Questions on the Mormon Faith

This paper has been around for several decades. It is helpful for those who sincerely wish to compare some of the beliefs of the Mormon faith with what the Bible says.

In the left column you will find a brief statement outlining a particular belief, and in the right column is an explanation comparing that belief with what the Bible teaches.

Did Joseph Smith literally “see” God?

Mormons believe that their prophet, Joseph Smith, literally “saw” almighty God. However, the Bible teaches that no-one can see God with mere human eyes and yet survive the experience. (Exodus 33:20; 2 Chronicles 6:18) Additionally, the Lord Jesus Christ explained that “God is a Spirit” (some Bible translations say “God is spirit”), and is therefore invisible to human eyes. (John 4:24) Note that the apostle Paul was blinded because of seeing, not God, but his son, the glorified Jesus Christ.—Acts 9:8.

Exodus 33:11 — “face to face”

In supporting the belief that the prophet Joseph Smith literally saw God, Mormons make reference to Exodus 33:11 which says that “the Lord spake unto Moses face to face” (King James version). However, the expression “face to face” clearly means “intimately”, not “literally,” as in Deuteronomy 5:4, inasmuch as all Israel did not “see” in any way the form of almighty God; they merely heard a voice—the voice of an angel. Acts 7:38 refers to “the angel that spoke to him [Moses] on Mount Sinai and with our forefathers.” Additionally, note the explanation at Deuteronomy 4:15, 16 where Moses says: “You did not see any form on the day of Jehovah’s speaking to you in [Sinai] out of the middle of the fire, that you may not act ruinously and may not really make for yourselves a carved image.” Note also the occasion of the 70 older men who “got to see the God of Israel.” (Exodus 24:10) This again was not meant to be taken literally, as the very next verse explains: “they got a vision of the true God.”

Why secrecy in translating the book of Mormon?

Why would servants of God shroud their work in secrecy? The ancient manuscripts of the Bible have always been easily available and publicly accessible.—Luke 12:3; Acts 12:24; 13:49; 19:20.

The first 116 pages of the book of Mormon were reportedly stolen before completion

Why was there no re-translation? In the case of the stone tablets that Moses smashed, God merely produced a new writing on replacement tablets of stone.—Exodus 34:1; compare Jeremiah 36:28, 32.

Why have there been 3,000 changes to the book of Mormon since 1830?

As God’s spirit was behind the writing of all the books of the Bible, there was no need for any revisions or improvements. (2 Peter 1:19-21; 2 Timothy 3:16, 17) The apostle John was told to “Write, for these words are faithful and true.” If they required altering or correcting, how could they be “faithful and true”? — Revelation 21:5.

Why does the book of Mormon borrow spurious passages from the King James Bible?

The King James Bible is a translation that contains many errors which have come to light since the discovery, especially from the year 1947 onward, of older and more reliable Bible manuscripts. Deliberate alterations to the text on which the source manuscript was based have been identified by scientists. The original Bible manuscripts were “inspired of God.” (2 Timothy 3:16) However, no copy (except Matthew’s own inspired gospel), and certainly no relatively recent translation, can legitimately claim to be inspired. Why would God’s spirit use passages from a flawed translation, especially ones that are known to be spurious? Compare the following references: 3 Nephi 11:27, 36 cf. 1 John 5:7; 3 Nephi 13:13 cf. Matthew 6:13; Mormon 9:24 cf. Mark 16:17, 18.

Was the angel, mentioned at Revelation 14:16, the angel Moroni?

The angel Moroni did not deliver a message to “all nations,” only to Joseph Smith. Moreover, the book of Mormon has been translated in only 110 or so languages. By contrast, the Bible has been translated in around 3,000 languages and is by far the most widely circulated book in human history.—Matthew 24:14.

Does John 10:16 apply to American people only?

Jesus’ message was to start out from Jerusalem (in the year 33 AD) and was to be spread zealously by his disciples until it reached “all nations.” (Matthew 28:19, 20) The apostle John will have been very familiar with Jesus’ words regarding the sheep at Matthew 25:32 where he said: “And all the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate people one from another, just as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats.” He will not be separating “all the nations,” but gathering them all, including the people of America, and putting them into just two groups: the sheep (who live) and the goats (who do not).

Is man’s soul immortal? —Alma 42:9

The teaching of the immortality of the soul is widespread in almost all of the world’s religions, but it is not taught in the Bible!—Ezekiel 18:20; Psalm 72:13, 14; Acts 3:23; James 5:20. (See Does Man Have an Immortal Soul?)

Did Jesus die upon a “cross”? —1 Nephi 11:32-34.

The Bible teaches that Jesus died upon a tree, i.e. upon a single upright piece of timber. (Acts 5:30; 10:39) Why would the Romans have bothered with two pieces of timber, when a single piece would do the job much more effectively by stretching the victim and restricting the breathing? This is why they were accustomed to breaking the legs, preventing the victims from periodically pressing up on their nailed feet to take in a small, life-saving breath of air.—John 19:33.

Will men build New Jerusalem?—3 Nephi 21:23, 24; Ether 13:8.

The Mormons make reference to New Jerusalem as an earthly city. But the Bible explains, at Revelation 21:2, that this city originates with God. It is a heavenly city, as Hebrews 12:22 clearly bears out. It is described as measuring 12,000 furlongs in size. This is 1,500 miles, allowing for a 660,000 storey building, 6,400 times higher than the Empire State building! Obviously, this is symbolic language for a truly splendid heavenly structure.

What is the truth behind the so-called “lost tribes”?

There were no “lost tribes” of Israel. Although scattered by the Assyrians following the desolation of Samaria in 740 BC, and held in captivity by the Babylonians from 607 until 537 BC, this did not result in any of the tribes being “lost.” At Jeremiah 3:18 it was prophecied regarding all twelve tribes of Israel: “In those days they will walk together, the house of Judah alongside the house of Israel, and together they will come from the land of the north into the land that I gave to your forefathers as an inheritance.” Moreover, Jeremiah 23:4 adds that “none will be missing.” No, none of the 12 tribes were ever missing! For example, note that Anna the prophetess was “of Asher’s tribe.” (Luke 2:36) Also, the disciple James wrote his inspired letter “to the twelve tribes that [were] scattered about,” not lost.—James 1:1.

Is there marriage in heaven?—Matthew 18:18

Jesus’ statement at Matthew 18:18 was not given as a license to go beyond God’s commands. (Compare Galatians 1:8, 9.) The apostle Paul clearly stated that death severs the marriage bond, and in harmony with this, Jesus made reference to the fact that angels do not marry.—1 Corinthians 7:39; Matthew 22:30.

Does God permit polygamy amongst Christians?

The account at Genesis 16:1-3 outlines Sarah’s idea for Abram to have relations with her maidservant. This was not sanctioned by God. Although Jehovah tolerated polygamy amongst the people of ancient Israel, God’s son restored the original standard as set out in Genesis 2:24 by commanding that his followers have only one wife.—Matthew 19:3-9; Titus 1:6; 1 Timothy 3:2, 12.

Can a person sin prior to birth?

Romans 9:11 clearly states that Jacob and Esau, whilst yet in the womb, had done neither “good” nor “bad.” Sin requires an intelligent assessment of one’s own thoughts and behavior.—Romans 7:7.

The use of the names “Bible” and “Jesus”

The passage at 2 Nephi 29:3, 6, 10 apparently refers to incidents that occurred 500 years before Christ. Yet the term “Bible” is used. This is an anachronism. No complete collection of the holy scriptures existed at this early time and the term “Bible” was not used until centuries after the time of Christ. Bible writers always used the language that was current for their day; for example, Psalm 46:9 refers to ancient weapons of war and not to “tanks” or “guns.” Likewise, the name “Jesus” was not attributed to the Messiah until after Jesus’ arrival.

Did John the Baptist go to heaven?

Reasoning on Jesus’ statement at Matthew 11:11 demonstrates that the answer is “no.” Consider also Jesus’ words at John 3:13 that “no man has ascended into heaven.” Jesus was the “firstfruits” of those raised to life in heaven; he was not preceded by John the Baptist who was referred to as the “friend of the bridegroom” and not a member of the heavenly bride class.—1 Corinthians 15:20, 23; John 3:29, 30; Revelation 21:2, 9.

Current, or former, atti­tude toward black people

Is there any room for prejudice amongst true Christians?—Acts 10:34, 35; Acts 17:26, 27; 1 Corinthians 12:13; Galatians 3:26-28; 1 Peter 2:9, 10; Revelation 7:9.

Should Christians support any human warfare?

Compare 3 Nephi 12:43, 44 with Matthew 5:43-48. See also: Isaiah 2:4; Micah 4:3, 4; Matthew 22:39; Acts 5:29; Romans 12:19; Romans 13:9, 10; 2 Corinthians 10:3, 4; Ephesians 6:12; 1 Thessalonians 5:15.—Note that the wars fought by the ancient Israelites against the surrounding Canaanite nations were as a result of Jehovah’s explicit sentence of execution upon these wicked nations.—Genesis 15:16; Deuteronomy 7:2.

Should Christians get involved in political matters?

Jesus clearly explained that his followers were not to participate in the world’s political affairs. Jesus himself refused to be drawn into the political concerns of the Jews. (John 6:15) Christians were to be neutral as regards the nations in which they lived.—Matthew 4:8-10; John 15:18, 19; James 4:4; 1 John 3:10-12.

Is there a burning “hell” for the souls of men? —1 Nephi 14:3

No. This is not a Bible teaching. Death results in the cessation of all thought, including feelings, desires, etc. The dead are “conscious of nothing at all.” They are “impotent in death.” Paul said that a dead man has been “acquitted [or, exonerated] from his sin.”—Psalm 146:4; Ecclesiastes 9:5; Isaiah 26:14; Romans 6:7.

Has hell been “prepared for the wicked”? —1 Nephi 15:29

The burning of even wicked people as a punishment is something that God had “not commanded and that had not come up into [His] heart.” (Jeremiah 7:31) The Bible also teaches that “God is love”. (1 John 4:8) Jesus himself was in “hell” for three days, i.e. in the common grave.—Psalm 16:10; Acts 2:31.

Did Jesus teach the doctrine of hellfire? —3 Nephi 12:22

No. The Book of Mormon is confusing the non-biblical term “hellfire” with the divine teaching of Gehenna (a symbolic place representing the condition of everlasting oblivion). As discussed above, the biblical “hell” means mankind’s common grave. 3 Nephi 12:22 quotes from the wording of Matthew 5:22 incorrectly.

Modern-day apostles?

The 12 apostles were the “foundation” of the new Christian congregation in the first century. (Ephesians 2:20) Judas Iscariot was only replaced because he proved unfaithful; additionally, he perished before the setting up of the Christian congregation. Consequently, Matthias took the place of Judas. When the apostle James was executed, no one replaced him as one of the 12. (Acts 1:20-26; 12:1, 2) The first century apostles produced the “signs of an apostle,” which included miracles, such as raising the dead and curing diseases. (2 Corinthians 12:12) There is no-one today who is distinguished by performing divine miracles. Even in the miracle-rich first century, miracles were intended as an unmistakable ‘sign to the unbelievers’ proving that the newly-formed Christian congregation truly had divine backing.—1 Corinthians 14:22.

Modern-day priesthood?

The Bible foretold a time when God would “cause sacrifice and gift offering to cease.” (Daniel 9:27) This occurred with the death of Christ, after which time God no longer recognized the animal sacrifices offered by the Levitical priests at the earthly temple. The sacrifice of the life of Jesus was “once for all time” and rendered animal sacrifices redundant.—Galatians 3:24, 25; Hebrews 7:11, 12; 9:28; 1 Peter 2:5, 9.

Does the “stick of Joseph” refer to the Book of Mormon? —Ezekiel 37:19-28

No. Nor does the “stick of Judah” refer to the Bible. The context shows that this illustration referred to the reuniting of Israel which, from 997 BC, had been split into the northern kingdom of Israel and the southern kingdom of Judah. This uniting was accomplished following the repatriation of the Israelites to their home soil from 537 BC onwards.—Jeremiah 50:4; Ezekiel 37:21, 22; Zechariah 10:6.

Are Christians required to pay tithes?

No. The paying of tithes was officially instituted by the Mosaic Law in 1513 BC as a mandate restricted to the nation of Israel only. When this Law was abolished after the death of Christ, tithes were no longer a requirement for God’s people.—Psalm 147:19, 20; 1 Chronicles 17:21; Ephesians 2:15; Colossians 2:13, 14.

Jesus Christ not to be “seen” again

The Bible teaches that Jesus would never again appear as a human. Even when manifesting himself to Saul (later the apostle Paul), he appeared in glorious heavenly form, a state that rendered Paul blind.—John 14:19; 2 Corinthians 5:16; 1 Timothy 6:16.