Saturday, April 20, 2013

The Mormon Test for Truthfulness




Mormons often challenge people to pray with sincerity concerning the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon, citing a verse in its closing book:

  • "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).
Many sincere seekers fall for this ploy, being ignorant of the warnings set forth by the Bible. Nowhere does the Bible ever direct the believing Christian to take any religious book and pray about the truthfulness of its contents. While we are told to ask God for wisdom (James 1:5), the clear Biblical directive and pattern to follow includes more than this:
  • "do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world" (1 John. 4:1).
  • "If anyone advocates a different doctrine and does not agree with sound words, those of our Lord Jesus Christ, and with the doctrine conforming to godliness, he is conceited and understands nothing" (1 Tim. 6:3-4).
  • "Test yourselves to see if you are in the faith; examine yourselves" (2 Cor. 13:5).
  • "you put to the test those who call themselves apostles, and they are not, and you found them to be false" (Rev. 2:2).
  • "Prove all things, hold fast that which is good" (1 Thess. 5:21).
  • The Apostle Paul knew the gospel he preached was true because Christ's resurrection was historically verifiable (1 Cor. 15:1-8). Is the Book of Mormon historically verifiable? No.
Why is this the better method? Because not every self-proclained prophet is from God; many present a false gospel:
  • "You are so quickly deserting Him who called you by the grace of Christ, for a different gospel... even if we, or an angel from heaven, should preach to you a gospel contrary to what we have preached to you, he is to be accursed!" (Gal. 1:6-8).
  • "if one comes and preaches another Jesus whom we have not preached, or you receive a different spirit which you have not received, or a different gospel which you have not accepted... (2 Cor. 11:4).
  • "Thus says the LORD of hosts, Do not listen to the words of the prophets who are prophesying to you. They are leading you into futility; They speak a vision of their own imagination, not from the mouth of the LORD" (Jer. 23:16).
How can we determine if a prophet is speaking from God? First, the prophecy must be 100% accurate. Second, the Bible says to use God's previous revelation through Biblical authors as a standard of comparison, because no new revelation will contradict God's previous words:
  • "If a prophet... arises among you and gives you a sign or a wonder, and the sign or the wonder comes true, concerning which he spoke to you, saying, "Let us go after other gods (whom you have not known) and let us serve them [i.e. contradicting the ten commandments],' you shall not listen to the words of that prophet ...but that prophet ... shall be put to death" (Deut 13:1-5).
  • "When a prophet speaks in the name of the LORD, if the thing does not come about or come true, that is the thing which the LORD has NOT spoken. The prophet has spoken it presumptuously" (Deut 18:22).
  • "If anyone advocates a different doctrine and does not agree with sound words, those of our Lord Jesus Christ, and with the doctrine conforming to godliness, he is conceited and understands nothing" (1 Tim. 6:3-4).
  • Paul commended the Bereans for objectively investigating the things he taught them: "Now these were more noble-minded...for they received the word with great eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily, to see whether these things were so" (Acts 17:11).
Even Mormon leaders advocate investigation:
  • "convince us of our errors of doctrine, if we have any, by reason, by logical arguments, or by the word of God, and we will be ever grateful for the information, and you will ever have the pleasing reflection that you have been instruments in the hands of God of redeeming your fellow beings from the darkness which you may see enveloping their minds." (Orson Pratt, The Seer, p. 15-16, 1853).
Therefore, it is NOT BIBLICAL to pray about the Book of Mormon to determine its truthfulness; one must TEST what it has to say. If it contradicts what God has already revealed, it fails. If you have "gained a testimony of the Book of Mormon" by praying Moroni 10:4, then you must seriously question whether or not you have been deceived.
Why should subjective feelings be suspected? Because we are sinful creatures and can be swayed by our emotions and sinful desires:
  • "The heart of man is desperately wicked and cannot be trusted" (Jeremiah 17:9).
  • "There is a way which seems right unto a man, but the end is death" (Proverbs 14:12).
Should you pray whether to commit adultery or steal? Of course not, because the Bible already speaks out against such sins. God has already revealed His will regarding such matters, and no amount of prayer will change that fact. No matter how sincerely you may believe otherwise, to claim that God gave you permission to steal, or commit adultery proves that you did not hear from God (1 Tim 6:3-4; Deut. 13:1-2; Deut. 18:20-22; Jer. 23:16, 30-36; Zech. 13:2-3).
To believe that something is true merely because you feel it to be so or because you are sincere in your belief does not make it true 11. Instead, the Bible warns that feelings can be deceptive and that the sincere truth-seeker must base decisions on more objective means. A standard Mormon response is to resort to the subjective. He insists that he knows the Book of Mormon is true because he has a 'burning in the bosom'. God, he claims, has proved it to him in his heart, so it can't be untrue. He may also claim that to challenge him in this way only makes him stronger in this faith. A "burning in the bosom," no matter how sincere, is no proof of historicity or authority. If evidence goes against the Book of Mormon to prove it false, then to ignore or avoid that evidence is not sincere faith but rather dishonesty and deceitfulness.
The test of Moroni 10:4 is a trick. When you are challenged, you must accept Book of Mormon as true or your integrity is placed under suspicion. If you accept the challenge (even though unbiblical) but conclude that the Book of Mormon is not from God, Mormons will say that you either did not have a sincere heart, real intent, or genuine faith; otherwise the test would have revealed positive results. According to Mormon thinking, it is not possible for their book to be wrong, so you must be wrong.
Mormons may also say that the Book of Mormon is latter-day revelation from God that supercedes the authority of the Bible. This cannot be true because written, inerrant, authoritative revelation ended with Jesus and his apostles:
  • The apostles spoke on God's behalf: "Paul, according to the wisdom given him, wrote to you, as also in all his letters, in which are some things hard to understand, which the untaught and unstable distort, as they do also the rest of the scriptures..." (2 Peter 3:15-16). "You should remember the words spoken beforehand by the holy prophets and the commandment of the Lord by your apostles" (2 Peter 3:2).
  • But the Apostle Paul warned the Galatian church: "if anyone should preach to you a gospel contrary to that which we preached, let him be accursed" (Gal. 1:8-9).
  • "Do not add to His words Or He will reprove you, and you will be proved a liar" (Prov. 30:6).
  • "You shall not add to the word which I am commanding you, nor take away from it" (Deut. 4:2).
  • "I testify to everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: if anyone adds to them, God shall add to him the plagues which are written in this book; and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part from the tree of life" (Rev. 22:18-19).
This is the standard that must be used. If you investigate carefully the differences between Mormon doctrine and orthodox Christian doctrine, and compare Mormon 'scriptures' with the Bible, you will come to the conclusion that the Book of Mormon and Mormonism are not from God.

The Mormon church teaches that the Bible has been corrupted and does not contain the fullness of the gospel. This is reflected in one of their Articles of Faith which states: "We believe the Bible to be the word of God as far as it is translated correctly" (Pearl of Great Price).
  • Joseph Smith stated: "it was apparent that many important points touching the salvation of men, had been taken from the Bible, or lost before it was compiled" (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p.10); "I believe the Bible as it read when it came from the pen of the original writers. Ignorant translators, careless transcribers, or designing and corrupt priests have committed many errors" (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p. 327).
  • When: "the book [Bible] proceeded forth from the mouth of a contained the fullness of the gospel of the Lord, of whom the twelve apostles bear record" (1 Nephi 13:24), but afterwards "thou seest the formation of that great and abominable church...after the book hath gone forth through the hands of the great and abominable church, that there are many plain and precious things taken away from the book, which is the book of the Lamb of God. And after these plain and precious things were taken away it goeth forth unto all the nations of the Gentiles" (Book of Mormon, 1 Nephi 13:26,28). See also Doctrines of Salvation, vol.3, p.190-191.
  • "many of the Gentiles shall say: A Bible! A Bible! We have got a Bible, and there cannot be any more Bible...Wherefore because that ye have a Bible ye need not suppose that it contains all my words; neither need ye suppose that I have not caused more to be written" (Book of Mormon, 2 Nephi 29:3,10).
  • When his "revelation" about Adam being God was disputed, Brigham Young stated: "You believe Adam was made of the dust of this earth. This I do not believe...I have publicly declared that I do not believe that portion of the Bible as the Christian world do. I never did, and I never want to. What is the reason I do not? Because I have come to understanding, and banished from my mind all the baby stories my mother taught me when I was a child" (Journal of Discourses, vol.2, p.6).
  • Orson Pratt's lack of confidence in the Bible is obvious: "...and who, in his right mind, could for one moment, suppose the Bible in its present form to be a perfect guide? No one can tell whether even one verse of either the Old or New Testament conveys the ideas of the original author" (Journal of Discourses, vol. 7, p. 28).
  • Apostle Bruce McConkie: "Ignorant translators, careless transcribers, or designing and corrupt priests have committed many errors, many plain and precious things were deleted, in consequence of which error and falsehood poured into the churches. One of the great heresies of modern Christendom is the unfounded assumption that the Bible contains all of the inspired teachings now extant among men" (Mormon Doctrine, pp. 82,83).
  • McConkie continues: The Bible of the Old World has come to us from the manuscripts of antiquity - manuscripts which passed through the hands of uninspired men who changed many parts to suit their own doctrinal ideas. Deletions were common, and, as it now stands, many plain and precious portions and many covenants of the Lord have been lost. As a consequence, those who rely upon it [the Bible] alone stumble and are confused... (The Ensign, December 1985, p 55).
  • Mormon Apostle Mark E. Petersen accused manuscript copyists of deliberately tampering with the Bible: "Many insertions were made, some of them slanted for selfish purposes, while at times deliberate falsifications and fabrications were perpetrated" (As Translated Correctly, p.4).

Smith made a change in 1 Nephi 20:1, where he was quoting from Isaiah 48. This was evidently made to strengthen the Mormon claim that baptism was practiced by the people of the Old Testament. In the 1830 edition, page 52, we read:
Hearken and hear this, O house of Jacob, which are called by the name of Israel, and are come forth out of the waters of Judah, which swear by the name of the Lord, . . .
Smith added a phrase so that it read "out of the waters of Judah, or out of the waters of baptism, who swear. . ." (1 Nephi 20:1). However, there is no Biblical manuscript that supports Smith's addition. The passage is merely using a metaphor for those who descended, or flowed out, from Judah.
Curiously, Smith did not make the same correction in his revision of the Bible, which he began shortly after the publication of the Book of Mormon. There his version of Isaiah 48:1 reads:
Hear ye this, O house of Jacob, which are called by the name of Israel, and are come forth out of the waters of Judah, which swear by the name of the Lord, . . .
So you can see it's the Mormons who even changed the Book of Mormon for slanted purposes and not the Bible.
Comparisons made by Mormon Leaders between the Bible and Book of Mormon. In contrast to the Bible, Mormons believe the Book of Mormon is perfect because it was translated perfectly (miraculously) as reflected in the second half of the same Article of Faith: "...we also believe the Book of Mormon to be the word of God [but without any qualifications as to translation accuracy]" (Pearl of Great Price).
  • President Ezra Taft Benson stated: "Unlike the Bible, which passed through generations of copyists, translators, and corrupt religionists who tampered with the text, the Book of Mormon came from writer to reader in just one inspired step of translation" ("The Keystone of Our Religion", The Ensign, January 1992, page 5).
  • Joseph Smith claimed: "I told the brethren that the Book of Mormon was more correct than any book on earth, and the keystone of our religion, and a man would get nearer to God by abiding its precepts, than by any other book" (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p.194).
  • An official and widely read LDS publication reads: "Men can get nearer to the Lord, can have more of the spirit of conversion and conformity in their hearts...can gain a better understanding of the doctrines of salvation through the Book of Mormon than they can through the Bible...there will be more people saved in the kingdom of God - ten thousand times over - because of the Book of Mormon than there will be because of the Bible" (The Ensign, November 1984, p. 7).
  • A letter from the First Presidency (Presidents Benson, Hinckley, and Monson) to all members of the Church states: "The most reliable way to measure the accuracy of any biblical passage is not by comparing different texts, but by comparison with the Book of Mormon and modern-day revelations". (Church News, June 20, 1992, page 3, letter dated May 22, 1992).
    The Christian faith is traceable to many sources. These include the inspired authors of both the Old Testament (those prophets who foretold the events of the life, ministry, death and resurrection of the Jewish Messiah) and the New Testament. Other sources include the students of the apostles of Christ who wrote the New Testament - the Early Church Fathers (ECFs) and many external and even opponents of the faith such as Josephus, Pliney, Tacitus, the Sanhedrin, etc. This great diversity of sources all point to Jesus Christ as the ultimate source of the Christian faith. However, they all document and corroborate the essential claims of the Bible concerning the birth, life, teaching, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, or at minimum each of these external sources documents several of those essential elements of the Christian faith, placing Christ in the time and place described in the New Testament. They also variously document the teachings and actions of the Lord Jesus Christ. Ultimately, it is the resurrection that proves who Jesus is and that he was telling the truth when he claimed to be the Messiah, the Son of God, the one of whom the Old Testament prophets wrote. So while the Christian faith is ultimately traceable to him, his claims and the claims of the men who walked with him and observed his ascension are well-corroborated by numerous contemporary and near-contemporary external sources.

    By contrast, the Mormon religion is traceable to only one source: Joseph Smith. Unlike Christainity, there is no external corroboration whatsoever for any of the unique claims of the Mormon "scriptures" (the BoM etc.) which themselves are traceable to no source before Joseph Smith. Moreover, the unique religious claims of Mormonism cannot be shown in the words of Jesus Christ and the apostles who's teaching and authority Mormons claim to have "restored". So Smith stands alone as the single, sole and only soruce for his own claims. The Mormon religion is void of the important element of what historians call "multiple independent attestation", which the Bible enjoys in unique levels of abundance. It all comes down to the veracity of Joseph Smith.

    Since the entire Mormon religion is based on the claims of one man, it is important even critical to consider the character, actions and truthfulness of that one man. We know from the testimony of those who knew him that Joseph Smith was undoubtedly a highly charismatic figure. He was amazingly persuasive and effective when getting people to follow himself. He was also well known among his family members and neighbors and close associates as highly imaginative, dominering, megalomanaical, egotisitical, self-centered and prone to bullying. He was also a documented philanderer, serial adulterer, con artist and convicted crook. Most importantly though, the founder and sole source of the Mormon religion CLAIMED to be a PROPHET.

    So while Mormonism fails the test of external corroboration and Smith failes the test of character, the most important test of the veracity of the founder of the Mormon religion is a comparison of Joseph Smith's alleged "prophecies" with the actual events that transpired in the real world.

    Joseph Smith uttered roughly 60 predictive prophecies (I say "roughly" because some are ambiguous enough that its not clear he was claiming to actually speak by divine authority even in his own mind). I have, many times, requested that Mormons simply present us with a few examples of Smiths fulfilled prophecies. To qualify, these prophecies had to actually BE predictive "prophecies" - that is, they had to be predictions of future events that could not have been controlled by Smith or known to Smith by means of simple reasoning. They also cannot be just repetitions of common speculations and predictions of his own time. Finally, to be a fulfilled prophecy the predicted events had to actually HAPPEN and happen as Smith said that they would happen.

    So far, after many years of asking here and elsewhere, few Mormons have even tried to present any examples and none have actually succeeded in presenting a SINGLE example of an actual "prophecy" as qualified above. What we HAVE seen is the occasional Mormon attempting to identify such an example, but when scritinized that it became immediately obvious that the "prophecy" was simply an example of Smith predicting things that any rational person could have deduced with reasonable certainty, such as "prophecying" that a European Mormon would eventually return to his homeland and preach Mormonism, or Smith's re-statement of the common speculations circulated in his day that there would eventually be a civil war between the North and the South.

    Having said all that, I would like to once again issue the most obvious challenge to any claim of prophetic office.

    Since Joseph Smith claimed to be a prophet and is the single, sole source of the entire Mormon religoin, it stands to reason that any honest person would want to test his authority by looking at his supposed "prophecies". If Smith really did utter actual prophecies (divinely inspired predictions of futre events), then we SHOULD be able to see the fulfillment of his prophecies concerning events that are now in our past. If Smith was as phony as one of the three-dollar bills he printed up and sold to his followers, then his "prophecies" will be shown as either false (the events never occurred) or not actual "prophecies" to begin with.

    So ...there it is. Mormons please SHOW US that Jospeh Smith was an actual PROPHET. He IS the only source to whcih the Book of Mormon and the Pearl of Great Price can be traced. He IS the single and only source of your entire religion. If you cannot do that, if you cannot SHOW US that Smith uttered predictions of futrue events that only God could know about, then it will remain clear that the only source of your entire religion was a FALSE prophet in addition to being a womanizer and common thief. Thus might want to consider that you are being duped and bilked by a vast religious hoax and you might want to consider becomming concerned with the TRUTH. After all, the God you claim or want to serve is identified in His own Holy Word as "The God of Truth". So it SHOULD be clear to you that truth is important to God, and He expects it to be important to you too.

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