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The LDS Restorationist Movement, including the Mormon Churches

Part 2: Questions & criticisms from non-Mormons:
Verbal attacks on Joseph Smith & Book of Mormon.

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This is continued from Part 1

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Attacks on Joseph Smith:

Joseph Smith was the founder of the LDS church. The LDS teaches that Smith translated golden plates into the Book of Mormon.

bulletAn American, James Adair, wrote a book A history of the American Indians in 1775. It attempted to prove that natives had descended from the ancient Israelites. This theme is also found in the Book of Mormon. On Pages 377 & 378 of Adair's book, there is a series of phrases describing Indian fortifications. These phrases are identical to the phrases which describe the construction of defensive forts in Chapters 48-50 and 53 of the Book of Alma. (The Book of Alma is one part of the Book of Mormon.) This would seem to indicate that Joseph Smith copied parts of Adair's book verbatim into the Book of Mormon.

bulletA hearing in Bainbridge NY in 1826 was held to examine Joseph Smith's involvement in an alleged fraud associated with a treasure hunt for Spanish silver. Court records are ambiguous; the hearing was either concluded with a decision that Smith was an impostor or that he should be ushered out of town.

bulletA common belief is that if Smith had not been a fraud he would have retranslated the Book of Lehi from the original tablets after his first translation went missing.

bulletSome critics have suggested that Smith was an occultist:

bulletThe technique that he used to translate the golden plates strongly resemble a popular divinatory method at the time, in which seer stones were placed in a hat and gazed upon. Smith is known to have possessed a seer stone.

bulletSmith visited the site of the plates on the date of the Autumn Equinox, an important Pagan/Occultic/Aboriginal seasonal day of celebration.
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Attacks on the Book of Mormon, Mormon rituals, etc:

The LDS church considers the Book of Mormon to be a direct revelation from God that has been preserved without error. The book includes many alleged details of ancient civilizations in North America. Many skeptical historians, anthropologists and other researchers have concluded that the Book was not inspired by God, is not free of errors, does not agree with archaeological remains left by earlier cultures. The church also continues to suffer attacks from both non-Mormons and ex-Mormons who are not academics. They often portray Joseph Smith as a follower of pagan folk magic, a fraud and/or a fake. They also attack the present-day leadership of the LDS church in various ways - sometimes with little regard for accuracy. Some criticisms are:

bullet The LDS church believes that the Book of Mormon was translated literally from the inscriptions on the golden tablets which were made about the fourth century CE. But the Book contains many phrases that are word-for-word identical to those found in the King James version of the Bible -- including translations into English which contain errors. The latter was completed in 1611 CE (over a millennium later). Some critics feel that this evidence proves that portions of the Book of Mormon were copied from the KJV Bible, not translated from the tablets.

bulletThere are several instances where forgeries by Christian scribes which appear in the King James version of the Bible also appear in the Book of Mormon. Two examples are:

bullet1 John 5:7 which appears in 3 Nephi 11:27,36

bulletMark 16:16 which appears in 3 Nephi 11:33-34

bulletThere are several instances where mistranslations in the King James Version of the Bible are copied over into the Book of Mormon:

bulletIsaiah 4:5 and 2 Nephi 14:5 refer to a "defense"; it should read "canopy"

bulletIsaiah 5:25 and 2 Nephi 15:25 refer to the word "torn"; it should read "refuse".

bulletThere are several passages in the Book of Mormon that have been criticize as anachronistic:

bulletSome critics claim that Nephi had a compass when they traveled to America. Compasses had not been invented at the time of their journey (600 BCE). Others point out that the compass mentioned in the book of Mormon was a spiritual guidance device, not like the modern direction finding tool. It was a magical device which was operated by faith. It directed believers to game, food, water, etc.

bulletNephi is also described as having a steel bow. Laban is described in 1 Nephi 4:9 as using a steel sword. Some critics claim that steel was not invented until after 600 BCE. However, very small quantities of steel (iron with 0.1% to 2% carbon content) were manufactured from the beginning of the iron age (circa 1700 BCE in Europe). So it is possible that a steel bow and sword could have been in use circa 600 BCE.

bulletThe Book of Ether (15:29-31) describes a battle in which Shiz was wounded and fainted from loss of blood. An opponent cut off the Shiz' head. Shiz then raised up upon his hands, fell, struggled for breath and died. Both the act of raising himself and breathing requires a working connection to a brain. So it is unreasonable to expect that Shiz could have struggled for breath as the book indicates. However, since his spinal reflexes might still have been intact, Shiz might have appeared to an observer as attempting to rise up and breathe.

bulletAccording to the Book of Mormon, Hill Cumorah "refers to a hill and surrounding area where the final battle between the Nephites and Lamanites took place, resulting in the annihilation of the Nephite people." 7 LDS President Harold B. Lee wrote: "On these hills there transpired some of the greatest events in the world's history. This is the place where the great dramatic events which brought about the restoration of the gospel took place..."

The hill in western New York state is currently owned by the LDS. The Hill Cumorah Pageant is held there every summer. If the battle occurred here, then one would expect that many artifacts from the battle would have been found by archaeologists. In fact, none have ever been discovered. This indicates that a battle never occurred at this location. The Hill Cumorah iwhere the plates were allegedly found does not appear to be a defensive fortification, but rather an Indian burial mound similar to many others in the area. It is important to bear in mind that Joseph Smith never claimed that this location in New York state was the Hill Cumorah mentioned in the Book of Mormon.

bullet Mormon beliefs about the origins of Native Americans do not agree with findings by genetic researchers.  With few exceptions, Native Americans are most closely related (in terms of blood factors, genetics, and physical characteristics) to the peoples of Mongolia and elsewhere in Asia. Their ancestors did not come from Israel or anywhere else in the Middle East.

bulletA thread of racism appears in the Book of Mormon and in past policies of the LDS. Such teachings appear incompatible with the rest of the Christian scriptures.

bullet 2 Nephi 5:21 refers to God cursing some of the early inhabitants of America, the Lamanites: "And he had caused the cursing to come upon them, yea, even a sore cursing, because of their iniquity. For behold, they had hardened their hearts against him, that they had become like unto a flint; wherefore, as they were white, and exceedingly fair and delightsome, that they might not be enticing unto my people the Lord God did cause a skin of blackness to come upon them."

bullet

The sixth President of the LDS church was Joseph Fielding Smith -- not to be confused with the founder of the church, Joseph Smith. He wrote:

"There is a reason why one man is born black and with other disadvantages, while another is born white with great advantages. The reason is that we once had an estate before we came here, and were obedient, more or less, to the laws that were given us there. Those who were faithful in all things there received greater blessings here, and those who were not faithful received less." 8.9

bullet

Prior to 1978, the LDS Church taught the racist revelation that blacks have been cursed by God with the "mark of Ham." As Elder Mark E. Petersen of the LDS Council of the Twelve Apostles said in 1954:

"At least in the cases of the Lamanites and the Negro we have the definite word of the Lord Himself that he placed a dark skin upon them as a curse -- as a punishment and as a sign to all others. He forbade intermarriage with them under threat of extension of the curse. And He certainly segregated the descendants of Cain when He cursed the Negro as to the Priesthood, and drew an absolute line. You may even say He dropped an Iron curtain there..." 8

bulletTo their credit, the LDS abandoned their racist past in 1978 when they eliminated the barrier which prevented men with African-American ancestry from being ordained into the priesthood.

bullet According to many Evangelical web sites that discuss the LDS Church, a common Mormon concept is that God is married to a person called "Heavenly Mother." This belief is rejected by many Christians who cite the Old Testament verse of Jeremiah 7:18. God expressed his anger at some of the people of Judah who "make cakes for the Queen of Heaven" The implication is that there is no such person, and that the people are worshiping a non-existent Pagan Goddess. In Jeremiah 44:24-28, Jeremiah prophesized that God would exterminate the people of Judah in Egypt because they promised to "burn incense and pour out drink offerings to the Queen of Heaven."

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References used:

The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.

  1. "United Methodists adopt guidelines for Mormons joining church," http://umns.umc.org/
  2. "Presbyterians and Latter-day Saints," Office of Ecumenical and Interfaith Relations, Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), 100 Witherspoon St., Louisville, KY 40202-1396. See: http://pcusa80.pcusa.org/pcusa
  3. "LDS, Baptists hold 'gracious' talks; But questions stress churches' doctrinal conflict," at: http://www.desnews.com/misc/
  4. Feature Story, "Mormons insisting that they are Christians" 1998-MAR-2, available at: http://www.religiontoday.com (Search the web site for "Mormon")
  5. Walter Martin, The Kingdom of the Cults, Bethany House, (1985), P. 166-226
  6. "American Religious Identification Survey," City University of New York, at: http://www.gc.cuny.edu/
  7. "The Hill Cumorah Pageant: America's Witness for Christ," at: http://www.lds.org/
  8. Tom Mathews, "An example for possible future changes in policy relating to women and gays," at: http://www.lds-mormon.com/racism.shtml
  9. Joseph Fielding Smith, "Doctrines of Salvation," Page 61.
  10. Elizabeth Mehren, "Romney's 2008 Bid Faces Issue of Faith. Massachusetts' GOP governor has political promise, but voters may not embrace a Mormon,"  LA Times, 2006-OCT-10, at: http://www.latimes.com/

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Site navigation:

 Home page > Christianity > Christian faith groups > LDS Restorationist > here

or Home page > Christianity > Denominational families > LDS Restorationist > here

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Copyright 1997 to 2013 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Latest update: 2013-OCT-15
Author: B.A. Robinson

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