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Article 0107 - Why I Am Not a Mormon
Why I Am Not a Mormon
Jon Gary Williams
The purpose of this article is not to cast reflection on anyone who may be a member of the Mormon church, but rather to express concerns about the beliefs of this church. Mormons are generally known to be good, moral people and are due the greatest of respect. However, the church of which they are members (known as the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, headquartered in Salt Lake City, Utah) teaches a number of things which are either inherently false or contrary to the scriptures.
The following information will establish this and will help explain why I am not a Mormon. Please understand that this is written with sincere love for Mormons. My hope is that readers will accept this with the same loving spirit in which it is written and will view it with an open mind.
The difficulties found in the teachings of the Mormon church can be categorized into three general areas. Since each of these is so extensive, for the sake of brevity only limited portions will be discussed. These areas are:
1) The problem of Mormon claims;
2) The problem of Mormon theology; and
3) The problem of the Book of Mormon itself.
I. The Problem Of Mormon Claims
It should be understood that Mormonism is built largely on subjective thinking; that is, much of its background is based not on verifiable occurrences but on arbitrary, self-imposed claims.
First is the claim of Joseph Smith, the founder of Mormonism, that in 1823, at age eighteen, an angel named Moroni began appearing to him and revealed the location of gold plates which had been buried on a hill in New York state in 421 A.D. On the plates in a so-called unknown language was written what later came to be known as the Book of Mormon. Hence, the roots of Mormonism are grounded in nothing more than the outlandish claim of a boy barely eighteen years of age. And without any corroborating evidence people are expected to accept this without question.
Of note: The fabricated history of the "Book of Mormon" was supposedly recorded by Mormon, the father of Moroni who became the angel who appeared to Smith. (Cowdrey, David, Scales, p.25)
On the plates is the story of two groups of people who came to the Americas from Bible lands. The Jeredites came to Central America in 2500 B.C. and were eventually destroyed. The other group, supposed descendants of the Jewish tribe of Manasseh, came by way of football-shaped boats in 600 B.C. and settled in South America. They eventually migrated to North America and divided into two nations, the Nephites and Lamanites. (During this time Jesus supposedly came to America to establish Christianity.) After becoming enemies, in 385 A.D. the Nephites were destroyed by the Lamanites who were cursed with dark skin and became ancestors of the American Indians. Moroni, the last of the Nephites, buried the plates and later he, as an angel, revealed them to Smith.
Second is Smith's claim that he was directed by God to translate the plates into English. Presumably Smith did this by using what he called "seer" stones which accompanied the plates. He put the stones into a hat and then placed his face down onto the opening. On the stones sentences from the plates would appear translated into English. Again, Smith's testimony stands alone and on the surface his claim is pure fabrication.
Of note: Smith is said to have at times carried the plates with him. However, it has been estimated that thin gold plates containing the content of the Book of Mormon would have weighed hundreds of pounds. Clearly, Smith could have hardly carried them.
Third is the claim that there were witnesses to the gold plates. Knowing his story of the plates would be hard to sell, Smith devised a scheme by which to convince people. He created two lists of "witnesses" which to this day appear in the front of every copy of the Book of Mormon. Those on the first list of three names claimed an angel showed them the plates and that God spoke to them, confirming the accuracy of the translation. Those on the second list, containing eight names, only said Smith showed them the plates. But there are major problems with all of this. First, most of these men were related to Smith - - hardly a quality group for witnessing. Second, the three witnesses were later thrown out of the church because of misconduct and died out of the church. Third, the eight witnesses merely said the plates had the "appearance" of gold. Like the other claims, this one is woefully lacking any credibility.
There are, of course, many other claims made by the Mormon church, but these are enough to illustrate the flaws inherent in Mormonism. There is simply no objectivity found in the broad, pretentious assertions of the Mormon church.
II. The Problem of Mormon Theology
The list of theological flaws in Mormon doctrine is simply too lengthy for thorough discussion in this article. But here are some of the more notable false teachings.
God was and is a man
Of the many strange ideas in Mormon teaching, this is one of the most bizarre. That God was and still is a man is fundamental to Mormon belief. Here are Smith's own words: "God was once as we are now and is an exalted man." He then added, "...if you were to see him today, you would see him like yourself, in all the person, image and very form of man." (Richards, Little, 238) The Bible, in glaring contrast to this teaching, clearly states that "God is a spirit" (John 4:24).
Both God and Christ have bodies of flesh and bones
From Smith's Pearl of Great Price comes the following. "The Father has a body of flesh and bones as tangible as man's, the Son also." (130:22) Not only does the Bible declare that God is a "spirit," but Jesus, in his resurrected body, plainly said he did not possess "flesh and bones" (Lk.24:39).
Jesus was not conceived of the Holy Spirit
Since the Mormon church teaches the Holy Spirit is only an impersonal force, this means the Spirit had no part in the birth of Christ. In his Journal of Discourses Brigham Young said: "Now, remember from this time forth, and forever, that Jesus Christ was not begotten by the Holy Spirit." (Young, 1:51) Yet, the scriptures distinctly explain that an angel told Mary she would be conceived of the Holy Spirit (Lk.1:35).
Man can become a God
This is yet another unfathomable doctrine of Mormonism. It is taught that man can himself graduate to become a god and rule his own universe. Joseph Smith declared, "You have got to learn to be Gods yourselves...the same as all Gods have done before you." (Richards, Little, Ibid.) This is nothing short of blasphemy. The Bible is clear in affirming that man is mere man and cannot become a god. Man's ultimate fate is to be judged and then assigned to one of two destinies (Jn.5:28,29).
Baptism for the dead
One of the better known doctrines of the Mormon church is that living people can be baptized for (on behalf of) those who have died. Many do not know that Mormon leaders are so committed to this doctrine they are attempting to have people baptized on behalf of all who have died. For example, they have been photographing every page of every birth record ledger in every county in every state in America. In Mormon temples Mormons line up and are baptized for each dead person as their names are read.
In defense of this view, Mormons appeal to I Corinthians 15:29. However, this verse is not referring to living people being baptized for dead people. Rather, Paul is addressing those who were denying the bodily resurrection. The context clearly shows he was referring to dead bodies, this word appearing nine times: vv.35, 37, 38, 40, 44. Note that he further writes, "It (the body) is sown in corruption, it is raised in incorruption" (v.42). Paul's argument is that if there is no resurrection of the body why go to the trouble of being baptized? In other words, if the body will not be raised why become a Christian? He then adds if there is no hope of the resurrection (of the body), "Why stand we in jeopardy every hour" (v.30)?
The Mormon practice of baptism for the dead is actually salvation by proxy which is contrary to the scriptures. The Bible teaches that every person is individually accountable to God. "So then every one of us shall give account of himself to God" (Rom. 14:12). No one can obey the gospel for another. Everyone, individually, will stand before Christ in judgment (Rom. 14:10; II Cor. 5:10).
III. The Problem of The Book of Mormon Itself
In addition to the Book of Mormon there are two other books for which the Mormon church claims inspiration: The Book of Doctrines and Covenants and The Pearl of Great Price, both of which are the writings of Joseph Smith. Yet, it is the Book of Mormon which is considered to be the foundation of Mormonism, the entire structure of this religion resting on believing it to be inspired by God. It is held that God oversaw the writing of every word of every sentence of this book and, hence, it is completely without error.
However, the Book of Mormon is not inspired by God. It is, in fact, a fraudulent book filled with error. Following are some of the more conspicuous dilemmas facing this book. (Note: With each updated edition of this book the Mormon church has found it necessary to "correct" or otherwise justify these blunders.)
References to the Book of Mormon are taken from the original 1830 edition, a photocopy of which is in my possession.
Errors in spelling
The original edition of the Book of Mormon contains dozens of misspelled words showing the writer had poor knowledge of the English language. Here are just a few examples.
"Journied" - for journeyed (I Nehpi 4:38; 5:6; 7:6; 18:25); "feading" - for feeding (Enos 1:20); "tempels" - for temples (Alma 16:13); "yars" - for years (Alms 19:16); "phrensied" - for frenzied (Alma 30:16); and "eatheth" - for eateth (III Nephi 20:8).
Question: How could such misspelled words be found in the translation of a book being overseen by the power of God?
Errors in grammar
The original Book of Mormon has within its pages many hundreds of grammatical blunders in double negatives, incorrect adverbs and adjectives and incorrect tenses. Note these examples.
"Behold, for none of these I cannot hope" (II Nephi 33:9);
"And Mosiah, nor the people of Mosiah, could not understand them" (Omni 1:17);
"And now behold the Lamanites could not retreat neither way" (Helman 1:31);
"They did not fight against God no more" (Alma 23:9);
"That there might not be no more sorrow" (Alma 29:2);
"That all might see the writing which he had wrote" (Alma 46:19).
Question: Would a divinely guided book contain this kind of grammar?
Not only was the composer of the Book of Mormon lacking in spelling and grammar, but he also had the practice of contriving new words. Here are but a few examples.
"Numerority" - for a vast number (Alma 56:10); "preparator" - for preparer (I Nephi 15:35); "arriven" - for arrived (Alma 20:30); "cimeter" - for a sword (Enos 1:20); "sheum" - for a crop (Mosiah 9:9); and "ezrom" - for a coin (Alma 11:6).
Obviously, such invented words do not bear the mark of inspiration. Rather, they bespeak the thinking of one who is uneducated.
The Book of Mormon contains stories that are patently absurd. These stories involve tales that strain common sense. Just a few illustrations will suffice.
III Nephi 28:4-8 speaks of three men who were told by Jesus they would never die, but would remain on earth until his second coming. Who are they? Where are they? This tale reveals that the writer was living in a world of fantasy.
Esther 15:30,31 relates the story of a man whose head was severed from his body. However, he then got up and struggled for breath. Imagine, a decapitated man attempting to breathe. Such a story is so ludicrous many Mormons are reluctant to admit they believe it.
Esther 2:6-25 relates the story of how people came to America in eight boats which were peaked on both ends in the shape of footballs. These vessels sometimes submerged like submarines. For ventilation God told them to make holes in the top and bottom of each one. Presumably this was done so they could alternate plugging and unplugging as they tumbled in the sea. Not only is this a foolish story, it makes God inept and is an insult to his intelligence.
Smith - "author and proprietor"
Many do not know that on the title page of the 1830 first edition of the Book of Mormon are the words, "By Joseph Smith, Junior, Author and Proprietor." The words "By" and "Author" indicate one who composes and originates. The word "Proprietor" denotes one who owns or has legal right. This conveys Joseph Smith's original concept of his book. Can anyone believe that God would allow an inspired writer to make such a claim? Obviously, this detracted from his claim that the book was inspired, so in the next printing this was changed to, "Translated by Joseph Smith, Jun." The claim made by Smith in the 1830 edition ought to be enough to cause even the most zealous Mormons to have very serous doubts about the book.
The Book of Mormon closes with an appeal to pray to God asking him to reveal that the book is true. An assurance is then given that if one is "sincere", God will "manifest" that it is true (Moroni 10:4). However, this is circular reasoning. First, after assuming (expecting) the Book of Mormon to be true, one is to then ask God to reveal that it is true. So to establish the proof of this book one must first accept it to be true. Such logic is completely worthless and is typical of the subjective nature of the Mormon religion.
In contrast, the Bible is an objective revelation and needs no subjective confirmation. It is not necessary to ask God to reveal its authenticity through a separate source, for it stands on its own merits. However, the Book of Mormon cannot so stand and the deceptive effort to create faith in the book exposes its author as a perpetrator of a hoax.
Cowdrey, Wayne; Davis, Howard; Scales, Donald, Who Really wrote the Book of Mormon? (Vision House Publishers, 1977)
Richards, Franklin D., Little, James, A Compendium of Doctrine of the Gospel (Salt Lake City, Utah: Deseret News Company, 1884)
Wood, Wilford C, Joseph Smith Begins His Work - Book of Mormon 1830, first edition - Reproduced From Uncut Sheets, copy-righted, 1957)
Young, Brigham, Journal of Discourses (Salt Lake City, Utah, Mormon Archives)