Today there are over 57,000 young men (and a few young women) who are giving their time and effort to its propagation. There is no other movement like it! More than 300,000 people a year are leaving their churches and submitting to this dedicated missionary effort. That’s more than 820 a day, 365 days a year. Assuming they work an eight-hour day — that’s an average of more than 102 an hour — or nearly two every minute.
Despite their dedicated and apparently often sacrificial effort, many of these young people return home and are never regularly active in the movement again. Obviously their commitment was to the system and not to the faith.
Those who appear to continue to be active may participate only in its aggressive sports or Scouting programs. Some of its best-known critics are among its former, or deposed most eloquent defenders.
The movement has become what I would call a sub-culture, though usually considered unusually patriotic, they are often considered among America’s most conservative political leaders.
After almost 50 years of serious and dedicated observance of the movement – I am convinced that some of its most vocal defenders really become some of its most formidable opponents.
Strangely, though often highly critical and most vocal, they defend it — sometimes even after being excommunicated — they still defend it vigorously and refuse to cease some connection with it.
Among this number have been such people as Sterling McMurrin, distinguished professor at the University of Utah who was deceased some time ago; a most able defender. Eugene E. Campbell, a professor at BYU, wrote Establishing Zion, The Mormon Church in the American West,1847-1869, which was not published until after his death. Michael Quinn (though before his admission of his homosexuality some time ago), had been an eloquent defender and able writer and was a professor at BYU.
Among such men is Brigham H. Madsen, an author of note and obviously highly critical of the movement’s leadership, but evidently still wanting to be counted as still believing in its original claims and teachings. He was once a prominent professor of BYU.
Others of this number have been such men as Brigham H. Roberts, a most able and eloquent proponent of Mormonism, who seemed in his later years to question the beginning claims of Joseph Smith and other early Mormon prophets.
Thomas Stuart Ferguson who spent a lifetime and a fortune attempting to prove an archaeological basis for the Book of Mormon, evidently admitted toward the end that he had failed in his search. Stan Larson, and really dozens of other most able and highly trained and vocal proponents of Mormonism appear to have given up their once highly devoted faith — and yet usually try to continue some relationship to the faith despite their obvious doubts and questions.
Even Daniel Peterson who would never for a moment admit his obvious problems with Mormonism, wrote a chapter in the Book of Mormon Authorship Revisited: The Evidence for Ancient Origins, edited by Noel Reynolds. Peterson, a BYU professor and now head of FARMS (BYU’s organization which is attempting to prove Mormonism’s authenticity) admits on page 158, "that the Book of Mormon fails to teach a number of distinctively Latter-day doctrines, even though the Doctrine and Covenants declares it to contain the ‘fulness’of the gospel (D&C 20:9; 27:5; 42:12; 135:3; compare 18:4).
This is supposed to show that Mormonism cannot be true if the Book of Mormon is true, and that the Book of Mormon must be false if Mormonism is true. But it is entirely true that no explicit discussion exists in the Book of Mormon of the plurality of gods, eternal progression, celestial marriage, baptism for the dead, the corporeality of God, the denial of ex nihilo creation, and three degrees of glory."
I could not have said it better myself! I predict that he will someday go the way of some of his predecessors and though he may continue his membership — will someday join other disenchanted critics.
Mormonism cannot stand investigation!
Some of Mormonism’s obvious problems include the wishy-washy declarations in which on one hand the current Prophet who declares that Mormonism is the ultimate Christian faith (after differing with his predecessor’s quotations for more than 100 years) has now admitted in print that the "Christ Christians believe in and trust — is really not the Christ of Mormonism. And we agree! (LDS Church News, June 20, 1998, p. 7)!
Though always clinging to its often undeserved claims to morality — it is evident that Mormons are just people.
Their child and spouse abuse, youth suicide rates, and illegitimacy and divorce rates are above the Western US average. Their prison’s population continues to be about equal to the percentage of the Mormon population of the state of Utah. Polygamy and its related problems are rampant in Utah and continue to be essentially unaddressed. The oft referred to "Manifesto" never changed the teachings of Mormonism. It never professed to.
The 132nd section of the D & C is still in the book. It is their source for building temples and for eternal marriage. Polygamy is still as much of the printed "scripture" of Mormonism as it ever was. The current prophet piously attempts to ignore it – but he (and not the governor) holds the key to the situation. And it is a problem. Thirty thousand people live in polygamy in Utah according to the newspapers and no effort is being made to stop it. And the only "positive statement" in their scripture (D & C 132) still teaches and requires it.
Yet I hear people say, "But they are such good people!" This is not sour grapes. I lived in Utah for nearly two decades. I was not mistreated — but it was always evident that I was an outsider. Mormons are "just" people. No better, and probably little different morally than the people you live among.
Remember, the few Mormons that you probably know (if any), (I am assuming you live outside of Utah), are probably their best — or else they would not be known as Mormons. Having lived in Utah and a couple of other states (and having traveled and worked in almost every state in the Union), I find little reason for anyone to think he is head and shoulders above or below others morally.
However, I recall a story that I heard years ago that pretty well explains the situation! "A fellow returned from a visit to Old Mexico and reported that all the Indians in Old Mexico march single file — at least (he said), the one I saw did!" That explains pretty well what I have observed in almost a half-century of dealing with this subject!
My readers may not appreciate it – but I am going to print a letter here that came into my hands years ago. It has been in print for years and "no one" has attempted to refute it!
I am quite sure this letter was not intended for your eyes (or mine), but it expresses far better than I can describe to you the fact that Mormonism is not the panacea nor is Utah the Utopia that many have imagined.
I once had a neighbor who lived across the street from me. He was an officer in the Air Force and had married a woman from Utah and become a proselyte to Mormonism. All he knew of Mormonism was what he had seen in the Washington, D.C. area. He became a Mormon, but his concept of Mormonism vanished when he got to Utah. They planned return to the Washington, D.C. area as soon as he returned from Vietnam. He said the Mormon people he had known in Washington, D.C. were far better people than those he found in Utah. He said he would not rear his children in such an atmosphere.
Unfortunately, he was killed in Vietnam and his wife returned to the Washington, D.C. area with their children. What I am trying to say is, that the Mormon you know outside Utah and the ones who live in Utah are totally different people. Those in Utah are generally just like the people where you live.
Now I hate to admit this, but the Baptists I knew in Utah were "better people" (as a whole) than they are in many other areas. Why, our backs were to the wall! If one was not really committed to his faith — he did not commit himself in an almost totally Mormon environment. Likewise, the Mormons you know outside Utah (who are active enough for you to know who they are) are probably far more committed to their faith than
those you would see in Utah. Do you follow me?
Unfortunately, you cannot tell by a person’s commitment whether or not his church is the one true church. That’s not the (only) way to judge the true church. By the way, if Mormonism is true, it is the only true church. If it is not — then its claims are false!
People are not perfect. It ill behooves any of us to cast reflections on the rest of us!
We often hear of the large number becoming Mormons — but there are no published statistics about the number leaving (or its drop-outs). We seldom hear (officially) of an excommunication – though we have known of quite a few.
Yes, Mormonism is growing. It is growing rapidly. But it has its problems! Our files are full of newspaper clippings about crime, family abuse, drug problems, gangs, etc. Though we know of no widely known systemic efforts to publicize its problems — there have been three volumes of "Case Reports of the Mormon Alliance" by Lavina Fielding Anderson and Janice Merrill Allred. Their distribution seems to have been extremely limited. However, they are most revealing. I have seen very little mention of any of this information by the critics of Mormonism. Evidently their work is little known.
Really, Mormonism’s errors are not its people, its morals or even its leaders. Its problems are its teachings!
I had a couple of young Mormon missionaries visit me some months ago!
Before I get to this, may I offer you some very serious and heart-felt advice? It is Biblical! 2 John 10-11 says: "If there come any unto you, that bring not this doctrine, receive him not into your house, neither bid him God speed: For he that biddeth him God speed is partaker of his evil deeds." It is my desire and advice to every reader that you heed that verse. Just keep your screen latched and shake your head.
But at the very beginning of that visit we agreed to discuss only the most important teaching of Mormonism, not its Prophet, or its books, or its people, or its peripheral doctrines — but only its most important doctrine.
What would that be? Polygamy? Baptism for the dead? Marriage for eternity? Its reputed morals? Its rate of growth? Its missionary program? Its conservative politics?
We agreed! Its most important teaching (that which proves it to be either true or false) is its teaching’s about God!
What does Mormonism teach about God?
Mormonism teaches that God has not always been God! That he has a body like a man. In fact, they say, He began as a man. He had a human father and a human mother. He was the result of their relationship as husband and wife! He still looks like a man. He has fingers and toes, etc. just like men. He can be at only one place at a time. He no doubt has brothers and sisters.
Remember, "We are talking about the Mormon doctrine of God!"
He is married, he has more than one wife, several, dozens, hundreds, thousands? Mormons have no idea how many wives God has – but there are many! And they co-habit in heaven for every baby born on earth today!
But to one of his wives (Mormonism says) a baby girl was born. God’s child, the result of their relationship. She was named Mary!
When she became of child-bearing age, God begat a child in her – a boy – named Jesus!
Now every Mormon of normal intelligence, or who knows anything at all about his faith, knows the old adage — Mormon teachings — "As man is, God once was; as God is, man may become." Joseph Smith, Jr., Mormonism’s founding Prophet said it a little differently: he said it, "God himself was once as we are now, and is an exalted Man, and sits enthroned in yonder heavens…" (Journal of Discourses, 6:3).
Mormon Apostles and Prophets have always taught that Mormon men are "Gods in embryo." Brigham Young, Mormonism’s second prophet said: "man is king of kings and lord of lords in embryo" (Journal of Discourses, 10:223).
Milton R. Hunter in his Gospel Through the Ages (1958, p. 104) wrote: "Mormon prophets have continuously taught the sublime truth that God the Eternal Father was once a mortal man who passed through a school of earth life similar to that through which we are now passing. He became God — an exalted being — through obedience to the same eternal Gospel truths that we are given opportunity today to obey."
Mormon Apostle Orson Hyde said, "Remember that God, our heavenly Father was perhaps once a child, and mortal like we ourselves, and rose step by step in the scale of progress, in the school of advancement; has moved forward and overcome until He has arrived at the point where He now is" (Journal of Discourses, 1:123).
Thus, Mormon Apostles and Prophets have always taught that if a man is valiant, accepts Joseph Smith, Jr. as a prophet, believes the Book of Mormon (and the other Standard Works), marries in a Mormon temple for Time and all Eternity, wears his Mormon temple garments faithfully, does without coffee, tea, tobacco, alcoholic beverages and pays his tithes, etc., etc., etc., he will someday (if he remains faithful), become a god and rule over a planet as God rules over this one.
A more modern description of the Mormon doctrine of God is found in Cleon Skousen’s book, The First 2000 Years (1953) by Bookcraft (a Mormon publishing house), "Through modern revelation we learn that the universe is filled with vast numbers of intelligences, and we further learn that Elohim is God simply because all of these intelligences honor and sustain Him as such … [He] extended His power and influence throughout His great kingdom. He did so by obtaining the voluntary cooperation and support of vast concourses of intelligencies" (p. 355).
He then refers to Section 93 of the Doctrine & Covenants (verse 30), and then in 29:36) he states: "God’s ‘power’ is derived from the honor and support of the intelligences over whom He rules."
The following paragraph states: "It is apparent from these and other scriptures that the present exalted position of our Heavenly Father was gradually built up. His glory and power is something which He slowly acquired until today "all things bow in humble reverence." But since God "acquired" the honor and sustaining influence of "all things" it follows as a corollary that if He should ever do anything to violate the confidence or "sense of justice" of these intelligences, they would promptly withdraw their support, and the "power" of God would disintegrate.
This is what Mormon and Alma meant when they specifically stated that if God should change or act contrary to truth and justice "He would cease to be God." Our Heavenly Father can do only those things which the intelligences under Him are voluntarily willing to support Him in accomplishing" (pp. 355-356). (Quotation marks in this paragraph — except the first and last ones — are exactly as in the book).
Some years ago, soon after this came to my attention, I wrote the LDS Church headquarters in Salt Lake City and asked about these teachings. A letter from Francis M. Gibbons, then Secretary to the First Presidency responded (2/23/81) that he was referring my letter to the Stake President in Tulsa. After several efforts to get a written response (explaining that I lived a considerable distance from Tulsa and seldom traveled in that direction) it was evident that the BYU professor was not too from their official position.
Skousen worked with the FBI under J. Edgar Hoover until he became a professor at BYU in 1951. He evidently served there until 1956. He returned to BYU in 1967 (Utah Holiday, 2/81, pp. 34-43). His books — at least from 1947 to 1984 — were published by Mormon printing houses, Bookcraft, Deseret and Ensign Press. The one in question was printed by Bookcraft).
In the Bible (Acts 17:22-31) Paul is preaching on Mars’ Hill in Athens. In verse 28, he speaks of Paul’s using a pagan poet’s quote. I believe we are perfectly at liberty to point out to the Mormon that his own book even teaches our concept of God rather than his!
My question is, and it is a perfectly appropriate, legitimate and timely question: "Where are all these claims Mormons use found in the Book of Mormon?"
I challenge you, dear reader, as I challenged those young missionaries who visited me recently (and I have challenged others), where are any of those things about God taught in the Book of Mormon? It is supposed to be your most perfect and distinctive book
And, after the more than 4,000 changes that have been made in it since the first edition was printed in 1830, where are any of these things taught in the Book of Mormon?
Surely any knowledgeable Mormon should be able to point to at least one of those doctrines in the Book of Mormon.
I can find what I believe about God many times in the Book of Mormon! (That does not mean I consider it scripture – it simply means it completely contradicts Mormonism!)
The title page of the Book of Mormon (second paragraph) says "that JESUS is the CHRIST, the ETERNAL GOD" (these words are in capital letters in the book).
In the last three lines of the Testimony of the Three Witnesses we read: "And the honor be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost, which is one God. Amen."
Mosiah 15:2-5 speaks of the Father and the Son, and says twice in verses 4 and 5, that they are "one God." In Alma 11:22 we are told that Amulek "shall say nothing which is contrary to the Spirit of the Lord." In verses 26-29 it says: "And Zeezrom said unto him: Thou sayest there is a true and living God? And Amulek said: Yea, there is a true and living God. Now Zeezrom said: Is there more than one God? And he answered. No."
Now I admit a difficulty in seeing how two can be one, but that’s what the Bible and the Book of Mormon both say. (If water can be a solid, a liquid or a gas, I really do not question God, Christ and the Holy Ghost being one). Water is approximately one part hydrogen and two parts oxygen, by weight, the dictionary says!
In verse 38-39 it says: "Now Zeezrom saith again unto him: Is the Son of God the very Eternal Father? And Amulek said unto him; Yea, he is the very Eternal Father of heaven and of earth, and all things which in them are; he is the beginning and end, the first and the last…."
And in the last part of verse 44 it says, "and shall be brought and be arraigned before the bar of Christ the Son and God the Father, and the Holy Spirit, which is one Eternal God…."
Again, let me warn you, unless you have dealt successfully with a number of Mormons — you are not ready to challenge a knowledgeable Mormon (or even the young Mormon Missionaries).
My effort is essentially intended to Keep People Out of Mormonism. However, for those who are in it, there is hope — but I think you should break all ties with this, so obviously corrupted and error-prone system that is in no way Christian.
I firmly believe that Sidney Rigdon wrote the Book of Mormon. He may have used the Spaulding manuscript (the one found — though giving evidence of having some relationship to the Book of Mormon (few writers who write a book write only one though all books written do not get into print) was probably not the one from which the Book of Mormon came).
I am convinced that Joseph Smith did not write the book. Rigdon’s Baptist-Campbellite background shows throughout the book!
One good example is Mosiah 27. Verses 25-28 say: "And the Lord said unto me: Marvel not that all mankind, yea, men and women, all nations, kindreds, tongues and people, must be born again; yea, born of God, changed from their carnal and fallen state, to a state of righteousness, being redeemed of God, becoming his sons and daughters; And thus they become new creatures; and unless they do this, they can in nowise inherit the kingdom of God. I say unto you, unless this be the case, they must be cast off; and this I know, because I was like to be cast off. Nevertheless, after wading through much tribulation, repenting nigh unto death, the Lord in mercy hath seen fit to snatch me out of an everlasting burning, and I am born of God."
This is obviously a parody of John 3: 3-7
This passage is in definite conflict with Mormon teachings. Note it says "becoming his sons and daughters." Mormonism teaches that we are already his children. Baptists in particular (and Christians generally) teach that we become His by adoption (Romans 8:15 & 23; 9:4; Galatians 4:5; Ephesians 1:5).
Several passages speak of the necessity of baptism. Third Nephi 11:26-27 says "And then shall ye immerse them in the water, and come forth again out of the water … verily I say unto you, that the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Ghost are one; and I am in the Father, and the Father in me, and the Father and I are one." This is an indication of the Baptist and Campbellite background of Sidney Rigdon. Note, too, the statement "the Father and I are one," again.
I might also add that at this point in the history of Mormonism, Mormonism was very close to the teachings of Campbell. Baptismal regeneration and the restored church were the distinguishing teachings of Campbell. Baptism for the dead was not mentioned until 1840 — 10 years after the publication of the Book of Mormon. Joseph Smith, Jr. said, "I first mentioned the doctrine [of baptism for the dead] in public when preaching the funeral sermon of Brother Seymour Brunson…" (History of the Church, 4:231). Smith reported the death of Brunson on August 15, 1840 (History of the Church, 4:179). Remember, this was 10 years after the printing of the Book of Mormon!
For a follower of Alexander Campbell to have been converted so quickly and so easily by one of his subordinates is most unlikely. By the time he was supposedly converted to Mormonism, he was 37 years old and had been preaching for 10 years. But that must wait for another article. It was most unusual that Sidney Rigdon, 14 years older than Parley Pratt, and after 10 years in the ministry and the mentor of Pratt, could be converted by him in a single evening. Something is very strange here!
I might also mention that Mormonism depends almost entirely, in its references to the Bible, on what we call "proof texts" for its vindication of its teachings. Strangely, the Book of Mormon does not lend itself to this manner of interpretation.
Mormonism, for instance, depends on Ezekiel 37:15-19 for one of its proofs! This, they believe, speaks of two books (scrolls), the Bible and the Book of Mormon. Yet, if one continues reading through verse 33, he finds that the "two sticks" are not two books, but two nations (Judah & Israel) that will become one (Judah).
Another example of their fallacious use of "proof texts" is found in their interpretation of Matthew 16:18, which clearly states that "upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it." Every indication in the Bible promises that His church will survive.
This is another of the Campbellite teachings that Rigdon bought into the new group — that the church ceased to exist and that it would need to be restored.
It’s use of 1 Corinthians 15:29 is another example of their erroneous uses of a single verse as a "proof text" on which to base a distinctive teaching. That verse does not teach that the Corinthians (or any other Christian church of that period) ever practiced a vicarious baptism. Evidently someone did, but not Paul, or the Corinthians nor any other named church — "they," not "we." The next verse says, "And why stand we in jeopardy every hour? (Note: this time he says "we," not "they." "We believe in the resurrection!" The meaning is clear in light of the subject of the entire chapter (verses 3-4). The chapter deals with the resurrection.
In considering Rigdon’s part in Mormonism, many of Mormonism’s basic teachings were not apparent in the beginning of the movement. Eternal marriage apparently was not a teaching, nor was baptism for the dead, plural marriage, the current doctrine of God — nor many other distinctive teachings.
In fact, eternal marriage, though not mentioned in the D & C until 1843 — had apparently been a part of Mormonism at least since 1831 (according to the statement at the beginning of the 132nd section, 1989 printing). This had been a matter of contention with Rigdon since at least 1841, especially after Joseph Smith tried to seduce his daughter (Dialogue, A Journal of Mormon Thought, 1:4, Winter 1966, p. 39). I firmly believe that Rigdon wrote the Book of Mormon and that he was the brains behind the beginning of the movement. Later, obviously, they disagreed sharply.
It really makes no difference who wrote the Book of Mormon if God did not. Of course I do not believe it is scripture, but except for a very few passages its theological teachings are not in conflict with the Bible. Such passages as 2 Nephi 25:23, "for we know that it is by grace that we are saved, after all we can do" cannot be scripture. (It could not be made to agree with Ephesians 2:8-10) If one can be saved by grace only "after all we can do," no one will be saved. After all we can do we must still have His mercy. (That’s grace!)
There is only one hope for the race and that is grace. God offers this on the basis of Christ’s sacrificial death on the cross. But it is not naturally bestowed! It must be accepted!