, mocking or scorning, and the ignoring (of no concern to us) of that criticism:
6 of 7 parallels from Joseph Smith, Sr., to Lehi’s dream of the Book of Mormon:
  • A spacious building:
And I also cast my eyes round about, and beheld on the other side of the river of water, a great and spacious building;…(1 Nephi 8:26)
“I beheld a spacious building standing opposite the valley which we were in,…(Smith, p. 59)
  • A path following a river:
And I also beheld a, straight and narrow path,…(1 Nephi 8:20)
“Traveling a short distance further, I came to a narrow path. This path I entered,… (Smith, p. 58)
  • A mist of darkness:
This item is not listed in the Joseph Smith, Sr., dream
  • An iron rod that led through the mist of darkness:
And I beheld a rod of iron, and it extended along the bank of the river…(1 Nephi 8:19)
“but as far as my eyes could extend I could see a rope, running along the bank of it,… (Smith, p. 58)
  • The tree of life “whose fruit was desirable to make one happy”:
And as I partook of the fruit thereof it filled my soul with exceeding great joy,… (1 Nephi 8:12)
We were exceedingly happy, insomuch that our joy could not easily be expressed.” (Smith, pp. 58-59)
Two other items mentioned by Mormon Apostle Packer in his article that parallel the dream of Joseph Smith, Sr.:
  • Criticism, scorn:
they did point the finger of scorn at me and those that were partaking of the fruit also;…(1 Nephi 8:33)
“When these people observed us…under the tree, they pointed the finger of scorn at us…” (Smith, p. 59)
  • Ignoring those who criticize or scorn:
but we heeded them not. (1 Nephi 8:33)
“But their contumely we utterly disregarded.” (Smith, p. 59)
I have compared 7 items of reference from Apostle Packer’s article about Lehi’s Dream; 6 of those 7 items can be paralleled to the dream of Joseph Smith, Sr., that was reported to have taken place 16 years before young Joseph received the “Golden Plates.” The Tanner’s list 27 parallels between the two dreams.
Lehi’s Dream in the Book of Mormon is obviously false as there is no proof to support that the Book of Mormon is a history of the ancient inhabitants of the American Continents; however, are these parallels just a coincidence? I’m not a mathematical statistician, but I’m sure the statistical probability that all these parallels are mere coincidence is near infinity!
Is the “Tree of Life” Symbolic of “Mother God?”
Since there is no proof that the Book of Mormon is authentic, rather, all indications are that it was the product of Joseph Smith’s imagination, written in the 1820’s and published in 1830, Mormons jump on anything that they think might advance their case for authenticity. In the July 19, 2010 edition of Mormon Times, Michael R. Ash wrote an article titled “The tree of life and the Book of Mormon.”
Trying to validate the Book of Mormon as an ancient text, Michael Ash provides the following quote in his article: “The Book of Mormon brought the tree of life to our attention long before modern scholarship revealed how common the tree was in ancient history. The symbol of that tree pervades the art and literature of every Mediterranean culture from centuries before the time of Lehi until well after the time of Moroni. This fact, and the fact that Lehi and Nephi portrayed the spiritual meaning of that symbol much the same way other ancient cultures portrayed it, demonstrates that the Book of Mormon is an ancient text, not an invention of the 19th-century social milieu.”
No, Mr. Ash, the parallels between ancient pagan cultures and the Book of Mormon merely show that they both originate from the same source.  Mr. Ash’s article continues with him introducing the pagan female goddess of fertility, Asherah:
“For another example of such ancient Old World parallels, I turn to the research of Daniel Peterson, a regular speaker at the annual FAIR Apologetics Conference, an Islamic scholar and the founder of the Mormon Scholars Testify website.
Despite most people’s perception of the ancient Israelites, modern scholars recognize that the Israelites were not typically monotheistic (they didn’t believe in a single God). For many years under the reign of the judges, many Israelites worshipped a female virgin deity – a consort to God – by the name of Asherah. Some biblical scholars believe that Jeremiah – a contemporary prophet of Lehi – mocked and denounced Asherah worship.”
Mr. Ash’s attempt at convincing his readers that the Israelites were not monotheistic is to recognize their pagan worship for which God severely punished them, above the reality of the teachings in the Old Testament. Then Mr. Ash, working off of Mr. Peterson’s research, tries to make his readers believe that Asherah was worshiped under the reign of the judges, as acceptable to God. This is simply ridiculous! Jeremiah in fact condemned the worship of pagan gods: “17. Seest thou not what they do in the cities of Judah and in the streets of Jerusalem? 18. The children gather wood, and the fathers kindle the fire, and the women knead their dough, to make cakes to the queen of heaven, and to pour out drink offerings unto other gods, that they may provoke me to anger” (Jeremiah 7).
The  “Illustrated Dictionary & Concordance of the Bible” on page 126 defines Asherah as follows: “One of the principle female goddesses of the Canaanite pantheon, familiar equally from Canaanite mythology and from biblical references….Most often she is known as the Lady of the Sea. As such she is consort of the chief god El and mother of the gods….As goddess of fertility, Asherah takes the form of a tree, symbolizing the Tree of Life…Her sacred emblem in this role is a tree or a wooden post which is a stylized form of the Tree of Life. Such a post is called Asherah in the Bible.”
From his article titled “Nephi and his Asherah,” Daniel Peterson writes: “Let us now focus more precisely on the nature of the veneration that was paid to the divine consort among the Israelites. What was the ‘asherah’ that stood in the temple at Jerusalem and in Samari? [placed there by the evil King Manasseh (II Kings 21:7)] Asherah was associated with trees….The rabbinic authors of the Jewish Mishna (second-third century AD) explain asherah as a tree that was worshiped…. Asherah was both goddess and cult symbol. She was the ‘tree.’ The menorah, the seven-branched candelabrum that stood for centuries in the temple in Jerusalem, supplies an interesting parallel to all this: Leon Yarden maintains that the menorah represents a stylized almond tree. He points to the notably radiant whiteness of the almond tree at certain points in its life cycle. Yarden also argues that the archaic Greek name of the almond (amygdale, reflected in its contemporary botanical designation as Amygdalis communis), almost certainly not a native Greek word, is most likely derived from the Hebrew em gedolah, meaning ‘Great Mother.’” ([ ] Brackets mine)
I have two reference books on the Jewish Tabernacle: Teaching from the Tabernacle, by Roy Lee DeWitt, and The Tabernacle, by William Brown. Both of these books state that the candlestick of pure gold (Ex 25:31) represents the “light of Christ.” As all the fixtures and rituals of the Tabernacle were a picture of the coming Messiah, so the seven lamps (the number of perfection) were a picture of the perfect light of the world: Jesus Christ.
Daniel Peterson continues: “But Nephi’s vision goes even further, identifying Mary with the tree. This additional element seems to derive from precisely the preexilic Palestinian culture into which, the Book of Mormon tells us, Nephi had been born.” After associating Mary with the Asherah tree, Daniel Peterson claims the metaphorical teachings of “wisdom” in the Bible are really a representation of the “wife of God”: “But among the interesting correspondences between ancient Near Eastern wisdom literature and the Book of Mormon, one is of special interest for the present article. Wisdom itself is represented in Proverbs 1 – 9 as a female person. Indeed, here and elsewhere in ancient Hebrew and Jewish literature, Wisdom appears as the wife of God, which can hardly fail to remind us of ancient Asherah.”
Lehi’s Dream of the “Tree of Life” and the Mormon attempt to associate the Virgin Mary with a pagan female fertility goddess and then “wisdom” as the “wife of God” are all tied to the “Mother God” doctrine of Mormonism.
Rocky Hulse.

Monday, August 9, 2010


For all the professing Book of Mormon believers out there whom I have found to be ill-informed I have compiled a list of fact-based information I believe every Mormon ought to at least be familiar with before testifying they “know its true”. This doesn’t go into any of the additional BofM problems including; authorship, it’s 3,000 changes, etc.

You can then go to FAIR where LDS Church paid and financed Mormon experts provide their take. In summary their take is turning facts into fiction in order to make it all work. Please keep in mind you ought to question the story since metal is talked about existing long before even the bronze age, and God said not to install windows before glass existed, not to mention Hill Cumorah happens to have been the site of two great battles where over a million were killed with metal swords yet there to date has not been a single sword found not only at hill Cumorah (name coming from Cumorah the Island State whose capitol city is by coincidence Moroni) but anywhere in North or south America. Not to mention of course there are no bones to show anyone died at Cumorah.

This is a small fraction of the fraud I uncovered while attempting to increase my testimony and become a better Mormon. Happy reading and God bless you as he did me in your quest for truth and reality-- Steve Kimball

Book of Mormon Culture

Silk: “And now, because of the steadiness of the church they began to be exceedingly rich, having abundance of all things whatsoever they stood in need--an abundance of flocks and herds, and fatlings of every kind, and also abundance of grain, and of gold, and of silver, and of precious things, and abundance of silk and fine-twined linen, and all manner of good homely cloth.” Alma 1:29, Book of Mormon

No evidence of silk in Mesoamerica

Chariots: “And they said unto him: Behold, he is feeding thy horses. Now the king had commanded his servants, previous to the time of the watering of their flocks, that they should prepare his horses and chariots, and conduct him forth to the land of Nephi; for there had been a great feast appointed at the land of Nephi, by the father of Lamoni, who was king over all the land.”

- Alma 18:9, Book of Mormon

No evidence of wheeled vehicles in Book of Mormon times

Seven-day week: “But the seventh day, the sabbath of the Lord thy God, thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy man-servant, nor thy maid-servant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates;”

- Mosiah 13:8, Book of Mormon

The seven-day week was not known during Book of Mormon times

Cimeters: “And it came to pass that I did arm them with bows, and with arrows, with swords, and with cimeters, and with clubs, and with slings, and with all manner of weapons which we could invent, and I and my people did go forth against the Lamanites to battle.”

- Mosiah 9:16, Book of Mormon

No evidence of cimeters in Ancient America

Uninhabited Continent: “And behold, it is wisdom that this land should be kept as yet from the knowledge of other nations; for behold, many nations would overrun the land, that there would be no place for an inheritance.”

- 2 Nephi 1:8, Book of Mormon

The continent has been inhabited for 30,000 years – millions of inhabitants

Empty Continent

The Book of Mormon seems to claim that the hemisphere was empty at time of Lehi’s arrival:

5 But, said he, notwithstanding our afflictions, we have obtained a land of promise, a land which is choice above all other lands; a land which the Lord God hath covenanted with me should be a land for the inheritance of my seed. Yea, the Lord hath covenanted this land unto me, and to my children forever, and also all those who should be led out of other countries by the hand of the Lord.
6 Wherefore, I, Lehi, prophesy according to the workings of the Spirit which is in me, that there shall none come into this land save they shall be brought by the hand of the Lord.
7 Wherefore, this land is consecrated unto him whom he shall bring. And if it so be that they shall serve him according to the commandments which he hath given, it shall be a land of liberty unto them; wherefore, they shall never be brought down into captivity; if so, it shall be because of iniquity; for if iniquity shall abound cursed shall be the land for their sakes, but unto the righteous it shall be blessed forever.
8 And behold, it is wisdom that this land should be kept as yet from the knowledge of other nations; for behold, many nations would overrun the land, that there would be no place for an inheritance.
9 Wherefore, I, Lehi, have obtained a promise, that inasmuch as those whom the Lord God shall bring out of the land of Jerusalem shall keep his commandments, they shall prosper upon the face of this land; and they shall be kept from all other nations, that they may possess this land unto themselves. And if it so be that they shall keep his commandments they shall be blessed upon the face of this land, and there shall be none to molest them, nor to take away the land of their inheritance; and they shall dwell safely forever. . . .
11 Yea, he will bring other nations unto them, and he will give unto them power, and he will take away from them the lands of their possessions, and he will cause them to be scattered and smitten.

- 2 Nephi, Chapter 1, Book of Mormon

"The Lord took every precaution to see that nothing might interfere with this posterity of Joseph in working out their God-given destiny and the destiny of America. He provided, and so told Lehi at the very beginning of his settlement, that: . . it is wisdom that this land should be kept as yet from the knowledge of other nations ; for behold, many nations would overrun the land, that there would be no place for an inheritance. (2 Nephi 1:8.) The Lord so kept the land for a thousand years after Lehi landed. He so kept it in His wisdom for another thousand years after the Nephites were destroyed, perhaps to give the Lamanitish branch another chance."

- Apostle J. Reuben Clark, "Prophecies, Penalties, and Blessings," Improvement Era, 1940, v. xliii., July 1940. no. 7

"We, therefore cast a glance southward into old Mexico and through the great countries beyond -- down through Central America and South America, where there are millions and millions of Lamanites, direct descendants of Father Lehi."

- Elder Andrew Jenson, Church Historian's Officer, Conference Report, October 1921, p.120

"About twenty-five centuries ago, a hardy group left the comforts of a great city, crossed a desert, braved an ocean, and came to the shores of this, their promised land. There were two large families, those of Lehi and Ishmael, who in not many centuries numbered hundreds of millions of people on these two American continents."

- Prophet Spencer W. Kimball, The Teachings of Spencer W. Kimball, p. 601

Book of Mormon Metallurgy

“Metallurgy does not appear in the region under discussion until about the 9th century A.D. None of the foregoing technical demands are met by the archaeology of the region proposed as Book-of-Mormon lands and places. I regard this as a major weakness in the armor of our proponents and friends. (It is just as troublesome to the authors of the other correlations – those [who] have gone before – including Tom Ferguson.) I doubt that the proponents will be very convincing if they contend that evidence of metallurgy is difficult to find and a rarity in archaeology. Where mining was practiced – as in the Old Testament world, mountains of ore and tailings have been found. Artifacts of metal have been found. Art portrays the existence of metallurgical products. Again, the score is zero.

- Thomas Ferguson, “Written Symposium,” pp. 20-21, reprinted in Stan Larson, Quest for the Gold Plates, p. 257

Bellows: “And it came to pass that I, Nephi, did make a bellows wherewith to blow the fire, of the skins of beasts; and after I had made a bellows, that I might have wherewith to blow the fire, I did smite two stones together that I might make fire.”

- 1 Nephi 17:11, Book of Mormon

No evidence of bellows in Book of Mormon times

Brass: “And I did teach my people to build buildings, and to work in all manner of wood, and of iron, and of copper, and of brass, and of steel, and of gold, and of silver, and of precious ores, which were in great abundance.”

- 2 Nephi 5:15, Book of Mormon

No evidence of brass in Book of Mormon times

Book of Mormon Animals

"The terms cattle, horses, sheep and so on are mentioned at several points in the Nephite record. And it is dismaying to some who wish to be dismayed, I believe and a few others who (honestly) wish an answer could be provided why there are not cows like we mean cows, horses like we mean horses, sheep like we mean sheep. The fact is that all the ancient studies say those animals simply were not present in the New World. Period. They were not here."

- John Sorenson, LDS Apologist, FARMS article from their website

All of these animals are found in the Book of Mormon yet none of them existed in America during Book of Mormon times:
1. Ass
2. Bull
3. Calf
4. Cattle
5. Cow
6. Domestic Goat
7. Horse (plays a major role in the Book of Mormon)

Book of Mormon Crops

Crops that did NOT exist in Book of Mormon times contrary to the claims of the Book of Mormon

Barley: “A senum of silver was equal to a senine of gold, and either for a measure of barley, and also for a measure of every kind of grain.”

- Alma 11:7, Book of Mormon

Wheat: “And we began to till the ground, yea, even with all manner of seeds, with seeds of corn, and of wheat, and of barley, and with neas, and with sheum, and with seeds of all manner of fruits; and we did begin to multiply and prosper in the land.”

- Mosiah 9:9, Book of Mormon

"There's a whole system of production of wheat and barley… It's a specialized production of food. You have to know something to make flax [the source of linen], and especially in tropical climates. Grapes and olives... all these are cultures that are highly developed and amount to systems, and so the Book of Mormon is saying that these systems existed here."

- Dr. Raymond T. Matheny, BYU anthropology professor, August 25, 1984 Sunstone conference in Salt Lake City

Crops that DID exist in abundance in Book of Mormon times yet are not mentioned in the Book of Mormon

Lima beans

Archaeology and the Book of Mormon

"It is the personal opinion of the writer that the Lord does not intend that the Book of Mormon, at least at the present time, shall be proved true by any archaeological findings. They day may come when such will be the case, but not now. The Book of Mormon is itself a witness of the truth, and the promise has been given most solemnly that any person who will read it with a prayerful heart may receive the abiding testimony of its truth.”

- Prophet Joseph Fielding Smith, Answers to Gospel Questions, 1998, v. 2, p. 196

“... our testimony of the Book of Mormon remain[s] a matter of faith, and [is] not based upon external proofs found from archaeology.”

- Duane R. Aston, Return to Cumorah, 1998

“So far as is known to the writer, no non-Mormon archaeologist at the present time is using the Book of Mormon as a guide in archaeological research. Nor does he know of any non-Mormon archaeologist who holds that the American Indians are descendants of the Jews, or that Christianity was known in America in the first century of our era...”

- Ulster Archaeological Society Newsletter, no. 64, Jan. 30, 1960, p. 3

“We conclude, therefore, that the Book of Mormon remains completely unverified by archaeology. The claims Mormon missionaries have made are fallacious and misleading.”

- Archaeology and the Book of Mormon, pamphlet by Hal Hougey, p. 4-6, 1976

"With the exception of Latter-day Saint archaeologists, members of the archaeological profession do not, and never have, espoused the Book of Mormon in any sense of which I am aware. Non-Mormon archaeologists do not allow the Book of Mormon any place whatever in their reconstruction of the early history of the New World.”

- Ulster Archaeological Society Newsletter, no. 64, Jan. 30, 1960, p.3

“It is not necessary here to repeat the passages in the Book of Mormon which describe such civilization.... It is only needful to show that nothing could be wider from the truth, unless all ancient American history is a lie, and its ten thousand relics tell false tales.
“It may be stated in a general way that there never has been a time upon this western hemisphere within the historic period, or within three thousand years past when a uniform civilization of ANY KIND prevailed over both continents.
“We are to learn now:
1st. That a Christian civilization has never existed in Central America, not even for a day.
2nd. The people of Central America, as far back as their record has been traced (and that is centuries earlier than the alleged beginning of Nephite history), have always been an idolatrous people.... The entire civilization of the Book of Mormon, its whole record from beginning to end is flatly contradicted by the civilization and the history of Central America.”

- The Golden Bible, by M.T. Lamb, p. 366, 370, 373

“Let me know state uncategorically that as far as I know there is not one professionally trained archaeologist, who is not a Mormon, who sees any scientific justification for believing the foregoing to be true, ... nothing, absolutely nothing, has ever shown up in any New World excavation which would suggest to a dispassionate observer that the Book of Mormon... is a historical document relating to the history of early migrants to our hemisphere.”

- Michael Coe, Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought, Summer 1973, pp. 42, 46

"The first myth we need to eliminate is that Book of Mormon archaeology exists…. If one is to study Book of Mormon archaeology, then one must have a corpus of data with which to deal. We do not. The Book of Mormon is really there so one can have Book of Mormon studies, and archaeology is really there so one can study archaeology, but the two are not wed. At least they are not wed in reality since no Book of Mormon location is known with reference to modern topography. Biblical archaeology can be studied because we do know where Jerusalem and Jericho were and are, but we do not know where Zarahemla and Bountiful (nor any other location for that matter) were or are. It would seem then that a concentration on geography should be the first order of business, but we have already seen that twenty years of such an approach has left us empty-handed."

- Dee F. Green, Mormon archaeologist, Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought, Summer 1969, pp. 77-78

“I’m afraid that up to this point, I must agree with Dee Green, who has told us that to date there is no Book-of-Mormon geography.... you can’t set Book of Mormon geography down anywhere – because it is fictional and will never meet the requirements of the dirt-archaeology.”

- Thomas S. Ferguson, Mormon archaeologist, and author of Quest for the Gold Plates, “Letter to Mr. and Mrs. H.W. Lawrence,” dated Feb. 20, 1976

“While some people chose to make claims for the Book of Mormon through archaeological evidences, to me they are made prematurely, and without sufficient knowledge. I do not support the books written on this subject including The Messiah in Ancient America, or any other. I believe that the authors are making cases out of too little evidences and do not adequately address the problems that archaeology and the Book of Mormon present. I would feel terribly embarrassed if anyone sent a copy of any book written on the subject to the National Museum of Natural History – Smithsonian Institution, or other authority, making claims that cannot as yet be substantiated.... there are very severe problems in this field in trying to make correlations with the scriptures. Speculation, such as practiced so far by Mormon authors has not given church members credibility.”

- Ray T. Matheny, Mormon scholar and BYU professor of anthropology, letter dated Dec. 17, 1987

“The Book of Mormon talks about ferrous and non-ferrous metallurgical industries. A ferrous industry is a whole system of doing something. It’s just not an esoteric process that a few people are involved in, but ferrous industry.., means mining iron ores and then processing these ores and casting [them] into irons.... This is a process that’s very also calls for cultural backup to allow such an activity to take place.... In my recent reading of the Book of Mormon, I find that iron and steel are mentioned in sufficient context to suggest that there was a ferrous industry here.... You can’t refine ore without leaving a bloom of some kind or impurities that blossom out and float to the top of the ore... and also the flux of limestone or whatever is used to flux the material.... [This] blooms off into silicas and indestructible new rock forms. In other words, when you have a ferroused metallurgical industry, you have these evidences of the detritus that is left over. You also have the fuels, you have the furnaces, you have whatever technologies that were there performing these tasks; they leave solid evidences. And they are indestructible things.... No evidence has been found in the new world for a ferrous metallurgical industry dating to pre-Columbian times. And so this is a king-size kind of problem, it seems to me, for the so-called Book of Mormon archaeology. This evidence is absent.”

- Ray T. Matheny, Speech at Sunstone Symposium 6, "Book of Mormon Archaeology," August 25, 1984

"I really have difficulty in finding issue or quarrel with those opening chapters of the Book of Mormon [i. e., the first 7 chapters which only relate to Lehi and his family around the area of Jerusalem]. But thereafter it doesn't seem like a translation to me.... And the terminologies and the language used and the methods of explaining and putting things down are 19th century literary concepts and cultural experiences one would expect Joseph Smith and his colleagues would experience. And for that reason I call it transliteration, and I’d rather not call it a translation after the 7th chapter. And I have real difficulty in trying to relate these cultural concepts as I've briefly discussed here with archeological findings that I'm aware of.... "If I were doing this cold like John Carlson is here, I would say in evaluating the Book of Mormon that it had no place in the New World whatsoever. I would have to look for the place of the Book of Mormon events to have taken place in the Old World. It just doesn't seem to fit anything that he has been taught in his discipline, nor I in my discipline in anthropology, history; there seems to be no place for it. It seems misplaced. It seems like there are anachronisms. It seems like the items are out of time and place, and trying to put them into the New World. And I think there’s a great difficulty here for we Mormons in understanding what this book is all about."

- Ray T. Matheny, Speech at Sunstone Symposium 6, "Book of Mormon Archeology," August 25, 1984

“The American Indians are physically Mongoloids and thus must have originated in Eastern Asia. The differences in appearance of the various New World tribes in recent times are due to (1) the initial variability of their Asian ancestors; (2) adaptations over several millennia to varied New World environments; and (3) different degrees of interbreeding in post-Columbian times with people of European and African origins.”

- “Origins of the American Indians,” National Museum of Natural History – Smithsonian Institute, Washington, D.C., 1985, p. 1

“Your recent inquiry concerning the Smithsonian Institution's alleged use of the Book of Mormon as a scientific guide has been received in the Smithsonian's Department of Anthropology.
The Book of Mormon is a religious document and not a scientific guide. The Smithsonian Institution has never used it in archeological research and any information that you have received to the contrary is incorrect. Accurate information about the Smithsonian's position is contained in the enclosed "Statement Regarding the Book of Mormon," which was prepared to respond to the numerous inquiries that the Smithsonian receives on this topic.
"Because the Smithsonian regards the unauthorized use of its name to disseminate inaccurate information as unlawful, we would appreciate your assistance in providing us with the names of any individuals who are misusing the Smithsonian's name.”

- Statement by the National Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian Institution, Spring 1986

“... our testimony of the Book of Mormon remain[s] a matter of faith, and [is] not based upon external proofs found from archaeology.”

- Duane R. Aston, Return to Cumorah, 1998

“I haven’t changed my views about the Book of Mormon since my 1973 article. I have seen no archaeological evidence before or since that date which would convince me that it is anything but a fanciful creation by an unusually gifted individual living in upstate New York in the early nineteenth century.”

- Michael Coe, correspondence between Bill McKeever and Michael Coe

“In 1949 [actually 1946] California lawyer, Tom Ferguson, rolled up his sleeves, threw a shovel over his shoulder, and marched into the remote jungles of southern Mexico. Armed with a quote by Joseph Smith that the Lord had ‘a hand in proving the Book of Mormon true in the eyes of all people,’ Ferguson’s goal was: Shut the mouths of the critics who said such evidence did not exist. Ferguson began an odyssey that included twenty-four trips to Central America, eventually resulting in a mountain of evidence supporting Book of Mormon claims.”

- Steve Johnson, transcript of the advertisement for The Messiah in Ancient America by Thomas Ferguson, 1988

“After many years of careful study, the real importance of Book of Mormon archaeology has dawned on me. It will take but a moment to explain. The Book of Mormon is the only revelation from God in the history of the world that can possibly be tested by scientific physical evidence.... To find the city of Jericho is merely to confirm a point in history. To find the city of Zarahemla is to confirm a point in history but it is also to confirm, through tangible physical evidence, divine revelation to the modern world through Joseph Smith, Moroni, and the Urim and Thummim. Thus, Book of Mormon history is revelation that can be tested by archaeology.”

- Thomas Ferguson to the First Presidency, April 10, 1953, Ferguson Collection, BYU

“One cannot fake over 3000 years ... of history and have the fake hold water under the scrutiny given the Book of Mormon. The Book of Mormon is either fake or fact. If fake, the cities described in it are non-existent. If fact – as we know it to be – the cities will be there. If the cities exist, and they do, they constitute tangible, physical, enduring, unimpeachable evidence that Joseph Smith was a true prophet of God and that Jesus Christ lives.”

- Thomas Ferguson to the First Presidency, March 15, 1958, Ferguson Collection, BYU

“Right now I am inclined to think that all of those who claim to be ‘prophets,’ including Moses, were without a means of communicating with deity – I’m inclined to think that when Moses was on top of the mount, he was talking to himself and decided that the only way he could get the motley crowd at the bottom of the slope to come to order and to listen to him and to heed him was to tell them that he had talked to God on the mount. If this view is correct, then prophets are nothing more than mortal men like the rest of us, except they saw a great need for change and had the courage to say they had communicated with God and had received a message for man, and were believed (though false in the basic claim that the message came from God and not from man).... Right now I think Hoffer [author of True Believer] comes very close to the truth about prophets and organized religions. Right now I am inclined to think that all who believe in ‘prophets’ as true agents of God are being spoofed – but perhaps for their own good and welfare. When Joseph Smith crash-landed, a lot came down with him, as I see it.”

- Thomas Ferguson to Wesley P. Walters, July 6, 1971, Ferguson Collection, University of Utah; see Mormon Mavericks: Essays on Dissenters, p. 263

“All elements of religion that are supernatural (including endless string of miracles in the New Testament) are fabrications of men like Joseph Smith.... Further, I presently believe that Mormonism is as good a brand of supernatural religion (which sells well) as any other – including Protestantism. At the present time I am inclined to believe that supernatural religion, selling as it does, does more good than it does harm (although this is highly debatable).... In my opinion the average Protestant and the average Catholic is as blind to basic truths as is the average Mormon. If I were going to attack Joseph Smith, I would want to attack your beliefs, involving the supernatural, as well as the Mormon beliefs.”

- Thomas Ferguson to Hougey, June 26, 1975, Ferguson Collection, University of Utah; see Mormon Mavericks: Essays on Dissenters, p. 263

“Why not say the right things and keep your membership in the great fraternity, enjoying the good things you like and discarding the ones you can’t swallow (and keeping your mouths shut)? Hypocritical? Maybe. But perhaps a realistic way of dealing with a very difficult problem. There is lots left in the Church to enjoy – and thousands of members have done, and are doing, what I suggest you consider doing.”

- Thomas Ferguson to Mr. and Mrs. Harold W. Lawrence, February 9, 1976, Ferguson Collection, University of Utah

“Belonging, with my eyes wide open, is actually fun, less expensive than formerly, and no strain at all. I am now very selective in the meetings I attend, the functions I attend, the amounts I contribute etc. etc. and I have a perfectly happy time. I never get up and bear testimony – but I don’t mind listening to others who do. I am much more tolerant of other religions and other thinking and feel fine about things in general. You might give my suggestions a trial run – and if you find you have to burn all the bridges between yourselves and the Church, then go ahead and ask for excommunication. The day will probably come – but it is far off – when the leadership of the Church will change the excommunication rules and delete as ground non-belief in the 2 books mentioned [the Book of Abraham and the Book of Mormon] and in Joseph Smith as a prophet etc.... but if you wait for that day, you probably will have died. It is a long way off – tithing would drop too much for one thing.”

- Thomas Ferguson to Mr. and Mrs. Harold W. Lawrence, February 9, 1976, Ferguson Collection, University of Utah

“I wonder what really goes on in the minds of Church leadership who know of the data concerning the Book of Abraham, the new data on the First Vision, etc.... It would tend to devastate the Church if a top leader were to announce the facts.”

- Thomas Ferguson to John W. Fitzgerald, March 6, 1976, John Fitzgerald Collection, Special Collections, Milton R. Merrill Library, Utah State University

“I believe that Judaism was an improvement on polytheism; Christianity was an improvement on Judaism (to some degree and in some departments only); that Protestantism is an improvement on Catholicism; that Mormonism is an improvement on Protestantism. So I give Joseph Smith credit as an innovator and as a smart fellow.”

- Thomas Ferguson to James Still, December 3, 1979; see Mormon Mavericks: Essays on Dissenters, p. 269

“Since Oliver Cowdery was born in 1806 and was in Poultney from 1809 to 1825, he was resident in Poultney from 3 years of age until he was 19 years of age – 16 years in all. And these years encompassed the publication of View of the Hebrews, in 1822 [1823] and 1825. His three little half sisters, born in Poultney, were all baptized in Ethan Smith’s church. Thus, the family had a close tie with Ethan Smith.”

- Thomas Ferguson to Ronald Barney, January 10, 1983, Ferguson Collection, University of Utah; see Mormon Mavericks: Essays on Dissenters, pp. 270-271

© Copyright 2002 Mormon Missions Midwest Outreach, Inc. All Rights Reserved. —Permission is granted to reproduce, provided content is not changed and this copyright notice

Friday, August 6, 2010


It’s been just over 20 years now since Mark Hofmann, the returned Mormon Missionary, blew up two innocent people with pipe bombs, and was plea bargained out instead of going to trial.

Why wouldn’t a deranged bomber with 26 felony counts against him and the blood of two innocent people on his hands go to trial?  It’s really quite simple if you’ve ever lived in Utah and you understand the power of the Mormon Church over that state.  Placing Mark Hofmann on trial would have meant calling Mormon Prophets and Apostles to the witness stand.  These Mormon General Authorities had been utterly fooled by him into purchasing hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of dollars worth of forged documents about early Mormon history.  Mark Hofmann was born and raised a Mormon and went on his two year mission to southwest England; returning in 1976.  Married in 1979, outwardly Mark appeared to be a good Mormon young man.  Mark had a sinister side though, and he found an easy target in the Mormon Church.  Since its beginning, the early foundations of Mormon Church history have been shrouded in claims of fraud, deceit, folklore magic, and mysticism.  Also, from its beginning, the Mormon Church has been involved in trying to distance itself from those claims and provide a legitimate explanation of its establishment. Into this fertile ground of protecting the history of the Mormon Church at all costs, came Mark Hofmann with a plan to make money and make the Mormon Church look foolish—he was successful on both counts!!

The Anthon Transcript

Mark’s first big score was the “Anthon Transcript.”  Martin Harris, the financier of the first printing of the Book of Mormon in 1830, was skeptical at putting up the money without some proof of the Golden Bible.  Joseph Smith would only let him heft the box that supposedly contained the “Golden Plates” from which the Book of Mormon was to be translated, but this wasn’t enough to satisfy the wealthy farmer; he wanted more.  So, Joseph supposedly copied characters from the gold plates and Harris took them to New York City to have the scholars of the day validate the characters.  The characters were not of any known language Smith explained to Harris, they are an unknown language called “Reformed Egyptian.”
hoffmanHarris eventually found his way to Charles Anthon, a professor of Greek and Latin at Columbia College.  No one knows for sure what took place at this meeting except Harris came back declaring Professor Anthon had identified the characters as Egyptian, Chaldaic, Assyriac, and Arabic.  When Professor Anthon later heard that the Mormons were saying he had validated the characters he wrote a blistering denial.
The “Anthon Transcript” which Martin Harris had taken on his journey was believed lost.
Picture individuals from left to right: Mark Hofmann, 1st Counselor N. Eldon Tanner, President Spencer W. Kimball, 2nd Counselor Marion G. Romney, Apostle Boyd K. Packer and Apostle Gordon B. Hinckley
In the above picture, Mark Hofmann is pictured with the most senior Mormon Church leaders studying his recently discovered (forged) “Anthon Transcript.”  This incredible find (totally bogus) put Mark Hofmann on the inside tract with the front office of the Mormon Church.  Mark totally fooled every senior Mormon Church leader and walked away with a quick $20,000 for his deceptive efforts; a handsome sum in 1980.  Not only did Hofmann fool the Mormon Church leaders of 1980, in the picture above he is seen with the current Mormon Prophet, Gordon B. Hinckley, and the third in line to be Prophet, Apostle Boyd K. Packer.

The Salamander Letter

Mark’s next big scam was the “Salamander Letter.”  The whole “translation” of the Book of Mormon is steeped in mysticism and fraud.  Knowing this, Mark Hofmann dreamed up a letter that played perfectly off of those claims.  His letter “…sounded more like a Grimms’ fairy tale than a Sunday-school lesson: kettles of money guarded by spirits, seer stones, enchanted spells, magic “spectacles,” ghostly visitations.  And instead of a benevolent angel, a cantankerous and tricky “old spirit” who transforms himself into a white salamander!”  (The Mormon Murders, pg. 127)
In order to avoid directly involving the Mormon Church in the procurement of this document (too much publicity), Hofmann worked a deal with a “faithful member,” a wealthy businessman named Steve Christensen, to purchase the document to prevent it from getting into the “wrong hands.”  The idea was to allow time to cool off the interest in the document and then Steve could donate it to the Church and thus ensure a prominent place for himself and his family in the Celestial Kingdom in the next life!

The McLellin Collection

This is the scam that brought Mark Hofmann down.  “William E. McLellin was an early Apostle and close associate of Joseph Smith’s who had left the Church in 1836 to become one of its bitterest critics.  It had long been rumored that McLellin, who kept the minutes at early meetings of the Twelve, had taken with him a pirate’s chest full of papers, letters, and journals, all of it incriminating, with which to destroy the Church.  But neither the Collection itself, nor any part of it, had ever surfaced.  Until now.”  (The Mormon Murders, pg. 164)
This scam was so blatant that Mark Hofmann never even forged the documents.  He set a price tag of $185,000 and was working several different people, and the Mormon Church, in the scam.
Hofmann was living the high life at this time.  He was flying back and forth to New York City and other places, supposedly searching for antique documents, and spending money like there was no end to its source.  He was attempting to purchase a very expensive house in one of the most affluent neighborhoods in Salt Lake City and he was beginning to run tight on cash.
He went to the Mormon Church Headquarters and told them he needed the $185,000 to acquire the McLellin Collection.  Hugh Pinnock, a senior member of the Quorum of Seventy (a Mormon General Authority, just under the position of Apostle), made a phone call to First Interstate Bank and arranged the loan; Mark simply had to go pick up the check.
Hofmann had also borrowed money from several other Mormons with promises of providing the McLellin Collection.  Playing both ends against the middle, time was running out.  Mark was under a great deal of pressure to meet all of these various obligations.  Steve Christensen (the purchaser of the Salamander Letter) had entered the picture again as Mark was delinquent on his $185,000 loan arranged by the Church.  “The Brethren” had elicited Steve’s help to complete the McLellin transaction through a wealthy Mormon Mission President in Nova Scotia, Canada.  In his sordid mind, Hofmann believed he could release the pressure cooker he had placed himself in by blowing up Steve and then blowing up one of his business associates; therefore, diverting the investigation away from document dealing and focusing it on a possible bad business deal motive for the bombings.

The Bombings

On Tuesday October 15, 1985, two bombs took the lives of Steve Christensen and Kathy Sheets.  Both pipe bombs, the one set for Steve Christensen was especially brutal, being filled with nails meant to absolutely shred its victim.  Gary Sheets was the intended target for bomb number two; however, his wife, Kathy, found the bomb outside their home and she became the victim of its deadly power.
No one is sure who was the intended victim of bomb number three.  Mark Hofmann was in downtown Salt Lake City in the process of delivering the bomb, when it went off prematurely and he became its victim.  Severely injured, but not killed, Mark was initially thought to be an innocent victim; however, the investigation clearly showed he was the bomber.

Lying for the Lord

Hugh Pinnock, a Mormon General Authority as I’ve previously noted, arranged a $185,000 loan at First Interstate Bank for Mark Hofmann to initially purchase the McLellin Collection.  The day after the third bomb explosion that injured Mark Hofmann, Elder Pinnock was interviewed about the crimes:
“…Police Detective Don Bell interviewed him at 1:12 in the afternoon on October 17, the day after the bomb exploded in Hofmann’s car.
“Elder Pinnock, this is the deal,” Bell began, notebook in hand.  “This is a homicide investigation.  Do you know Mr. Hofmann?”
Pinnock paused and reflected a moment.  “No I don’t believe I do.””
(The Mormon Murders, pp. 246-247)
This statement by this Mormon General Authority was an absolute lie! When KSL-TV accurately reported that the Mormon Church was involved in arranging document deals and illegal loans, the Mormon Church went ballistic.  “The Church is upset because we said they helped arrange a loan.  Well ,they did!  They say it was an individual, not the Church, but that’s baloney.  It may have been an individual who placed the call, but he was a Church official, sitting in his Church office, on Church time, using a Church phone, and he did it for the…benefit of the Church.  Nobody else wanted that McLellin Collection except the Church.  And the Nova Scotia mission president doesn’t collect documents.  He was just a big-bucks guy who said ‘If you need help, I’ll help you out.’  If the Church says they weren’t helping arrange any buyers for anything, how do you explain the fact that the Church volunteered to get an armored car to go down to Texas and pick the Collection up?”  (The Mormon Murders, pg. 389)
When current Mormon Prophet, Gordon B. Hinckley, was interviewed by County Prosecuting Attorneys Bob Stott and David Biggs about his multiple dealings with Mark Hofmann, he clearly lied: “Stott and Biggs shifted uneasily in their chairs.  Mike George, the investigator from the county attorney’s office who had accompanied Ken Farnsworth on the last interview with Hinckley almost four months before, marveled at how, with time in between to recollect those meetings he still couldn’t remember a thing.
“Was he ever in your office?” Stott asked.  “Probably,” said Hinckley.
Probably!” thought Biggs.  Now, he was even forgetting what he had admitted in the press conference.”  (The Mormon Murders, pp. 355­356)  When comparing the notes of the investigators of this crime, there is no doubt that Gordon B. Hinckley, now the current Mormon Prophet was lying to them.

In Utah - You Don’t Embarrass the Mormon Church!!

The case against Mark Hofmann was overwhelming.  There was no question he would be convicted of 1st Degree Murder and receive the death penalty for his despicable crimes; yet he only received a mere slap on the wrist for murdering two innocent people by blowing them up with pipe bombs and, not only defrauding the Mormon Church out of hundreds of thousands, if not millions of dollars, but other people as well.
“It was clear to everyone by now that Bob Stott (prosecuting attorney) was determined to avoid a trial no matter what.  Said one policeman when the news of the bargain spread though the department like the smell of a gas leak, “Even if we had a confession, Stott would have given Yengich (Hofmann’s attorney) anything he wanted.”
Later, when a Los Angeles Times reporter flew to Salt Lake City to cover the breaking plea-bargain story, he told Dawn Tracy [Salt Lake Tribune Reporter] that the most surprising aspect of the entire case was the attitude of the prosecution.  “The typical prosecutor,” the reporter said, “goes out and gets the bad guys.  He goes out and stirs things up.  Here, they’re so nice and cooperative.  What a nice plea bargain.  In any other state, you’d see this thing go on trial, because that’s how prosecutors’ reputations are made.  Going to trial and getting bad guys, big splashes, lots of exposure.  Here you have a nice plea bargain.
“‘Hey,’ said Tracy, ‘You don’t rise in this state embarrassing the Mormon Church or making them look bad.’”  (The Mormon Murders, pp. 420-421).  Who cares about truth?  Who cares about justice—in Mormonism you must protect the “Myth” at all costs!!
The Mormon Prosecutor, Bob Stott, would not execute the responsibilities of his office, because in Mormonism, the attitude toward truth is “faith before facts!”  (The Mormon Murders, pg. 439)
Article by Rocky and Helen Hulse, Issue No. 24, May 2007, “The Midwest Expositor” publication of Mormon Missions Midwest Outreach -

© Copyright 2002 Mormon Missions Midwest Outreach, Inc. All Rights Reserved. —Permission is granted to reproduce, provided content is not changed and this copyright notice

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Joseph Smith's Priesthood by Staci Lee

LDS History of the Church Vol. 4 (pp 571-81) includes an editorial Joseph Smith, Jr. submitted to the Times and Seasons newspaper. "Try the Spirits" was written in response to "occurrences that [had] transpired amongst" his congregation. In the article, Smith identifies a spiritual problem-- that is, people wrongly believe God is behind every manifestation of power, but in fact the credit is very often due to an evil or deceiving spirit. He writes,

"there always did... seem to be a lack of intelligence pertaining to this subject. Spirits of all kinds have been manifested, in every age, and almost amongst all people... and all contend their spirits are of God...all nations have been deceived, imposed upon and injured through the mischievous effects of false spirits..."

Smith also offers the solution to this problem: it is only persons specifically chosen by God (i.e. apostles and prophets), including, of course, Joseph Smith himself, who are able to distinguish bad spirits from good ones "through the medium of the Priesthood."

Ironically, the LDS Church began with Joseph's own alleged spirit-visitation, a visitation which preceded any priesthood- "holding" on Joseph's part. Thus, by his own standard, he could not have discerned whether or not the spirits visiting him were true and good, or false and evil. More than that, though, Joseph's article reveals his understanding of the nature of priesthood. He writes:

"If Satan should appear as one in glory, who can tell his color, his signs, his appearance, his glory? ...who can drag into daylight and develop the hidden mysteries of the false spirits... We answer that no man can do this without the Priesthood... for as 'no man knows the things of God, but by the Spirit of God,' so no man knows the spirit of the devil, and his power and influence, but by possessing intelligence which is more than human, and having unfolded through the medium of the Priesthood the mysterious operations of his devices..."

"...The Apostles in ancient times held the keys of this Priesthood... and consequently were enabled to unlock and unravel all things pertaining to... the future destiny of men, and the agency, power and influence of spirits; for they could control them at pleasure, bid them depart in the name of Jesus, and detect their mischievous and mysterious operations..."

"...Elijah, Elisha, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and many other prophets possessed this power. Our Savior, the Apostles, and even the members of the Church were endowed with this gift..."

"...wicked spirits have their bounds, limits, and laws by which they are governed or controlled... it is very evident that they possess a power that none but those who have the Priesthood can control..."

Smith, the founder of the Mormon Church, believed that the priesthood is a power, and that it, among other things, enables a person to exercise control over evil spirits. Did Joseph Smith want this kind of power? Yes, he did. I recommend (among others) the free online book Joseph Smith's New York Reputation Reexamined for a deeper understanding of these issues. (The book is about the testimonies and eyewitness accounts given by early neighbors of the Smith family, and a rebuttal of the later dismissal of these testimonies by LDS apologists. The appendix gives the neighbors' affidavits.)

Did Joseph think that the priesthood spoken of in the Bible was the kind of power he needed? Indeed, he did, as you can determine by reading his editorial in full (click on link, and then search for "Try the Spirits").

Of course, Joseph's perception of the Biblical priesthood was far from correct. Priesthood in the Bible is not a POWER, but a word referring to the role, responsibilities, and requirements of a priest--a person whose job is to represent the people before God. Old Testament priests did not study up on the "bounds, limits, and laws" governing demons so "they could control them at pleasure." On the other hand, before becoming a prophet Joseph Smith had made a name for himself attempting (and failing) to locate buried treasure with his peepstone. His failure, he claimed, was because of those pesky guarding ghosts....

Smith's need and desire for power, together with his quest for biblical-backing, provides a fine example of eisegesis (i.e., imposing one's own interpretation onto a biblical text). Joseph, in attempting to ascertain the role and nature of biblical priesthood, simply saw what he wished to see.

In conclusion, Smith describes one of the incidents that inspired his editorial. He writes:

"There have also been ministering angels in the Church which were of Satan appearing as an angel of light. A sister in the state of New York had a vision, who said it was told her that if she would go to a certain place in the woods, an angel would appear to her. She went at the appointed time, and saw a glorious personage descending, arrayed in white, with sandy colored hair; he commenced and told her to fear God, and said that her husband was called to do great things, but that he must not go more than one hundred miles from home, or he would not return; whereas God had called him [via Smith] to go to the ends of the earth, and he has since been more than one thousand miles from home, and is yet alive. Many true things were spoken by this personage, and many things that were false. How, it may be asked, was this known to be a bad angel? By the color of his hair; that is one of the signs that he can be known by and by his contradicting a former revelation."

The "spirits" Joseph consulted as he built his church DID contradict former revelation; irony, again. The nature of God, the number of gods, the nature of Jesus, the nature of man, the place of Jesus' atonement, the virginity of Mary, the role of and need for the priesthood, heaven and hell, just to name a few, are all Biblical revelations that have been contradicted in Joseph's religion. Setting aside hair color, were the spirits Joseph dealt with true and good? Or false and evil? How do you know?

Mormonism's Jesus is one of many gods. He is Lucifer's spirit-brother, humankind's spirit-brother, and the son of the god "Elohim." He did not create all, he was not clearly virgin born, and he is not to be directly worshiped by people on this planet. Mormonism thus fails the test of 1 John 4:1-3. Joseph's spirits, if they existed at all, were of the false and evil variety.

© Copyright 2002 Mormon Missions Midwest Outreach, Inc. All Rights Reserved. —Permission is granted to reproduce, provided content is not changed and this copyright notice

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

It Resounds Within You?

"It resounds within me." That is the expression that my friend, who has been coming out of Mormonism and turning to a sort of universalism, used to explain to me how she knows her new beliefs to be true. Coincidentally, it is the same expression used by another friend who is now returning to her LDS roots after having been non-religious for most of her life. In her case, of course, it is the teachings of Joseph Smith that "resound within" her.

Yesterday, the second friend and I were talking about the Isaiah verses (i.e. Isaiah 44:6, 44:24, 45:5-6, etc) in which YHWH God says He is the only God in existence. She believes that the context of Isaiah forces a smaller meaning on these verses - that YHWH is only trying to get people not to worship their little hand-crafted idols. Her belief, like that of many Mormons, is that "Heavenly Father" is the one god FOR US (here on this planet) to worship, but that there are many other real gods out there for other people on other planets. And even though Mormonism teaches that God the Father ("Elohim") had a father that also progressed to godhood, his god/father is not our god, and so he also is not to be worshiped by us.

Obviously, I could not and do not agree with her interpretation of the ONE GOD ONLY verses. But as I tried to look at it from her point of view, I was blessed with the fleeting memory of how it felt to believe that way. And suddenly it hit me...

My Mormon life was cursed with my relying on what felt right to me at the time. Coming to the Jesus of the Bible was completely different. The real truth didn't placate me. It DRAGGED ME OUTSIDE OF MYSELF and forced me to submit to our Creator God. Confronted by the real truth, I finally understood that God Almighty was not interested in my current beliefs, my plans, my works or "goodness"; the promises I tried to make with Him and the deals I wanted Him to make with me. God wanted me to stop dreaming up my own god, and being my own god. He wanted me to find Him, see Him, and recognize Him as the Sovereign Lord of my life.

The experience of coming to Christ was the complete opposite of having something resound within me. I didn't feel a happy, nice feeling. I didn't have my hopes emotionally confirmed for me. I was crushed (Matt 21:44). I had been defeated. With my nose to the floor, I surrendered all my desires, my understanding of how things were, my attempts at controlling my life - ALL I HAD AND ALL I WAS - to Him. And that is where I BEGAN to see things clearly.

Our natural hearts are wicked and foolish (Jeremiah 17:9, Romans 1:21). Our natural self is an enemy of God, and blind to His truth (Romans 8:7, Matt 13:15). We can't look for deep and meaningful truth inside of ourselves. The truth does not resound within our evil and fallen natures (1 Corinthians 2:14). The truth DOES shove us outside of our SELF and our self-love, and offend us in many ways. We're not naturally "in tune" with God's truth, but must let the "old man" be crucified with Christ (Romans 6:6), and the new man be created and sanctified by God and His Word (Romans 12:1-2, 8:29). If we have not been born again, what we feel to be true is coming from an unregenerate heart, which loves itself, and likes to manifest its selfish desires.

It is a good reminder for me, and perhaps someone else out there -- when you go to the Bible, don't take your religion with you. How many people have convinced themselves from the Bible's pages that what they want (or have been taught) to be true IS true, and must as a result, ignore other parts of the Bible that do not, therefore, make sense? I cannot push my beliefs on God; YHWH and His Word will not submit to ME. I am the one who must bow and be corrected. It may not FEEL good - but do I want something that feels good even if it is not the truth?

Good Bible study Tips:
1- Take the Bible verses in their context. Take the Bible as a whole.
2- Interpret the vague and hard-to-understand passages in light of the passages that are easy to understand.
3- Look for your Savior God; the #1-gotta-get-this-right issue is who God IS.

Hebrews 4:12
For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.

© Copyright 2002 Mormon Missions Midwest Outreach, Inc. All Rights Reserved. —Permission is granted to reproduce, provided content is not changed and this copyright notice

Monday, August 2, 2010

The Magic of Mormonism

Does any of this appear Christian?

© Copyright 2002 Mormon Missions Midwest Outreach, Inc. All Rights Reserved. —Permission is granted to reproduce, provided content is not changed and this copyright notice

Rocky and Helen Hulse

Rocky and Helen Hulse
Defending Christianity From Mormon Doctrine