Stay LDS or Not

 

To stay LDS or not; that is probably the most important question you can ask yourself if you want to spend eternity with heavenly Father. There are other questions that must be answered first, because those answers will determine whether or not to keep your membership, trust, and belief in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Ask yourself the following;

Does truth matter? Why is truth important? When is it important? Is there such thing as spiritual truth? Is it subjective or can it be tested objectively? If Mormonism is true, do you want to know–really know beyond a shadow of a doubt? If Mormonism is not true, would you want to know? Why is it imperative to find out?

The answers will be a little different for everyone. For those who answer truth doesn’t really matter, no sense reading any further, although we would hope to persuade you otherwise. But chances are, if you are a sincere Latter-day Saint, your religious beliefs mean something to you, so you are seeking answers to questions you have about the Church and the gospel because truth really does matter to you. Your relationship with heavenly Father matters to you. Whether or not you make it to the Celestial Kingdom and spend eternity with your family is of utmost importance. That’s why you need to know; that’s why you are looking, because you realize if the Church is true, you need to forge ahead in renewed strength to live the gospel, and if it isn’t true–given the worsening conditions of the world and its culture–you must find what is true, if anything, and hold fast to it.

Perhaps you’ve come across some troubling information, such as the Book of Abraham mistranslation by Joseph Smith, or the fact that eleven of his 33 or more wives were married to living men and several of his wives were teenagers, the youngest of whom was fourteen. Maybe you heard of the “Adam-God Theory” taught by Brigham Young only to find out by reading Church history that it wasn’t a “theory;” it was a doctrine he taught for decades, stating that all who did not accept it would be damned. It could be any number of things that disturb you, but the bottom line is that when you went to trusted LDS leaders or friends for explanations, they glibly brushed those concerns off as if they were based on anti-Mormon propaganda and nothing more.

Maybe they said they had “looked into that stuff many years ago” and found there was nothing to it; they have a testimony that the Church is true and if you would just get your life in order and stop sinning you could have a strong testimony too. However, you understand whether you are “sinning” or not doesn’t change the facts. Paying a full tithe is not going to erase history. It might make you feel more loyal to the Church because you’ve already invested so much time, money, and emotion into it, but whether you tithe on the net, gross, or not at all won’t make any of Joseph’s wives disappear from the record or change past teachings of LDS prophets and apostles.

You’re looking and searching because you just want some intellectual honesty and want to be able to put your concerns to rest one way or another. Either the Church is true or it is not and that matters to you. You hope it is true, you pray it is true, you are certainly not looking for it to be false, but you just need to know once and for all because your eternal destiny depends on it! You’ve now answered the salient question; truth is important because it determines where you spend eternity.

So, is truth subjective or objective? Up until now you thought that a witness of the Spirit trumped all other means of determining spiritual truth, only to discover that many people in other religions have had spiritual experiences or manifestations that affirmed their beliefs. How, then, can you know? Would it show a lack of faith if you investigate claims against Mormonism? Doesn’t the Bible have problems too? Wasn’t it mistranslated? That’s no different than the problems with LDS scriptures you reason; or is it?

Let’s examine some facts and apply “the salt water test.” Essentially, the salt water test is an analogy. A ship sails around the ocean and stops in every port. At each port the captain tests the water and finds that it is salty. Every hundred miles or so as he crosses the ocean he brings up a bucket of water and discovers that everywhere he tests the water it’s salty. He reasonably concludes that the whole ocean is salty, even in the parts he was unable to test.

Now let’s apply the salt water test to Mormonism and biblical Christianity respectively:

The Book of Abraham: Joseph Smith claimed the papyri he translated from was written by Abraham’s own hand and is the history now recorded in the Pearl of Great Price. It turns out that the papyrus was actually a pagan Egyptian funerary text. LDS apologists (from the Greek, “apologia,” one who makes a defense) and their many theories notwithstanding, the fact remains the Book of Abraham is not what Smith purported it to be.

The Book of Mormon: The official Church story is that Smith used a device called the Urim and Thummim to translate the gold plates from “Reformed Egyptian” into English one character at a time. His wife and closest friends gave a different account, stating that Joseph placed a “seer stone” (one he found while digging a well) into his hat and, blocking out all light, dictated what they should write. Additionally, no such language as Reformed Egyptian has ever been found to exist The fact is the translation of the Book of Mormon (“the most correct book on the face of the earth”) is not what it’s purported to be.

LDS prophets and leaders through the years have declared that the final battle where over 200,000 Nephites and Lamanites were killed took place on the Hill Cumorah in New York, yet no bones, weapons, or other archaeological evidence exists to support the claim. Mormon apologists claim the battle took place in Mesoamerica. To be true to the teachings of Joseph Smith and subsequent Mormon prophets, one has to have the intellectual honesty to respect the office of prophet and apostle above the contrivances of college professors scrambling for explanations. Either way, New York or Mesoamerica, no evidence exists to support the story.

American Indians descended from Jews; The Book of Mormon faithfully maintains that a small number of people, made up almost exclusively of members of two Jewish families (Lehi and Ishmael), migrated to the Americas at the Lord’s instruction about 600 B.C., just before the Babylonian conquest of Jerusalem. According to the BoM, God had preserved this continent and kept it from being inhabited and overrun by other nations, in order that a righteous people could inherit the land. Millions of Jaredites—a civilization occupying the land before Lehi’s family came—had all been destroyed, except for one man, Coriantumr, near the Hill Cumorah, before Lehi and Ishmael’s families came here. This account presents several problems, two of which are;

Extensive DNA testing reveals no Jewish markers in the blood of over a hundred Native American tribes studied from Canada to South America and the Polynesian Islands.

If millions of people had been slain in a small geographical area in New York (as authoritatively taught by past Mormon leaders), where are the bones and weapons after only 1,400 years?

Lectures on Faith, written by Joseph Smith, were included in LDS Scriptures up until 1921; it was the doctrinal portion of the Doctrine & Covenants. “Lecture Fifth” describes God the father as “a personage of spirit” not having a body of flesh and bone. The lectures were removed because they contradicted later doctrines.

Did Nephi first appear to Joseph Smith to reveal the location of the Gold Plates or was it Moroni? Up until 1878 it was recorded in Times and Seasons, vol. 3, p.753,Millennial Star, vol. 3, p. 53, 71, and the 1851 edition of the Pearl of Great Price that Nephi had appeared to Smith. After 1878 the Church changed the story to say it was Moroni.

Other issues include Blood Atonement, Adam-God, Smith shooting and killing two men while in Carthage Jail before his own murder, Smith drinking wine and wanting to build a bar in the Mansion House (his wife Emma refused to allow it) after receiving the revelation prohibiting alcohol (the Word of Wisdom), and a list of troublesome problems too numerous to include.

As far as evidence for the authenticity of the Book of Mormon; no such language as Reformed Egyptian has been found to exist. The sciences of botany, metallurgy, zoology, and archaeology does not support the BoM story. There are no manuscripts to examine, no historical confirmation, and no cultural similarities between the Nephinte-Lamanite civilizations and the Native American Indian-Mesoamerican civilizations.

Salt Water Test results: everywhere we test we find discrepancies, revisions, lack of evidence, changes, excuses, or far-fetched explanations that require mental gymnastics to reconcile. No evidence in archaeology, linguistics, history, medicine, science, and prophetic fulfillment supports its claims. Not only is there a lack of evidence, but in the areas wecan test, such as the writings of LDS leaders, pioneer journals, court records, the papyrus, and failed prophecies, we find contradictions and in some instances deceit. We conclude that if everything we are able to examine falls short of truth, Mormonism is not what it claims to be and is therefore untrue.

Let’s apply the Salt Water tests to Judaism/Christianity;

Bible Science: Job 26:7 Earth hangs upon nothing; is suspended in space. The Egyptians believed the earth was held up on five pillars. The Greeks believed a man named Atlas held up the earth. Ancient Hindus believed the earth sat upon the backs of elephants that were on the backs of a large turtle that sat on the back of a coiled serpent that swam in a cosmic sea. That was science of the day, but what the Bible said about the earth was true.

Isaiah 40:22 says God sits on the circle of the earth; the Earth is round. The Hebrew word for “circle” in that verse is sphere. Most of the peoples of that time thought the earth was flat.

Jeremiah 33:22 tells us the host of heaven cannot be numbered. Stars are countless. Hipparchus, a noted astronomer 150 years before Christ, determined there were 1,022 stars. 250 years later the astronomer Ptolemy counted and said there were 1,026. Again, the Bible was right.

In a fascinating book called None of These Diseases, Dr. S.I. MacMillan studied the medical knowledge found in the Pentateuch (first five books of the Bible written by Moses). Moses was brought up in the wisdom of the Egyptians and learned all their ways. The Egyptians had a book called The Papyrus Ebers, which contained most of their medical knowledge. For example, to prevent the hair from turning gray, they said one must bathe the hair in the blood of black cat that has been boiled in oil or with the fat of a rattlesnake. For people going bald, apply a mixture of fat from a horse, hippo, cat, snake, Ibex, and a crushed donkey tooth mixed with honey. Splinters were treated with worms blood and donkey dung.

In contrast, despite Moses’ training in Egypt, he wrote under the divine inspiration of God, which provided accurate medical and scientific facts that only God could have known at the time.

Leviticus 17:14 reveals the blood is the life of all flesh. It wasn’t until 1615 that William Harvey discovered the blood circulates in the body. Barbers used to cut more than hair. They would treat sick people of all manner of ailments by “bleeding” them. It was referred to as “blood-letting.” George Washington was bled to death being treated for a pulmonary disorder. Three times doctors bled him; after the third time he died. Prior to the 19th century doctors thought the proplem was people having too much blood, rather than not enough!

It’s estimated that sixty million people died from the Black Plague. The Word of God had the answer. Leviticus 13:46 established the principle of a quarantine. Once they began quarantining those with the plague, deaths dropped dramatically.

In 1800’s, a physician in Vienna named Semovice noticed in his hospital that 1 in 5 women died shortly after giving birth. Doctors would go from mother to mother to do pelvic exams without washing their hands after coming from the morgue. Dr. Semovice began insisting that doctors wash their hands before doing pelvic exams and the deaths dropped to 1 in 84. Numbers 19:14-19 established the practice of hand-washing.

Bible History; The Bible is historically correct. There was a time when Bible critics said Moses could not have written the first five books of the Bible because the art of writing didn’t exist in his day. Then some tablets covered with writing were found at el Amarna in Egypt, dating back to the 14th century BC.

Secular historians laughed when Bible scholars said Belshazzar was the last king of Babylon, the king who asked Daniel to interpret the handwriting on the wall. They said they have the historical records of the ancient Babylonians and know that Nabonidus was the last ruler of Babylon. One day an archaeologist uncovered a cylinder that had the name of Belshazzar on it. It turns out that Belshazzar was the son of Nabonidus and they were co-regents at the time, so when the father died, Belshazzar continued to reign until Babylon fell.

Almost all the Kings named in the Bible have been historically identified. Cities described in the Bible have been unearthed. Ancient weapons and bones have been found in areas the Bible mentions battles took place. Coins mentioned in the Bible have been found dating back to Bible times. Written prophecies dated before the events had been fulfilled have been found.

Salt Water Test results: everywhere we test the Bible we find it to be accurate. Evidence in archaeology, linguistics, history, medicine, science, and prophetic fulfillment supports its claims. We conclude that if everything we are able to examine has been proven to be true, biblical Christianity is what it claims to be and is therefore true.

This article isn’t meant to be an exhaustive study, but is meant to give you something to think about and consider as you decide whether or not to leave the Mormon Church. We invite you to investigate the claims of Christianity and see if they are true. You don’t have to pray about it to get a warm, fuzzy feeling to validate its authenticity; you can examine the facts objectively and see where the preponderance of evidence falls.

The real gospel is so simple and precious. You can live in heaven with your loved ones. You can live in God’s presence forever. Here is the gospel in its simplicity; Jesus Christ is God Who took on human flesh in order to redeem us from sin through the shedding of His blood on the cross. He lived a perfect life, died a substitutionary death, and rose from the grave three days later (1 Corinthians 1:1-8).

No one can keep all the commandments. Jesus was the only perfect person who ever lived, and this because, while being 100% human, He was 100% God. If we had to rely on our contribution of effort and works to get us to heaven we would never make it. We can never be good enough to meet God’s perfect standard of holiness and perfection. Mormonism teaches that we have a divine nature, but the Bible teaches we have a sinful nature. This is why we can’t qualify for heaven. James 2:10 explains; “For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all.”

Look at the Ten Commandments and ask yourself some questions;

1. “You shall have no other gods before Me.” Have you always put God first in your life?

2. “You shall not make for yourself an idol…” Have you fashioned an image of God in your own mind, the Mormon concept of God? When we were LDS we pictured God as an exalted man with plural wives. That was idolatry.

3. “You shall not misuse the name of the LORD your God.” Have you ever, in a moment of anger, used the name of the God Who gave you life as a filthy curses word?

4. “Remember the Sabbath to keep it holy.” Ever go out on the town instead setting the day aside for worship?

5. “Honor your father and your mother.” Were you ever disrespectful, rebellious, or disobedient?

6. “You shall not murder.” Jesus said whoever is angry with his brother has committed murder in his heart.

7. “You shall not commit adultery.” Jesus said anyone even looking at someone with lust or having a lustful thought about them has committed adultery in their heart.

8. “You shall not steal.” Have you ever taken anything that didn’t belong to you, no matter how small? That makes a person a thief.

9. “You shall not bear false witness.” Have you ever told a lie? That makes a person a liar.

10. “You shall not covet.” Have you ever wanted something that belongs to someone else?

If we’ve even broken one of the Ten Commandments we’re in trouble! That’s the whole point of the moral law; to be a mirror that shows us how sinful we are and why we need a Savior. The Law given on Mt. Sinai is a schoolmaster to bring us to the foot of the cross; “Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith” (Galatians 3:24).

God says that even our righteous acts are unworthy of Him; Isaiah 64:6, “But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags.” What does God say about the consequences of our sin; our “falling short?” Romans 6:23, “For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.”

No matter how hard we try, we can never, ever be good enough to get into heaven or make ourselves worthy enough to live in God’s presence. That’s a major difference between Mormonism and Christianity; Mormonism provides a method of being righteous through its ordinances, ceremonies, and adherence to rules. Entrance into the Mormon Celestial Kingdom is dependent upon one’s personal righteousness/worthiness and a personal testimony that Joseph Smith was a true prophet of God.

The Bible, however, says adherence to rules and ordinances does not save us; rather, it is by God’s grace that we are saved through faith;

And you, being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, hath he quickened together with him, having forgiven you all trespasses; Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross (Colossians 2:13-15).

And;

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast (Ephesians 2:8-9).

The good news–no, the exciting news–is that we don’t have to be eternally separated from God! We don’t have to go to eternal damnation (hell) by our own choosing! We can call out to God, admit we are sinners, confess to Him we believe Jesus Christ is His Son Who was raised from the dead after three days, and ask Him to forgive and accept us. Then, God will clothe us in the righteousness of Christ and seal us His! You see, there is HUGE, canyon-size difference between Christianity and Mormonism; it is the difference between heaven and hell.

Look at the facts. Check out the references. Don’t be afraid of so-called “anti-Mormon propaganda.” If the information is based on facts and can be verified, then there is nothing to fear. If none of the information can be verified, there is nothing to fear. Either way, you will find out the truth. We encourage you; even plead with you, to examine the evidence. Truth does matter!

 

References for this article

http://www.utlm.org/onlineresources/lecturesonfaith.htm

http://www.utlm.org/onlinebooks/changech13.htm#408

“How to Know the Bible is the Word of God,” sermon by Pastor Adrian Rogers

Suggested resources

Books

Mormon America by Richard and Joan Ostling – Easy reading, fair, provides references.

One Nation Under Gods by Richard Abanes – This book reconfirmed to me that Mormonism is a man-made religion. Great historical reference.

By His Own Hand Upon Papyrus by Charles M. Larsen – Gives detailed evidence that Joseph Smith’s translation of the “Book of Abraham” was a fraud.

In Sacred Loneliness by Todd Compton – Gives historical details with references concerning Smith’s wives; 11 of who were married to other men, and among which were teenagers (the youngest 14 years old).

Mormon Hierarchy: Origins of Power by Michael D. Quinn – the author documents many of the historical revisions made by LDS leaders as time went on.

The Case for Christ by Lee Strobel – An atheist comes to the conclusion that the Bible is truly God’s inerrant word and that Jesus is the Christ.

The New Evidence That Demands a Verdict by Josh McDowell – Classic defense of the faith that provides evidence for the authenticity, accuracy, historicity, and inerrancy of the Bible.

Websites

www.hismin.com – a lot of information about the temple, the priesthood, etc. Good articles and several testimonies

www.utlm.org – a great site for in-depth research. Everything backed up with references

http://www.mormonchallenge.com/thebiblevs.html – Videos you can watch online without purchasing. The Bible vs. The Book of Mormon, DNA vs. the Book of Mormon. There is a button you can click on to watch online.

http://www.irr.org/mit – Documented facts, reflective commentary, and ways to connect with other Latter-day Saints with similar concerns.