Monday, August 18, 2008

The Disillusioned Latter-day Saint

This is an excellent piece of work by Richard Bushman which I ran across from the NOM board. According to the blogger LifeOnaPlate, this is an introduction by Bushman to the 2008 summer seminar "Joseph Smith and His Critics" given July 29, 2008. He does an excellent job of describing almost step by step exactly what goes on in the mind of the disillusioned Mormon.

Here is the link to the blogger's post

Here are the highlights:

Increasingly teachers and church leaders at all levels are approached by Latter-day Saints who have lost confidence in Joseph Smith and the basic miraculous events of church history. They doubt the First Vision, the Book of Mormon, many of Joseph’s revelations, and much besides. They fall into doubt after going on the Internet and finding shocking information about Joseph Smith based on documents and facts they had never heard before. A surprising number had not known about Joseph Smith’s plural wives. They are set back by differences in the various accounts of the First Vision. They find that Egyptologists do not translate the Abraham manuscripts the way Joseph Smith did, making it appear that the Book of Abraham was a fabrication. When they come across this information in a critical book or read it on one of the innumerable critical Internet sites, they feel as if they had been introduced to a Joseph Smith and a Church history they had never known before. They undergo an experience like viewing the famous picture of a beautiful woman who in a blink of an eye turns into an old hag. Everything changes. What are they to believe?

Often church leaders, parents, and friends, do not understand the force of this alternate view. Not knowing how to respond, they react defensively. They are inclined to dismiss all the evidence as anti-Mormon or of the devil. Stop reading these things if they upset you so much, the inquirer is told. Or go back to the familiar formula: scriptures, prayer, church attendance.

The troubled person may have been doing all of these things sincerely, perhaps even desperately. He or she feels the world is falling apart. Everything these inquirers put their trust in starts to crumble. They want guidance more than ever in their lives, but they don’t seem to get it. The facts that have been presented to them challenge almost everything they believe. People affected in this way may indeed stop praying; they don’t trust the old methods because they feel betrayed by the old system. Frequently they are furious. On their missions they fervently taught people about Joseph Smith without knowing any of these negative facts. Were they taken advantage of? Was the Church trying to fool them for its own purposes?
These are deeply disturbing questions. They shake up everything. Should I stay in the Church? Should I tell my family? Should I just shut up and try to get along? Who can help me?

At this point, these questioners go off in various directions. Some give up on the Church entirely. They find another religion or, more likely these days, abandon religion altogether. Without their familiar Mormon God, they are not sure there is any God at all. They become atheist or agnostic. Some feel the restrictions they grew up with no longer apply. The strength has been drained out of tithing, the Word of Wisdom, and chastity. They partly welcome the new freedom of their agnostic condition. Now they can do anything they please without fear of breaking the old Mormon rules. The results may not be happy for them or their families.

Others piece together a morality and a spiritual attitude that stops them from declining morally, but they are not in an easy place. When they go to church, , they are not comfortable. Sunday School classes and Sacrament meeting talks about Joseph Smith and the early church no longer ring true. How can these people believe these “fairy tales,” the inquirers ask. Those who have absorbed doses of negative material live in two minds: their old church mind which now seems naive and credulous, and their new enlightened mind with its forbidden knowledge learned on the internet and from critical books.

He goes on to talk about how to deal with disillusioned members. I admire his approach. He goes out of his way to talk about how the standard "read the scriptures and pray about it" will not work. His idea is that if people are presented the facts in a controlled setting it wouldn't look quite so bad. Although I agree with him in many ways, I think that for some people there is not much that can be done. It has nothing to do with lack of fellowshipping, I simply can no longer believe in the doctrine.

It is quite frustrating when you try to explain why you no longer believe and they come back with the idea that there must be something wrong with you. It can't be the doctrine, because that is perfect, so it must be that you lack faith or are spiritually lazy and can't cut it.

I think Bushman is doing a good job at trying to build bridges between true believing members of the church and "apostates". It has been my experience that when people understand why someone no longer believes in the church, they become more tolerant.

Disillusioned Mormon Read more!

Thursday, August 7, 2008

What Do I Believe?

This blog has helped me organize my thoughts, but it is exhausting. I think it is time for me to take a break for a while, maybe indefinitely as I am exiting the LDS community and am dedicating my time to other things in my life. This blog has helped me organize and express my thoughts and journey of disillusionment. It has been a painful process, but I have found this to be therapeutic but I will not be posting regularly.

I still have many issues about the LDS church that I wanted to talk about, but it is time for me to move on. My wife has started accepting my disillusionment, but this blog has an adverse effect on the relationship. I am still a member on record, but only attend sacrament meetings once or twice a month.

I am sure what I don't believe, but I find myself wondering what I do believe. That will be my next journey.

I do not think the LDS church is necessarily 'evil' or 'bad'. I believe that like most large institutions, the leadership has made mistakes in the past and I believe that the current leadership is doing the best they can. I believe that the church leaders genuinely believe in the message. I do not believe the church is purposefully trying to defraud anyone, I just do not believe in the doctrines.

I have given up on organized religion. It is apparent to me that all religions are man-made institutions. If there is a God, I don't think he cares which man-made church we associate ourselves with.

I do cherish some things that I learned growing up in the church. I do hold animosity over some things as well. However, what is important that I take this experience and move forward in my life.

A butterfly might appreciate the cocoon for making it the way it is, but that doesn't mean the butterfly has to carry the cocoon on his back for the rest of his life. Maybe he can look back and see that the cocoon has flaws and imperfections and understand that it is o.k. I feel the same way about the church.

Disillusioned Mormon Read more!

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

What LDS Doctrines are Found in The Book of Mormon?

Importance of the Book of Mormon in the LDS Church

Joesph Smith is well known for making the following statement regarding the Book of Mormon:

I told the brethren that the Book of Mormon was 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.
What Precepts from the Book of Mormon are we to Abide by?

If this is the case, my question is what doctrines that are practiced or taught by the LDS church are based on the Book of Mormon? I will argue that most of the doctrines or practices that are taught by the LDS church are not found in the Book of Mormon.

These are the doctrines I would consider unique to Mormonism that are not found in the Book of Mormon:

  • Baptism for the dead
  • Temple Garments
  • Polygamy-as practiced on earth or in the celestial kingdom
  • 3 heaven kingdoms, or 3 degrees of glory
  • Garden of Eden was in Missouri
  • Jesus and God are separate beings, both with tangible bodies
  • There was a Council in the pre-existence
  • Our ultimate destiny is to become like God
  • Jesus is the literal spirit-brother of Lucifer who became Satan
  • Tithing as a necessary commandment
  • Families are eternal
  • We lived with God before this life
  • The wording of the baptism prayer
  • Jesus and God may live near a planet or star named Kolob
These doctrines are principally found in the Doctrine and Covenants, other church sources and the Bible, particularly the Old Testament.

These teachings, which are found in the Book of Mormon can also be derived from interpretations of the Bible:

  • Baptism
  • Faith
  • Temples
  • The creation
  • The fall of Adam
  • The relationship between faith and works
  • The ministry of Jesus
  • The divinity of Jesus
  • The death and resurrection of Jesus
  • The holy ghost
  • Sacrament
  • Importance of missionary work
  • The role of prophets
  • Priesthood authority
Distinctive Mormon Doctrines Found in the Book of Mormon

There are very few teachings that are unique to the Book of Mormon that are practiced by the LDS church. The ones that come to mind are:

  • Jesus visited America
  • Native Americans are decedents of Israelites
  • The exact wording of the sacrament prayer
  • It is sinful to baptize little children
Most of the doctrines unique to Mormonism are either absent from the text in the Book of Mormon or are also found in the Bible. These principals and teachings can also be found in the Doctrine and Covenants.

What we have left in the Book of Mormon are stories with morals. It is my view that the Book of Mormon is not the source for most of the LDS teachings, but a tool used to claim divine authority due to the miraculous manner in which it was recorded, preserved and translated.

Disillusioned Mormon
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Thursday, June 12, 2008

Revelations in the LDS church

Revelation and the LDS Church

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints claims to be an church that receives direct revelation from God. However, the question arises when was the last revelation? Most of Brigham Young's discourses are pretty much dead doctrines in the LDS church and are dismissed as merely his own personal opinion and not necessarily revelation from God. Mormon fundamentalists have a point there that they are the only ones that treat his discourses as scripture as originally intended. Are any of the most recent statements by the church considered to be revelations?

Official Church Statements

The Official Declaration 1, the basis for ceasing the practice of polygamy was not originally published as a revelation. It is a press release to the United States government. Nowhere does it say "thus sayeth the lord", it says "to whom it may concern" not even meant to be geared towards church members. Wilford Woodruff didn't call or refer to the manifesto as a revelation until a year later in 1891 at a stake conference in Logan, Utah. It is more likely that the manifesto was simply a response to the Edmunds-Tucker Act of 1887.

Official Declaration 2 is not a revelation. Once again, it is not written in 1st person from the Lord like Joseph Smith's revelations as contained in the Doctrine and Covenants. The specific wording simply refers to a revelation that the prophet and president of the church at the time received a revelation to allow blacks of any descent. The declaration reads "a revelation had been received by President Spencer W. Kimball extending priesthood and temple blessings to all worthy male members of the Church". However, as I said the declaration simply refers to a revelation that was received, and explains the details of the revelation, but the actual revelation has not been recorded.

If we are to believe that God is at the head of the church, one would expect the church to be ahead of the rest of the world, not behind it. This revelation occurred 24 years after the civil rights movement. It seems to me that the idea that the prophets are directed by God simply makes the church more stubborn, entrenched and more reluctant to make changes, even if these are good changes. It draws the question if the church is run from top down, or from bottom up, or maybe a combination.

Are we to consider "The Family: A Proclamation to the World" and "The Living Christ The Testimony of the Apostles" as revelations? They both sound like declarations of beliefs.

Modern Revelation

Does the church still believe in receiving revelations from God? Not everything said from every prophet or apostle is to be considered doctrine. The prophets and apostles are able to voice their own opinions even when occasionally they are considered false doctrine by subsequent church leaders. If there is revelation given to the church leaders, is it given to them through feelings and perhaps not angelic messengers?

Book of Mormon and Angels

According to the Book of Mormon, if angels cease to appear and miracles cease to occur, it is due to apostasy and lack of faith.

Moroni 7:35-38

And now, my beloved brethren, if this be the case that these things are true which I have spoken unto you, and God will show unto you, with power and great glory at the last day, that they are true, and if they are true has the day of miracles ceased? Or have angels ceased to appear unto the children of men? Or has he withheld the power of the Holy Ghost from them? Or will he, so long as time shall last, or the earth shall stand, or there shall be one man upon the face thereof to be saved? Behold I say unto you, Nay; for it is by faith that miracles are wrought; and it is by faith that angels appear and minister unto men; wherefore, if these things have ceased wo be unto the children of men, for it is because of unbelief, and all is vain. For no man can be saved, according to the words of Christ, save they shall have faith in his name; wherefore, if these things have ceased, then has faith ceased also; and awful is the state of man, for they are as though there had been no redemption made.
The question is asked if the LDS church is a church based on continual revelation, where are the revelations?

Disillusioned Mormon Read more!

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Mormon Fundamentalism vs. The Mainstream LDS Church

Mormon Fundamentalism VS. The LDS Church

There seems to be a lot of interest lately on the subject of Mormon fundamentalism, particularly the FLDS (Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) so I will speak on the subject. There are many people that see reports on t.v. about polygamist groups and associate these groups with the LDS church (The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints). Part of the reason for the confusion is over the use of the word "Mormon" when describing these groups.


LDS Church-The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I use the term "LDS Church" in reference to the mainstream church that most people refer as the "Mormon church".

Mormon-This term is usually used to describe a member of the LDS Church. However, it can also accurately be used to describe followers of other groups, which I will explain. To clarify in this case, I will use the term "mainstream Mormon" to refer to members of the LDS church.

Mormon fundamentalist-Someone that believes that the original teachings of Joseph Smith and Brigham Young are eternal and everlasting and the doctrines and practices can not ever change. The main points of these doctrines usually include the earthly practice of plural marriage (polygamy) and the law of consecration, along with other doctrines such as the Adam-God doctrine among many others.

FLDS-Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. This is a Mormon Fundamentalist church that is not affiliated with the LDS church.

First, I would like to address the confusion that is out there. Many people still to this day think that Mormon Fundamentalists are somehow affiliated or associated with mainstream Mormons. This is simply not the case. Mormon Fundamentalists are groups that have splintered or broken off of the LDS church, many of them decades ago principally over the doctrine of polygamy.


The LDS church does not currently practice polygamy. The LDS church abandoned the practice of polygamy gradually from 1890 to the early 1900's. The LDS church excommunicates any member that practices polygamy.

There exists a lot of confusion regarding mainstream Mormons and Mormon fundamentalists. Mormon fundamentalist groups like the FLDS that practice polygamy have nothing to do with the LDS church. The source of this confusion could be the commonality of the word "Mormon" used to describe both groups. When people hear these terms, they assume that they are connected with the LDS church, since most people know the LDS church as the "Mormon church", which is a misnomer.

Frankly, I understand and can empathize with the frustration of the LDS church in trying to distinguish themselves from Mormon fundamentalists. The LDS church has even attempted to go as far as saying that they don't even exist.

Gordon B. Hinckley has said "There is no such thing as a 'Mormon fundamentalist.' It is a contradiction to use the two words together".

Are Mormon Fundamentalists "Mormon"?

This completely depends on your definition of the word "Mormon". Usually, the word "Mormon" is in reference to a member of the LDS Church. In this definition, Mormon fundamentalists are not "Mormon" in the sense that they are not members of the LDS church. However, in a broader sense of the word, a "Mormon" can correctly be applied to anyone that adheres to the teachings of Mormonism, as established by Joseph Smith, and considers themselves to be a Mormon. This was always my understanding of the term "Mormon" as defined by an encyclopedia I read in my youth.

Are Mormons Christian?

Many members and leaders of the LDS church have been trying to assert to mainstream Christianity that they are in fact Christians. Even though the views differ from traditional Christianity, the LDS church and its members make this assertion.

When Salt Lake hosted the winter Olympics, the leadership of the church expressed the importance of its insistence of being regarded a Christian church and attempted to try to distance itself from the use of the term "Mormon Church.

"the church's hierarchy recently advised the media that the term Mormon Church is no longer acceptable. Henceforth, officials declared, short references to the church should read: "The Church of Jesus Christ." In this way the church hopes to emphasize what Mormons share with historic Christianity, not what makes them different."

From Jeff Lindsey's blog(member of the LDS church): "I definitely consider myself a Christian, meaning that I look to Christ as my Savior and Redeemer, and that I seek to follow Him. You may disagree with other doctrines, but please don't assume this means that I am not Christian. However, I realize that some of our doctrines, as painted by opponents of the Church, sound odd, especially our ideas about the relationship between man and God. But our doctrines are rooted in scripture and are those of the earliest Christians - really."

Here is the ultimate irony. Here, you have a member of the LDS church defending the position that Mormons are Christians, yet most of mainstream Christianity that I have spoken with do not recognize Mormons as Christians. The irony is when the tables are turned, the mainstream LDS church gives Mormon fundamentalists the exact same treatment by asserting that Mormon Fundamentalists are not "Mormon".

Use the Same Argument For Mormon Fundamentalists

The same argument from Jeff Lindsey's defense for being Christian can be made to defend Mormon fundamentalists as being Mormon with a slight tweak. Imagine if a Mormon fundamentalist made this statement to the LDS church:

"I definitely consider myself a Mormon, meaning that I believe that Joseph Smith was a prophet, and that I seek to follow his teachings. You may disagree with other doctrines, but please don't assume this means that I am not Mormon. However, I realize that some of our doctrines, as painted by opponents of the FLDS Church, sound odd, especially our ideas about the relationship between Adam and God, or polygamy. But our doctrines are rooted in scripture, and are those of the earliest Mormons - really."

Who or What is Mormon?- It is all About Semantics

I believe that there should be a correction of the use of the term "Mormon" to the more broad sense of the word, as any group that follows the teachings of Mormonism and considers themselves to be Mormon. I understand the concern of the LDS church in trying to distinguish themselves with other smaller followers of Mormonism. There is even a distinction within Mormon fundamentalists that try to dis-associate themselves with the FLDS church and consider Warren Jeffs a false prophet.

"Polygamist Sects?"

The LDS church has suggested that the correct term to use to describe Mormon fundamentalists is "polygamist sects" in place of "Mormon sects" or even Mormon fundamentalists. They are trying to get people to not incorporate the word "Mormon" when describing other groups. However, the term "polygamist sect" is very problematic. Not all Mormon Fundamentalists practice polygamy. Most believe in the principal, but are not currently practicing it. Some could be widows, some could be children too young to be married, many live a monogamous lifestyle, but generally still believe in the principal. What are we to call these individuals, Polygamists?

The LDS church fits into the criteria for the term "polygamist sect", as the principal of polygamy is still very much a part of the doctrine of the church as it is expected to be practiced in heaven as I have talked about in a previous post. So the LDS church fits under the definition of a "polygamist sect" if they can be called polygamists just for believing in the principal, but not actually practice it.

The other problem is not all splinter groups of Mormonism practice or believe in the doctrine of polygamy. The Community of Christ is the largest group that broke off of the LDS church and it does not teach the doctrine of polygamy nor does it recognize Brigham Young as a prophet. They deny or downplay Joseph Smith's practices and teachings of polygamy. The Community of Christ is not considered part of Mormon fundamentalism.

Different Groups Within Mormonism

There are different flavors of Christianity and Mormonism is no different. The most well known is the LDS church, however, there are many other churches that all proclaim to be the true Mormons:

Apostolic United Brethren
Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
The Original Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
True and Living Church of Jesus Christ of Saints of the Last Days
Community of Christ (originally the Re-organized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints)
Latter-day Church of Christ
Righteous Branch of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
United Latter-day Church of Jesus Christ

All of these and countless other smaller groups consider themselves the true "Mormons" as in the real followers of the Book of Mormon and the teachings of Joseph Smith. I do not believe that the LDS church has a monopoly on the word "Mormon", even if they are the largest organization. I believe that the word "Mormon" should begin to be viewed in a general term like "Christian", not a specific term like "Catholic". I think a member of the LDS church can still call themselves "Mormon" for short, but so should members of other churches that teach the principals of Mormonism.

Disillusioned Mormon
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Monday, June 2, 2008

The Smithsonian Institue Considers the Book of Mormon a Historical Document

The Smithsonian Institute Considers the Book of Mormon a Historical Document

Well, sort of. The Smithsonian Institute considers the Book of Mormon a very important historical document of 19th century American religious history. However, the Smithsonian Institute is very clear that they do not consider the Book of Mormon to be a translation of ancient American texts.

I remember hearing rumors from other missionaries on my mission that the Smithsonian Institute used the Book of Mormon as a guide to help find archaeological digs. However, this is just Mormon folklore. Thanks to Shawn Landis for pointing this out, as I think it is important for everyone ,regardless of your belief in the Book of Mormon, to dispel untruthful rumors.

Smithsonian Letter Regarding Book of Mormon

I think it is important for everyone to read the Smithsonian Letter about the Book of Mormon. Here is the text of the letter as referenced from this site.

Information from the
National Museum of Natural History
Smithsonian Institution Washington, D.C. 20560

Your recent inquiry concerning the Smithsonian Institution's alleged use of the Book of Mormon as a scientific guide has been received in the Smithsonians Department of Anthropology.

The Book of Mormon is a religious document and not a scientific guide. The Smithsonian Institution has never used it in archaeological research and any information that you have received to the contrary is incorrect. Accurate information about the Smithsonians position is contained in the enclosed Statement Regarding the Book of Mormon, which was prepared to respond to the numerous inquiries that the Smithsonian receives on this topic.

Because the Smithsonian regards the unauthorized use of its name to disseminate inaccurate information as unlawful, we would appreciate your assistance in providing us with the names of any individuals who are misusing the Smithsonians name. Please address any correspondence to:

Public Information Officer
Department of Anthropology
National Museum of Natural History
Smithsonian Institution, MRC 112
Washington, DC 20560

Prepared by


1. The Smithsonian Institution has never used the Book of Mormon in any way as a scientific guide. Smithsonian archaeologists see no direct connection between the archaeology of the New World and the subject matter of the book.

2. The physical type of the American Indian is basically Mongoloid, being most closely related to that of the peoples of eastern, central, and northeastern Asia. Archaeological evidence indicates that the ancestors of the present Indians came into the New World--probably over a land bridge known to have existed in the Bering Strait region during the last Ice Age--in a continuing series of small migrations beginning from about 25,000 to 30,000 years ago.

3. Present evidence indicates that the first people to reach this continent from the East were the Norsemen, who briefly visited the northeastern part of North America around 1000 A.D. and then settled in Greenland. There is no evidence to show that they reached Mexico or Central America.

4. None of the principal Old World domesticated food plants or animals (except the dog) occurred in the New World in pre- Columbian times. This is one of the main lines of evidence supporting the scientific premise that contacts with Old World civilizations, if they occurred, were of very little significance for the development of American Indian civilizations. American Indians had no wheat, barley, oats, millet, rice, cattle, pigs, chickens, horses, donkeys, or camels before 1492. (Camels and horses were in the Americas, along with the bison, mammoth, and mastodon, bat all these animals became extinct around 10,000 B.C. at the time the early big game hunters traveled across the Americas.)

5. Iron, steel, glass, and silk were not used in the New World before 1492 (except for occasional use of unsmelted meteroic iron). Native copper was worked in various locations in pre- Columbian times, but true metallurgy was limited to southern Mexico and the Andean region, where its occurrence in late prehistoric times involved gold, silver, copper, and their alloys, but not iron.

6. There is a possibility that the spread of cultural traits across the Pacific to Mesoamerica and the northwestern coast of South America began several hundred years before the Christian era. However, any such inter-hemispheric contacts appear to have been the results of accidental voyages originating in eastern and southern Asia. It is by no means certain that even such contacts occurred with the ancient Egyptians, Hebrews, or other peoples of Western Asia and the Near East.

7. No reputable Egyptologist or other specialist on Old World archeology, and no expert on New World prehistory, has discovered or confirmed any relationship between archeological remains in Mexico and archeological remains in Egypt.

8. Reports of findings of ancient Egyptian, Hebrew, and other Old World writings in the New World in pre-Columbian contexts have frequently appeared in newspapers, magazines and sensational books. None of these claims has stood up to examination by reputable scholars. No inscriptions using Old World forms of writing have been shown to have occurred in any part of the Americas before 1492 except for a few Norse rune stones which have been found in Greenland.

9. There are copies of the Book of Mormon in the library of the National Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian Institution.

I believe that the last statement is the basis for the origin of the rumor that the Smithsonian Institute considers the Book of Mormon a historical document. However, anyone that has read the letter understands that it is very clear that the Smithsonian does not consider the Book of Mormon a historical document of ancient America, but one of 19th century America. They emphasize their frustrations and even the illegality of people mis-using the Smithsonian name.

Mormon Folklore

Mormon folklore are stories or things that are meant to be spiritually uplifting and faith promoting, but are essentially not true. I believe that it does more harm as people are crushed or disappointed when they realize that it isn't true. However, what is amazing to me is how confident someone can sound when they spread stories that are simply not the case.

I am confident that the missionary that told me about the Smithsonian Institute using the Book of Mormon as a guide really believed it. He sounded so confident and so 'matter of fact' that I believed that he had done thorough research on the subject, so I believed it. Turns out that my missionary companion had heard it from someone else that told it to him in such a way that he assumed that that person had looked into it and had checked the facts.

Disillusioned Mormon Read more!

Saturday, May 31, 2008

Why Was 1st Century Reformed Egyptian Translated into 17th Century King James English in 19th Century America?

Why Was 1st Century Reformed Egyptian Translated into 17th Century King James English in 19th Century America?

Was it really necessary for the Book of Mormon to be translated into 17th Century King James English? It seems that there is a perception that for something to be scripture, it must be translated into late middle/early modern English, as if that is some kind of God given perfect language. Who knew?

Perhaps people during that time period would be more susceptible to believing that the Book of Mormon is holy writ if it was translated into 17th century King James English. It also attempts to incorporate the Book of Mormon as part of the Bible as advertised as the stick of Joseph as referenced in the Bible, and therefore should have the same language. However, this view demonstrates a naïveness to what the Bible is and where it came from.

Book of Mormon For Our Time

If we are to believe that the Book of Mormon was written for our time, it is more likely that it would have been translated into Modern English so that people that read it could have understood it. Modern English had existed at least 80 years before publication of the Book of Mormon. So why wasn't the Book of Mormon translated into Modern English? Why isn't the Book of Mormon now translated into Modern English? The Book of Mormon has been translated from 17th century English into hundreds of different languages, and it is still considered 'scripture' in those other languages. However, if you translate it from 17th century English into modern English it would no longer become 'scripture', it would just be a personal 'explanation' and could not be used to replace 'scripture'. Why is that? It seems that God is obsessed with 17th century English as if that is the only proper way for him to communicate to English speakers. If that is the case, why aren't other revelations and church declarations that we consider 'doctrine' also written in 17th century English?

17th Century English and the Bible

17th century English has nothing to do with the original writings of the Bible. The Old Testament was translated from Hebrew texts and the books in the New Testament were mostly translated from Greek. King James ordered the translation of the collection of books that we call the Bible into the language of the time so that people could best understand it. So why wasn't the Book of Mormon held to the same standard? Why can't we modernize the language of the Book of Mormon? Why does it have to be in antiquated text?

We Believe the (Church Leadership Approved) Bible To Be The Word of God

We say we believe the Bible to be the word of God as far as it is translated correctly, yet we use the King James version of the Bible, which is not the most correctly translated Bible by any stretch of the imagination. There are tons of translational errors in the King James version. There are many better and more accurate translations written in modern English that are much easier to understand, yet the church is insistent on keeping the King James version as the sole version to use in English. It seems that any other translation is 'heretical'. I guess our article of faith should read "we believe the Bible to be the word of God as far as it is church approved".

Other English Translations of the Bible

The King James version of the Bible was not the first Bible to be translated into English. The Anglo-Saxons had very early translations of some of the books in the Bible in Old English as early as 600 A.D. English translations that occurred in the 14th century were translated into Middle English, as this is what people spoke at the time. There were several translations into Late Middle/Early modern English, including King James, and they were all written in Early Modern English because that is the language that people could best understand at the time. There have been many Biblical translations since King James, and the most modern versions are translated into Modern English because that can be best understood today. Yet for some reason some people are stuck with King James when he is just one of a long procession of English translations.

Disillusioned Mormon
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Saturday, May 24, 2008

Was Joseph Smith Nearsighted?

Translation of the Book of Mormon

In a previous post, I talked about the method that Joseph Smith used to translate the Book of Mormon. Any reputable historian on the subject LDS or non-LDS will tell you that Joseph Smith did not use the gold plates, or the urim and thummim for the translation of the Book of Mormon. Instead, he used a seer stone that he found in the ground while digging a well in 1822, a year before the angel Moroni ever appeared to him. For the majority of the translation of the Book of Mormon, he would put the seer stone into a hat and put his head into the hat and dictate the words that would appear to him.

This is a very odd, but historically more accurate depiction of the method that gave us the Book of Mormon. A question has been raised, and I believe it is a good question; Was Joseph Smith incredibly near-sighted, or did he make himself go cross-eyed for the entire translation process?

Disillusioned Mormon Read more!

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Enos' Mighty Prayer and His Desire

In the Book of Mormon, there is a book by Enos called "The Book of Enos". It is a short book, only one chapter and in it, Enos tells the story of how he prayed mightily for a day and night. Because of his faith, his sins were forgiven. In fact, the lord himself tells Enos he will grant him one wish.

Enos 1:12

And it came to pass that after I had prayed and labored with all diligence, the Lord said unto me: I will grant unto thee according to thy desires, because of thy faith.

Enos is asked what he desires, and he responds:

Enos 1:13

And now behold, this was the desire which I desired of him—that if it should so be, that my people, the Nephites, should fall into transgression, and by any means be destroyed, and the Lamanites should not be destroyed, that the Lord God would preserve a record of my people, the Nephites; even if it so be by the power of his holy arm, that it might be brought forth at some future day unto the Lamanites, that, perhaps, they might be brought unto salvation—

This is what I find a little odd. Why isn't the desire of Enos that the people of the Nephites would not fall into transgression? Or why wasn't his desire that the Lamanites might be brought unto salvation today and they can live in peace and harmony with the Nephites? I understand that God can not take away the free agency of others, but that wasn't the question. The question was what was it that Enos desired, and his desire is 'just in case' the Nephites fall into transgression, and the Nephites happen to be wiped out by the Lamanites or by any other means, then preserve the record for the Lamanites in a future time. That is what he desires most? It sounds to me more like a postdiction, or just literary foreshadowing at best. I find it rather suspect that Enos' ultimate desire is a "what if" scenario.

The covenant that Enos makes with the lord is based on an "if, then" agreement. IF the Nephites fall into transgression, THEN the lord will preserve the record. So by strict letter of the covenant, if the Nephites ultimately did not fall into transgression, or were not destroyed by the Lamanites, then the lord would not have any contractual obligation to assist the preservation the record. The Nephites would be on their own. The covenant only works with the assumption that the Nephites will be wiped out at a later date. Maybe Enos didn't have much faith in his fellow Nephites and knew that inevitably they would be wiped out? But that doesn't explain why his ultimate desire wouldn't be for the lord to protect his people, but instead 'if' they happen to be destroyed, 'then' preserve the record for the descendants of the people that destroyed his people.

That would be like the lord asking me what I desire the most for my 2 year old, and my response is "what I desire most for my 2 year old is if she ever gets kidnapped, preserve her Sesame Street DVDs so that the future generations of her kidnappers can one day learn the importance of education".

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Wednesday, May 14, 2008

What Kind of Mormon Are You?

This is a one question quiz that is directed at members, ex-members or even investigators of the LDS community, not limited to members of the mainstream LDS church. Of course this is in no way scientific and is just for fun.

Which one most closely matches your belief?

1. Believe that the gospel truths as restored by Joseph Smith are eternal and can never change and ought to be taught the same way regardless of the church leadership.

2.Believe that the gospel is true and eternal, does not change, but the emphasis can change depending on church leadership. However, this change is not based on outside influence and comes from top down (i.e. direct revelation from God to the prophet), not from bottom up.

3.Believe that the gospel is true, but can evolve and be refined over time as we gain a better understanding. The changes in the church doctrine or practice like polygamy and the priesthood ban on blacks came from bottom up, not top down. Principals like polygamy and the priesthood ban on blacks were mistakes made by the church and is now trying to correct those mistakes. You believe that the church has many aspects it can improve on like treatment of women, or women being given the priesthood, or treatment of homosexuals, etc. These changes will come from bottom up, not top down in the church.

4.Believe that if the church is true, then the historicity of the Book of Mormon can and should be explained by a very scientific, secular and non-religious explanation. You believe that one day DNA and archeology will eventually 'vindicate' the claims made by the church and you are certain that scientists will accept the Book of Mormon as a historical document, even if they don't believe in the story of angels. The "burning in the bosom" is a nice spiritual confirmation, but not sufficient in today's scientific age.

5.Believe that the Book of Mormon is inspired fiction and Joseph Smith simply used a median he understood well (he was well known for being a good storyteller) to best communicate the message and principals that were revealed to him from God. Much like how Jesus taught in parables so that people could understand his teachings.

6.Believe that the whole church is completely made up and fabricated by Joseph Smith, it was not inspired by God, but you still believe it is a good organization trying to make the world a better place and/or has a benefit to society. The LDS church is another man-made church, perhaps with a little more imagination.

7.Believe that the church is a fraud and has no benefit to society

Do you have your number? Scroll down to find out the answer

Are you sure you have your number? If you don't, then you are #8, a cheating Mormon. Seriously, scroll back up and get your number first before seeing the answers.


1. Fundamentalist Mormon-Your ideals are consistent with the teachings of Mormon Fundamentalists

2. Orthodox Mormon-This is the common understanding in the mainstream LDS church

3.Progressive Mormon/Liberal Mormon-While certainly not in the majority, there is a growing movement within the church towards a more liberal approach to the gospel.

4.Mormon Skeptic/Mormon Apologist- Skepticism is a method of obtaining knowledge through systematic doubt, continual testing and intellectual caution. Apologetics is simply a way to defend criticisms I believe the 2 go together. In order to be an apologist, you must practice intellectual caution. If you believe that the Book of Mormon can be proven through scientific explanations, that makes you a skeptic, because spiritual confirmation is not enough and falls short.

5.Unorthodox Mormon-Although your views are shared by many others, your view is in no way orthodox teachings or understanding.

6.Cultural Mormon/New Order Mormon-Perhaps you attend church so you don't hurt the feelings of family members. Or maybe you believe in the organization. I fall into this category.

7.Disaffected Mormon/Soon to be ex-Mormon/already ex-Mormon- Like you needed a quiz to tell you that.

Disillusioned Mormon
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Monday, May 12, 2008

Mormon Biologists and Human Evolution

There was an interesting article in the Salt Lake Tribune from Stephen L. Peck, associate professor in the Department of Biology at Brigham Young University. It is an editorial piece that gives the view of evolution from a faithful member of the church.

The article is more a slam on intelligent design, arguing that it is not science and therefore does not belong in the science classroom.

BYU has a number of faithful evolutionary biologists and evolutionary science is taught at Brigham Young University just as it is at any other accredited university. Intelligent Design has no place in BYU's science curriculum.
Let me be blunt. I find nothing of value in Intelligent Design for both scientific and religious reasons....

...My next complaint about the Intelligent Design fiasco is its pretence to science. Exactly what makes it a science is not clear. It offers no testable hypotheses. It has established no research program. The theory of evolution has offered testable hypotheses that have been confirmed again and again....

My last complaint about Intelligent Design is that it sets religion and science against each other. It puts forward a false dichotomy in students' minds that suggests that evolution and faith are incompatible

I find the subject of evolution absolutely fascinating. The idea that life evolves slowly over time and that we can see similarities between animals that share common ancestors is truly amazing.

A number of months ago, I wrote a blog about questioning why religious beliefs are so threatened by evolution. I feel that I now have a better understanding of why the stonewalling. However, I agree with the article in the tribune that intelligent design proponents are doing a dis-service by trying to pass it off as science and trying to force it into science class. First of all, it isn't science, it
is religion, and second, it forces children to think that they have to choose between the two, which is also more harmful to religion, as there is much more evidence to support evolution, if one HAS to choose between the two.

I do not believe there is anything wrong with believing in the theory of intelligent design, but I believe that it does not belong in biology class as it is not science.

I have seen Ben Stein's movie Expelled:No Intelligence Allowed and was extremely disappointed. What I saw was amateur cinematography, sloppy editing, boring footage, next to nothing of any scientific value and over all about 10 minutes worth of interesting footage. The only parts that were interesting to me at all were when Stein interviewed the atheists.

Nova did a program on evolution vs. intelligent design, which is available online. I found this show to be much more informative, scientific and I feel that after watching it, I gained a much greater understanding.

I believe that people of all faiths will have to come to terms with evolution. It seems that every new scientific study further confirms this idea. For example, just a few days ago, Australian scientists released a report on the gene sequence of a platypus. We already knew that the platypus has a bill and webbed feet like a duck, fur like a beaver, it lays eggs and has venom like a reptile, is semi-aquatic, and yet is classified as a mammal because it produces milk. The platypus certainly is the oddest creature in nature I can think of. We have just recently learned that the platypus is genetically part bird, part reptile and part mammal. This is just one example of how evolution is a much better explanation of how the platypus came to be as opposed to idea that different animals are created separately and independently of each other.

Of course, there are religious implications of evolution. It makes one question what we consider scripture and how literal we are to interpret stories like Adam and Eve.

Disillusioned Mormon
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Friday, May 9, 2008

Writing Style of the Bible VS. Book of Mormon

The Book of Mormon and the Book of Abraham

The Book of Mormon and the Book of Abraham are both canonized scripture in the LDS church. Both are purported to be translated by Joseph Smith. Critics of Mormonism will point out that both books were written and not translated by Joseph Smith. If that were the case, you would see a similarity in writing style between the Book of Mormon and the Book of Abraham and this writing style would differ from the Bible.

Writing Style of the Old Testament

I am not a linguist or an expert by any stretch of the imagination on literary writing styles. However, as you read the books in the Bible it is clear that it is for the most part a narrative.

Genesis 1:1-7

In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth. And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters. And God said, Let there be light: and there was light. And God saw the light, that it was good: and God divided the light from the darkness. And God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And the evening and the morning were the first day. And God said, Let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters, and let it divide the waters from the waters. And God made the firmament, and divided the waters which were under the firmament from the waters which were above the firmament: and it was so.
Even though the first 5 books of the old testament are called "the 5 books of Moses" it is clear that the books of Moses are not direct translations from writings of Moses. Moses is referred to in 3rd person by the narrator.

Exodus 18:7
And Moses went out to meet his father in law, and did obeisance, and kissed him; and they asked each other of their welfare; and they came into the tent
And of course I am sure that Moses did not write his own funerary text after he died.

Deuteronomy 34:6-7
And Moses was an hundred and twenty years old when he died: his eye was not dim, nor his natural force abated. And the children of Israel wept for Moses in the plains of Moab thirty days: so the days of weeping and mourning for Moses were ended.
Now, THAT would certainly be an amazing feat if Moses was able to write the words "and Moses died". Obviously there was a narrator. This has led me to believe that the 5 books of Moses were probably not written by Moses himself, but the books were a recount written by someone else later on. At the very least, it is certainly not a literal translation of an original document penned by Moses. Either way, at some point there was a narrator.

Writing Style of the New Testament

The New Testament is the same. The writings from each book in the new testament refer to Matthew, Mark, Luke, John or Paul in third person.

Revelation 1:1
The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave unto him, to shew unto his servants things which must shortly come to pass; and he sent and signified it by his angel unto his servant John
Even the epistles open with a third person reference before reading off the actual epistle.

1 Corinthians 1:1-2
Paul, called to be an apostle of Jesus Christ through the will of God, and Sosthenes our brother, Unto the church of God which is at Corinth...
This leads me to believe that the books in the Bible, both old and New Testament are not literal translations word for word of original writings from the original authors, but that whoever translated them injected narration. It does not say "I, Moses..."

Writing Style of the Book of Mormon

The writing style of the Book of Mormon is different than the Bible. Even though Mormon is a narrator, the actual books are written in 1st person. The book of Nephi is written in 1st person.

1 Nephi 1:1-3
I, Nephi, having been born of goodly parents, therefore I was taught somewhat in all the learning of my father; and having seen many afflictions in the course of my days, nevertheless, having been highly favored of the Lord in all my days; yea, having had a great knowledge of the goodness and the mysteries of God, therefore I make a record of my proceedings in my days. Yea, I make a record in the language of my father, which consists of the learning of the Jews and the language of the Egyptians. And I know that the record which I make is true; and I make it with mine own hand; and I make it according to my knowledge.

Writing style of the Book of Abraham

If the Book of Abraham and the Book of Mormon both came from Joseph Smith, we would see a writing style similar in nature. Like the Book of Mormon, the Book of Abraham is written in 1st person.

Book of Abraham 1:1-2,31
In the land of the Chaldeans, at the residence of my fathers, I, Abraham, saw that it was needful for me to obtain another place of residence; And, finding there was greater happiness and peace and rest for me, I sought for the blessings of the fathers, and the right whereunto I should be ordained to administer the same; having been myself a follower of righteousness, desiring also to be one who possessed great knowledge, and to be a greater follower of righteousness, and to possess a greater knowledge, and to be a father of many nations, a prince of peace, and desiring to receive instructions, and to keep the commandments of God, I became a rightful heir, a High Priest, holding the right belonging to the fathers... But the records of the fathers, even the patriarchs, concerning the right of Priesthood, the Lord my God preserved in mine own hands; therefore a knowledge of the beginning of the creation, and also of the planets, and of the stars, as they were made known unto the fathers, have I kept even unto this day, and I shall endeavor to write some of these things upon this record, for the benefit of my posterity that shall come after me.

It is interesting that both the Book of Mormon and the Book of Abraham are written in 1st person. The first verse in the Book of Mormon commences with the phrase "I, Nephi" and the first verse in the Book of Abraham starts with "I, Abraham". The bible refers to Moses, or Paul, or John in 3rd person. The first verse of the Book of Mormon and The Book of Abraham sound almost identical. And of course we have the little problem that the residence of Abraham's father, or the land of Chaldeans did not exist until hundreds of years after Abraham himself died. Oops. Add that to another list of anachronisms.

When I compared the opening verses between the Book of Abraham and the Book of Mormon, it is apparent to me that they are both of the same author.

Disillusioned Mormon
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Sunday, May 4, 2008

Why do people believe in strange things?

LDS Beliefs Are Very Strange

As I take a step back, many of the things taught in the LDS church are very strange, especially to someone that has not been raised in the church. As a member all my life, many of the stories of Joseph Smith, the angel Moroni, gold plates, and the Book of Mormon were normal to me, because it was the reality that I surrounded myself with.

However, we all grew up with some very strange beliefs that might seem normal to us if we grew up with these beliefs, since they are the reality in which we surround ourselves.

Many Other Beliefs Are Very Strange

Imagine if I told you to try to communicate telepathically with a floating zombie only after symbolically eating his flesh and drinking his blood. To people that have never grown up with Christianity, that is exactly how strange and twisted it sounds to them. The story of Jesus dying on the cross and coming back to life 3 days later, praying to God or taking part of the sacrament seems very normal when one is brought up in that kind of environment, because that is the reality we grow up in.

People look at the story of Joseph Smith and the Book of Mormon, and they see a story about a white Jewish Native American that wrote something down on some gold tablets thousands of years ago and buried them in upstate, NY to give Joseph to translate only to take back possession of the plates after translation and magically float away forever along with the gold tablets. Many people that I have spoken with find this story to be utterly ridiculous and wonder how normal 'sane' people can believe in such nonsense. However, many of these same people have no problem with Jesus rising from the dead after 3 days and ascending into heaven.

Everyone Has Strange Beliefs

How is the story of Joseph Smith and Gold plates any less rational than magic trees, talking snakes, global floods, a man surviving inside a whale for 3 days, plants being created on earth before the sun existed or destroying fortified walls with trumpets?

Point is that let's face it, all these beliefs are very strange. I am not saying they are invalid, I am saying that if you try to explain these things to someone that has never heard of them before, they sound very strange if one has not been brought up with these beliefs.

This has led me to understand that we all have things we believe in that are very strange to other people. This is not intended to diminish one's faith, just accept that many of the beliefs are strange to other people. This will help you understand why other people believe in things like the Book of Mormon that might seem strange to you.

Disillusioned Mormon.
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Monday, April 28, 2008

Is Polygamy Still Part of Mormon Doctrine?

Is Polygamy Part of Mormon Doctrine?

Absolutely. Polygamy is even officiated in LDS temples, and it is still part of the core doctrine, if we are to believe what we read in what the church considers scripture.

Now, let me be clear. The LDS church does not currently practice polygamy on this earth, but it is still part of the core doctrine that polygamy must be accepted in the celestial kingdom, or the highest degree of heaven. So if one is to ask the question "Do members of the LDS church practice polygamy on this earth?" then the answer is a definitive "no". However, that is not the question I am answering today.

Polygamy in the earthly practice was a fundamental core doctrine of early Mormonism and was taught by many early church leaders that the only people that will get into the highest degree of heaven were those that entered into polygamy. To say that polygamy was only practiced to protect seed due to a shortage of men is incorrect factually. The census data tells us that there were more men in Utah than women during this time period. This idea is a made up excuse and completely inaccurate. Polygamy was an important doctrinal principal that was practiced and promoted as vital to becoming Gods.


The FLDS church is a splinter group that broke off the mainstream LDS church when the church stopped practicing polygamy. The FLDS are also called "Mormon Fundamentalists" and the reason is because they practice the fundamental teachings of Mormonism, particularly regarding the earthly practice of polygamy. The FLDS has scripture on their side.

Doctrine and Covenants Section 132

D&C section 132, which is part of canonized scripture, outlines the basis for plural marriage.The Doctrine and Covenants section 132 contains a revelation given to Joseph Smith from the Lord.

The introduction to D&C 132 states: "Although the revelation was recorded in 1843, it is evident from the historical records that the doctrines and principles involved in this revelation had been known by the Prophet since 1831". This is in reference to Joseph Smith's first plural wife Fannie Alger, who was 16 when she married Joseph Smith and she was a housekeeper at the Smith home. Joseph Smith was 27 or 28 years old when he married the 16 year old Fannie Alger and this was without Emma Smith's knowledge or consent.

In the D&C 132, we learn that you must accept polygamy or you will be damned.
verses 1-4

Verily, thus saith the touching the principle and doctrine of their having many wives and concubines...Therefore, prepare thy heart to receive and obey the instructions which I am about to give unto you; for all those who have this law revealed unto them must obey the same. For behold, I reveal unto you a new and an everlasting covenant; and if ye abide not that covenant, then are ye damned; for no one can reject this covenant and be permitted to enter into my glory.

Then, mid-revelation, the Lord sees fit to inject an admonition directly for Emma Smith, Joseph's principal and first wife. Keep in mind that Joseph Smith has already been practicing polygamy for many years at this point as noted in the introduction to the chapter:

Verses 52-56

And let mine handmaid, Emma Smith, receive all those that have been given unto my servant Joseph, and who are virtuous and pure before me; and those who are not pure, and have said they were pure, shall be destroyed, saith the Lord God. For I am the Lord thy God, and ye shall obey my voice; and I give unto my servant Joseph that he shall be made ruler over many things; for he hath been faithful over a few things, and from henceforth I will strengthen him.

And I command mine handmaid, Emma Smith, to abide and cleave unto my servant Joseph, and to none else. But if she will not abide this commandment she shall be destroyed, saith the Lord; for I am the Lord thy God, and will destroy her if she abide not in my law. But if she will not abide this commandment, then shall my servant Joseph do all things for her, even as he hath said; and I will bless him and multiply him and give unto him an hundredfold in this world, of fathers and mothers, brothers and sisters, houses and lands, wives and children, and crowns of eternal lives in the eternal worlds. And again, verily I say, let mine handmaid forgive my servant Joseph his trespasses; and then shall she be forgiven her trespasses, wherein she has trespassed against me; and I, the Lord thy God, will bless her, and multiply her, and make her heart to rejoice.

Then, the lord finishes up with these words of warning:
Verses 60-64

Let no one, therefore, set on my servant Joseph; for I will justify him; for he shall do the sacrifice which I require at his hands for his transgressions, saith the Lord your God. And again, as pertaining to the law of the priesthood—if any man espouse a virgin, and desire to espouse another, and the first give her consent, and if he espouse the second, and they are virgins, and have vowed to no other man, then is he justified; he cannot commit adultery for they are given unto him; for he cannot commit adultery with that that belongeth unto him and to no one else. And if he have ten virgins given unto him by this law, he cannot commit adultery, for they belong to him, and they are given unto him; therefore is he justified. But if one or either of the ten virgins, after she is espoused, shall be with another man, she has committed adultery, and shall be destroyed; for they are given unto him to multiply and replenish the earth, according to my commandment, and to fulfil the promise which was given by my Father before the foundation of the world, and for their exaltation in the eternal worlds, that they may bear the souls of men; for herein is the work of my Father continued, that he may be glorified.
Even if this was a real revelation from God, Joseph Smith did not follow the instructions given to him.

Joseph Smith and Polygamy

This information can be found by the church's own genealogical record of Joseph Smith. None of his plural wives changed their names, and there are no recorded children from Joseph Smith with any of his wives other than through Emma.

According to various sources, Joseph Smith may have had 34 wives, 7 of which were under 18 and 11 of which were already married to living men at the time. One of the more disturbing marriages is when Joseph Smith calls Orson Hyde to be an apostle and sends him off on a 3 year mission, then a few months after he leaves, Joseph marries his wife Marinda Hyde while Orson is gone.

Polygamy Currently Officiated in LDS Temples

Polygamy is very much a part of Mormon doctrine in principal, but the current policy disallows the practice on this earth. However, Temple practices demonstrate that polygamy is expected to be practiced in heaven.

A widower may re-marry in an LDS temple where he can be sealed to both women, but a widow may not get sealed to multiple men. Current apostle Dallin H. Oaks is sealed to two wives, one of which has died. He has referred to both of them as his "eternal companion".

Polygamy is very much a fundamental teaching of Mormon doctrine. Even if it is not currently practiced on this earth, members of the church are expected to accept the practice of polygamy in the early days of the church and accept the practice in the next life. It is still considered a holy and sacred practice.

Skeptical Mormon
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Wednesday, April 23, 2008

My First Doubt- The Book of Mormon and the Bible

Search, Ponder and Pray

Growing up in the church, I was always taught to read the scriptures every day and study them. Ironically, it was studying the scriptures that casted the first doubts about the validity of the Book of Mormon.

I remember reading in the Book of Mormon certain chapters in 3 Nephi that were very similar to verses I had read in the New Testament. My initial reaction was that it was a testament of how both the Bible and the Book of Mormon are inspired works that Jesus would teach the same thing on the American continent that he did in Palestine.

Beginning of the End

However, when I cross referenced the chapters, I realized that the chapters were not just similar, they were exact word-for-word replicas. For example, 3 Nephi chapters 12-14 are word-for-word copies of the King James version of Matthew chapters 5-7.

As I read and compared the 2 books, I found it quite disturbing, as we are led to believe in the church that the Book of Mormon is a direct translation with the divine help from God from the Gold plates. In the LDS church, we are also led to believe that the Bible has all kinds of translation errors and the the Book of Mormon is there to clarify plain and precious things that have been removed from the scriptures as stated in 1 Nephi 13:28.

However, it was evident to me that Joseph Smith used sections of the King James version of the Bible and inserted them into the Book of Mormon. He didn't even try to hide this apparent plagiarism as the verses were pretty much all identical.

Joseph Smith Translation

According to the LDS church regarding the Joseph Smith Translation:

The Lord inspired the Prophet Joseph Smith to restore truths to the Bible text that had become lost or changed since the original words were written. These restored truths clarified doctrine and improved scriptural understanding.
Joseph Smith felt it necessary to re-translate parts of the Bible. The term 'translate' is used loosely by the church and can have various meanings, but keep in mind that this transpired years after the the Book of Mormon was published. The Joseph Smith translation is not canonized in the LDS church, but is footnoted in LDS published versions of the King James Bible. The Joseph Smith Translation is also known as the "Inspired Version" of the Bible and is canonized as scripture by the Community of Christ, formerly known as the RLDS.

Matthew 6:13

One example of these "re-translations" is found in Matthew 6:13, where the King James Version reads:

"And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil..."

The Joseph Smith translation reads:

"And suffer us not to be led into tempation..."

It is also footnoted in the LDS bible that the Syriac translation reads

"Do not let us enter into temptation."

This is a very important doctrinal change, as explained by the JST contents that the Lord does not lead us into temptation and therefore the King James version had a translation error.

Book of Mormon Equivalent

However, 3 Nephi 13:12 reads the same as the KJ version:
"And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil"

Book of Mormon: The Most Correct Book?

Now how is it that we are to believe that the Book of Mormon is the most correct book and that the Bible is flawed with translation errors, when parts of the Book of Mormon are exact copies, even including the translation errors from the King James version of the Bible. Then, after that, Joseph Smith is able to further clarify biblical passages by re-translating the verses to conform with the teachings, meanwhile, the Book of Mormon, which was supposed to be the most correct book still contains the exact same errors.

Discovering this shocked me and scared me and I stopped cross-referencing the scriptures from that moment on. I made myself believe that if I just kept reading the scriptures, praying and feeling the "confirmation from the spirit" that it was a much better way for me to know the truthfulness to the scriptures. I guess that I was simply following the first 2 of 6 ways that people deal with cognitive dissonance, as I talked about in a previous post.

Looking back, this discovery did not stop me from going on my mission, but it was the first Jenga piece as described in a previous post that ultimately led to my disillusionment.

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Saturday, April 19, 2008

Main reasons for my disillusionment

I have taken a break from blogging because of time constraints, but I am back from a half-year hiatus. I thought I would break back into this blog by talking about the main reasons that led to my disillusionment.
LDS Perception on why people leave the church

A common mis-conception in the church is that the only reasons people leave the church or stop believing in the church is because:

a. Some kind of grave sin that they committed and feel too guilty
b. A member offended them, maybe told them their orange Jello was over-cooked
c. They are lazy or are weak and have no faith
d. They haven't received enough baked goods from the fellowshipping members

I can't speak for everyone and I believe that some people do leave the church for the above mentioned reasons. However, many people also leave the church or stop believing purely for doctrinal reasons. I fall into that category.

Reasons for my disillusionment

As I talk to people inside and outside of the church, I have learned that what might be a big deal to some people are trivial issues to others.

Here are the weighted reasons that led to my disillusionment:

Book of Abraham

The reason I put the Book of Abraham on the top of the list is because I have studied extensively the topic and have read all the criticisms and all the defenses for the Book of Abraham, and I have not found a satisfactory response. I will go into further detail at a later time, but the book of Abraham is something that I undeniably consider to be a fraud and therefore discredits Joseph Smith as a translator. For a good video on the subject, I have embedded a video on a previous post. The video is a little over-sensationalized at certain parts, but it is 100% factual.

DNA and Native Americans

DNA has demonstrated that Native Americans are not Lamanites. This is most troubling since every prophet from Joseph Smith to Gordon B. Hinckley has taught that Native Americans are Lamanites. The church has recently started to back-pedal from that position, even changing the wording in the introduction of the Book of Mormon, as mentioned in a previous post.

Hill Cumorah Paradox

The Hill Cumorah paradox is troubling because the only way to defend the Book of Mormon is to dispute what Joseph Smith and every prophet up to Gordon B. Hinckley taught about the location of the Hill Cumorah, at least all the way up to 1990 about the Hill Cumorah in Upstate, NY being the same one as mentioned in the Book of Mormon.

Lack of Archaeology

The Lack of any single artifact or physical evidence for the Book of Mormon is tricky, because a lack of evidence doesn't prove that the Book of Mormon lands never existed. You can't prove a negative, and therefore it isn't as high on my list. How can you prove something didn't exist? Can you prove to me that Santa Claus doesn't exist? However, the LDS church has been looking for a long time and hasn't found anything. Not a single Book of Mormon artifact. None, nada, zip. The most likely solution is that the Book of Mormon lands never existed in the physical world.

Church History

Church history doesn't effect me as much as some people. The reason is because I know that people aren't perfect, and certainly obscure statements made by church leaders 150 years ago have little relevance for the church today. However, it does carry some weight as we are led to believe that these men were called by God.


I find the racism, sexism and homophobia in the church and the history of the church disturbing. Although the institutional racism banning blacks from the priesthood is over, there are many areas that big improvements can be made, especially with sexism in the church.

Other Criticisms

Other criticisms of the church have very little bearing because there are many things that are highly speculative and many times there are plausible explanations. For example, the idea that Joseph Smith copied his father's dream and inserted it into the Book of Mormon as Lehi's dream I find interesting, but not conclusive because the only account is from Joseph Smith's mother and she talked about it years after the publication of the Book of Mormon. We also have no evidence that Joseph Smith's father told Joseph Smith about the dream he had, so there is nothing concrete, but it does add to the overall mix of things.

I do not believe that I am any smarter than any member of the church, I just think that there is a difference in how one should obtain truth. I suppose that if one ignores information that is critical of the church and only reads and exposes themselves to church approved literature and prays that they will come to know in their hearts that the church is true. However, this is not how I believe one should obtain truth. I believe that people should look at all the information and use critical thinking and reason and logic to come to a solution that is the most reasonable and most likely.

How to obtain truth

I do not believe that the way to obtain truth is to read the Book of Mormon and pray about it, and if you feel good, then that makes it true. That is why God invented a brain. Muslims make the same claim and have the same conviction about the Qur'an You can have the same spiritual awakening with Dianetics, or other reading material for Buddhism, Hinduism or Wika. After doing brief research, I have found that these religious texts have the same criticisms as the Book of Mormon.

Another common thread in my learning about various belief systems is that it is much more effective when you surround yourself with other people with similar belief systems. This leads me to believe that perhaps religion is more about a social experience than the doctrine. Otherwise, we would have more "do-it-yourself" religions. Perhaps that is a discussion for another time.

LDS Apologists

When faced with criticisms of the church, what I have found most troubling is that the defense often times contradicts scripture, contradicts prophets, or contradicts themselves. There is a saying that goes like this: "Nobody disputes Mormon prophets like LDS apologists."

Finally, the last resort when there is no answer is to say that it must be one of those things that we will not understand, but that in due time either in this life or next life we will have a complete understanding. This is not satisfactory for me.

I do not endorse any religious organization at this time and I look forward to your comments.

Disillusioned Mormon
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