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Come Reason's Apologetics Notes blog will highlight various news stories or current events and seek to explore them from a thoughtful Christian perspective. Less formal and shorter than the Web site articles, we hope to give readers points to reflect on concerning topics of the day.

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Showing posts with label Joseph Smith. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Joseph Smith. Show all posts

Monday, November 17, 2014

How Not to Show You Have Truth...

In Utah, I was able to speak to several sister missionaries, some young and some old. After watching "Joseph Smith: The Prophet of the Restoration" in the Joseph Smith Memorial Building, a pair of sister missionaries and an older one asked me a few questions. I explained what I was doing there – that I had questions about the LDS faith and that I was there to find out more about the religion and discuss how it differs from Christianity.

I later found out the older sister missionary got reprimanded for "debating" with us, that "debating was not what they were here to do," and that "if she continued to do this, there would be problems." But the discussion we had was highly civil, respectful and mutually enjoyed – which the sisters themselves verbally acknowledged. This was not an isolated incident, however. Most of my experience with LDS leadership has been that of discouraging questions that are not easily answered via 1) pushing any serious questions to the faith towards the LDS church’s website or 2) by asserting that I needed to test what is true by means of prayer or 3) by simply brushing me off. Obviously, these could possibly be isolated incidents, but the sheer consistency of these responses makes me think this is how the LDS faith actually responds to those sincerely trying to seek truth that have difficult questions.

I appreciate that in following Christ, critical thinking, testing, and transparency is not only a righteous ideal, but a command. The whole worldview of Christianity is strong enough to withstand testing and to be put through the ringer of reason and evidence. If it really is true, shouldn’t that be the case?  Would we really have anything to hide? Had the situation been in reverse, if they sought us for questions about Christianity, I can GUARANTEE we would have been there as long as possible.

It has once been said that, "And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free." That same person did not say truth would be known by feeling, but by reading the word of God. And it is true: in Christianity, testing important truths is not really about feeling; it’s about reading the words of God: "Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on him, IF you continue in my word, THEN are you my disciples indeed; AND you shall know the truth, AND the truth shall make you free." John 8:31-32 (and essentially Psalm 119).

If you are truly serious about telling me you have truth, then please be intellectually honest: do not discourage sincere questions or stifle the gift of rational, critical thought.

Friday, June 27, 2014

The Book of Mormon Shows Joseph Smith to be a False Prophet

Last night on the streets of Manti, I had an interesting discussion with a man about his beliefs and the Book of Mormon. He was older, in his sixties, and he had been studying the book fervently. Born and raised in Utah, he came from a multi-generational family that was faithful to the LDS. He said that he had to read the book "hundreds of times" before he could truly understand it, but he now does and it drove him to some interesting conclusions. One of the most surprising admissions he made to me was that the later revelations of Joseph Smith were wrong and he was a false prophet!

A statement like the one above strikes people as counter-intuitive, but I actually agree with the man. If you were to read the Book of Mormon alone, you would never arrive at Mormon doctrine. In fact many passages in the Book of Mormon directly contradict the later revelations that Smith taught, even regarding the nature of God Himself.

Eternal Progression

The central concept of LDS theology is the doctrine of eternal progression. That doctrine teaches that God is a man who was a faithful Mormon in his physical life and has now been exalted. As the LDS prophet Lorenzo Snow famously put it, "As man now is, God once was; As God now is, man may be."1 While Snow coined that phrase, he didn’t create the doctrine. Joseph Smith originally taught this idea in a very famous sermon known as the King Follet sermon. There, Smith in his office of prophet who is to present the revelation from God Himself, Smith teaches:
God himself was once as we are now, and is an exalted man, and sits enthroned in yonder heavens! That is the great secret. If the veil were rent today, and the great God who holds this world in its orbit, and who upholds all worlds and all things by His power, was to make himself visible—I say, if you were to see him today, you would see him like a man in form—like yourselves in all the person, image, and very form as a man; for Adam was created in the very fashion, image and likeness of God, and received instruction from, and walked, talked and conversed with Him, as one man talks and communes with another.2
Smith goes on to explain that "you have got to learn how to be gods yourselves" in order to have eternal life.

The unchanging nature of God in the Book of Mormon

The teaching of the exaltation of God from a man is in direct contradiction to Smith’s Book of Mormon, though. Moroni 8:18 declares, "For I know that God is not a partial God, neither a changeable being; but he is unchangeable from all eternity to all eternity."3 Mormon 9:9, borrowing from the book of Hebrews reinforces the idea that God is changeless. "Do we not read that God is the same yesterday, today, and forever, and in him there is no variableness neither shadow of changing."4  According to the Book of Mormon, then, Joseph Smith’s teaching that God was once a man is false.

It is interesting that Joseph Smith prefaced his remarks about God by saying how important it is to get the doctrine correct. He put it in no uncertain terms:
My first object is to find out the character of the only wise and true God, and what kind of a being He is; and if I am so fortunate as to be the man to comprehend God, and explain or convey the principles to your hearts, so that the Spirit seals them upon you, then let every man and woman henceforth sit in silence ... But if I fail to do it, it becomes my duty to renounce all further pretensions to revelations and inspirations, or to be a prophet; and I should be like the rest of the world—a false teacher.5
I believe Smith is a false teacher.  The man with whom I was conversing did as well, however he still held to the Book of Mormon and claimed that Smith was called to be a translator, not a prophet or political leader. I think that someone who claims to be a prophet and is proven to be false would not be used of God to reveal his word. That’s pretty simple since the definition of a prophet is someone who reveals the word of God to the people. Smith is a false teacher, and none of his teachings, including the Book of Mormon should be trusted.


1. The Teachings of Lorenzo Snow. (Salt Lake City, UT: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 2012). 83.
2. Smith, Joseph, Jr. "The King Follett Sermon." Ensign Magazine. April 1971. Web. Accessed 27 June 2014.
3. Smith, Joseph. "The Book of Moroni." The Book of Mormon Online. (Salt Lake City, UT: Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) Web. 2007. Accessed 27 June 2014.
4. Smith, Joseph. "The Book of Mormon." The Book of Mormon Online. (Salt Lake City, UT: Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) Web. 2007. Accessed 27 June 2014.
5. Smith, Joseph, Jr. "The King Follett Sermon." Ibid.
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