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Home Scripture CRITICISM THE MORMON ILLUSION

THE MORMON ILLUSION

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Lately I was reading an interesting book entitled" The Mormon Illusion." As you can guess from the title, it obviously speaks out against our church. However, it is well presented. It looks nice, sounds polite, seems to be full of love and appears to be very logical.

So you could ask: "What is the problem?" The main problem I had was that instead of the author supporting his beliefs, his only purpose in writing the book was to destroy someone else's beliefs. I find that people like this tend to put their opinions in a safe place where no one can criticize them for what they believe, while taking shots at what others hold dear. This offends my sense of fairness. Just because a person seeks to destroy someone else's viewpoint doesn't make what they believe in any more right.

If you want people to believe in your ideas YOU HAVE TO PROVE YOUR POINT, not just attack those you disagree with. This is a cowards way out. They don't want to have to defend themselves, but they want to put the other person on the defensive. In other words, they can attack us, but we can't attack them. I received a letter from a man a few days ago who claimed he was "concerned" about my religion and said he would like to teach me the true Gospel. I wrote back and said, "Okay, I am ready."

He started off by sending me a letter criticizing the Pearl of Great Price, so I wrote him back and asked how he was making his point that he was right and I was wrong? I said to him, "Please, if you want me to believe like you do then preach me your gospel, but respect my ideas while you try to make your point." He never answered me. It is easy to criticize, but very difficult to preach the gospel in that way. Another woman (I guess she is a webmaster of a Protestant webpage) wrote me a letter which contained a list of pages that criticized my Church. Two minutes later she sent me another letter giving me many reasons why she is not a Mormon. I invited her to tell me what she believed in instead of complaining about what I believe and she never answered me back either. (By the way I didn't invite her to write me. I have no idea where she took my e mail address.)

Concerning the book "The Mormon Illusion," I will try to answer some of the things he condemns us for and respond to some of the conclusions he reached. He began by analyzing the first vision, saying that Joseph Smith reported it too late in his life, inferring that if it actually happened, he would have told people about when he was fourteen years old and not when he was an adult man. He also pointed out that there are differences in the various accounts Joseph has given over the years. However, these charges are nothing new.

This is practically the same allegations that we've heard declared from many other antagonists of the church and I have answered this particular question in the FAQ section of my website. At the end of his analysis of the first vision, this man concludes that everything about this is wrong. If what he claims is true, then, based on the same reasoning, he would have to reject Paul's vision, because we have two different version of the same vision in just the book of Acts alone! The Bible also gives us different accounts about Saul's death. So if he is going to be consistent with his criticism, he needs to measure all things by the same standard. It's widely accepted that when you hear a report about something through different sources you'll receive different versions of what happened. If this also happens in the Bible, then it's all right, but if the same thing happens with the Mormon religion, all of a sudden these different versions become absolute proof that we're teaching a false doctrine.

In my opinion the only reasonable point he raised was when quoted D&C 84 which declares, "No man can see God without the Melchisedek priesthood." He then added that Joseph Smith, when he had the first vision he didn't hold that priesthood. On the surface I have to admit: this SEEMS like a valid point. However, this is not a new question that no one has ever thought of before. In fact, the answer to this very question was published in a book written decades ago entitled,

ANSWERS TO GOSPEL QUESTIONS, by Joseph Fielding Smith, VOL. 3 Chapter 27:

Priesthood Necessary for Men to See God "Question: "It is my understanding that the word of God is all truth, and that being the case, it will always support and not contradict itself. On the assumption that this is true I would like to know the explanation for Doctrine and Covenants, Section 84:20-22. This being true, how do you account for the fact that Joseph Smith saw God the Father and Jesus Christ prior to receiving the priesthood?" "Answer: We may be agreed that the word of God is truth and that he never reveals to man a falsehood. There are times, however, when mortal man interprets what the Lord has revealed not understanding all the facts and has to purge from his mind cherished notions which are in conflict with what the Father has revealed. The revelation in question was given September 22 and 23, 1832, in Kirtland, Ohio, and is in relation to the descent of the priesthood from Adam to the time of Moses and is as follows: And this greater priesthood administereth the gospel and holdeth the key of the mysteries of the kingdom, even the key of the knowledge of God. Therefore, in the ordinances thereof, the power of godliness is manifest. And without the ordinances thereof, and the authority of the priesthood, the power of godliness is not manifest unto men in the flesh; For without this no man can see the face of God, even the Father, and live. Now this Moses plainly taught to the children of Israel in the wilderness, and sought diligently to sanctify his people that they might behold the face of God; But they hardened their hearts and could not endure his presence; therefore, the Lord in his wrath, for his anger was kindled against them, swore that they should not enter into his rest while in the wilderness, which rest is the fullness of his glory.

1 THE KINGDOM OF GOD IS ORDERLY "Let us remember that this revelation was given in 1832, over three years after the Melchizedek Priesthood was restored by Peter, James, and John, and two years and five months after the organization of the Church. Now the Lord did not say that he could not appear to man in the flesh when there was no man on earth holding the Melchizedek Priesthood, or a day of apostasy when the divine authority had been withdrawn from men. He did appear to the Prophet Joseph Smith when he was a youth and when there was no mortal man on the earth holding that priesthood. Should that condition arise again--which it will not--then the Father could appear to man and set things in order; but when the priesthood is here, and there is someone appointed to administer in its ordinances, there is no occasion for the Father to come to any man not holding the priesthood and minister unto him. Those seeking light and truth could receive a manifestation of the truth, or even the appearance of an angel, or even the Son of God himself, but there would never arise any occasion for the Father to manifest himself to such a person. The kingdom of God is orderly, and since this divine authority is now here, the way into the kingdom is clear. "When Adam was driven out of the Garden of Eden, our Heavenly Father withdrew from men, and Jesus Christ, his Son, and our Redeemer, became our Advocate with the Father and our Mediator. Since that time all revelation has come through Jesus Christ.

2) A WITNESS FOR THE FATHER AND THE SON "

Perhaps a few thoughts in relation to the coming of both the Father and the Son to the Prophet Joseph Smith in the wonderful manifestation will be interesting here. It should be remembered that the entire Christian world in 1820 had lost the true doctrine concerning God. The simple truth which was understood so clearly by the apostles and saints of old had been lost in the mysteries of an apostate world. All the ancient prophets, and the apostles of Jesus Christ had a clear understanding that the Father and the Son were separate personages, as our scriptures so clearly teach. Through apostasy this knowledge was lost, and in the year 325 A.D., a strange doctrine was introduced and soon spread throughout the Christian world. This doctrine confounded the persons of the Godhead, and distorted the true doctrine of God, so that in the year 1820, God had become a mystery, and both Father and Son were considered to be one unknowable effusion of spirit, without body, parts, or passions. The coming of the Father and the Son placed on the earth a divine witness who was able by knowledge to restore to the world the true nature of God."

This is the answer of a prophet of God, but I would like to add something more.

1)When Joseph had his vision this scripture was unknown. As Paul explained, "Where is no law is, there is no transgression" (Romans 4:15).

2) He was praying to God according to a promise found in the Bible. Since God cannot contradict Himself, He was under obligation to answer Joseph's prayer.

3) God HAD TO RESTORE HIS CHURCH.

4) When Joseph started to pray, Satan did something that is against the Rules (this is interesting). In Job 1:7-12 and Job 2:2-6 we see the conditions which God puts upon Satan's abilities. "Only upon himself put not forth thine hand" "But save his life." In other words, Satan was give permission to do all sorts of things to Job, but he was forbidden to lay his hands upon Jog to kill him. With that in mind, let's read Joseph Smith History1:15-16:

"After I had retired to the place where I had previously designed to go, having looked around me, and finding myself alone, I kneeled down and began to offer up the desires of my heart to God. I had scarcely done so, when immediately I was seized upon by some power which entirely overcame me, and had such an astonishing influence over me as to bind my tongue so that I could not speak. Thick darkness gathered around me, and it seemed to me for a time as if I were doomed to sudden destruction. But, exerting all my powers to call upon God to deliver me out of the power of this enemy which had seized upon me, and at the very moment when I was ready to sink into despair and abandon myself to destruction--not to an imaginary ruin, but to the power of some actual being from the unseen world, who had such marvelous power as I had never before felt in any being--just at this moment of great alarm, I saw a pillar of light exactly over my head, above the brightness of the sun, which descended gradually until it fell upon me. It no sooner appeared than I found myself delivered from the enemy which held me bound. When the light rested upon me I saw two Personages, whose brightness and glory defied all description."

Satan knew what was going on and so he desperately tried to destroy the free agency of Joseph, and also, it appears, to literally destroy him. What should God do in a case like this? Here was a young sincere, humble boy praying to know the truth according to the promise found in the Bible, a boy who was to be the future instrument to restore the true Gospel and Church of Christ upon the earth. Should God leave Joseph in the hands of Satan? Not only that, but Satan wasn't playing according to the rules. More importantly, God didn't break any of the rules. Then what about what He said in D&C 84? Doesn't that seem like He broke His own rule? Not at all. But, let's ask ourselves this question: Is God always required to follow the rules if Satan doesn't? That would be unfair. Consider this. The Lord commanded the Israelites to offer Him sacrifices with burnt offerings. Yet He also said, "For I desired mercy, and not sacrifice; and the knowledge of God more than burnt offerings" (Hosea 6:6). Did God change His mind on sacrifices and burnt offerings? Not at all, but He does has the right to apply the law as He desires. For example, consider the incident with a woman from Caanan. Jesus was sent to preach ONLY to the house of Israel. "Then came she and worshipped him, saying, Lord, help me. But he answered and said, It is not meet to take the children's bread, and to cast it to dogs. And she said, Truth, Lord: yet the dogs eat of the crumbs which fall from their masters' table. Then Jesus answered and said unto her, O woman, great is thy faith: be it unto thee even as thou wilt. And her daughter was made whole from that very hour" (Matthew 15:24-28). At first Jesus didn't want to have anything to do with the woman from Caanan, but she persisted and, because of her faith, Jesus relented and answered her request. The same could be said for Joseph Smith when he prayed for an answer to know which church was true.

But what about Moses? Didn't he see God "face to face"? Since the Bible doesn't say anything about him holding the Melchisedek Priesthood, that means he didn't have it, right? Not necessarily. We know that the father-in-law of Moses was "the priest of Midian." (Exodus 3:1) and we also know he knew about the God whom the Israelites worshipped, and even offered up sacrifices unto Him (Exodus 13:9-12), which, according to the law God gave Moses, could only be done by an authorized priest. Did Moses therefore receive the priesthood from his father-in-law? Although the Bible doesn't say, in D&C 84:6 we learn that Moses and his sons indeed received the Melchisedek priesthood "under the hands of his father-in-law Jethro."

The writer of "The Mormon Illusion" claims he likes logical evidence. As such, he therefore alleges that the Book of Mormon cannot be true because there is no logical evidence to support it. But those parts of the Bible where no logical evidence exists to support it's claims he conveniently ignores. Does this make sense? For example, what about when Balaam's donkey spoke to him, or Jonah survived three days in the belly of a whale, or the dividing of the Red Sea and still the Israelite walked on dry ground instead of mud? For that reason, what about the resurrection of Jesus? And what factual evidence is there that Jesus being executed according to Roman law, like many other people both before and after Him, somehow atoned for our sins? Although there is no factual evidence of any of these things, yet we believe in them solely on the basis of faith. If the Book of Mormon is truly God's word, in the same way as the Bible, then why shouldn't we apply the same method of judgment to both books? I find it interesting, that the very same critics of the Book of Mormon who demand evidence first before faith are the same ones who go around preaching that salvation comes only through faith.

As another piece of evidence he presented to show that the Mormon church is a false religion, is where he quoted two prophecies made by Joseph Smith which were not fulfilled. One relates to his house in Nauvoo. In this prophesy, he declares that the home would be his forever, and yet, later on, he had to abandon it. Was this a false prophecy? Let me answer this by asking another question. Did Abraham posses the land of Palestine in His life? There is no doubt that Abraham was promised the land of Palestine as his inheritance forever. Yet the Bible itself also tells us, "These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of [them], and embraced [them], and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth" (Hebrew 11:13). "And these all, having obtained a good report through faith, received not the promise" (Hebrews 11:39). But here is something else to think about it. How many prophesies in the Bible have not been fulfilled so far? There are quite a few. Does that fact make the Bible untrue? Certainly not. If the Bible and Book of Mormon are both God's word then should we not judge them using the same standard? That would only be fair. Instead, the author of this anti-Mormon book uses a different standard to judge one book of God than he does to judge the other word of God. I am grateful for historical records of our Church. It's there for every one to read. Our "friends" like to read it in order to find things they can use to prove that what we believe doesn't fit historical facts. But think about this, If something is dangerous, you don't HIDE it from the public, you DESTROY it so no one can find it! Yet in "The Mormon Illusion" the writer claims that the church is hiding its history, while he himself quotes a lot of it. Perhaps I'm missing something, but it seems to me that the Church didn't do a very good job of hiding it's faults, as this writer contends. So we see that the history of the Mormon church is clearly available for everybody to read, which is precisely one of things this anti-Mormon book proves. Which means, he has contradicted himself! I guess, if we were to judge him according to his own standard, we would have to conclude that his own book proves that his accusations against us are false. But let's give him the benefit of the doubt that the LDS church is trying to hide something, which therefore makes it a false religion.

What about the scripture that says, "His [Jesus] brethren therefore said unto him, Depart hence, and go into Judaea, that thy disciples also may see the works that thou doest. For [there is] no man [that] doeth any thing in secret, and he himself seeketh to be known openly. If thou do these things, shew thyself to the world. For neither did his brethren believe in him. Then Jesus said unto them, My time is not yet come: but your time is always ready. The world cannot hate you; but me it hateth, because I testify of it, that the works thereof are evil. Go ye up unto this feast: I go not up yet unto this feast; for my time is not yet full come. When he had said these words unto them, he abode [still] in Galilee. But when his brethren were gone up, then went he also up unto the feast, not openly, but as it were in secret." John 7:3-10

Once more we see him using a double standard. When Jesus does things in secret, it's perfectly acceptable, but when Mormons SUPPOSEDLY do things in secret (which we don't), that PROVES we teach a false faith. We can find discrepancies in the historical parts of the Bible, but there aren't any in the history of the Church. However, when we point out these Biblical discrepancies, our critics say: "Those are irrelevant." If that's so, then why are the alleged discrepancies in our church history so relevant? Then there is his claim that our religion is false because we don't believe that salvation comes only through faith and grace. I find this rather strange coming from someone who claims to believe in the Bible. In the four gospels, which tell about the life of our Savior, on two different occasions, two different people asked Him the same question about how to receive eternal life. Jesus gave the same, very specific answer. He said, "if thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments." (Matthew 19:17).

Let me emphatically state that Mormons believe that without faith in Jesus we can't be saved. This is the foundation of our faith. It is the first principle of the Gospel. But, just because you have the foundation doesn't mean you have the entire house. You have to build up the walls, put in the ceiling, cover the outside and top it all off with the roof. Most modern-day Christian churches teach that when we have the foundation laid, the house is complete. Then they falsely accuse us of not believing in Christ simply because we say there is more to salvation than just having the foundation. But there's another way to look at this. How many times does the Bible talk about works being important for salvation as opposed to how many times the Bible talks about salvation only being by grace? There's a wide difference. Works are talked about a lot more than grace. I would venture to say it's somewhere like 5 to1. Furthermore, the scriptures which talk about works are very specific, while the declarations about salvation by grace are rather generic in tone. In the United States, we have a congress that passes laws. Would it make sense that 20% of the congress should decide which laws are to be passed and which ones shouldn't? Should we ignore the decisions of the other 80% of congress? That would be ridiculous. Yet, many Christians point to the 20% of the Bible that talks about salvation through grace, and ignores the other 80% when they decide what is needed for salvation and what isn't.

But this isn't the only doctrine he does this with.. To me, the most outlandish example is where the writer is speaking about instant salvation. What I find so strange about this is that for someone who claims to believe in the Bible, he teaches something that directly contradicts the Bible while at the same time accusing us of being the one who violates the scriptures. For example, how does the concept of "instant salvation" compare with the words of Jesus when He said, "but he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved" (Mark 13:13) or "strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it" (Matthew 7:14)? It is beyond me how these words of the Savior can be interpreted to mean we have instant salvation by grace alone. Even Paul himself didn't claim to have already attained salvation! He wrote "Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect: but I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus. Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but [this] one thing [I do], forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus." (Philippians 3:12-14). Paul felt the same way in regards to Timothy. He counseled him "Take heed unto thyself, and unto the doctrine; continue in them: for in doing this thou shalt both save thyself, and them that hear thee." (1 Timothy 4:12,15-16). Paul also admonished the Hebrews "And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works. Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some [is]; but exhorting [one another]: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching. For if we sin willfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins" (Hebrew 10:24-26). There are several other similar scriptures we could quote, but I guess just these alone are enough to show that "instant salvation" is a doctrine that is at odds with what the scriptures teach.

In another part of his book he compare the prayers of Muslims with ours, but are the Muslims praying in the name of Jesus? It seems to me he is mixing apples with the tangerines.

Nevertheless, he went on to state that only the scriptures can answer our questions, not the Holy Ghost. This is another strange idea of his. Who gave us the scriptures in the first place? The HOLY GHOST (2 Peter 1:21)! (For more on this topic I recommend you to read "The Prayer" "The Holy Ghost" "The Revelation" and "Faith and Free Agency" as found on this website). The scriptures clearly state that the Bible came to us through holy men (prophets) who were inspired by the Holy Ghost. In other words, these prophets received revelation from God. Therefore, it's plainly obvious that without the Holy Ghost we wouldn't have any scriptures. So which is more important - the written words of God or the Spirit of God who gives the words? To me it's a no-brainer, but apparently there are those who call themselves Christians who would rather reject the Holy Ghost in favor of the writings of some ancient, dead men. My opinion is that the author of this book has no idea what he's talking about on this topic. How can he when he boldly asserts that he doesn't trust in the Holy Ghost to obtain the truth but he trusts in the Bible which is a product of the Holy Ghost. I guess he is just a little bit confused. In another place he attacked the testimony of the three witnesses saying that Joseph Smith excommunicated them and said of them: "Such characters as.... David Whitmer, Oliver Cowdery, and Martin Harris are too mean to mention......" And then the author adds: "Can you imagine Jesus Christ calling His witnesses a bunch of liars but still asking us to believe them like Joseph has asked to trust on the three witnesses? Well I guess this man forgot that Peter himself denied that he knew Jesus, not once but three times! I guess that makes Peter a three time liar. Are we therefore not to believe anything Peter said from then on? But the apologists say that he did that in a moment of weakness yet later he served the Lord with all of his heart.

The author of this book conveniently leaves out the fact that Oliver and Martin repented of their wrong doing and asked to be rebaptised back into the church. But there is something else the author conveniently leaves out. Unlike Peter, not one of these three men ever changed their story about having seen the gold plates. Even when they became disenchanted with Joseph Smith and the church, their testimony of what they had seen never wavered.

So, once again we see that the author holds us to a different standard than the one he uses for his faith. In his Chapter entitled "Joseph Smith tested as a translator" our friend quotes many scholars as saying that the Book of Abraham is an hoax, simply on the basis that the translation of the scholars doesn't match that of Joseph Smith's. I am not particularly impressed with that argument, especially when we read in the Bible, "But God hath revealed [them] unto us by his Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God. For what man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him? even so the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God. Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God; that we might now the things that are freely given to us of God. Which things also we speak, not in the words which man's wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual. But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know [them], because they are spiritually discerned" (I corinthians 10-14). Did Joseph Smith accurately translate the symbols found on the papyrus? It is my testimony that he did because, to paraphrase Paul "I have received this witness, not through the spirit or knowledge which the world gives, but by the Spirit of God." More than this, there are some other things I have discovered that suggests to my mind that Joseph's translation couldn't possibly be a fraud, but for now I will keep this information to myself.

Another comment the author makes, which I find rather interesting is where he says, "Faith cannot operate without some intellectual content. God never asks for blind faith; only the Devil does that." The first thing I find interesting about this remark is that I don't know where in the Bible it says such a thing. To me that sounds like a private interpretation, and we all know what the Bible says about that (2 Peter 1:20). Here again we see someone who claims to believe the Bible to be the complete, accurate, and final word of God, espousing a doctrine that contradicts the words of the Bible. Where was the "intellectual content" when God asked Abraham to sacrifice his son Isaac? Did Abraham ask for a sign before doing what God had commanded? Did God offer an reasonable explanation when He gave the commandment? Not at all! The Lord EXPECTED Abraham to do what he was instructed without any intellectual reason or physical evidence. This is the definition of blind faith. It was Paul who taught us, "Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. By faith Noah, being warned of God of things not seen as yet By faith Abraham, when he was called to go out into a place which he should after receive for an inheritance, obeyed; and he went out, not knowing whither he went. Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear" (Hebrew 11:1-3). That doesn't sound anything at all like God only expects us to have faith in Him if it is based on intellectual content. When we say someone is blind, do we not mean that they can't SEE? It was Paul who also said, "Faith cometh By HEARING, and hearing by the word of God" (Romans 10:17). According to Paul, faith comes when someone HEARS the word of God being preached. It can also come by sharing testimonies and through teaching, all of which involves hearing. Hearing is something you do with your ears. Seeing is what you do with your eyes. MAYBE we could say that God doesn't expect us to have deaf faith, but there is no Biblical justification for denying blind faith. Faith should be always blind, because it is something you can't see. Consider this: If you can see something, do you need faith? Not at all. Therefore, faith must always be blind or otherwise it can't be faith. And where is the Biblical scripture that says it's the Devil, not God, who asks us to have blind faith in him? According to the Bible, it is the Devil who seeks to use cunning logic and false reasoning to persuade people to follow him. Consider how he deceived Adam and Eve and how he tried to tempt Jesus in the wilderness. The Mormon Illusion tries to show that we are not really Christians because we don't follow the teachings of the Bible. Instead, over and over again, it is HE who demonstrates his lack of adherence to the word of God. This is his fatal flaw.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 16 February 2011 13:51  

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