Joseph Smith said that the Book of Mormon is “the most correct of any book on earth, and the keystone of our religion, and a man would get nearer to God by abiding by its precepts, than by any other book” (see History of the Church 4:461). Twice in the Doctrine and Covenants we read that the fulness of the gospel is found within the Book of Mormon: D&C 20:8,9 “…the Book of Mormon; which contains a record of a fallen people, and the fulness of the gospel of Jesus Christ to the Gentiles and to the Jews also;” D&C 27:5 “… Moroni, whom I have sent to you to reveal the Book of Mormon, containing the fulness of my everlasting gospel.”
Then why does it contain nothing about many key Mormon doctrines? For example: God is an exalted man with a body of flesh and bones, the plurality of gods, the pre-existence, priesthood organisation, temple marriage, three degrees of glory? These were all added later by Joseph Smith in the Doctrine and Covenants, or elsewhere in his teachings.
Some of these teachings actually conflict with the Book of Mormon. For example:
Does God change?
Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, compiled by Joseph Fielding Smith, 1979, p.345: “God himself was once as we are now, and is an exalted man”
Book of Mormon, Mormon 9:9: “For do we not read that God is the same yesterday, today and forever, and in him there is no variableness neither shadow of changing.”
Are many wives and concubines good?
Doctrine & Covenants 132:38-39: “David also received many wives and concubines, and also Solomon and Moses my servants, …and in nothing did they sin save in those things which they received not of me. David’s wives and concubines were given unto him of me, by the hand of Nathan, my servant…”
Book of Mormon, Jacob 2:24: “Behold, David and Solomon truly had many wives and concubines, which thing was abominable before me, saith the Lord.”
There have been nearly 4,000 changes to the Book of Mormon, not all of them punctuation, spelling and grammar. Many of them are key doctrinal changes, and they are still going on. As recently as 1978 “white and delightsome” was changed to “pure and delightsome”. This is where the Book of Mormon promises Lamanites that their curse of dark skin will be lifted if they repent. This was because modern-day Lamanites who join the church plainly do not change colour.
The Mormon Ensign Magazine published the following quote:
“Both the 1840 and the 1842 editions [of the Book of Mormon] were carefully revised by Joseph Smith. In Mosiah 21:28 and Ether 4:1 the first edition had ‘Benjamin’ where the name Mosiah now appears … In the 1837 edition, the Prophet Joseph Smith made this correction.” (George Horton, The Ensign, Dec. 1983, pp.24-28)
In the 1830 edition of the Book of Mormon, 1 Nephi 11:18 says:
“Behold, the virgin which thou seest, is the mother of God, after the manner of the flesh.”1 Nephi 11:21 says: “And the angel said to me, behold the Lamb of God, yea, even the Eternal Father!”
And 1 Nephi 13:40 says:
” and shall make known to all kindreds, tongues, and people, that the Lamb of God is the Eternal father and the Saviour of the world;…” However, in the 1981 edition, these verses read: “… is the mother of the Son of God …”, “… even the Son of the Eternal Father! …”, and “… that the Lamb of God is the Son of the Eternal Father …”
Didn’t God really know who Jesus was?
Mormons claim that the Book of Mormon is authenticated by archaeological evidence. No such evidence has been found:
1 Nephi 1:2 & Mosiah 1:4 state that the native language of the Hebrews between 600 & 130 BC was Egyptian. Archaeological discoveries show that they spoke Hebrew prior to the Babylonian captivity of 586-538 BC and then the common language became Aramaic.
1 Nephi 18:24 mentions seeds which were supposed to have been brought from the land of Jerusalem to America where they were blessed in abundance. No trace of these crops is found until after the Europeans brought them much later.
Alma 11:4-19 mentions 8 different coins, not one example of which have ever been discovered.
Ether 9:18,19 mentions a number of animals for which there is no evidence of their existence at the time. It also mentions cureloms and cumoms as animals that were especially useful for man. Nobody even knows what they are!
The Smithsonian Institute in Washington has had so many requests from people believing that there is archaeological evidence, and that the Book of Mormon has been used by the Institute for their research, that they have issued an official disclaimer:
“The Smithsonian Institution has never used the Book of Mormon in any way as a scientific guide. Smithsonian archaeologists see no connection between the archaeology of the New World and the subject matter of the Book.”
NB See our article Archaeology and the Book of Mormon in this same section
The Book of Mormon convinces many because it sounds like the word of God. This is because it contains large sections which quote directly from the Bible, and many biblical truths are interwoven with the falsehood. It is also written in the same form of language as the King James Authorised Version of the Bible (though it is more a pastiche of AV English), and Mormons are instructed to use only this version. Once someone has realised this, its seeming spiritual charm is broken.
The Book of Mormon was not translated from gold plates by the power of God. It was written by Joseph Smith from the tales he used to tell his family in the evenings by the fire; tales about the people who were buried in burial mounds in the neighbourhood, and which everyone speculated about. His family was very poor, and he hoped that the book would raise money to pay the mortgage on their farm.
The Book of Mormon’s theology is not consistent with later writings, which show clearly the development of thought as Joseph Smith put his religion together. Moroni’s promise at the end of the Book of Mormon is preceded by the words “ponder it in your hearts.” (Moroni 10:3) We challenge you to take an honest look at the evidence and ponder it in your heart – then you will see that it is not true.