Candidates have been competing for the spotlight in first debate between Republican USA presidential hopefuls in New Hampshire.
Who won the debate? Commentators tell us two people did.
One was former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney. Some republicans loath him for passing a healthcare reform programme that closely resembles “Obamacare”. Some of his party call him a Rino – a “Republican in name only”.
The other winner was Michele Bachmann who far exceeded the low expectations most people had for her. She has been described as a Sarah Palin, and just as right-wing.
I find it puzzling that Mitt Romney is still in the race. A Mormon for USA President? Surely his religion will be a hindrance to his ambitions. Would not such a thing demean the US in the eyes of other nations? I can not see Christians in the USA voting for Mitt Romney unless they have no idea what Mormonism is.
It is possible of course that the Mormon leadership know he has little chance, but delight that they have a candidate. Perhaps they reason that after a few candidates the opposition to a Mormon president would fade.
I was brought up as a Mormon but left Mormonism as a teenager. Once I had became a follower of Jesus Christ I became interested in what Mormonism is, so did some research. Let me give you a run down of where they stand.
Mormons do not seem to mind being call Mormons though it is really a nick-name. The correct name of their organisation is THE CHURCH OF JESUS CHRIST OF LATTER-DAY SAINTS.
To a Mormon there is only one true church, theirs.
What is Mormonism?
Though claiming to believe their sacred book “The Book of Mormon” to be scripture of greater importance than the Bible, many Mormons will never have read the book. I think they may have found it to be both boring and badly written.
The Mormon Story
The Mormons give an account of their beginning which goes something like this:
In 1820 Joseph Smith, aged 14 started go get visitations from a being claiming to be God. In 1827 an angel called Moroni appeared to him in his bedroom and told him many things, eventually leading to the top of the hill, where under a large rock was a wooden box containing a book with pages made of gold (referred to by Mormons as the “golden plates”).
Mormons claim the writing on the golden plates was in Egyptian hieroglyphics and contained the history of America before Columbus. Smith translated the plates into English by means of a seer stone of crystals known as the Urim and Thummim.
Once the book was translated it became known as The Book of Mormon, it was published in 1830.
But… or Problems
Joseph Smith claimed to have seen the Father and the Son, which suggests that there is more than one God and that both Father and Son have bodies or appear in bodily form. This is not, and never has been, Christian doctrine.
Problem 1) The craze of treasure hunting
A result of his meeting with the Father and the Son Joseph was eventually shown some buried treasure, a book made of gold plates bound together.
Treasure hunting was a craze at this time, in the area where Joseph lived. An article in the Wayne Sentinel in Palmyra, reported that “a respectable gentleman” in Tunbridge had claimed to discover a gold chest with the help of a vision and a mineral rod. On March 2, 1825, the Sentinel carried the account of a wood chopper who said he had found gold in the trunk of a tree near Utica.
Problem 2) the origins of the Book of Mormon
Joseph and his friends, when telling their story, would have had no experience of gold and the weight of it. A book the size he described, made from sheets of gold, even if thin, would have weighed about 16 stone, or over 100 Kilograms.
Neither Joseph or his friends appear to have been very literate as there was almost 4,000 spelling and grammatical errors in the early version of the Book of Mormon until it was replaced by a later version. This is usually denied by Mormons but Ex-Mormons have embarrassingly published and made available copies of the older versions on the Internet
Problem 3) the contents of the book of Mormon
The stories of the Book of Mormon are such that Mormonism has a whole mythology all of its own. It claims to be the record of early migrants to America from Babylon and later from Palestine. It supposedly charts their history in America and included details of a visit Jesus Christ made to them during the period after His crucifixion and resurrection. These were supposed to be the “other sheep” he spoke of by Jesus and not the Gentiles that most people believe Jesus was referring to.
None of the claims of the Book of Mormon have been verified by archaeology. The Book of Mormon mentions 38 great ancient cities but none of them have left any remains at all. There has never been any archaeological support for the book of Mormon that has not turned out to be false or a forgery.
According to the Smithsonian Institute of Washington, D.C., USA, the following items (which, according to The Book of Mormon, existed in the Americas between 600 B.C. and 421 A.D.) have absolutely no evidence for existing in the America’s during the time in question: Silk, Horses, Steel, Iron, Coins, Donkeys, Cattle, Oxen, Pigs, Grain and Wheat.
What are the real possible sources for the Book of Mormon?
1) Book of gold
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has published many pictures of Joseph Smith supposedly dictating the Book of Mormon. Smith is shown seated at a table carefully examining the gold plates which are in front of him on the table.
The testimony of those who claimed they were eyewitnesses to Joseph Smith dictating the Book of Mormon tell of Joseph dropping a magical seer stone into his hat, then burying his face in the hat and proceeding to dictate the Book of Mormon from there. Joseph Smith claimed to see in the darkened hat the words he dictated.
Dropping a stone into a had and burying his head in it was not a new technique for young Joseph. In October 1825, Josiah Stowell (sometimes spelled Stowel or Stoal), a farmer from South Bainbridge, New York, came to ask Joseph to help him find a lost silver mine in the Susquehanna Valley. According to an eye-witness (Isaac Hale, later to become Joseph Smith’s father-in-law), it involved Joseph looking into a stone placed in a hat into which Joseph buried his face.
2) The Westminster Confession
The Presbyterian church has, as basis for its constitution the Westminster Confession, a great statement of Biblical faith known as The Westminster Confession. Parts of the book of Alma (a book in the book of Mormon) may have been based on the Westminster confession.
3) Free Masonry
“Now in at least twenty-one chapters, in seven out of the sixteen books of the book of Mormon are to be found passages, varying from several to sixty three lines in length, plainly referring to Masonry under the guise of pretended similar organisations in ancient America.” (The American Journal of Psychology Vol. 28 1917 page 376)
4) The Authorised Version of the Bible
The AV Bible (known as KJV, or the King James Version) is used verbatim on hundreds of occasions. The AV is the one translation used which would have been available to Joseph Smith.
The passages from the AV version included in the Book of Mormon are included complete with the translation errors of that old version.
In Shakespeare’s famous and often quoted “To be or not to be” passage in Hamlet we find this portion, “To grunt and sweat under a weary life, But that the dread of something after death, The undiscovere’d country, from whose bourn no traveller returns…”
Shakespeare invented many words never used before him. It is said that there over 1,700 of these Shakespearian words. An internet search will produce lists. One such word is ‘traveller’. There is no record of the word being used before Shakespeare used it, in England or anywhere else. It appears in the Book or Mormon (2 Nephi 1:14). See http://www.lds-mormon.com/shake.shtml for more info on this.
6) A Novel by Solomon Spalding
Although adding details from various sources (even including details from a dream that Joseph Smith’s father was supposed to have had) the main story of the Book of Mormon could be an expansion of a novel by Solomon Spalding.
Spalding was a retired minister who was known to have written a number of “romances” with Biblical backgrounds similar to the book of Mormon. A manuscript of a novel of his called “Manuscript Found” went missing from the printers (where Joseph Smith worked).
This claim of a lost novel called “Manuscript Found” was thorn in the side of the Mormons for many years. Mormons claim that one of Spalding’s manuscripts entitled “Manuscript Story” was discovered in Hawaii more than 100 years ago and differs in many respects from the Book of Mormon. Note the different titles here, the “Manuscript Story” was never claimed to be the novel on which the book of Mormon was based, but another one entitled “Manuscript Found“.
7) Joseph’s Imagination
Alongside the above possibilities, it seems Joseph Smith had a rich imagination. He was fond of making up stories as a boy. According to the book ‘History of Joseph Smith’ (page 85) by Lucy Mack Smith (Joseph Smith’s mother) we find the following:
“During our evening conversations, Joseph would occasionally give us some of the most amusing recitals that could be imagined. He would describe the ancient inhabitants of this continent, their dress, mode of traveling, and the animals upon which they rode; their cities, their buildings, with every particular; their mode of warfare; and also their religious worship. This he would do with as much ease, seemingly, as if he had spent his whole life among them.”
Did God write the Book of Mormon?
By that I mean could it have been inspired by the God of the Christians in the same way Christians believe the Bible was inspired?
See Deuteronomy 13:1-10
If a prophet, or one who foretells by dreams, appears among you and announces to you a miraculous sign or wonder, and if the sign or wonder of which he has spoken takes place, and he says, Let us follow other gods (gods you have not known) and let us worship them, you must not listen to the words of that prophet or dreamer. The LORD your God is testing you to find out whether you love him with all your heart and with all your soul.
It is the LORD your God you must follow, and him you must revere. Keep his commands and obey him; serve him and hold fast to him.
That prophet or dreamer must be put to death, because he preached rebellion against the LORD your God, who brought you out of Egypt and redeemed you from the land of slavery; he has tried to turn you from the way the LORD your God commanded you to follow. You must purge the evil from among you.
If your very own brother, or your son or daughter, or the wife you love, or your closest friend secretly entices you, saying, Let us go and worship other gods (gods that neither you nor your fathers have known, gods of the peoples around you, whether near or far, from one end of the land to the other), do not yield to him or listen to him. Show him no pity. Do not spare him or shield him. You must certainly put him to death. Your hand must be the first in putting him to death, and then the hands of all the people. Stone him to death, because he tried to turn you away from the LORD your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery.
But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let him be eternally condemned! As we have already said, so now I say again: If anybody is preaching to you a gospel other than what you accepted, let him be eternally condemned!
I warn everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: If anyone adds anything to them, God will add to him the plagues described in this book. And if anyone takes words away from this book of prophecy, God will take away from him his share in the tree of life and in the holy city, which are described in this book. He who testifies to these things says, Yes, I am coming soon. Amen. Come, Lord Jesus.
Ex-Mormons for Jesus – http://www.exmormonsforjesus.org/
http://www.waltermartin.com/mormon.html – Author of The Kingdom of the Cults.