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Joseph Smith vs. the Book of Mormon

By Gary F. Zeolla

Blue bookA Mormon will "bear his testimony" by declaring, "Joseph Smith is a prophet of God and the Book of Mormon is the Word of God." This testimony presents the two basic Mormon presuppositions.

If Joseph Smith and the Book of Mormon are both "of God" then the two should be consistent with each other, especially in regards to their teachings about the nature of God and His relationship to us.

But are they? To answer this question passages from the Book of Mormon will be presented followed by quotes from the writings of Joseph Smith.

The quotations will be presented without comment, with the most pertinent parts emphasized.(1) This way, the reader can decide for yourself how consistent these "inspired" sources are on these vital topics.

One God or Many?

Book of Mormon:
"And Zeezrom said unto him: Thou sayest there is a true and living God? And Amulek said: Yea, there is a true and living God. Now Zeezrom said: IS THERE MORE THAN ONE GOD? And he answered, NO" (Alma 11:26-29).(2)

Joseph Smith:
"And then the Lord said: Let us go down. And they went down at the beginning, and THEY, THAT IS THE GODS, organized and formed the havens and the earth."

"And THEY (THE GODS) said: Let there be light; and there was light."

"And THE GODS TOOK COUNSEL AMONG THEMSELVES and said: Let us go down and form man in our image, after our likeness."

"And THE GODS SAID AMONG THEMSELVES: On the seventh time we will end our work, which we have counseled; and we will rest on the seventh time from all our work which we have counseled."(3)

The Father, Son, and Spirit:
One or Three?

Book of Mormon:
"And the honor be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost, WHICH IS ONE GOD. Amen" (Introduction: Testimony of three witnesses).

"... every thing shall be restored to its perfect frame, as it is now, or in the body, and shall be brought and be arraigned before the bar of Christ the Son, and God the Father, and the Holy Spirit, WHICH IS ONE ETERNAL GOD" (Alma 1:44b).(4)

"Behold, I am he who was prepared from the foundation of the world to redeem my people. Behold, I AM JESUS CHRIST. I AM THE FATHER AND THE SON" (Ether 3:14).

"Teach them that redemption cometh through CHRIST THE LORD, WHO IS THE VERY ETERNAL FATHER. Amen" (Mosiah 16:15; see also 2Nephi 31:21; Mosiah 15:1-5; Alma 11:38,39; 3Nephi 11:27,36; Mormon 7:7).

Joseph Smith:
"I have always declared God to be a distinct personage, JESUS CHRIST A SEPARATE AND DISTINCT PERSONAGE FROM GOD THE FATHER, and the Holy Spirit was a distinct personage and a Spirit: and these three constitute THREE DISTINCT PERSONAGES AND THREE GODS."(5)

"Peter and Stephen testify that they saw the son of Man standing on the right hand of God. Any person that had seen the heavens opened knows that there are THREE PERSONAGES in the heavens who hold the keys of power, and one presides over all."(6)

"When the light rested upon me I saw TWO PERSONAGES, whose brightness and glory defy all description, standing above me in the air. One of them spake unto me, calling me by name and said, pointing to the other - This is My Beloved Son. Hear Him!"(7,8)

God: Spirit or Flesh?

Book of Mormon:
"And the king said: IS GOD THAT GREAT SPIRIT that brought our fathers out of the land of Jerusalem? And Aaron said unto him: YEA, HE IS THAT GREAT SPIRIT, and he created all things both in heaven and in earth" (Alma 22:9,10a).

"And then Ammon said: Believest thou that there is a GREAT SPIRIT? And he said, Yea. And Ammon said: THIS IS GOD" (Alma 18:26-28a).

Opening doorsJoseph Smith:
"If the veil were rent today and the great God who holds this world on its orbit and who upholds all worlds and things by His power was to make Himself visible, - I say, if you were to see Him today, you would see Him LIKE A MAN IN FORM - like yourselves in all the person, image, and VERY FORM AS A MAN...."(9)

"THE FATHER HAS A BODY OF FLESH AND BONES as tangible as man's; the Son also; but the Holy Ghost has not a body of flesh and bones, but is a personage of spirit."(10)

Always God or an Exalted Man?

Book of Mormon:
"For do we not read that GOD IS THE SAME YESTERDAY, TODAY, AND FOREVER, and in him there is no variableness neither shadow of changing?" (Mormon 9:9).

"For behold, GOD knowing all things, BEING FROM EVERLASTING TO EVERLASTING, behold, he sent angels to minister unto the children of men" (Moroni 7:22).

"For I know that God is not a partial God, neither a changeable being; but HE IS UNCHANGEABLE FROM ALL ETERNITY TO ALL ETERNITY" (Moroni 8:18).

Joseph Smith:
"GOD HIMSELF WAS ONCE AS WE ARE NOW AND IS AN EXALTED MAN and sits enthroned in yonder heavens!...

"It is the first principle of the gospel to know for a certainty the character of God and to know that HE WAS ONCE A MAN LIKE US; yea, that God Himself, the Father of us all, dwelt on an earth, the same as Jesus Christ Himself did; and I will show it from the Bible."(11)

Praise God or Become a God?

Book of Mormon:
"... that I might go down in peace, and my immortal spirit may join the choirs above in SINGING THE PRAISES OF A JUST GOD" (Mosiah 2:28b).

"And he [Jesus Christ] hath brought to pass the redemption of the world, whereby he that is found guiltless before him at the judgment day hath it given unto him to dwell in the presence of God in his kingdom, to SING CEASELESS PRAISES with the choirs above, unto the Father, and unto the Son, and unto the Holy Ghost, which are one God, in a state of happiness which hath no end" (Mormon 7:7).

Joseph Smith:
"Gods have an ascendency over the angels, who are ministering spirits. In the resurrection, some are raised to be angels; others are RAISED TO BECOME GODS."(12)

"... they [a righteous, resurrected husband and wife] will pass by the angels, and the gods, which are set there, to their exaltation and glory in all things, as hath been sealed upon their heads, which glory shall be a fullness and continuation of the seeds forever and ever. THEN THEY SHALL BE GODS, because they have no end; therefore shall they be from everlasting to everlasting, because they continue; then they shall be above all, because all things are subject to them. THEN SHALL THEY BE GODS, because they have all power, and the angels are subject unto them."(13)

"... because they [Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob] did none other things than that which was commanded, they have entered into their exaltation, according to the promises, and sit upon thrones, and are not angels but ARE GODS."(14)

Final Note:
If any Mormon reading this article would like to explain how the above "apparent contradictions" can be reconciled, your response would welcomed!

For a follow-up to the above article, see JS vs. BoM - Reply to Response.

Books and eBooks by Gary F. Zeolla, the Director of Darkness to Light

1) Each quotation will be presented only once, even though some would fit under more than one heading.
2) The Book of Mormon. Salt Lake City: Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 1985, and throughout. Originally published in 1830.
3) Abraham 4:1,3,26; 5:2. Contained in Joseph Smith. The Pearl of Great Price. Salt Lake City: Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 1986, pp. 38, 40. Parentheses in original. Originally published in 1851.
4) An "a" after a verse reference indicates only the first part of a verse has been quoted; a "b" indicates only the second part has been quoted. The reader is encouraged to check the verse in the Book of Mormon itself to see the entire verse in its original context.
5) Documentary History of the Church 6:474, June 16, 1844; quoted in Daniel Ludlow, ed. Latter-day Prophets Speak. Logan, UT: Bookcraft, 1988, p.273.
6) Documentary History of the Church 5:426, June 11, 1843 (quoted in Ludlow, p.273).
7) Joseph Smith - History 1:17b. Pearl of Great Price, p.49. Italics in original.
8) The Book of Mormon is teaching modalism. Joseph Smith is teaching tritheism. Neither is teaching the Biblical doctrine of the Trinity. For a discussion on these three different theologies see, The Relationship of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit..
9) Times and Seasons August 15, 1844 (quoted in Ludlow, p.277).
10) Doctrine and Covenants 130:22. Salt Lake City: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 1986, p.265. Originally published in 1835.
11) Times and Seasons August 15, 1844 (quoted in Ludlow, p.277).
12) Documentary History of the Church 5:426-427, June 11, 1843 (quoted in Ludlow, p.77).
13) Doctrine and Covenants 132:19b-20, July 12, 1843, pp.268-269.
14) Doctrine and Covenants 132:37b, July 12, 1843, p.270.

Joseph Smith vs. the Book of Mormon. Copyright 1999 by Gary F. Zeolla of Darkness to Light ministry (www.dtl.org).

The above article was published in Darkness to Light newsletter
and posted on this Web site in April 1997.

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