Joseph Smith
. Born in 1805.
2. In 1817 (age 11) the family moved to the state of New York.
3. He was raised in ignorance, poverty, and superstition.
4. He began to have visions in 1820 (age 15)
5. His family joined the Presbyterian church, but Smith felt there was too much strife in the churches.
6. Smith's autobiography is one of the sacred books of the Mormons.  It is called "Pearl of Great Price." 

7. The vision of 1820:  In "Pearl of Great Price" Smith tells he read 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." 


So Smith went to the woods to pray to seek which church he should join.  Two people in a vision appeared to him.  One pointed at the other and said,

"This is my Beloved Son. Hear Him!"  Then he continued and said not to join any church since "they were all wrong," and since "all their creeds were an abomination in his sight."  Those professing faith in these various "sects" were all corrupt and hypocritical.


8. The vision of 1823 (age 18):  A person appeared at his bedside who was glorious beyond description.  He was a messenger sent from the presence of God named Moron.  The message was that God had a work for Smith to do that Smith's name "should be had for good and evil among all nations, kindreds and tongues."   Moroni said a book had been deposited, written on golden plates.  This book gave an account of the former inhabitants of  the continent and containing "the fullness of the everlasting Gospel" as delivered by the Saviour to the ancient inhabitants of this land.  Also, there were "two stones in silver bows - and these stones, fastened to a breastplate, constituted what is called the Urim and Thummim - deposited with the plates."  God had prepared these stones for the purpose of translating this book.  He was also shown the exact location to find these plates.  This vision occurred three times in the same night.
9. The next day he went to the nearby hill and found the golden plates in a stone box with the Urim and Thummim and the breastplate.  Moroni told him he couldn't take them this time but to come back each year for four years on this date. 

10. Sept. 22, 1827 he was given the plates.
11. Smith wanted to marry Emma Hale but was refused by Emma's father because Smith's only job was digging for money by using a "peepstone" to search for the location of hidden treasure.  Smith said the reason was he was being persecuted because of his visions.    They eloped in January in 1827.
12. Smith moves in with his father in law and began to translate the letters on the golden plate.


13. Enter Martin Harris, a New York farmer.  Harris was going to pay for publishing the book that was being translated (the book of "Mormon.") 

a. He thought the letters were Hebrews.
b. Smith said they were an altered form of Hebrew.

c. Smith gave Harris a copy of the letters he had copied from the plate and his translation. 

d. According to Smith's autobiography, Harris (farmer) took them to a Professor who identified the letters on the golden plate as "Egyptian, Chaldaic, Assyriac, and Arabic."  He also, according to Smith's autobiography said the translation was correct.

14 In April of 1829 Oliver Cowdery (school teacher), joined Smith.  Cowdery would write what Smith told him to as he translated the golden plates. 

15 In May of 1829 Cowdery (teacher) and Smith went into the woods to pray and John the Baptist descended and gave Oliver and Smith the priesthood of Aaron.  Smith says they both began to prophesy and began to understand the true meaning of the Scriptures.
16 Shortly after this Peter, James, and John met with Smith and Cowdery (teacher) and gave them the priesthood of Melchizedek also.
17. When Smith had finished translating the book of Mormon from the gold plates three men desired to see the actual plates.  The three men, Cowdery (teacher), Whitmer (     ), Harris (farmer), went into the woods to pray and suddenly an angel appeared holding the plates and turning them leaf by leaf. 

18. On the opening pages of the book of Mormon is the Testimony of Three Witnesses.
19. On March 26, 1830 the Book of Mormon was completed and sold.
20. Harris (farmer) mortgaged his farm to pay for the printing.
21. On April 6, 1830 the "Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints" was organized with 6 members.  Smith and Cowdery (teacher) ordained each other. 

22. By May they had 40 members.
23. Smith began to work on a revision of the King James Bible.
24. Since the Book of Mormon contained the story of the ancestry of the American Indians they went to Ohio to the shores of Lake Erie and preached
25. The "prophet" Smith was having more revelations concerning many things.  q. One revelation  was that Jackson County, Missouri was"the land of promise, and the place for the city of Zion."  Many Mormons began to move to Independence, Missouri.
26. Mobs began to attack the Mormons and they founded a town of Far West, Missouri.  Here the state militia had to intervene.  Smith and the leaders were imprisoned.
27. They escaped and moved back east to Illinois.  In 1839 Smith chose a site on the Mississippi River and called it Nauvoo (which, he said meant "beautiful place" in Hebrew)
28. In Nauvoo Smith organized a small army called the Nauvoo Legion and named himself the lieutenant-general.
29. They began a temple in Nauvoo.
30. A group of near Nauvoo began to publish a monthly anti-Mormon paper called Nauvoo Expositor.  Smith ordered his men to destroy the Expositor's press and to burn every copy of the paper that could be found.
31. Smith was arrested and along with his brother Hyrum and taken to the city jail in Carthage, Illinois a few miles from Nauvoo.
32. On June 27, 1844 a mob attacked the jail and killed both Joseph and Hyrum Smith.  y. Joseph Smith became a martyr and helped advance the cause of the Mormons.

Brigham Young (1801-1877)
a. Brigham Young claimed the authority of the presidency because he was the president of the group of the twelve apostles. 

b. When the state of Illinois notified the Mormons that they had to leave the state Young moved the Mormons west.
c. In Feb. of 1846 the Mormons began a journey west in the midst of many problems:       cold, exposure, storms, Indians, quarrels, apostasy, lack of food and clothing
d. On July 24, 1847 they arrived at Salt Lake Valley in Utah.
e. Young said, "This is the place."
f. They built a city known as Salt Lake City.
g. From 1856-1860  3,000 Mormons went as far as they could on the railroad (which was Iowa City).  They then pushed hand carts from there 1,300 miles to Salt Lake Valley
h. Young set up a revolving fund to finance immigration from foreign countries.
i. When Young died in 1877 there were 140,000 Mormons.

Mormon Church
There are local churches and certain cities with temples.
2 In these temples

a. Only Mormons can enter.
b. Two types of ceremonies are important

i. Celestial marriage
            ii. Baptism for the dead

3. Mormons recognize two orders of priesthood

a. Aaronic (lesser) - every male may belong to this if they understand the teachings of the church and live in conformity and are 12 years old.
b. Melchizedek (greater) - must be 19 years old.

4 The governing body is

a. President of the Church
b. Two Counselors to the President
c. The Council of the Twelve Apostles with one of them being the president of the Council of the Twelve.

5. Missionary Work –

a. Many Mormons dedicate 2 years to missionary service.
b. Most are young men (ages 19-25)
c. About 1/3 of the young men to this 2 year mission work.

6. Tithing is mandatory for Mormons
7. Tobacco, liquor, tea, coffee are not permitted based on the "Word of Wisdom" found in the Doctrine and Covenants written by the prophet Joseph Smith.
8. The Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is a group that divided from Brigham Young and the Mormons when they moved to Salt Lake City.  They claim to be the real church of Joseph Smith.



Source of Authority


“We believe the Bible to be the word of God as far as it is translated correctly; we also believe the Book of Mormon to be the word of God.” – Article 8 A Study of the Articles of Faith from Joseph Smith’s series of statements  “The Articles of Faith”


Mormons have many reservations as to the correctness of past and present Bible translations. 

The book of Mormon is correctly translated since Smith was inspired while he translated it.


While Smith revised the Bible the Mormon’s say he “gave some time to revising passages in the Bible which had been translated incorrectly or so rendered as to make the meaning obscure.”  This is the impression but not the truth.  Smith’s work was not textual criticism that involved the comparing of manuscripts.  Smith made complete rewriting of certain Bible passages in the light of supposed new revelations he had received.  Examples:


Genesis 1:6, “And I, God, said, Let there be light, and there was light.”

Genesis 3: the story of Satan coming before God and offering to be sent into the world to redeem mankind, if only he  an receive God’s honor.  God refused and so Satan rebelled.

Genesis 6:67, Adam’s baptism by immersion

Genesis 6:26-  7:78, A new section is added giving the prophecy of Enoch.  An entire group of saints, the people of Zion, were taken up to heaven with Enoch.

Genesis 2:6,9, shows the pre-existence of the souls of all men

Genesis 6:56, if man had not sinned he would not have been able to reproduce himself

Genesis 7:10, children of Canaan were made black as a curse for their sins.

Genesis 7:72, the earth shall have rest for a thousand years after the Lord returns

Genesis 50, “And that seer will I bless. . .and his name shall be called Joseph, and it shall be after the name of his father. . .for the thing which the Lord shall bring forth by his hand shall bring my people unto salvation.”


The Mormon Church never adopted Smith’s Inspired Version as its official Bible because:

1)  Smith never completed it because of persecution and mob violence.

2)  The KJ version gives them a common ground for mission work


But, in the sacred book, Pearl of Great Price, contains the Book of Moses which is an exact copy of the opening chapters of Genesis as translated in Smith’s inspired translation. 


The Mormons believe the Bible to be incomplete and inaccurate.






Doctrine of God


Mormonism Denies the Trinity

Mormonism teaches that the Persons of the Trinity are not three Persons in one Being, as historic Christianity has always taught, but three separate Beings.  


But, this teaching is inconsistent within their own writings.


The Book of Mormon teaches the Trinity in agreement with historic Christianity.

In II Nephi 31:21 it says, “And now, behold, this is the doctrine of Christ, and the only and true doctrine of the Father, and of the Son, and of the holy Ghost, which is one God, without end.”


Smith said that the Book of Mormon was the most correct of any book on earth.


But, in 1844 Smith said,

“I will preach on the plurality of Gods. . .I wish to declare I have always and in all congregations when I have preached on the subject of the Deity, it has been the plurality of Gods. . .I have always declared God to be a distinct personage, Jesus Christ a separate and distinct personage from God the Father and that the Holy Ghost was a distinct personage and a Spirit;  and these three constitute three distinct personages and three Gods. . .Many men say there is one God; the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost are only one God.  I say that is a strange God anyhow – three in one, and one in three!  It is a curious organization. . .All are to be crammed into one God, according to sectarianism.”


So,  while the “perfect” book of Mormon teaches in the trinity, Smith says that it is not true but done according to sectarianism.  So, does Smith agree with plurality or trinity?  Does agree with the perfect book of Mormon or his own teaching?


Spirituality of God

“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.” (Doctrine and Covenants 130:22)


If the Father has a physical body then he has a sex.  The Book of Moses 6:9 says, “In the image of his own body, male and female, created he them.” 


The Mormons write, “In accordance with Gospel philosophy there are males and females in heaven.  Since we have a Father, who is our God, we must also have a mother, who possesses the attributes of Godhood.”





God Was a Man?

In 1844 Smith taught, “God himself was once as we are now, and is an exalted man, and sits enthroned on yonder heavens!. . .If you were to see him today, you would wee him like a fan in form. . .He was once a man like us; yea. . .God himself, the Father of us all, dwelt on earth, the same as Jesus Christ himself did. . .”

“We have to pass through mortality and receive the resurrection and then go on to perfection just as our Father did before us.”  (Doctrines of Salvation, I, 12)


“As man is, God once was; as God is, man may become.”  (Millennial Star, 54, 404)


Mormonism rejects the doctrine of creation out of nothing, or ex nililo.  What the Bible calls creation was simply a reorganization of matter which had always existed.   They teach “Now, the word create came from the word “baurau,” which does not mean to create out of nothing; it means to organize; the same as man would organize materials and build a ship.” (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, pp. 350-52)


“To create is to organize.  It is an utterly false and uninspired notion to believe that the world or any other thing was created out of nothing. . .”  (Mormon Doctrine, p. 156)


A council of the gods was held on the star Kolob, at which the organization of this earth was planned.  The Book of Abraham tells the story:  Abraham was shown a number of souls that were in existence before the earth had been formed (3:22,23):

“And there stood one among them that was like unto God, and he said unto those who were with him; We will go down, for there is space there, and we will take of these materials, and we will make an earth whereon these may dwell. . .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 heavens and the earth. (3:24; 4:1)


The gods labored for six days; each of these days, however, was a thousand years long – since a thousand earth years is equivalent to a day on the star Kolob. (Smith, Doctrines of Salvation)


Man in the State of Sin


II Nephi 2:22-25: “And now, behold, if Adam had not transgressed he would not have fallen, but he would have remained in the Garden of Eden. . .And they would have had no children; wherefore they would have remained in a state of innocence, having no joy, for they knew no misery; doing no good, for they knew no sin. . .Adam fell that men might be; and men are, that they might have joy.”


Eve first disobeyed.  Adam had to make a choice.  He had previously been commanded to eat the replenish the earth.  But, now, with Eve having sinned he could not dwell with her.  Adam decided to obey the original command to replenish the earth and join Eve in sin.    Adam “deliberately and wisely decided to stand by the first and greater commandment; and, therefore, with understanding of the nature of his act, he also partook of the fruit. . .” (Talmage, Articles of Faith, p. 65)   


Instead of doing wrong, Adam did a wise thing when he ate the forbidden fruit.


According to the Book of Moses Adam said, “Blessed be the name of God, for because of my transgression my eyes are opened, and in this life I shall have joy. . .” (5:10)



Person of Christ


Jehovah, a name for Christ, existed prior to his incarnation as the “first-born” of the myriads of pre-existent spirits.  “Among the spirit-children of Elohim the firstborn was and is Jehovah or Jesus Christ to whom all others are juniors.” (Articles of Faith, p. 471)



“Our Father in Heaven is the Father of Jesus Christ, both in the spirit an din the flesh. . .I believe firmly that Jesus Christ is the Only-Begotten Son of God in the flesh. . .Christ was begotten of God.   He was not born without the aid of Man, and that Man was God. (Doctrines of Salvation, I, p. 18) 


God the Father has a physical body and so is called a man.  Jesus then came by a union between Mary and God the Father.  So when the Mormons say “virgin birth” what really do they mean?  There is no virgin involved.


The Marriage of Christ

To be exalted to the position of god humans must marry and have those marriages sealed for eternity in what is called a celestial marriage, one that is held in one of the temples.  With out a celestial marriage humans can rise no higher than becoming an angel. (Doctrine and Covenants 132:19,20)


What about Jesus Christ?  He was not married.  But, then again:

“If at the marriage of Cana of Galilee, Jesus was the bride-groom and took unto him Mary, Martha and the other Mary, it shocks not our nerves.  If there was not attachment and familiarity between our Saviour and these women, highly proper only in the relation of husband and wife, then we have no sense of propriety. (Journal of Discourses, II, 81-82)  We say it was Jesus Christ who was married whereby He could see His seed before He was crucified.  I shall say here that before the Saviour died He looked upon His own natural children as we look upon ours.  When Mary came to the sepulcher she saw two angels and she said unto hem “they have taken away my Lord or husband.”  (Journal of Discourse, IV, 210)




The Atonement


Mormon theology demands an atonement for Adam’s sin.  But, Adam’s sin was a good thing, why atone for it?  Because, it brought death into the world. 


Christ’s atonement was therefore necessary to deliver us all from death by providing for us all the right to be raised from the dead. 


A second result of the fall was the introduction of spiritual death.


General salvation is salvation from death through resurrection.  This comes to everyone.  It is called unconditional redemption.  It is universal


Individual Salvation is seen in their eschatology.  It is only for those who believe and obey. 



“We believe in the literal gathering of Israel and in the restoration of the Ten Tribes;  that Zion will be built upon this (the American ) continent; that Christ will reighn personally upon the earth; and , that the earth will be renewed and receive its paradisiacal glory.” (Article 10 of the Articles of Faith)


The gatherings involve three distinct phases:

1)  The Gathering of Ephraim.    Joseph Smith was “a pure Ephraimite.”  Ephraim now holds the priesthood.  Ephraim must therefore be gathered first.  Most of the Mormon church is Ephraim.


2) The Gathering of the Jews.  The return of the Jews (Judah) to Palestine in Jerusalem.  Christ will reign from Zion (Independence, Missouri) in America and Jerusalem in Palestine.


3)  The Gathering of the Lost Ten Tribes.  They are still hidden in “the land of the north.”

Christ went to minister to them after his visit to the Nephites (Indians in America) (Talmage, Articles of Faith) 





The Four Major Cults, Anthony A. Hoekema, Professor of Systematic Theology, Calvin Theological Seminary, Grand Rapids, Michigan

The Chaos of Cults by Jan Karel Van Baalen, Eerdmans Publishing Company