Book of Mormon Changes
Yesterday while reading some interesting news stories on BYU’s online newspaper, I came across an article they posted a few years back about changes made to the introduction in the Book of Mormon.
Their article reminded me once again of the arbitrary nature of the Church when it comes to the validity of Joseph Smith’s claims on anything from his first vision to why he was incarcerated at the Carthage Jail. They have to be one of the best record keepers in recent history yet when questioned on the inconsistencies of the first vision or outright contradictions in prophetic revelations they’ve published, they close up like Fort Knox and seem shocked that anyone would question anything they have to say.
The change that was made to the introduction of the Book of Mormon took place in 2007. The unannounced fix may have been minimized by the Church, but for all practical purposes it meant they were conceding Smith had to be wrong about the lineage of people mentioned in the Book of Mormon.
Imagine the entire story of how the Nephites, ah-hem Lamanites, left Jerusalem and sailed to America in jeopardy! Tragically this is the reality and significance of the change made in the Book of Mormon.
The questionable introduction was published in the 1981 edition and written by none other than Bruce McConkie himself. Here’s what BYU NewsNet (now known as Universe) had to say about the changes.
“The introduction previously said that the Lamanites “are the principal ancestors of the American Indians,” and the new edition printed by Doubleday says that the Lamanites “are among the principal ancestors of the American Indians.” (Emphasis mine)
Wouldn’t that still make them part of the ancestry? Without really making an announcement they’ve made concessions Lamanites aren’t who Joseph Smith claimed they were. But wait there’s more!
“The current Introduction page in the Book of Mormon was not part of the original text translated by Joseph Smith, Jr.,” said Mark Tuttle, LDS Church spokesperson in the Salt Lake Tribune on Thursday. “A one-word change was made to the introduction in the latest edition of the Book of Mormon published by Doubleday. That change takes into account details of Book of Mormon demography, which are not known.”
Got that? The demographic details aren’t known. My first thought is why. Why aren’t the details known? Wouldn’t a prophet know these things if God had commissioned him to “translate” or publish an all important message needed for man to gain salvation?
While the introduction isn’t scripture per se (wink-wink), it highlights important details of the work. I’m not an English scholar by any stretch of the imagination, but I do know the purpose of introductions. It’s a summary of what the story is about, who it’s about, when it happened, etc. If they don’t know the background of the people they’re talking about doesn’t it leave the reader to wonder why those people are doing the things they do?
The author of this BYU article also said the following:
“This change once again places the LDS Church in the middle of disputes about the validity of the Book of Mormon. These disputes have increased due to recent DNA research that suggests that the principal lines of American Indian ancestry link to Asia probably by way of the Bering Strait.”
Amen to that! It seems the Church has made up its own set of rules. The evolutionary manner of LDS theology invites anyone interested in Mormonism to wonder what’s next and if the claims made by present and/or previous LDS leaders can be trusted. However, when people question what’s going on, whether it’s from an insider or otherwise, walls are thrown up by those in authority and the only thing you’ll hear is “The thinking has been done”.
And why weren’t further explanations given about the Nephites?
If scientific knowledge (DNA) has come forth showing that the ancestors of Native Americans probably arrived via the Bering Strait and not across the ocean, wouldn’t the same hold true of the Nephites as well?
The Church will tell you no because according to 1 Nephi 2:5 the Lamanites were originally Nephites who came here to America from Jerusalem via an ocean.
In light of their change I have a few questions:
1. If the Lamanites turned dark because of their sin are they were still Hebrew or did their whole DNA change as well?
2. If it stayed the same then why phrase the new introduction in the manner they did? The implication is that the Lamanites are still part of the ancestry of Native Americans.
3. If the DNA markers in Lamanites changed and they have no Hebrew blood why hasn’t the Book of Mormon reflected the new scientific discovery and why hasn’t the Church made an announcement on this?
4. According to Moroni they were still Lamanites and still his brothers (Moroni 1:4).
While the Church is trying to divert attention by claiming the Lamanites are among the principle ancestors, it doesn’t take away from the fact those “dark and loathsome” Lamanites still had to come across the Behring Strait and not the Pacific or Atlantic Ocean. Joseph Smith and subsequent leaders of the Church drew a line in the sand by stating and prophesying throughout the years that the Lamanites were the ancestors of the Native Americans*. Yet they’ve always held to the belief the Lamanites are of Hebrew descent because Laman was the brother of Nephi (Words of Mormon 1:8). Whew!
In conclusion the Mormon today has a few options with this latest change.
They can reject the scientific findings of the DNA results.
They can believe the Church has continuing revelation (line upon line) and wait for an explanation at a later date.
Or…they can reject the false teachings and teachers of Mormonism all together. We’re praying the latter option is the one they choose and come to know the real Jesus of the Bible.
With Love in Christ;
1 Cor. 1:18
*Here are just a few examples:
1 Nephi 12:20, 23; “And it came to pass that I beheld, and saw the people of the seed of my brethren that they had overcome my seed; and they went forth in multitudes upon the face of the land. 23 And it came to pass that I beheld, after they had dwindled in unbelief they became a dark, and loathsome, and a filthy people, full of idleness and all manner of abominations.
2 Nephi 30:4; “And then shall the remnant of our seed know concerning us, how that we came out from Jerusalem, and that they are descendants of the Jews.”
Mosiah 9:12; “Now they were a lazy and an idolatrous people; therefore they were desirous to bring us into bondage, that they might glut themselves with the labors of our hands; yea, that they might feast themselves upon the flocks of our fields.”
3 Nephi 2:14-16; “And it came to pass that those Lamanites who had united with the Nephites were numbered among the Nephites; 15 And their curse was taken from them, and their skin became white like unto the Nephites; 16 And their young men and their daughters became exceedingly fair, and they were numbered among the Nephites, and were called Nephites. And thus ended the thirteenth year.”
Spencer Kimball, Ensign,“Of Royal Blood”, article based on an address given by Spencer Kimball at the “Lamanite Youth Conference April 24, 1971.
James Talmage, Jesus the Christ, pg 46; “The Nephites suffered extinction about 400 A.D., but the Lamanites lived on in their degraded course, and are today extant upon the land as the American Indians.”
Ibid, footnotes #42; “Nephites and Lamanites.-The progenitors of the Nephite nation were led from Jerusalem, 600 B.C., by Lehi, a Jewish prophet of the tribe of Manasseh. His immediate family, at the time of their departure from Jerusalem, comprised his wife Sariah, and their sons, Laman, Lemuel, Sam, and Nephi; at a later stage of the history, daughters are mentioned, but whether any of these were born before the family exodus we are not told.”
Improvement Era, 1927, Vol Xxx, October 1927, No. 12; “The remnant of the Lamanites who are cursed below all humanity that we are acquainted with—who have been filled with the spirit of bloodshed which they have inherited from their fathers—they will embrace the Gospel in the due time of the Lord. They are of the house of Israel, and this spirit of war will be taken from them and they will become the children of God, but not until the Gentiles have entirely rejected the Gospel.”
Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses 7:337; “…the aborigines of this country are dark, loathsome, ignorant, and sunken into the depths of degradation; and they cannot tell. I can tell you in a few words: They are the seed of Joseph, and belong to the household of God; and he will afflict them in this world, and save every one of them hereafter, even though they previously go into hell. When the Lord has a people, he makes covenants with them and gives unto them promises: then, if they transgress his law, change his ordinances, and break the covenants he has made with them, he will put a mark upon them, as in the case of the Lamanites and other portions of the house of Israel; but by-and-by they will become a white and delightsome people.” – Brigham Young, Salt Lake City, October 8, 1859
Mark E. Petersen, Pamphlet: Latter-day Tracts, pg 1; “The Great White God of ancient America still lives! In the discoveries and writings of archaeologists and historians, he now stands out as an unassailable reality. The mystery that so long veiled the puzzling traditions of the natives is swept aside by modern research and newly found but centuries old documents that open a widely expanded view of this divinity and his labors in the western hemisphere. There was such a God! He did come to America, long before the time of Columbus. He taught the ancients his true religion…The tradition of a White God in ancient America was preserved through generations of Indians from Chile to Alaska, and has been significantly persistent likewise among the Polynesians from Hawaii to New Zealand. In their main details all such traditions agree. They differ in name and minor details from island to island and from country to country, but the overall outline remains the same…” – 1970