Chapter 1: About the Mormons
1. Who are the Mormons?
A.History. Mormonism started in 1830 with
24-year-old year old Joseph Smith, Jr. According to Smith, he had several
experiences, during which God, Jesus, and the angel Moroni gave him
instructions. Part of the instructions was to dig up some gold plates buried by
the angel Moroni around A.D. 400 on a hill just outside of Smith's town of
Palmyra, New York. Smith dug up the plates, claimed they were written in
"Reformed Egyptian," and that God had given him the ability to translate them.
This translation became known as the Book of Mormon, an account of the
ancient inhabitants of North America between 600 B.C. and A.D. 400.1
Mormons have four sources of authority: the Bible, the Book of
Mormon, the Pearl of Great Price, and Doctrine and
Covenants. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has become one
of the fastest growing religions in the world. In 1997, Latter-day Saints
membership totaled just shy of 10 million worldwide.2 The church owns many businesses, including Brigham
B.Doctrines. Mormon beliefs are
fundamentally different from biblical Christianity. These have been detailed in
other publications.3 Therefore, it will not be the purpose of this book to
spell out the differences in Mormon and Christian doctrine, but rather to
answer the question, "Is Mormonism true?" However, a few of the more peculiar
Mormon doctrines are mentioned below:
1. God. Once a human as we are now, and progressed to become God. He
is one of many Gods.
2. Man. Has the ability to progress and become a god just as Jehovah
3. Marriage. Polygamy is no longer advocated, although it once was
4. Jesus. The son of God, but not part of the Godhead. Mormons do not
believe in the Trinity.4
C. The People. Mormons are wonderful people who are very
sincere about their faith and are very caring. Conversations with Mormon
missionaries promise to be cordial. Although Mormon scholars, such as those at
Brigham Young University, are well aware of the challenges which face
Mormonism, Mormon laity, including Mormon missionaries, are pretty much in the
dark and will be surprised when you share the information contained in the
first half of this book.
2. What Mormons tell you when they knock on your door
When Mormons visit you, they usually will not focus on the doctrines
previously mentioned. In fact, they probably will not even bring them up during
the first few meetings. Instead they will seek to find common ground with you
on many of the doctrines Christians believe. For example, they may begin by
saying that God revealed the Old Testament through Moses and the Prophets. Then
Jesus came, was crucified and resurrected. His disciples wrote books and
letters that became the New Testament. We all agree on these facts. Then the
differences begin. They will tell you that before Jesus' ascension into heaven,
He appeared to the inhabitants of North America and gave them the Gospel as
well. His message and the history of these inhabitants from 600 B.C. to A.D.
400 are recorded in the Book of Mormon. Furthermore, they will tell
you that since the apostles were not replaced when they were killed, the Church
went into apostasy. In other words, it abandoned the true faith, and
consequently, a restoration was necessary. Mormons believe that God
chose Joseph Smith to bring that restoration; therefore, the Church of Jesus
Christ of Latter-day Saints is the true Church.
3. How to answer Mormons
Mormons are well equipped to answer many of the issues Christians bring to
their attention and have answers adequate to silence the average critic. The
Mormon missionaries who come to your door are cordial and will listen to what
you have to say. Enjoy the opportunity to share your faith with them, but be
prepared by having good answers.
Although there are many issues, which you may bring to the Mormons'
attention, focus on four (4) that are of primary importance. These will be the
focus of the first half of this book and are:
A. The Bible is reliable. Mormons claim that the Bible has
been corrupted over the years as evidenced by the many different translations.
How do we know that the Bible we have today is the same as it was two thousand
years ago? In Chapter 2 we will see that the original words of the Bible have
been preserved with remarkable purity and that its accuracy has been confirmed
by both history and archaeology. We will also discuss how the variances among
English translations do not call into question the preservation of the Bible
over the years. Until you have shown this to a Mormon, it is useless to point
out that some Mormon doctrines differ from the Bible. They will only respond
that the Bible is unreliable. This is our topic in the next chapter.
B. There is no archaeological confirmation of the Book
of Mormon. While the spade of the archaeologist has confirmed
many places and peoples mentioned in the Bible, it has not been at all
favorable to the Book of Mormon. Although Mormons will confidently
assert that archaeology has confirmed the Book of Mormon's accuracy time and
time again, professional archaeologists have arrived at quite a different
conclusion. You will find out more about this problem in Chapter 3.
C. The Book of Abraham is a fraud. The Book of
Abraham is one of the books in the Pearl of Great Price, one of
Mormonism's scriptures. Joseph Smith purchased some ancient Egyptian papyri and
claimed it was an original book penned by Abraham himself while in Egypt. He
translated it allegedly by the same gift which God had given him to translate
the Book of Mormon. Professional Egyptologists have translated the
papyri since their rediscovery in 1967. Their translations bear no resemblance
to Smith's translation, exposing him as a charlatan. You will find out about
this subject of which few Mormons are even aware in Chapter 4.
D. Evidence for Mormonism? Mormons are convinced that
Mormonism is true because of the inward testimony of God that tells them so. If
you are going to be effective when talking to Mormons, it is crucial that you
address this issue as well. Otherwise, no amount of solid evidence, which
testifies against Mormonism, will be of help to them. See that their approach
is neither prudent nor biblical. This will be addressed in Chapter 5.
Chapter 6 will show you how to communicate these four
issues so that you will be able to respond intelligently and effectively to
Mormons the next time they knock on your door.