Wednesday, October 31, 2007

What Mormons believe: Part 1

I had lunch with a friend of mine the other day. Some of her new friends are Mormons and want her to be baptized into the Mormon Church. She asked me about what Mormons believe and how it is different from what I believe. I told her some basics about their theology and she shared with me some areas where she didn't agree with them.

After that lunch, I decided I needed to study the beliefs of Mormons a little more. I wanted to be fair toward the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. So as I researched their beliefs, I made sure that I read their own sources rather than sources that were prejudice against them. My desire in the next few posts is to cover some of their beliefs using quotes from their own books and writings.

I also want to make it clear that I do not desire to say anything that would belittle Mormons. Most Mormons that I have met were kind, moral people who cared deeply about their family and their church. My hope in these posts is not to foster a prejudice toward Mormon people. My hope, instead, is to make clear the distinctions between orthodox Christian beliefs and Mormon beliefs.

First things first: Their belief about The Book of Mormon

The Book of Mormon tells of two ancient civilizations, which lived in the Americas in ancient times. A supposed group called the “Jaredites” left Babylon around 2,250 B.C. and emigrated to the Western hemisphere. Their civilization was destroyed as a result of corruption and apostasy.

The other group came to the Americas by crossing the Pacific Ocean about 600 B.C. and were composed of “righteous Jews” from the Promised Land. They were led by Lehi and later his son Nephi. This group also was destroyed for corruption and was divided into two warring camps. The Nephites fought with the Lamanites (who were believed to be the ancestors to the Native American people). The Book of Mormon reports that the Lamanites were cursed because of their evil deeds with the curse of “dark skin.”

Mormons believe that Christ visited the American continent and revealed himself to the Nephites, giving them their version of the gospel, baptism and communion. The Nephites were, however, annihilated by the Lamanites in a great battle near the hill Cumorah around 421 A.D. Some Mormon teachers believe this hill of Cumorah is located in Central America. Others believe this hill is in Palmyra, New York near Joseph Smith’s hometown.

The traditional belief is that The Book of Mormon is the condensation of the high points of these two civilizations. The original author was a prophet named Mormon with some help from his son Moroni. The belief is that Joseph Smith Jr., some 1400 years later, dug up the “golden plates” which contained this abridged record near Palmyra, N.Y. He translated the “reformed Egyptian” which were on these golden plates and that is what is recorded in The Book of Mormon.

Joseph Smith is said to have received the plates from Moroni, a “resurrected personage,” in the year 1827. He also received with the plates something called the “Urim and Thummim.” These were sort of clear stones, which acted like magical glasses to help Smith translate the “reformed Egyptian” writing into Elizabethan English.

One of the problems with this belief:
If we take this story seriously then science should give evidence of the truth of these civilizations. The Book of Mormon claims that the Lamanites were of Jewish descent and were the ancestors of the Native Americans. Geneticists and anthropologists have refuted this story.

Native Americans are considered to be Mongoloid. They share phenotypical characteristics with people from eastern, central, and northeastern Asia. They do not share phenotypical characteristics with Jews. Mediterranean races, such as the Jewish or Semitic race, are considered to be Mediterranean Caucasoid type, not Mongoloid. Therefore, it is genetically impossible for the Native Americans to be the descendents of the supposed Lamanites.

With this truth firmly established scientifically, it calls into question the entire Book of Mormon. It also calls into question the validity of the "prophet" Joseph Smith and his claims that this book was a revelation from God. If a person claims to be a prophet and delivers a "word from God" and that "revelation" is proven false, then we are left with one conclusion. The man who claimed to be a "prophet" is actually a "false prophet." Scripture is clear about "false prophets" (Deut. 13:1-5; Matthew 7:15-23; 2 Peter 2:1-3; 2 Cor. 11:13-14; Gal. 1:6-9).


Post a Comment

<< Home