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Problems with the Book of Mormon

Contender Ministries

We recently received an email from a Mormon elder.  In it, he said, “I read in your site about the Mormons, and I have a question.  Is the Book of Mormon true?  I couldn't find anything on your site to prove the Book of Mormon false.  And if you can't prove false the Book of Mormon, how can you prove that Joseph Smith is a false prophet?”  This elder’s question really goes to the heart of the matter with Mormon apologetics.  If the Book of Mormon is false, then Joseph Smith was obviously a false prophet.  If Joseph Smith was a false prophet, then millions of decent people have been deceived away from the truth.

Former LDS President and Prophet Joseph Fielding Smith once said of his namesake, “He was either a prophet of God, divinely called, properly appointed and commissioned, or he was one of the biggest frauds the world has ever seen, there is no middle ground.” (Doctrines of Salvation, 1:188).  There have been some stories in the news recently about Mormon scholars who have been excommunicated for research papers that showed that the Book of Mormon is more fiction than fact.  But rather than present those news articles, let’s examine some of the problems with the Book of Mormon

First, let’s take a look at some logistical problems, beginning with those that concerned LDS apologist and theologian Brigham H. Roberts.  Roberts authored the six-volume Comprehensive History of the Church.  In 1921, a man investigating Mormonism asked Roberts to answer five questions.  These questions vexed Roberts, because he could find no suitable answer.  He then posed those same five questions to LDS President Heber J. Grant, Grant’s counselors, the Twelve Apostles, and to the Quorum of the Seventy.  They too, were unable to provide suitable answers.  Many of the recently excommunicated Mormon scholars mentioned in the last paragraph wrote academic articles conceding to these same difficulties.  These five questions are:

  1. Linguistics.  Why, if the American Indians were descended from Lehi, was there such diversity in their languages, and why were there no vestiges of Hebrew in any of them?
  2. Why does the Book of Mormon say that Lehi found horses when he arrived in America?  The horse did not exist in the Americas until the Spaniards brought them over in the sixteenth century.
  3. Why was Nephi stated to have a bow of steel?  Jews did not have steel at that time, and no iron was smelted in the Americas until the Spanish colonization.
  4. Why does the Book of Mormon mention “swords and cimeters” when scimitars (the current spelling) did not come about until the rise of Islam after 500 A.D.?
  5. Why does the Book of Mormon mention silk, when silk did not exist in the Americas at that time?

Let me add my own question here.  Joseph Smith claimed that the Book of Mormon was the most correct of any book on earth (History of the Church, 4:461).  If that’s true, why has it been subjected to thousands of corrections and alterations since it was first published?  Also, some of the LDS scholars to whom I referred in the second paragraph found that the American Indians are genetically more similar to Asians.  No Hebrew link can be made through DNA analysis.

There are also doctrinal discrepancies between the Book of Mormon and the Doctrine and Covenants and other source of LDS doctrine.  If the Book of Mormon is the most correct book on earth, then why the contradictions?  For example: 

  • D&C 130:3 says, “The idea that the Father and the Son dwell in a man’s heart is an old sectarian notion, and is false.”  But in Alma 34:36, it says, “And this I know, because the Lord hath said he dwelleth not in unholy temples, but in the hearts of the righteous doth he dwell.”
  • Joseph Smith said, “We have imagined and supposed that God was God from all eternity.  I will refute that idea, and take away the veil, so that you may see.” (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p. 345)  This introduced the doctrine of eternal progression, which Brigham Young forcefully expounded upon.  [Eternal Progression teaches that God was once a man who progressed to Godhood, and we humans have the ability to do the same through strict adherence to LDS doctrines and temple rites.]  Yet Moroni 8:18 says, “For I know that God is not a partial God, neither a changeable being; but he is unchangeable, from all eternity to all eternity.”

When Joseph Smith contradicts the Book of Mormon, we can reach only one of two conclusions.  Either he did not write the Book of Mormon under divine guidance and is therefore a false prophet, or he decided to contradict the teachings of God, in which case he is a false prophet.  Smith also stated that no one could see God without the Holy Priesthood.  Yet according to his own account, he saw God the Father and Jesus Christ nine years before he himself received the priesthood!

We can also look at Smith’s prophecies directly.  In Doctrine and Covenants 87:2, Smith predicted that the American Civil War would “be poured out upon all nations.”  This did not occur.  In Doctrine and Covenants 84:4-5, he prophesied that a temple would be built in Independence, Missouri during that generation.  There is still no such temple.  The list goes on.  He obviously fails the test of a prophet as outlined in Deuteronomy 18:21-22.

Paul warned of false prophets in 2 Corinthians 11:13, “For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ.”  As for the Book of Mormon, and its claim as the “fullness of the everlasting gospel,” Paul wrote in Galatians 1:8-9, “But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed.”

The evidence is clear that the Book of Mormon cannot be correct, and Joseph Smith was a false prophet who has deceived many.  The truth is that the Bible contains the fullness of the gospel of Jesus Christ.  We cannot and should not blaspheme Almighty God by presuming that we can someday become gods, as the LDS doctrine of eternal progression teaches.  Satan’s first recorded lie to Adam and Eve was a promise that they would be godlike in their knowledge if they simply disobeyed God and ate of the forbidden fruit.  False prophets have perpetuated the lie that promises godhood or godlike qualities ever since. 

Someone asked me once why there isn’t a huge apostasy from Mormonism in light of the compelling evidence.  I can think of two primary reasons.  Many sincere Latter Day Saints simply do not know the evidence, and are discouraged from investigating it.  An LDS friend of my wife’s was told by her Bishop and her husband to stop investigating the claims of their founding “prophet.”  Why discourage honest investigation?  Acts 17:11 tells us that the Bereans were of noble character because they “searched the scriptures daily” to see if what Paul was preaching was the truth.  Unfortunately, my wife’s friend yielded to pressure from her husband and bishop, and ultimately broke off social contact.

The other reason has to deal with courage versus comfort.  I’ve personally known a couple of Mormons who left the LDS Church for the true gospel of Jesus Christ after they realized that Joseph Smith was a false prophet.  Those are two of the most courageous people I know, as they suffered severe pressure, persecution, and isolation from their LDS families, friends, and community.  I’ve known other Mormons who admitted to me that they knew Mormonism was a false religion based on the lies of a false prophet, but were too afraid to leave the Church for fear of the same kind of treatment.  They had comfortable lives as tithing members of the LDS Church, and were too afraid to face the potential loss of family, friends, and indeed, their entire social circle should they leave. 

Most Mormons I’ve known have been very sincere, decent people.  Many hold their religious beliefs strongly.  When those beliefs are shown to fail the test in the light of the truth of the gospel, it can be a frightening and life-altering event.  Members of the LDS Church can choose to ignore or excuse the evidence, or they can face it with courage.  Mormon missionaries tell people to pray to see if the Book of Mormon is true.  I encourage the reader to read your Bible in depth, as a Berean would, to see if the points in this article are true or false. 

If you are led to witness to a Mormon, remember always to share the truth in love.  The facts and truth will shake the foundations of religious beliefs that are often strongly held in the life of a Mormon.  Letting God’s love and compassion shine through you as you witness is extremely important.  In John 14:6, Jesus said, “I am the way and the truth and the life.  No one comes to the Father except through me.”  Jesus is the way, and He is the only way.  Many have been deceived by Joseph Smith Jr., and need to come face to face with the fact that their founding prophet was a false prophet who introduced a false gospel.  Facing the truth can sometimes have some difficult consequences on earth, but life on earth is temporary.  Denying the truth can have eternal consequences.