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Beit Midrash
(House of Learning)

Beit Midrash Index  •  Vocabulary Matters


©1991 • Prove all things; hold fast that which is good. 1 Thess. 5:12

The False Prophets of Mormonism[1]

Biblical Prophets

A prophet is, by the simple grammatical meaning of the word, one who speaks on behalf of another; that is, a messenger, usually of one higher in rank or authority. In the Bible the word prophet is most frequently applied to one who speaks on behalf of God, as His messenger.

“He was God’s voice to the people. … In the Biblical sense of the word, prophecy may refer to either forthtelling [speaking out] or foretelling [predicting future events]. Much that the prophet uttered was not predictive in its nature; yet he declared the truth that God gave to him.  … He was a patriot and a reformer, a revivalist in the midst of a chosen people. His ministry was called forth in times of spiritual declension, and his very warnings inevitably assumed the character of predictions.  …

“The New Testament prophet is to be distinguished from the Old Testament prophet both as one situated in a different dispensation and as more committed to forthtelling than to foretelling. The New Testament prophet’s ministry is defined thus: ‘But he that prophesieth speaketh unto men to edification, and exhortation, and comfort’ (1 Cor. 14:3). The service assigned to the New Testament prophet is of great importance. He appears among the ministry gifts of Ephesians 4:11, and, with Christ and the apostles, forms the foundation on which the Church is being built (Eph.2:20).  …” — Lewis Sperry Chaffer, Systematic Theology, Vol. 4, pp. 285-286

Prior to the completion of the New Testament in the early- to mid-90’s prophets were given direct revelation by God to communicate truth to the fledgling Church. Writing under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, the Apostle Paul prophesied [foretold] that prophecy, which is only partial [to ek merouV, to ek merous, that which is in part], would be abolished when the perfect [to teleion, to teleion, that which has reached its end, finished, complete] comes.

Once the Church was in possession of the completed Bible, which now contains all that God wants man to know about Him [i.e., the completed revelation], there was to be no new prophetic revelation. The function of prophecy in the Church, therefore, has now changed from foretelling new partial revelation, to forthtelling the complete revelation of God, the Bible.

While it is true that the prophet Joel predicted that “your sons and daughters will prophesy, your old men will dream dreams, your young men will see visions” [Joel 2:28], there are three major points about that prophecy that most latter-day so-called prophets either fail to see or willfully ignore:

 1. This prophecy is delivered not to the Church, but directly and specifically to Israel.

 2. It is in specific reference to the time “after this” (v. 28) when Israel will be restored to the Land (v. 18) and living securely in a restored and proper relationship to God (v. 26-27) following the victory of Israel over the northern army at the conclusion of Ezekiel’s war (v. 20, cp. Ezekiel 38:14-39:2). Most modern scholars hold the view that this war occurs either at the mid-point or end of the Tribulation period, which is very obviously still in the future.

 3. The major theme of the entire book of Joel, and thus the context in which this prophecy appears, is The Day of The Lord, which includes the Great Tribulation, the second coming of Christ, and the Millennium.

“And I will not hide My face from them any longer, for I shall have poured out My Spirit on the house of Israel,” declares the LORD God. (Ezekiel 39:29)

“And it will come about after this (cp. v. 20) that I will pour out My Spirit on all mankind; … I will pour out My Spirit in those days. … And I will display wonders in the sky and on the earth, blood, fire, and columns of smoke. The sun will be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the great and awesome day of the Lord comes. And it will come about that whoever calls on the name of the Lord will be delivered; for on Mount Zion and in Jerusalem there will be those who escape, as the Lord has said, even among the survivors whom the Lord calls.” (Joel 2:28-32 [cp. Matt. 24:29-31; Rev. 6:12,13])

Mormon Prophets

One of the major distinctions claimed by the Church Of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (the Mormons) is that theirs is the only church that has living prophets. As Christians, the Bible requires us to listen to and unhesitatingly obey God’s prophets. We are, however, to test those prophets in the light of God’s written Word, the Bible. Did Joseph Smith ever claim to be a prophet of God? We have more than adequately shown in our handout “How Mormons View Revelation” that the entire Mormon Church, all its doctrine, and its entire structure stands or falls on Joseph Smith, Jr., who clearly claimed to be a prophet of God, and whose followers have completely accepted him as such for well over a hundred and fifty years.

Mormonism, as it is called, must stand or fall on the story of Joseph Smith. He was either a prophet of God, divinely called, properly appointed and commissioned, or he was one of the biggest frauds this world has ever seen. There is no middle ground. If Joseph Smith was a deceiver, who willfully attempted to mislead the people, then he should be exposed; his claims should be refuted, and his doctrines shown to be false, … I maintain that Joseph Smith was all that he claimed to be. … Attacks have been made from the beginning to the present, and yet every one has failed. The world has been unable to place a finger upon anything that is inconsistent, or out of harmony in the revelations to Joseph Smith, with that which has been revealed before, or predicted by the prophets and the Lord himself.” — Joseph Felding Smith, tenth President of the Mormon Church, Doctrines of Salvation, 1959, Vol. 1, pp. 188-189.

What the Mormon Prophets Forthtold

Adam’s Altar and Noah’s Ark

“The early brethren of this dispensation taught that the Garden of Eden was located in what is known to us as the land of Zion, an area for which Jackson County, Missouri, is the center place.” — Bruce R. McConkie, Mormon Doctrine, p. 20

“At that great gathering Adam offered sacrifices on an altar built for the purpose. A remnant of that very altar remained on the spot down through the ages. On May 19, 1830, Joseph Smith and a number of his associates stood on the remainder of the pile of stones at a place called Spring Hill, Daviess County, Missouri.” — Ibid., p.21

“Adam’s Altar, which was mentioned, I have visited many times. I sat upon the wall of stone and reflected upon the scenes that had taken place thousands of years ago right were I was. There were the rocks that Father Adam used. … Joseph said, ‘That altar was built by our Father Adam and there he offered sacrifice.’ … according to the words of the Prophet Joseph, mankind in that age continued to emigrate eastwardly until they reached the country on or near the Atlantic coast; and that in or near Carolina Noah built his remarkable ship, in which he, his family, and all kinds of animals lived a few days over one year without coming out of it.” — Oliver B. Huntington, The Juvenile Instructor, November 15, 1895, pp. 700-701

The Inhabitants of the Moon

“The inhabitants of the moon are more of a uniform size than the inhabitants of the earth, being about 6 feet in height. They dress very much like the Quaker style and are quite general in style, or fashion of dress. They live to be very old; coming generally, near a thousand years.’ This is the description of them as given by Joseph the Seer, and he could ‘See’ whatever he asked the father in the name of Jesus to see.” — Journal of Oliver B. Huntington, Vol. 3, page 166 of typed copy at Utah State Historical Society, cited by Jerald and Sandra Tanner in Mormonism: Shadow or Reality?

“Daniel Hendrix relates that as he and [Martin] Harris were riding to the village one evening, and he remarked on the beauty of the moon, Harris replied that if his companion could only see it as he had, he might well call it beautiful, explaining that he had actually visited the moon, and added that it ‘was only the faithful who were permitted to visit the celestial regions.’” — William A. Linn, The Story of the Mormons, New York, 1902, p. 35

“Who can tell us of the inhabitants of this little planet that shines of an evening, called the moon? … when you inquire about the inhabitants of that sphere you find that the most learned are as ignorant in regard to them as the ignorant of their fellows. So it is in regard to the inhabitants of the sun. Do you think it is inhabited? I rather think it is. Do you think there is any life there? No question of it; it was not made in vain.” — Brigham Young [July 24, 1870], Journal of Discourses, Vol. 13, p. 271

“Astronomers and philosophers have, from time almost immemorial until very recently, asserted that the moon was uninhabited, that it had no atmosphere, etc. But recent discoveries, through the means of powerful telescopes, have given scientists a doubt or two upon the old theory. Nearly all the great discoveries of men in the last half century have, in one way or another, either directly or indirectly, contributed to prove Joseph Smith to be a Prophet. As far back as 1837, I know that he said the moon was inhabited by men and women the same as this earth, and that they lived to a greater age than we do, that they live generally to near the age of a 1000 [sic.] years. He described the men as averaging near six feet in height, and dressing quite uniformly in something near the Quaker style. In my Patriarchal blessing, given by the father of Joseph the Prophet, in Kirtland, 1837, I was told that I should preach the gospel before I was 21 years of age; that I should preach the gospel to the inhabitants upon the islands of the sea, and to the inhabitants of the moon, even the planet you can now behold with your eyes.” — Oliver B. Huntington, The Young Woman’s Journal, published by the Young Ladies’ Mutual Improvement Association of Zion, 1892, Vol. 3, pp. 263-264

The Unchanging Doctrine

“Yet of all churches in the world only this one has not found it necessary to readjust any part of its doctrine in the last hundred years.” — Dr. Hugh Nibley [Mormon Historian and Brigham Young University professor], No, Ma’am, That’s Not History: a Brief Review of Mrs. Brodie’s Reluctant Vindication of a Prophet She Seeks to Expose, p. 46

“Revelations have been revised whenever necessary. That is the nice thing about revelation — it is strictly open-ended.” — Dr. Hugh Nibley, letter to Morris L. Reynolds, May 12, 1966

“Inspiration is discovered in the fact that each part, as it was revealed, dovetailed perfectly with what had come before. There was no need for eliminating, changing, or adjusting any part to make it fit; but each new revelation on doctrine and priesthood fitted in its place perfectly to complete the whole structure, as it had been prepared by the Master Builder.” — Joseph Felding Smith [tenth President], Doctrines of Salvation, Vol. 1, p. 170

“None of the early revelations of the Church have been revised, and the Doctrine and Covenants stands as printed including sections 5 and 7.” — Hugh B. Brown [member of the First Presidency], Letter to Morris L. Reynolds dated May 13, 1966

“The revelations have remained unchanged. There has been no tampering with God’s word.” — Apostle John A. Widtsoe, Joseph Smith: Seeker After Truth, p. 119

“These revelations were arranged for publication by Brothers Joseph Smith, Sidney Rigdon, Orson Hyde and others, in Hiram, Ohio, while I was there, were sent to Independence to be published, and were printed just exactly as they were arranged by Brother Joseph and the others. And when the Book of Commandments[2] was printed, Joseph and the church received it as being printed correctly.” — David Whitmer [one of the Three Witnesses], An Address to all Believers in Christ, Richmond, Missouri, 1887, p. 56

“Some of the revelations as they now appear in the Book of Doctrine and Covenants have been changed and added to. Some of the changes being of the greatest importance as the meaning is entirely changed on some very important matters; as if the Lord had changed his mind a few years after he give [sic.] the revelation, and after having his servants (as they claim) to print them in the Book of Commandments; and after giving his servants a revelation, being a preface unto His Book of Commandments, which says: ‘Behold this is mine authority, and the authority of my servants, and my preface unto the Book of Commandments, which I have given them to publish unto you, oh inhabitants of the earth.’ Also in this preface, ‘Behold I am God, and have spoken it; These commands are of me.’ ‘Search these commandments, for they are true and faithful.’ The revelations were printed in the Book of Commandments correctly! This I know, … Joseph and the church received it as being printed correctly. This I know. But in the winter of 1834 they saw that some of the revelations in the Book of Commandments had to be changed, because the heads of the church had gone too far, and had done things in which they had already gone ahead of some of the former revelations. So the book of Doctrine and Covenants was printed in 1835, and some of the revelations changed and added to.” — David Whitmer, letter published in the Saints Herald, February 5, 1887

“… we are not ashamed here in this great metropolis of America * * * to declare that we are polygamists. We are not ashamed to proclaim to this great nation, … that we are firm, conscientious believers in polygamy, and that it is part and parcel of our religious creed.” — John Taylor [third president of the Mormon Church], Life of John Taylor, p. 255

“The only men who become gods, even the Sons of God, are those who enter into polygamy.” — Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses, Vol. 11, p.269

“Plural marriage is not essential to salvation or exaltation. … Any who pretend or assume to engage in plural marriage in this day … are living in adultery, have already sold their souls to Satan, and … will be damned in eternity. — Bruce R. McConkie, Mormon Doctrine, 1958, p. 523

“During the past week or two I have received a number of letters from different parts of the United States written by people, some of whom at least are a little concerned because they have been approached by enemies of the Church and enemies of the Book of Mormon, who had made the statement that there have been one or two or more thousand changes in the Book of Mormon since the first edition was published. Well, of course, there is no truth in that statement. It is true that when the Book of Mormon was printed the printer was a man who was unfriendly. The publication of the book was done under adverse circumstances, and there were a few errors, mostly typographical — conditions that arise in most any book that is being published — but there was not one thing in the Book of Mormon or in the second edition or any other edition since that in any contradicts the first edition, and such changes as were made were made by the Prophet Joseph Smith because under those adverse conditions the Book of Mormon was published, But there was no change of doctrine.” — Joseph Felding Smith [tenth President], The Improvement Era, December 1961, pp. 924-925 [For details, refer to 3,913 Changes in the Book of Mormon, by Jerald and Sandra Tanner, Utah Lighthouse Ministry, Box 1884, Salt Lake City, Utah 84110]

“That errors of grammar and faults in dictation do exist in the Book of Mormon (and more especially and abundantly in the first edition) must be conceded; and what is more, while some of the errors may be referred to inefficient proof-reading, such as is to be expected in a country printing establishment, yet such is the nature of the errors in question, and so interwoven are they throughout the diction of the Book, that they may not be disposed of by saying they result from inefficient proof-reading or referring them to the mischievous disposition of the ‘typos,’ or the unfriendliness of the publishing house. The errors are constitutional in their character; they are of the web and woof of the style, and not such errors as may be classed as typographical. Indeed, the first edition of the Book of Mormon is singularly free from typographical errors.” — Mormon Historian B. H. Roberts, Defense of the Faith, pp. 280-281; reprinted in A New Witness for Christ in America, by Francis W. Kirkham, Vol. 1, pp. 200-201

“Joseph did not render the writing on the gold plates into the English language in his own style of language as many people believe, but every word and every letter was given to him by the gift and power of God. So it is the work of God and not of Joseph Smith, and it was done in this way. … The Lord caused each word spelled as it is in the Book to appear on the stones in short sentences or words, and when Joseph had uttered the sentence or word before him and the scribe had written it properly, that sentence would disappear and another appear. And if there was a word wrongly written or even a letter incorrect the writing on the stones would remain there. Then Joseph would require the scribe to spell the reading of the last spoken and thus find the mistake and when corrected the sentence would disappear as usual.” — Journal of Oliver B. Huntington, p. 168 of typed copy at Utah State Historical Society, cited by J&S Tanner, op. cit.

“… if it be contended that the language of the Book of Mormon, word for word, and letter for letter, was given to the prophet by direct inspiration of God, acting upon his mind, then again God is made responsible for the language errors in the Book of Mormon — a thing unthinkable.— … since the verbal errors in the Book of Mormon are such as one ignorant of the English language would make, the temptation is strong, in the minds of those not yet converted to its truth, to assign to the Book of Mormon an altogether human origin. … Are these flagrant errors in grammar chargeable to the Lord? To say so is to invite ridicule. The thoughts, the doctrines, are well enough; but the awkward, ungrammatical expression of the thoughts is doubtless the result of the translator’s imperfect knowledge of the English language. …” — B. H. Roberts, Defense of the Faith, pp. 278, 279, 295

”When he and the witnesses went out to pray about the Book of Mormon, we heard a voice from out of the bright light above us, saying, ‘These plates have been revealed by the power of God, and they have been translated by the power of God. The translation of them which you have seen is correct, and I command you to bear record of what you now see and hear.’” — Joseph Smith, History of the Church, Vol. 1, pp. 54-55

“On another occasion Joseph Smith stated that he told the brethren that the Book of Mormon was the most correct of any book on earth. …” — Ibid., Vol. 4, p. 461

“Many errors, verbal and grammatical have already been eliminated in the later English editions, and there is no valid reason why every-one [sic.] of those that remain should not be eliminated, … There is no good reason why we should not have just as good a Book of Mormon in the English language as they now have in the French, the German, the Swedish and the Danish, … for in these translations it has not been thought necessary to perpetuate the English errors, nor do I believe it is necessary to perpetuate them in our English editions … the present writer hopes that he will live to see those verbal and grammatical changes authorized.” — Ibid., pp. 300-301

 

“…king Benjamin had a gift from God, whereby he could interpret such engravings; …” Mosiah 21:28 (1830)[3]

“…king Mosiah had a gift from God, whereby he could interpret such engravings; …” Mosiah 21:28 (1978)

 

“… for this cause did king Benjamin keep them, …” Ether 4:1 (1830)

“… for this cause did king Mosiah keep them, …” Ether 4:1 (1978)

 

“Hear ye this, O house of Jacob, which are called by the name of Israel, and are come forth out of the waters of Judah, which sware by the name of the Lord, …” Isaiah 48:1 (KJV)

“Hear this, O house of Jacob, who are named Israel And who came forth from the loins of Judah, Who sware by the name of the Lord …” Isaiah 48:1 (NAS)

 

“Harken and hear this, O house of Jacob, which are called by the name of Israel, and are come forth out of the waters of Judah, which sware by the name of the Lord, …” 1 Nephi 20:1 (1830)

“Harken and hear this, O house of Jacob, who are called by the name of Israel, and are come forth out of the waters of Judah, or out of the waters of baptism, who sware by the name of the Lord, …” 1 Nephi 20:1 (2nd edition and following to 1888)

“Harken and hear this, O house of Jacob, which are called by the name of Israel, and are come forth out of the waters of Judah, which sware by the name of the Lord, …” 1 Nephi 20:1 (1888)

“Harken and hear this, O house of Jacob, who are called by the name of Israel, and are come forth out of the waters of Judah, or out of the waters of baptism, who sware by the name of the Lord, …” 1 Nephi 20:1 (1964)

 

“That Joseph Smith, Jr., the author and proprietor of this work, has shewn unto us the plates …” The Testimony of Eight Witnesses (1830)

“That Joseph Smith, Jun., the translator of this work, has shown unto us the plates …” The Testimony of Eight Witnesses (1978)

 

“And the mean man boweth down …” 2 Nephi 12:9 (1830)

“And the mean man boweth not down …” 2 Nephi 12:9 (1830)

 

“… yea, I know that he allotteth unto men, yea, decreeth unto them decrees which are unalterable, according to their wills; …” Alma 29:4 (1830)

“… yea, I know that he allotteth unto men according to their wills, …” Alma 29:4 (1978)

 

“… preserve these directors. … these directors were prepared, that the word of God might be fulfilled, …” Alma 37:21,24 (1830, 1888)

“… preserve these interpreters. … these interpreters were prepared, that the word of God might be fulfilled, …” Alma 37:21,24 (1978)

 

“Neither will the Lord God suffer that the Gentiles shall forever remain in that state of awful woundedness …” 1Nephi 13:32 (1830)

Neither will the Lord God suffer that the Gentiles shall forever remain in that awful state of blindness …” 1Nephi 13:32 (1978)

 

“My soul was wrecked with eternal torment; …” Mosiah 27:29 (1830)

“My soul was racked with eternal torment; …” Mosiah 27:29 (1978)

 

“Now Moroni, … took the remainder part of his army and marched over into the land of Manti.” Alma 43:25 (1830)

“Now Moroni, … took the remaining part of his army and marched over into the land of Manti.  Alma 43:25 (1978)

False Prophets

Jesus warned of false prophets who would come to His children [my sheep] disguised as His children [in sheep’s clothing], but who would be intent upon destroying (devouring) them. Jesus said they would prophesy in His name, perform miracles, and even cast out demons, but they would in reality be workers of lawlessness.

Matthew 7 15 Beware of the false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves. 16 You will know them by their fruits. Grapes are not gathered from thorn bushes, nor figs of thistles, are they? 17 Even so, every good tree bears good fruit; but the bad tree bears bad fruit. 18 A good tree cannot produce bad fruit, nor can a bad tree produce good fruit. 19 Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20 So then, you will know them by their fruits. 21 Not everyone who says to Me, Lord, Lord, will enter the kingdom of heaven; but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven. 22 Many will say to Me on that day, Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles? 23 And then I will declare to them, I never knew you; depart from me, you who practice lawlessness.” (NAS)

The Apostle Peter also warned of false prophets who would introduce destructive heresies, deny God, bring the truth into disrepute, gather many followers, teach doctrines that they had made up, slander God and His angels, blaspheme in areas in which they had no understanding, and do so while fellowshipping with Christians.

2 Peter 2 But there were also false prophets among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you. They will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the sovereign Lord who bought them — bringing swift destruction on themselves. Many will follow their shameful ways and will bring the way of truth into disrepute. In their greed these teachers will exploit you with stories they have made up. Their condemnation has long been hanging over them, and their destruction has not been sleeping. For if God did not spare angels when they sinned, but sent them to hell, putting them into gloomy dungeons to be held for judgment; if he did not spare the ancient world when he brought the flood on its ungodly people, but protected Noah, a preacher of righteousness, and seven others; if he condemned the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah by burning them to ashes, and made them an example of what is going to happen to the ungodly; and if he rescued Lot, a righteous man, who was distressed by the filthy lives of lawless men (for that righteous man, living among them day after day, was tormented in his righteous soul by the lawless deeds he saw and heard) if this is so, then the Lord knows how to rescue godly men from trials and to hold the unrighteous for the day of judgment, while continuing their punishment. 10 This is especially true of those who follow the corrupt desire of the sinful nature and despise authority. Bold and arrogant, these men are not afraid to slander celestial beings; 11 yet even angels, although they are stronger and more powerful, do not bring slanderous accusations against such beings in the presence of the Lord. 12 But these men blaspheme in matters they do not understand. They are like brute beasts, creatures of instinct, born only to be caught and destroyed, and like beasts they too will perish. 13 They will be paid back with harm for the harm they have done. Their idea of pleasure is to carouse in broad daylight. They are blots and blemishes, reveling in their pleasures while they feast with you. (NIV)

The Test of a Prophet

The true prophet must speak only in the name of Yahweh, the God of the Bible, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob; if he ever speaks in the name of other gods he must be put to death. The prophet, when speaking (or claiming to speak) in the name of the Lord, is required to be 100% accurate. A single inaccuracy voids everything that the prophet has ever said or will say in the future (which will not be long, since he is to be executed).

Deuteronomy 18 20 But the prophet, who shall speak a word presumptuously in My name which I have not commanded him to speak, or which he shall speak in the name of other gods, that prophet shall die. 21 And you may say in your heart, ‘How shall we know the word which the Lord has not spoken?’ 22 When a prophet speaks in the name of the Lord, if the thing does not come about or come true, that is the thing which the Lord hath not spoken, but the prophet hath spoken it presumptuously: you shall not be afraid of him. (NAS)

A false prophet will always be exposed if his prophecies are inaccurate or fail to come to pass. However, just because a self-proclaimed prophet’s prediction may come to pass, that does not prove that he is a prophet of God. A false prophet’s prediction may very well come to pass, in which case the determination of whether he is a true or false prophet rests on whether he leads people toward or away from God.

Deuteronomy 13 If a prophet or a dreamer of dreams arises among you and gives you a sign or a wonder, and the sign or the wonder comes true, concerning which he spake to you, saying, Let us go after other gods (whom you have not known) and let us serve them, you shall not listen to the words of that prophet or that dreamer of dreams; for the Lord your God is testing you to find out if you love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul. You shall follow the Lord your God and fear him; and you shall keep His commandments, listen to His voice, serve Him, and cling to Him. But that prophet or that dreamer of dreams shall be put to death, because he has spoken rebellion against the Lord your God who brought you from the land of Egypt and redeemed from the house of slavery, to seduce you from the way which the Lord your God commanded you to walk. So you shall purge the evil from among you. (NAS)

So not only is a prophet required to lead people toward the God of the Bible, with total and absolute accuracy in all that he says in the name of the Lord, but also there must be no sign of occult practices, and whatever he says must be in total agreement with the completed revelation of God’s Word, the Scriptures.

Isaiah 8 19 And when they say to you, Consult the mediums and the spiritists who whisper and mutter, should not a people consult their God? Should they consult the dead on behalf of the living? 20 To the law and to the testimony! If they do not speak according to this word, it is because they have no dawn. (NAS) [“because there is no light in them” (KJV) — :they have no light of dawn” (NIV)]

With the completion of the New Testament near the end of the Apostle John’s life (c. A.D. 90-95), the Church was given an additional test, echoing the words of Jesus: “What do you think about the Christ …?”

1 John 4 Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world. This is how you can recognize the Spirit of God: Every spirit that acknowledges that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, but every spirit that does not acknowledge Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the Antichrist, which you have heard is coming and even now is already in the world.

This test is very specific: acknowledgment that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is an acknowledgment of the entire doctrine of Christ, specifically based on His complete Name and Title:

 1. Lord: Jesus is the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. This name, LORD, is the personal Name of God the Creator, in Hebrew hwhy, or the English alphabet equavilant YHWH [Exodus 3:14; 6:3]. The Name occurs 6,823 times in the Old Testament, and is clearly used of Jesus Christ throughout the New Testament. God the Son, the exact representation of the Father [Hebrews 1].

 2. Jesus: the Anglicized form of his Greek name Iesus, transliterated from his true Hebrew name Yeshua, meaning “Yah (YHWH) is Salvation” or “YHWH’s Salvation.” He is the Son of Mary, a virgin [Isaiah 7:14; Matthew 1:23]; fully human, a perfect man, tempted in all things, yet without sin [Hebrews 4:15].

 3. Christ: the Anglicized form of “Christos,” the Greek translation of the Hebrew word Moshiach (Messiah), the Anointed One. The Jews anointed three classes: prophets, priests, and kings — the Anointed One is all three! According to the definition of the Gospel provided by Rabbi Shaul (Paul), He died for our sins according to the Scriptures, He was buried, and He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and He appeared to Cephas (Keffa, Peter) then to the twelve. After that He appeared to more than five hundred brethren at one time … [1 Corinthians 15:3-6]. He now sits at the right hand of God the Father, where He serves as Priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek [Hebrews 5:6].

That is, then, the acknowledgment that Jesus of Nazareth is Yahweh, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob; that He became fully man, yet remains eternally without sin; that He is the full and complete propitiation for our sin; and that He is the complete and absolute fulfillment of every single Messianic prophecy in both the Old and New Testaments; that He is the great I AM of Exodus and the First and Last of the Revelation to John.

Any person, then, who claims to speak as a prophet of God, must be tested according to these Scriptures, and if he (or she) is found wanting in even one single area, that person is a false prophet, and we are to ignore everything he or she has ever said or ever will say as a so-called revelation from God.

How, then, do the Mormon prophets measure up in the light of the Word of God?

Our Responsibility

“… 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 instrumental in the hands of God of redeeming your fellow beings from the darkness which you may see enveloping their minds.” — Mormon Apostle Orson Pratt, The Seer, pages 15-16

Not only did Joseph claim to be a prophet, so have all of his successors, from Brigham Young, second President, down to and including the current President of the Church. As Christians, then, we are required to either heed the Mormon Presidents as prophets or expose them as false prophets.

“He who receives a prophet in the name of a prophet shall receive a prophet’s reward.”  Matthew10:41

“Do not quench the Spirit; do not despise prophetic utterances. But examine everything carefully; hold fast to that which is good;” — 1 Thessalonians 5:19-21

“Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world.” — 1 John 4:1

How accurate, then, are the prophets of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints?

What the Mormon Prophets Foretold

The Lost Tribes of Israel at the North Pole

“The inspiration of God caused men to hunt for a new continent until Columbus discovered it. Men have lost millions of dollars, and hundreds of lives to find a country beyond the north pole; and they will yet find that country — a warm, fruitful country, inhabited by the ten tribes of Israel, a country divided by a river, on one side of which lives the half tribe of Manasseh, which is more numerous than all the others. So said the Prophet [Joseph Smith].

Joseph Smith’s drawing of the shape of the planet Earth“At the same time he described the shape of the earth at the poles as being a rounded elongation, and drew a diagram of it in this form, which any one can readily see will allow the sun’s rays to fall so near perpendicular to the center that that part of the earth may be warmed and made fruitful. He quoted scripture in proof of his theory which says that the earth flieth upon its wings in the midst of the creations of God, and said that there was a semblance in the form of the earth that gave rise to the saying.” — Oliver B. Huntington, The Young Woman’s Journal, published by the Young Ladies’ Mutual Improvement Association of Zion, 1892, Vol. 3, pp. 264

The Toronto Journey

“In June 1829, the translation of the Book of Mormon was finished. God gave it to us as his Holy Word, and left us to work out our own salvation and set in order the Church of Christ … When the Book of Mormon was in the hands of the printer, more money was needed to finish the printing of it. … Brother Hyrum [Smith, Joseph’s brother and one of the Eight Witnesses  to the Book of Mormon] said it had been suggested to him that some of the brethren might go to Toronto, Canada, and sell the copy-right [sic.] of the Book of Mormon for considerable money: and he persuaded Joseph [Smith] to inquire of the Lord about it. Joseph concluded to do so. He had not yet given up the stone. Joseph looked into the hat in which he placed the stone, and received a revelation that some of the brethren should go to Toronto, Canada, and that they would sell the copy-right [sic.]of the Book of Mormon. Hiram Page and Oliver Cowdery went to Toronto on this mission, but they failed entirely to sell the copy-right [sic.], returning without any money. I was there and I am an eye witness to these facts. … Well, we were all in great trouble; and we asked Joseph how it was that he had received a revelation from the Lord for some brethren to go to Toronto and sell the copy-right [sic.], and the brethren had utterly failed in their undertaking. Joseph did not know how it was, so he inquired of the Lord about it, and behold the following revelation came through the stone: ‘Some revelations are of God: some revelations are of man: and some revelations are of the devil.’ So we see that the revelation to go to Toronto and sell the copy-right was not of God, but was of the devil or the heart of man. I will say here, that I could tell you other false revelations that came through Brother Joseph as mouthpiece, (not through the stone) but this will suffice. Many of Brother Joseph’s revelations were never printed. The revelation to go to Canada was written down on paper, but was never printed.” — David Whitmer, one of the Three Witnesses to the Book of Mormon, An Address To All Believers In Christ, Richmond, Missouri, 1887, pp. 30-31

The revelation respecting the Toronto journey was not of God, surely; else it would not have failed; but the Prophet, overwrought in his deep anxiety for the progress of the work, saw reflected in the ‘Seer Stone’ his own thought, or that suggested to him by his brother Hyrum, rather than the thought of God. … in this instance of the Toronto journey, Joseph was evidently not directed by the inspiration of the Lord.” — Mormon historian B. H. Roberts, A Comprehensive History of the Church, Vol. 1, pp. 164-165.

The Lord’s Return

“On the 14th of Feb. 1835, Joseph Smith uaid [said?] that God had revealed to him that the coming of Christ would be within 56 years, which being added to 1835 shows that before 1891 and the 14th of Feb. the savior or the world would make his appearance again upon the earth and the winding up scene take place.” — Journal of Oliver B. Huntington, Vol. 2, pp. 128-129

“Thursday, Oct. 14th [1886]: The following are words spoken by Apostle Moses Thatcher, at Lewiston, ‘… our entire trust will be in the Lord, then shall that man like unto Moses be raised up [Deut. 18:15,18; Peter clearly taught that this prophecy was fulfilled by Jesus Christ; see Acts 3:19-26.], and shall lead us out of bondage back to Jackson county in the state of Missouri. … It is my belief that the time of our deliverance will be within five years; the time indicated being February 14th, 1891. … And that the man raised up will be no other than the Prophet Joseph Smith in his resurrected body. … no other man can perform this mission but the Prophet Joseph Smith. … I do not say all the people of the nation will be destroyed within the time mentioned, but I do say that in consequence of the wickedness and corruption of the officers of the nation, the nation will pass into the hands of the Saints, and that within five years. …’ A servant of God, holding the power and keys of the Holy Apostleship does not speak in this manner for mere pastime. There is more in these utterances than we are apt to attach to them, unless we are aided by the Spirit of God.” — Apostle Abraham H. Cannon, Daily Journal of Abraham H. Cannon, Oct. 14, 1886

“January 23, 1833: Among the number, my father presented himself, but before I washed his feet, I asked of him a father’s blessing, which he granted by laying his hands upon my head, in the name of Jesus Christ, and declaring that I should continue in the Priest’s office until Christ comes.” — Joseph Smith, History of the Church, Vol. 1, p. 323

“The Spirit of the Lord fell upon Joseph in an unusual manner, and he prophesied that John the Revelator was then among the Ten Tribes of Israel … After he had prophesied he laid his hands upon Lyman Wight and ordained him … And the Spirit fell upon Lyman, and he prophesied concerning the coming of Christ. He said that there were some in the congregation that should live until the savior should descend from heaven with a shout, with all the holy angels with Him.” — John Whitmer's History, chapter 5; also found in History of the Church, Vol. 1, p. 176

The Temple Rebuilt and the Sacrificial System restored in the City of New Jerusalem

“Yea, the word of the Lord concerning his church, established in the last days for the restoration of his people, as he has spoken by the mouth of his prophets, and for the gather of his saints to stand upon Mount Zion, which shall be the city of New Jerusalem. Which city shall be built, beginning at the temple lot, which is appointed by the finger of the Lord, in the western boundaries of the State of Missouri [i.e., Independence], and dedicated by the hand of Joseph Smith, Jun., and others with whom the Lord was well pleased. Verily this is the word of the Lord, that the city New Jerusalem shall be built by the gathering of the saints, beginning at this place, even the place of the temple, which temple shall be reared in this generation. For verily this generation shall not all pass away until an house shall be built unto the Lord, and a cloud shall rest upon it, which cloud shall be even the glory of the Lord, which shall fill the house. … Therefore, as I said concerning the sons of Moses — for the sons of Moses and also the sons of Aaron shall offer an acceptable offering and sacrifice in the house of the Lord, which house shall be built unto the Lord in this generation, upon the consecrated spot as I have appointed.” Joseph Smith, September 22 and 23, 1832, Doctrine and Covenants 84:2-5,31

Miscellaneous False Prophecies

“Now, Mr. Sunderland, you have something definite and tangible, the time, the manner, the means, the names, the dates; and I will state as a prophesy, that there will not be an unbelieving Gentile upon this continent 50 years hence; and if they are not greatly scourged, and in a great measure overthrown within five or ten years from this date, then the Book of Mormon will have proved itself false.” — Apostle Parley P. Pratt, Mormonism Unveiled, Truth Unveiled, 1838, p. 15; copied from a microfilm of the original tract at the Mormon Church Historian’s Library and cited by Jerald and Sandra Tanner in Mormonism: Shadow or Reality?

This false prophecy was totally eliminated without indication from the 1952 edition. By the word of prophecy spoken by the Mormon Parley Prophet Pratt, the Book of Mormon was irrevocably proven false in 1888, or perhaps as early as 1848.

“This great [Civil] war is only a small degree of chastisement, just the beginning; … For instance the great, powerful and populous city of New York, that may be considered one of the greatest cities of the world, will in a few years become a mass of ruins. The people will wonder while gazing on the ruins that cost hundreds of millions to build, what has become of its inhabitants. Their houses will be there, but they will be left desolate. So saith the Lord God. That will be only a sample of numerous other towns and cities on the face of this continent.” — Apostle Orson Pratt, Journal of Discourses, 1868, Vol. 12, p. 344

Until just very recently, Mormon doctrine held that black skin was a curse that God had placed on the sons of Ham. This racist doctrine is reflected in Brigham Young’s false prophecy that the Civil War would fail to free the slaves: “Ham will continue to be the servant of servants, as the Lord decreed, until the curse is removed. Will the present struggle free the slave? No; … Can you destroy the decrees of the Almighty? You cannot. Yet our Christian brethren think that they are going to overthrow the sentence of the Almighty upon the seed of Ham. They cannot do that, …” — Millennial Star, Vol. 25, p. 787; also Journal of Discourses, Vol. 10, p. 250

Letter from Joseph Smith to N. E. Seaton, January 4, 1833: “And now I am prepared to say by the authority of Jesus Christ, that not many years shall pass away before the United States shall present such a scene of bloodshed as has not a parallel in the history of our nation; pestilence, hail, famine, and earthquake will sweep the wicked of this generation from off the face of the land, to open and prepare the way for the return of the lost tribes of Israel from the north country [See North Pole prophecy above.]. … flee to Zion, before the overflowing scourge overtake you, for there are those now living upon the earth whose eyes shall not be closed in death until they see all these things, which I have spoken, fulfilled.” History of the Church, Vol. 1, pp. 315-316. It is unlikely that there are many now living on the earth who are over the age of 158 years remaining alive to “see all these things … fulfilled” which Joseph prophesied by the authority of Jesus Christ.

December 16, 1843: “I prophesy, in the name of the Lord God of Israel, anguish and wrath and tribulation and the withdrawing of the Spirit of God from the earth await this generation, until they are visited with utter desolation.” — Joseph Smith, History of the Church, Vol. 6, p. 58

August 31, 1856: “In the days of Joseph [Smith] it was considered a great privilege to be permitted to speak to a member of Congress, but twenty-six years will not pass away before the Elders of this Church will be as much thought of as the kings on their thrones.” — Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses, Vol. 4, p. 40 [to be fulfilled by 1882]

September 6, 1856: “The Church and kingdom to which we belong will become the kingdom of our God and his Christ, and brother Brigham Young will become President of the United States. (Voices responded, ‘Amen.’) And I tell you he will be something more; but he is called and ordained to a far greater station than that, and he is fore-ordained to take that station, and he has got it; and I am Vice-President, our brother Wells is the Secretary of the Interior — yes, and of all the armies in the flesh. You don’t believe that; but I can tell you it is one of the smallest things that I can think of. You may think that I am joking; but I am perfectly willing that brother Long should write every word of it; for I can see it just as naturally as I see the earth and productions thereof.” — Heber C. Kimball [member of the First Presidency, which includes being holder of the prophetic office], Journal of Discourses, Vol. 5, p. 219

“The church leader [Brigham Young] then added a prophecy which brought hurrahs from his audience. ‘In twelve years,’ he said, ‘I will either be President of the United States or will dictate who shall be!’ On this enthusiastic note the Mormon cavalcade began retracing its steps down the steep canyon road to the city.” — Harold Schindler, Orrin Porter Rockwell; Man of God, Son of Thunder, University of Utah Press, 1966, p. 250

Mormon Prophets and the Occult

Not only is a prophet required to lead people toward the God of the Bible, with total and absolute accuracy in all that he says in the name of the Lord, but also there must be no sign of occult practices, and whatever he says must be in total agreement with the completed revelation of God’s Word, the Scriptures.

“And when they say to you, Consult the mediums and the spiritists who whisper and mutter, should not a people consult their God? Should they consult the dead on behalf of the living? To the law and to the testimony! If they do not speak according to this word, it is because they have no dawn. (NAS) [“because there is no light in them” (KJV); “they have no light of dawn” (NIV)] (Isaiah8:19, 20)

“I will now give you a description of the manner in which the Book of Mormon was translated. Joseph Smith would put the seer stone into a hat, drawing it closely around his face to exclude the light; and in the darkness the spiritual light would shine. A piece of something resembling parchment would appear, and on that appeared the writing. One character at a time would appear, and under it was the interpretation in English.” — David Whitmer, An Address to all Believers in Christ, op. cit., p. 12

In Myth of the Manuscript Found (1883, p. 91), George Reynolds quotes the following from a letter written to the Deseret News by Edward Stevenson: “Martin [Harris, one of the ‘Three Witnesses’] explained the translation as follows: By aid of the seer stone, sentences would appear and were read by the prophet and written by Martin, and when finished he would say, ‘Written,’ and if correctly written, that sentence would disappear and another appear in its place, but if not written correctly it remained until corrected, so that the translation was just as it was engraven on the plates, precisely in the language then used.”

The fact that Joseph Smith used a stone, which he placed in a hat, to translate the Book of Mormon has caused a great deal of embarrassment because it so closely resembled crystal gazing. Crystal gazing is an ancient practice, and crystal gazers have claimed to see writings in their stones in the same way that Joseph Smith was supposed to have translated the Book of Mormon. In the book Strange Superstitions and Magical Practices, page 53, we read: ‘Among primitive peoples there is a widespread belief in the magical efficacy of quartz crystals — one of the most common of all luminous stones. These mineralogical specimens are frequently the main prop of the magician. They are used for this purpose by the aborigines of Australia, Polynesia and North America, among others.’” — J&S Tanner, Mormonism: Shadow or Reality? op. cit., p. 43

“Crystal gazing, or scrying, is one of the most popular forms of fortune telling, ranking with astrology and palmistry, cards and tea leaves. … In our own time, crystal-gazers can be found wherever back-street fortune tellers feel a living is to be made, while the crystal, if not the customary shoddy props, will be prominent among the possessions of higher-class astrologers and clairvoyants who do special readings for regular and often well-to-do clients. … Sybil Leek goes so far as to say that, of all types of fortune teller operating today, ‘the crystal-gazer is the person most likely to have a genuine psychic ability.’” — Douglas Hill, “Scrying,” Man, Myth & Magic: An Illustrated Encyclopedia of the Supernatural, Vol. 18, pp. 2506-2508. New York, Marshall Cavendish Corporation, 1970

“During the early history of the Latter-day Saints’ Church, many people arose with so-called seer-stones, claiming to have power of seeing many things such as seeing the place where lost articles were[;] also w[h]ere the Book of Mormon plates were hidden. Some of these clairvoyants were the means of leading many astray from the truth.” — Arch S. Reynolds, The Urim and Thummim, p. 21

“In England, for example, in 1467 a William Byg was convicted of using a crystal stone to locate stolen property.” — Rossell Hope Robbins, The Encyclopedia of Witchcraft and Demonology. New York, Crown Publishers, 1959, pp. 137-138

On March 20, 1826, Joseph Smith, Jr., author of the Book of Mormon and founder, first President, and Prophet of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, appeared before Justice Albert Neely in Bainbridge, New York, where he was tried and convicted of glass looking. The facts surrounding this conviction, including a transcript of the hearing itself, are very well documented by the Tanners in Chapter 4 of Mormonism: Shadow or Reality? (pp. 31-49) as well as in Joseph Smith and Money Digging. The transcript was published in Fraser’s Magazine (February 1873, pp. 229-230) and has been reproduced in Shadow or Reality as follows:

STATE OF NEW YORK v. JOSEPH SMITH

Image of the warrant charging Joseph Smith of scryingWarrant issued upon written complain upon oath of Peter G. Bridgeman, who informed that one Joseph Smith of Bainbridge was a disorderly person and an impostor. Prisoner brought before Court March 20, 1826. Prisoner examined: says that he came from the town of Palmyra, and had been at the house of Josiah Stowel in Bainbridge most of the time since; had small part of time been employed by said Stowel on his farm, and going to school. That he had a certain stone which he had occasionally looked at to determine where hidden treasures in the bowels of the earth were; that he professed to tell in this manner where gold mines were a distance under ground, and had looked for Mr. Stowel several times, and had informed him where could find these treasures, and Mr. Stowel had been engaged in digging for them. That at Palmyra he pretended to tell by looking at this stone to find lost property for three years, but of late had pretty much given it up on account of its injuring his health, especially his eyes, making them sore; that he did not solicit business of this kind, and had always rather declined having anything to do with this business.

According to Mormon scholar Francis W. Kirkham, if the court record could be proven authentic, it would show that Mormonism is false:

A careful study of all facts regarding this alleged confession of Joseph Smith in a court of law that he had used a seer stone to find hidden treasure for purposes of fraud, must come to the conclusion that no such record was ever made, and therefore, is not in existence. … If any evidence had been in existence that Joseph Smith had used a seer stone for fraud and deception, and especially had he made this confession in a court of law as early as 1826, or four years before the Book of Mormon was printed, and this confession was in a court record, it would have been impossible for him to organize the restored Church.” — A New Witness For Christ in America, Vol. 1, pp. 385-387

“If a court record could be identified, and if it contained a confession by Joseph Smith which revealed him to be a poor, ignorant, deluded, and superstitious person, unable himself to write a book of any consequence, and whose church could not endure because it attracted only similar persons of low mentality, if such a court record confession could be identified and proved, then it follows that his believers must deny his claimed divine guidance which led them to follow him. … How could he be a prophet of God, the leader of the Restored Church to these tens of thousands, if he had been the superstitious fraud which ‘the pages from a book’ declare he confessed to be? — Ibid., pp. 486-487

It is extremely interesting to note that the Mormon Church’s concern over the issue of Joseph Smith’s conviction for glass-looking was that he might be (or at least thought to be) a superstitious fraud. Perhaps they should be more concerned about his involvement in the occult art of crystallomancy, more often and familiarly called crystal-gazing, a common practice among fortune tellers and other witches.

 

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 1. Unless otherwise specified, all references in this section are taken from Mormonism: Shadow or Reality, op. cit. [RETURN]

 2. The Book of Commandments, published in 1833, was the first edition of Doctrine and Covenants, which was revised and reprinted in 1835. [RETURN]

 3. The Book of Mormon was first divided into chapters and verses by Apostle Orson Pratt in 1879. I have added equivalent chapter and verse indications to the pre-1879 editions for ease of comparison of the text. [RETURN]

 

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