Problems With The Book of Mormon: 4th Nephi -Moroni
In the story told in The Book of Mormon, all of the works of previous prophets were abridged and compiled together by Mormon who added his own book to the end before handing it off to his son Moroni. After adding his own book, Moroni hid the plates in a stone box in Hill Cumorah where he later, as an angel led Joseph Smith to then so they could be translate into English.
Early on in the Fourth book of Nephi (4th Nephi 1:10) it says that the people were righteous and became “fair and delightsome,” which we learned earlier in The Book of Mormon means that they were white, and the foot notes for this verse leads the reader to a few verses earlier in the book that explicitly say so. Despite all the Church has done to appear less racist, including giving the priesthood to black men during the civil rights movement, giving them leadership roles and not saying anything about mixed race couples, the Church can never disavow The Book of Mormon and its blatant racist teaching that white skin means righteousness and dark skin means you are wicked because by throwing out the foundational book of the Church they would be destroying the foundation.
Over and over again leaders of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints say that all a person would have to do is prove The Book of Mormon to be false in order to prove the Church false, but they view the book as unapproachable and will not listen to or critically examine any evidence that is brought against it. From my experience, people who want to believe in The Book of Mormon will easily discount any evidence brought against it, regardless of how credible it is, because they don’t want to allow it to case doubt. The faithful who want to believe at any cost follow the admonition of President Uctdorf when he said, “Doubt your doubts before you doubt your faith,” (1).
When you are a member of the Church there is such a pressure by the leadership and other members to feel what other’s feel and believe even the things in the Church that are difficult to believe that a lot of people won’t even admit to themselves that they are doubting, and I have certainly been there. When I first started investigating my doubts I would not allow myself to believe that I was doubting and convinced myself that I was only investigating these things so I could help those who are doubting and defend the Church, but really it was for my own peace of mind; I reasoned that if the Church were true than it would stand up to inquiry and I needed to know that my faith was not misplaced, which it was.
The fourth book of Nephi can be summed up rather quickly. At first all of the people, both Lamanites and Nephites, become righteous but three centuries later all of the people are wicked and a man named Ammon hid the sacred writings and told Mormon where they were so he could get them when he was a little older. 4th Nephi is only one chapter and reads like Smith got tired of writing and just wanted it to get it over with by summarizing hundreds of years. To me, the details of how a people could go from total righteous to total wickedness would be more important than many of the things that were written in The Book of Mormon. Seriously, there is some extremely boring, pointless and otherwise unimportant details throughout the book, and yet the biggest transformation is just skipped over.
The book of Mormon starts with the a massive war where thousands are dying by the sword on both sides, and it goes into detail on how wicked everyone was, and says that the Nephites were even more wicked than the Lamanites. The crazy thing is that when the Lamanites became righteous earlier in the book they turned white, and now that they are sinning their skin turned dark again, but the Nephites were not turned dark for their sin. First off, I don’t in any way think that dark skin is a curse or a sign of wickedness, but it is clear that The Book of Mormon does, yet the Nephites were not cursed even though they were more wicked than the Lamanites.
Keep in mind The Book of Mormon teaches that the Lamanites are the principle ancestors of the American Indians as we read Mormon 5:15, a verse about the Lamanites. “And also that the seed of this people may more fully believe his gospel, which shall go forth unto them from the Gentiles; for this people shall be scattered, and shall become a dark, a filthy, and a loathsome people, beyond the description of that which ever hath been amongst us, yea, even that which hath been among the Lamanites, and this because of their unbelief and idolatry.”
That verse basically says that the Lamanites will become a people who are so wicked that they are beyond anything that has been described in the book so far, and there have been some pretty horrendous things up to this point. The Lamanites supposedly became the American Indians, so The Book of Mormon has an absolutely horrible view of the indigenous people of the Americas.
In the 6th chapter of Mormon we read that the Nephites gathered all of their people together near Hill Cumorah in New York and hundreds of thousands were slain, even to the utter destruction of the people, except for Mormon and his son Moroni, and I guess the three Nephites. At any rate, there were a lot of people killed in the same area, and since the book tells us that it was the Hill Cumorah, and since that is the same hill where Moroni hid the gold plates and Joseph Smith dug them up. When I visited Hill Cumorah last summer I asked the visitor center if they had ever done any excavation, and they said they had. I then asked if they had ever found any evidence of a battle or anything else and they said that they had not and that they don’t have any plans to do anymore excavation or searches of any kind in the area. The reason the Church doesn’t plan to continue searching for evidence at Cumorah, and the reason they won’t allow anyone else to do so, is that they know there is none to find and that it would cause people to doubt.
The seventh chapter of Mormon makes the claim that anyone who believes the Bible will also believe The Book of Mormon, but that is not even close to being true. There are multitudes of people who believe the Bible with every fiber of their being and consider The Book of Mormon to be nothing more than a work of fiction written by Smith and company.
In the next chapter there is a some a self-prophecy about Joseph Smith and The Book of Mormon, as well as no small amount of praise for Joseph Smith, and there is a setup for anyone who inevitably finds the many faults in the book and it states that anyone who questions the book is in danger of going to hell.
Mormon 8:17 says, “And if there be faults they be the faults of a man. But behold, we know no fault; nevertheless God knoweth all things; therefore, he that condemneth, let him be aware lest he shall be in danger of hell fire.” Basically this is saying that there are no faults, but if you happen to find any faults they are the faults of man, and if you point out the obvious faults you are in danger of going to hell. If The Book of Mormon were truly inspired by and written with the power and authority of God, and if it were truly the most correct book on earth than this verse would have been completely unnecessary, but the fact that it was included at all says a lot about the book, and what it says is not something good.
Mormon 8:32 says, “Yea, it shall come in a day when there shall be churches built up that shall say: Come unto me, and for your money you shall be forgiven of your sins.” This is a verse members of the Church use often to criticize churches who have paid ministry, but this verse is not actually criticizing getting paid for ministry but rather the sin of telling people that they can’t be saved without giving money. The ironic thing is that most of the Christian churches, while they are staffed with people who are paid for their services, they don’t make the claim that you have to give money to be saved, but The Mormon Church does.
According to the LDS theology, in order to be saved in the highest heaven a person has to attend the temple, and one of the things a person must do in order to be considered worthy enough to go to the temple is to pay a full 10% of his or her income to the Church. There is no other way to say it other than the LDS Church teaches that you can’t be saved unless you give them your money, which is something The Book of Mormon condemns.
With all of the rapid fire changes to the Church lately I think Mormon 9:9-10 are relevant verses because if God never changes then there is no justification for all of the major changes in the Church now and in the past.
For do we not read that God is the same yesterday, today, and forever, and in him there is no variableness neither shadow of changing?
And now, if ye have imagined up unto yourselves a god who doth vary, and in whom there is shadow of changing, then have ye imagined up unto yourselves a god who is not a God of miracles.
The last issue I will address in The Book of Mormon’s title book, and it is a big issue, is the claim that the book was written in Egyptian because there wasn’t enough room to write it in Hebrew, but that if there had been enough room to write in Hebrew than there would have been no errors. The problem with this is that Egyptian takes up significantly more real estate than does Hebrew, but Joseph Smith and company were apparently ignorant of both Hebrew and Egyptian during the writing process of The Book of Mormon.
And now, behold, we have written this record according to our knowledge, in the characters which are called among us the reformed Egyptian, being handed down and altered by us, according to our manner of speech.
And if our plates had been sufficiently large we should have written in Hebrew; but the Hebrew hath been altered by us also; and if we could have written in Hebrew, behold, ye would have had no imperfection in our record. (Mormon 9:32-33).
We next go to the book of Ether, which if you recall earlier in The Book of Mormon, it is the twenty four plates the people of Limhi found while trying to get back to the rest of the Nephites, and it is the history of a people called the Jaradites who left the holy land around the time of the Tower of Babel. There is a lot going on in the book of Ether, and most of it is interesting, compared to the rest of The Book of Mormon, but I am only going to focus on some of the most egregious errors.
In the first chapter of Ether it talks about America as a land that is choice above all lands, and while I am about as American as you can get, I have to be honest in saying that no where in the Bible does it so much as mention America, much less call it the most choice land. The Book of Mormon was obviously written by an American from an American perspective. All through the book of Ether, as well as the rest of the Book of Mormon, there are numerous verses peppered throughout that praises America as the best land on earth. As a proud American I think America is the best, but not because of the land; I think America is the greatest because of all of the freedoms we enjoy here that are not afforded to other parts of the world, though our liberties are slowly being chipped away to resemble what the founding father’s fought against in the first place, but that is a discussion for another time and place.
A quick overview of the catalyst that gets this people group from the holy land to the Americas is when the languages were all mixed up Jared had his brother, referred to as “the brother of Jared” to ask God to not confound their language or that of their family or friends. Supposedly the Jaradites spoke the original language that Adam and Eve spoke when they were first created by God in the garden of Eden, which Joseph Smith taught was in Missouri, which is a story for another episode.
Shortly after all of the languages were mixed up Jared and his group were led out of the area they were in and set out into the wilderness, and one of the most ridiculous things it says they did is to put fish into barrels and take them with them, as well as swarms of bees. I used to be really into aquariums and in order for fish to remain healthy you must have a minimum of one gallon of water per inch of fish, so if you had twenty three inch fish you would need sixty gallons of water. It is a really silly idea when you think of it, people leaving for a new land and taking fish with them instead of being happy with whatever fish were in their new area.
Despite the fact that the book of Ether, as well as the book of 1st Nephi, has people bringing honey bees to the Americas, there is absolutely no proof that honey bees were in the Americas before the Europeans brought them over, (2). There are bees that are native to the Americas, but none of the native species produce honey.
In the second chapter of Ether God has the people to build eight football shaped barges that were completely water and air tight when the door was shut. The brother of Jared noticed an obvious design flaw that would prove fatal, there was no way to get fresh air into the vessels, so he went to God and asked what to do. God had the brother of Jared to make a hole in the top and bottom of each barge so that whichever side was up at the time could be unstopped to provide air (verse 20), which would suggest that the barges would roll over from time to time. Keep in mind the barges were to be filled with people, animals, bees and barrels of fish, and enough food and fresh water for the duration of the 344 day trip.
The book of Ether tells us that Jared and his brother built eight barges that were “the length of a tree” and that they had no windows, just a door that when shut made the barges air and water tight. After complaining to God that there was no air in the barges God had the brother of Jared make an access hole in the top and bottom of each vessel so they could unstop whichever side was up to get air. With people and animals in a small cramped place for 344 days with no way to get rid of the waste, it would have been a disease ridden and filthy place.
If there are only small holes in the top and bottom for air than there is no practical way to get rid of all of the human and animal waste, and with the barges bouncing around and rolling over, the interior of the barges would have been repulsively disgusting and smelly places and everything would have been covered with urine and feces, including the food. Under those circumstances the biggest miracle would have been that a single person or animal survived the trip. Many people have been compelled to commit suicide under far more pleasant circumstances. I also have to point our how ridiculous it is that the barges were being pushed by a “fierce wind” and took 344 days to make the trip when a sailboat can make it in around 30 days, and depending on the ship, sometimes a lot less. The supposed fierce wind brought the Jaradite barges to the Americas took over ten times as long as a sailboat would have made the trip.
The brother of Jared also complained about the darkness inside of the barges and brought sixteen stones up to the top of the mountain and had God make them glow so they would have two glowing stones for each barge.
One of the major problems with the book of Ether is that there are wars so soon after the people came to the Americas, and while there are no dates given, it reads like it was only a few generations so there would not have been enough people to have a war even if they were breeding like rabbits.
In Eteher chapter seven a man named Corihor rebels against his father and led people astray, and Corihor’s children, it says in verse four, were “exceedingly fair.” I have never understood why The Book of Mormon would have God curse just one group of people with dark skin, and again, I don’t think dark skin is a curse or a bad thing, while allowing all the other groups of people to get a free pass at sinning without pronouncing any curse upon them. The God of Mormonism, which is altogether different from the God of the Bible, is completely unfair in his judgements.
in Ether 8:19 it say that God does not work in secret combinations, which is interesting since the LDS Church is so secretive about the goings on in the temples. In the Bible (John 18:20) Jesus said that he did nothing in secret and revealed everything publicly, and in The Book of Mormon (Helaman 2:13) it says that secret combinations almost destroyed the entire people of Nephi, so there is no real reason to keep the temple secret other than to keep outsiders from knowing how incredibly strange some of it is.
In the book of Ether there are a lot of things mentioned such as silk, steel, horses, cattle and crops such as wheat and barley that are out of place in the Americas during this time period, which was from approximately 2197 BC to 550 BC, but as most of them have already been addressed in earlier episodes I will gloss over them and focus on the ones that are new additions.
Ether 9:19 mentions a few things that are new additions to the out of place animals in the Americas, and a few that sound made up. “And they also had horses, and asses, and there were elephants and cureloms and cumoms; all of which were useful unto man, and more especially the elephants and cureloms and cumoms.” Some LDS apologist, knowing that Elephants were never indigenous to the Americas and there has never been any evidence that anyone anciently brought them over, claim that Ether was talking about woolly mammoths, but the archeological evidence has them all going extinct by 1650 BCE (3) and the Jaradites did not arrive on the scene until nearly six hundred years later.
Ether 10:5 is yet another of the verses in the book Joseph Smith said was the most correct book on earth that condemns polygamy, “And it came to pass that Riplakish did not do that which was right in the sight of the Lord, for he did have many wives and concubines.”
From the first time I read The Book of Mormon I have thought that Ether 12:12 was problematic because it says that God can do no miracles because of the unbelief of the people, as if God is somehow bound and can only do things if we believe he can do them. God does not need out permission or our faith to do things, we just don’t recognize them as miracles, and yes, God is less likely to help us out if we don’t have faith, but he is not bound by it. The relevant part of the verse reads, “For if there be no faith among the children of men God can do no miracle among them.” There are examples throughout the Bible of God doing mighty miracles when people did not believe, and there are some in The Book of Mormon as well, including an angel appearing to Alma to straighten him out when he was fighting against the church his father set up.
Ether 12:23-26 is another section of verses designed to discourage people from questioning or criticizing The Book of Mormon. The reason there are so many verses like that is because The Book of Mormon is aware of its own flaws and knows that people will notice those flaws, and this is a way to try and discourage that. I don’t think it is working, and to those who doubt the book, verses like those read like the threats of one kindergarten boy to another saying that if he lets his sister in his blanket fort that the monsters will eat them.
It isn’t really important, but I feel the need to mention Ether 14:18 as I think it is the best verse in the entire work of The Book of Mormon because it is funny, “And there went a fear of Shiz throughout all the land; yea, a cry went forth throughout the land—Who can stand before the army of Shiz?”
The rest of the book of Ether can be summed up by saying that there were continuous wars until it was down to two men, and it says in Ether 15:2 that millions of people were slain. The final battle ends with the two kings, who are the last two Jaradites alive, with the exception of Ether who was writing it all down, fighting it out.
And it came to pass that when they had all fallen by the sword, save it were Coriantumr and Shiz, behold Shiz had fainted with the loss of blood.
And it came to pass that when Coriantumr had leaned upon his sword, that he rested a little, he smote off the head of Shiz.
And it came to pass that after he had smitten off the head of Shiz, that Shiz raised up on his hands and fell; and after that he had struggled for breath, he died.
And it came to pass that Coriantumr fell to the earth, and became as if he had no life. (Ether 15:29-32)
Not saying that it could not possibly happen, but I think, statistically speaking, the odds of two people groups fighting down to the last man and making themselves extinct instead of one side surrendering is so close to zero that it might as well be zero. Also, I am not a doctor, but it sounds pretty impossible for a person without a head to struggle for breath.
Now, moving on to the book of Moroni, the very last book in The Book of Mormon. The first issue worth mentioning is that Moroni chapter 2 gives the wording for the laying on of hands for the Holy Ghost, and the wording differs from the official wording the Church uses today. The ordination to priesthood offices in Moroni 3 also differs from the official wording.
Moroni 6:4 says that we are to rely alone upon the merits of Christ, yet the Church teaches that we have to work out our own salvation and that it is our works and our merits that determine whether or not we are saved.
Moroni 7:6 says that someone who is evil can’t do anything good, but that is not true as no one is all good and no one is all bad. Bad people do some good things, even if it is only because it benefits themselves, and good people do some bad things.
Moroni 8:18 says that the law of circumcision is done away with, yet the practice of circumcision is wide spread within the Church and practically all LDS families circumcise their sons.
Moroni 8:23 speaks poorly of putting faith in dead works instead of in the merits of Christ, yet the Church is it is today is all about works and even teaches that a person can’t be saved without doing specific works such as temple ordinances.
Moroni chapter ten is the chapter that all missionaries are taught to have people who are investigating the Church to read because it is the promise by Moroni that if a person reads The Book of Mormon and prays about it with real intent that God will reveal the truthfulness of it to them. There are a lot of problems with this, and one of the biggest problems is we should not determine truth by how we feel about something as our feelings are often wrong and the Bible says in Jeremiah 17:9 that the heart is deceitful above all things, so it is clearly a bad idea to base our entire life and salvation upon a feeling. The Church teaches that we will get a good feeling about the book, like a burning in the bosom, but a lot of things ranging from a good meal to a movie or a glass of wine can give us that feeling, and that in no way means that God is sending the Holy Ghost to tell us that those things are good.
Another major problem with this is that if a person prays and gets the feeling that The Book of Mormon and the Church are not true than they are told that the answer is not of God and that they should pray again, so basically the Church tells people that if they get the answer that they, the Church, wants them to get it is of God and any other answer is of the devil. If it is that easy for the devil to deceive us with a feeling that there is no logical reason to believe the Church or anything else based on a feeling. Also, more often than not, when someone tells you that their way is the only way than they are trying to deceive you. The method the Church uses to get people to believe in the Church and its book is similar to the method that an abusive boyfriend may use to get a woman to stay.
Moroni 10:7, 19 says that God is the same yesterday, today and forever and that he never changes, so if God never changes and Joseph Smith restored the Church to the way it was when Jesus himself set it up than there is no reason or justification for any doctrinal changes or changes to ordinances.
Moroni 10:26 says, “And wo unto them who shall do these things away and die, for they die in their sins, and they cannot be saved in the kingdom of God; and I speak it according to the words of Christ; and I lie not.” This is one of the many verses that shows there is no salvation after death, despite the Church’s teaching about works and ordinances for the dead.
Moroni 10:32 says, “Yea, come unto Christ, and be perfected in him, and deny yourselves of all ungodliness; and if ye shall deny yourselves of all ungodliness, and love God with all your might, mind and strength, then is his grace sufficient for you, that by his grace ye may be perfect in Christ; and if by the grace of God ye are perfect in Christ, ye can in nowise deny the power of God.”
The huge problem with Moroni 10:32 is that it gives us a list of things we must do in order for the grace of God to be sufficient for us, but the grace of God is sufficient with or without our works. The only thing we add to salvation is the sin that made it necessary in the first place. By saying we have to do specific things in order to qualify or merit grace is to deny grace because by definition it is unmerited.
2 Corinthians 12:9, as well as practically the entire book of Romans, teaches us that we are saved by grace and not by anything we can do and that God’s grace is sufficient.
But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.
I hope you have gotten something out of this series, and if you are a faithful member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints I hope and pray that you will critically examine the claims of the Church and The Book of Mormon and compare them to the Bible. The Bible clearly teaches that we are saved by the grace of God and not of our own works or merits; the work of salvation was completed at the cross.