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50 FAIR-ly Deceptive Answers Rebutted

Questions 1 through 5

 By Ben Rast

 Contender Ministries

 Posted: Sept 8, 2008

1. Why does the Mormon church still teach that Joseph Smith was a true prophet of God after he made a false prophecy about a temple built in Missouri in his generation (D&C 84:1-5)


This was not a prophecy, but a command from God to build the temple. There's a difference. Jesus said people should repent; just because many didn't doesn't make Him a false messenger, simply a messenger that fallible people didn't heed.

Learn more here: Independence temple to be built "in this generation"


When you follow the link to get more information, FAIR attempts to show the prophecy is really a command that wasn’t heeded by examining the word “shall” and the meaning of “this generation”.  First, let’s take a look at the prophecy in Doctrine and Covenants (D&C) 84:1-5, with emphasis added:

1 A revelation of Jesus Christ unto his servant Joseph Smith, Jun., and six elders, as they united their hearts and lifted their voices on high.

  2 Yea, the word of the Lord concerning his church, established in the last days for the restoration of his people, as he has spoken by the mouth of his prophets, and for the gathering of his saints to stand upon Mount Zion, which shall be the city of New Jerusalem.

  3 Which city shall be built, beginning at the temple lot, which is appointed by the finger of the Lord, in the western boundaries of the State of Missouri, and dedicated by the hand of Joseph Smith, Jun., and others with whom the Lord was well pleased.

  4 Verily this is the word of the Lord, that the city New Jerusalem shall be built by the gathering of the saints, beginning at this place, even the place of the temple, which temple shall be reared in this generation.

  5 For verily this generation shall not all pass away until an house shall be built unto the Lord, and a cloud shall rest upon it, which cloud shall be even the glory of the Lord, which shall fill the house.

FAIR provides what it refers to as a “nuanced exegesis” of this passage.  Nuanced, I believe, is an understatement.  First, FAIR states that the word “shall” in this passage can be an imperative command, much like the “thou shalt”s of the Ten Commandments.  However, there is an important distinction.  When “shall” or “shalt” is used as an imperative command, such as in the Ten Commandments, it is always used in active voice – You/thou/they SHALL do such and such.  However, in the temple prophecy of D&C 84, in verses 3-5, the word is used in passive voice – such and such SHALL occur.  This is not a directive; it’s a prediction! 

Next, FAIR turns its “nuanced” exegesis to the meaning of a generation, as mentioned in verses 4 and 5.  It states that “Typically we consider this to mean the lifespan of those living at the time of the revelation. However, in scriptural language ‘generation’ can indicate a longer period of time.”  What example does FAIR provide to indicate that a generation can be a much longer period of time in scriptural language?  In their words:

 "During his ministry in Jerusalem, Jesus revealed the signs of his second coming, and prophesied that 'this generation shall not pass, till all these things be fulfilled' (Matthew 24:34). All those who heard his prophecy died nearly 2,000 years ago, so evidently Jesus meant 'generation' to mean 'age' or some other long period of time. It's possible that Joseph meant the same thing in his revelation about the Independence temple, and therefore the time period for its fulfillment is still open."

Matthew 24 is an important prophetic passage.  Jesus gives many indications of things that will come in the last days.  Most prophecy scholars agree that when Jesus says “this generation” in verse 34, He is referring to the generation that is around to see these last days events coming together.  “This generation” to which He refers will see a rapid sequence of events until the complete fulfillment of the rapture, Tribulation, and Glorious Appearing occur within a relatively short span of time.  He’s NOT referring to the generation to which He was speaking at the time.  Therefore, there’s no reason to believe that Jesus meant a 2000-year generation as opposed to a 40 to 80 year generation.  FAIR is forced to “nuance” clear language into something unrecognizable and unintended in order to support their “answer” to this question.  It clearly is no answer at all.

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2. Since the time when Brigham Young taught that both the moon and the sun were inhabited by people, has the Mormon church ever found scientific evidence of that to be true? (Journal of Discourses (1870), 13:271)


In Brigham (and Joseph's) day, there had been newspaper articles reporting that a famous astronomer had reported that there were men on the moon and elsewhere. This was published in LDS areas; the retraction of this famous hoax never was publicized, and so they may not have even heard about it.

Brigham and others were most likely repeating what had been told them by the science of the day. (Lots of Biblical prophets talked about the earth being flat, the sky being a dome, etc.—it is inconsistent for conservative Protestants to complain that a false belief about the physical world shared by others in their culture condemns Brigham and Joseph, but does not condemn Bible prophets.)

In any case, Brigham made it clear that he was expressing his opinion: "Do you think it is inhabited? I rather think it is." Prophets are entitled to their opinions; in fact, the point of Brigham's discourse is that the only fanatic is one who insists upon clinging to a false idea.


Upon reading FAIR’s response, including the links embedded within the response, my mind was filled with the most famous exclamation of Dave Niehaus – the Hall of Fame radio voice of the Seattle Mariners: “MY, OH MY!!”   It’s hard to know where to begin here, but I’ll try to keep my points as cogent and relevant as possible. 

First, let it be known that I read all of the embedded links to get the full breadth of FAIR’s arguments.  In the summary, they stated that, “Brigham and others were most likely repeating what had been told them by the science of the day.”  Not quite.  In defense of Smith and Young, they point out that astronomer William Herschel (discoverer of Uranus), who died in 1822, believed that there might be life on the moon and in the sun.  It’s interesting that they give the date of his death, but not that of his birth or when he made statements of his belief in lunar and solar inhabitants. This is an obvious attempt to make him seem more of a contemporary to Smith and Young – to make him 19th century.  Interestingly though, he expressed his belief in lunar and solar inhabitants in the 1700’s.  And most other astronomers found this idea to be wild speculation.  So it can’t be said that Smith and Young were influenced by the “science of the day”.  Rather, at best, they were influenced by the wild speculations of the 18th century.  It is true though, that Herschel’s son was studying the moon from Africa in the 19th century, and there was an 1835 hoax by the New York Sun claiming that he had found life on the moon.  However, being duped by a hoax should not be a defense for a divinely chosen and inspired prophet of one’s religion. 

In their parenthetical, FAIR states: “Lots of Biblical prophets talked about the earth being flat, the sky being a dome, etc.—it is inconsistent for conservative Protestants to complain that a false belief about the physical world shared by others in their culture condemns Brigham and Joseph, but does not condemn Bible prophets”.  The word “flat” is hyperlinked to a FAIR entry entitled “Bible cosmology”.  This entry is simply a quote from the Anchor Bible Dictionary.  The ABD, while a widely used reference, is full of problems.  It was put together by a conglomeration of Christians, Jews, Muslims, and others.  Their description of Bible cosmology uses a tactic used frequently by FAIR: make allegations, give a Scripture reference, and cross your fingers that the reader will take your word for it rather than look up the verses referenced.  Because I did look up the verses, and I found stark contrast with the statements they supposedly address.  Interestingly, nowhere in the section on Bible cosmology does it address a biblical view of the earth being flat, as FAIR claims “lots of Biblical prophets talked about”.  I challenge FAIR to name these “lots of prophets” that discuss a flat earth.  I’ve heard this claim by Mormons before, and they always refer to Isaiah 11:12, “And he shall set up an ensign for the nations, and shall assemble the outcasts of Israel, and gather together the dispersed of Judah from the four corners of the earth”.  The “four corners of the earth” are also spoken of by John in Revelation 7:1.  This is a poor example to use to claim that Biblical prophets believed the earth was flat.  Even today, people use the expression “four corners of the earth”.  I’ve used this expression myself.  I recognize it a non-literal expression – a figure of speech.  So does everyone else.  And it’s a figure of speech that has been around for thousands of years.  Isaiah didn’t believe in a flat earth with four corners either.  In fact, in Isaiah 40:22, he refers to the “circle of the earth”.  The Hebrew word here is chuwg, which means “circle, or sphere”.  At a time in earth’s history when many did believe in a flat earth with four corners, Isaiah knew that this was not the case.  He knew the earth was round, because God was speaking the truth to him. The “science of the day” in Isaiah’s time would have given him an excuse to believe in a flat earth, but God spoke the truth to him and through him.  As for the rest of the section on Bible cosmology, I encourage you to read it with a Bible in hand.  Check out the verses it references, and read them in context.  You’ll find just how incredible (read not credible) these claims are.

Finally, FAIR dismisses this issue by saying, “In any case, Brigham made it clear that he was expressing his opinion: ‘Do you think it is inhabited? I rather think it is.’ Prophets are entitled to their opinions…”. Well, let’s not begrudge Brigham his personal opinion.  Let’s look at it in fuller context, from his sermon in 1870 recorded in volume 13 of the Journal of Discourses (JoD), page 270: “Who can tell us of the inhabitants of this little planet that shines of an evening, called the moon? When we view its face we may see what is termed "the man in the moon," and what some philosophers declare are the shadows of mountains. But these sayings are very vague, and amount to nothing; and when you inquire about the inhabitants of that sphere you find that the most learned are as ignorant in regard to them as the most ignorant of their fellows. So it is with regard to the inhabitants of the sun. Do you think it is inhabited? I rather think it is. Do you think there is any life there? No question of it; it was not made in vain. It was made to give light to those who dwell upon it, and to other planets; and so will this earth when it is celestialized. Every planet in its first rude, organic state receives not the glory of God upon it, but is opaque; but when celestialized, every planet that God brings into existence is a body of light, but not till then.”  Okaaay….  This goes a bit beyond the personal opinion (“I rather think it is”) to something more definitive (“No question of it; it was not made in vain”).  It goes beyond cosmology to theology.  Brigham is teaching that the sun is a “celestialized” planet, like our planet will one day be.  He seems pretty firm on this point.  And should his opinions – no matter how firm or infirm – be dismissed when they were given as part of a sermon?  Earlier on in volume 13 of the JoD, a sermon was recorded that Brigham gave in the tabernacle on January 2, 1870.  In this sermon, Brigham said, “I have never yet preached a sermon and sent it out to the children of men, that they may not call Scripture. Let me have the privilege of correcting a sermon, and it is as good Scripture as they deserve. The people have the oracles of God continually” (JoD, Vol 13, p. 95).  Well this is quite the quandary.  If one is to believe that Brigham Young was a prophet of God, then was he correct when he said there were lunar and solar inhabitants, even if it was just his opinion?  And does it matter that it’s only opinion (a very firm one though) when Brigham states that his sermons should be considered Scripture?  And if he’s not correct, when do Mormons choose to believe him and choose not to?  Is it a matter of convenience?  Brigham said it – “no question of it” – and that’s “Scripture”!  Alas, since we know that the sun and moon are devoid of inhabitants – incapable even of sustaining life – then LDS Scripture as defined by Mormon Prophet Brigham Young is fallible and utterly false.

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3. Why did Brigham Young teach that Adam is "our Father and our God" when both the Bible and the Book of Mormon (Morm. 9:12) say that Adam is a creation of God? (Journal of Discourses (1852) 1:50))


The problem with "Adam-God" is that we don't understand what Brigham meant. All of his statements cannot be reconciled with each other. In any case, Latter-day Saints are not inerrantists—they believe prophets can have their own opinions. Only the united voice of the First Presidency and the Twelve can establish official LDS doctrine. That never happened with any variety of "Adam-God" doctrine. Since Brigham seemed to also agree with statements like Mormon 9:12, and the Biblical record, it seems likely that we do not entirely understand how he fit all of these ideas together.


I do respect the fact that, in the case of the Adam-God doctrine, FAIR doesn’t attempt to defend this teaching of Brigham Young’s.  In their full treatment of the Adam-God doctrine, they cover some of the weak defenses put forth by those who wish to make Young’s sermon “jive” with Scripture, but they don’t put much stock in any of them.  That’s honest and commendable.  However, it should give one pause that their prophet has established a clearly unbiblical teaching, and all they can do is shrug their shoulders and say, “Who knows?”  The attempts to defend Young’s Adam-God and reconcile it are futile, but those to attempt it know something that FAIR is unwilling to address.  They know that it IS important that their prophet taught this, and if he can’t be trusted, then why was he a prophet?  Let me quote from Young’s sermon dated April 9, 1852 (JoD 1:50-51):

Now hear it, O inhabitants of the earth, Jew and Gentile, Saint and sinner! When our father Adam came into the garden of Eden, he came into it with a celestial body, and brought Eve, one of his wives, with him. He helped to make and organize this world. He is MICHAEL, the Archangel, the ANCIENT OF DAYS! about whom holy men have written and spoken-He is our FATHER and our GOD, and the only God with whom WE have to do. Every man upon the earth, professing Christians or non-professing, must hear it, and will know it sooner or later. They came here, organized the raw material, and arranged in their order the herbs of the field, the trees, the apple, the peach, the plum, the pear, and every other fruit that is desirable and good for man; the seed was brought from another sphere, and planted in this earth. The thistle, the thorn, the brier, and the obnoxious weed did not appear until after the earth was cursed. When Adam and Eve had eaten of the forbidden fruit, their bodies became mortal from its effects, and therefore their offspring were mortal. When the Virgin Mary conceived the child Jesus, the Father had begotten him in his own likeness. He was not begotten by the Holy Ghost. And who is the Father? He is the first of the human family…. Jesus, our elder brother, was begotten in the flesh by the same character that was in the garden of Eden, and who is our Father in Heaven. Now, let all who may hear these doctrines, pause before they make light of them, or treat them with indifference, for they will prove their salvation or damnation.” [emphasis added]

Brigham Young – the prophet of the LDS Church – not only taught that Adam was God the Father, but also believed it so strongly that he stated that salvation or damnation could hinge on whether people accept them or not.  Remember that the prophet of the Latter-day Saints, Brigham Young, taught that his sermons were scripture, “I have never yet preached a sermon and sent it out to the children of men, that they may not call Scripture. Let me have the privilege of correcting a sermon, and it is as good Scripture as they deserve.” (JoD, Vol 13, p. 95). 

The LDS Church distances itself from the Adam-God doctrine. They recognize that it goes against Scripture.  But in doing so, the church calls into question the reliability of the prophet Brigham Young.  Mormons should ask if they wish to believe that Brigham Young was truly a prophet.  If he was, then why does the LDS Church reject this teaching?  If he wasn’t, then the LDS Church had no prophet for many years, and this would strike down a key tenet of Mormonism – that their Church is the recipient of current revelation from God through their prophets. 

Adam was not God.  He was not a creator – he was a creation.  Through Adam, sin entered into the world, and separated man from God.  Through Jesus Christ, the penalty for that sin has been paid, and man may be redeemed to God (Romans 5:12-21).

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4. If Brigham Young was a true prophet, how come one of your later prophets overturned his declaration which stated that the black man could never hold the priesthood in the LDS Church until after the resurrection of all other races (Journal of Discourses (1854) 2:142-143)


Peter and the other apostles likewise misunderstood the timing of gospel blessings to non-Israelites. Even following a revelation to Peter, many members of the early Christian Church continued to fight about this point and how to implement it—even Peter and Paul had disagreements. Yet, Bible-believing Christians, such as the Latter-day Saints, continue to consider both as prophets. Critics should be careful that they do not have a double standard, or they will condemn Bible prophets as well.

The Latter-day Saints are not scriptural or prophetic inerrantists. They are not troubled when prophets have personal opinions which turn out to be incorrect. In the case of the priesthood ban, members of the modern Church accepted the change with more joy and obedience than many first century members accepted the extension of the gospel to the Gentiles without the need for keeping the Mosaic Law.


Peter and Paul aren’t prophets… Matthew 11:13, “For all the Prophets and the Law prophesied until John [the Baptist]” (Jesus said).  Prophecy is a gift given to some as the Holy Spirit sees fit.  Paul said of spiritual gifts:

“There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit. There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. There are different kinds of working, but the same God works all of them in all men. Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good. To one there is given through the Spirit the message of wisdom, to another the message of knowledge by means of the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by that one Spirit, to another miraculous powers, to another prophecy, to another distinguishing between spirits, to another speaking in different kinds of tongues, and to still another the interpretation of tongues. All these are the work of one and the same Spirit, and he gives them to each one, just as he determines.” – 1 Corinthians 12:4-11 

It’s obvious from this passage that prophecy is now one of several gifts of the Holy Spirit.  Many people may possess this gift, if the Holy Spirit decides to bestow it on them.  In the Old Testament God made himself known through the prophets.  They communicated God’s message to man in an inspired and infallible manner.  In Hebrews 1:1-2 we read, “In the past God spoke to our ancestors through the prophets at many times and in various ways, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom also he made the universe” [emphasis added].  When Jesus came to earth and established his church, He rearranged things.  He created offices of service within the church, and he started with the Twelve disciples that became Apostles.  Paul goes on to say:

Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it. And in the church God has appointed first of all apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then workers of miracles, also those having gifts of healing, those able to help others, those with gifts of administration, and those speaking in different kinds of tongues. Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all work miracles? Do all have gifts of healing? Do all speak in tongues? Do all interpret? But eagerly desire the greater gifts.” – 1 Corinthians 12:27-31

Paul’s message is clear.  First, he tells us we all have a part in the church.  Then he delineates the different ways God uses people in His church – First He selected Apostles, then called some to be prophets, etc.  Near the end of this passage, through a series of rhetorical questions, Paul reiterates what he spoke of in the previous passage – that we all don’t have the same gifts or the same calling.  Peter and Paul were Apostles – that’s all they claimed to be.  They were given spiritual gifts of prophecy, healing, and miraculous works at various times, but they were not “prophets” in the sense of their calling.  Paul and Peter both were fallible people who were each rebuked by Jesus and who clashed at times.  Peter had to be shown in a vision that it was not sinful or unclean to eat with gentiles.  He was so thick-headed about this point that God rewound and replayed that same vision three times in a row before it sunk in.  It didn’t mean Peter wasn’t an apostle, and it didn’t mean that his teachings in his epistles weren’t reliable.  If anything, it shows that God used visions and even other apostles to correct his very human apostles to ensure they were accurate in their teachings.  So as Hebrews said, God spoke to us IN THE PAST through prophets, but Jesus brought about a new arrangement.  He established leaders – apostles – of His church to spread his gospel and teach us His ways.  That’s what the New Testament was about.  When the canon of Scripture closed on the letters of the Apostles and with John’s prophetic revelation, God’s Word to us was made whole and complete.  We don’t have to wonder if a person speaks a prophecy that is of God.  If he contradicts Scripture or his prophecies fail – he is NOT of God. 

FAIR said that Mormons are not prophetic or scriptural inerrantists.  That’s very convenient for them. It should be troubling to anyone else.  And it should be troubling to them when any of their prophets - including and especially Brigham Young, are found to be wrong.  Remember that Brigham Young taught that his sermons were scripture, “I have never yet preached a sermon and sent it out to the children of men, that they may not call Scripture. Let me have the privilege of correcting a sermon, and it is as good Scripture as they deserve.” (JoD, Vol 13, p. 95). 

In their links regarding scriptural and prophetic inerrancy, they try to discredit the reliability of the Bible’s textual manuscript basis by citing “scholars”.  I can find “scholars” that would believe President Bush set off bombs in the World Trade Center because an airplane couldn’t possibly have caused their collapse (not a belief I share, by the way). It doesn’t make those scholars right.  In the interest of time, I will fully rebut their links on scriptural and prophetic inerrancy at a later date.  In the meantime, let me simply include the following articles in rebuttal:

It’s interesting though, isn’t it?  FAIR defends Mormonism’s false prophets by attacking apostles and prophets of the Bible, and by attacking the reliability of the Bible – a book that is still considered scripture by the LDS Church “as far as it is translated correctly” (though I’ve not met a Mormon who could show me where the Bible is not translated correctly). They’re so eager to defend Mormonism, they’ll throw the Bible under the bus – only to dust it off when it’s convenient for them.  That’s okay though.  The Bible stands up well to any textual criticism in which they wish to engage.  All they can do is confuse the issue with inaccuracies.

Back to 50 Questions List

5. Since the Bible's test of determine whether someone is a true prophet of God is 100% accuracy in all his prophecies (Deut. 18:20-22), has the LDS Church ever reconsidered its teaching that Joseph Smith and Brigham Young were true prophets?


Believing Christians should be careful. Unless they want to be guilty of a double standard, they will end up condemning many Biblical prophets by this standard.

  • Learn more here: Joseph Smith and prophetic test in Deuteronomy 18


FAIR again decides to throw the Bible under the bus rather than address the issue.  Their brief “answer” is essentially a “well they did it too!” When I was a child, that kind of defense never deferred the spanking I had earned.  In spite of their contention, there is no double standard, as you will see. 

Going to the article to which the link, they start off by quoting part of a Bible commentary on Deuteronomy 18:22:  “Deuteronomy doesn't exactly say that one mistake makes a false prophet. James L. Mays, editor of Harper's Bible Commentary writes:

Prophecy in the names of other gods is easily rejected, but false prophecy in God's name is a more serious matter. This dilemma requires the application of a pragmatic criterion that, although clearly useless for judgments on individual oracles, is certainly a way to evaluate a prophet's overall performance.”

I hardly see this as exculpatory of someone who speaks a false prophecy.  Moreover, a more prominent commentary states, “If there was any cause to suspect the sincerity of a prophet, let them observe that if he gave them any sign, or foretold something to come, and the event was not according to his prediction, they might be sure he was not sent of God” (Henry, Matthew. "Commentary on Deuteronomy 18." Matthew Henry Commentary on the Whole Bible. Blue Letter Bible. 01 Mar 1996) [emphasis added]. In reality though, we need not refer to someone else’s opinion recording in a commentary to discern the meaning of this verse – it’s quite clear!  Perhaps it’s past time to actually look at the text of Deuteronomy 18:22: “When a prophet speaketh in the name of the LORD, if the thing follow not, nor come to pass, that [is] the thing which the LORD hath not spoken, [but] the prophet hath spoken it presumptuously: thou shalt not be afraid of him.”  This verse is clear.  If the prophesied thing does not follow the prophecy, then the “prophet” is not a prophet of God or speaking for God.  Verse 22 was an answer to the question posed in verse 21, “How shall we know the word which the LORD hath not spoken?”  The answer is clear in verse 22, but why would someone fear a real prophet?  In previous verses, God tells people that they will be held accountable if they disregard the words of God’s prophet.  However, if it’s a false prophet, they don’t need to be afraid.  No, a false prophet should not be feared.  But he should be afraid.  Because the penalty for being a false prophet in verse 20 is severe, “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.” Now Smith’s false prophecies aren’t what got him murdered at a young age, but it’s interesting that the mob who pulled Smith from the jail and shot him dead unwittingly executed the penalty called for by God. 

FAIR next turns its attention to some Old Testament prophets and throws them under the bus for what they allege are false prophecies.  This tactic is ludicrous, since the Bible is one of Mormonism’s four standard works of Scripture, but apparently these prophets are still “FAIR game”. 

JONAH: They start off with Jonah.  For the sake of brevity, I’ll simply encourage you to read the third and fourth chapters of Jonah.  God instructs Jonah in chapter 3 to go to the city of Nineveh and give them a message.  The message?  “Forty more days and Nineveh will be overturned” (Jonah 3:4, NIV).  You see, Nineveh was wallowing in sin and had drawn the wrath of God.  Yet when Jonah delivered this message from God, the people of Nineveh – including its king – humbled themselves and repented.  They put on sackcloth, fasted, and begged God’s forgiveness.  In verse 10, we read that “when God saw what they did and how they turned from their evil ways, he had compassion and did not bring upon them the destruction he had threatened.”  This upset Jonah, because he was a bit of a whiner and felt used that he made this big trip and God didn’t follow through with his promised destruction.  FAIR uses this as an example of a false prophecy.  After all, what Jonah prophesied did not come to pass.  In fact, FAIR states, “In spite of an ‘incorrect’ prophecy and in spite of the obvious shortcomings of Jonah, he was a prophet of God and the Book of Jonah in the Bible is part of the Word of God.”  Once again, FAIR misses the mark.  First, Jonah’s imperfections are not the issue, nor are Joseph Smith’s imperfections.  Prophets are people and aren’t expected to be perfect.  What DOES matter is whether a prophet “speaks presumptuously” or not.  Jonah did not speak presumptuously.  The Bible records that Jonah gave Nineveh the message God told him to give.  Jonah wasn’t wrong – God just had compassion.  Shall we blame God for not following through on His threat?  This isn’t a unique situation either.  God explained this Jeremiah 18:7-8, “If at any time I announce that a nation or kingdom is to be uprooted, torn down and destroyed, and if that nation I warned repents of its evil, then I will relent and not inflict on it the disaster I had planned.”  Nineveh was an example of God’s compassion that He explained to Jeremiah.  Using God’s compassion to attempt to undermine the prophet Jonah is poor form and misguided. 

Conversely, there are prophecies of Joseph Smith that did not come to pass.  God gives no explanation for these failures, and they cannot reasonably be attributed to compassionate intervention.  In 1832 Smith gave the following prophecy: “VERILY, thus saith the Lord, concerning the wars that will shortly come to pass, beginning at the rebellion of South Carolina, which will eventually terminate in the death and misery of many souls. The days will come that war will be poured out upon all nations, beginning at that place. For behold, the Southern States shall be divided against the Northern States, and the Southern States will call on other nations, even the nation of Great Britain, as it is called, and they shall also call upon other nations, in order to defend themselves against other nations; and thus war shall be poured out upon all nations” (Doctrine & Covenants 87).  First, the fact that the U.S. broke out in civil war hardly revealed prescience on the part of Smith.  Anybody who read a newspaper in that day could have predicted a rebellion.  However, this rebellion – the Civil War – did NOT “pour out on all nations”.  Great Britain and the other Western nations were on alert and watching the war with interest, but they were not about to get involved in the U.S. government’s attempt to put down a rebellion.  In fact, they were considering offering their services to mediate a peace.  Nowhere do we find in LDS Scripture that God had compassion and decided to not spread the civil war.  What we do find is a brazen prophecy that did not come to pass with no reasonable explanation.  That “prophet” Smith hath spoken presumptuously. 

EZEKIEL: The next prophet FAIR tries to beat up on is Ezekiel.  They mention the prophecy in Ezekiel 26, which is a favorite among skeptics of the Bible and, apparently, FAIR.  Let me quote FAIR here, and then we’ll see how they – along with the secular skeptics – are misreading the text.  FAIR states, “In Ezekiel chapters 26, 27, and 28, we read that Tyre (a fortified island city) would be conquered, destroyed, and plundered by King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon. The riches of Tyre would go to Babylon (Ez. 26:12). Nebuchadnezzar's army did lay siege to Tyre, and its inhabitants were afflicted, apparently so much that they shaved their heads bald, as prophesied in (Ez. 27:31). However, the 13-year Babylonian siege apparently was not quite as successful as Ezekiel had predicted, perhaps because the land-based tactics of Babylonian sieges were less effective against a fortified island city with significant maritime power. The result of the siege may have been a compromise or treaty rather than total destruction and plunder, for (Ez. 29:17-20) reports that the predicted plundering did not take place.... Yes, Tyre is no more, but its complete destruction apparently did not occur during the Babylonian siege, and certainly the Babylonian army did not get the riches of Tyre as has been prophesied. It is Ezekiel himself who reports this ‘prophetic failure’.”  Okay, it’s important to first look at the first 14 verses of Ezekiel 26:

            1 In the eleventh year, on the first day of the month, the word of the LORD came to me: 2 "Son of man, because Tyre has said of Jerusalem, 'Aha! The gate to the nations is broken, and its doors have swung open to me; now that she lies in ruins I will prosper,' 3 therefore this is what the Sovereign LORD says: I am against you, O Tyre, and I will bring many nations against you, like the sea casting up its waves. 4 They will destroy the walls of Tyre and pull down her towers; I will scrape away her rubble and make her a bare rock. 5 Out in the sea she will become a place to spread fishnets, for I have spoken, declares the Sovereign LORD. She will become plunder for the nations, 6 and her settlements on the mainland will be ravaged by the sword. Then they will know that I am the LORD.

            7 "For this is what the Sovereign LORD says: From the north I am going to bring against Tyre Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, king of kings, with horses and chariots, with horsemen and a great army. 8 He will ravage your settlements on the mainland with the sword; he will set up siege works against you, build a ramp up to your walls and raise his shields against you. 9 He will direct the blows of his battering rams against your walls and demolish your towers with his weapons. 10 His horses will be so many that they will cover you with dust. Your walls will tremble at the noise of the war horses, wagons and chariots when he enters your gates as men enter a city whose walls have been broken through. 11 The hoofs of his horses will trample all your streets; he will kill your people with the sword, and your strong pillars will fall to the ground. 12 They will plunder your wealth and loot your merchandise; they will break down your walls and demolish your fine houses and throw your stones, timber and rubble into the sea. 13 I will put an end to your noisy songs, and the music of your harps will be heard no more. 14 I will make you a bare rock, and you will become a place to spread fishnets. You will never be rebuilt, for I the LORD have spoken, declares the Sovereign LORD.

The problem, according to FAIR, is that Nebuchadnezzar’s army destroyed the mainland suburbs of Tyre, but not the island city itself.  They were turned away after a long siege.  Further, FAIR alleges that the plundering didn’t occur, because in Ezekiel 29:18 God says, “Son of man, Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon drove his army in a hard campaign against Tyre; every head was rubbed bare and every shoulder made raw. Yet he and his army got no reward from the campaign he led against Tyre.” Unfortunately, FAIR gets confused by pronouns.  In verses 3 through 5, God says he will bring “nations” against Tyre and destroy her.  The pronouns “I” and “they” refer to God and the nations.  In verse 7, we find that one of the nations that will come against Tyre is Babylon led by King Nebuchadnezzar. For the next several verses, the pronoun switches to “he” – a reference to Nebuchadnezzar acting through his army. However, in verse 12, the pronouns revert back to “I” and “they”.  In other words, verse 12 brings the discussion back from Nebuchadnezzar specifically to God and the many nations.  In fact, this prophecy was fulfilled.  Nebuchadnezzar did run through the mainland suburbs.  He flattened them and plundered them.  That “the nations” would destroy Tyre was fulfilled in 332 B.C. when Alexander the Great sacked Tyre.  This also saw the fulfillment of verse 12 when Alexander had his men dump the rubble from the mainland into the channel, building a causeway out to the island.  An article by Trevor Major at Apologetics Press includes a compelling chart listing the fulfillment of this prophecy.  That Nebuchadnezzar and his army didn’t profit from their campaign against Tyre (Ezekiel 29:17-29) does not make chapter 26, verse 12 a false prophecy, because this verse is a reference to the nations – not strictly Babylon.  Babylon may not have profited, but other nations did in fulfillment of prophecy. 

JEREMIAH:  The next “false prophecy” of the Bible FAIR highlights comes from Jeremiah.  FAIR recognizes this as a weak example (“less clear-cut” in their words), yet they proceed with it anyway.  FAIR’s exact words are as follows: “Another example to consider is the prophet Jeremiah—a great and inspired prophet—who prophesied that king Zedekiah would ‘die in peace’ (Jer. 34:4-5). Critics could argue that this prophecy did not prove to be true, for Zedekiah saw his sons killed by the conquering Babylonians and was himself blinded and put in prison, where he died in captivity—not in peace (Jer. 52:10-11). Of course, the point is that he would not be killed by the sword, but die of natural causes—albeit in prison—yet to the critics, it may look like a case of a false prophecy. This case is certainly less clear-cut than the prophecy of Ezekiel discussed above, yet also serves to warn us against harsh judgments.”  You can tell by their tone that they’re ambivalent about bringing this point up, and they would have been better served had they not.  This is a great example of fulfilled prophecy.  Take a look at the prophecy first, including a couple verses FAIR didn’t cite:

"This is what the LORD, the God of Israel, says: Go to Zedekiah king of Judah and tell him, 'This is what the LORD says: I am about to hand this city over to the king of Babylon, and he will burn it down. You will not escape from his grasp but will surely be captured and handed over to him. You will see the king of Babylon with your own eyes, and he will speak with you face to face. And you will go to Babylon. Yet hear the promise of the LORD, O Zedekiah king of Judah. This is what the LORD says concerning you: You will not die by the sword; you will die peacefully.'" (Jeremiah 34:2-5a)

Notice that God didn’t tell Zedekiah that he would have a happy-go-lucky, carefree life.  He didn’t tell him that he wouldn’t see hardship.  In fact, God told him that his days as king were over.  God was going to give his city over to the Babylonians to destroy.  God even told Zedekiah (via Jeremiah) that he would be captured and imprisoned by the Babylonians!  Yet His mercy toward Zedekiah was such that He promised him that he wouldn’t die by the sword – rather, he would die of natural causes.  In Jeremiah 52:10-11 this prophecy is fulfilled.  Zedekiah is captured and sent to Babylon where he stayed imprisoned until he died.  He did not die by the sword, therefore he died peacefully.  He may not have been happy or content, but when he didn’t die by the sword – when he wasn’t murdered, assassinated, or the victim of a deadly chariot accident – he fulfilled this prophecy by dying probably of old age.  FAIR wants to claim that “some skeptics” could argue that it wasn’t a peaceful death since it occurred in prison.  Well, skeptics can read a lot of things into the Bible, but that doesn’t make them right.  Maybe some skeptics would see this as a failed prophecy, but most people of any intellect or reason can see by the clear meaning of the text that this was a fulfilled prophecy.  

NATHAN:  FAIR moves next to one of the great prophetic passages of the Old Testament, and quotes a like-minded author showing that their inaccurate view of biblical prophecy has a broad base within Mormonism.  First, what they wrote:

Other examples include Nathan:

In 2_Sam. 7:5-17, we read that the prophet Nathan unequivocally prophesied to David that through his son Solomon the Davidic empire would be established "forever," that the children of Israel would dwell in the promised land "and move no more," and that the "children of wickedness" would no longer afflict them. These things are quite clearly stated. No conditions are attached to these promises, none whatsoever.[4]

Yet this prophecy clearly did not prove successful if it is interpreted literally.

Since context is important, and I don’t want you to simply trust that I’m summarizing the Scripture correctly, let me quote the prophecy from 2 Samuel 7:8-16, known commonly as the “Davidic Covenant”. 

8 “Now then, tell my servant David, ‘This is what the LORD Almighty says: I took you from the pasture and from following the flock to be ruler over my people Israel. 9 I have been with you wherever you have gone, and I have cut off all your enemies from before you. Now I will make your name great, like the names of the greatest men of the earth. 10 And I will provide a place for my people Israel and will plant them so that they can have a home of their own and no longer be disturbed. Wicked people will not oppress them anymore, as they did at the beginning 11 and have done ever since the time I appointed leaders over my people Israel. I will also give you rest from all your enemies.
       “‘The LORD declares to you that the LORD himself will establish a house for you:
12 When your days are over and you rest with your fathers, I will raise up your offspring to succeed you, who will come from your own body, and I will establish his kingdom. 13 He is the one who will build a house for my Name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever. 14 I will be his father, and he will be my son. When he does wrong, I will punish him with the rod of men, with floggings inflicted by men. 15 But my love will never be taken away from him, as I took it away from Saul, whom I removed from before you. 16 Your house and your kingdom will endure forever before me; your throne will be established forever.’”

There are two main elements to this passage of Scripture – a safe and secure home for the children of Israel, and the establishment of an eternal kingdom through David’s descendants.  I think where FAIR finds confusion in this passage is that they fail to recognize the dual fulfillment of prophecy – a common phenomenon in biblical prophecy.  A prophecy may find its fulfillment on more than one occasion. For example, verses 12 through 16 find their fulfillment in two persons – Solomon (David’s Son) who built a temple to God and reigned over Israel, and the Messiah Jesus Christ who came from the house and lineage of David to become the final and eternal king over all on the throne of David.  The following sums this up well, “Second Samuel 7: 8-17 does what a lot of prophetic passages do: it takes an extended record of events and brings them together so that the near and distant events are viewed together.  For example, in these ten verses God promises on the one hand that Solomon, David’s son, will reign in David’s place and will build a house for God (2 Samuel 7:12).   But the promise goes far beyond Solomon to the coming Messiah (2 Samuel 7:16)” (  That the second element of this covenant has its fulfillment in Jesus was recognized by Peter who said on the occasion of Pentecost, “Brothers, I can tell you confidently that the patriarch David died and was buried, and his tomb is here to this day. But he was a prophet and knew that God had promised him on oath that he would place one of his descendants on his throne. Seeing what was ahead, he spoke of the resurrection of the Christ, that he was not abandoned to the grave, nor did his body see decay. God has raised this Jesus to life, and we are all witnesses of the fact” (Acts 2:29-32).

The second element of the covenant is not the only one to have a future fulfillment.  FAIR assumes that since the Israelites continue to see problems – not the least of which was the Diaspora which scattered them from Israel for almost two millennia – that this prophecy failed.  They assumed that since the prophecy was made, its fulfillment should be immediate.  Nathan’s prophecy of God to David makes no mention of when this stable and secure home for Israel would be established, other than some point in the future.  Yet since the second element of the Davidic covenant had a distant future fulfillment, there’s no reason the first element cannot also have a distant fulfillment.  In 1948, the Nation of Israel was reestablished in the Promised Land.  They have continued to be “disturbed” and “oppressed” by the surrounding Arabs.  However, the time will come when that will not be the case.  Bible prophecy indicates that after His glorious appearing, Jesus will rule from Jerusalem for one thousand years.  After that time, the old earth will be razed and a new earth will be created with a New Jerusalem (Rev. 3:12, Rev. 21).  This New Jerusalem will be ruled by God the Father and the Son – one who was born into this world in the lineage of David.  His rule will continue for eternity.  The Jewish and gentile believers will populate this New Jerusalem and live undisturbed forever.  FAIR can’t see a prior fulfillment of this prophecy, and so they huff.  Yet they are jumping the gun on God’s timing.

SAMPSON:  The final “false prophecy” highlighted by FAIR is the message of the angel of the Lord to Sampson’s mother in Judges 13:5, “You will become pregnant and have a son whose head is never to be touched by a razor because the boy is to be a Nazirite, dedicated to God from the womb. He will begin to deliver Israel from the hands of the Philistines.”  FAIR says:

No matter how liberal or expansive one wants to be with the facts of Israelite history (as recorded in the Bible or elsewhere), there is no way it can reasonably be concluded that Samson fulfilled this prophecy…. Moreover, and most importantly, Israel actually lost ground to the Philistines during Samson's tenure. Judges 13-16 illustrates Philistine encroachment into Hebrew territory. The Samson narrative documents the eastward expansion of the Philistines by mentioning the Philistine presence in Timnah and Lehi, both in the strategic valley of Sorek (Achtemeier 1985:787-791). This Philistine expansion worsened the land shortage that eventually forced the Danites to migrate northward.

Reading things like this makes me wonder if the people at FAIR are ever embarrassed by what they post.  They’re actually suggesting that the Angel of the Lord was a false prophet!  Okay, we’ll grant them that Sampson didn’t single-handedly deliver Israel from the Philistines.  But that’s not what the angel told Sampson’s mother!  The angel didn’t say that “Sampson will kick the Philistines out of the land” and he didn’t say “Sampson won’t permit any influx of Philistines”.  No, all the angel said was that Sampson would “begin” to deliver Israel from the Philistines.  He did just that.  This work was continued in the years of Samuel and completed in the reign of David.  They say a journey of a thousand miles begins with one step.  This was the case in delivering Israel from the Philistines.  Where there was no active resistance to the Philistines, Sampson started one.  In the course of three chapters (Judges 14-16) covering twenty years of his life, Sampson single-handedly killed several thousand Philistines, torched Philistine fields of grain, vineyards, and olive groves (by tying torches to the tails of 300 foxes, no less), and destroyed a Philistine temple!  There is no way a thinking, reasonable person could conclude that Sampson didn’t “begin” Israel’s rebellion and deliverance from the Philistines!  Only someone who was desperate to defend the indefensible could be so unreasonable as to see in this a false prophecy. 

In order to defend the patently false prophecies of Joseph Smith and his subsequent status as a false prophet according to Deuteronomy 18, the sincere but misguided people at FAIR decided to throw some Biblical prophets and even the Angel of the Lord under the bus to derive some equivalency.  They want to be able to accuse Christians of a double-standard when we condemn Smith in light of his false prophecies.  As you can see though, what they cite as false prophecies of the Bible are not false at all!  Contrast that with Smith’s many false prophecies that are legitimately, irrefutably false!  It wouldn’t matter if Smith had a 99% accuracy rate in his prophecies (which he doesn’t) – one false prophecy would make him a false prophet according to Deuteronomy 18.  True faith does not require putting aside one’s intellect.  As a Bible-believing Christian, I don’t have to do that.  To the Mormons who are tired of having to do so, there is an option.  God is not the author of confusion.  And He is jealous for you to come to Him.  

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