50 Questions: 1 through 10

Section 1 ─ Mormon Prophets

Joseph Smith First Vision Mormon1. 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 being built in Missouri in his generation (Doctrine and Covenants 84:1-5)?

Moses was a prophet, and no Christian denies that.  He prophesied that God would make the Israelites, whom he led out of Egypt, a holy people, and a nation of priests.  However, that entire generation was kept in the wilderness until every last member had died.  Therefore, is Moses a false prophet?  No, the people were unrighteous, so for that generation, the prophecy was never fulfilled.  However, the promise will be fulfilled in the future, when Israel becomes worthy.  It’s the same with the Latter-day Saints under Prophet Joseph Smith.  Part of the necessary worthiness to establish Zion was to live the United Order, wherein all things were had in common, so the rich would be abased and the poor exalted.  This order was practiced anciently by the people of the City of Enoch and the early Christians under the apostles (Acts 4:32).  Every time the Latter-day Saints tried it, they failed, due to selfishness and covetousness.  The Latter-day Saints were also lazy regarding the Lord’s commandment to build a temple in Missouri.  Zion was not founded in that generation, because the Latter-day Saints of the time were spiritually unprepared.  It will be established at a future date.

The Lord said the following about the Saints’ failure to establish Zion as prophesied:

“Behold, I say unto you, were it not for the transgressions of my people, speaking concerning the church and not individuals, they might have been redeemed even now.  But behold, they have not learned to be obedient to the things which I required at their hands, but are full of all manner of evil, and do not impart of their substance, as becometh saints, to the poor and afflicted among them;  and are not united according to the union required by the law of the celestial kingdom; And Zion cannot be built up unless it is by the principles of the law of the celestial kingdom; otherwise I cannot receive her unto myself” (Doctrine and Covenants 105:2-5).

 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, v.13, p. 271)?

 This is a condemnation of Brigham Young for being a man of his time, and a complete misunderstanding of the nature of a prophet.  Remember that Jacob of old was a prophet, but he engineered the genetic make up of his cattle by setting up “white strakes” by the watering trough (Genesis 30:37), causing the offspring to be “ringstraked, speckled, and spotted.”  It worked, because the Lord blessed him.  Still, that’s not good science as we know it.  It was the science of his day.  Early Mormon prophets knew that the Lord had created worlds without number, and that these worlds are populated with His children ─ humans, just like us (Moses 1:33).  That’s much more than the population at large knew at that time.  Brigham Young also understood the true structure of the galaxy, which was at that time unknown to science.

3. Why did Brigham Young teach that Adam is our “Father and our God” when both the Bible and the Book of Mormon (Mormon 9:12) say that Adam is a creation of God (Journal of Discourses, April 9, 1852, vol. 1, p. 50).

It’s apparent that Brigham Young was trying to figure out how Adam and Eve got onto the earth, and for part of his life was toying with the possibility that God the Father became Adam to begin the human family, as God the Son became Jesus Christ to redeem the human family.  Prophets are given only the information necessary to lead the Church.  They are not all-knowing.  Paul expressed this in I Corinthians 13:9-12. Speaking of himself and other Christians, Paul declared that their gifts of knowledge and inspired messages were only partial, that they were looking to the future for perfect knowledge and the full revelation of God. He further compared their gospel understanding to the dim and imperfect image seen in the poor-grade mirrors produced at that time, but declared that eventually they would see God face to face (1).  The idea that Adam is God was never presented in priesthood councils, nor did Brigham Young declare that it was a direct revelation from God.

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, December 12, 1854, 2:142-143)?

Again, Brigham Young is being judged for being a man of his time who had received limited information from the Lord on the subject.  At the time, the Protestant notion that Blacks were the descendants of Cain or were somehow less valiant was common among Americans of European descent.  Most Mormons were converts from Protestantism and held on to social beliefs and traditions.  In 1978, a powerful revelation from God that Blacks should receive the priesthood was received by Prophet Spencer W. Kimball, and the Twelve Apostles of the Church, including Elder Bruce R. McConkie, who said the following:

 “It is time disbelieving people repented and got in line and believed in a living, modern prophet. Forget everything that I have said, or what President Brigham Young…or whomsoever has said in days past that is contrary to the present revelation. We spoke with a limited understanding and without the light and knowledge that now has come into the world. We get our truth and our light line upon line and precept upon precept. We have now had added a new flood of intelligence and light on this particular subject, and it erases all the darkness and all the views and all the thoughts of the past. They don’t matter any more. It doesn’t make a particle of difference what anybody ever said about the Negro matter before the first day of June of this year. It is a new day and a new arrangement, and the Lord has now given the revelation that sheds light out into the world on this subject” (Stephen R. Haynes, Noah’s Curse: The Biblical Justification of American Slavery (New York: Oxford University Press, 2002).

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

 Again, every word that comes out of a prophet’s mouth is not the revealed word of God.  Prophets are required to live by faith, just like the rest of us.  The Lord also has a few ways that He deals with men, that many people do not understand.  First, sometimes He “stays the hand of the angel.”  That is, Abraham was commanded to slay Isaac, but the Lord stopped him.  The Lord did not require the death of Isaac to prove Abraham’s obedience.  Second, sometimes wicked men interfere with the ability of God’s followers to fulfill God’s commands.  The Lord withdraws commandments when men cannot possibly fulfill them, and sometimes it looks like a prophecy has failed or has been changed.  Third, sometimes men misunderstand the nature or meaning of a prophecy.  Friends of other faiths are typically not informed of the hundreds of prophecies revealed through Latter-day Prophets, which have been fulfilled, are currently being fulfilled, and which will be fulfilled. [2] (This link will take you to a list of some of these prophecies.)

Thomas S Monson Mormon President6. Since the current LDS prophets sometimes contradict the former ones, how do you decide which one is correct?

The current prophet is the one who speaks to the current generation.  God reveals to him what we currently need to know.  The Lord reveals knowledge line upon line, because that’s the only way men can adapt to it.  Current prophets most often reveal new patterns of managing the Church, and do not change doctrine, which centers on the atonement of Jesus Christ.  An example from the Bible would be Peter, who received the revelation that the gospel should be taken to the gentiles (Acts 10:10-28).  The idea shook the other apostles, and it took them awhile to adjust and figure out how to implement the revelation.  Prior to this, the Lord had commanded that the gospel only be preached to the Jews, and Christ’s ministry was to the Jews.  The fact that the pattern changed did not change the basic doctrines of the kingdom, nor did it mean that the apostles who thought the gospel was only for the Jews were false prophets. When we say that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the Lord’s true and living Church, we mean just that: The principles of salvation do not change, but the organization lives and breathes and adapts to the size and complexity of its members and the world for whom it exists.

 7. Since there are several different contradictory accounts of Joseph Smith’s first vision, how did the LDS Church choose the correct one?

 Joseph Smith’s various accounts of the First Vision were targeted at different audiences, and had different purposes. Just as we can each recount a first-hand, intimate, real experience with different emphasis and details as moved upon, so too could Joseph. These accounts, however, show a remarkable degree of harmony between them. There is no evidence that the early leaders of the LDS Church did not understand that the Prophet saw two Divine Personages during his inaugural “theophany.” [3]

8. Can you show me in the Bible the LDS teaching that we must all stand before Joseph Smith on the Day of Judgment?

At the Last Supper Jesus said to His apostles: “Ye [the apostles] are they which have continued with me in my temptations. And I appoint unto you a kingdom, as my Father hath appointed unto me; that ye may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom, and sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel.” (Luke 22:28-30; see also Matthew 19:28.)  The same indication was given to the apostles Jesus called from among the Book of Mormon peoples, namely, that they would participate in judging those whom they served.  Therefore, apostles and prophets have a role in heaven to participate in the judgment of those among whom they ministered.  However, judgment belongs to God, and His mediator, Jesus Christ: No mortal’s role in the judgment supersedes the role given to Jesus, as the Book of Mormon bears witness:

“…the keeper of the gate is the Holy One of Israel; and he employeth no servant there; and there is none other way save it be by the gate; for he cannot be deceived, for the Lord God is his name” (2_Nephi. 9:41.)

 Section 2 ─ Mormon Scripture

9. Can you show me archeological and historical proof from non-Mormon sources that prove that the peoples and places named in the Book of Mormon are true?

First of all, this challenge is unreasonable; it’s like requiring historical proof for the Bible without accepting any research from Christians or Jews.  Since the Bible is most relevant to Christians and Jews, they are the ones most interested in performing the research.  However, since the Book of Mormon was first printed, evidence has mounted for its truthfulness:

“…there is a growing body of evidence from New World archaeology that supports the Book of Mormon. Dr. John Clark of the New World Archaeological Foundation has compiled a list of sixty items mentioned in the Book of Mormon. The list includes items such as “steel swords,” “barley,” “cement,” “thrones,” and literacy. In 1842, only eight (or 13.3%) of those sixty items were confirmed by archaeological evidence. Thus, in the mid-nineteenth century, archaeology did not support the claims made by the Book of Mormon.

As the efforts of archaeology have shed light on the ancient New World, we find in 2005 that forty-five of those sixty items (75%) have been confirmed. Thirty-five of the items (58%) have been definitively confirmed by archaeological evidence and ten items (17%) have received possible—tentative, yet not fully verified—confirmation. Therefore, as things stand at the moment, current New World archaeological evidence tends to verify the claims made by the Book of Mormon.” [4]

Another proof of the Book of Mormon is the rich presence of chiasmus [5] and Hebraisms [6][7], as well as Egyptian names, in the text.  Remember that Joseph Smith had only three years of education and could barely write a good sentence in English, much less contrive consistent Hebraic syntax.

You might want to review the video “Journey of Faith,” a recent exploration of the parallels between Mesoamerican life and geography and the Book of Mormon detailed accounts of life in the New World. (Click here to go to the playlist page.)

Lastly, the greatest evidences of all truth are spiritual, through the power of the Holy Ghost.  The Jews saw Jesus and believed not.  Physical evidence is most often desired by those who are unwilling to pay the price of real faith and spiritual inquiry. We invite all to find the innumerable “spiritual evidences” of the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon by personally reading it and asking God if it is true. That spiritual evidence is irreplaceable.

10. If the words “familiar spirit” in Isaiah 29:4 refer to the Book of Mormon, why do familiar spirits always refer to occult practices such as channeling and necromancy everywhere else in the Old Testament?

Isaiah 29:4 says the following (King James Version): And thou shalt be brought down, and shalt speak out of the ground, and thy speech shall be low out of the dust, and thy voice shall be, as of one that hath a familiar spirit, out of the ground, and thy speech shall whisper out of the dust.

“The New English Translation (NET) Bible translation renders this verse as, ‘Your voice will sound like a spirit speaking from the underworld.”

“Thus, Jerusalem and its inhabitants will be destroyed, and (in a striking image) Isaiah says that the only thing that will linger on is their voices or witness “from beyond the grave,” so to speak. Their destruction will leave them to bear witness, but that is all they can do. Most translations of Isaiah use some variant of “ghost” in this passage, meaning a shade from Sheol (the Hebrew realm of the dead, or land of spirits). [9]

The Book of Mormon is a record of a fallen people who lived anciently on the American continent.  Their record is a witness of Christ “from the grave.” The Lord proclaimed that the coming forth of the Book of Mormon would be a “marvelous work, and a wonder,” but that it would be very strange in the eyes of the world.  It would miraculously come forth out of the earth and hiss forth to all the nations:

Psalms 85:11─ Truth shall spring out of the earth; and righteousness shall look down from heaven.

Mormon 8:16─And blessed be he that shall bring this thing to light; for it shall be brought out of darkness unto light, according to the word of God; yea, it shall be brought out of the earth, and it shall shine forth out of darkness, and come unto the knowledge of the people; and it shall be done by the power of God.

Moses 7:62─ And righteousness will I send down out of heaven; and truth will I send forth out of the earth, to bear testimony of mine Only Begotten; his resurrection from the dead; yea, and also the resurrection of all men; and righteousness and truth will I cause to sweep the earth as with a flood…

Isaiah 5:26─ And he will lift up an ensign to the nations from far, and will hiss unto them from the end of the earth

2 Nephi 26:16-17─ For those who shall be destroyed shall speak unto them out of the ground, and their speech shall be low out of the dust, and their voice shall be as one that hath a familiar spirit; for the Lord God will give unto him power, that he may whisper concerning them, even as it were out of the ground; and their speech shall whisper out of the dust. For thus saith the Lord God: They shall write the things which shall be done among them, and they shall be written and sealed up in a book, and those who have dwindled in unbelief shall not have them, for they seek to destroy the things of God. [8]

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