Monday, October 28, 2013

Malta and “The Book of Mormon”


by Rocky Hulse

January 2005

     What possible relationship could there be between Malta and “The Book of Mormon”?
    
     I left Mayport, Florida, Monday morning June 7th 2004 for an overseas deployment onboard the USS JOHN F KENNEDY (JFK) CV-67, heading for the Persian Gulf in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom. On June 26th the JFK pulled into Valletta, Malta for five days of liberty (rest and relaxation). 
USS John F Kennedy CV-67
While there, I took a tour of the “National Museum of Archaeology” in Valletta.  There I found out some of the fascinating history of the small island nation of Malta.

Malta is in the center of the Mediterranean Sea just below Sicily and above Libya (see above).

     Malta consists of three small inhabited islands in the center of the Mediterranean Sea: Malta, Gozo and Comino.  These three islands together boast a land area of only 122 square miles.  How small is that?  Well, Rhode Island, the smallest state is only 1045 square miles in size; thus, Rhode Island is 8 ½ times larger than Malta.
     For me the history of Malta from the Phoenicians to the Byzantine era was particularly interesting.  The Phoenicians came to Malta in 750 B.C., and the Byzantine era lasted through 870 A.D. when the Arabs overran the island.  The Roman Empire occupied the island from 218 B.C. through 535 A.D. when the Byzantine era began. This timeframe, 750 B.C. – 870 A.D., overlaps the prominent declared period of the Book of Mormon, 600 B.C. to 421 A.D.  “The main part of the work deals with the period from 600 B.C. to 421 A.D. during which the Nephite, Lamanite, and Mulekite civilizations flourished.” (Mormon Doctrine, pg 93.)
     The complete timeframe of the Book of Mormon is from 2247 B.C. to 421 A.D.  “It contains the fullness of the everlasting gospel (D. & C. 20:9; 42:12; 135:3) and an abridged account of God’s dealings with the ancient inhabitants of the American continent from about 2247 B.C. to 421 A.D.” (Mormon Doctrine, pg 92.)  Only one book in the Book of Mormon, the Book of Ether, deals with the years prior to 600 B.C.  As previously stated, the majority of the Book of Mormon deals with the years 600 B.C. to 421 A.D., which timeframe is covered by the Phoenician to Byzantine Era in Malta’s history.

ARCHAEOLOGY IN MALTA

     While walking through the “National Museum of Archaeology” in Valletta, I stopped and viewed with great interest the displays of coins recovered from the archaeological digs on the islands of Malta and Gozo.  These coins, beautifully preserved, begin in the Phoenician era and continue on through the entirety of Maltese history.  Two tiers of coins where displayed for the Phoenician timeframe: one labeled Melita and the other labeled Gaulos.  Melita and Gaulos are the ancient names of the islands of Malta and Gozo respectively.
     I found this display simply fascinating.  Here I was on the tiny island nation of Malta looking at coins left by the Phoenicians from their reign on Malta, circa 750 B.C. to 218 A.D.  Not only were coins displayed, but extensive information about the archaeological digs and information these digs have yielded; things such as the names of kings and rulers from the Phoenicians to modern time.  A very clear and colorful history of this small island nation was there to be discovered in this museum.
     These discoveries made me reflect on the claims of Mormonism with respect to the Book of Mormon.  What archaeology do we have with respect to the Book of Mormon?  Answer: None!

CLAIMS ABOUT THE BOOK OF MORMON

     Mormonism claims that the Book of Mormon is an historical record of an ancient civilization on this, the American Continent, which had its beginning in a group of Jews who fled Jerusalem in the year 600 B.C., and built boats by which they migrated to the Americas.
     “The Book of Mormon is a volume of holy scripture comparable to the Bible.  It is a record of God’s dealings with the ancient inhabitants of the Americas and contains, as does the Bible, the fulness of the everlasting gospel.
     The book was written by many ancient prophets by the spirit of prophecy and revelation.  Their words, written on gold plates, were quoted and abridged by a prophet-historian named Mormon.  The record gives an account of two great civilizations.  One came from Jerusalem in 600 B.C., and afterward separated into two nations, known as the Nephites and the Lamanites.  The other came much earlier when the Lord confounded the tongues at the Tower of Babel.  This group is known as the Jaredites.  After thousands of years, all were destroyed except the Lamanites, and they are the principal ancestors of the American Indians.” (INTRODUCTION, Book of Mormon, 1981.)


BOOK OF MORMON CLAIMS ABOUT COINS

     The introduction to Chapter 11 of the book of Alma in the Book of Mormon says “Nephite coinage set forth.”  Versus 4-19 of Alma 11 layout this monetary system:

  1. Now these are the names of the different pieces of their gold, and of their silver, according to their value.  And the names are given by the Nephites, for they did not reckon after the manner of the Jews who were at Jerusalem; neither did they measure after the manner of the Jews; but they altered their reckoning and their measure, according to the minds and the circumstances of the people, in every generation, until the reign of the judges, they having been established by king Mosiah.
  2. Now the reckoning is thus—a senine of gold, a seon of gold, a shum of gold, and a limnah of gold.
  3. A senum of silver, an amnor of silver, an ezrom of silver, and an onti of silver.
  4. A senum of silver was equal to a senine of gold, and either for a measure of barely, and also for a measure of every kind of grain.
  5. Now the amount of a seon of gold was twice the value of a senine.
  6. And a shum of gold was twice the value of a seon.
  7. And a limnah of gold was the value of them all.
  8. And an amnor of silver was as great as two senums.
  9. And an ezrom of silver was as great as four senums.
  10. And an onti was as great as them all.
  11. Now this is the value of the lesser numbers of their reckoning—
  12. A shiblon is half of a senum; therefore, a shiblon for half a measure of barley.
  13. And a shiblum is a half of a shiblon.
  14. And a leah is the half of a shiblum.
  15. Now this is their number, according to their reckoning.
  16. Now an antion of gold is equal to three shiblons.

BOOK OF MORMON CLAIMS ABOUT METALLURGY IN THE AMERICAS

     The book of Mormon speaks of swords, steel swords, in the first group of peoples, the Jaredites, which came to the new world at the time of the Tower of Babel:

     9.  Wherefore, he came to the hill Ephraim, and he did molten out of the hill, and made swords out of steel for those whom he had drawn away with him; and after he had armed them with swords he returned to the city Nehor, and gave battle unto his brother Corihor, by which means he obtained the kingdom and restored it unto his father Kib. (Ether 7:9.)

     The second group, the Nephites and Lamanites, which migrated to the new world around 600 B.C., also were well versed in metallurgy:

     15.  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.
     16.  And I, Nephi, did build a temple; and I did construct it after the manner of the temple of Solomon save it were not built of so many precious things; for they were not to be found upon the land, wherefore, it could not be built like unto Solomon’s temple.  But the manner of the construction was like unto the temple of Solomon; and the workmanship thereof was exceedingly fine.  (2 Nephi 5:15-16).

     I left verse 16 in above, just to show how it immediately contradicts verse 15.  Verse 15 says there was silver and gold and precious ores in great abundance; and, then along comes verse 16 immediately after it and says the temple couldn’t be built like Solomon’s because precious things could not be found upon the land.
     Ah, the Book of Mormon is its own worst enemy!  As can be clearly seen from the quotes above from the book of Mormon, it says of itself that the people were well versed, in fact instructed, in iron, brass, copper, steel, gold, silver and precious ores.

WHERE ARE THE BOOK OF MORMON COINS AND SWORDS?

     The simple answer to this section is: there aren’t any.  They don’t exist.  No Book of Mormon coinage, swords or any advanced metallurgy artifacts have ever been found. 
Gift from Watchman Fellowship  ---  "Bible Coins"Left  - "Mormon Coins" Right

ARCHAEOLOGY OF THE BOOK OF MORMON









ARCHAEOLOGY OF THE BIBLE

     The blank space above in the section marked “ARCHAEOLOGY OF THE BOOK OF MORMON” is not a mistake.  The blank space is equal to all the archaeology that has been found that supports the Book of Mormon; which is zero, none, nada, zilch, squat, zippo.   No matter what Mormon apologists have said over the years, there is absolutely no archaeological evidence to support the Book of Mormon claims, not only in metallurgy, but in anything.  NONE!
     On the other hand, the archaeological evidence to support the Bible is overwhelming.  The archaeological excavations in Biblical lands continue to yield rich finds everyday.  The Bible speaks of coins and Biblical archaeology has provided them by the thousands.  The implements of war in the Biblical lands have been found in great abundance. 
     How can it be that the Bible is supported by archaeology in the most robust way, yet the Book of Mormon archaeology is silent?  The answer is quite simple: The Bible is real, it’s God’s Word; it was left as a testament to you and me.  The Book of Mormon is fiction, and was the fantasy of Joseph Smith.  There is not one shred of archaeological, historical, geological or any other kind of hard evidence to back up the claims of Mormonism. 
     Why would God give us His Word in two volumes, one documented to the extreme, the Bible, and the other, the Book of Mormon, with absolutely nothing to support it except the claims of its author?  Why would God do such a thing?  It’s this writer’s belief that God didn’t.   God gave us his Word, the Bible, and left us ample evidence that it is true, and is in fact His Word.  There is no documentation of the Book of Mormon, because it’s not God’s Word, it is Joseph Smith’s fable.

COINS SPOKEN OF BUT ONCE 

     While researching this topic, I opened Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance and looked up some Biblical coins: the shekel, the penny and the widow’s mite.  The shekel is mentioned in 16 different books of the Bible, 136 times; the penny in 4 different books, 9 times; the widow’s mite in 2 books, 3 times.  When looking up this information, something struck me: Why are coins mentioned throughout the Biblical scriptures, yet in only one book, Alma, and in small set of successive scriptures in the Book of Mormon?  The answer is quite simple: The Bible is truly God’s Word and is correct.  It was written by different authors over the years.  They wrote as God led them, and they wrote of the times, places and events that surrounded them.  The references to coins fell where they naturally fell; and thus they are scattered throughout the text.  The Book of Mormon was written by one author, and when something stimulated his thought process, he felt the need to expound on a monetary system; however, while dictating the
remainder of the text, since the events didn’t happen naturally, but rather were the conjectures of his mind, no other mention of coinage is ever found.

THE LITTLE ISLAND OF MALTA

     Malta, only 122 square miles of land, yet it yields rich archaeological finds that support it’s fascinating and colorful history.  On the other hand, the Americas which comprise over 16,240,000 square miles of land, and is 133,115 times as large as the tiny island nation of Malta, has never yielded a single shred of evidence to validate the claims of Mormonism concerning the Book of Mormon. If that doesn’t raise a question in your mind as to the validity of the Book of Mormon, I don’t know what will!


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

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Things to Remember When Witnessing to Latter-day Saints


By Ryan Selga

   
    •    Having an understanding for what the Bible teaches is key when witnessing to Latter-day Saints.

    Nine times out of ten, Mormons love to quote from the Bible when witnessing to potential converts about their faith.  For example, Mormons usually tend to recite a verse found in the Book of James stating, “If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.”  (James 1:5)  The average Mormon (LDS) uses this verse as a Biblical example to explain that knowing truth comes from prayer and prayer alone.  According to Mormonism, if one is to pray about the validity of the Book of Mormon and the Prophet Joseph Smith with a “sincere heart”, they will receive a “burning in the bosom” (Doctrine and Covenants 9:8) knowing that what they prayed about is true.  But, is James really relating to good feelings as way to knowing truth?  Mormons also quote from Jesus found in the Gospel of (John 10:16) where it says that there are “other sheep” that are not of the fold He was teaching to.  LDS believe that in this passage, of scripture, Jesus is referring to the Nephites and Lamanites of the Americas, which is recorded in the Book of Mormon, but again, it must be asked, is Jesus really teaching that?  
    If you are well versed and have a good understanding of what the Bible history and teachings are, then you should be quick to respond to the verses the Mormons will use with you.  If you are unsure or confused with a verse that a Latter-Day Saint brings up to you, the best way to respond to the claim is, “You know, that’s an interesting verse you brought to me and it definitely deserves some thought, but let me go home and research this a bit and let me get back to you on it and we can discuss it more then.”  But, most times the LDS will see you as an inexperienced person who barely knows anything about your own faith and will loose confidence in what you ever say to them in the future whether it is right or wrong.  The best way to avoid this type of confrontation is to know your Bible!  If you know the history and doctrine of the Bible, you will be prepared to take on any verse that any cult uses with you to prove that their faith is the “true faith”.  
    The Bible is the setting standard for Christianity and is of the “inspiration of God” (2 Timothy 3:16) and has been preserved by the Holy Spirit through the ages (Isaiah 59:21) to be the book in which God reveals Himself unto mankind.  God’s word can be used to show the cultist what the Christian body believes when it comes to essential doctrines such as the Godhead, Jesus’s divinity, and salvation by grace alone through faith.  Knowing the verses by heart can make a key difference in witnessing to the Latter-day Saint.  
    Most Mormons are unaware of what the Bible really teaches and usually turn to their Articles of Faith where it states, “We believe the Bible to be the Word of God as far as it is translated correctly.”  The interpretation of scripture is done by the leadership of the church and not by reading and studying of scriptures.  It is interesting to note that Ezra Taft Benson, who was the 13th President of the Mormon Church taught, “Doctrinal interpretation is the province of the First Presidency…  No teacher has the right to interpret doctrine for the members of the church.” (The Teachings of Ezra Taft Benson, p. 317)  In Mormonism, the thinking and doctrine is done by the leadership of the church and is to be followed no matter how strange or controversial it sounds compared to the Bible.  This can be a problem when showing Latter-day Saints the difference of beliefs when comparing Mormon doctrine to Bible doctrine, but it is not a hopeless battle to fight.     
    Hebrews 4:12 puts it perfectly, “For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.”  No matter who you are witnessing to, the Bible is your “handy side arm” that can help you out of any tight scrape you find yourself in spiritually.  When confronted with doctrines counter to what God has already revealed in His “inspired word”, we are told to “test all things; hold fast what is good” (1 Thessalonians 5:21) and be ready to “test the spirits, whether they are of God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world” (1 John 4:1).  
    Knowing the doctrines of the Bible and showing how they differ from Mormon doctrine can make a huge difference in the witnessing moment, showing that there does in reality, exist a major difference between the beliefs of Mormonism and Christianity.  Ironically, Brigham Young the second President of the Mormon Church at one time stated, “Take up the Bible, compare the religion of the Latter-day Saints with it, and see if it will stand the test.” (Discourses of Brigham Young, p.126)

    •    A general understanding of Mormon history can go a long ways in a witnessing conversation.
    
    In (Matthew 7:20) Jesus warns us that we would know a false prophet “by his fruits” that he produces. The history of Mormonism has always been covered in a shroud of secrecy ever since the infamous “First Vision” in 1820 to the massacre at Mountain Meadows in 1857.  The Latter-day Saints, unlike most other religions in the world are well known for their strange and shrouded past of the church and its beginnings.  Most Latter-day Saints are unfamiliar with their history and are only familiar with what they are taught at the Missionary Training Center (MTC) in Provo, Utah and what their missionary handbooks tell them.  In our personal experience of witnessing with the LDS, we highly recommend that every person interested in witnessing to the Mormon people take a general study and interest into the history and beginnings of the Mormon Church.      Usually when the Mormon missionaries come to your door and want to share with you about what their church is, they usually tend to tell the listener about who Joseph Smith was, his “First Vision”, his translation of the Book of Mormon and so on.  If the Christian listener is knowledgeable of the true history of Mormonism and knows of the history that the Church is unwilling to talk about, it can definitely be used as a witnessing tool when dealing with LDS.  Usually, Mormon missionaries come across people who don’t know that much about the Mormon Church, so it should come across to them as a surprise when the Christian missionary knows exactly what they are talking about and knows where the Mormon religion came from.  Sometimes if the Christian is to explain his/her knowledge on basic LDS church history most Mormons will see that the listener is actually a person who has “done their homework” and will usually tend to take you more seriously and respectfully due to you taking the time to learn about them.  It may not sound like much but, it can go a long way in showing the Latter-day Saint that you are not some “lame brain” that doesn’t know anything.  
    When it comes to history and witnessing, it is always good to have references ready on paper or memorized in your head.  Most of the time when controversial history of Mormonism and its prophets is brought up, Mormons tend to dismiss the claims as being “anti-Mormon” and untrue.  But, if the Christian has references either on paper or memorized in his/her head it can definitely show the LDS that the facts you are showing them is true and not simply made up from people who hate the church.  It is interesting to note, most references that show some controversial and strange teachings in Mormonism are usually found within the Mormon Church’s own books and diaries!  
    Due to the space provided we will not discuss the specific problems of Mormon history here, but we will provide some references that are invaluable tools when it comes to history of Mormonism and using it when witnessing to the LDS people.

    1.  Mormonism - Shadow or Reality? By Jerald and Sandra Tanner of Utah Lighthouse Ministries.  Considered by many scholars of Mormonism to be one of the best works ever written on the subject of the LDS Church.  Covers an array of topics ranging from the history of Mormonism, to cover ups the church is responsible for, and church doctrine.  The book is full of references, quotations, and photocopies of statements, journal entries, sermons, and much more pertaining to the history and strange teachings of the church.  Highly recommended to scholars who wish to do a serious study into the history and doctrines of Mormonism.
    
    2.  No Man Knows My History By Fawn Brodie.  Fawn Brodie was a member of the Mormon Church who was excommunicated shortly after the publication of this book.  The book covers the biography of Joseph Smith Jr. the founder of the Mormon Church.  Covers in depth subjects pertaining to Smith’s involvement in money digging, the making of the Book of Mormon, the Kirtland Bank downfall, the translation of the Book of Abraham, polygamy, the formation of the Danite band, life in Nauvoo, and much more.  Good read for those who want to learn more about Joseph Smith and the secrets he had in his life.  

    3.  3,913 Changes in the Book of Mormon By Jerald and Sandra Tanner of Utah Lighthouse Ministries.  Another book by the Tanner’s that doesn’t need much explaining just by the title.  Basically, the book is a photo reproduction of the 1830 Book of Mormon (the first edition to be published) and shows all of the changes that have been made in the book from 1830 to the second edition in 1837.  Changes include grammatical, historical, and doctrinal errors that have been added, deleted, or changed.  Most Mormons recite from the introduction of the book stating that the Book of Mormon is the most correct book of any on earth.  This book helps proving the opposite of the claim.  Great book to use when witnessing to Mormons on the validity of the Book of Mormon.  Also includes changes that were made in the recent 1981 version of the Book of Mormon as well.

    4.  Quest for the Golden Plates By Stan Larson.  Another great book written about archaeology and the Book of Mormon.  Larson tells of the true story of Thomas Stewart Ferguson who was the founder of the New World and Archaeological Foundation in Provo, Utah.  Thomas Ferguson was a Mormon lawyer from Northern California who had a unique and special interest into the history of the Book of Mormon.  The leaders of the Mormon Church funded Ferguson in the 1960’s to begin archaeological work in both Central and Southern America to prove to the world that the story of the Book of Mormon was factual with evidence.  After years of research and excavation in the Americas, Ferguson discovers that history of the ancient Americas did more to disprove the Book of Mormon than it did to prove it.  Shortly before he died, Ferguson wrote a series of letters to friends and scholars explaining to them that he had lost faith in both the Book of Mormon and Joseph Smith as being inspired of God.  Both a comprehensible and exciting book, Quest for the Golden Plates will keep you on the edge of your seat and have you taking notes at every discovery Ferguson made in his quest for truth.

    •    Learning Mormon doctrine from their sources is essential!  

    Mormon doctrine and Christian doctrine are two separate things and must be made clear that there is no bridge between the two viewpoints.  Mormon doctrine is derived from 4 sources.
    
    1.  The Book of Mormon: The first book of scripture that came forth during the infant years of Mormonism.  Joseph Smith claimed that he translated The Book of Mormon from a set of gold plates that were supposedly hidden in the hill of Cumorah near his home in upstate New York.  Smith claims that in the year of 1823 he received a visit from an angle called Moroni who appeared in Smith’s room and told him of the location of the Gold Plates.  In 1827 Smith would finally retrieve the plates from the hill and begin his translation of the “Reformed Egyptian” (the language the plates were supposedly written in) into the English language.  Smith at first used the aid of the Urim and Thummim (stones as recorded in the Old Testament) but after an incident involving the loss of the book’s first 116 pages, Smith would later resort to his “seer stone” as the instrument he used to finish translating the plates.  
    Smith was recorded as using the stone for his translating just as a fortuneteller uses a crystal ball as a means to determine one’s future.  According to David Whitmer, one of the three main witnesses to The Book of Mormon, he describes the process of how Joseph Smith used the stone to translate the “Reformed Egyptian” into English.  He states as follows:

“I will now give you a description of the manner in which the Book of Mormon was translated. Joseph would put the seer stone into a hat, drawing it closely around his face to exclude the light; and in the darkness the spiritual light would shine. A piece of something resembling parchment would appear, and on that appeared the writing.” (An Address To All Believers In Christ, by David Whitmer, 1887, p. 12)  

    Today, the Mormon Church depicts pictures of Joseph Smith usually translating the golden plates by just staring at the book itself and reading it in English to his scribe.  The church today tries to distance itself from the story of the seer stone due to its affiliation to the black magic practices that were practiced extensively in Smith’s early years.  
    The Book of Mormon story takes place between the years of 600 BC to about 421 AD and tells of the story of two groups of Israelites that migrated to the Americas after the fall of the Tower of Bable as recorded in the Old Testament.  The Book of Mormon claims that the first group to migrate over to the New World was known as the Jaredites.  Later on it would be the Nephites who would later come over lead by a man named of Lehi and his sons Nephi and Laman.  Laman would later rebel and be cut off from the family and begin his own group of descendants known as “Lamanites.”  In 1 Nephi 12:23 we read of a prophecy concerning the Lamanites stating that they would become a “dark, and loathsome, and a filthy people.”  
    The book goes on to tell stories of the many wars that happened between the Nephites and Lamanites until the years surrounding 421 AD.  It was during this time that the Nephites are beginning to retreat from the victorious Lamanite army to the small hill of Cumorah in upstate New York.  It was here at Cumorah that the last great battle is fought between the two armies, but the Nephites are overrun and are all killed.  After the battle, a lone surviving Nephite, Moroni (son of Mormon), writes his final words in the golden plates and closes with a testimony that most Mormons quote when talking with those interested in the church.  The testimony is as follows:
    “And when ye shall receive these things, I would exhort you that ye would ask God, the Eternal Father, in the name of Christ, if these things are not true; and if ye shall ask with a sincere heart, with real intent, having faith in Christ, he will manifest the truth of it unto you, by the power of the Holy Ghost.” (Moroni 10:4)
    
    Most of the time when talking to converts the Mormon missionary will use this verse to lead the person to pray about the book, to see if it is inspired of God or not.

    2.  Doctrine and Covenants:  A compilation of revelations given by the prophet Joseph Smith during his leadership of the church.  If there is one main source that LDS will go to alone to point out their major doctrines of their faith, it will usually be found in the revelations.
      At first his revelations were recorded by scribes and only kept for reading aloud to his followers at meetings or gatherings.  It wasn’t until 1833 that the leadership would officially agree on publishing his revelations in a book known as The Book of Commandments.  However, the Book of Commandments did not last for long due to the issue that the printing press was destroyed as a result of civil unrest between the Mormons and the citizens of Missouri in the year 1833.  As a result, very few copies of the book are around to this day and are considered priceless to most Mormon historians.  Thankfully in the year 1961, a Mormon scholar by the name of Wilford Wood, published a reproduction of the Book of Commandments in a book titled Joseph Smith Begins His Work volume 2 and is now available to this day for purchase.  Later in 1835, the Mormon Church again would publish Smith’s revelations in a book known as Doctrine and Covenants.  This publication would stay the same up until the years of the 1880’s when it would be changed again to include new revelations such as Joseph Smith’s infamous revelation concerning polygamy found in section 132.  
    To this day thousands of changes have been made in the text of the Doctrine and Covenants.  David Whitmer has much to say concerning the changes made between the 1833 and 1835 in his pamphlet An Address To All Believers in Christ.  Some of the changes range from historical changes, doctrinal changes, and additions and deletions made to the text to hide embarrassment.  
    One of the major changes that was made in the revelations was concerning polygamy.  In the 1835 edition, Joseph Smith responded to the rumors that were spreading around during his day concerning his practice in polygamy.  

    “Inasmuch as this church of Christ has been reproached with the crime of fornication, and polygamy: we declare that we believe, that one man should have one wife; and one woman, but one husband, except in case of death, when either is at liberty to marry again.” (Doctrine and Covenants, 1835 Edition, page 251)

    However in the current reading of the Doctrine and Covenants we read in the heading of section 132:

    “Revelation given through Joseph Smith the Prophet, at Nauvoo Illinois, recorded July 12, 1843, relating to the new and everlasting covenant, including the eternity of marriage covenant, as also the plurality of wives.  HC 5:501-507 [History of the Church].  Although the revelation was recorded in 1843, it is evident from the historical records that the doctrines and principles involved in this revelation had been known by the prophet since 1831.”

    Notice how the heading states that polygamy “doctrines and principles involved in this revelation had been known by the prophet since 1831.”  If this is true, than that means Joseph Smith would have been deceitful about his 1835 teachings about calling polygamy a “crime of fornication.”  If polygamy were considered a crime as Smith claimed in 1835, then wouldn’t he have been committing a crime himself back in 1831 when he was both teaching and practicing it?  
    With that said, there are many more changes that are worth mentioning, but we do not have the space here to talk about.  For more information concerning the major changes made to the revelations found in the Doctrine and Covenants, read David Whitmer’s pamphlet An Address To All Believers In Christ.  

    3.  The Pearl of Great Price:  This book of scripture contains five books within named The Book of Moses, The Book of Abraham, Joseph Smith-Matthew, Joseph Smith-History, and The Articles of Faith.  

    A:  The Book of Moses
    The Book of Moses is Joseph Smith’s translation of one of the many books that has been supposedly lost from the Bible as recorded in the 1 Nephi 13:26-29.  However, some historians feel that this book was written in response to Thomas Pain’s book, The Age of Reason.  One of the claims Pain made in his book was that if the book of Genesis were truly written by Moses, why didn’t Moses ever say that the Lord spoke unto him concerning the events of the creation period.  Ironically in Smith’s Book of Moses he states sayings worded as “and the Lord spake unto Moses” and then adds the creation story.  Although it is not for certain that Smith was a reader of Pain’s works, it still could not be overlooked that Smith seems to answer almost every one of Pain’s accusations to the Bible.  For more information on the Book of Moses see Jerald and Sandra Tanner’s book Mormon Scriptures and the Bible.

    B:  The Book of Abraham

    Another one of the books found in the Pearl of Great Price (POGP) is the Book of Abraham.  The story behind this is long but we will try to simplify it here.  
    In 1835, a traveling curator by the name of Michael Chandler visited Joseph Smith in Kirtland, Ohio.  Chandler in his past travels of revealing mummies and old Egyptian manuscripts to the people heard of what Joseph Smith did in translating golden plates from “Reformed Egyptian” into English.  Chandler looking for a way to sell the mummies thought that maybe Joseph Smith would be interested in making a purchase agreement.  Once Chandler arrived in Kirtland and began displaying his artifacts and mummies, Smith noticed that Chandler had a few papyrus fragments on him that caught Smith’s eye.  After looking through the papyri for a few moments Smith told Chandler that these were the writings authored by both Abraham and Joseph of the Old Testament.  Smith purchased both the papyri and mummies since Chandler wanted to rid of the collection fast.  
    In the coming days Smith would begin his translation of the supposed Book of Abraham and begin composing an Egyptian Alphabet listing Egyptian hieroglyphs and their English meanings right next to each other, and then would later use it as a tool in the translation of the Book of Abraham.  Smith never did finish his translation of all of the papyri, but he did manage to translate all of the facsimiles found in the papyri and some of its writings.  Smith published parts of the translation in the Church owned Times and Seasons in March 1, 1842.  Later on it would be reprinted in the England published booklet titled The Pearl of Great Price where it remains to this day.  
    After the death of Joseph Smith in 1844, the papyri and mummies were passed on to Smith’s widow Emma Smith and later the papyri would land in the city of Chicago where it was rumored that the manuscripts were lost during the Chicago fire of 1871.  However, in 1966, the papyri would be rediscovered in the Metropolitan Museum in Brooklyn, New York by a University of Utah professor by the name of Dr. Atiya.  Atiya, a non-Mormon, but friend to the church, immediately called upon the LDS church leaders and informed them of his miraculous discovery.  It wasn’t until the next year in 1967 that the papyri that Joseph Smith had in his collection finally came over to the state of Utah and has been there ever since then.
    Ever since 1967, many scholars in the field of Egyptology have studied the papyri and translated it to determine how well Smith did on his translation of ancient Egyptian to English.  Unfortunately, for the Mormon Church the translation of the manuscripts did not turn out to mention or name Abraham or his religion at all, but instead were common Egyptian funerary texts know widely as the Book of the Dead.  Richard A. Parker of Brown University translated Smith’s papyri and came out with a text describing funerary language instead of the way Smith said the papyri read.  His work and discoveries can be found in the 1968-summer article of Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought, Vol. 3, no. 2, p.98.  
    Today, the Mormon Church does not like to talk about the discovery of the Book of Abraham nor the translation that took place during the late 1960’s that proved that Joseph Smith had no knowledge whatsoever of the Egyptian language.  Mormon apologists usually try to brush the issue aside by going under the banner that Smith was not translating the papyri but he was rather being lead by God under the gift of “inspiration.”  Strangely enough Smith never mentioned in his diaries or his history once that God was assisting him in his process of bringing forth the Book of Abraham.  
    For more information regarding the translation of the Book of Abraham we highly recommend Jerald and Sandra Tanner’s book, Mormonism-Shadow or Reality? and By His Own Hand by Charles Larson.  Larson’s book provides detailed pictures of the papyri in color and gives an excellent review of the entire story of the Book of Abraham from its days in 1835 to the events of the 20th century. 

    C:  Joseph Smith-Matthew

    Basically, this is Joseph Smith’s translation of what the book of Matthew should have read.  However, Bible scholars do not take Smith’s translation seriously enough due to the fact that the earliest manuscripts we have to date on the book of Matthew do not line up with the “translation” of Smith’s version of Matthew.  No manuscript to this day exists at all to support Joseph Smith’s translation of the Gospel of Matthew and with that being said his “translation” of other books found in the Bible is also called into question.  We will have more to say on this later.

    D:  Joseph Smith-History

    The History of the Mormon Church is usually found in a seven-volume set known as The History of the Church written by the Prophet Joseph Smith, but due to its significance in today’s Mormonism the Church has simplified the first volume of the history into the POGP to include the story of Joseph Smith’s “First Vision.”  
    The “First Vision” is an event that took place as a result of a young thirteen-year-old Joseph Smith who went into the woods to pray regarding which of the churches he should join.  According to Smith he was answered by a pillar of light that later appeared to show both God the Father and His Son Jesus Christ physically appearing before him.  They told him that he was to join none of the churches for they were all wrong and that their creeds and preachers were both an abomination and corrupt (see History 1:19).  
    Strangely enough, this is one of three different stories that Smith told of concerning the “First Vision” each of which contradicts the other.  
    The first account of the “First Vision” is found in Smith’s 1832 diary where he mentions that it was only Jesus who appeared unto him in the first place but does not have Heavenly Father with Him.  Jesus does not come to tell Smith about which church to join, but rather tells him that his sins are forgiven instead.  Smith also mentions a different age as told in the official version as being sixteen instead of thirteen.  This account is now available today for anyone to examine in republications of Smith’s 1832 diary.  
    The second account that Smith tells of the vision was rewritten again in his 1835 diary and gives another story of what happened in his vision.  His second account leaves out both Jesus and God the Father and tells that he was visited by angles during his fourteenth year.  The account also leaves out the story of which of the churches he should join and instead mentions the coming forth of the Book of Mormon and the Mormon Church to follow.  This is account is also found not only in Smith’s 1835-1836 diaries, but is also found in the church owned Deseret News, vol. 2, no. 15, May 29, 1852.
    Then finally, there is the third account that we know of today as Smith receiving a visit from God the Father and Jesus Christ telling him not to join any of the churches.  This version was published in the church publication of The Times and Seasons in 1842 alongside with Joseph Smith’s translation of the Book of Abraham.  
    With the telling of three different stories and three different age periods that these events supposedly took place in, it is hard to consider if Smith even witnessed these amazing events at all.  Sometimes Mormons have tried to answer this by saying that Smith was revealing the story one bit at a time, line upon line precept upon precept, to get the final result of the two personages and the knowing of which church to join.  This can easily be refuted with the consideration that all three stories contradict each other and serve as no “building blocks” that lead up to the final story of two personages.  If it is “line upon line” then why did Smith in 1835 mention that it was angles and then in 1842 leave the angles out completely and say that it was the Father and the Son?  That is not “line upon line” but more of “changes upon changes.”  

    E:  The Articles of Faith
    
    The final entry to the POGP that contains the Mormon Church’s “creeds” and belief systems in a few verses.  These verses are usually quoted at LDS ward meetings during a time of fasting and are recited aloud by members who have been chosen to bear their testimony that the church is true and that Joseph Smith was a prophet of God.  It should be interesting to note that in verse 8 it reads, “We believe the Bible to be the word of God as far as it is translated correctly; we also believe the Book of Mormon to be the word of God.”
    
    4.  The Holy Bible (King James Version only):  The final and last piece of scripture the Mormons use in their system of theology.  The only condition is, is that it has to be a King James Version (KJV) only.  Shortly after the publication of the Book of Mormon, Joseph Smith began working on a revision of the Bible planning to add in the “plain and precious parts” that were supposedly lost during the reign of the early Christian Church.  Smith’s translation of the Bible is now (mostly) found in the back of modern LDS Bibles under the title of “Joseph Smith Translation.” 
     Smith covers most of the Old Testament books including the book of Isaiah and the New Testament books such as Matthew and John.  Much study has been done on the Smith translation of the Bible compared with old manuscripts that say a completely different thing.  One of the most important mistranslations, was Smith’s prophecy of himself he added into the book of Isaiah saying that he would come forth and deliver the words of a book (Book of Mormon).  Yet today, now that we have possession of the infamous Dead Sea Scrolls, a set full of Old Testament books written in Hebrew, we can now determine to see if Smith’s translation is valid or not.  
    The reason why the Dead Sea Scrolls should help prove that if Smith’s translation is valid or not is due to the fact that the Dead Sea Scrolls go before the time and founding of the Christian church.  The LDS church claims that it was during the time of the Christian church and after the death of the apostles that the “plain and precious parts” of the Bible would begin to become lost.  Thankfully, the Dead Sea Scrolls go back before the time of Christ and the church, so they should be completely free from being tampered with as the Mormons claim.  Instead of finding a prophecy concerning the coming Joseph Smith we still get an accurate translation that reads very similar to what our modern day Bibles have to offer.  To this day, the Mormon Church does not take seriously the Dead Sea Scrolls findings and tries to distance itself from them due to the fact that it proves more to the favor of the Bible being more correct and punctuate then it does to Smith’s translation of how its supposed to be read.  More can be found in this subject in detail in Jerald and Sandra Tanner’s book, Mormon Scriptures and the Bible.

5.    “If you won’t tell them, who will?” 

     It was my sophomore year around early 2009; I was sitting at my bedside listening to a tape that my mother had given me titled “Mormon Claims on Trial by Dick Baer.”  I sat here in my room for over two hours listening to Mr. Baer as he explained how Mormonism was another gospel that the apostle Paul warned us in his letter to the Galatians.  In those two long hours after all of the facts and doctrines were brought to light concerning the truth of Mormonism, all I could think of was my Mormon friends.  Somebody has to tell them, they live their lives in such a way to please God but in reality their works are seen as a threat to the free grace that God has given us in His Son Jesus Christ.  
    I finally got it!  It’s not by works and it can never be!  If it were by works, then Jesus would have absolutely no reason to come here to earth to die on the cross for our sins because we would work it out on our own.   It’s called a “gift” for a reason!  
    In 2 Nephi 25:23 it states that you are saved by grace “after all you can do”; in Moroni 10:32 it elaborates more on grace saying that you must “deny yourselves of all ungodliness” and then is God’s grace sufficient enough for you.  Spencer W. Kimball, the 12th prophet of the Mormon Church stated in his book The Miracle of Forgiveness, 

    “One of the most fallacious doctrines originated by Satan and pro- pounded by man is that man is saved alone by the grace of God; that belief in Jesus Christ alone is all that is needed for salvation” (Spencer W. Kimball, The Miracle of Forgiveness, p. 206.)

    On page 207, he continues, “And however powerful the saving grace of Christ, it brings exalta- tion to no man who does not comply with the works of the gospel.”
    Is that possible?  Can we really deny ourselves of all ungodliness?  Can we totally stop sinning and be considered “worthy” enough to receive God’s grace?  Can we completely stop sinning at all?  In the book of Romans, Paul states bluntly that “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23) and that there is no one who is righteous (Romans 3:10).  Paul responds to our state of a sinful life in the next chapter stating, “Therefore it is of faith that it might be according to grace” (4:16) that we are saved by instead of our own deeds doing it for us.
    Ephesians 2:8-9 states, “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.” 
    We must remember that Mormons are not the enemy, but they are the victims to the law of works.  They are a good and moral people with outstanding values that almost every person living should learn from.  But, the problem is, is that they believe that their works are going to get them to the kingdom of heaven and to hopefully become a god someday to a planet of their own.  Although, the system and theology of Mormonism comes across as unusual to most Christians we must think back to them as being another lost soul that has not found God’s true grace yet.  This is the calling card for us Christians, to stand up, and let our voices be heard to those who have never heard of the true gospel of Jesus Christ.
    As I listened to the final words of Mr. Baer’s presentation, I began to think about what would a true friend do if he saw someone else’s soul in spiritual danger.  Would you go and pray for that person?  Would you just let the matter alone and hope that God will do some miraculous work later on in the future to bring that person out of Mormonism?  Then it hit me.  We are called to be ambassadors for Christ here on earth (2 Corinthians 5:20) and to go and preach the gospel to all the nations (Matthew 28:19) and to not be ashamed of it (Romans 1:16)!  If I had a good friendship with my LDS friends then why am I not acting like a true one when it comes to their own spiritual need?  A good neighbor will call his neighbor at work if his house is burning and a true Christian friend would inform his non-believing friends that their souls are heading for one.  The cost is great and people will not like to hear what your saying, but think to yourselves, what would Jesus do?  When Jesus appeared to His people in the New Testament, He was never afraid to speak the truth and never afraid of what people would do to Him as a result of His teachings.  He was willing to die for truth rather then skirting around a controversial topic.  Today many of us face a problem that is rampant in the Christian Church.  Most people just want to keep to themselves and not share their faith with their friends because it could affect a relationship.  
    Just take the time to ask yourselves, “Am I being a true Christian friend to my buddies by not saying anything to avoid conflict or am I true friend in telling them the truth and not being afraid of what may happen?”  
    As the tape began to roll towards the end, Mr. Baer had one final thing to say, “If you won’t tell them, who will?”  I began to think to myself over and over again in tears, “If I won’t tell them… who will?”  Then I came to my senses, “Well I better get to it.”  
    
Conclusion

    This information was put together not just for the purpose of learning, but it was also meant for the purpose to be shared in love with your Mormon friends.  Most Mormons are unaware of the true doctrine and history of their church as a result of the secrecy and dishonesty that exists in the higher echelon of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  Be that true friend to the LDS people and get out there and share the gospel of grace with your fellow Mormon neighbors before it is to late.  Be a pleaser for God instead of one for man.  
    Closing with the words of Paul in (Galatians 1:10), “For do I now persuade men, or God?  Or do I seek to please men?  For if I still pleased men, I would not be a bondservant of Christ.”
    




© Copyright 2002-2013  Mormon Missions Midwest Outreach, Inc. All Rights Reserved. —Permission is granted to reproduce, provided content is not changed and this copyright notice is included.



Sunday, October 20, 2013

LDS World: The blessings of willing obedience & The Rest of the Story!

LDS World: The blessings of willing obedience Deseret News By , For the Deseret News
Published: Sunday, Oct. 20 2013 10:50 a.m. MDT 

And now for the rest of the Story:

The Mormon Handcart Disaster!

by Rocky Hulse

May 2006


MORMON HANDCART MONUMENT, WINTER QUARTERS, NEBRASKA.
2006 is the Sesquicentennial (150th) year celebration of the Mormon Handcart Treks which began in 1856. The handcart companies, there were 10 total, left from Iowa City, Iowa, which was the Western end of the railroad during the handcart trek years of 1856-1860. The Mormon Emigrants would sail from Europe into New York, Boston or Philadelphia and then go by rail to Iowa City. There they would form up into companies, get outfitted with their handcarts and provisions and begin the 2 1/2; to 3 month trek to Salt Lake City, Utah.
MORMON HANDCART TREKS - AN AMERICAN SUCCESS?
The Mormon Church actively promotes its American pioneer heritage providing covered wagons and handcarts in parades and displays around the country. Their members dress in period dress and ride and pull the wagons and handcarts much to the delight of television cameras and newspaper reporters whom always find a favorable audience to view re-enactments displaying the proud "American Pioneer Spirit." Was the Mormon Handcart Scheme really a success? NO!
"If heroic, the handcart emigration also produced the greatest, if least known, disaster in the story of the nation's western migration, exceeding in lives lost the more famous Donner party tragedy of 1846-47 by some seven times." (Forgotten Kingdom, pg 104)
"One thing is certain - the handcart disaster of 1856 was the greatest single tragedy in the history of the nation's move west in the nineteenth century." (Forgotten Kingdom, pg 118)
The Mormon Church has successfully promoted a history which favorably promotes a positive image, but is exactly opposite of the real history of the event. What was the actual number of lost lives in this "greatest single tragedy in the history of the nation's move west in the nineteenth century"?
"An accurate count of the number who died will probably never be known because the authorities tried to keep the full horror of the disaster from becoming public, especially in England ." ( Forgotten Kingdom, pg 118)
Mormon Historian B. H. Roberts gives the best estimate that I have seen as 222:
"The exact number of those who perished in this company is not of record in our official annals; and it is difficult to fix upon any approximate number with certainty.... All things considered the estimate of Chislett and Jaques, - putting their estimate at 145 - is perhaps not far from the facts. And these added to Willie's seventy seven deaths, brings the total of deaths to 222. (Roberts, Comprehensive History, 4:101)" (recorded BYU Studies, Vol 37, Number 1, 1997-98, pg. 73, under footnote 130)
The Mormon Church is a record keeping church. They have records of everything. Speaking at the Mormon Church General Conference in October 1901, Elder Anthon H. Lund, Second Counselor to 6th Mormon Prophet, Joseph F. Smith, said this about record keeping:
"Speaking about the Lord having inspired His servants to keep records, I am reminded that we as a people are making history, and this history should also be kept. On the very day that the Church was organized the Prophet received a revelation which said that there should be a record kept in the Church. Afterwards, on several occasions, the Lord instructed Joseph in this matter, telling him to appoint a general historian, who should keep a record of all the events in the Church. A year and a half afterward he is told to keep a record of the Saints and their condition in the Church. (Conference Report, October 1901, p.23)
Why then are there no accurate records of the number of deaths, in this the worst disaster in American Pioneer Emigration History? The answer is quite simple: The information was secreted away by the Mormon Church so the converts in Europe would not be alarmed and believe that the leaders of the Church were false prophets and apostles.
DIVINE PLAN, OR MAN'S PLAN?
How could a divine plan, put forth by a "Prophet of God" end up as the worst pioneer emigration disaster in American history? Mormon Apostle Franklin D. Richards, who was appointed as the President of the European Mission and put in charge of the handcart emigration, wrote an editorial in the Millennial Star (Mormon newspaper published in Europe) on December 22, 1855:
"The plan about to be adopted by the P.E. Fund Company, of substituting handcarts for ox-teams in crossing the plains, has been under consideration for several years. The plan proposed is novel, and, when we allow our imagination to wander in to the future and paint the scenes that will transpire on the prairies next summer, they partake largely of the romantic. The plan is the device of inspiration, and the Lord will own and bless it." (Handcarts to Zion, pg 32)
In 1856 five handcart companies would form up and leave Iowa City for Salt Lake City. The last two handcart companies, the Willie Company and the Martin Company, departed July 15th and 28th respectively, which was very late in the season. The first leg of their journey was 277 miles to Florence, Nebraska, near Council Bluffs. They arrived August 11th and 22nd respectively, and experienced severe maintenance problems with their carts:
"The companies stay here longer than they otherwise would in consequence of their carts being unfit for their journey across the Plains; some requiring new axles, and the whole of them having to have a piece of iron screwed on to prevent the wheel from wearing away the wood." (J. H. Lately, Handcarts to Zion, pg 94)
The design of the handcarts, not using any iron for the axles, was a flawed design concept that came from Brigham Young himself. Brigham wrote a letter to Mormon Apostle Franklin D. Richards, President of the European Mission, in September 1855 laying out the plan and construction of these carts:
"We cannot afford to purchase wagons and teams as in times past. I am consequently thrown back upon my old plan - to make hand-carts, and let the emigration foot it, .... They will only need 90 days' rations from the time of their leaving the Missouri River, and as the settlements extend up the Platte, not that much. The carts can be made without a particle of iron, with wheels hooped, made strong and light, and one, or if the family be large, two of them will bring all that they need upon the plains." (Handcarts to Zion, pp. 29-30)
Here we see this was Brigham's plan and we've previously seen Mormon Apostle Richards say this was an inspired plan and "the Lord will own and bless it." Brigham's inspired plan was "emigration on the cheap." He is the one who dictated the carts be built without iron and hence the carts experienced many breakdowns because the wheels wore out the axles. The emigrants used their rations of bacon to try and grease the axles and hubs to prevent the wheels from wearing out the axles. These design faults resulted in delays in Florence and added to an already late start in the season's migration towards Salt Lake City.
This plan of Brigham's was made official when it was issued in the "Thirteenth General Epistle" on October 29, 1855. It was printed in the Millenial Star on January 26, 1856, and stated in part:
"Let all things be done in order, and let all the Saints who can, gather up for Zion and come while the way is open before them; let the poor also come, whether they receive aid or not from the Fund, let them come on foot, with handcarts or wheelbarrows; let them gird up their loins and walk through, and nothing shall hinder or stay them." (Handcarts to Zion, pg 35)
A VOICE OF REASON-SILENCED!
One seasoned returning missionary, Levi Savage, who had marched 2000 miles in 1846 from Council Bluffs, Nebraska to San Diego, California as part of the Mormon Battalion during the war with Mexico, had tried in vain to get the handcart companies to winter over in Florence, Nebraska and begin in the spring.
The Mormon Apostle Franklin D. Richards had come to the States after the handcart companies and was traveling by a fast mule driven carriage when he heard of Savage's opposition to the the late start across the plains:
"On Loup Fork of the Platte River, Franklin D. Richards in a comfortable mule-drawn carriage overtook the Willie Company on August 26....Hearing of Savage's opposition to the late start, the apostle now called a meeting of the Willie Company and "reprimanded me sharply," the Ohioan said. He was compelled to ask forgiveness "for all that I had said and done wrong." Having corrected Savage's lack of faith, Richards hurried on to the territorial capital where he delivered the first news that a thousand or more handcart pioneers were still out on the plains." ( Forgotten Kingdom, pg 110)
Arriving just in time for the Fall General Conference, Richards told the assembled faithful on October 5th:
"The Saints that are now upon the plains, about one thousand with hand-carts, feel that it is late in the season, and they expect to get cold fingers and toes. But they have this faith and confidence towards God that he will overrule the storms that they may come in the season thereof and turn them away, that their path may be freed from suffering more than they can bear. They have the confidence to believe that this will be an open fall." (BYU Studies, Vol 37, Number 1, 1997-98, pg 55)
This Mormon Apostle was clueless. He severely reprimands a seasoned pioneer, who knew the dangers the emigrants faced by leaving so late in the season, for his lack of faith. He arrives in Salt Lake City and makes light of the late departure saying that the emigrants still crossing the plains may "expect to get cold fingers and toes."
Here are some quotes of the horrific tragedies that fell upon these poor innocent folks trusting in the false prophecies that nothing could "hinder or stay them," and trusting in false apostles who were led by their own pride rather than by the Holy Spirit.
"There was poor William Whittaker. He was in the tent with several others. He and his brother, John, occupied one part of the tent. In the other part another family was sleeping. There was a young woman sleeping and she was awakened by poor Brother Whittaker eating her fingers. He was dying with hunger and cold. He also ate the flesh of his own fingers that night. He died and was buried at Willow Springs before we left camp that morning." (BYU Studies, Vol 37, Number 1, 1997-98, pg 46)
The suffering and tragedy these people experienced is heartbreaking.
"Sister Sirman, whose husband was near death and whose two sons were suffering with frozen feet, appealed to Captain Martin, "Do you think that the relief party will come soon with food, clothing and shoes?"
This last statement was footnoted, here is what the footnote said referring to a man named John Bond:
"Bond, ibid., 25, says that in 1912 he met one of the boys, John Sirman, in Blackfoot, Idaho. One leg had been amputated as a result of the freezing in 1856." (Handcarts to Zion, pg 113)
Ephriam Hanks, age 29, was driving a relief wagon from Salt Lake to rescue the emigrants. When he met the handcart pioneers on the Sweetwater River and entered their camp, what he saw could "never be erased from my memory," he said:
"Many of the emigrants whose extremities were frozen, lost their limbs, either whole or in part. Many such I washed with water and castile soap, until the frozen parts would fall off, after which I would sever the shreds of flesh from the remaining portions of the limbs with scissors. Some of the emigrants lost toes, others fingers, and again others whole hands and feet." (Forgotten Kingdom, pg 118)
Folks, the Mormon handcart trek scheme was anything but the portrayal that you will see across the handcart trail this summer. I'm sure the Mormon Church will talk a little bit about the trials and suffering that these people endured; however, they will not tell you that this suffering didn't have to take place, that it could have been prevented. The BYU Studies book that I have quoted several times already says it very well:
"Although shortcomings in the planning in Europe and provisioning in the Eastern United States figured importantly in the ultimate outcome and deserve careful study and description, they are not discussed here owing partly to limitations of space and to the lack of available documentation, but also because they did not in fact cause the disaster, since all that was needed to have averted the tragedy, once the appropriate departure date to assure a safe passage had passed, was to have postponed to the next spring the overland travel of the last several emigrant companies leaving Florence, Nebraska." (BYU Studies, Vol 37, Number 1, 1997-98, pg 10)
The whole reason behind the Mormon handcart tragedy was fraud, and the leadership that allowed them out on the plains without sufficient time to make it to Salt Lake City safely was simply incompetent. The Mormon handcart tragedy is proof positive of false prophecy and leaders that are not led of God, but instead are led by their own human natures.
The Mormon people suffered tremendous hardships crossing the plains in covered wagons and handcarts. The question is not: Did they suffer? Yes, of course they did; the evidence is overwhelming. The question that has been successfully swept under the carpet of Mormon revisionist history is:
WHY DID THEY EMIGRATE?
Why did these people emigrate to die or be maimed on the plains of America ? Mormons oft times answer: Religious Persecution. That answer would only be a partially accurate answer for the Mormon migration to Kirkland, Ohio, then to Independence and Far West, Missouri, then to Nauvoo, Illinois and on to Salt Lake City; however, there isn't any evidence to support that the Mormon Emigration Handcart Treks were caused by persecution. The Handcart Treks which began in 1856 from Iowa City, Iowa were a derivative of false prophecy.
The horror of the Mormon Handcart Treks was due to the false prophecy by Mormon Leaders that Jesus was about to return, Europe was going to fall, the wrath of God was about to be unleashed on the earth and the only safe place would be in Zion - Salt Lake City, Utah. Hundreds of Mormons followed blindly the false prophecies of their leaders to "flee to Zion," and heeded those false prophecies to their untimely, unwarranted deaths. These Mormon Pioneers were told to flee Europe or be engulfed by the wrath of God and that this Handcart Plan was a Divine Plan of God and nothing could hinder them as they traveled to Zion! In the Millennial Star of April 21, 1855 the "gospel of the gathering" was pressed with continuing fervor and warned:
"The clouds of war have continued to gather thicker and darker over the horizon of the nations ... Famine has stared multitudes in the face during the past winter... The present is full of calamity and evil. At this moment thousands are anxiously inquiring in their hearts, 'Is there no way of escape from these evils? ... There is beyond the sea a haven of peace, and a refuge from the impending storms... The Spirit whispers: 'Get ye up out of these lands for the judgments of the Almighty are being poured out upon the nations, for they are ripening in transgression.'" (Handcarts to Zion, pg 26)
In the same paper on September 22, 1855, the Mission President, Mormon Apostle Franklin D. Richards, clearly states that the gathering to Zion in America is a Commandment:
"The Lord never yet gave a commandment to His people, but what, if they would go to with full purpose of heart and try to obey it, they could do so. The commandment to gather out to the land of America is just as binding on the Saints, so far as it is possible for them to accomplish it, as it was in the first place to be baptized for the remission of sins... Every impulse of the heart of the Saint, every hope of the future says, Gather up to the land of America." (Handcarts to Zion, pg 26)
In the November 24, 1855 edition of the Millennial Star, the song "Rejoice! Ye Scattered Saints," contained the following stanza which shows the Mormon emigrants believed Brigham's Commandment and that it had the power to save the poor:
"Rejoice! let Israel all rejoice,
And praise the Lord once more,
That Brigham sends the word, the power
To save the humble poor."
(Handcarts to Zion, pg 261)
The following song was written by my Great-Great-Great Grandfather and was published in the Millennial Star on June 9, 1855. It makes it absolutely clear that the judgments of God were about to be poured out upon Europe prior to the Lord's return for the ushering in of the Millennium and the only safe place to flee was to the "Valley far off in the West."
"Come Haste to the Valley"
Come, haste to the Valley far off in the West,
Ye Saints of the Lord, tarry not;
Old Babylon soon will be sorely distres't,
For very near full is her cup.
Then gather your children, and neighbours all warn
That the hour of her judgment is near,
For soon great Jehovah will laugh to her scorn,
And mock when she's quaking for fear.
You've tarried in Babylon, brethren, too long,
Not thinking her hour was so near;
O mingle no more in her unhallow'd throng,
For shortly she'll end her career
Dire Famine and Pestilence, Battle and Strife
Will rage through her coasts far and near,
And if you don't flee, you will be like Lot's wife,
O'ertaken by judgments severe.
You've a haven of refuge to flee unto now,
While the storm o'er the nations shall ride,
When the torrents of judgment shall furiously flow,
To punish foul Babylon's pride.
Secure you may rest till the judgments are o'er,
And the wicked are banish'd the world;
Enjoying the blessings our God has in store
Where the banner of Freedom's unfurl'd.
And when our great Saviour in glory shall come,
To dwell with his Saints evermore,
O then we'll rejoice in our beauteous home,
For Jesus "all things" will restore.
With him through the great Thousand Years we shall reign,
No sighing, nor sorrow, nor pain,
And then we shall see our great Father again,
And in His bright presence remain.
In 1835 Joseph Smith falsely prophesied of Jesus immediate, imminent return:
"President Smith then stated...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 fifty-six years should wind up the scene." (History of the Church, vol. 2, pg 182)
One of the original Mormon Twelve Apostles, Orson Pratt, proclaimed this gathering out of the nations as a message of the Book of Mormon:
"Hence, there is connected with the great message of the Book of Mormon, 'a voice from heaven,' commanding the Saints to come out from all nations as fast as they obey the gospel message; this they have been doing for these many years, and this they will continue to do, until the work of gathering is fully accomplished. And after the saints, who are the salt of the earth, are gathered out, those who are left will quickly perish, as did Sodom and Gomorra." (Orson Pratt Works, "Prophetic Evidence in Favour of the Book of Mormon," pg 85, as reported in Mormonism - Shadow or Reality? pg 195)
These Mormon converts in Europe were commanded to flee from because the second coming of the Lord was about to happen and his wrath was going to be poured out upon all the nations and the only safe haven was the "Valley in the West." These poor folks sold out and left everything behind. A large portion of them went to their deaths on the frigid plains of America and hundreds were maimed for life - losing fingers, toes and limbs to frostbite for an absolute lie - for false prophecy. This story is supremely sad!!
The current Prophet of the Mormon Church, Gordon B. Hinckley's wife's grandmother, Mary Goble Pay, was 13 years old and one of these convert families from England . She and her family weren't part of the Willie or Martin Handcart Companies, as they had enough money and had purchased a covered wagon, pulled by two yoke of oxen. They met up with and traveled with one of these two companies, I'm not sure which. An excerpt from her story was printed in the January 2005 issue of the official Mormon Church Magazine " Ensign" in a story written by President Hinckley himself:
"We traveled from 15 to 25 miles [25 to 40 km] a day...until we got to the Platte River....We caught up with the hand cart companies that day. We watched them cross the river. There were great lumps of ice floating down the river. It was bitter cold....We went back to the camp and went to prayers, [and]...sang 'Come, Come, Ye Saints No Toil Nor Labor Fear.' I wondered what made my mother cry [that night]....The next morning my little sister was born. It was the 23rd of September. We named her Edith. She lived six weeks and died....[She] was buried at the last crossing of [the] Sweetwater. "[We ran into heavy snow. I became lost in the snow.] My feet and legs were frozen. [The men] rubbed me with snow. They put my feet in a bucket of water. The pain was terrible....
"When we arrived at Devils Gate it was bitter cold. We left lots of our things there....My brother James...was as well as he ever was when he went to bed [that night]. In the morning he was dead....
"My feet were frozen[;] also my brother Edwin and my sister Caroline had their feet frozen. It was nothing but snow [snow everywhere and the bitter Wyoming wind]. We could not drive the pegs in our tents....We did not know what would become of us. [Then] one night a man came to our camp and told us ...Brigham Young had sent men and teams to help us....We sang songs, some danced and some cried....
"My mother's hand never got well....She died between the little and big mountains....She was 43 years old....
"We arrived in Salt Lake City nine o'clock at night the 11th of December 1856. Three out of four that were living were frozen. My mother was dead in the wagon....
"Early next morning...Brigham Young...came....When he saw our condition, our feet frozen and our mother dead, tears rolled down his cheeks....
"The doctor amputated my toes...[while] the sisters were dressing my mother for her grave...
When my feet were fixed they [carried]...us in to see our mother for the last time. Oh how did we stand it. That afternoon she was buried....
"[I have thought often of my mother's words before we left England .] 'Polly, I want to go to Zion while my children are small, so they can be raised in the Gospel of Christ for I know this is the true church.'" ( Ensign, January 2005, pp. 6-7)
This story of the current Mormon Prophet's wife's grandmother just rips your heart right out of your chest; suffering on a scale that is hard to imagine. These folks were in a covered wagon and suffered like this. It's hard to comprehend the suffering of those who pulled handcarts. Before I started the above quote in the story, this family had lost the youngest child in death; then during the quote the newborn baby dies, her brother James dies, and then her mother dies. That's four deaths and this was a covered wagon family, not a handcart family - and their deaths are no where to be seen in the aggregate number of deaths suffered in this terrible tragedy, because their names are not to be found in the handcart company rosters.
One of the last lines as they arrived in Salt Lake City, May Goble Pay says:
"Three out of four that were living were frozen."
Now, I don't know if this is a statement about the whole of those in the handcart company or just those left of their own family; nonetheless, if three out of four left living in their wagon were frozen, I don't believe that it is an unjust liberty on my part to apply this figure to those of the handcart companies who were even more directly exposed to the elements. The facts and figures of the deaths and maiming were hidden by the Mormon Church:
"An accurate count of the number who died will probably never be known because the authorities tried to keep the full horror of the disaster from becoming public, especially in England ." (Forgotten Kingdom, pg 118)
The deaths are in the neighborhood of 230. If three out of four left living were frozen, the maiming of survivors was in the neighborhood of 500. We'll simply never know; but, what is truly an egregious shame is that these catastrophic casualties were all for false prophecy and a lie given by the Prophets and Apostles of Mormonism.



© Copyright 2002-2013  Mormon Missions Midwest Outreach, Inc. All Rights Reserved. —Permission is granted to reproduce, provided content is not changed and this copyright notice is included.

Rocky and Helen Hulse

Rocky and Helen Hulse
Defending Christianity From Mormon Doctrine