Brief History of Mormonism

19 October

Convince us of our errors of doctrine, if we have any, by reason, by logical arguments, or by the word of God, and we will be ever grateful for the information, and you will ever have the pleasing reflection that you have been instruments in the hands of God of redeeming your fellow beings from the darkness which you may see enveloping their minds.” – The Seer, pgs. 15-16, Orson Pratt, apostle

Boyd K. Packer, “The Mantle is Far, Far Greater Than the Intellect”, 1981, BYU Studies, Vol. 21, No. 3, pp. 259-271; “Church history can be so interesting and so inspiring as to be a very powerful tool indeed for building faith. If not properly written or properly taught, it may be a faith destroyer… “There is a temptation for the writer or the teacher of Church history to want to tell everything, whether it is worthy or faith promoting or not…Some things that are true are not very useful.

Have you ever heard of Carfax?  It’s a cool little concept.  You can get a report on any car you’d like to buy and in that report is all the information you’d ever want or need to know about that particular car.  It’ll even tell you how many times the oil was changed and when, the number of previous owners, if it was a lease or loan, etc., the list just keeps going.  You’ll have no doubts or worries about the history of the car you have your sights on.  If you know what you’re looking for, the writings of the Mormon Church are like Carfax in many ways.

For me, I didn’t leave Mormonism because of any unknown issues about its history.  I was born and raised a sixth generation Mormon from Utah, so I thought I knew about the dark underbelly of my beloved church.  I soon found out how wrong I was once I began working in ministry.

The Mormon Church is wrong in so many ways, but one of the things I do have to commend them for is their record keeping.  No matter where they’ve been or what they’ve done, there is a paper trail just waiting to be discovered.  The one exception to this is the lack of evidence regarding the Book of Mormon.  The deafening silence of no plates, writings or archaeological findings is another proof the Church is made up of lies.

The History of Mormonism

When looking at the validity of any religion it’s important to look at all aspects of their claims.  This would include any religion whether it is Mormonism, Judaism, and yes, even Christianity.

The entire precept of Mormonism began in 1820.  Through the overactive imagination of an uneducated fourteen year old farm boy in upstate New York, a religion was born.

Joseph Smith came into the world on December 23, 1805 in Sharon, Vermont to a poor couple by the name of Joseph Smith, Sr. and Lucy Mack Smith.  The Smith couple tried to scrape by through a number of means which included fortune-telling, treasure seeking and dirt farming, during which time the father spent many years looking to find the “one true church”.

When Joseph junior was ten years old his parents moved to Palmyra, New York.  Now Americans during this time were living through what is known as the Post Enlightenment Period and many of them were given to folk religion; a mix of magic and the formal beliefs of no particular denomination.

It included all types of magic, Hinduism, Witchcraft, evil-eye, divining rods, hexes, amulets, etc.  One character marker they all had in common is the belief in personal prophecies, visions and dreams.  Typically, people involved in folk religion will believe in God, but don’t want to go to church and have never committed themselves into the faith of one denomination.  They mixed in formal teachings of the Bible with their private family traditions and whatever folk lore personally appealed to them.

Smith’s parents were part of that system.  His father belonged to the Divining rods men club in Vermont and had his own set of visions from 1811 to 1819.  They also liked to search for treasures in the ground and would frequently make money being hired by farmers wanting to know if their property held any buried treasure, otherwise known as scrying.  Elder’s Journal 1:43 and History of the Church 3:29.

His mother once said she went to a grove of trees to pray and ask if her husband would ever know the true gospel of God.  (Lucy’s Book, A Critical Edition of Lucy Mack Smith’s Family Memoir, chapter 13, Edited by Lavina Fielding Anderson.)

Ironically enough, God allowed the Babylonians to go in and nearly annihilate the Israelites for the same behavioral problem back in BC 600.  God had warned them to come back, but they’d have nothing of it.  Judah had been prostituting herself on the hills under the trees when they proclaimed they were worshipping gods.  It’s a form of witchcraft and Shamanism.  God called it idol worship.

In the Pearl of Great Price, Joseph Smith’s testimony notes that 1820 held a great deal of “revival” preaching being done by area Methodists and Baptists throughout the upper Atlantic coast.  This, Smith says, is what caused him to study diligently and pray for God’s direction.

Actually, when you look into historical records of the Palmyra Register, it states the multi-denominational revivals took place between 1816 and 1817 and didn’t occur again until late 1824.

After reading James 1:5, according to Smith, he went to a grove of trees to pray in order to ask God which church he should join.  History of the Church 1:5-6 and Joseph Smith’s Testimony 1:14-15.

James 1:5; “If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.

Joseph Smith’s Testimony 1:14-15; “So, in accordance with this, my determination to ask of God, I retired to the woods to make the attempt. It was on the morning of a beautiful, clear day, early in the spring of eighteen hundred and twenty. It was the first time in my life that I had made such an attempt, for amidst all my anxieties I had never as yet made the attempt to pray vocally.  15 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.

joseph-smith-praying-in-grove

Smith said he went to the grove and knelt down when almost immediately a dark force and power tried to overtake him until he was ready to “sink into despair”.  (JST 1:15)  Just before he was ready to succumb to the dark power, he looked up and directly overhead a great pillar of light appeared and got closer until it actually fell upon him.

He said that in the pillar of light God the Father and His Son Jesus Christ appeared to him in bodily form.   God then told him not to join any of the churches because they were all an abomination in His sight.

Not one single congregation on the face of the earth was honoring God.  In fact not one single church on the face of the earth had been listening to or following Him for almost 2,000 years.  Joseph Smith Testimony 1:19.  This is a teaching the LDS Church still holds to today.  (Whatever happened to Matthew 16:18?  Did Jesus lie?)  Also see D&C 1:30;

“And also those to whom these commandments were given, might have power to lay the foundation of this church, and to bring it forth out of obscurity and out of darkness, the only true and living church upon the face of the whole earth…”

A couple of interesting things happened three years later in 1823.  Joseph Smith’s mother, Lucy Mack Smith wrote that her son Joseph told her she should stop attending the local Methodist church.  He said he could learn more from taking his Bible into the woods for two hours than she ever could by attending a church meeting for that long.  Eventually even her husband agreed and quit going to church with her.

The other significant event for this family in 1823 took place when Joseph received another vision, this time from an angel of light by the name of Moroni.  Now Moroni was supposedly a resurrected prophet from the fifth century who was the last surviving member from a tribe of people called the Nephites.  The Book of Mormon holds the stories of these people.

The angel Moroni told Joseph that he could find the story about the lost tribe of Israelites written on golden plates buried deep in the ground (Hill Cumorah) near Joseph’s home in Palmyra, NY.  But there was a catch.

Smith couldn’t have the plates just yet.  He had to prove his worthiness and each year go to the burial place on the same day for a sort of report card.  This went on for four years before he was allowed to have full possession of them.

So every year Joseph dutifully went to the place where the plates were buried until the day when Moroni finally told him he could take the treasure home with him and translate them from Reformed Egyptian into 1611 English…

Questions about the way it was written:

Israelites wouldn’t have written anything in the Egyptian language as they didn’t get along with them after the 400 year captivity ordeal.

Not one single reputable Egyptologist will say that Reformed Egyptian exists.

Why did Smith have to translate this into 1611 English if he lived in the 19th century?  Did God only speak 17th century English?

On May 15, 1843 Smith stated there were no Greek or Latin words upon the plates.  I personally counted and found 7,354 Greek and/or Latin words.

Nehemiah 13:24-26 says this about mingling languages;

And their children spake half in the speech of Ashdod, and could not speak in the Jews’ language, but according to the language of each people.  25 And I contended with them, and cursed them, and smote certain of them, and plucked off their hair, and made them swear by God, saying, Ye shall not give your daughters unto their sons, nor take their daughters unto your sons, or for yourselves.  26 Did not Solomon king of Israel sin by these things? yet among many nations was there no king like him, who was beloved of his God, and God made him king over all Israel: nevertheless even him did outlandish women cause to sin.

Even the day of the year Smith went to the burial place is to be looked upon with caution.  It was September 21st – 22nd.  What is September 21st you might ask?  It is the autumnal equinox – the day witches honor the earth.

Now who other than Satan himself would tell someone not to join the Christians to worship?  Why would every single person on the face of the earth be a whore?  Is it just “another coincidence Smith would go to a grove of trees to pray and go every year on the autumnal equinox to talk to dead people?  One or two of these things alone should be worthy of investigation, but all of them on the part of one person claiming to hear from God himself is curious indeed.

The Book of Mormon on golden plates

 The plates held the story of a lost tribe of Israelites who had fled persecution during the days of the Babylonian takeover of Jerusalem in 600 BC.  In the Bible God had just told all the Israelites in Jerusalem not to move anywhere (Jeremiah 42:10-18).  Everyone was to stay put.  Everyone that is, but the mysterious prophet Lehi.

The Israelite Lehi, his wife, their four sons who married into the tribe of Ishmael and a couple of Lehi’s friends walked to Egypt where the God of the Bible said not to go; they built a ship and sailed to America.

Their story would hold the “fullness of the gospel” which had been lost since Moroni (the last Nephite general) died in 421 AD.

Remarkably, not one single shred of archaeological evidence has been found anywhere.  This is quite the feat considering there were millions of people who supposedly lived during this time.  Remnants of large metropolitan cities, temples, synagogues, churches and homes are nowhere to be found.  No shards of pottery, any teeth of humans, any maps or animal bones have ever been discovered.

And even more incredible, there is something else missing.  The major beliefs of Mormonism cannot be found in the Book of Mormon either – it’s all a façade to distract the believers of Mormonism and their prospective members.

Even with all this non-evidence, Smith was still able to convince people of his story and Mormonism was officially given birth to on April 6, 1830.  Because of polygamy and other illegal activities, Smith and the gang were kicked out of Palmyra, NY (for being persecuted according to the Church) and settled in Kirtland, OH.

After they were kicked out of Ohio for polygamy and banking fraud, they went on to Independence, MO and got kicked out of there with the “extermination order” from then Governor Liburn Boggs in 1838.  [Note: in the 1830 Webster’s dictionary, “extermination” meant “to drive out of the border of”.]  The governor wanted them out because they had been stealing from non-Mormons and harassing the population in that area.

They then moved to Nauvoo, Illinois and that is where Smith met his end.  In early June of 1844, Joseph and his brother Hyrum burned down a printing press and newspaper business; the Nauvoo Expositor.  The newspaper claimed that Smith was practicing polygamy, had declared martial law and anointed himself as king.

Well, the church didn’t take too kindly in ratting them out, so they held a meeting on June 10, 1844 and Joseph gave the order to burn the place down, HC 6:432.

Smith and his brother Hyrum, along with 15 other Mormons were arrested in Nauvoo, IL on charges of arson, polygamy, theft and treason; which by the way is a capital offense.  HC 6:562

As mayor of Nauvoo, Joseph let himself out of jail on his own recognizance.  This is why charges were filed against him in Carthage and the courts in Carthage let everyone go except for the Smith brothers and two others.

A day later on June 25, 1844, Joseph Smith, his brother Hyrum and their companions were held at the Carthage jail. Not long after their arrest and incarceration, Governor Ford left for Nauvoo.

A sympathizer in the Church smuggled guns into the jail and gave them to the four men who were incarcerated and left.  Two days later on the 27th, Smith and his brother were killed in a gun fight against the Carthage Grays, a militia group hired by

Governor Ford to guard the jail that held the four prisoners.  It’s not known who shot first, but a gun battle ensued.

Now the Mormons will tell you that Smith and his brother were martyred.  The two other inmates survived the gun fight.  But, is this really the case?  Smith shot and killed two people before he was eventually shot himself and died from his injuries.  History of the Church, Vol. 7, pp. 61-65.

From www.dictionary.com on the definition of martyr;

–      A person who willingly suffers death rather than renounce his or her religion.

–      A person who is put to death or endures great suffering on behalf of any belief, principle or cause; a martyr to the cause of social justice.

–      A person who undergoes severe or constant suffering; a martyr to severe headaches.

–      A person who seeks sympathy or attention by feigning or exaggerating pain, depravation, etc.

Even though Mormons know that Smith shot and killed these two people, they still insist he is a martyr and have venerated this man for the past 150 years by singing songs like “Praise to the Man” and “We Thank Thee O God for a Prophet”.

Praise to the Man, LDS Hymn #27;

 “Great is his glory and endless his priesthood.

Ever and ever the keys he will hold.

Faithful and true, he will enter his kingdom,

Crowned in the midst of the prophets of old.”

MD, pg. 396; “Joseph Smith’s greatness lies in the work that he did, the spiritual capacity he developed, and the witness he bore of the Redeemer. Since the keys of salvation were restored to the Prophet, it is in and through and because of his latter-day mission that the full redemptive power of the Lord has again become available to men. It is because the Lord called Joseph Smith that salvation is again available to mortal men. “Joseph Smith, the Prophet and Seer of the Lord, has done more, save Jesus only, for the salvation of men in this world, than any other man that ever lived in it.” (D. & C. 135:3.)”

After the death of Joseph, the clan of Mormonism broke into two groups.  One group sided with Smith’s widow Emma and their son, Joseph Smith, III.  This group is known as the Reorganized LDS Church (today they call themselves the Community of Christ), located in Independence, MO.  The rest of the clan headed west with Brigham Young and settled in Salt Lake.

Mormon scriptures from the mainstream church in Salt Lake are comprised of what they call their “standard works”.  This includes the Bible, “as far as it is translated correctly” and the Book of Mormon, which Joseph Smith said is the “most correct book on the face of the earth”.  (HC 4:461) You’ll notice how they’ve undermined the authority of God’s word with those two phrases.

Then we have the Doctrine & Covenants, a collection of prophecies given by Smith and finally, the Pearl of Great Price.  The latter is a compilation of various works.  Included are two widely opposing declarations of how the earth was created in the book of Moses and the book of Abraham.  The Pearl of Great Price also includes Joseph Smith’s official testimony, the Thirteen Articles of Faith and Smith’s rewrite on the gospel of Matthew.

The translation of the book of Abraham actually comes from an Egyptian papyri Smith bought from a traveling salesman, by the name of Michael Chandler on or around July 3, 1835.  As it turns out, the papyri have since been studied by Egyptologists who’ve determined they are nothing more than Egyptian funerary burial records (better known as the “book of breathings”). For a great study on this, read “By His Own Hand Upon the Papyrus” by Charles Larson.

The Church claims they’re the fastest growing church in the world (they’ve been saying that for decades now) with 13 million members.  The truth is that less than forty percent of their members are active in the United States.  The numbers are even more dismal outside the continental U.S.  They’re lucky if they reach 15 percent.

     According to the Salt Lake Tribune, the Church’s roster tells the real story.  An article by Peggy Fletcher Stack retrieved on 6/20/10 says that “only about a third of LDS members go to church each Sunday”.  And if you read Mormonwiki, the numbers are even worse.  Here is what they have to say;

“As LDS author and retired CES Director Grant Palmer pointed out in his podcast interview with church member and MormonStories.org founder, John Dehlin [10], the church is ‘hemorrhaging’ members. Why? As Palmer said, Latter-Day Saints are going on the Internet and discovering, much to their shock, that what the church taught them about Joseph Smith, early church history, and other aspects of Mormonism is far from the truth. According to Palmer’s source in Church HQ, about 100,000 members are resigning each year, and Greg Dodge, the man responsible for processing resignations and excommunications has had to double his staff from five people to ten!”  http://www.mormonwiki.org/Population_and_growth_rate

The Church also keeps members on their rosters until the age of 110 whether they’re dead or not.  The Cumorah Project reports the names of at least one million members are in the “address unknown file” and out of the more than twelve million “members” only a small fraction nominally believe.  They report the other major problem is retention; “Latter-day Saints lose 70-80% of their converts”.

It doesn’t give out financial information regarding how much money they take in for tithes, yet it’s been estimated their net worth was between $25 to $30 billion dollars in the late ‘90’s and the amount of real estate the Church owns surpasses the size of Rhode Island  (Mormon America: The Power and the Promise).

So that in a nutshell is the history of the Mormon Church.  It’s hard for devout members to reconcile the truth about its background alongside what they’ve always been taught and still hold onto their testimonies.

If you are LDS we want you to know we don’t publish these things out of animosity.  We care deeply for the Mormon people and want for them to know the real Jesus of the Bible.  We pray for them daily and hope to hear from you if you’re a Mormon!

With Love in Christ;

Michelle

1 Cor. 1:18  …

Links for further study:

http://www.lifeafter.org/articlesoffaith

http://www.lifeafter.org/artifacts

http://www.lifeafter.org/descriptions

http://www.lifeafter.org/nephireign

http://www.lifeafter.org/who_is_moroni

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