Mormon Scripture – The Articles of Faith/Part 18
|By: Marvin W. Cowan; ©2003|
|Is the Book of Mormon actually superior to the Bible? Marvin Cowan gives seven lines of evidence that show the Book of Mormon does not live up to the claim by Joseph Smith that it is “the most correct of any book on earth….”|
The “Introduction” in the Book of Mormon begins by saying, “The Book of Mormon is a volume of holy scripture comparable to the Bible. It is a record of God’s dealings with the ancient inhabitants of the Americas and contains, as does the Bible, the fulness of the everlasting gospel.” Mormon scripture in the Doctrine and Covenants, Sec. 27:5 also says that the Book of Mormon contains “the fulness of the everlasting gospel.”
Our recent articles have discussed Mormonism’s eighth Article of Faith which declares that the “Bible is the word of God as far as it is translated correctly” while “the Book of Mormon is the word of God.” However, over 4000 changes have been made in the English edition of the Book of Mormon. It has also been translated into several other languages which later had to be corrected or re-translated.
Since the Book of Mormon is not qualified with the words “as far as it is translated correctly,” the eighth Article of Faith is really saying that the Book of Mormon is superior to the Bible in any language. Mormonism’s founder, Joseph Smith, even declared, “I told the brethren that the Book of Mormon was the most correct of any book on earth, and the keystone of our religion, and that a man would get nearer to God by abiding by its precepts, than by any other book” (“Introduction” in the Book of Mormon). And LDS Apostle Bruce R. McConkie said, “Almost all of the doctrines of the gospel are taught in the Book of Mormon with much greater clarity and perfection than those same doctrines are revealed in the Bible” (Mormon Doctrine, p. 99).
Notice the claims for the Book of Mormon in the above statements: First, it is “scripture comparable to the Bible.” The Book of Mormon was first published in 1830, but it used the 1611 A.D. English of the King James Version Bible. Whole sections of Isaiah, Malachi and other texts are plagiarized verbatim from the King James Version Bible. Book of Mormon “prophets” also proclaim doctrines found in both the Old and New Testaments, but that is where the similarity ends.
Second, the Book of Mormon “is a record of God’s dealings with the ancient inhabitants of the Americas.” It claims to be a history of some Israelites who came to America about 600 B.C. and became the ancestors of Native Americans. Joseph Smith said he translated their history into the Book of Mormon by the gift and power of God from Reformed Egyptian writings on gold plates and then an angel took the plates away. The Book of Mormon says that multitudes spoke and wrote in Reformed Egyptian, but that language has never been found in the Americas and Egyptologists say there is no such language. Ethnologists also claim that Native Americans are related to the people of Asia and DNA tests verify that claim.
Not one place or event in the Book of Mormon has been verified by archaeological findings or historical records. So, is it a history of real people? By contrast, the Old Testament is a record of God’s dealings with ancient Israel. It was written in Hebrew, a language still used by the descendants of the Biblical Israelites. It mentions places and events that have been verified by other historical documents and archaeological discoveries.
Third, the Book of Mormon “contains the fulness of the everlasting gospel.” But it doesn’t even mention such basic Mormon beliefs as: eternal progression; life in the pre-mortal spirit world; God was once a man and men can become Gods; priesthood is necessary to act for God; temple garments; eternal marriage or sealing; baptism for the dead; three heavens; a temporary hell and many other doctrines necessary for Mormons to achieve the highest level in their highest heaven.
Fourth, “the Book of Mormon is the most correct of any book on earth.” But, there are no original documents for the Book of Mormon since “an angel took the gold plates away.” There isn’t even one copy in the original “Reformed Egyptian” language! Numerous changes have also been made in the Book of Mormon since the first edition in 1830, which raises some questions about its correctness. Ironically, there are thousands of copies of the Bible in the original languages, but Mormons question its reliability because the writer’s original documents haven’t been identified!
Fifth, the Book of Mormon is the “keystone” of Mormonism. Since it doesn’t teach the unique Mormon doctrines essential for personal salvation or exaltation, how is it the “keystone” of Mormonism? LDS Apostle Jeffrey R. Holland declared, “Either the Book of Mormon is what the Prophet Joseph (Smith) said it is, or this (LDS) Church and its founder are false, a deception from the first instance onward” (The Ensign, September 2002, p. 14).
Sixth, “a man would get nearer to God by abiding by its precepts than by any other book.” But, according to Mormonism, a person can’t get near to God if he doesn’t believe in and practice the things mentioned in the third claim in this list, yet those things are not even mentioned in the Book of Mormon! So, how can this claim be true?
Seventh, “Almost all of the doctrines of the gospel are taught in the Book of Mormon with greater clarity and perfection…than in the Bible.” But, many key LDS doctrines aren’t mentioned in the Book of Mormon. And some Christian doctrines, which are rejected by Mormons, are clearly taught in the Book of Mormon! Examples include : 1. The Trinity, II Nephi 31:21; Alma 11:44 and Mormon 7:7. 2. There is only one God, Alma 11:26-31. 3. God is unchangeable from eternity to eternity, Mormon 10:9-10, 19; Moroni 8:18 (contradicts LDS teaching that God was once a man who became a God). 4. God is a Spirit (not a glorified man with flesh and bones as LDS teach), Alma 18:26-28. 5. After death wicked unbelievers cannot repent or be saved, Alma 34:34-35 and 42:16. 6. Only one heaven where believers go, Helaman 3:28; 5:8. 7. Baptism avails nothing for children and all who lived without the law, Moroni 8:22 (contradicts LDS baptism for all the dead).
We will continue our discussion of the Book of Mormon next month. For those who would like to read more on this subject we suggest American Apocrypha, edited by Dan Vogel and Brent Lee Metcalfe, published by Signature Books in Salt Lake City in 2002.