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These are my personal conclusions about Mormonism based on primarily on my study of the Book of Mormon in 2010. (There is also a bibliography at the end these notes.)

My issues with the Book of Mormon (BOM):

1. VERIFICATION: TESTIMONY

  • Self-authenticating – ask the Holy Ghost?  Circular demand. Nor is this the kind of seeking Jesus asks of us.
  • Many of the witnesses to the golden plates defected, leaving the Mormon church.
  • Further note: I see no reason to grant the authenticity of Mormon "tongues" (more common in the 19th century than now) as a sign pointing to genuine conversion or the presence of God. See 2 Nephi 31:14; 32:2; 3 Nephi 29:6; Alma 9:21; Omni 1:25; Mormon 9:7, 24; Moroni 10:15-16 —  8 passages in all. (I many have missed some.)

2. PHYSICAL EVIDENCE ABSENT

  • Anthropological evidence – Jaredites. Lamanites? Evidence of advanced civilizations in the New World (like the Mayans) – yes. But far later than the dates claimed by Mormonism.
  • Given the phenomenal specificity of the BOM (Jesus Christ was understood before the incarnation; verbatim correspondence to so many scriptural verses and phrases), the vagueness about persons and places, and the lack of historical, geographical, and archaeological attestation are striking!

3.THEOLOGICAL PROBLEM

  • Mormons equate the Latter Day Saints with the kingdom of God.
  • Yet the kingdom is not an institution.
  • It comes in waves, not at a single time.
  • This appears to be a theological doctrine devised for control.

4. PLAGIARISM

  • 25,000 lifted words from the KJV OT, 2000 from the NT.
  • 1 Nephi – culled from bits of the OT and the NT.
  • 2 Nephi – largely dependent on Isaiah, chapters of which have been lifted verbatim from the KJV.
  • 3 Nephi – called largely from N.T. (e.g. Matthew).
  • Almah – massive lifting (longest book in BOM).
  • BOM is a queer mix of 19th century and Elizabethan English. Why Elizabethan English if written in 1830s?
  • Hebrew error: “It came to pass” -- appears more than 2000x in BOM.

5. ANACHRONISM

  • Jew, church, Bible, Christ, Jesus, “Father, Son, Holy Ghost” (2 Nephi 31).
  • Nephites cultivate wheat and barley (not maize and potatoes).
  • Jaredites brought animals: horses, pigs, sheep, cattle, donkeys – Columbus found none of these when he came to the New World!
  • Enormous emphasis on baptism in many of the books. Moroni 8 – infant baptism an abomination: Yet this deviation from the NT was not known until the late 2nd C. AD, The “firstfruit of repentance is baptism.”
  • Scimitar – appears as an English word in 1548. The word may go back to ancient Egypt, but how would Smith known? Houses of cement (!) – timber was scarce -- Helaman 3.
  • Alma 46 -- true believers called “Christians” (!)
  • Clearly retrojects contemporary (19th C.) issues: Mormon persecution, church governance, sacraments, and various 19th century issues and doctrines.

6. RACISM

  • 2 Nephi 5 – curse of dark skin (though chapter 26 seems to allow that blacks are God’s children, too).
  • Alma 3 – curse of dark skin on Lamanites.
  • 3 Nephi 2 – Lamanites blessed, -- lose dark skin, become white.
  • In the book of Jacob, the dark-skinned will eventually be blessed.
  • Native Americans are descended from Jews – but they were unreceptive to the Mormon message, and showed no familiarity with Judaism (nor genetic relationship).
  • Blacks are spirits who, in their preexistence, rebelled against God – their punishment was to inhabit black bodies.
  • Some Mormon missionaries promised darker races they will be white in the next life if they convert.
  • 1976—Mormon bishop in Vancouver excommunicated for accepting a black into the Mormon priesthood.
  • IRS pressure and 1978 "revelation" to president Spencer Kimball.

7. POLITICS

  • Zion will be built on the American continent (Articles of Faith of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints) no. 10.
  • Their Doctrines & Covenants affirm that the U.S. Constitution comes from God!
  • But Jesus discouraged putting hope in politics – just like the OT prophets.

8. UPDATES

  • 3000+ changes made between original BOM and today’s version.
  • Mormons today claim the Holy Spirit has given only the essence of the translation, not a word-for-word translation.

Conclusion

  • Mormons are slowly coming into the mainstream. We should know what they really teach.
  • My comments have common almost completely from the BOM. Yet these are not the only scriptures, and D&C is more influential.
  • Many Mormon doctrines are simply bizarre: God has a wife; the Garden of Eden was in Missouri; God and his wife have flesh-and-blood bodies; and on and on...
  • Mark Twain: BOM is “chloroform in print.”
  • Be sure to get a copy of John Oakes' book (autumn 2012).

Bibliography:

  • Anderson, Ross, Understanding the Book of Mormon. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2009.
  • The Book of Mormon: Another Testament of Jesus Christ. Salt Lake City: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, 1981.
  • Brooke, John L., The Refiner's Fire: The Making of Mormon Cosmology, 1644-1844. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1994.
  • Krakauer, Jon, Under the Banner of Heaven. New York: Random House, 2004.
  • Oakes, John, Mormonism: Another Testament of Jesus Christ? Spring, Texas: Illumination Publishers International, 2012.
  • Scott, Latayne C., The Mormon Mirage. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2009.
  • Tanner, Jerald and Sandra, The Changing World of Mormonism. Chicago: Moody Press, 1980.