What has been the fastest growing religious group in the United States for the past 40 years? The answer is: the group that requires that you give up rationality and objectivity to be a member. If contradictions and doublespeak do not bother you and you have no qualms about history being rewritten, then you could make a good Mormon. No, these are not facetious comments or exaggerations; the reader may judge the truthfulness of such statements for himself.
Because of the current popularity of Mormonism (although they are now emphasizing more the name "Latter-day Saints"), the Spring Bible Institute devoted its 2001 lectureship to this topic. At least one Mormon was present at every session, and the challenge to debate the validity of the Mormon religion was issued numerous times. Letters have also been sent to the leaders of the Mormon Church in Salt Lake City; to date, they do not seem to be willing to defend what they believe--which is a violation of their own teaching! Consider what Joseph Smith himself wrote:
Now, behold this is wisdom; whoso readeth, let him understand and receive also; For unto him that receiveth it shall be given more abundantly, even power. Wherefore, confound your enemies; call upon them to meet you both in public and in private; and inasmuch as ye are faithful their shame shall be manifest. Wherefore, let them bring forth their strong reasons against the Lord (Doctrine and Covenants 71:5-8) (367).
The obvious question is: "Why will not the Mormons do what their own 'scriptures' teach them to do?"
This concept is not only important as it pertains to Mormonism, but to society in general (and especially the academic community which is also being governed by irrationality). It has long been recognized that A cannot equal non-A. By definition, for example, the set, A, of even numbers (2, 4, 6...) cannot include any elements from B, the set of odd numbers (1, 3, 5...). By definition the two sets are mutually exclusive. If we know that x is an element of A, then we know that x cannot be 7, 11, 25, or any other odd number. An even number by definition is non-odd. No number can be both even and odd at the same time.
So what are we to conclude when a religion teaches that polygamy is both right and wrong? To accept such a view, we have to believe that A can both be itself and not be itself at one and the same time, which is irrational and flies in the face of both knowledge and experience. This contradiction is brought to light in "The Mormon Church and Polygamy." When Joseph Smith, the self-styled prophet "wrote" the Book of Mormon (first published in 1830), he was against polygamy.
Behold, David and Solomon truly had many wives and concubines, which thing was an abomination before me, saith the Lord... Wherefore, my brethren, hear me, and hearken to the word of the Lord: For there shall not any man among you have save it be one wife; and concubines he shall have none; For I, the Lord God, delight in the chastity of women. And whoredoms are an abomination before me; thus saith the Lord of Hosts (Jacob 2:24, 27-28) (381).
Also, in Smith's Doctrine and Covenants, printed in 1835, the original section 101:4 denounced the practice of polygamy:
Inasmuch as this church of Christ has been reproached with the Crime of fornication, and polygamy: we declare that we believe, that one man should have one wife; and one woman, but one husband, except in the case of death, when either is at liberty to marry again (382).
In 1875 that section was removed from the book (382). Yet also included in the book of Doctrine and Covenants is a section in which God commands Joseph's wife, Emma, to accept polygamy. First, the reader finds a defense of polygamy:
David also received many wives and concubines, and also Solomon and Moses my servants, as also many others of my servants, from the beginning of creation until this time; and in nothing did they sin save in those things which they received not of me (132:38) (524-35).
Then comes the specific revelation for Smith's wife:
And let mine handmaid, Emma Smith, receive all those that have been given unto my servant Joseph, and who are virtuous and pure before me: and those who are not pure, and have said they were pure, shall be destroyed, saith the Lord God (132:52) (525).
Not only was polygamy now authorized, but Emma had better not protest her husband's "legal" philandering:
And I command mine handmaid, Emma Smith, to abide and cleave unto my servant Joseph, and to none else. But if she will not abide this commandment she shall be destroyed, saith the Lord; for I am the Lord thy God, and will destroy her if she abide not in my law (132:54) (525).
Having more than one spouse, however, was granted only for men--not women.
And if he have ten virgins given unto him by this law, he cannot commit adultery, for they belong to him, and they are given unto him; therefore he is justified (132:62). But if one or either of the ten virgins, after she is espoused, shall be with another man, she has committed adultery, and shall be destroyed... (132:63) (525-26).
So, which is correct: the "inspired" Book of Mormon, which forbade polygamy, and the 1835 version of Doctrine and Covenants--or the later Doctrine and Covenants with its infamous Section 132, which authorizes polygamy?
When Smith died and Brigham Young gained control of the Mormon Church, he continued the practice of polygamy; in fact, he took several of Joseph's wives to be his (559). This immoral way of life is the reason the Mormons were despised and persecuted (although they never mention these facts in any of their propaganda).
However, Wilford Woodruff, a later President of the Mormon Church, "conveniently received a new revelation when Utah joined the United States":
There is nothing in my teachings to the Church or those of my associates, during the time specified, which can be reasonably construed to inculcate or encourage polygamy; and when any Elder of the Church has used language which appeared to convey any such teaching, he has been promptly reproved. And I now publicly declare that my advice to the Latter-day Saints is to refrain from contracting any marriage forbidden by the law of the land (364).
Can A also be non-A? It can be in the Mormon Church. Apparently, being a logical, rational person is not required of Mormons. Polygamy is both all right and not all right. One thing is certain: God is not the author of such confusion (1 Cor. 14:40). Such chaos results from a man-made system, which Smith was making up as he went along.
"Mormon President Ezra Taft Benson...declared, 'The ultimate test of a true prophet is when he speaks in the name of the Lord, his words come to pass'" (165). We can agree with this statement because it harmonizes with what the Scriptures teach:
"'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.'" "And if you say in your heart, 'How shall we know the word which the Lord has not spoken?'--"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" (Deut. 18:20-22).
So, if a prophecy does not come to pass, the one who spoke it is a false prophet. Thus says the Word of God, and at least one Mormon President agrees. The fact is, however, that Joseph Smith spoke several false prophecies. One chapter in Mormonism lists 20 failed prophecies (103-121). Many of these are part of Doctrine and Covenants. Consider the one, for example, in which Smith affirmed that New York, Albany, and Boston were to be destroyed by God if they did not accept Smith's teachings (84:112-15) (109-10). Those cities have neither embraced Mormonism or been destroyed in the 170 years since Smith wrote those words.
Another false prophecy concerns the temple in Nau-voo, Illinois (124); it was never completed (112). Neither did Smith nor his descendants live in the fictitious temple "from generation to generation, forever and ever, saith the Lord" (124:590) (112)! Many more are cited, but even these three are sufficient to show that Joseph Smith was a false prophet and the religion he established was a false religion.
If Mormons ever come to a decision on whether or not Adam was really God, they will still have to explain how those "inspired" prophets who taught otherwise could have been in error. No less a person than Brigham Young said in 1873:
How much unbelief exists in the minds of the Latter-day Saints in regard to one particular doctrine which I revealed to them, and which God revealed to me--namely that Adam is our Father and God.... Our Father Adam helped to make this earth.... He brought one of his wives with him.... (212).
Furthermore, Young insisted that Adam was the father of Jesus. Some have denied that Young ever taught such a doctrine, but a prominent Mormon, Hosea Stout, wrote in his diary on April 9, 1852:
"Another meeting this evening. President B. Young taught that Adam was the father of Jesus and the only God to us. That he came to this world in a resurected [sic] body..." (212).
There is even a Mormon hymn which praises God as "our own father Adam" (213). Despite various denials that Young ever taught this doctrine, certain Mormon sources have acknowledged that he did (213). So the question would be: "Was Young correct in teaching that Adam created the world and is the father of Jesus, or was this second president wrong?" Remember that this same Brigham Young once boasted: "I have never yet preached a sermon and sent it out to the children of men that they may not call scripture" (211).
One would think that Mormons would be embarrassed and ashamed (not to mention confused) concerning what they believe. They are not unlike those in George Orwell's 1984 who believe whatever they are told at the moment--even if it contradicts what they were told the day before. We ought to pray that they will, like the prodigal son, come to their senses.
Someone might respond, "It's easy for you to criticize, but we know for a fact that all in the churches of Christ do not agree with each other." Really? It is true that we even debate amongst ourselves (because we are willing to put our beliefs to the test). Thus, it is possible to find brethren who disagree on certain subjects--but neither side in a dispute claims inspiration, and that distinction makes all the difference. Since Mormon presidents and prophets claim to be inspired of God, they cannot contradict one another. But they do!!!
The material already cited is but a small part of the vast wealth of information this book contains. There are chapters that deal with the subject of direct revelation, the inspiration of the Scriptures, the false claims of Mormon inspiration, and false teachers in general.
Historical evidence is provided in "The Account of the Origin of Mormonism," "The Life of Joseph Smith," "Sidney Rigdon and Mormonism," and "A Study of Brigham Young." The number of endnotes for these chapters alone totals 84.
The documents that form the core of Mormon teaching are also examined. Included are: "A Study of Pearl of Great Price" (168-200), "An Examination of Doctrine and Covenants" (139-67), and "Literary and Historical Characteristics of The Book of Mormon" (392-439). This latter effort contains more than fifteen pages of New Testament phrases distinctive and peculiar to the New Testament that Smith put in the book of Mormon, most of which was allegedly written before the time of Christ.
Another chapter that is full of historical data is "A Review of the Gatewood-Farnsworth Debate," which took place in Salt Lake City in 1942. The propositions are given with a summary of each disputant's main points (488-517). After the final debate between these two men (others followed this one), Farnsworth was excommunicated by the Mormon Church (490). (Could that be the reason no one wants to debate any more?)
Many chapters deal with specific Mormon doctrines: "The God of Mormonism," "The Virgin Birth of Mormonism," "Two Sticks of Ezekiel 37," "The Mormon Doctrine of Apostles," "The Mormon Doctrine of Priesthood Versus the Bible," "Baptism for the Dead," "The Mormon View of the Hereafter," "Mormonism and Zion."
Also included is a review of a classic book on this subject: Mormonism Exposed by G. B. Hancock, which was originally published in 1902. It did not take that long, however, for people to react to the publication of The Book of Mormon. Alexander Campbell set forth an appraisal of Smith and his "scriptures" in the Millennial Harbinger as early as February 10, 1831 (just months after its introduction). E. D. Howe published a book called Mormonism Unveiled in 1834, in which he set forth the true origin of Smith's "divinely translated" work.
Mormonism would easily be worth $25 or more, considering the tremendous amount of information it contains, but until the book goes out of print, it is being sold for $16 (for 587 pages). Everyone needs the resource material on this subject that this book provides. It may be ordered from Contending For The Faith in Spring, Texas or Valid Publications, Inc. firstname.lastname@example.org.
*Send comments or questions concerning this article to Gary Summers. Please refer to this article as: "RECOMMENDED READING: MORMONISM (3/25/01)."