Problems With The Book of Mormon: Jacob through Enos.
“I told the brethren
that the Book of Mormon was the most correct of any book on earth, and the keystone of our religion”
This is the third part of a series on problems with The Book of Mormon, the book that Joseph Smith said was the most correct book on earth, said it contained the fullness of the everlasting gospel and claimed that a person would get closer to God by abiding by its precepts than by those of any other book, including the Bible.
For those of you who are not familiar with Mormonism, The Book of Mormon is the foundational book of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, colloquially known as the Mormons, and the entire structure and validity of the church rests on The Book of Mormon and the church says that it is the keystone of their religion. The Book of Mormon is, by LDS tradition, a work of ancient scripture comparable to the Bible, written or inscribed on golden pages that were made into a tablet by the ancient inhabitants of the Americas, a Semitic people, and delivered to Joseph Smith by an angel in the early 1800s, the same angel taking the golden book back after Smith translated it by looking at a seer stone in his hat. Given the translation process, looking into a hat at a rock and seeing the inscription from the book and then the English translation, it never made sense to me that Joseph Smith had to have the physical book in the first place.
The reason I am picking on The Book of Mormon is that the LDS Church claims to be Christian while teaching doctrines that are not only contrary to those taught in the Bible but are also blasphemous in the highest level, including the doctrine that God used to be a human man and gained his godhood status by following the rules of his god, and that if we follow all of the rules we can be gods someday as well. The LDS Church freely admits that either The Book of Mormon and the Church are the greatest news or the greatest fraud, and if The Book of Mormon or Joseph Smith as a prophet were to be disproved than the entire church would be proved to be nothing more than a fraud.
As a Christian I want everyone to know of and to know the Jesus of the Bible and serve him that they may be saved, and not serve some bastardized version of Jesus that can't offer salvation, much less the empty promises of becoming a god. God never intended for us to be gods and created us to bring glory to him and to worship him, and of course, to be loved by him. My greatest desire for everyone in the LDS Church is that they would renounce the false teachings of the church and embrace true Christianity, be born again and become saved.
In the first part of this series I covered the introduction to The Book of Mormon through the end of 1st Nephi and in the second part I covered the entire book of 2nd Nephi. In this section I will cover the book of Joseph.
Before I dive in to The Book of Mormon I want to talk a little about something that has been in the news lately in regards to the LDS Church and the direction they are going. Recently in a press conference or conferences, Russell M. Nelson, the current LDS president, said that he had a revelation that the Church and its members are not to be referred to by Mormon, Mormonism, Latter Day-Saints or LDS and they are only to be referred to as The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints and members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. Nelson also announced that the popular pageants of the Church such as the Hill Cumorah pageant are to be done away with.
Perhaps the most puzzling thing that Nelson has said recently is, "If you think the Church has been fully restored, you're just seeing the beginning," (1). What I find puzzling about that statement is that it has always been taught that the church was restored to be exactly like the church the Jesus himself set up when he was on earth, but Jesus set up his church in just three years and the LDS Church believes it fell away with the death of the original apostles, so, according to their views, it started in approximately A.D. 30 and ended in approximately A.D. 95 when the last apostle, John, died of natural causes in Ephesus after escaping his banishment to the island of Patmos.
When you think about it, with all of the miraculous things the church claims to have happened in its history, in over 200 years they have not been able to accomplish what the apostles did in approximately 65 years. The thing about the claim that the Church is still being restored that any reasonable person would balk at is even how the church was when it was organized on April 6th, 1830 differed greatly from traditional Christianity and the Bible and the more, so called, revelations the Church receives the farther away from true Christianity they become.
Some of what President Nelson is doing, while it does nothing to align the church with true Christianity, it makes the church appear to be more Christian. I am a fly fisherman and I tie all of my own flies, and I do my best to make my flies look as natural and as much like the real thing as possible, but no matter how realistic I make my flies they are still not the real thing and they are extremely dangerous to the fish. Similarly, the recent changes to the LDS Church do not change even a single doctrine to make them more Christian, but those changes are attempts to make them look more Christian. Some of those changes are getting rid of pageants, stressing that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day saints is to be used instead of LDS or Mormon, getting rid of home and visiting teaching, renaming the LDC Church news to Church News, and even renaming the Mormon Tabernacle; the singers will now be called the Tabernacle Choir at Temple Square. With all of these changes I have to wonder if the Church will, at some future point, remove the angel Moroni from atop its many temples.
Recently Wendy Nelson, the wife of the Mormon Prophet, said, “I have seen him changing in the last 10 months. It is as though he's been unleashed. He's free to finally do what he came to earth to do. … He's free to follow through with things he's been concerned about but could never do. Now that he's president of [the church], he can do those things.” So, in other words, the direction that Nelson is taking the Church is not where the previous "prophets" were taking it, which begs the question, why would God tell Nelson something contrary to what he told the other presidents of the church? It sounds more like Nelson is now free to achieve his personal agenda, an agenda that was not in line with the previous president's agenda and therefore was not allowed until he became the president.
OK. enough of that, it is time to dive into the book of Jacob, which starts off with a doctrine that was solidly renounced later by the Doctrine and Covenants. In Jacob 1:15 it says, "And now it came to pass that the people of Nephi, under the reign of the second king, began to grow hard in their hearts, and indulge themselves somewhat in wicked practices, such as like unto David of old desiring many wives and concubines, and also Solomon, his son." In the following chapters it goes into great detail about how much of a sin polygamous marriages are and that they are an abomination in the sight of God.
Verses seventeen and eighteen of the first chapter of Jacob talk of there being a temple and how Jacob and his brothers were consecrated as priests. I mentioned it in great detail in my last two segments, but The Book of Mormon claims that these people were living the law of Moses, but the fact that they have a temple anywhere other than the temple mount in Jerusalem and that any of the line of Lehi, descendants of Joseph, were given the priesthood is proof that these people are not only not living the law of Moses but doing things that are specifically prohibited by it. The only people to have the priesthood are those from the line of Levi, and God said that it was a statute forever.
Jacob gathered up his people so he could tell them of their sins and he made no bones about how serious their sins were in the sight of God.
But behold, hearken ye unto me, and know that by the help of the all-powerful Creator of heaven and earth I can tell you concerning your thoughts, how that ye are beginning to labor in sin, which sin appeareth very abominable unto me, yea, and abominable unto God.
Yea, it grieveth my soul and causeth me to shrink with shame before the presence of my Maker, that I must testify unto you concerning the wickedness of your hearts.
And also it grieveth me that I must use so much boldness of speech concerning you, before your wives and your children, many of whose feelings are exceedingly tender and chaste and delicate before God, which thing is pleasing unto God;
And it supposeth me that they have come up hither to hear the pleasing word of God, yea, the word which healeth the wounded soul.
Wherefore, it burdeneth my soul that I should be constrained, because of the strict commandment which I have received from God, to admonish you according to your crimes, to enlarge the wounds of those who are already wounded, instead of consoling and healing their wounds; and those who have not been wounded, instead of feasting upon the pleasing word of God have daggers placed to pierce their souls and wound their delicate minds.
But, notwithstanding the greatness of the task, I must do according to the strict commands of God, and tell you concerning your wickedness and abominations, in the presence of the pure in heart, and the broken heart, and under the glance of the piercing eye of the Almighty God.
Wherefore, I must tell you the truth according to the plainness of the word of God. For behold, as I inquired of the Lord, thus came the word unto me, saying: Jacob, get thou up into the temple on the morrow, and declare the word which I shall give thee unto this people, (Jacob 1:5-11).
Jacob went on to tell the people how great their sin of greed was, and after telling them of how much condemnation they were under for it, he goes on to tell them that if that was their biggest sin he would rejoice, but that they were committing a much larger sin.
And now I make an end of speaking unto you concerning this pride. And were it not that I must speak unto you concerning a grosser crime, my heart would rejoice exceedingly because of you.
But the word of God burdens me because of your grosser crimes. For behold, thus saith the Lord: This people begin to wax in iniquity; they understand not the scriptures, for they seek to excuse themselves in committing whoredoms, because of the things which were written concerning David, and Solomon his son.
Behold, David and Solomon truly had many wives and concubines, which thing was abominable before me, saith the Lord.
Wherefore, thus saith the Lord, I have led this people forth out of the land of Jerusalem, by the power of mine arm, that I might raise up unto me a righteous branch from the fruit of the loins of Joseph.
Wherefore, I the Lord God will not suffer that this people shall do like unto them of old.
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.
Wherefore, this people shall keep my commandments, saith the Lord of Hosts, or cursed be the land for their sakes.
For if I will, saith the Lord of Hosts, raise up seed unto me, I will command my people; otherwise they shall hearken unto these things.
For behold, I, the Lord, have seen the sorrow, and heard the mourning of the daughters of my people in the land of Jerusalem, yea, and in all the lands of my people, because of the wickedness and abominations of their husbands.
And I will not suffer, saith the Lord of Hosts, that the cries of the fair daughters of this people, which I have led out of the land of Jerusalem, shall come up unto me against the men of my people, saith the Lord of Hosts.
For they shall not lead away captive the daughters of my people because of their tenderness, save I shall visit them with a sore curse, even unto destruction; for they shall not commit whoredoms, like unto them of old, saith the Lord of Hosts.
And now behold, my brethren, ye know that these commandments were given to our father, Lehi; wherefore, ye have known them before; and ye have come unto great condemnation; for ye have done these things which ye ought not to have done.
Behold, ye have done greater iniquities than the Lamanites, our brethren. Ye have broken the hearts of your tender wives, and lost the confidence of your children, because of your bad examples before them; and the sobbings of their hearts ascend up to God against you. And because of the strictness of the word of God, which cometh down against you, many hearts died, pierced with deep wounds, (Jacob 1:22-34).
Notice that Jacob specifically said that having more than one wife was an abomination and that there were those among them who tried to justify their actions because of David and Solomon, but they were not to justify themselves based on what David and Solomon did because it was a sin and an abomination when they did it and that it was still a sin and an abomination.
"...What a thing it is for a man to be accused of committing adultery, and having seven wives, when I can only find one. I am the same man, and as innocent as I was fourteen years ago; and I can prove them all perjurers."
(History of the Church, vol 6, p. 411) Joseph Smith made this statement preaching from the stand to the Latter-day Saints in Nauvoo on Sunday May 26, 1844. At the time he had secretly taken at over 25 plural wives.
When Joseph Smith wrote The Book of Mormon I doubt the thought had yet occurred to him that he could use his position to lure women into his bed, nor do I think he would have done so at that point even if he could, but Joseph changed over the course of his life and his leadership, and sadly it was for the worse. When Joseph Smith wrote the Doctrine and Covenants he completely back peddled on what he said in The Book of Mormon about polygamy and even said that David and Solomon were justified in doing it, a blatant contradiction to the words of the book of Jacob. The Lamanites were supposedly a wicked people, but Jacob said that the sin of having multiple wives and having concubines was a greater sin than those committed by the Lamanites.
By 1843, despite the fact that Joseph Smith publicly denied it (2), polygamy was official church doctrine and it was taught that in order for a man to go to the upper level of heaven he had to practice polygamy, which was referred to as "the new and everlasting covenant of marriage."
In the celestial glory there are three heavens or degrees;
And in order to obtain the highest, a man must enter into this order of the priesthood [meaning the new and everlasting covenant of marriage];
And if he does not, he cannot obtain it.
He may enter into the other, but that is the end of his kingdom; he cannot have an increase, (D&C 131:1-5).
Section 132 of the Doctrine and Covenants is where the bulk of the supposed commandment on polygamy is contained, and below is the official statement and explanation of the section that is at the heading of the canonized work.
Revelation given through Joseph Smith the Prophet, at Nauvoo, Illinois, recorded July 12, 1843, relating to the new and everlasting covenant, including the eternity of the marriage covenant and the principle of plural marriage. Although the revelation was recorded in 1843, evidence indicates that some of the principles involved in this revelation were known by the Prophet as early as 1831. See Official Declaration 1.
1–6, Exaltation is gained through the new and everlasting covenant; 7–14, The terms and conditions of that covenant are set forth; 15–20, Celestial marriage and a continuation of the family unit enable men to become gods; 21–25, The strait and narrow way leads to eternal lives; 26–27, The law is given relative to blasphemy against the Holy Ghost; 28–39, Promises of eternal increase and exaltation are made to prophets and Saints in all ages; 40–47, Joseph Smith is given the power to bind and seal on earth and in heaven; 48–50, The Lord seals upon him his exaltation; 51–57, Emma Smith is counseled to be faithful and true; 58–66, Laws governing plural marriage are set forth.
From Church history it is clear that Joseph denied his polygamous relationships, not just to the public, but also to his first and only legitimate wife, Emma. There are some verses in section 132 where God supposedly tells Emma that if she doesn't accept polygamy and allow Joseph to have more wives that she will be destroyed. There are also verses that talk about those who practice in polygamy becoming Gods, though some LDS people still deny that the Church holds for doctrine that people can become Gods, but it is clear in this section, and in case there is any doubt, it says it explicitly in the heading for the section. I don't have time to go into all of polygamy or to read all of section 132, but I will share a few of the verses that explicitly contradict The Book of Mormon.
Verily, thus saith the Lord unto you my servant Joseph, that inasmuch as you have inquired of my hand to know and understand wherein I, the Lord, justified my servants Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, as also Moses, David and Solomon, my servants, as touching the principle and doctrine of their having many wives and concubines—
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.
David’s wives and concubines were given unto him of me, by the hand of Nathan, my servant, and others of the prophets who had the keys of this power; and in none of these things did he sin against me save in the case of Uriah and his wife, (D&C 132:1, 38-39).
In the third chapter of Jacob, Jacob continues with is discourse on the sins of polygamy and tells the Nephites that if they don't repent their skins will be darker than the Lamanites and that they will be destroyed.
But behold, I, Jacob, would speak unto you that are pure in heart. Look unto God with firmness of mind, and pray unto him with exceeding faith, and he will console you in your afflictions, and he will plead your cause, and send down justice upon those who seek your destruction.
O all ye that are pure in heart, lift up your heads and receive the pleasing word of God, and feast upon his love; for ye may, if your minds are firm, forever.
But, wo, wo, unto you that are not pure in heart, that are filthy this day before God; for except ye repent the land is cursed for your sakes; and the Lamanites, which are not filthy like unto you, nevertheless they are cursed with a sore cursing, shall scourge you even unto destruction.
And the time speedily cometh, that except ye repent they shall possess the land of your inheritance, and the Lord God will lead away the righteous out from among you.
Behold, the Lamanites your brethren, whom ye hate because of their filthiness and the cursing which hath come upon their skins, are more righteous than you; for they have not forgotten the commandment of the Lord, which was given unto our father—that they should have save it were one wife, and concubines they should have none, and there should not be whoredoms committed among them.
And now, this commandment they observe to keep; wherefore, because of this observance, in keeping this commandment, the Lord God will not destroy them, but will be merciful unto them; and one day they shall become a blessed people.
Behold, their husbands love their wives, and their wives love their husbands; and their husbands and their wives love their children; and their unbelief and their hatred towards you is because of the iniquity of their fathers; wherefore, how much better are you than they, in the sight of your great Creator?
O my brethren, I fear that unless ye shall repent of your sins that their skins will be whiter than yours, when ye shall be brought with them before the throne of God.
Wherefore, a commandment I give unto you, which is the word of God, that ye revile no more against them because of the darkness of their skins; neither shall ye revile against them because of their filthiness; but ye shall remember your own filthiness, and remember that their filthiness came because of their fathers.
Wherefore, ye shall remember your children, how that ye have grieved their hearts because of the example that ye have set before them; and also, remember that ye may, because of your filthiness, bring your children unto destruction, and their sins be heaped upon your heads at the last day, (Jacob 3:1-10).
Jacob also talks about grace in a manner that is not really spoken of in the LDS Church today, "Nevertheless, the Lord God showeth us our weakness that we may know that it is by his grace, and his great condescensions unto the children of men, that we have power to do these things," (Jacob 4:7).
Whenever anyone in the Church asks difficult questions about the Church, asks questions that have answers that are embarrassing to the Church, wants to read in depth about the history of the Church or wants to investigate any of the Church's doctrine past what is spoken of in Sunday school they are quoted Jacob 3:14 and are told that if they ask questions or study "deep doctrine" that it will cause them to go astray and loose their salvation and exaltation.
There is a temptation for the writer or the teacher of Church history to want to tell everything, whether it is worthy or faith promoting or not.
Some things that are true are not very useful.
“Restoration of the Gospel,” True to the Faith (2004), 135–39
"But behold, the Jews were a stiffnecked people; and they despised the words of plainness, and killed the prophets, and sought for things that they could not understand. Wherefore, because of their blindness, which blindness came by looking beyond the mark, they must needs fall; for God hath taken away his plainness from them, and delivered unto them many things which they cannot understand, because they desired it. And because they desired it God hath done it, that they may stumble," (Jacob 4:14).
One of the things that is interesting about this verse is that true Christianity is simple and easy to understand and the LDS Church and its people despise it, partially because they think it is too easy, and teach complicated doctrines that are impossible to keep.
Jacob 6:10 speaks of the traditional Christian view of hell which, as I mentioned in the previous installments, does not agree with current LDS theology on hell. "And according to the power of justice, for justice cannot be denied, ye must go away into that lake of fire and brimstone, whose flames are unquenchable, and whose smoke ascendeth up forever and ever, which lake of fire and brimstone is endless torment."
In the seventh chapter of Jacob a man named Sherem accused Jacob of not following the law of Moses and teaching the people not to follow the law of Moses which, if you pay attention to the details in The Book of Mormon compared to the Law of Moses, is actually true but not for the reasons Sherem said. Sherem did not think Jacob followed the Law of Moses because he taught a Christ should come. I mentioned it in the previous installment that it makes no sense for an angel of God to tell a Hebrew speaking people that the name of the Messiah would be Christ because Christ is a title and not a name and it is a Greek word. It is not logical to believe that an angel would have used Greek words to describe things to a Hebrew speaking people.
A little later there is an exchange between Jacob and Sherem that I have had almost exactly with LDS poeple when they insist that the LDS doctrines are of God and supported by the Bible. "And I said unto him: Believest thou the scriptures? And he said, Yea. And I said unto him: Then ye do not understand them," Jacob 7:10-11). I tell people who believe in the LDS Church that either they haven’t read the Bible, don’t believe it, or don’t understand it, otherwise they would be a Christian and not a Mormon.
The following verse is basically what The Book of Mormon thinks of the American Indians, which are believed to be the descendants of the Lamanites. "And it came to pass that many means were devised to reclaim and restore the Lamanites to the knowledge of the truth; but it all was vain, for they delighted in wars and bloodshed, and they had an eternal hatred against us, their brethren. And they sought by the power of their arms to destroy us continually," (Jacob 7:24).
The last verse in Jacob is a bit puzzling because there is a French word, adieu, thrown in, which is out of place to say the least. Apologist for the Church say that since Joseph was translating he would have put words that he was familiar with, but Church history says that the exact words would appear on the rock in the hat and if Joseph Smith were to say them wrong or if the scribe were to write them wrong than it would not progress to the next word. "And I, Jacob, saw that I must soon go down to my grave; wherefore, I said unto my son Enos: Take these plates. And I told him the things which my brother Nephi had commanded me, and he promised obedience unto the commands. And I make an end of my writing upon these plates, which writing has been small; and to the reader I bid farewell, hoping that many of my brethren may read my words. Brethren, adieu," (Jacob 7:27).
It might be pushing the time just a little, but I think I can get by with covering the book of Enos because it is only one chapter and there is not a lot of crazy things to cover in there and there is not a lot of doctrine covered in that little book.
Enos, who was the son of Jacob, was not a righteous man and sinned a lot and the first few verses talk of how Enow wrestled mightily with the Lord in prayer for forgiveness of his sins and then God speaks to him to tell him that he was forgiven because of his faith in Jesus, not because of any works he had done, but he was forgiven by faith alone, so this is the traditional Christian view of grace and not the doctrine that the LDS Church teaches that a person has to so specific works to be forgiven.
And there came a voice unto me, saying: Enos, thy sins are forgiven thee, and thou shalt be blessed.
And I, Enos, knew that God could not lie; wherefore, my guilt was swept away.
And I said: Lord, how is it done?
And he said unto me: Because of thy faith in Christ, whom thou hast never before heard nor seen. And many years pass away before he shall manifest himself in the flesh; wherefore, go to, thy faith hath made thee whole," (Enos 1:5-8).
An inportant thing to note here is that even if this story were true and Enos was forgiven for his faith, he still would have had to live the law of Moses because this was approximately B.C. 420 so the law had not yet been fulfilled. The Bible is extremely clear on the issue and people had to live the law of Moses until it was fulfilled, and even Jesus subjected himself to the law of Moses up until the point where fulfilled the aspect of the law in question. All through The Book of Mormon there is no evidence that the people live the law of Moses, and there is ample evidence that they held the law in low regard and acted like it had already been fulfilled.
After Enos is forgiven he wants to convert all of the Lamanites and God tells him that they will be brought to salvation at a future day, though it does not seem that this was true since few Native Americans have ever joined the LDS Church. However, to be fair, this is more of a setup for a self-fulfillment later in the book of Alma where Alma the younger and Ammon converts a lot of the lamanites.
Verse 20 gives a disparaging view of the American Indians, "And I bear record that the people of Nephi did seek diligently to restore the Lamanites unto the true faith in God. But our labors were vain; their hatred was fixed, and they were led by their evil nature that they became wild, and ferocious, and a blood-thirsty people, full of idolatry and filthiness; feeding upon beasts of prey; dwelling in tents, and wandering about in the wilderness with a short skin girdle about their loins and their heads shaven; and their skill was in the bow, and in the cimeter, and the ax. And many of them did eat nothing save it was raw meat; and they were continually seeking to destroy us."
In the second to last verse in this chapter it mentions crops and animals that were not present in the Americas until the European colonization and claims that the people of The Book of Mormon, a supposed pre-European colonization people, raised these crops and animals, such as wheat, cattle goats and horses, but there is no evidence that they were present in the Americas before the Europeans came over. It is interesting that nowhere in The Book of Mormon does it mention any of the animals or plants that are native to the North, Central and South American continents. All evidence points to Joseph Smith being ignorant of the history of American plants and animals and he wrote about things that he was familiar with and knew about from growing up on a farm.
Another error from verse 20 is that it says they used the cimiter and the ax, but there is not one shred of evidence that the people native to the Americas ever used any metal weapon or tool of any kind before the European colonization. The people native to the Americas used weapons and tools made from rock, bone, obsidian wood and other materials that were readily available. No one in the Americas, so far as any field of science knows about, ever used any metal or knew anything about smelting or metallurgy. Of course, being a simple farmer, Joseph Smith did not know about the types of tools and weapons that were present in the Americas in history and wrote about things that he knew about, things that he thought they might have had in those days.