Thursday, June 10, 2010

The Book of Mormon: NOT Another Testament

Open the Book of Mormon and the very first words that you will encounter are the following:

“The Book of Mormon is a volume of holy scripture comparable to the Bible. It is a record of God’s dealings with the ancient inhabitants of the Americas and contains, as does the Bible, the fullness of the everlasting gospel.”

The Book of Mormon goes on to say that it is the record of two great civilizations. One came from Jerusalem in 600 BC, whom afterwards separated into two nations known as the Nephites and the Lamanites. The other great civilization is known as the Jaredites. After thousands of years, all were destroyed except the Lamanites, and they are the principle ancestors of the American Indians.

The last survivor of the war between the Nephites and the Lamanites was a military commander named Moroni. Following his death and resurrection, Moroni appeared to the prophet Joseph Smith and instructed him relative to the ancient record and its destined translation into the English language. That very day, September 21, 1823, Moroni told Joseph Smith the location of golden plates that were inscribed in “reformed Egyptian” hieroglyphics. He had abridged these plates allegedly with the help of his father Mormon.

Smith not only secured the golden plates, but along with the plates, a pair of magical eyeglasses. And with the eyeglasses, he translated the “fullness of the everlasting gospel.” Upon the culmination of this, the most miraculous a feat, Smith said, “I told the brethren that the Book of Mormon was the most correct of any book on earth, and the keystone of our religion, and a man would get nearer to God by abiding by its precepts, than any other book.”

Here’s the problem, there is no archeological evidence for a language such as “reformed Egyptian” hieroglyphics. There is no archeological evidence for lands such as the land of Moron, which is described in Ether 7:6 of the Book of Mormon. There is no archeological evidence to buttress the notion that the Jaredites, Nephites, and Lamanites migrated from Israel to the Americas. Indeed, archeology and anthropology demonstrate conclusively that the people, places, and particulars chronicled in the Book of Mormon are little more than the product of Joseph Smith’s fertile imagination.

What about the Bible? What if through anthropology and archeology there was demonstrable, conclusive evidence that the Bible is not the Word of God, that like the Book of Mormon it is replete with mythology? If that were to happen it would be an absolute game changer, because, like Mormonism, Christianity would lose all its credibility. But exactly the opposite has happened. With virtually every turn of the archeologist’s spade, there is more and more evidence that the particulars, the people, the places, the details, the descriptions found in the Bible are in fact painstakingly accurate, meticulous, and true.

In an age in which the Mormon Church is attempting to pass itself off as mainstream, Christians must learn to recognize the counterfeit gospel of Mormonism by recognizing the Mormon mirage for just that. It is crucial that Christians are equipped to scale the Mormon language barrier and use Mormon doctrinal deviations to effectively communicate the everlasting Gospel of the historic Christian faith. And we say it’s “historic” because it’s rooted in history and evidence. Mormons need to know the truth.


QED said...

Hank -

I can't help but feel that you are committing the fallacy of affirming the consequent. That is, your post suggests the following weak conditional:

If religious book X is trustworthy, then it should be supported by empirical evidence, such as archaeology, etc.

Now, certainly you are correct that the book of Mormon fails miserably to meet the necessary conditions of the above conditional and is therefore not trustworthy. But then you go on to say that the Bible IS supported by empirical evidence and so must be trust worthy.
However, if you are going by the above conditional, then you have not drawn a proper conclusion. Of course, empirical evidence does suggest trustworthiness, but one must be careful not to smuggle too much in under such a heading.

In other words, while the Bible may be credible as far as historical details go (e.g. people, places, etc.) it does not follow that it is also trustworthy in matters of supernatural description. These things do not get a free ride, since one might argue that the Iliad or Odyssey, for instance, contains many "evidentially" supported details, yet we would not concede therefore that the Greek Pantheon must be real.

RJ said...

I've been visiting some LDS Missionaries in our town. I have been encouraging them to consider some of the points you have made in this article. Thanks for the great info.

Anonymous said...

Since Mormons are heavy into authority it's often better to ask them if Jesus is Lord. If Jesus is Lord then He is Lord of His Church. Yet if He is Lord of His Church why would he need to re-establish it? He is God and keeps it safe right? And if He keeps safe then that Church is the true church and the Church founded by Joey Smith is not.

Boris said...

All fiction mentions historical places and people. The Bible is no different than any other book of fiction. Historical narratives do not contain word for word dialogs of people speaking in complete sentences. The Bible does which is how most of us know that it is fiction. Anyone who can't recognize the Bible as fiction knows nothing about literature.

Nick said...

I find it interesting how illogical some arguments can be. For example, stating that the Bible must be true because we have archeological evidence to support it seems like a weak testimony of its validity. I know, as does Hank, that the Bible is true because I have read it and the Spirit has confirmed this sacred truth to me. However, I did not receive that witness until I had my heart in the right place, looking for solely the Spiritual witness as validation.

Now, Hank claims the Book of Mormon to not be true because there is no archeological evidence of it. Hank, I would love for you to visit one of our bookstores!! Of course there is evidence, just not as much as the Bible. Just remember that the Book of Mormon has only been around for less than two hundred years, and the Bible for a century and a half. Of course more work is going to go into researching the Bible, because it is all the Christian world has, and we've had it for so much longer.

Back to what is most important. You'll never gain a testimony of the Book of Mormon unless you have your heart in the right place, read it with a real intent to learn, and seek a confirmation of the Holy Ghost. The Book of Mormon is the strongest witness of Jesus Christ that anyone could have, other than a direct witness from the Spirit of the Lord. The entire book testifies of Jesus Christ, and just because a name or place doesn't sound familiar (and I recommend starting with Nahom!) doesn't mean it's not a powerful witness of the Savior.

Nick said...


What are the Pauline epistles? If you understand that, then you will understand that your statement about the Lord keeping safe His church is somewhat different then the way you understand it. The Lord's church is perfect, but the people within it are not. As in times of old, if the people within the church make mistakes, then the Lord allows that, even to the point of taking His church from the earth. Amos 8 shares powerful insight into this.

If you would like some information on the Pauline Epistles, I recommend this link:

Tom Krause said...

QED may have a point. My thinking is this, however:

The faith claims of the Bible remain a matter of faith, buttressed by physical evidence that it could possibly be true.

The faith claims of the Book of Mormon are also a matter of faith. However, they are countered by evidence that it could not possibly be true.

I choose to place my faith with the Bible after a lifetime of trying to buttress the Book of Mormon faith claims in my heart on my own. I found it could no longer be done.

Anonymous said...

The New Testament of the Bible is a collection of manuscripts written by men who were eye witnesses to the events they describe; or as in the case of Luke written after interviewing people who were eye witnesses to the events described. I would submit that eye witnesses are allowed to record dialog of conversations they heard.
The earliest undisputed manuscript fragments of the New Testament are dated 117-138 AD. There are nine disputed fragments found with the dead sea scrolls dated 50-70 AD. There are complete New Testament manuscripts dated at 200AD. There are 5700 hand written Greek manuscripts and fragments, and 9000 in other languages. Letters written between 95 and 110 AD by three early church fathers--Clement, Ignatius, and Polycarp--quote passages from 25 of the 27 books of the New Testament. There are ten nonchristian sources that mention Jesus within 150 years of his life. The evidence indicates that the books of the New Testament were written before 70 AD, soon enough after the death of Christ that if it were a work of fiction, there would be plenty of people around who lived through those events to denounce it.
Rather than being a work of fiction, the death and resurrection of Christ is the most thoroughly documented event of the ancient world. Compare this to what we know about the life of Alexander the Great, which is based on the writings of historians who were writing 300 to 500 years after his death. We have surviving manuscripts of Homer 500 years after his death. The oldest surviving manuscripts of Plato are dated 1200 years after he lived. There are 643 surviving manuscripts of Homer, only seven Plato.
Boris, what evidence do you present to support your claim that the Bible is a work of fiction, other than your disagreement with the content?

Anonymous said...

According to Joseph Smith, the ultimate goal of Mormonism is to become gods (Smith, Doctrines of Salvation, 2:43-44, 48). That sounds a little too much like the serpent's temptation to Eve for me.