A Tribute

It has been a crazy week, and I have been avoiding this one. I guess y’all will understand why, but it took me this long just to find the courage and strength to write this post.

On February 9, 2019, at approximately 1:30 pm, my mother Valerie took her last breath and went to be with the Lord. In the end, she went quietly and peacefully, with her husband and children in attendance. I believe she knew we were there, and took comfort in it.

At this moment, I am sitting aboard a flight home, waiting for departure. Folded up in my lap is a crocheted blanket that had been her favorite. My sisters and I spent part of our childhood under this blanket, and I get to take it home. One day, I hope to pass it on to one of my children.

There is so much running through my mind that it is hard for me to put it all into words. My mother was such a wonderful woman. When I was much younger, she was who I thought of when it came to the concepts of strength and courage, because she had it in spades.

When I was born she was an 18 year old Senior in High School. As I was born midway through her Senior year, I can well imagine that no small number of people expected her to drop out. It was the 70’s after all. She chose to finish the year and graduate while carrying an infant version of myself in a car seat from one class to the next.

Her personality was larger than life, and she was not shy about it, either. She was quite possibly the loudest person I have ever known. She had this loud, obnoxious laugh that filled the room. Between her laugh and her voice, you always knew when she was around. Given her sense of humor, it goes without saying that she was never hard to find.

Over the course of her life, she had suffered through a lot of trauma, a lot of pain, and she still managed to find a way to keep going. Was she great at it? No, but I doubt any of us would do any better if we had seen what she did.

She is preceded in death by one daughter, three grandchildren, her father, and her grandparents. For those of us left behind, we will honor her memory, and take comfort in knowing that she is waiting for us on the other side.

Words cannot express how much of an impact she had on us all. Nor can they express just how much she will be missed. Mom, we love you, we miss you, and we will see you again.

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The Continued Depravity of Our Time

“Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!” Isaiah 5:20, KJV

I am writing this on the heels of the blog post I have just shared. When I read through that post, I could not shake the feeling that there was more that needed to be said. In an effort to draw out what that might be, I went and visited the website for the #shoutyourabortion! movement, and was not disappointed. (https://shoutyourabortion.com/#the-movement) There they were, happily showing me what more needed to be said.

I’ll begin with a statement made right on the website, “Abortion is normal. Our stories are ours to tell. This is not a debate.” Let’s take a moment and just unpack that one statement, shall we?

First, the overall tone is one of defiance and a bit of fear. The person who came up with this line was seeking to create a rallying cry, a statement that everyone could rally behind, and find courage in the idea that there is strength in numbers. Anyone familiar with Texas history would know what this is, given that the forces under Santa Ana were defeated under the rallying cry of, “Remember the Alamo! Remember Goliad!”.

Used properly, these cries become an amazingly unifying force, even bringing rivals together to fight for a common goal. For Pro-Lifers, one example would be, “End Abortion Now”, and it’s a statement I stand firmly behind. This statement is one that Pro-Lifers of many stripes can get behind, whether they are Christian, Jew, or Atheist, it is a shared goal.

When used incorrectly, you have examples like this, in which people are being asked to stand behind something so morally reprehensible that it brings to mind Nazi Germany, Soviet Russia, and Communist China. In other words, it brings to mind mass-murder and genocide, all of which Hitler, Stalin, and Mao worked very hard to justify through some of the same means.

Since the Supreme Court’s decision in Roe v. Wade, estimates show that there have been an excess of 60 million abortions performed in the U.S.; a number that doesn’t take into account the number of chemically induced abortions. That is a number that Pharmacists for Life International estimates to be roughly 250 million! (http://www.pfli.org, and http://checkyourfact.com/2018/07/03/fact-check-60-million-abortions/)

When those figures are combined, that number reaches an astonishing 310 million abortions! For comparison, the U.S. Census Bureau estimates that our current population is somewhere north of 321 million people, with a difference of approximately 11 million people! Try to wrap your head around that, 310 million babies killed! That is a number that is comparable to the entire population of our country!

This number actually dwarfs the number of people murdered by their own governments, an act known as Democide, in the 20th Century! Estimates place the total number killed by the likes of Hitler, Stalin, Mao, Pohl Pot, and Castro at approximately 120 million, and our nation alone has managed to eclipse that number by nearly 100 million people! Good Lord, forgive us for sitting on our hands and allowing the slaughter of innocents to take place right under our own noses.

Next, we tackle the statement, “Abortion is normal”. Really? Well, if it were actually normal, then they would not have felt the need to make such a statement. In effect, they are saying that murder is normal. Abortion is murder, so their logic dictates that murder is normal, right? When last I checked, there is nothing normal about murder, and this certainly does not change this fact.

According to Embryology texts, each zygote produced at the moment of conception is a unique and individual human being, separate and genetically distinct. Thus, the Pro-Life assertion that an embryo, or a fetus, is a human being is a position backed by both the Bible, and science. Taken together, that can be counted as a certainty.

Now, Merriam-Webster defines murder as, “the crime of unlawfully killing a person especially with malice aforethought.” The Bible holds a similar definition, in that one must be justified in the taking of a human life, or else it is murder. In Exodus 20:13, for example, there is the clear command to not commit murder. The word used, ratzak (Strong’s H7523), translates as “murder”.

Taking both points and bringing them together, we can show that:

1. Unborn children are in fact human beings, and deserving of human rights, by extension.

2. That murder is the unjustified taking of a human life. As no one can come up with any form of legal or moral justification for an abortion, then abortion is murder.

3. That our civilization, when you count up the number of all abortions carried out in all Western nations since the first time a nation decriminalized abortion, is guilty of facilitating and/or carrying out the worst campaign of mass-murder in history; to the tune of hundreds of millions, if not billions, of people murdered.

More than 300 million in our nation alone, and that is only an estimate. What makes it worse is that our birth rate is already in the basement. In order to maintain a viable population, as well as to maintain our cultural integrity, there is a hard minimum of children born per woman, and we are falling far short of it.

For a developed country, that number is 2.1, according to the NIH. The NIH also states that the birth rate in our country is presently 1.74 for native born Americans. At this point, our saving grace is immigration from countries with traditionally higher birth rates than ours, as they are making up for our shortfall. What this means is that native-born people in this country stand a very good chance at being completely replaced in the foreseeable future. This is not a racial thing, either. It applies all across the board, white, black, asian, Native, etc.

Next, the assertion that their stories are theirs to tell. Well, I can hardly argue with this point. They say that confession is good for the soul, and telling one’s story can be a form of confession if they have committed a crime. As these women are guilty of murdering their own children, telling their stories could count as a confession.

I’m sure God is all ears, so let it out. Confess your sins to the Lord, repent before Him, and change your life. Oh, you are proud of what you did? Well, that counts as a whole other matter, does it not? He has had no small amount to say about the unrepentant, and it does not bode well for the people in this movement.

Finally, we come to “This is not a debate”. When someone is holding a position they absolutely believe in 100%, they will not worry a moment over a challenge to their position. For example, if you were to read back through my posts, you will note that I not only invite dissenting voices, but pledge to respond to critics first. Why? I am not afraid of being wrong, and am 100% convinced of my position.

Contrast this with the statement found on this website. They do not wish to discuss or debate, which leads one to wonder if they are not aware on some level that they are 100% wrong. Only pride and/or shame would make someone hide from Truth, which is why pride is the deadliest of sins. For the people in this movement, can anyone guess which motivator is the driving force behind their unwillingness to hear a single dissenting voice?

Reblog: Why The #ShoutYourAbortion Movement Is Total Garbage (Avid Pro-Lifer) — The Imperfect Momma

Here is a post I came across yesterday, from Holly Marsh over at Imperfect Momma. It’s well-written and thought out. Pop on over, check out the post, and pay close attention to what she has to say. This #shoutyourabortion! movement is something we need to address because they are trying to convince people that murdering your pre-born babies is acceptable and desirable. Give her post a read, and find ways to combat these people and their ghoulish message! Thank you.

Estimated Reading Time: 14 Minutes Thank you #shoutyourabortion! Your movement has made it cool to have an abortion, something to be “proud” of because having an abortion is progressive and brave (apparently).

via Why The #ShoutYourAbortion Movement Is Total Garbage (Avid Pro-Lifer) — The Imperfect Momma

A Few Moments of Beauty

My wife and I recently made a trip to visit my parents in Colorado. We went because it was beyond time for me to go see my mother, and I had put it off for far too long. My mother is currently suffering from early onset Alzheimer’s disease, which has essentially stolen my mother from those who love her the most. Needless to say, I was very much hesitant to go.

What can someone say when they look into their mother’s eyes and see endless confusion and fear? Those are the moments that leave you silenced by a lack of anything meaningful to say. There simply are no words that can adequately describe that anguish.

The day we arrived, my stepdad drove my mother out to us, and took us to dinner. This was one of the points where the trip came into focus. I was not there just to see my mother, I was also there to see my stepdad and let him know that he is not suffering alone. It was the first time we had spoken in this manner, and it made me realize that I had been deeply unfair to him for many years.

Over the course of the next few days, we spent a great deal of time with them. We also got a much needed break from our kids, and even got to enjoy a mini-honeymoon (we didn’t get to have a real one). Overall, it was a good trip. We even got to have dinner with my sister and brother-in-law, and left with some of my childhood pictures, which we plan on having scanned and stored.

Earlier this week, I took a call from my sister. I was at work, but it was so unusual for her to call me during the day that I had to answer. She had called to tell me that our mother is dying, and that she is not expected to make it through the week. Her condition is deteriorating so rapidly, no one can do anything about it.

I am faced with the very real prospect of flying out to sit with my mother as she leaves this world, and it is tearing me apart. No matter how many times I remind myself that she is going to be with the Lord, and that her mind will be clear and sharp, it does not seem to dull the ache. I guess it not meant to.

I want you folks to do one simple thing. If you are still able to do so, give your mothers a big hug, and thank them for giving you life. Do not allow such an opportunity to pass you by. You never know when you will have the chance to do it again, if you do in fact get a chance. In so doing, you will create a few moments of true beauty.

Nightmares are Dreams, Too

I am not angry, I am furious. Here we are, scarcely two months into the new year, and I am already beyond horrified. How can we, as a supposedly civilized society, ever come under the mistaken impression that the wanton slaughter of unborn babies is somehow acceptable? Granted, we have been doing it for some time, but this is the closest we have come towards actually legalizing infanticide, and some are already pushing for that as well. (https://jme.bmj.com/content/39/5/261.full) How can we, as a supposedly civilized society, be able to justify before our God and our own conscience the horrendous mass-murder of our most helpless members as a common good? As I have stated before, abortion is murder, and this is just seeking to make things worse

Unless you have been under a rock this whole time, you are most likely aware of the bill recently passed in New York state, which makes abortion legal all the way up to the moment of birth, removes restrictions on who can perform an abortion, and also does away with their Fetal Victim laws, removing legal protections for all unborn babies. Note that that ghoul of a governor, Andrew Cuomo, actually lit up the 9-11 memorial pink in celebration of the passage of this bill. (It brings to mind the fact that Hitler’s horrific crimes began with thunderous applause and roars of approval)

Not only has Gov. Cuomo done this, but he has done this in direct contravention of his own supposed Catholic faith. Yes, the Catholic Church’s official doctrinal position is that life begins at conception, and is worthy of all of the protections and rights contained therein, which means that they regard abortion as immoral and unacceptable. Whether you are Catholic, Orthodox, or Protestant, you ought to be able recognize when someone has chosen to follow the world instead of their God.

Yet, Gov. Cuomo seems to think he knows better than his own Church. Sadly, the Cardinal responsible for him (Cardinal Timothy Dolan, Archbishop of New York) has very little he can do, given that excommunication is only used in cases where it might bring about a change of heart, and it’s clear that Gov. Cuomo simply has none. What is the point of excommunication if it will not have the desired effect?

Historically speaking, infanticide was an accepted practice amongst even the most civilized of nations. The Greeks, Romans, nearly everyone practiced it; even on this side of the globe it was practiced by many of the Native tribes. It wasn’t unheard of for people to abandon their unwanted babies to the elements. They regarded it as an act of mercy!

When Christianity began to appear, one of the things Christians were known for was the practice of rescuing abandoned newborns and raising them as their own. These people would go out at night, seek out the babies that their pagan neighbors had tossed out with the trash, and give them loving homes in the arms of parents who would bring them up knowing and loving the Lord Jesus Christ. Where the worst of humanity was on full display, there were the Christians to show the best of God’s qualities and nature.

This brings up an essential question. What happened? In a time when Christians were being persecuted, hunted, and discriminated against, they were showing what it looks like to be led by the Spirit of God. Now, too many professing Christians seem content to sit on their hands and do nothing, if not outright support the mass slaughter of babies that their ancestors would have died trying to protect! Shame on them, shame on us all. How dare we consider ourselves civilized and Children of God when there are those amongst us who tarnish and mar the image of God, turning us into a mindless caricature of what we are supposed to be?! This is what we are commanded to fight against, and we have a collective case of “cat got your tongue”?!

We are commanded, COMMANDED, by the Lord, to speak up for the poor, the oppressed, and to protect the innocent from the wicked! We are directly commanded to defend the innocent from slaughter, and we have people today who claim the mantle of Christian, celebrating new laws that make it easier to do exactly what we ought to be fighting against! How dare we?!

The politicians who passed this law, and any others like it (currently being considered in Vermont and Virginia), have hands dripping in innocent blood. Those celebrating along with them, supporting this effort, have hands dripping in innocent blood, too. They are no better than people like Hitler, Stalin, and Mao. They are mass-murdering, genocidal maniacs, and the people of their states gave them a job! As if that was not bad enough, they will likely do it again when next these monsters are up for reelection.

In all, I am reminded of something Thomas Jefferson said, “I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just; that his justice cannot sleep forever.” Words cannot express how true these words are, and how much we have to answer for as a people.

Fighting Through Brokenness

I am going to take the teacher’s hat off for this one. My intent for this post is to bring to your minds a few things I had taken for granted, such as the existence and machinations of demons. They are very much real, as real as you or I, and fighting them is seldom ever anything like the movies. What I am about to describe is not a work of fiction, nor was it my imagination. The events described happened, my thoughts, feelings, perceptions, all happened. This is all very personal to me, so bear that in mind as you read this.

A few months ago, I had the fortunate misfortune to take a trip to Ft. Polk, Louisiana. My unit went there for a training rotation at the Joint Readiness Training Center (JRTC). The food was horrendous and only marginally edible, the climate sucked (by our count we only had five days without rain), and we were very quickly reminded of just how low the Active Army’s opinion is of the National Guard by their casual disregard of our multiple requests for basic medical supplies that any other unit would have received in a heartbeat. That our Sappers outperformed their Active Duty counterparts at every turn only seemed to cement their utter disdain for us. Our commander’s foul mouth, and take-no-prisoners attitude certainly did not endear us to higher command, either. This was a once in a lifetime experience, or at least it was for me. Even if I were to decide to stay in the National Guard, I would absolutely refuse to go back to that place if given the choice.

Why do I refer to this trip in the terms that I do? Why do I say that I would refuse to go back if given the choice? During our training rotation I was asked what I thought of the exercise, and my response was, “This place has done so much for my spiritual life. I’ve never prayed so hard to get out of a place than I have since arriving here.” First, not long after we arrived everyone had to turn in their cell phones. For two and a half weeks we had zero contact with the outside world. No news, no calls home, no internet. For a man who is hopelessly in love with his wife and kids, this was pure, unadulterated torture.

Second, for more than two weeks our food choices consisted almost solely of MRE’s. While I am told it is better than starving, I can honestly say that I had eventually hit the point where the idea of going without eating had begun to take on a certain charm. Any longer, and I might have decided to go on a hunger strike until someone found a way to have Pizza Hut delivered to our simulated war zone. Ah, First World problems…

Third, chaos and disorder were the order of the day. We spent so much of our time mired in confusion that a certain 4 Non Blondes song became our official “unofficial” anthem, as we would repeatedly belt out that iconic line, “What’s goin’ on?!” While chaos and disorder are how the Army normally operates, this was on a level that was as impressive as it was unnecessary.

Now that you have either laughed, cried, or stared at your screen in confusion, we come to the fourth and most serious point: the warfare. Now, I’m not referring to the simulated combat (in which my unit managed to kick serious tail. Even our HQ element, as they were being overrun by a numerically superior force, managed to inflict serious causalities…or would have if OpFor hadn’t been cheating), but to the very real spiritual battle that took place on a daily basis while all of that comedy was happening.

Less than a week after we had arrived, I noticed that my dreams had begun to take a very odd turn. Not so much while I was still able to speak with my wife, but once the phones went away, I could not avoid the very dark turn my dreams had taken. On a nightly basis, I was assailed by nightmares that told me that my wife was cheating on me, that I knew about it, that I had allowed it to happen, and one dream even featured my wife’s voice telling me that she had picked wrong (meaning me). This went on for more than a week, robbing me of sleep, making me edgy and irritable, and basically making life even more miserable than it already was.

During this time, I had gotten into the habit of reading my Bible for 15 minutes every night before turning in. In this way, I read through all of Paul’s epistles, as well as the works of James, Peter, the Book of Revelation, and all of the others by the time we left Ft. Polk. In short, I read the entire New Testament, minus the four Gospels, in the span of two-and-a-half weeks.

Throughout the first week, I began feeling increasingly uneasy, anxious, and irritable. I began to withdraw a bit from the guys I was moving with, and just did not feel all that much like socializing. It did not help that one of the people I most often traveled with was our unit’s chemical warfare specialist (to any vets reading this, especially those who carry that particular MOS, I’m simplifying for civilian readers), and she is not an easy person to deal with under the best of circumstances. Between her unabashed belief that there is no God, and that life is just a “perfect storm of cosmic circumstances” (her words), and her constant whining about how life was so much better at Division, it eventually became difficult to be anywhere near her.

One morning, about a week and a half into the rotation, we were preparing to move from one town to the next, in order to link back up with the headquarters element when the anxiety came to a head. I was alone, grabbing my gear, and preparing to load up when my throat felt like it was closing, and I felt like I was about to collapse in tears. I just felt like I was at the end of a rope, and dangling over a fire. For just a moment, things seemed utterly hopeless. It was a full-blown anxiety attack!

It was in that moment that I lowered my head and began to pray. I told the Lord that I was not strong enough to bear up under the burden, and I asked Him to help me. In that instant, it all went away. No more anxiety, no more pain, no more fear. I felt nothing but resolve and certainty that I was going to make it through, and that no one had anything that I could not handle because of Who I have in my corner. Let me tell you, this is an amazing feeling.

It was not too much longer after this moment that I found out I was not alone. One of my friends, also a strong believer in Jesus, informs my Platoon SGT that he was mad at him for the first few days we were there because he had dreamt that his wife had cheated on him with the Platoon SGT. Their conversation got me to thinking about the origin of my dreams, and that overwhelming anxiety. Why was it that the believers in the unit were all having these really odd dreams? Why was the atheist chem. expert becoming increasingly agitated, even more than normal for her?

I eventually realized that there was something there, either in Ft. Polk or throughout the State of Louisiana, that was playing havoc with people. Given the hedonistic nature of Mardi Gras in NOLA, I do not doubt the presence of a Strongman over the whole state. On an abstract level, I found myself curious if infidelity and divorce were common on-post (moreso than usual). Given the thoughts racing through my head all day, and the dreams at night, it seemed to me that there likely were a lot of other people suffering through many of the same torments.

I eventually got to the point where I would immediately rebuke and reject every stray negative thought and image that ran through my head. In doing that, I very quickly realized that I would be fighting my way through this experience, tooth and nail. Y’all have to understand, those kinds of thoughts are unusual for me. I’m not the jealous type, and I have no doubt in my mind that my wife is not the cheating kind. If I had had a single doubt, I would not have married her.

As we moved through the training rotation, I would spend every moment I had to spare either praying or reading the Word. It consumed every moment I had available and was, as it turns out, building up to a very specific moment that I did not see coming: the night I finally cried out to God.

We were near the end of the event, and were camped out. As I was setting up my one-man tent, my heart began to feel like a lead weight. The sun was setting fast, the temperatures were dropping rapidly, and it was beginning to rain. In short, the night promised to be miserable.

As I lay in my sleeping bag, listening to the rain patter on my tent, I began to pray. As I was praying, I felt this massive upwelling of emotion deep inside. In short order, it all flooded out of me, and I lay there praying helplessly as I cried like a baby. I prayed for my two oldest children, both of whom are estranged from me. I prayed for my wife and my other children, for my mother, who is suffering through Alzheimer’s, my stepdad, as he suffers through taking care of my mother, and for my sister, who is running from God as if it were the Olympics.

I also repented of all my sins again and again, asking for forgiveness. I spent well over an hour in this condition, laying on my back, shattered into a million pieces, crying and praying, pleading with the Lord to bring my oldest children back to me (they are adults), and to help me fix the points where I had failed as a father. As I said before, we are all broken sinners, and I am a prime example.

This, as it turned out, was the last battle I would fight there. That night, I slept peacefully. The next morning, I awoke to a much lighter heart. I felt as if I had gone through a major trial and emerged victorious. It was glorious. I understand now, that God ensured that I would have this time with Him, as He had a few very hard lessons in store for me. This was one of my wilderness experiences. I can only imagine what else He had in store. We shall see.

 

Why Speak Out Against Sin?

The Enemy is tricky, but very clear in his goals. He wants to deny humans the free gift of salvation, and will do all he can to accomplish this. To that end, when you seek to share the Gospel with the public, he will go out of his way to prevent people from hearing it. Why? Simply put, he wants to destroy everything that God has made, especially us.

Tell me, does this sound familiar? You are sharing the Gospel, trying to tell someone about the Lord Jesus Christ and His free gift of salvation, when a critic comes against you and demands to know why you are there. They will say something like, “Why aren’t you in a soup kitchen, or doing something to help the poor and/or homeless?”, or “Why are you out here judging people and making them feel bad about themselves?” The general direction of their questioning is meant to imply that you are failing in your Christian walk because you are either delinquent in the command to care for the less fortunate, or because you are out there passing judgement. Overall, the implication is that you should have something better to do elsewhere, rather than hassling people in the public. They may even quote Matthew 7:1 (Judge not…) to you, in an effort to dissuade you from speaking out against Sin in general.

Additionally, you will encounter critics who will demand to know why it is that you, a sinner, feel that you have the right to speak out against Sin. They will ask what qualifies you to speak of the brokenness of other sinners, when you are a broken sinner yourself. They may even quote Matthew 7:1-5, in an effort to convince you that what you are doing is being hypocritical.

Before you can answer them, you must begin with the understanding that their goal is simply to silence you, and you must refuse to be silenced. It is the Enemy moving against you, in an effort to prevent people from hearing the Truth, and you cannot allow him to win. Now is the time that you ought to ask yourself how you would answer this line of questioning, if for no other reason than to know and understand why you are out there.

We Are All Broken Sinners

One of the most important aspects of the Gospel Message that we must all remember is that we are all broken sinners in desperate need of a Savior before our Almighty God. We must remember that we would all be condemned to hell were it not for the salvation offered us by Lord Jesus, who took our portion of God’s Wrath while He hung and died on the Cross. In Isaiah 64, this painful fact is beautifully spelled out with, “But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away.” (Isa. 64:6, KJV)

What does this particular verse mean? Just what are “filthy rags”, and why was that example used? As it turns out, the original Hebrew speaks to something that is utterly defiled in the Levitical sense. In saying that we are an “unclean thing”, what’s being expressed is that we are polluted and defiled according to the Law of Moses. The word טמא (ṭâmē’) indicates that the people saw themselves as polluted and depraved.

All our righteousnesses” indicates that all of our good deeds, everything we do that would otherwise be pleasing in the sight of God is tainted with the pollution of Sin, which means that it is useless in providing us with salvation. This is a beautiful affirmation of faith based salvation, because our works will not garner us right standing before the Lord. Do remember that the reason Abraham was declared righteous was because of his faith, not anything he said or did. (Gen. 15)

In truth, the word used for “filthy” (עדים ‛iddiym) is one that not only references the rags women once wore during menstruation, but indicates that they did not have a way to express the concept with more abhorrence. This description was as low as they could go. In this, they were comparing their righteous deeds with their version of a bloody tampon, in order to make clear just how the Lord views the greatest of our deeds, our thoughts, and our words! This is profound when you consider how many people in our world consider themselves to be “good people” because they believe that their good deeds outweigh their bad. It also makes our efforts to evangelize all the more urgent.

We are all broken sinners, deserving of condemnation. Knowing this, the Enemy tries to use it as a way to silence us. He tries to convince us that our status as broken sinners precludes us from speaking out against sin. I’m sure some of you are familiar with the saying, “Why would I hate someone for sinning differently than me?” The implication, of course, is that speaking out automatically equates to hatred, and no one wants to be seen as hateful.

The True Extent of our Dependence 

In his famous sermon, “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God”, Jonathan Edwards states, “The observation from the words I would now insist upon is this: “There is nothing that keeps wicked men at any one moment out of hell, but the mere pleasure of God.” By the mere pleasure of God, I mean His sovereign pleasure, His arbitrary will, restrained by no obligation, hindered by no manner of difficulty, any more than if nothing else but God’s mere will had in the least degree, or in any respect whatsoever, any hand in the preservation of wicked men one moment.”

What does that mean? The only thing keeping us out of hell is God? We exist in a state of constant rebellion and condemnation before Him, unable to truly come clean on our own, and He is the only thing keeping us from falling in? How amazingly profound is that?!

Imagine falling into a pig sty, and having to use only a package of baby wipes to clean yourself up before going to stand before a judge in a courtroom. No matter how thoroughly you scrub, you will never truly come clean! This is each and every one of us, and without Jesus of Nazareth we will all find ourselves standing before the Judge in an unclean and imperfect condition, reeking of filth.

Yet, in spite of living in that condition, day after day, for an entire lifetime, God freely gives us an opportunity to be made completely clean and new. I don’t mean just-stepped-out-of-the-shower clean, either. I mean it-never-happened clean. The kind of clean that sets God so far apart from His Creation that exposure to Him would turn us all to ashes. All He asks of us is to believe, to submit, and to repent, even unto death.

The Transformation 

When you truly submit to Almighty God through His Son Jesus Christ something amazing happens. You feel as if someone has just lifted ten tons of weight off your shoulders. It’s an amazing feeling to suddenly lose a weight you never even realized you were carrying! As the Apostle Paul said in 2 Corinthians 5:17, “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.” Throughout his letters, Paul makes reference to the different ways that we change, to the ways we can tell if someone has truly converted, and even outlines for us which behaviors we should not accept amongst ourselves and why. The most pertinent to all of this would be Chapter 5 of his letter to the Galatians, in which he states:

This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh.
17 For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would.
18 But if ye be led of the Spirit, ye are not under the law.
19 Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness,
20 Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies,
21 Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.
22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith,
23 Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.” (Gal. 5:16-23, KJV)

In this passage, what Paul is trying to express is that we are to seek to live according to the Spirit, not the flesh. In the Complete Jewish Bible, it is referred to as our “old nature”, while the King James translates it as “flesh”. Either one works, and are appropriate for this purpose. The basic message here is that one can expect to see fundamental changes in themselves when they truly repent and submit. The desire of the Spirit is to supersede the desires of the flesh, and this overpowers any tendency towards carnality.

He even goes so far as to describe both sides of the coin, so that we may have a very clear picture. In verses 19-21, we have adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings. In verses 22-23, we have love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance. In order for us to know if a transformative experience [conversion] has occurred within ourselves, or another person, these are the things to watch for. It is with great sadness that one must note that we see entirely too much on one side of the coin, and not enough of the other, in most churches today.

When reading through those lists, what becomes abundantly clear is that each and every one of us is guilty of one or more of the old nature offenses in violation of God’s Law. During His Sermon on the Mount, Jesus states that one commits adultery if they so much as look upon a woman to lust after her. He also states that hatred of your brother is the same as murdering him. These are just two examples of how we fall short of the glory of God, as Paul expressed it in Romans 3:23. As it is clear that these sins taint us, and the only way to be rid of them before our Lord is through the saving grace of our Lord and Savior, it is easy to see why people might decide that our choice to speak out seems a bit hypocritical, but they would wrong in that assumption.

The Great Commission

By this point, some of you might be wondering how it is that people who are so broken and sinful can justify standing before crowds of people and preaching about the brokenness of man, the wrath of God, and eternal life without hypocrisy. You might feel as if this is somehow impossible. The answer is simple. Jesus told us to.

In Matthew 28, we find that Jesus is finishing up His time on earth. He has already resurrected from the dead, and spent time with His Disciples and followers. He has spent 40 days instructing His followers on what they are to do once He is gone. The closing three verses of the chapter, verses 18-20 say, “And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth.
19 Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:
20 Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Amen.

Please note that this is the fulfillment of prophecy found in Daniel 7:13-14, “I saw in the night visions, and, behold, one like the Son of man came with the clouds of heaven, and came to the Ancient of days, and they brought him near before him.
14 And there was given him dominion, and glory, and a kingdom, that all people, nations, and languages, should serve him: his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom that which shall not be destroyed.” Of all the names and titles applied to Jesus, the one He called Himself most often was “Son of Man“, which becomes all the more significant when you look at these two passages together.

Here, we have the One known as Messiah, the Son of God, the Son of Man, the Lord of the Sabbath, the One who knew no Sin, and He is ordering all of His followers to go out and share the Good News (Gospel) of His Message, His Salvation. How can we disobey? He says it, it is. That is all there is to it. No matter who objects, even those in positions of authority, we simply must obey that dictate even under threats of violence, torture, imprisonment, starvation, and even death. As Jesus said in Matthew 10:28, “And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.”

 

A Practical Refutation of Mormonism Based in Scripture, pt. IV: The Book of Mormon

When I started out on this journey through Mormon theology, I had no idea that it would require this much attention. Not since my study of Islam has a topic been this intensive, and I am glad for it. It amazes me just how the Enemy works. His efforts are unending, and he makes up for his lack of creativity with an almost unparalleled understanding of human nature and Scripture. When he loses, he does not give up, he simply looks for another avenue of approach, and we humans are only too happy to help him with it.

When Satan was revealing the Qur’an through Muhammad, he found a way to tap into humanity’s inherent tendency toward violence, deceit, and authoritarianism. He created a system which provided humans with a deity that is easy to understand, distant, and as volatile as we are. He also created a system that differs enough from Scripture to be easily refuted, which was a bit of an oversight on his part, much to the delight of Christian apologists throughout the next 1,400 years.

When it came to Mormonism, the Enemy took a much more peaceful tack, but chose to hang on to a few choice tactics. In my debate with my most recent opponent, he provided an example that came straight out of the Qur’an: the argument from literary excellence. I was absolutely stunned to see this one, but there it was on my screen.

Regarding the Book of Jacob, chapter 5, my Mormon friend said it “is so incredibly perfect that no farm boy of the 19th century, or even a Biblical scholar of the time could write it. It couldn’t even be written now. I wonder where it came from.” This is the classic argument from literary excellence, circa 6th and 7th Century Saudi Arabia, when Muhammad revealed Qur’an 2:23-24, “And if you are in doubt as to that which We have revealed to Our servant, then produce a chapter like it and call on your witnesses besides Allah if you are truthful. But if you do (it) not and never shall you do (it), then be on your guard against the fire of which men and stones are the fuel; it is prepared for the unbelievers.” (emphasis added) It’s an absolutely fallacious argument that simply demands that we abandon logic and reason in favor of emotional smoke and mirrors.

So, what is this argument attempting to shield us from? A story with holes in it big enough to drive a van through, and numerous enough to be reminiscent of a colander. In fact, it takes more faith, I think, to believe that Joseph Smith, Jr was a prophet of God than it would take to believe that the earth is flat. That being said, let us now examine the facts that clearly refute the Book of Mormon, and highlight the lie that is Mormon theology.

The Basics

What is contained within the pages of the Book of Mormon? At its most basic, the Book of Mormon chronicles the story of a group of Jews arriving in the New World around 600 B.C., after fleeing Jerusalem, led by a patriarch named Lehi, and the other civilizations they encounter here. It tells of how Lehi’s sons become the foundation of two civilizations: the Nephites and the Lamanites.

The Nephites

These are the descendants of Nephi, son of Lehi. Though they are initially righteous, they eventually fall into all manner of Sin and error, eventually losing all favor with the Lord. In the end, they are ultimately destroyed by the Lamanites in approximately 385 A.D.

The Lamanites

These are the descendants of Laman, son of Lehi. Though they are initially unrighteous, and exist as enemies of the Nephites, they eventually become the good guys, and utterly destroy the Nephites. The Book of Mormon also identifies the Lamanites as being the primary ancestors of the American Indians.

The Jaredites

This group appeared long before Lehi arrived with his family. They are descended from Jared and his brothers, and began their migration after the confounding of tongues at the Tower of Babel. This migration is said to have taken place through the use of special barges that carried them across the ocean, and the Jaredites are found primarily in the Book of Ether.

The Mulekites

This group is descended from Mulek, son of Zedekiah, the last king of Judah after the Babylonian conquest. It is said that Mulek traveled to the Americas, settled, and founded a new civilization.

Archeology

To begin, there is absolutely no evidence to substantiate the claims made in the Book of Mormon. When you consider that civilizations tend to leave behind evidence of their existence for others to find, the fact that there is no evidence of Jewish settlement anywhere in the New World prior to 1492 A.D. seems to clearly point to the idea that the Book of Mormon is utterly false. If the Nephites and Lamanites arrived in the Americas in approximately 600 B.C., and the Lamanites destroyed the Nephites in approximately 385 A.D., that means that they were there for nearly 1,000 years. Yet, there is no evidence that they were there.

Plants, Animals, and Tech

According to the archeological record, a great many things mentioned by the Book of Mormon simply did not exist in the pre-Columbian Americas. According to the Smithsonian Institution, “none of the principal food plants and domestic animals of the Old World (except the dog) were present in the New World before Columbus.” It is for this reason, among many others, that the Smithsonian Institution has not ever, and will not ever, use the Book of Mormon as an archeological source. It simply has no basis in reality, as evidenced by the archeological record.

Included in the list of things not present in the record, but mentioned by the Book of Mormon, are asses, cattle, horses (extinct in the Americas long before the arrival of Lehi & Co.), oxen, sheep, swine, goats, elephants, wheat, barley, figs, milk, silk, steel, bellows, brass, breast plates, chains, iron working, plows, swords, scimitars, and chariots. In fact, the Book of Mormon basically asserts that a group of bronze/iron age people arrived, built up civilizations for nearly 1,000 years, fought wars, traded, and died out, all without leaving a scrap of evidence behind.

LDS-funded archeology

Thomas Ferguson, a member of the Latter-Day Saints and archeologist, founded the New World Archeological Foundation (NWAF) in 1955. His stated goal was to find the cities mentioned in the Book of Mormon, in order to prove that the Book of Mormon was true. In 1961, he predicted that they were within a decade of finding these cities. In 1972, when questioned by Christian scholar Hal Hougey, Ferguson wrote, “Ten years have passed…I had sincerely hoped that Book of Mormon cities would be positively identified within 10 years-and time has proved me wrong in my anticipation.”

Linguistics

My opponent made an assertion that I found both amusing and horrifying. He stated that he had been told that the Cherokee language is virtually identical to the Hebrew language. If correct, this would have been significant given that the Nephites and Lamanites would have spoken Hebrew. As I mentioned earlier, the Book of Mormon insists that the Lamanites are in fact the ancestors of modern American Indians.

Truth be told, I speak several languages to varying degrees of fluency. In addition to English and Spanish, I also speak some Hebrew, Arabic, French, and Cherokee. It is because of this experience that I can categorically state that there is no truth to his assertion. Not only is Cherokee distinct from Hebrew, but there is no relation. Cherokee is an Iroquoian language that is 3,500 years old, and Hebrew is a Semitic language that is even older.

To further illustrate the differences, here is a brief comparative vocabulary:

English: Hello

Hebrew: Shalom

Cherokee: O’siyo’ or Siyo’ (

English: How are you?

Hebrew: ma shlom-kha?

Cherokee: Dtohitsu?

 

Here are two videos, which feature native speakers reciting The Lord’s Prayer in Hebrew and Cherokee, so that you may hear the difference in the two languages:

Hebrew:

Cherokee:

As you can see, the idea that Hebrew and Cherokee are virtually identical goes flying out the window. It does not help their case that the Cherokee language has only had a written form since Sequoyah set about creating the Cherokee Syllabary in the 1820’s, a little less than 200 years ago. Meanwhile, the Hebrew language had a written form by the time the Nephites and Lamanites came into existence, and it was already ancient by that time.

Modern linguists have found no evidence that any Semitic languages are spoken natively in this hemisphere. Nor have they found any evidence of Semitic influence in any of the Native languages. There is simply no influence to be found prior to 1492. Again, this strongly suggests that the Nephites and Lamanites simply never existed.

Genetics

In this day and age, a person can walk into their local Walgreens, pick up a DNA test from 23 & Me, and send off a sample of their saliva to a lab that will then generate a detailed report of where their ancestors originated from. These tests are so detailed that one could even have a report made on any and all ailments and diseases that they are genetically predisposed to. Granted, it is not 100% accurate, and people have been known to encounter the odd false-positive and false-negative on something, but what a wonder it is that we can do that, right? In less than 20 years, we went from mapping out the human genome to possessing the ability to gauge the geographical location and percentage of a person’s ancestry.

It is an absolutely amazing feat, especially for those people who were adopted, and know next to nothing about their family tree. This grants a person an unparalleled ability to know where they are from, and this is absolutely valuable. This brings me to my final point. According to the Book of Mormon, the Lamanites, descendants of Jews who fled Jerusalem in 600 B.C., are the primary ancestors of modern American Indians. If this was indeed true, then Native DNA would carry genetic markers distinct to people of Jewish ancestry. Sadly, this is not the case. To date, no Native group has been shown to possess any Jewish DNA that pre-dates the advent of European colonization in the Americas.

There have been some who have insisted that the Cherokee people are really of Middle Eastern descent, and much of it is based on compelling evidence, I will admit that much. From the fact that they had a special reverence for the number 7 (the number of completion), to the fact that they had sanctuary cities for those who were convicted of manslaughter, they had any number of practices that had solid parallels in Jewish culture and traditions. However, where it falls apart is in DNA analysis.

The first known European contact with the Cherokee people was with the Spanish. During his travels through what is now the Southeastern U.S., DeSoto is known to have spent time with the Cherokee people. His men were known to have left starter populations of pigs throughout the region, to ensure that they always had a supply of meat that they could hunt down. It is not too far of a stretch of the imagination to assume that they also left a few genetic gifts along the way. Historically, Cherokee women were known to enjoy far more freedom than European women, and that included choosing their spouses and bed partners. This period of time, more than any other, is most likely where any possible Jewish connections originated. It is largely unknown simply how many Spaniards carried Sephardic Jewish ancestry, thanks to the Andalusian period of Spanish history.

Many years later, German missionaries would come into Cherokee territory and set up shop. They built and operated schools and churches, integrating themselves into the local populations. They learned the language, the local customs and culture, and taught the children of the locals. Again, it is not too far fetched to state that they did eventually intermarry with the locals, thereby introducing the chance of someone with Ashkenazi Jewish heritage having children with a local Cherokee. The descendants of both groups are now found all through North Carolina, Oklahoma, and multiple states in between.

What does this do for the Book of Mormon’s assertions regarding the Lamanites? It rather effectively crushes it, and goes another step into demonstrating that it is a false book. It shows that the person(s) who wrote this book did not know history, the Bible, or any of the other disciplines brought to bear in this series. It is very clear, I think, that Joseph Smith, Jr was a false prophet, and a failed conman.

A Practical Refutation of Mormonism Based in Scripture, pt. III: The Doctrine & Covenants

(Disclaimer: Throughout this post, you will note that I keep making reference to the “Mormon Doctrine & Covenants“. The reason I make this distinction is due to something my wife mentioned: As a former member of the Community of Christ Church, once known as the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (RLDS), she pointed out that the version of the Doctrine and Covenants she was brought up with is very different from the Doctrine & Covenants used by the LDS Church. In fact, none of the materials I present in this post are found within any of the RLDS literature. The RLDS omission and rejection of these materials stems from their assertion that these principles are illegitimate and were incorporated by Brigham Young and Sidney Rigdon, not Joseph Smith, Jr. As such, I wil need an entirely different approach when I tackle their theology. )

Every once in awhile, an educational opportunity emerges that I simply cannot pass up. While I recognize that the third part of this series has been a long time in coming, I also recognize that I sometimes need a little additional help to find inspiration. In this case, that inspiration came in the form of a Mormon opponent with whom I could engage in debate. This has in turn helped me learn far more about Mormonism, and to build up quite the argument against the teachings of Joseph Smith, Jr and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.

I came across this opponent in the comments section of a YouTube video, but things have since transitioned into a series of emails through which we have been able to debate the finer points of Christian theology vs. Mormon theology, and how they differ so completely; not the least of which was the discussion we had regarding faith-based salvation vs. works-based salvation. This post will incorporate much of what he and I have discussed, though not all of it. My intent is not to write an entire treatise, but rather an argument against their theology. My goal has never been to break them down, but to uplift them and place them on the path to a true and honest relationship with the Lord God that so many of them firmly believe they are following.

I will begin with a bit of a review. Through the first two posts on this subject, I have demonstrated that Joseph Smith, Jr fails to meet the prophetic standards set forth by God in Deuteronomy chapters 13 & 18 due to the fact that his Temple Prophecy has not come to fruition in spite of the time limit he set on it. I’ve also demonstrated that he fails the test by virtue of the plainly unbiblical teachings found in the Book of Mormon and his King Follet discourse.

Regrettably, none of this was enough to persuade my most recent opponent. However, the good that has come of it is that he has given me new arguments to pursue, and has even forced me to branch out into other Mormon publications, such as the Mormon Doctrine and Covenants, and the Book of Abraham, in order to make my case against Joseph Smith, Jr. It would seem that Mormons can be nearly as tenacious as our Jewish brethren, but in so doing, they are telling us how to avoid their trap.

To begin, the debate I have been involved in has made me very aware of the fact that the teachings of the Latter-Day Saints qualify as a blended form of Gnostic polytheism. Not only do they believe that there are many gods, but that humans can be exalted as gods through the acquisition of hidden, special knowledge that had been revealed to Joseph Smith, Jr and his inner circle through the angel Moroni. That would be where some of the Gnosticism comes into play. They also teach that the truly faithful believers will be elevated to the level of gods by the Lord God, who was once a human Himself. Add to this the fact that the prophesies found within the Mormon Doctrine and Covenants are patently unbiblical, and the Mormon ship pretty much sinks before it leaves harbor.

Unbiblical Prophesies

During the course of researching for this debate, I was made aware of a specific section in the Mormon Doctrine & Covenants (Sec. 132) that makes plural marriage permissible, and which outlines how one might become exalted as a god, among other things. As I began reading through this section, I was stunned by the number of Scriptural inaccuracies within the text. As these are presented as direct revelation from God, it boggles the mind how many mistakes were made. For it to have been actual revelation from God, there would not have been a single error in it. Sadly, this is not the case.

The first 30 or so verses are little more than the conditions of this new covenant being laid down, the rules by which it would be governed, along with mention of how one becomes exalted into godhood by keeping this covenant, etc. The first major inaccuracy to arise is found in verse 34, “God commanded Abraham, and Sarah gave Hagar to Abraham to wife. And why did she do it? Because this was the law; and from Hagar sprang many people. This, therefore, was fulfilling, among other things, the promises.” (D&C 132:34, emphasis added)

The implication here is that God commanded Abraham to produce a son, and that he was to do so through Hagar. According to this verse, it was the law. Where this runs into a problem is that no such command is given. In Genesis 15, God tells Abram that he will be given a son who will bring him descendants like the stars. Later, in chapter 18, God states that this son will come from Sarai (Gen. 18:10). In other words, the promises alluded to in D&C 132:34 were not made until well after the events in question, and did not involve Hagar in any way. Granted, the Angel of the Lord made His own promises to Hagar at the well, but these promises had little to do with Abraham, and more to do with Ishmael and his descendants.

The error rolls on in verse 36, “Abraham was commanded to offer his son Isaac; nevertheless, it was written: Thou shalt not kill. Abraham, however, did not refuse, and it was accounted unto him for righteousness.” (Emphasis added)

Immediately, what springs to mind is that this was not the moment when Abraham’s faith was credited to him as righteousness. That moment occurred in Genesis 15:1-6,

After these things the word of the LORD came unto Abram in a vision, saying, Fear not, Abram: I am thy shield, and thy exceeding great reward.
2 And Abram said, Lord GOD, what wilt thou give me, seeing I go childless, and the steward of my house is this Eliezer of Damascus?
3 And Abram said, Behold, to me thou hast given no seed: and, lo, one born in my house is mine heir.
4 And, behold, the word of the LORD came unto him, saying, This shall not be thine heir; but he that shall come forth out of thine own bowels shall be thine heir.
5 And he brought him forth abroad, and said, Look now toward heaven, and tell the stars, if thou be able to number them: and he said unto him, So shall thy seed be.
6 And he believed in the LORD; and he counted it to him for righteousness.” (emphasis added)

How, then, could the moment on Mount Moriah be when Abram’s faith was credited to him as righteousness, if that moment had occurred well before the conception of Isaac, let alone his birth? The only two options here are 1) the person revealing these prophesies possessed incomplete and imperfect knowledge of Scripture, or 2) that God is somehow inconsistent. I don’t know about you, but I’m inclined to go with option number one. As I noted in a previous post, Joseph Smith Jr was only barely educated, which would be consistent under the circumstances.

Of course, there is more relating to verse 36. According to Genesis 22, God orders Abraham to offer up Isaac as a sacrifice in order to test his faith. Had verse 36 been written without “nevertheless, it was written: Thou shalt not kill” there might have been a little bit of Truth to it, but only a little. As it is, it again points to someone with an incomplete and imperfect understanding of Scripture.

The phrase, “Thou shalt not kill” (Ex. 20:13) is an iconic one. It would be very difficult to find anyone in the English speaking world who would not recognize the King James rendering of the Sixth Commandment, even if they do not know which version it comes from. Sadly, because of this particular rendering, it is also one of the most misunderstood of the Commandments. The word for “kill” used in the original Hebrew is “ratsakh“, which more appropriately can be translated as “murder” or “slay”, not kill. What is the difference? To kill means to take a life in general. When a Soldier takes an enemy’s life in battle, that is killing. While horribly tragic, and never to be celebrated, it is justified. However, when one human being kills another human being without justification, that is murder. Therein lies the distinction between killing and murder, both in English and in Hebrew.

In Hebrew, the word for “kill” is not ratsakh, but rather harag. This is important because the original Hebrew uses ratsakh, which means that the Sixth Commandment is a command against murder, rather than a command against killing. This is a bit of an oversimplification, of course. However, someone who knew the original Hebrew would know that, but someone with only the King James to work with would not. As this is supposed to have been direct revelation from God, this is entirely too much to ignore, especially when one considers that the only version of the Bible Joseph Smith, Jr used was the King James. It was the version that formed the basis for his “Inspired” version, a translation he worked on from 1830-1833.

This brings another point to mind. In verse 36, the Sixth Commandment is quoted. However, Abraham’s lifetime predates the Sixth Commandment by several centuries. How then, was it written that “Thou shalt not kill” in the days of Abraham if his bones had turned to dust long before the Ten Commandments were given at Mt. Sinai? I know this may appear to be a minor point, but it is something to be considered in light of the rest of the case.

Exaltation

This was one of the subjects my opponent and I really hit each other over the head with. He originally presented John 10:34 as a proof text. It reads, “Jesus answered them, Is it not written in your law, I said, Ye are gods?” Their assertion is that this proves that humans can be exalted as gods. Where it goes wrong for them is in the finer details. Jesus was making reference to Old Testament Scripture, namely Psalm 82.

Again, this goes back to a problem with the King James, in that a portion of the King James version of Psalm 82 is contextually incorrect. Verse 1 of Psalm 82 says, “God standeth in the congregation of the mighty; he judgeth among the gods.” The Mormon interpretation of this rendering asserts that it means that there are other gods, but that the Lord God reigns supreme among them. They also say this about Exodus 20:3, “Thou shalt have no other gods before me.” Sadly, they are very wrong in this interpretation.

Here is Psalm 82:1, presented in parallel, using the King James Version, and the Complete Jewish Bible:

(KJV) God standeth in the congregation of the mighty; he judgeth among the gods.

(CJB) Elohim [God] stands in the divine assembly; there with the elohim [judges], he judges

I chose the CJB rendering because it is really effective at presenting the Hebrew context of the materials found in the Bible. It often brings to the forefront subtext that is lacking in most English translations of the Bible. In this case, it highlights why the translators of the King James worded things the way they did. There is the use of Elohim and elohim, and the contextual difference. It is very possible that this contextual difference was unknown to scholars in 1610.

What this clearly shows is that the “gods” referenced in Verse 1 were in fact human judges. What makes this worse for the Mormon argument is that the entire Psalm is an open condemnation of those human judges for seeking to make themselves as gods among men. The Psalm berates and condemns these judges for being judgmental and unfair. Consider Verses 2 through 4, in the CJB:

How long will you go on judging unfairly,
favoring the wicked? (Selah)
Give justice to the weak and fatherless!
Uphold the rights of the wretched and poor!
Rescue the destitute and needy;
deliver them from the power of the wicked!

Of course, we know that Elohim is one of the names of God, but I’m sure most of you would be unfamiliar with the lower-cased elohim, which normally means “gods”. In this case,  the meaning is found in the context of the passage. They were not being called “gods”, they were being condemned as unjust and unfair, haughty and corrupt. They were placing themselves in the position that ought to have been occupied by God, and no others. They were self-righteous. In referencing this Psalm, Jesus was taking a serious swipe at the Jews, calling them unjust in their judgement of Him, and accusing them of making themselves as gods among men. As I told my opponent, these are not the best Scriptures they could have produced as proof texts.

Sadly, he not only misunderstood me on this score, but he also decided that I had conceded his argument by stating that the verse shows more than one use for Elohim. He did not seem to grasp that I had just shown him that no part of his proof-text states that humans can be exalted into a state of godhood. In all honesty, I am more than a little mystified by his assertion, but this part of the debate reminds me of playing chess with a pigeon. No matter how well you play, your opponent is still going to knock pieces over, strut about, and poop on the board. I only had enough patience to correct him a couple of times before I finally just let the matter drop.

This brings us back to the Mormon Doctrine & Covenants, section 132. Verse 20 says, “Then shall they be gods, because they have no end; therefore shall they be from everlasting to everlasting, because they continue; then shall they be above all, because all things are subject unto them. Then shall they be gods, because they have all power, and the angels are subject unto them.” The fact of the matter is that they do not have a Scriptural leg to stand on, and Joseph Smith, Jr knew this. That was why he set out to reinterpret the Bible, and why the Latter-Day Saints state in their Articles of Faith, “We believe the Bible to be the word of God as far as it is translated correctly;” (#8, emphasis added). The idea being, if it was not translated by the “prophet” Joseph Smith, Jr, then it is not correctly translated. In case any of you are wondering, this falls into the category of confirmation bias.

The Inspired Version of the King James

According to the LDS website, Joseph Smith, Jr made the decision to correct the errors he found in the Bible. Under “inspiration” from God, he dedicated 3 years of his life to producing a new, revised version that was supposed to be superior to the ones available in his time. There is just one problem with this situation. It is blasphemous to add to, or take away from Scripture, and his inspired version does exactly that. In fact, all of the LDS publications, including the Book of Mormon, the Pearl of Great Price, and the Mormon Doctrine & Covenants are an attempt to add to/take away from Scripture in one form or another.

In the books of Deuteronomy and Revelation, we are forbidden from adding to or taking away from Scripture. Deuteronomy 4:2 says, “Ye shall not add unto the word which I command you, neither shall ye diminish ought from it, that ye may keep the commandments of the Lord your God which I command you.Revelation 22:18-19 says, “For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book: 19 And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book.

Clearly, we cannot change Scripture. We may write newer versions, update language in light of linguistic changes and new materials that surface, but what we cannot do is add something to, or detract from, the overall message. We are not permitted to change the Gospel Message, God’s Law, the works of the prophets, etc. It is simply forbidden.

Yet, as I have demonstrated, this is what Joseph Smith, Jr set out to do. He chose to remake Scripture to fit his false revelation. This is just one of the many parallels that I draw between Joseph Smith, Jr and Muhammad ibn Abdulla, the “prophet” of Islam. Both men seemed to believe that they were on a mission from God. Both men saw fit to declare Scripture to be false or mistaken, though Muhammad initially affirmed the authenticity, historicity, and perfect peservation of the Bible. Both men believed that the people following God were doing it wrong, and tried to bring others into the “right” way.

As I have pointed out in previous posts, Joseph Smith, Jr changed Scripture when he taught a false image of God, and then induced people to worship that image. That is truly blasphemous and idolatrous. His teachings are lies from the pit of hell, and this helps to prove it. To make matters worse, his Church has since fallen under some really odd spell that tells them to ignore logic and reason.

How They Respond

When faced with arguments that clearly show the lie that is the teachings of Joseph Smith, Jr they go straight into reinterpretation of the facts. Their answer to Deuteronomy 13 & 18 is to criticize the majority interpretation of the two chapters, and allege that our interpretation of those passages will also undo the prophetic works of major prophets, including Jesus Himself. It’s the equivalent of pointing a gun at us, while holding another gun to their own heads, and demanding to know why we want to shoot them.

Should that fail, they seek to undermine Scripture as the Word of God. My opponent and I went back and forth for weeks over whether or not we could ever truly be certain that Scripture says what we think it says because colloquial language exists. No matter how many times I demonstrated the absurdity of that argument, he simply could not be swayed.

His argument was that some portions of the Bible are thousands of years old, and while Hebrew has remained largely unchanged all this time, there is no way to know what colloquial Hebrew looked like all that long ago. As such, he contended, the meanings of key words and phrases might have changed in the meantime. Even when I pointed out that we have literally thousands of years worth of Christian and Jewish scholarship to fall back on, thereby effectively rendering his argument moot, he would not be dissuaded.

When faced with the Book of Abraham as further proof that Joseph Smith, Jr was a false prophet, there was more spin. My opponent went so far as to tell me that the actual text of the Egyptian Book of the Dead was immaterial, and that God had simply used the text to reveal the Book of Abraham to Joseph Smith, Jr. He seemed to make no connection between the illogical nature of his assertion, and the evidence before his eyes, including the very bad attempts Joseph Smith, Jr made at reproducing the images found in the Egyptian papyri. Joseph Smith, Jr was an unsuccessful con man, and he was posthumously proven so when Egyptologists got their hands on the papyri he claimed had contained the Book of Abraham.

When asked why Abraham, a Cushite from Southern Iraq, would write his book in Egyptian hieroglyphics, he made the claim that modern scholars had unearthed evidence that Abraham had spent his childhood in Egypt. When I went to research his claim, I could find nothing that supported it. When asked repeatedly for sources to prove his claim, the only source he could cite was the Book of Abraham itself. There were no scholarly papers, no articles, not even a single fringe group making this claim. All I could find was what I already knew. He and Sarah traveled to Egypt while in their 60’s, which does not qualify as “childhood” in spite of their longevity.

The lack of evidence to support his claim did not sway him, either. He repeatedly admonished me for relying too much on experts, for relying too much on empirical evidence, and for what he perceived was a lack of faith in God on my part. His fallback argument was that I should believe in spite of evidence to the contrary. Under the circumstances, I don’t think it unreasonable to reject the Book of Abraham as proof of the Book of Abraham’s veracity.

In all, he was unable to produce any evidence beyond a book of dubious origin, and a book that was horribly mistranslated, both of which were produced by a man who was an obvious fraud. Nor was he in any way dissuaded by these circumstances. If anything, it seemed to strengthen his resolve, which is something you must bear in mind when seeking to preach to Mormons. They use our language, but it’s the meanings they assign to certain words that are the most important here. Take, for example, the word discernment.

Discernment

When all chips are down, and their arguments have been cast aside, they will always fall back on discernment. What they have been trained to tell you is that they know that Joseph Smith Jr was a prophet of God because they prayed over it, and felt a feeling. They say that they know in their heart that he was the real thing.

There are two points to be made here. First, the Bible says that the heart is not to be trusted. “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?” (Jer. 17:9) Second, if your heart tells you one thing, and Scripture another, which are you to trust first? According to Scripture, not your heart, that much is certain. Yet, this is exactly the opposite of what my opponent feels, and he was surprised and alarmed at my unwillingness to simply jump onboard. In fact, he seemed more upset by my refusal to simply fall in line, than he was over any of the arguments I threw at him.

This counts as an example of their use of our language to mean something else. Throughout our discussions on polytheism and colloquialisms, for example, we went round and round over the definition of those two words. He kept making reference to the way I defined them, in spite of the fact that I was giving the definitions of these terms according to Merriam-Webster. This is a going pattern with the LDS, in that they will take a given term and place their own spin on what it means. We, as Christians, know that discernment comes through logic, reason, Scripture, and prayer.

To the Mormon, discernment is arrived at solely through a prayerful feeling ascribed to the Holy Spirit. The problem with this idea is that this feeling will oftentimes lead them to a point that runs counter to Scripture. Yet, they see nothing wrong with this idea. When faced with the fact that this makes God seem to be inconsistent, they will plainly disagree, and point to the Book of Mormon as their argument. As they regard the Book of Mormon as Scripture, being an additional testament to Jesus Christ, they will always point to it as justification. Their theological stances are consistent with the Book of Mormon, which contradicts the Bible, which they acknowledge as the Word of God, though they seem to see it as a lesser book to the Book of Mormon. This means that one must first remove the Book of Mormon from consideration when debating a Mormon.

In the next post, we shall take on the Book of Mormon itself, and see what that brings us. I had planned on making this the final post in the series, but the sheer volume of materials related to the Book of Mormon required it’s own post.

A Practical Refutation of Mormonism Based in Scripture, Part II: Joseph Smith and his Teachings

Joseph Smith, Jr.

Background

This section will provide some of the relevant biographical background of Joseph Smith, and will be coming primarily from LDS.org, for those of you who might not know very much about him. I figure that Mormons might be more inclined to listen to what I have to say if the sources I cite are theirs. According to the website, Joseph Smith, Jr. was born in Vermont in 1805, and was murdered in Illinois in 1844. When Joseph was just 14-years-old, he went into some nearby woods to pray to God for guidance on which church to join. He was very concerned with his standing with God, and felt that many of the Gospel teachings were absent in many of the denominations. He found inspiration in James 1:5, “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.” which led to his trek into the woods that day. He wanted to petition the Lord in prayer, for help in determining which church was the right one. While in the woods, Joseph claimed to have witnessed a theophany, or the visible manifestation of God, during which he claims that God and Jesus appeared in the air above him. He claimed that Jesus’ advice to him was to avoid all of the churches because their teachings were an abomination in His sight. He was also promised that the true Gospel would be revealed in its fullness to him.

Three years later, Joseph claimed to have been visited by a messenger named Moroni, who told him that he had been chosen to be a prophet, in order to help usher in the millennial reign of Jesus Christ. Moroni was also supposed to have informed him that there were special golden tablets buried nearby, which had been engraved by the ancient prophets. Of his own education, Joseph Smith admits that his large, poor family’s financial situation meant that he had not been educated beyond just the basics of reading, writing, and arithmetic, “[we] were obliged to labor hard for the support of a large family … , and as it required the exertions of all that were able to render any assistance for the support of the family, therefore we were deprived of the benefit of an education. Suffice it to say, I was merely instructed in reading, writing, and the ground rules of arithmetic.” (Joseph Smith, History 1832, p. 1) This highlights an aspect of this story that is a bit hard to swallow. He had little more than a basic education, but was somehow able to translate from Hebrew to English without the requisite training. To be sure, the official story found on LDS.org states that he underwent a period of training under Moroni that lasted four years, but no one has ever been able to confirm this. As far as anyone can confirm, Joseph Smith was never trained in any foreign languages. In spite of this training, he still needed something known as the Urim and Thummim to translate the Book of Mormon. This is not the end of his apparent prowess with linguistics, either. There will be more to come.

The Tablets

These tablets were supposed to have been the written record of a group of people known as Nephites, who left Jerusalem 600 years prior to the birth of Jesus, and settled in the Western hemisphere among the tribes native to North America. The story also states that Moroni had been the last prophet of that group, and that he had buried the tablets himself. While this might seem a bit far-fetched, the truth is, it does not stop there. You see, no one has seen these tablets, outside of the precious few who were permitted to work with Joseph Smith in the effort of translating, which overall took more than four years. What’s more, the people supposedly described in this book are reported to have abandoned their Jewish roots entirely, never mind the fact that such a thing would make them unique among any and all Jewish groups who have immigrated to foreign territory. They did not observe any of the feast days, Shabbat (Sabbath), or anything else associated with Jewish culture. It appears that they completely abandoned Mosaic Law in its entirety which is a huge thing, to say the least.

History shows that everywhere they go Jewish people tend to form their own communities. They go to great lengths to maintain their religious and cultural heritage, regardless of the surrounding culture. This is why there are European Jews, Asian Jews, African Jews, American Jews, Russian Jews, etc. They stick together, and tenaciously hang on to and pass on their entire identity to the next generation, all without allowing themselves to be melded into the surrounding populous. In fact, they can be found in nearly every country on this planet, and are typically very successful. This is why I made the statement I made, that the Nephites would be the most unique Jewish community on the planet for giving up their identity as Jews. It almost defies logic that the Nephites would do this.

In spite of this, one cannot ignore the fact that millions of people have willingly bet their salvation on the credibility of one Joseph Smith, Jr. The question is, why? Why do they believe that he was a prophet of God, and by which standard do they judge him so? Scripture shows that there are definite standards for what determines whether or not someone is making a true prophetic claim, so we must look there to clearly demonstrate whether or not he truly was a prophet of God.

The Standard

To review, where we find the standard that a true prophet of God must meet is in the Book of Deuteronomy. First, we begin in Chapter 13, verses 1-5,

If there arises among you a prophet or a dreamer of dreams, and he gives you a sign or a wonder, 2 and the sign or the wonder comes to pass, of which he spoke to you, saying, ‘Let us go after other gods’—which you have not known—‘and let us serve them,’ 3 you shall not listen to the words of that prophet or that dreamer of dreams, for the Lord your God is testing you to know whether you love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul. 4 You shall walk after the Lord your God and fear Him, and keep His commandments and obey His voice; you shall serve Him and hold fast to Him. 5 But that prophet or that dreamer of dreams shall be put to death, because he has spoken in order to turn you away from the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt and redeemed you from the house of bondage, to entice you from the way in which the Lord your God commanded you to walk. So you shall put away the evil from your midst.

While the punishment prescribed here may seem harsh to our modern, relativistic sensibilities, you must understand that there is a very clear reason for it. (I’m speaking here in regards to our society, not individuals) A false prophet will, by their very definition, lead people away from God, not toward Him. As He desires nothing less than to have the relationship He had with mankind in the Garden, this is utterly counterproductive, not to mention downright evil. The best example I can give is someone who intentionally directs people down a trail that will lead to their deaths, while assuring them that it’s entirely safe. There is no difference between that person, and a false prophet.

Moving on to Deuteronomy 18, God goes into even greater detail. Deuteronomy 18:20-22, “But the prophet who presumes to speak a word in My name, which I have not commanded him to speak, or who speaks in the name of other gods, that prophet shall die.’ 21 And if you say in your heart, ‘How shall we know the word which the Lord has not spoken?’— 22 when a prophet speaks in the name of the Lord, if the thing does not happen or come to pass, that is the thing which the Lord has not spoken; the prophet has spoken it presumptuously; you shall not be afraid of him.

Chapter 13 makes clear, if a prophet teaches anything which takes people away from what the Lord commands us, they are not to be followed. In fact, it says that such a prophet is to be put to death. Chapter 18 states that another way to determine if a prophet is false is through their accuracy. One false prophecy will render a prophet false, and therefore condemn him or her before God. Overall, it is safe to say that God’s standard for a prophet is that they must teach according to His Word, must not lead people astray, and that they must accurately and faithfully pass on the Word that God sends them. This is the standard by which everyone claiming to be a prophet of God must be judged. This is the standard they must meet each and every day that they serve the Lord as a prophet, and Deuteronomy, Chapters 13 and 18, make that standard a command from God to His people. In other words, it would behoove us to apply that standard when presented with anyone claiming status as a prophet.

Joseph Smith did not meet that standard. In fact, he went so far away from that standard that he leapt into alternate realms of existence. As an example, we will look at one of his most famous sermons, the King Follett Sermon, or King Follett Discourse. This will serve as a prime example of how he failed as a prophet, because he very clearly preached a false god in that sermon, one that is completely at odds with the Lord in the Bible.

To begin, Joseph Smith said, “God himself was once as we are now, and is an exalted man, and sits enthroned in yonder heavens! That is the great secret. If the veil were rent today, and the great God who holds this world in its orbit, and who upholds all worlds and all things by His power, was to make himself visible—I say, if you were to see him today, you would see him like a man in form—like yourselves in all the person, image, and very form as a man; for Adam was created in the very fashion, image and likeness of God, and received instruction from, and walked, talked and conversed with Him, as one man talks and communes with another.”

While it is true that God did take human form on occasion, Scripture is very clear about the very basic nature of God. He is not an exalted man, has never been an exalted man, and will never be an exalted man. In Isaiah 45:18, God speaks clearly to this when He says, “For thus says the Lord, who created the heavens (he is God!), who formed the earth and made it (he established it; he did not create it empty, he formed it to be inhabited!): “I am the Lord, and there is no other.

For God to be an exalted man would mean that there would be other gods, that He would have Himself been a created being, which is not borne out in Scripture. This idea points clearly to polytheism, which God repudiates by stating repeatedly that there are no other gods, that He is the only one, and that He exists from eternity to eternity (Isa. 43:13). In Isaiah 44:8,

Fear not, nor be afraid; have I not told you from of old and declared it? And you are my witnesses! Is there a God besides me? There is no Rock; I know not any.

Joseph Smith goes a bit further into his sermon, and states,

“…Here, then, is eternal life—to know the only wise and true God; and you have got to learn how to be gods yourselves, and to be kings and priests to God, the same as all gods have done before you, namely, by going from one small degree to another, and from a small capacity to a great one; from grace to grace, from exaltation to exaltation, until you attain to the resurrection of the dead, and are able to dwell in everlasting burnings, and to sit in glory, as do those who sit enthroned in everlasting power.”

Yet again, we have an example of teachings that run counter to the Bible, thereby showing that Joseph Smith is a false prophet. At no point does Scripture state that believers will one day become gods. In fact, God repeatedly affirms His position as the one and only God. There is no ambiguity here, He is the only One, has always been the only One, and will always be the only One. This runs counter to what Joseph Smith taught in the King Follett Discourse, and runs counter to what the Mormon Church teaches today. In the case of a disagreement between a given teaching and the Bible, it is the Bible that always wins out, not the other way around.

False Prophesy

In Deuteronomy 13 & 18, we saw that God’s standard is absolute. One false prophecy and that is all she wrote. If you render one false prophecy, or encourage others to call on anyone but the Almighty God, then you are a false prophet. There are no two ways around that fact. In the case of Joseph Smith, this could not be illustrated more clearly than with the prophecy he gave relating to a certain plot of land located in Independence, Missouri. Had he stood before Moses, he would have been stoned to death, not only on the basis of his teachings which both add to and take away from Scripture, but also because he claimed that the Lord revealed to him a prediction of a future event that still has not happened, all these years later.

A Mormon publication, known as “Doctrine and Covenants” records two separate prophesies revealed by Joseph Smith, Jr. collectively known as the Temple Prophecy. What is “Doctrine and Covenants” you ask? It is a collection of prophesies and revelations from Joseph Smith, Jr., and a few others. Along with the King James Bible, the “Book of Mormon”, and “The Pearl of Great Price”, it is one of the books Mormons count as Scripture. In their minds, these books join the Bible as the Word of God.

In the first part of his prophecy, dated in 1831, Joseph Smith, Jr. instructs his people to begin buying up land around Independence, Missouri, claiming that it would become the site for Zion. (D&C 57:1-6) He then goes into further detail, “Behold, the place which is now called Independence is the center place; and a spot for the temple is lying westward, upon a lot which is not far from the courthouse.” (D&C 57:3) It is worth noting that the lot in question is still empty today. Three separate churches own that lot (The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the Church of Christ, and Community of Christ) and will not allow it to be built upon until the appointed time. The question then becomes, when is the appointed time? The answer brings us to the crux of the matter, false prophecy. It’s in the second half of the Temple Prophecy that Joseph Smith, Jr. cements his place as a false prophet, because he chooses to attach a time limit to the prophecy. In 1832, Joseph Smith, Jr. delivers the following prophecy,

“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.” (D&C 84:1-5 Italics added for emphasis)

This passage shows that he is predicting that the temple lot will be the beginning of the city of Zion, the New Jerusalem mentioned in Revelation 21:1-2. Not only that, but he claims that it will occur within the lifetimes of his generation. As this prophesy was delivered nearly 200 years ago, it’s safe to say that none of his generation are still alive, let alone the youngest representatives of succeeding generations present at the time the prophecy was delivered. As I have actually been to the Temple Lot, I can attest to the fact that it is still empty. However, I also insist that you not take my word for it. I strongly recommend that you research it, and if possible, visit the site yourselves. Independence, Missouri certainly has some wonderful historic sites, which makes it very much worthwhile, especially for homeschoolers, and this one is definitely the most interesting empty lot anyone can imagine.

In his article, “Questions and Answers about the Temple Lot in Independence, Missouri”, Aaron L. West remarks, “We do not know exactly how, when, or where these words will be fulfilled, but we do know that that rectangle of land in Independence is sacred. It has been dedicated to the Lord. The Lord’s revelations about that land—and the principles of gospel living that are woven into those revelations—are part of His people’s past, present, and future.” (Questions and Answers, Dec. 2015) Note, “We do not know exactly how, when, or where these words will be fulfilled,” That line is confusing because Joseph Smith, Jr. was not ambiguous in his prediction. He stated the when, where, and how of that prophecy pretty clearly.

Objections

Thus far, the only counterargument I have encountered is that prophets are only human. They like to argue that a prophet’s fallible nature as a human being would lead to the occasional false or failed prophecy, so the prophecy of the Temple Lot cannot be counted against him. The FAIRMormon website, a site that was built with the intent of defending the Mormon faith, asserts, “The LDS do not believe that prophets and apostles are incapable of error, despite being called of God and receiving revelation. Joseph Smith himself taught that ‘a prophet was a prophet only when he was acting as such’. The Church has always taught that its leaders are human and subject to failings as are all mortals.”

Others within the Mormon church have echoed this idea, going so far as to excuse so-called “prophets” for mistakes they’ve made:

“Relative to these sermons [Journal of Discourses] I must tell you they represent the individual views of the speakers, and the Church is not responsible for their teachings. Our authorized Church works are the Bible, Book of Mormon, Doctrine and Covenants, and the Pearl of Great Price. In the Church very wide latitude is given to individual belief and opinion, each man being responsible for his views and not the Church; the Church is only responsible for that which she sanctions and approves through the formal actions of her councils. So it may be that errors will be found in the sermons of men, and that in their over zeal unwise expressions will escape them, for all of which the Church is not responsible” B. H. Roberts, Letter written November 4, 1887, London, Millennial Star 49. 48 (November 28, 1887)

The problem with this position is that it runs counter to the standards found in Deuteronomy 13 & 18, which is to say that their teachings cannot run counter to God’s Word and Law, and that they cannot give a single false prophecy. While Prophets may be human, and therefore fallible in all other aspects of their lives, these standards clearly stipulate that they cannot lead people to a false god, which is exactly what Joseph Smith, Jr. does, as evidenced by the King Follett Discourse. He paints a picture of the Almighty God that is completely false, given that His nature is very clearly shown throughout the Bible. He ascribes a nature to Him that contradicts Scripture in very fundamental ways that simply cannot be ignored.

Case-in-Point

I was once engaged by an angry Mormon who informed me that the reason he took issue with my biblical argument against Joseph Smith as a prophet is that it supposedly condemned other biblical prophets, including Jesus Himself. In support of his position, he pointed to four prophets, Jonah, Nathan, Isaiah, and Jesus, and made the claim that each of them gave a failed prophesy, which he claimed meant I was condemning them, too. Here is the case of Jonah, to illustrate his point.

Jonah

In Jonah 3, we see a much chastened Jonah arriving in Nineveh after his encounter with the fish, inside of which he spent three days. Upon his arrival, he delivers his message from God, “Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown!” (Jon. 3:4, NKJV) He had gone there to pronounce upon the people of Nineveh their last chance before final judgement, as evidenced by the phrasing in verse four: YET. The funny thing about the word “yet” is that I was once taught that it stands for “You’re Eligible Too”, a principle which is clearly highlighted here. It is all about the choices you make, whether to follow God or not, and nothing will spare you the consequences of that choice.

In saying “Yet forty days”, he was telling them that this prophecy might come to pass, if their choices are not what God wishes. As it turns out, the message hit home, and this caused everyone in Nineveh to repent of their sins,

5 So the people of Nineveh believed God, proclaimed a fast, and put on sackcloth, from the greatest to the least of them. 6 Then word came to the king of Nineveh; and he arose from his throne and laid aside his robe, covered himself with sackcloth and sat in ashes. 7 And he caused it to be proclaimed and published throughout Nineveh by the decree of the king and his nobles, saying,

Let neither man nor beast, herd nor flock, taste anything; do not let them eat, or drink water. 8 But let man and beast be covered with sackcloth, and cry mightily to God; yes, let every one turn from his evil way and from the violence that is in his hands. 9 Who can tell if God will turn and relent, and turn away from His fierce anger, so that we may not perish?

10 Then God saw their works, that they turned from their evil way; and God relented from the disaster that He had said He would bring upon them, and He did not do it.” (Jon. 3:5-10)

As you can see, everyone from the king down chose to lower themselves before God, and cry out for His forgiveness. In verse ten, we see that the Lord chose to forgive them, and forewent judgement. This is what caused that Mormon to insist that this was a failed prophecy, the fact that Jonah declared that Nineveh would be destroyed, and it was not. He refused to take into account the wording of the message that Jonah was ordered to deliver, the fact that the entire population of Nineveh repented and begged for forgiveness, and that God chose to forgive them.

Of course, this brings up an idea that seems odd to some people; the idea of an Almighty God who can change His mind. Many people seem to draw this odd correlation between God’s nature and his thought process, linking the two in such a way that any change in God’s mind would be a sign of fallibility to them. Sadly, this idea is blasphemous because it pigeon-holes God into this entirely rigid position whereupon He is completely unable to change. I would argue that those people would do well to consider something. God has repeatedly demonstrated that He is living, dynamic, super-intelligent, omnipotent, omniscient, and omnipresent. As such, seeking to limit Him in any way means that you are attempting to bring Him down to your level. God does not exist at our level, He exists well above us, so believing in a god you can understand, one who exists at our level, is not just blasphemous, but also idolatrous! Obviously, this will not do.

The Mormon I debated on this topic simply would not hear the idea that God changed His mind in the instances he provided, choosing instead to cling tenaciously to the idea that I had to be wrong. In the case of Jesus, he tried to make the argument that Jesus’ prophecy regarding the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem was a failed prophecy because the West Wall still stands. My argument to the contrary failed to sway him, even after I pointed out that the West Wall, also known as the Wailing Wall, had never been part of the Temple, but rather was a retaining wall built in the days of Herod the Great, meant to hold up part of the defensive outer wall he was building. The Temple itself, according to the Jewish historian Josephus, was torn down until not a single brick stood atop another. The Roman soldiers were so thorough in their work that they even pried up the stones that made up the floor of the Temple. This sounds a lot like the prophecy given by Jesus roughly 40 years prior.

Coming in Part Three, we will cover the debate between Faith-based Salvation and Works-based Salvation, to highlight some of the false teachings of the Mormon Church. We will delved into some of the Book of Mormon, and compare its teachings to that of the Bible.

References:

Biography: https://www.lds.org/manual/teachings-joseph-smith/the-life-and-ministry-of-joseph-smith?lang=eng

King Follett Discourse: https://www.lds.org/ensign/1971/04/the-king-follett-sermon?lang=eng

Prophets are not infallible: https://www.fairmormon.org/answers/Mormonism_and_doctrine/Prophets_are_not_infallible