The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints adheres to 4 sacred books – the Bible, the Book of Mormon, Pearl of Great Price and Doctrines and Covenants. Though they play lip service to the Bible, they revere their other “holy books” far more than it. The Pearl of Great Price and Doctrines and Covenants are collections of the revelations of Joseph Smith and are doctrinal in nature (the latter includes the teachings of Smith’s successors, with dates and summary of the messages).
I will be focusing on the Book of Mormon here. The reason is because, it’s said to be the most accurate book. Joseph Smith is quoted in its introduction saying it is “the most correct book on earth and the keystone of our religion … a man would get closer to God by abiding by its precepts than by any other book.”
If this gnomic claim is true, then it means the Bible is not a divine revelation. But if it’s false, then, the book of Mormon must be exposed for what it is – a diabolic fraud. The book of Mormon, said to be ‘Another Testament of Jesus’ is integral to the Latter Day Saints (LDS): “Take away The Book of Mormon and the revelations and where is our religion? We have none” (Mormon Doctrine, 1966, 99).
Since the New Testament proves its authenticity by its harmony with the Old Testament, and being a reliable record of eye-witnesses, this alleged “testament of Jesus” must also be judged by the same criteria. Therefore, where it contradicts the Bible’s messages are false. These are the 3 criteria:
1. The book must be a record of eye witnesses.
2. It must be accurate historically, scientifically and logically.
3. It must be consistent with the Bible.
The book of Mormon contains the story of two great civilizations that lived in the Americas before Christopher Columbus’ discovery in 1492. It talks about some ancient Jeredite people who originally lived around the tower of Babel. A prophet among them was told by God to build barges to travel across the ocean to the new world. After its completion, the people complained to the Lord that He had forgotten to put holes/windows in the barges, so He commanded them to be included.
The Jeredites left the Old World and landed in the place now called Central America and became a great civilization. But these people exterminated themselves and their civilization collapsed. Then in 600 BC, a prophet Lehi was told by God to leave Jerusalem and come to the New World. He led the people and also landed in Central America where they built a large civilization. Lehi had two sons- Laman and Nephi. Laman was wicked and was cursed by God with a black skin while the Nephites retained their white skin. As time went on, the descendants of Laman (the Lamanites) and Nephi (the Nephites) grew but constantly warred with each other.
The book also claims that Jesus came to the Nephites after His resurrection, preached the gospel to them and instituted baptism and other church ordinances. The white-skinned Nephites were later wiped out by the black skinned Lamanites. But the last surviving Nephite, a man named Mormon, was said to have collected the history of his people and wrote them on golden plates which he buried in a hill in Palmyra, New York, before he was killed (Mormon 8:13-14).
It was these golden plates that Joseph Smith claimed he dug up as led by angel Moroni (Mormon in his past life) and claim to translate from Reformed Egyptian into English using a pair of magical spectacles. His translation of these golden plates is the present-day Book of Mormon (also called “the golden bible”). This is stated in the book itself: “And now behold, we have written this record according to our knowledge, in the characters which are called among us the reformed Egyptian…” (Mormon 9:32).
1. The book fails the criteria of witnesses.
Who was an eye witness to the events described in the book? Even more importantly, who saw these golden plates and witnessed its translation other than Smith’s claims? The Book of Mormon Introduction includes two statements, the first, called “the testimony of the three witnesses” with their names and the second, “the testimony of the eight witnesses” with their names- all claiming to have seen these golden plates.
The problem is, these first three witnesses were later excommunicated by Mormons who accused them of lying, stealing, cheating and counterfeiting, defrauding and persecuting Mormons (An Address to All Believers in Christ, 27). We can’t accept their testimonies. All of the second 8 witnesses, with the exception of Joseph’s father and two brothers, later left the Mormon church too. Thus, their witnesses are not tenable either.
The “Reformed Egyptian” language Smith claimed he translated the book from does not exist. Even when he managed to obtain an Egyptian manuscript which he translated as “the book of Abraham,” he translated the name of an Egyptian moon god 107 different ways in different places in the text, none correctly. This militates against his claims (Jerald and Sandra Tanner, Mormonism, Shadow or Reality? p 321).
2. The book of Mormon- hailed as “the most accurate book on earth” – has undergone over 4,000 spelling, grammatical and textual corrections by Mormon leaders since it was produced. Some of its texts also changed as Joseph Smith changed his theology. For example:
(a) In the 1830 version, the words in 1Nephi 11:8 were “the virgin thou seest is the mother of God” (Catholics would have loved this version!) but the present versions now read: “the virgin thou seest is the mother of the Son of God.”
(b) The 1Nephi 11:21 1830 version reads: “Behold the Lamb of God, yes, even the Eternal Father.” It now reads “Behold the Lamb of God, yea, even the Son of the Eternal Father.”
(c) In Mosiah 21:28, the word there initially was “King Benjamin” but now it reads “King Mosiah.” How can these changing words be God’s inspired word? Truth does not change. A book inspired by God doesn’t need corrections, additions or subtraction.
(d) The book of Mormon also makes historical blunders. It says prophet Lehi and his family found a large valley and a river that emptied into the Red Sea where they rested and were refreshed, when they were traveling from Jerusalem. There is no such valley in history and there was no river anywhere along the shore of the Red Sea (Gordon Fraser, What Does the Book of Mormon Teach?, 1964, 33).
(e) The book mentions weapons of warfare, including bows and arrows being used in the Americas around 400 AD. The problem is that bows and arrows were not in America until after 1000 AD. The archaeological blunders in the book are mind-boggling.
(f) It claims the people in the Old World were using steel and weapons and tools before 600BC. But steel was not invented or processed until 1856. (Wallbank and Taylor, Civilization Past and Present, Chicago, 1956, 327-328).
(g) The book describes the Americas as a well-developed civilization: “The whole face of the land was covered with buildings- people as the sans of the sea” (Mormon 1:7). It speaks of the people owning “silks, fine linen, oxen, cows, sheep, swine, goats, horses, asses, elephants” (Ether 9:17-19) and “ships, temples like Solomon’s synagogues, sanctuaries all built after the manner of the Jews” (Heldman 3:14, 2Nep 5:15-16). These are fanciful creations of Joseph Smith’s mind. The population of the Americas wasn’t that as high, and there were no pigs, cows, goats, horses, chariots or silk in America before 1492!
(h) If the Jews were the ancestors of the American Indians, why are there are no remains or traces of Jewish temples or anything that could be identified with the civilization described in the book of Mormon? The book claims American Indians are Jews with black skin, but Anthropology has established that the Indians are Mongoloid in origin and their skins are not black. The old inhabitants of the Americas were the Incas, Aztecs and the Mayas. None of these are mentioned in the book of Mormon, but rather speaks of Jaredites, Lamanites and Nephites. Again, this “another testament of Jesus” is shown to be a false revelation.
The book of Mormon’s claims of having been originally written on golden tablets are legends. Most scholars have come to the conclusion that the book of Mormon was originally a romantic fiction novel written by Solomon Spaulding (1761-1816), which Joseph Smith stole and reworked by inserting some “religious” material into it. A handwriting analysis of the original text of the book reveals that the bulk of the manuscript was from the handwriting of Spaulding, and not Smith.
The book of Mormon revealed nothing new. The idea of the Jews migrating to the New World was first mentioned by Menasseh Ben Israel, an occult Kabbalist, in his book, The Hope of Israel in 1650. Another evidence that the book of Mormon was a late work can be seen in how it used Elizabethan English from the King James Version and even plagiarizes over 27,000 words from it. The book of Mormon was obviously formulated by someone who lived after 1611 and had access to the KJV.
3. The book also contradicts the Bible in several places.
(a) In Numbers 21:5-9, Moses says God sent “fiery serpents” into the camp of Israel to punish them. The book of Mormon says they were “fiery flying serpents” (1Nep 17:41). Such ridiculous stuff.
(b) The book of Mormon glorifies the original sin by saying Adam and Eve sinned in order to have children as God commanded (2Neph. 2:22-25). So they had no joy or peace until they sinned.
(c) It teaches that remission of sins is by baptism (3Neph. 12:2). But the Bible says this is done by faith in the blood of Christ (Acts 10:43, 16:30). This book teaches salvation by works which is a false gospel (Eph. 2:8, Gal. 1:8).
(d) It claims Jesus was born in Jerusalem (Alma 7:9-10). But the Bible says it’s in Bethlehem (Matt 2:1, Mic 5:2).
(e) God said that the Jews will retain their identity till the end of time. They will not “evolve” into another people, till He brings them into their own land (Num. 23:9, Ezk. 37:21), but the book of Mormon claims the Jews evolved into American Indians, a claim that has no scientific backing. Conclusively, the book of Mormon is not “another testament of Jesus” but a false revelation intended to mislead.