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.


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.”


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:



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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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

A Practical Refutation of Mormonism Based in Scripture, Part I: Introduction

As I was coming up (Southern speak for growing up) in my hometown of Austin, TX I can recall numerous encounters with people I would eventually learn were Mormons. I can remember seeing clean white shirts, black ties, black slacks and nice shoes as they pedaled around the neighborhood on bikes. More than once, I accepted the tracts they handed out, but I was only a child, so I did not really understand what was going on. I was simply too involved in childish things, as I was in Middle School.

They always struck me as being incredibly nice. Not only were they clean-cut, well-pressed and very studious, they were also unfailingly polite, respectful and completely unobtrusive. It’s no wonder they did not make much of an impression on a 13-yeard-old version of me. That was not my thing back then. It is safe to say that I was not very open to matters of spirituality; I was more concerned with looking good for the girls, and avoiding embarrassment before my peers. Shallow was not the correct term for me at that age, as it implies that there might have been a deep end. If I had been a body of water, no part of me would have been deep enough to drown a cricket, but I digress.

Years later, while going through the trials and tribulations of Basic Combat Training for the Army, I would find myself spending time with a Mormon. While his name escapes me today (nearly thirteen years later), I can recall that we very quickly gave him the nickname “The Stormin’ Mormon”. Again, he was quiet, studious, always respectful, an all-around decent guy. However, he did show a tough side during training that showed he was well-acquainted with the rougher side of human nature, which was something we appreciated under the circumstances. Simply put, the man could ruck, he could fight, and he was not in any way lazy. That was more than enough for any of us.

Throughout all of this, I had labored under the impression that, while they were Christians, they held beliefs that were just a bit odd. I had heard of Joseph Smith, the Book of Mormon, and their belief that Joseph Smith was a prophet of God. However, nothing really caught my attention until recently. In recent times, I’ve found new interest in their beliefs because my wife made a new friend: a Mormon woman. Sometime within the next few weeks, this woman and her husband are due to come over and spend time with us. Neither side has any illusions, our intent is the same: to convince the other side of the truth of our own position. In other words, our intent is as much to convert our new-found friends as theirs is to convert us. It seems only fair, all things considered.

Now, you will note that I said I thought they were Christian, implying that I no longer hold that position. If that is what you have gathered, then you would be right. I no longer regard them as Christian because they do not worship the Jesus that is found in Scripture. What they worship is a false image of Jesus, which makes them idolaters. This means that their very belief is not inspired by God, but rather based on a deception from Satan, either in the form of delusion on the part of Joseph Smith, or a deliberate lie. Joseph Smith’s story is really difficult to believe, yet, countless numbers of Mormon missionaries go about the daily business of trying to convince others to believe that Joseph Smith was the real deal. So, without further ado, let’s set about making the case for Joseph Smith as a false and failed prophet, based upon the Bible and the facts of history.

What is a Prophet?

According to Merriam-Webster, a prophet is defined as, “one who utters divinely inspired revelations”. In the Bible, Scripture states that a prophet is someone who God has chosen to speak for Him, to teach from His Word, and to lead His people. Some prime examples are Jonah, Isaiah, Nathan, and even Jesus. All of them were prophets, Jesus being chief among them. This brings up an interesting and very pertinent question. How does one tell when they are dealing with a Prophet of God? Throughout history, there have been singular men, and two women, who bore the distinction of being Prophets of God, but not much is said about what it takes for someone to gain that distinction. How, then, are we to know whether or not the person in front of us is a prophet? As it turns out, there is an absolute standard by which a Prophet of God must be judged, and this standard does not allow for one bit of wiggle room.

Before going any further, there is a need to take a moment and take a look at something Jesus said in Matthew 7. “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves. 16 You will recognize them by their fruits. Are grapes gathered from thornbushes, or figs from thistles?” (Matthew 7:15-16) By these two verses, we are given permission to judge for ourselves whether or not someone claiming to be a Prophet of God is truly what they say they are, and this is where we will begin our journey into Mormonism. We will exercise our right, granted by this statement and others like it, to decide for ourselves the true nature of someone who attempts to take on the mantle of prophet.

The Standard

To be able to judge, we must first have a standard with which to judge, not to mention justification. Matthew 7:15-16 contains two articles, both of which are very much of note. Jesus opens with a warning regarding false teachers, because He knew that there would be false teachers after He was gone. Now, it’s worth noting that the word used for “prophets” (προφήτης, prophétés)  could also be used to mean “teachers”, so this is not just a warning against people claiming to speak FOR God, but also a warning against anyone who would dare to teach anything but the Gospel of our Lord and Savior. It is as much a warning for those would-be teachers/prophets as it was for the followers of Jesus.

The second article is how Jesus told us to discern for ourselves whether or not someone is a true prophet. He said that we would know them by their fruits. In other words, we would know them by the end results of their actions. We would know them, not just by their words, but by the deeds that accompany them. Their character would shine through and either highlight their blessing from God, or reveal the heinous nature of their teachings. In either case, it is entirely for us to discern. What we can gain from a careful reading of the passage is that Jesus fully expects us to place on the hot seat anyone claiming to speak for God. This applies to Muhammad, as well as Joseph Smith, Jr, and Joseph Smith is who we are here to discuss.

To find the standard by which we are to apply this judgement, we must roll all the way back to the Torah, specifically in the Book of Deuteronomy, Chapters 13 and 18. It is through these chapters that God outlines clearly the standards by which every prophet is to be judged, which goes along with Jesus’ endorsement of His followers to freely judge prophets.

Deuteronomy 13:1-5 says,

If a prophet or a dreamer of dreams arises among you and gives you a sign or a wonder, 2 and the sign or wonder that he tells you comes to pass, and if he says, ‘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, and 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 taught rebellion against the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt and redeemed you out of the house of slavery, to make you leave the way in which the Lord your God commanded you to walk. So you shall purge the evil from your midst.

Straightaway, we have the point made, if someone comes along and shows you miracles, you are not to immediately assume that the Lord God sent them. In fact, He says that we are to pay attention to the words that they are saying. In other words, look to what they are teaching, because that will help you determine what to do next. In verse 2, the example is used, “Let us go after other gods,” This is important because they are not necessarily going to say that they want us to follow other gods, they may try to convince us that we are in fact following the Lord God, and that we had not been doing it right before. False prophets are nothing if not clever in their ability to lead people off into the weeds. Obviously, God was telling the Israelite people to be wary, and we should not be any less so. The Enemy is always seeking ways to ensnare us, and it’s up to us to avoid his traps.

God then goes into the statement that we are to love Him above all others, that we are to follow Him above all others, and that we should not listen to those who would tell us to do otherwise. That is the key part, we are not allowed to follow anyone who attempts to lead us away from the Lord, rather than toward Him. The Prophet or dreamer of dreams must hold fast to the Lord’s Word, and teach according to it, or else they shall be put to death. It seems pretty clear, right? To further clarify, Albert Barnes, noted 18th Century preacher and theologian, had this to say regarding this passage:

“A prophet is here supposed who invites the people “to go after other gods.” To such a one no credit is under any circumstances to be given, even should he show signs and wonders to authenticate his doctrine. The standing rule of faith and practice had been laid down once for all – that the people were to hold fast. The prophet who propounded another rule could only be an impostor.”

Bearing that in mind, note that there is no room for error in the language of this passage. When teaching the Word, from the Word, or according to the Word, there can be no variance. This means that anyone who calls themselves a prophet, yet teaches in a way that is contrary to God’s will, His Word, or His commands, is not merely to be regarded as a false prophet, but is to be killed for being such. That is rather serious.

Deuteronomy 18:20-22,

But the prophet who presumes to speak a word in my name that I have not commanded him to speak, or who speaks in the name of other gods, that same prophet shall die.’ 21 And if you say in your heart, ‘How may we know the word that the Lord has not spoken?’— 22 when a prophet speaks in the name of the Lord, if the word does not come to pass or come true, that is a word that the Lord has not spoken; the prophet has spoken it presumptuously. You need not be afraid of him.

If a prophet speaks presumptuously, or in the name(s) of other gods, then they are false, and false prophets must die. Again, not only must they teach according to God’s will and direction, but they cannot be inaccurate in any way, shape, or form. Nowhere in any of this is there room for the idea that human fallibility can somehow intrude on the office of Prophet. Quite the opposite, in fact, human fallibility is not permitted to have anything to do with the execution of one’s duties as a prophet. Humans are fallible, Prophets must not be, at least when acting as a prophet.

Speaking in reference to Deuteronomy 18:21, Albert Barnes has this to say, “The passage evidently assumes such an occasion for consulting the prophet as was usual among the pagan, e. g., an impending battle or other such crisis (compare 1 Kings 22:11), in which his veracity would soon be put to the test. Failure of a prediction is set forth as a sure note of its being “presumptuous.” But from Deuteronomy 13:2 ff we see that the fulfillment of a prediction would not decisively accredit him who uttered it: for the prophet or dreamer of dreams who endeavoured on the strength of miracles to seduce to idolatry was to be rejected and punished. Nothing therefore contrary to the revealed truth of God was to be accepted under any circumstances.”

Again, there is that unyielding language that leaves absolutely no margin for error. Not only must a Prophet teach and lead according to the Word of God, but they must also transmit His Word and His will accurately and faithfully, no matter what. Just one failed prophesy, and they are a false prophet worthy of death. No pressure, right?

Coming up in Part Two, we will go over Joseph Smith’s background, including a brief biography and an overview of his teachings, from his own words. To that end, most of the material I present will come directly from the Mormons themselves, specifically the LDS website. We will also review the standards found in Deuteronomy 13 & 18, as they relate to Mormon teachings.