Chapter 5: Mormon Evidence?
So what evidence is there that Mormonism is true? While Mormon scholars
admit valid challenges to Mormonism from archaeology and the Book of
Abraham, they say the evidences of Mormonism's truthfulness is the
Book of Mormon itself, God's confirmation in your spirit, and the
number of changed lives. When talking to Mormons expect to hear them say, "I
know the Book of Mormon is true because I have prayed to God and asked
him to tell me if it is true. And he has confirmed it in my spirit that it
is."47 In other words, "We don't need
evidence. God has told me that the Book of Mormon is true. He has
confirmed it in my spirit so that no amount of evidence against Mormonism would
convince me that it is wrong." Mormon missionaries are trained to keep on
telling you how the Holy Spirit has confirmed to them that the Book of
Mormon is true, that Jesus has changed their life and has meant so much to
them. Expect it and do not let it surprise you. This belief is extremely
difficult to overcome when talking to your Mormon friends. Much is going to
depend on them having an open mind. So we have now come to the heart of the
matter in talking with Mormons. In this important chapter we will discuss the
insufficiency of these evidences provided by Mormons for Mormonism's truth.
1. Feelings are often inaccurate.
Have you ever doubted your salvation? Many have at some time. However, your
feelings do not change the fact that either you are or are not saved. Can you
imagine God requiring a new conversion every time you have a mood swing which
results in doubts? It is possible for someone to have doubts about being a
Christian, and still be one. Likewise, it is possible for someone to feel
confident that they are okay in their relationship with God but in reality are
not (see Matthew 7:21-22). Think of the confidence many of the Jewish leaders
in Jesus' time had that they were doing the will of God. Yet, Jesus said to
them, "You are of your father, the devil" (John 8:44, NASB). The apostle Paul
was a perfect example. He believed he was doing the will of God by persecuting
and killing Christians, but found that he was actually persecuting the Son of
God (see Acts 22:1-8).
People of other religions claim a confirmation from within themselves as
evidence that their religion is true. Islam makes the same claims and yet
Mormons do not regard the Qur'an or Islamic doctrine as being divinely
inspired. Mohammed made claims of visions similar to Joseph Smith's. Regarding
the Qur'an he claimed that "this Qur'an is not such as can be
produced by other than God" (10:37). He further boasts "if the whole of mankind
and Jinn [good and evil spirits] were to gather together to produce the like of
this Qur'an, they could not produce the like thereof, even if they backed up
each other with help and support" (17:88). What supposedly makes the
Qur'an even more amazing is that someone alleged to be illiterate
wrote it (7:157). Muslims also argue that the number of changed lives and
cultures by the Qur'an are evidence of its divine origin.48 In other words, the Qur'an is so
beautiful in its literary style that all of mankind and spirits working
together could not produce it, only God could. The truthfulness of Islam is
also evidenced by its incredible transforming power.
Is Islam true? No.49 Certainly Mormons do not believe that it is. So one
can be sincere and confident that God has shown them the way and still be
mistaken, as is the case with Muslims. Satan can counterfeit feelings of
certainty and answer prayer.50 The Mormon says, "God has confirmed it to me."
But the Muslim says the same thing and so do Christians. What is the difference
between the confirmations of Mormons, Muslims, and Christians?
Mormons are not the only ones to err on this point. Many Christians, myself
included, have been guilty at some point of presenting feelings and spiritual
experience as evidence that their beliefs are true. I do not want to downplay
the authenticity of feelings and spiritual experiences. I believe much of the
peace in the life of the Christian and his or her spiritual experiences are
authentic. I acknowledge that people of other faiths have experiences as well.
However, I interpret them as having a different source than my own (e.g., self
or demonic). The only way to determine the true source is to look at outside
evidence. When we do this with Mormonism, the prognosis is not good.
2. Defenders of the faith, both the religious leaders of the
Old Testament and the apostles of the New Testament, used proof, not
The Old Testament leaders encouraged people to remember what God did for
them: delivering them from Egypt, the plagues and the parting of the Sea,
delivering them in the wilderness from the snakes, giving them manna from
Heaven, and bringing them into the land he promised (see 1 Chron. 16:12; Is.
46:9). The New Testament leaders "reasoned" from the Scriptures (see Acts 17:2;
18:4, 19) and offered proof, namely Jesus' resurrection (see Acts 9:22; 17:31).
No one ever suggested, "Just read this book and pray about it. God will show
you that it's true."
I once had a discussion with a Mormon gentleman who works for the Mormon
Church in Utah. I shared many of the challenges to Mormonism presented earlier.
He responded that Mormon leaders are continually telling Mormons that they must
believe in spite of the facts. I pointed out to him that neither the
Old Testament prophets nor the New Testament apostles were hesitant to provide
evidence for their claims. I continued, "What the Mormon church is asking you
to do is to believe that God worked a certain way until less than 200 years
Be prepared to present the evidence for your position. For example, you can
say to Mormon missionaries, "We both are confident and assured that we are
correct in our own beliefs. Since our beliefs differ, and they do, or you would
not be here today, one of us is wrong. How will we know which one? Only by
looking at the evidence outside of ourselves. When we do, we observe that the
Bible is reliable and has been accurately preserved. This verifies my position,
because I accept the Bible. When we look at Mormonism independently we observe
that there is no confirmation of the truthfulness of the Book of
Mormon from archaeology or history. In fact, the lack of archaeological
evidence that ought to be there is hurtful to Mormonism. Finally, since Smith's
translation of the Book of Abraham has been shown to be fraudulent,
his ability to translate the Book of Mormon accurately is also in
serious question. Since we both have inward feelings that our own view is true,
the outside evidence makes my position much more likely than yours."
3. One can be sincere but wrong.
When Mormons sense they are losing a lot of ground during the conversation,
they may bring up universalism, the belief that every sincere person will make
it to heaven, regardless of their beliefs. This is in accordance with Mormon
doctrine. However, it is not compatible with biblical doctrine.
Romans 10:1-2 (KJV) says, "Brethren, my heart's desire and prayer to God for
Israel is, that they might be saved. For I bear them record that they have a
zeal of God, but not according to knowledge." Paul prayed for the Jews'
salvation, although he recognized they had a zeal for God. Their zeal, however,
was not compatible with truth. Sincerity is not a test for truth and is not
enough for eternal life. Several other verses in the Bible indicate that Jesus
is the only way to obtain eternal life. (see John 3:36, 14:6; Acts 4:12;
The biblical view of faith is that it is always a trusting commitment based
on known fact. The disciples knew their faith was grounded in truth, not
because they had the feeling that it was true, but because Jesus had fulfilled
his promise to rise from the dead. There are three (3) types of
1) Faith with evidence. This is reasonable faith (e.g., many events in
the Bible including Jesus' Resurrection).
2) Faith with no evidence, for or against. This is blind faith (e.g.,
the Exodus from Egypt).
3) Faith in spite of evidence against it. This is stubborn faith (e.g.,
archaeological problems with the Book of Mormon and the translation
problem with the Book of Abraham).
The type of faith Mormons exhibit is the third type and is not the way God
works as modeled throughout the Bible. Unless there is a better foundation than
feelings for your faith in a system that you hope will allow you to have
eternal life, it may be time to start looking around at alternatives.