BibleAsk Team

Can the Book of Mormon be trusted?

Mormons claim that the Book of Mormon was translated from golden plates. These plates Joseph Smith found in a hill in New York in the early 1800s. And this act confirmed to them Joseph Smith as the new prophet on the earth in these latter days.

The book of Mormon doesn’t hold major contradictory beliefs to orthodox Christianity. But the major opposing beliefs are found in the books Doctrine and Covenants and The Pearl of Great Price. These books contain such false beliefs as the rejection of the Trinity, God was once a man, humans can become gods, salvation by works, Satan is Jesus’ brother, etc.

Is Joseph Smith a true prophet

In order to examine the book of Mormon we need to answer the question: Is Joseph Smith a true prophet? Mormons claim that to have the answer to this question, you need to check your feelings. But feelings are unreliable because they don’t present facts. They are merely an echo on how we feel about the facts. The Mormon missionary handbook uses persuasion techniques to lead people to accept the Mormon faith.

Our only safety lies in God’s Word – the truth. The Scriptures give certain tests of a true prophet. By applying these tests to the life and teachings of those who claim to speak for God, we can find if they are from God or not. Let us apply these tests to Joseph Smith:

First test:

Isaiah 8:20 says, “to the law and to the testimony: if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them.”

The law and the testimony refer to the divinely inspired instruction given by God in the Holy Bible-both Old and New Testaments. The teachings of a true prophet of God will never contradict the clear teachings of the Bible. But we find that the teachings in the Book of Mormon, Doctrine and Covenants, and the Pearl of Great Price, contradict the Bible in major topics. Such topic are the trinity, nature of God, nature of man, sin, salvation, state of the dead, heaven, hell and others.

Second test:

1 John 4:2 says, “Hereby know ye the spirit of God: Every spirit that confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is of God.”

This test involves more than simply accepting the historical reality of Jesus’ birth as a human being. Joseph Smith teaches in Doctrine and Covenants that Jesus gradually became the Son of God as He received “fullness” from the Father. He also teaches that human beings are also potentially sons of God in the same sense as Jesus (Doctrine and Covenants 93:13, 14, 20, 22, 23; Articles of Faith pp. 471-473).

Thus, for Mormons, the only real difference between Jesus and a human being is that Christ was the first born of Elohim’s children, whereas we in our pre-existent spirit state were “born” later. Mormon theology teaches that the goal of mankind is to progress to the point of attaining to the godhead. Therefore, the divinity of Jesus is not unique.

Third test:

Deuteronomy 18:21-22 says, “You may say to yourselves, ‘How can we know when a message has not been spoken by the LORD?’ If what a prophet proclaims in the name of the LORD does not take place or come true, that is a message the LORD has not spoken…”

Joseph Smith repeatedly prophesied “in the name of the LORD” but his prophecies did not happen. In 1835, he prophesied that the Lord’s coming was only a few decades in the future. Specifically, he predicted that the Lord would come in fifty-six years (History of the church vol.2 p.182). Fifty six years from 1835 would reach 1891. Clearly the Lord did not appear at that time.

Joseph Smith again prophesied in a ‘revelation’ given through him on September 1832 that the New Jerusalem would be built in Western Missouri and that within the New Jerusalem would be erected a temple during the lifetime of those hearing his revelation (Doctrines and Covenants 84:1-5). This did not happen either.

Also, Joseph Smith prophesied that New York would be destroyed if its people rejected the [Mormon] gospel (D&C 84:114-115). He also prophesied that the rebellion of South Carolina and the War between the States would result in war being poured out upon all nations; slaves would revolt; the inhabitants of the earth would mourn; famine, plague, earthquake, thunder, lightning, and a full end of all nations would result (D&C 87). Needless to say all these prophecies did not come to pass.

Fourth test:

Deuteronomy 13:1-3 says, “if a prophet, or one who foretells by dreams, appears among you and announces to you a miraculous sign or wonder, and if the sign or wonder of which he has spoken takes place, and he says, ‘Let us follow other gods’ (gods you have not known) ‘and let us worship them,’ you must not listen to the words of that prophet or dreamer. The LORD your God is testing you to find out whether you love him with all your heart and with all your soul.”

Joseph Smith was a polytheist; he openly led his followers to other gods. History of the Church 6:474 records Smith stating, “I wish to declare I have always and in all congregations when I have preached on the subject of the Deity, it has been the plurality of Gods.” Joseph Smith declared that “God himself was once as we are now, and is an exalted man, and sits enthroned in yonder heavens!” (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, 345). This clearly contradicts the Word of God.

Fifth test:

Mathew 7:15, 16 says, “beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. Ye shall know them by their fruits…”

By his own testimony Joseph Smith was naturally combative and willing to attack his opponents physically (History of the Church vol. 5 P.316; 524). Several contemporary accounts exist of Smith challenging opponents with physical violence and at times following up his challenge with action-boxing the ears, kicking, thrashing, and throwing blows to the head. The Bible promotes peaceful living and dying for one another. Therefore, Smith clearly contradicts the Bible in this sense as well.

Different gospel

Galatians 1:6-7 says, that people may be “turning to a different gospel—which is really no gospel at all . . . trying to pervert the gospel of Christ.” Paul wrote that the gospel is “the power of God unto salvation” (Romans 1:16).  Did Joseph Smith teach a “different gospel”? The answer is yes, Joseph Smith clearly taught a different gospel.

Mormons believe that the Book of Mormon comprises the “fullness of the gospel” (Doctrines and Covenants 20:9; 27:5; 42:12; and 135:3). The gospel of Mormon teaches salivation by both faith and works (baptism, laying on of hands, temple work, mission work, temple marriage, genealogy… etc.). When a person achieves these works he is admitted to the third heaven (Doctrine 116-117; Book of Mormon [3 Nephi 27:13-21]; Doctrines of Salvation 1:268; 18:213; The 4th Article of Faith; Smith, Gospel Doctrine pg. 107; Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses 3:93; 3:247; 9:312; Gospel Principles 290; Doctrine and Covenants 39:5-6; 132:19-20). This erroneous theology annuls the sufficiency of the death of Jesus and His righteous.

But the Bible teaches that we are saved by faith alone (Ephesian 2:8,9; Romans 10:9-10). People don’t do works to be saved but because they are saved. Works are merely the fruit of the Spirit of God working in the heart (Galatians 5:22,23).

Joseph Smith (and henceforth the Book of Mormon), fail the test of a true prophet.

God’s judgement on false prophets

In the OT, the Lord said, “That prophet or dreamer must be put to death, because he preached rebellion against the LORD your God…; he has tried to turn you from the way the LORD your God commanded you to follow. You must purge the evil from among you” (Deuteronomy 13:1-3). And He added, “If anyone does not listen to my words that the prophet speaks in my name, I myself will call him to account. But a prophet who presumes to speak in my name anything I have not commanded him to say, or a prophet who speaks in the name of other gods, must be put to death…” (Deuteronomy 18:19-21).

And in the NT, the Holy Spirit also warned, “But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let him be eternally condemned! As we have already said, so now I say again: If anybody is preaching to you a gospel other than what you accepted, let him be eternally condemned!” (Galatians 1:8-9).

In His service,
BibleAsk Team

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