Are the LDS Church’s Financial Investments Contrary to Gospel Teachings?

When Mitt Romney was running for president in 2012, the LDS church came under fire for its lucrative financial investments. While the LDS Church claims to have given over $1.3 in humanitarian aid over the last 20 years, critics point out that this is only a small amount of the LDS Church’s actual annual income from financial investments such as malls, ranches, farms, real estate, media, etc. (See https://www.bloomberg.com/news/photo-essays/2012-07-12/the-mormon-global-business-empire and http://archive.sltrib.com/story.php?ref=/sltrib/news/54478720-78/church-money-lds-mall.html.csp)

Critics of the LDS Church enjoy referring to the church as a corporation rather than a religious institution, and even argue that such financial investments go against the fundamental teachings of Christ which seem to chastise the wealthy and those who seek for riches (Luke 18:22-25/James 2:5-6). A central theme of the Book of Mormon is the repeated warnings of the dangers of pride resulting from economic prosperity, and it chastises those who seek for riches before serving God (Alma 39:14/Helaman 6:17/Helaman 12:2). It goes so far as to suggest that churches are robbing the poor when they spend money on expensive materials (2 Nephi 28:13). On the other hand, the Book of Mormon states that it is possible for a rich person to use their wealth for good (Jacob 2:19). It is even possible for the saints to be rich and yet not be prideful (Alma 62:48-49).

I cannot effectively argue what the economic impacts are of the LDS Church’s financial investments, or whether such activities are effective in reducing poverty, increasing prosperity, and reducing human suffering. I don’t know whether it is inherently more Christ-like for the LDS Church to give away all its money in the form of welfare checks to the poor than it is to both give money to the poor and invest in a city’s or nation’s economy. There are, however, many verses in the Book of Mormon that could potentially justify the LDS Church in seeking to increase the economic prosperity of its members and non-members beyond simply handing out cash to every person below an arbitrary socio-economic threshold.

  1. The saints in the Book of Mormon are commanded to labor with their hands for their own support (excluding the sick and otherwise afflicted). It is possible that the LDS Church’s financial investments help members and non-members fulfill that commandment.

 

  • “And it came to pass that I, Nephi, did cause my people to be industrious, and to labor with their hands” (2 Nephi 5:17)
  • “And he also commanded them that the priests whom he had ordained should labor with their own hands for their support” (Mosiah 18:24)
  • “That they should let no pride nor haughtiness disturb their peace; that every man should esteem his neighbor as himself, laboring with their own hands for their support. Yea, and all their priests and teachers should labor with their own hands for their support, in all cases save it were in sickness, or in much want; and doing these things, they did abound in the grace of God” (Mosiah 27:4-5)
  • “Therefore, all the prisoners of the Lamanites did join the people of Ammon, and did begin to labor exceedingly…” (Alma 62:29)

 

  1. The saints in the Book of Mormon are an industrious people who build buildings and manufacture all sorts of material goods. It is possible that the LDS Church’s financial investments help members and non-members be more industrious.

 

  • “And I did teach my people to build buildings, and to work in all manner of wood, and or iron, and of copper, and of brass, and of steel, and of gold, and of silver, and of precious ores, which were in great abundance” (2 Nephi 5:15)
  • “And we multiplied exceedingly, and spread upon the face of the land, and became exceedingly rich in gold, and in silver, and in precious things, and in fine workmanship of wood, in buildings, and in machinery, and also in iron and copper, and brass and steel, making all manner of tools of every kind to till the ground, and weapons of war—year, the sharp pointed arrow, and the quiver, and the dart, and the javelin, and all preparations for war” (Jarom 1:8)
  • “And they were exceedingly industrious, and they did buy and sell and traffic one with another, that they might get gain…And they did work in all manner of ore…And they did work all manner of cloth…And they did make all manner of tools to till the earth…And they did make all manner of weapons of war” (Ether 10:22-27)

 

  1. The saints in the Book of Mormon must refrain from being idle or lazy. The LDS Church is potentially helping people refrain from idleness through its financial investments. 

 

  • “See that ye refrain from idleness” (Alma 38:12)
  • “Now they were a lazy and an idolatrous people; therefore they were desirous to bring us into bondage, that they might glut themselves with the labors of our hands; yea, that they might feast themselves upon the flocks of our fields” (Mosiah 9:12)
  • “Yea, and thus they were supported in their laziness, and in their idolatry, and in their whoredoms, by the taxes which king Noah had put upon his people; thus did the people labor exceedingly to support iniquity” (Mosiah 11:6)

 

  1. Economic prosperity can benefit the society as a whole, provided the people follow the commandments of God. If the LDS Church’s financial investments improve economic prosperity for all, then they are fulfilling the Lord’s promises to the people of this land as described in the Book of Mormon.

 

  • “And we did observe to keep the judgments, and the statutes, and the commandments of the Lord in all things, according to the law of Moses. And the Lord was with us; and we did prosper exceedingly; for we did sow seed, and we did reap again in abundance. And we began to raise flocks, and herds, and animals of every kind” (2 Nephi 5:10-11)
  • “Yea, and many did preach with exceedingly great power and authority, unto the bringing down many of them into the depths of humility, to be the humble followers of God and the Lamb…And behold, there was peace in all the land…and thus they did have free intercourse one with another, to buy and to sell, and to get gain, according to their desire. And it came to pass that they became exceedingly rich…and there were also curious workmen, who did work all kinds of ore and did refine it; and thus they did become rich. They did raise grain in abundance…And in the sixty and fifth year they did also have great joy and peace, yea, much preaching and many prophecies concerning that which was to come.” (Helaman 6:5, 7-9, 11, 12, 14)
  • “And the people of Nephi began to prosper again in the land, and began to multiply and to wax exceedingly strong again in the land. And they began to grow exceedingly rich. But notwithstanding their riches, or their strength, or their prosperity, they were not lifted up in the pride of their eyes; neither were they slow to remember the Lord their God; but they did humble themselves exceedingly before him” (Alma 62:48-49)

Book of Mormon Authorship: Unique phrases of various Prophets

[UPDATE: The first phrase “the eye of God,” which I argued was unique to the prophet Jacob (2 Nephi 9:44/Jacob 2:10/Jacob 2:15), is not unique to him but is also found in Mosiah 27:31. This unique phrase has been replaced with another unique phrase from the Prophet Zenos]

Much has been written about Book of Mormon authorship, trying to answer questions such as “Did Joseph Smith write it?” “Did Joseph Smith have help?” “Did other authors write it?” Some of these questions have been examined using wordprint analyses to determine who authored the Book of Mormon (see https://www.fairmormon.org/answers/Book_of_Mormon/Wordprint_studies for a summary of findings). While wordprint studies are out of my expertise and ability, there are interesting idioms found in many of the Book of Mormon prophets’ words that may contribute support to the belief that it is unlikely that Joseph Smith paid such amount to detail as to create individual writing styles for each of the characters in the Book of Mormon. The following are some examples of phrases that are unique to individual Book of Mormon prophets:

  1. In the midst of thy congregations = Unique to the prophet Zenos

The prophet Zenos is quoted on at least three occasions in the Book of Mormon and the style of each citation seems to be significantly different than the writings of other Book of Mormon prophets. In this situation, the prophet Zenos uses the following phrase:

  • “Yea, O God, thou hast been merciful unto me, and heard my cries in the midst of thy congregations” (Alma 33:9)

The word “congregation” is only found in one other instance in the Book of Mormon in the “Isaiah Chapters” (2 Nephi 24:13/Isaiah 14) and is only found in the New Testament once (Acts 13:43). The word shows up 333 times in the Old Testament, and the same phrase “midst of the congregation” is found several times (Numbers 16:47/Psalm 22:22/Proverbs 5:14). It is interesting that this phrase is only found in the Book of Mormon in the writings of the prophet Zenos, who is believed to have lived many years before Lehi and his family left Jerusalem, which language is consistent with Old Testament vernacular.

2. Turn their hearts aside = Unique to the prophet Zenos

This is an interesting idiom because similar renditions are sparsely found in the Old Testament (see 1 Samuel 12:20-21) but none are found in the New Testament or any other Book of Mormon prophets. Adding to the uniqueness of this phrase is that it fits well with the Book of Mormon timeline which puts Zenos’ writings before 500 B.C. and possibly before the writings of Isaiah. The Book of Mormon prophets typically use the phrase “harden their hearts.”

  • “they crucify the God of Israel, and turn their hearts aside, rejecting signs and wonders” (1 Nephi 19:13)
  • “And because they turn their hearts aside, saith the prophet, and have despised the Holy One of Israel” (1 Nephi 19:14)
  • “no more turn their hearts against the Holy One of Israel” (1 Nephi 19:15)

3. Great Creator = Unique to the prophet Jacob

The word “Creator” is used 10 times in the Book of Mormon, and only twice in the New Testament and three times in the Old Testament. Only the prophet Jacob puts the qualifier “great” before stating “creator.” While this by itself is not particularly miraculous, it is very interesting that it appears in Jacob’s writings in 2 Nephi 9 and thirty pages later in Jacob 2. Not only is it unique to Jacob, but it is unique across time in his writings and in Joseph Smith’s translation process.

  • “for it behooveth the great Creator that he suffereth himself to become subject unto man in the flesh” (2 Nephi 9:5)
  • “to fulfill the merciful plan of the great Creator” (2 Nephi 9:6)
  • “how much better are you than they, in the sight of your great Creator?” (Jacob 3:7)

4. The Lord Omnipotent = Unique to King Benjamin

When King Benjamin asks his people to make a covenant to take upon them the name of Christ, both he and his people refer to Christ as the “Lord Omnipotent.” The word “omnipotent” occurs 6 times in the Book of Mormon, all of them contained in the discourse of King Benjamin, and only once in all other scriptures (Revelation 19:6, “the Lord God Omnipotent reigneth”).

  • “with power, the Lord Omnipotent who reigneth, who was, and is from all eternity to all eternity” (Mosiah 3:5)
  • “only in and through the name of Christ, the Lord Omnipotent” (Mosiah 3:17)
  • “through the atoning blood of Christ, the Lord Omnipotent” (Mosiah 3:18)
  • “only through repentance and faith on the name of the Lord God Omnipotent” (Mosiah 3:21)
  • “because of the Spirit of the Lord Omnipotent” (Mosiah 5:2)
  • “that Christ, the Lord God Omnipotent, may seal you his” (Mosiah 5:15)

5. The Great God = Unique to King Anti-Nephi-Lehi

There are many occasions in the Old and New Testaments where the phrase “great God” is used (Psalm 95:3/Titus 2:13), but it is only used in the Book of Mormon by King Anti-Nephi-Lehi in an address to his people asking them to make a covenant to bury their weapons of war. There are only two other similar iterations of this phrase in the Book of Mormon (Helaman 12:8: “great and everlasting God”/Helaman 13:18 “great and true God”), but interestingly one of them is also made by a Lamanite, and the other by Mormon, who was about to write about Samuel the Lamanite one chapter later. It is my opinion that King Anti-Nephi-Lehi refers to “the great God” because of the Lamanite belief in the existence of a  “Great Spirit,” which they learn is the “great God” when Ammon preaches to Kin Lamoni (Alma 18:24-29).

  • “I thank my God, my beloved people, that our great God has in goodness sent these our brethren” (Alma 24:7)
  • “And behold, I thank my great God that he has given us a portion of his Spirit” (Alma 24:8)
  • “And I also thank my God, yea, my great God” (Alma 24:10)
  • “through the blood of the Son of our great God” (Alma 24:13)
  • “And the great God has had mercy on us, and made these things known unto us” (Alma 24:14)

6. The Lord of Hosts = The Lord warning his people of destruction

The phrase “Lord of Hosts” never appears in the New Testament but is found frequently in the Old Testament. In the Book of Mormon, the phrase “Lord of Hosts” appears when it is quoting sections of the Old Testament or in the following cases of unique citations of the Lord found in Helaman, Jacob, and briefly in 2 Nephi. It is not found in any of the Book of Mormon prophet’s writings unless they are quoting God.

2 Nephi = Prophecies of the death of Christ

“the depths of the earth shall swallow them up, saith the Lord of Hosts” (2 Nephi 26:5)

“the day that cometh shall consume them, saith the Lord of Hosts” (2 Nephi 26:6)

“if the inhabitants of the earth shall repent of their wickedness and abominations they shall not be destroyed, saith the Lord of Host” (2 Nephi 28:17)

Helaman 13:8-21 = Samuel the Lamanite calling the Nephites to repentance

“And behold, a curse shall come upon the land, saith the Lord of Hosts, because of the people’s sake who are upon the land” (Helaman 13:17)

“And it shall come to pass, saith the Lord of Hosts, yea, our great and true God” (Helaman 13:18)

“and then shall ye weep and howl in that day, saith the Lord of Hosts” (Helaman 13:32)

Jacob 2:23-33 = Jacob calling the Nephites to repentance

“And whoredoms are an abomination before me; saith the Lord of Hosts” (Jacob 2:28)

“Wherefore, this people shall keep my commandments, saith the Lord of Hosts, or cursed be the land for their sakes” (Jacob 2:29)

“For if I will, saith the Lord of Hosts, raise up seed unto me, I will command my people” (Jacob 2:30)

“And I will not suffer, saith the Lord of Hosts, that the cries of the fair daughters of this people, which I have led out of the land of Jerusalem, shall come up unto me against the men of my people, saith the Lord of Hosts” (Jacob 2:32)

“even unto destruction; for they shall not commit whoredomes, like unto them of old, saith the Lord of Hosts” (Jacob 2:33)

 

O Sacerdócio no Livro de Mórmon

O Livro de Mórmon (LDM) mostra a importância da autoridade do sacerdócio no estabelecimento da igreja e em pregar o evangelho de Jesus Cristo. O sacerdócio tem existido por eternidade e tem vários nomes, incluindo “a santa ordem de Deus” ou “a ordem de seu Filho.” Profetas antes dos dias de Abraão foram ordenados de acordo com esta ordem, e não há duvida que sua inclusão no LDM foi necessário na organizaҫão da Igreja de Jesus Cristo dos Santos dos Últimos Dias. O seguinte é uma lista de referências que focam na doutrina do sacerdócio contido no LDM.

  1. Há muitos que tem o título de sumo sacerdote ou sacerdote

“E comeҫaram a organizar a igreja mais plenamente; sim, e muitos foram batizados nas águas do Sidon, unindo-se à igreja de Deus; sim, foram batizados pela mão de Alma, que havia sido consagrado sumo sacerdote do povo da igreja pela mão de seu pai, Alma” (Alma 4:4)

“Alma ordenou sacerdotes e élderes pela imposiҫão de mãos, segundo a ordem de Deus, para presidirem a igreja e cuidarem dela” (Alma 6:1)

“Ora, como falei sobre a santa ordem, ou seja, este sumo sacerdócio, muitos foram ordenados e tornaram-se sumos sacerdotes de Deus” (Alma 13:10)

“Sim, humilhai-vos como o povo nos dias de Melquisedeque, o qual também foi um sumo sacerdote desta mesma ordem de que falei” (Alma 13:14)

“Mas eis que eles eram mais prudentes que muitos dos nefitas, porque o prenderam e amarraram-no e levaram-no à presenҫa do sumo sacerdote e também do juiz supremo da terra” (Alma 30:20)

  1. Os que são sumos sacerdotes são chamados, consecrados, ou ordenados

“Eu, Alma, havendo sido consagrado por meu pai, Alma, como sumo sacerdote da igreja de Deus, tendo ele poder e autoridade de Deus para fazer estas coisas, eis que eu vos digo que ele comeҫou a organizer uma igreja na terra que se achava nas fronteiras de Néfi; sim, na terra chamada terra de Mórmon; sim, e ele batizou seus irmãos nas àguas de Mórmon” (Alma 5:3)

“Porque fui chamado para falar desta maneira, segundo a santa ordem de Deus, que está em Cristo Jesus; sim, fui ordenado a levantar-me e testificar a este povo as coisas que foram ditas por nossos pais concernentes às coisas que hão de vir” (Alma 5:44)

“E agora vos digo que esta é a ordem segundo a qual eu fui chamado, sim, para pregar a meus amados irmãos, sim, e a todos os que habitam a terra” (Alma 5:49)

“Segundo o espírito de profecia que estava nele, conforme o testemunho de Jesus Christo, o Filho de Deus, que viria para redimir seu povo de seus pecados, e a santa ordem pela qual fora chamado” (Alma 6:8)

“E comeҫou a ensinar o povo na terra de Meleque, segundo a santa ordem de Deus pela qual havia sido chamado; e comeҫou a ensinar o povo por toda a terra de Meleque” (Alma 8:4)

“E quisera que vos lembrásseis de que o Senhor Deus ordenou sacerdotes segundo a sua santa ordem, que era segundo a ordem de seu Filho, para que ensinassem estas coisas ao povo” (Alma 13:1)

“Eu, Jacó, tendo sido chamado por Deus e ordenado conforme sua santa ordem; e tendo sido consagrado por meu irmão Néfi” (2 Néfi 6:2)

“Ora, essas ordenanҫas foram instituídas dessa maneira para que, por meio delas, o povo pudesse ter esperanҫa no Filho de Deus” (Alma 13:16)

“Portanto, foram chamados segundo esta santa ordem e santificados” (Alma 13:11)

  1. A ordenaҫão à santa ordem é dado pela imposiҫão de mãos

“Alma ordenou sacerdotes e élderes pela imposiҫão de mãos, segundo a ordem de Deus, para presidirem a igreja e cuidarem dela” (Alma 6:1)

  1. A igreja é estabelecida pela ordenanҫa de sacerdotes, élderes, etc.

“E então aconteceu que Alma voltou da terra de Gideão depois de haver ensinado ao povo de Gideão muitas coisas que não podem ser escritas, tendo estabelecido a ordem da igreja como fizera anteriormente na terra de Zaraenla” (Alma 8:1)

“Aarão e seus irmãos foram de cidade em cidade, de uma casa de adoraҫão a outra, organizando igrejas e consagrando sacerdotes e mestres entre os lamanitas” (Alma 23:4)

“Sim, aquele mesmo Deus estabeleceu sua igreja entre eles; sim e aquele mesmo Deus chamou-me com um santo chamado para pregar a palavra a este povo; e permitiu que eu alcanҫasse grande êxito, com o que muito me regozijo” (Alma 29:13)

  1. A santa ordem existia para sempre e é uma semelhanҫa a Jesus Cristo

“E esses sacerdotes foram ordenados segundo a ordem de seu Filho” (Alma 13:2)

“Este sumo sacerdócio sendo segundo a ordem de seu Filho, ordem essa que existia desde a fundaҫão do mundo ou, em outras palavras, sem comeҫo de dias nem fim de anos” (Alma 13:7)

“Eram chamados com um santo chamado e ordenados com uma santa ordenanҫa, tomando sobre si o sumo sacerdócio da santa ordem; chamado esse e ordenanҫa e sumo sacerdócio que não tem comeҫo nem fim” (Alma 13:8)

“Tornam-se, assim, sumos sacerdotes para sempre, segundo a ordem do Filho, o Unigênito do Pai, que é sem princípio de dias nem fim de anos” (Alma 13:9)

“Sim, e eis que vos digo que Abraão não foi o único que teve conhecimento destas coisas, mas houve muitos, antes dos dias de Abraão, que foram chamados segundo a ordem de Deus, sim, segundo a ordem de seu Filho; e isso para que fosse mostrado ao povo, muitos milhares de anos antes de sua vinda, que na verdade receberiam a redenҫão” (Helamã 8:18)

  1. O sacerdócio é recebido por fé e justíҫa

“Melquisedeque, porém, tendo exercido uma fé vigorosa e recebido o ofício do sumo sacerdócio segundo a santa ordem de Deus” (Alma 13:18)

“E este é o modo pelo qual foram ordenados—sendo chamados e preparados desde a fundaҫão do mundo, segundo a presciência de Deus…são chamados com uma santa vocaҫão, sim, com aquela santa vocaҫão que lhes foi preparada com uma redenҫão preparatória e de conformidade com ela” (Alma 13:3)

“Eis que foi pela fé que os antigos foram chamados segundo a santa ordem de Deus” (Éter 12:10)

  1. A autoridade tem que ser dado para batizar e conferir o Espírito Santo

“E novamente o Senhor chamou outros e disse-lhes a mesma coisa; e deu-lhes poder para batizar” (3 Néfi 11:22)

“Tendo autoridade que me foi concedida por Jesus Cristo, eu te batizo em nome do Pai e do Filho e do Espírito Santo, Amém” (3 Néfi 18:37)

“E a multidão não ouviu as palavras que ele disse, portanto não deram testemunho. Os discípulos, porém, testificaram que ele lhes deu poder para conferirem o Espírito Santo. E mostrar-vos-ei mais adiante que este testemunho é verdadeiro” (3 Néfi 18:37)

  1. Referências adicionais no LDM

“E assim, no comeҫo do nono ano em que os juízes governaram o povo de Néfi, Alma entregou a cadeira de juiz a Nefia e dedicou-se exclusivamente ao sumo sacerdócio da santa ordem de Deus, ao testemunho da palavra, de acordo com o espírito de revelaҫão e profecia” (Alma 4:20)

“que se humilham e seguem a santa ordem de Deus pela qual foram trazidos para esta igreja, tendo sido santificados pelo Santo Espírito” (Alma 5:54)

“para que andeis irrepreensivelmente perante ele, para que andeis conforme a santa ordem de Deus segundo a qual fostes recebidos” (Alma 7:22)

“Eu sou Alma e sou o sumo sacerdote da igreja de Deus em toda esta terra” (Alma 8:23)

“Ora, nada mais diremos a respeito de suas pregaҫões, a não ser que pregaram a palavra e a verdade segundo o espírito de profecia e revelaҫão; e pregaram segundo a santa ordem de Deus pela qual foram chamados” (Alma 43:2)

Como a História das 116 Páginas Perdidas do Livro de Mórmon pode Aumentar a Fé

Muitos críticos da Igreja dos Santos dos Últimos Dias identificam a história das 116 páginas perdidas do manuscrito original do Livro de Mórmon (LDM) como prova da fraude de Joseph Smith. Martin Harris, o escriba de Joseph, foi roubado das primeiras 116 páginas do LDM ao guardá-las em sua casa. Críticos dizem que isso foi uma prova da abilidade profética de Joseph, e ele falhou a prova porque não poderia traduzir de novo as mesmas 116 páginas roubadas. Joseph, no prefácio da primeira ediҫão do LDM, disse que o Senhor mandou-o não traduzir de novo as 116 páginas que foram roubados de Martin Harris porque houvem pessoas que iam alterar o texto original para produzir evidência falsa de sua fraude, mas esta explicaҫão não satisfaz os que não crêem no chamado profético de Joseph Smith.

Há vários problemas com este criticismo que serão discutidos logo. Depois de uma examinaҫão mais profunda, é possível que a história da perda das 116 páginas do LDM possa dar mais credibilidade à afirmaҫão que Joseph tinha poderes divinas, dando-o a abilidade traduzir um registro antigo. A história das 116 páginas perdidas podem aumentar a fé em Joseph Smith pelas razões seguintes:

  1. Joseph Smith não tinha um manuscrito de que ele foi ditando: Reconhecendo o gênio do LDM e a ignorância de Joseph, muitos teorizam que Joseph roubou um manuscrito de alguém muito mais inteligente, como Solomon Spaulding (ver https://www.lds.org/topics/spaulding-manuscript?lang=eng for a detailed history of the theory) ou Sydney Rigdon. Também teorizam que ele escreveu as páginas por si mesmo e depois fingiu ditar de um registro antigo ao ser escondido dos escribas. Se Joseph foi usando um manuscrito de qualquer outra fonte, ele teria a capacidade reproduzir as mesmas 116 páginas para provar seu chamado profético.

2. Se Joseph reproduziu as páginas perdidas, os críticos nao seriam satisfeitos: Reproduzindo as 116 páginas tão facilmente iam dar muito mais muniҫão as teorias que alguém além de Joseph Smith escreveu o LDM. Quando visto desta perspectiva, os que afirmam que Joseph não podia ter escrito o LDM por causa de suas abilidades acadêmicas limitadas tem dificuldades explicando porque Joseph ditou o manuscrito a um escriba e depois recusou produzí-las de novo.

3. Joseph não recebeu ajuda de seus escribas em criar o LDM: Depois da perda das 116 páginas, Joseph mudou escribas, escolhendo Olive Cowdery em vez de continuar a usar Martin Harris. A facilidade de mudar escribas sugere que os escribas não tinham parte ningúm no processo creativo de fabricar o LDM, e também apoia as afirmaҫões de Joseph e várias testemunhas que ele ditou o LDM por si mesmo sem ajuda dos outros. Oliver Cowdery e Martin Harris foram afastados da igreja algúm tempo depois do estabelecimento da igreja, que seria a oportunidade perfeita revelar a natureza verdadeira do processo da traduҫão falsa. Eles não fizeram isto, sugerindo que o que eles testemunharam durante o processo de traduҫão—que Joseph ditou hora após hora e dia após dia sem ajuda dos manuscritos—de verdade aconteceu.

4. Joseph não foi educado e precisava ajuda dos escribas para escrever. Se os críticos da Igreja dos Santos do Últimos Dias querem ganhar o argumento que o LDM foi uma produҫão da imaginaҫão de Joseph, eles também tem que conceder que ele tinha uma mente creativa e brilhante, tendo capacidade de decorar porҫões das escrituras extensas, e foi um leitor de uma grande colecҫão de livros que eles sugerem que ele tivesse lido antes de criar o LDM. Mesmo que tivesse grandes abilidades intelectuais, ele não tinha a abilidade suficiente para escrever o LDM por si mesmo. Faria muito mais sentido que se Joseph tivesse planejado por toda a sua vida para escrever um livro falso para ganhar dinheiro, que ele teria aprendido como escrever por si mesmo e evitar o risco de empregar muitos seguidores crédulos para imitar o processo de traduzir um registro antigo. É interesante que um homem supostamente tão brilhante como Joseph (e aparentamente com tanto tempo livre para ler) tivesse que contar com escribas para produzir seus escritos creativos. Depois de ter um escriba falhar por perder 116 páginas do manuscrito original, em vez de decidir continuar a fraude por si mesmo para evitar mais complicaҫões, ele decidiu empregar mais um escriba e ter um novo conjunto de complicaҫões.

5. Joseph continuou a traduzir o LDM do Livro de Mosías como ele teve um manuscrito de que ele foi ditando. Tem muita evidência para apoiar o facto que Joseph continuou ditando de onde ele parou a ditaҫão inicialmente até o fim do Livro de Moroni, e depois voltou ao início do LDM cronologicamente para produzir 1 Néfi até Palavras de Mormon (ver http://www.deseretnews.com/article/705384845/Scholars-Corner-The-stolen-chapters-of-Mosiah.html?pg=all). Isso quer dizer que se Joseph foi inventando o LDM, ele não tinha a abilidade voltar a o que ele ditou antes para revisar as detalhas de sua história e referir às detalhas mais tarde. Qualquer pessoa que escreveria um livro e perdiu o seu manuscrito ia pensar que seria mais fácil comeҫar o processo de novo do início do livro em vez de continuar onde parou e escrever o início depois, mas isto não foi o que Joseph fez. É mais interesante ao considerer que muitas escrituras de Mosías até o fim do LDM tem citaҫões exactas de eventos que aconteceram durante a época referida nas 116 páginas perdidas (compara-se Alma 36:22 e 1 Néfi 1:8. Alma 36 foi dito muito antes que Joseph voltasse a história de Leí e sua família em 1 Néfi, e ainda cita Leí exactamante em Alma 36). Isso aconteceu porque Joseph foi ditando as palavras de uma fonte além de sua mente propria, ou porque Joseph sabia antes que seria muito mais convincente se ele citasse escrituras encontradas em 1 Néfi no Livro de Alma e depois lembrar-se voltar a escrever a citaҫão quando ele comeҫou a traduҫão de 1 Néfi. Porém, Joseph provavelmente não tinha um manuscrito porque não produziu de novo as 116 páginas perdidas. Isso apoia a afirmaҫão que of LDM é uma traduҫão divina de um registro antigo.

Should Members of the LDS Church Prosecute Criminals?

The LDS church has recently been the subject of many lawsuits claiming that some church leaders have taken part in the cover up of serious crimes committed by members of their congregations by dealing with serious legal matters exclusively within the church. Some of these lawsuits argue that church leaders and ward members actively discourage victims to prosecute serious crimes “lest they run afoul of church teachings regarding forgiveness” (http://www.journal-news.net/news/local-news/2017/06/lawsuit-against-lds-church-permitted-to-move-forward/). It is my opinion that matters involving crimes committed by members of the church against other members of the church should not be resolved exclusively within church disciplinary councils, but that such persons should be tried in a secular court of law.

Some may believe that pressing charges against another member of the church who has committed a crime may be a sin itself because they assume that legal prosecution and Christ’s teachings of forgiveness are mutually exclusive. This belief is based on scriptures where God commands his followers to forgive all people no matter what they have done (Mosiah 26:31; Matthew 6:14-15; Alma 34:40). These misguided assumptions about forgiveness and the legal system, unfortunately, place the victims of crimes in situations where they are re-victimized in at least four ways (assuming the worst circumstances as outlined in these lawsuits). First, they suffer the pain from the crime itself. Second, they suffer the pain of being taught that it is a sin to have negative feelings against the perpetrator or for desiring justice against the perpetrator. Third, they must sit back and watch while the perpetrator is free to re-victimize, receiving no lasting consequences for their actions. Fourth, victims suffer from the confusion and anger associated with the mixed messages of church leaders being sent to them and to the criminal. They see church leaders preach messages of hope to the criminal, assuring them that they can be forgiven for whatever crimes they commit. The victims, on the other hand, are lectured about how they must forgive the criminal because they can’t be forgiven for their own sins if they do not forgive others first. While these circumstances are rare, the fact that they have occurred even once is unacceptable.

It is my opinion that delivering a criminal to be judged according to the laws of the land is not mutually exclusive to the principles of forgiveness outlined in Christ’s teachings. This is because legal prosecution of crimes is not carried out solely for the victim; it is carried out by government officials based on laws and punishments agreed upon by society. The government, not the victim, is the party who is administering justice and enforcing the laws of the land that have been established.

The government prosecutes crimes and punishes offenders so that society can benefit from deterring future crimes and preventing criminals from committing more crimes. Members of the church who prosecute criminals, therefore, are not seeking personal vengeance and thus negating their capacity to forgive, but are instead fulfilling their responsibility as law-abiding citizens to report crimes to the state so that its citizens can enjoy a more harmonious society. This is separate from principles of forgiveness; a person can see justice administered and yet not forgive the perpetrator, while another person can see the guilty party get away with their crimes and yet forgive them for their actions, recognizing that the justice system is fallible.

If a victim desires, they can also make settlements outside of the law if it is most beneficial for the victim. For example, a victim of theft may find it beneficial to not see the thief thrown into prison if that would mean not receiving restitution payments in a timely manne. I would argue that decisions to prosecute certain crimes are a personal issue for the victim and they have every right to decide whether to press charges. It is my opinion that settlements made outside a court of law, however, should not be based on a false belief that it is contrary to Christ’s teachings to prosecute criminals.

Below are some examples in the Book of Mormon to support these points of view I have described:

  1. Righteous judges and kings in the Book of Mormon were given authority from the people to punish those who broke the laws given to them by God:

“…there should be no wars or contentions, no stealing, nor plundering, nor murdering, nor any manner of iniquity. And whosoever has committed iniquity, him have I [King Mosiah] punished according to the crime which he has committed, according to the law which has been given to us by our fathers” (Mosiah 29:14-15)

“…choose you by the voice of this people, judges, that ye may be judged according to the laws which have been given you by our fathers, which are correct, and which were given them by the hand of the Lord” (Mosiah 29:25)

“And he selected a wise man who was among the elders of the church, and gave him power according to the voice of the people, that he might have power to enact laws according to the laws which had been given, and to put them in force according to the wickedness and the crimes of the people.” (Alma 4:16)

Now if a man owed another, and he would not pay that which he did owe, he was complained of to the judge; and the judge executed authority, and sent forth officers that the man should be brought before him; and he judged the man according to the law and the evidences which were brought against him, and thus the man was compelled to pay that which he owed, or be stripped, or be cast out from among the people as a thief and a robber” (Helaman 11:2)

  1. The law must be enforced because it serves as a deterrent to crime. If there were no punishment for crimes, then people would commit more crimes and society would descend into wickedness. Enforcing the laws creates peace:

“Nevertheless, they durst not lie, if it were known, for fear of the law, for liars were punished; therefore they pretended to preach according to their belief; and now the law could have no power on any man for his belief. And they durst not steal, for fear of the law, for such were punished; neither durst they rob, nor murder, for he that murdered was punished unto death” (Alma 1:17-18; see also Romans 7:7)

“Now, if there was no law given—if a man murdered he should die—would he be afraid he would die if he should murder? And also, if there was no law given against sin men would not be afraid to sin. And if there was no law given, if men sinned what could justice do, or mercy either, for they would have no claim upon the creature” (Alma 42:19-21)

“persecuting, lying, thieving, robbing, committing whoredoms, and murdering, and all manner of wickedness; nevertheless, the law was put in force upon all those who did transgress it, inasmuch as it was possible. And it came to pass that by thus exercising the law upon them, every man suffering according to that which he had done, they became more still, and durst not commit any wickedness if it were known; therefore, there was much peace among the people of Nephi until the fifth year of the reign of the judges” (Alma 1:32-33)

  1. It is wicked to try and prevent justice from being administered to those who are guilty. If criminals are not punished for their crimes, then the sufferings of the righteous will cry out for vengeance against the criminals and those who refused to enforce the law. This principle is described when Alma prosecutes Nehor for slaying Gideon while practicing priestcraft:

“And thou hast shed the blood of a righteous man, yea, a man who has done much good among this people; and were we to spare thee his blood would come upon us for vengeance. Therefore thou art condemned to die, according to the law, which has been given us by Mosiah, our last king; and it has been acknowledged by this people; therefore this people must abide by the law” (Alma 1:13-14)

“[the wicked] having usurped the power and authority of the land; laying aside the commandments of God, and not in the least aright before him; doing no justice unto the children of men; condemning the righteous because of their righteousness; letting the guilty and the wicked go unpunished because of their money” (Helaman 7:4-5)

  1. The law, justice, and punishment are all part of God’s plan for us here on earth. If there were no consequences for our actions, then there would be no purpose for our creation and God would not exist:

“Now, repentance could not come unto men except there were a punishment, which also was eternal as the life of the soul should be, affixed opposite to the plan of happiness, which was as eternal also as the life of the soul. Now, how could a man repent except he should sin? How could he sin if there was no law? How could there be a law save there was a punishment? Now, there was a punishment affixed, and a just law given…” (Alma 42:16-17)

“And if ye shall say there is no law, ye shall also say there is no sin. If ye shall say there is no sin, ye shall also say there is no righteousness. And if there be no righteousness there be no happiness. And if there be no righteousness nor happiness there be no punishment nor misery. And if these things are not there is no God. And if there is no God we are not, neither the earth; for there could have been no creation of things, neither to act nor to be acted upon; wherefore, all things must have vanished away.” (2 Nephi 2:13)

“We believe in being subject to kings, presidents, rulers, and magistrates, in obeying, honoring, and sustaining the law” (Articles of Faith #12)

Christopher Nemelka’s Purpose for Writing the Sealed Portion

The following quotes are taken from Christopher Nemelka from his BlogTalkRadio interview with Bryce Blankenagel of “Naked Mormon Podcast Live” on 4/16/17. Christopher Nemelka is the founder of the “Humanity Party” and the “Marvelous Work and a Wonder” organization. He gained some level of fame when Ida Smith, the great-great granddaughter of Hyrum Smith, was converted from her LDS faith (and excommunicated) to believe Nemelka’s teachings after reading his supposed translation of The Sealed Portion: The Final Testament of Jesus Christ (see http://www.cityweekly.net/utah/sealed-fate/Content?oid=2152358). Ida went to her grave believing that Nemelka was the reincarnated Hyrum Smith, and that he was visited by the resurrected Joseph Smith and given the means to produce the sealed portion of the Book of Mormon referenced in Ether 4. These comments will be posted as they were originally stated without any commentary at this time because the words speak for themselves. A link to the video can be found at https://www.facebook.com/MarvelousWorkAndAWonder/ and the exchange begins roughly at 1:52:25 of the broadcast.

(Caller Jared): “I don’t know anything about you, Chris. How did your book come to be? How can we trust you over any other first-hand accounts that Bryce studies and presents on his show. You said that your book [Without Disclosing My True Identity: The Authorized and Official Biography of the Mormon Prophet Joseph Smith, Jr.] has power, but how can we verify that what it says is true without personally trusting you or diverting…to faith that can’t really be tested or proven to be true. And to kind of get on the end of what Anthony said, if you specifically said something that was a lie…like how can we trust that what you’re now telling him is the truth if he is a follower?

(Christopher Nemelka): “The only thing that I’m telling him that is the truth, is that it was all a lie. That everything that Joseph Smith did was based on trying to get people to disbelieve the lie of the Bible. The whole purpose of the sealed portion and my work is to get people to disbelieve the lie of the Book of Mormon. Okay? We don’t care anymore about whether people think I’m a liar or a charlatan or whatever. I’ve done exactly what Joseph Smith did.”

(Bryce Blankenagel): “I think that everyone else in the world cares if you’re a liar”

(Christopher Nemelka): “I don’t care, it doesn’t matter because the people who wrote the Bible were liars. They were liars. But we’re coming out with a complete disclosure of what I know, what happened in 1987 to my brain. What happened to my brain happened to Joseph Smith’s brain. Okay? We went crazy, instantly. We had to develop a story eventually that fit into the paradigm of our families and our traditions and everything else. But in a moment in our lives, our minds were opened up – I don’t want to say enlightenment because that tends to be logical – where our minds were opened up to a reality about human existence that most people have no idea about. And based on that instantaneous thing that happened to our brain – it took Joseph…it took him a few years until people kind of helped him do what he did, it took me a lot longer until I finally agreed to do the lie, to do the lie to get people out of the LDS church which was the only purpose for the lie folks. There was no other purpose”

 

Contradictions in Christopher Nemelka’s “Book of Lehi”

The following is a list of contradictions found in Christopher Nemelka’s “The Sealed Portion: The Final Testament of Jesus Christ” (2005; a free download can be found here http://www.marvelousworkandawonder.com/tsp/download/TSPSecured.pdf). Nemelka claims that he has translated the sealed portion of the Book of Mormon and that he has also been given the power to reproduce the lost 116 pages of the original Book of Mormon manuscript. Unfortunately for Nemelka, the reproduction of the 116 page manuscript bears little similarity to the Book of Mormon and has many problems, not the least of which are glaring contradictions of events found in the current version of the Book of Mormon. Some of these contradictions are listed below:

  1. Book of Mormon = Lehi was a descendant of Manasseh (Alma 10:3)

“And Aminadi was a descendant of Nephi, who was the son of Lehi, who came out of the land of Jerusalem, who was a descendant of Manasseh, who was the son of Joseph…”

 Nemelka = Lehi was a descendant of Ephraim (Lehi 1:11, p. 600)

“And Saresh was the son of Judah, who was the son of Ephraim, who was the son of Joseph.”

2. Book of Mormon =  The order of the Priesthood is necessary for Christ’s church (Moroni 3:3-4)

“In the name of Jesus Christ I ordain you to be a priest (or if he be a teacher, I ordain you to be a teacher) to preach repentance and remission of sins through Jesus Christ, by the endurance of faith on his name to the end. Amen.”

“And after this manner did they ordain priests and teachers, according to the gifts and callings of God unto men; and they ordained them by the power of the Holy Ghost, which was in them.”

Nemelka = The Priesthood is unnecessary for salvation (Lehi 1:51, p. 602)

“Behold, I [Zenock] am not a member of your church, nor do I have the priesthood ye claim giveth you the power and authority to act in the name of God…Nevertheless, God hath called me through the administrations of His holy angels…”

3. Book of Mormon = The ordinances of baptism and taking the sacrament are necessary for salvation (3 Nephi 12:1/18: 5-6)

“Blessed are ye if ye shall give heed unto the words of these twelve whom I have chosen from among you to minister unto you, and to be your servants; and unto them I have given power that they may baptize you with water; and after that ye are baptized with water, behold, I will baptize you with fire and with the Holy Ghost; therefore blessed are ye if ye shall believe in me and be baptized, after that ye have seen me and know that I am.”

“And when the multitude had eaten and were filled, he said unto the disciples: Behold there shall one be ordained among you, and to him will I give power that he shall break bread and bless it and give it unto the people of my church, unto all those who shall believe and be baptized in my name. And this shall ye always observe to do, even as I have done, even as I have broken bread and blessed it and given it unto you.”

Nemelka = Ordinances like baptism and the sacrament profit us nothing (TSP 12:116-117, p. 56/ Lehi 1:46, p. 602)

“if a man or woman doeth the works of Christ in the spirit of Christ and doth not receive the ordinance of baptism, or doth not partake of the ordinance of the sacrament, then this man or woman is already doing the will of the Lord and is justified therein…And if their works are righteous, then the ordinances that have been established in the church profit them nothing.”

“For Zenock said unto the priests: Know ye not that the ordinances and sacraments, and offerings, and institutions, and traditions of this church are not the gospel of the Lord, but were intended to point a man towards this gospel?”

4. The Book of Mormon follows a linear timeline (see The Book of Mormon: Another Testament of Jesus Christ)

Nemelka cites numerous events in the Book of Mormon before they happened (Lehi 2:14, 16, p. 604-605; see also Lehi 5:23, p. 617/ 9:23, p. 630)

“And Zenos spoke of this land, which is a promised land unto the Nephites and also unto the Lamanites…And in the latter days before God once again sendeth His Son among the people, yea, even in all his glory like unto the glory that he showed unto the Nephites and the Lamanites in the land of Bountiful.”

5. Book of Mormon = The Olive Tree in Zenos’ allegory represents the house of Israel (Jacob 5:3)

“For behold, thus saith the Lord, I will liken thee, O house of Israel, like unto a tame olive tree, which a man took and nourished in his vineyard; and it grew, and waxed old, and began to decay.”

Nemelka = Contradicts himself by first stating the Olive Tree is the house of Israel, then states that there will be many churches who claim to be the “pure olive tree” (Lehi 2:5,15, p. 604-605)

“And Zenos expounded unto them a parable of an olive tree and likened the house of Israel unto this olive tree…And there shall be many churches that shall claim to be the pure olive tree that the Lord grew in his vineyard.”

6. Book of Mormon = The land Bountiful was found after Ishmael’s death and after Nephi got food for his murmuring family (1 Nephi 16:23-24, 34/17:4-5)

“I, Nephi, did make out of wood a bow, and out of a straight stick, an arrow; wherefore, I did arm myself with a bow and an arrow, with a sling and with stones. And I said unto my father: Whither shall I go to obtain food? And it came to pass that he did inquire of the Lord, for they had humbled themselves because of my words…”

“And it came to pass that Ishmael died, and was buried in the place which was called Nahom.”

“And we did sojourn for the space of many years, yea, even eight years in the wilderness…And we did come to the land which we called Bountiful, because of its much fruit and also wild honey…”

Nemelka = Lehi’s family found Bountiful before Ishmael’s death and Nephi getting food (Lehi 5:45-47, 50, p. 619)

“the Lord commanded Lehi to continue to travel until they came to a land bordering the seashore, which they called Bountiful…And Ishmael grew old and died in the wilderness…And Nephi asked his father to repent of his murmurings and take the ball again in his hand and ask the Lord to point the directors where he must go to hunt for food.”

7. Book of Mormon = The land Bountiful was full of food so that Lehi’s family would not perish (1 Nephi 17:5)

“And we did come to the land which we called Bountiful, because of its much fruit and also wild honey; and all these things were prepared of the Lord that we might not perish.”

Nemelka = Lehi’s family struggled to find food after finding the land Bountiful (Lehi 5:45-46, p. 619)

“they came to a land bordering the seashore, which they called Bountiful. And there were many times when food was scarce. And during these times Laman and Lemuel and some of the children of Ishmael began to murmur…”

8. Book of Mormon = Nephi tells Laman and Lemuel they will wither away and die if they touch him. He eventually shocks them to show them the power of God (1 Nephi 17:48, 53)

“they were angry with me, and were desirous to throw me into the depths of the sea; and as they came forth to lay their hands upon me I spake unto them, saying: In the name of the Almighty God, I command you that ye touch me not, for I am filled with the power of God, even unto the consuming of my flesh; and whoso shall lay his hands upon me shall wither even as a dried reed…Stretch forth thine hand again unto thy brethren, and they shall not wither before thee, but I will shock them, saith the Lord, and this will I do, that they may know that I am the Lord their God.”

Nemelka = Nephi is saved by Zoram who is wielding a staff (Lehi 6:5-6, 9, p. 621)

“And they were again desirous to take the life of Nephi and their father Lehi…And it came to pass that Zoram stood forth and took up a staff against the enemies of Nephi…And it came to pass that Zoram struck down the son of Ishmael and was about to strike down Laman and Lemuel, but Nephi stood forth and embraced his friend and begged for the safety of his brothers.”

9. Book of Mormon = Laman and Lemuel tie up Nephi on the boat for days. They become afraid of the storm and loosen his bands. They never try to kill Nephi (1 Nephi 18:11, 13, 15)

“And it came to pass that Laman and Lemuel did take me and bind me with cords, and they did treat me with much harshness; nevertheless, the Lord did suffer it that he might show forth his power…And after we had been driven back upon the waters for the space of four days, my brethren began to see that the judgments of God were upon them, and that they must perish save that they should repent of their iniquities; wherefore, they came unto me, and loosed the bands which were upon my wrists…And there was nothing save it were the power of God, which threatened them with destruction, could soften their hearts; wherefore, when they saw that they were about to be swallowed up in the depths of the sea they repented of the thing which they had done, insomuch that they loosed me.”

Nemelka = Laman and Lemuel try to throw Nephi into the ocean. They are stopped by Barhanas, a son of Ishmael (Lehi 6:22, 28, 31 p. 622-623)

“And Laman and Lemuel were desirous to throw Nephi into the great waters, believing him to be the cause of all of their problems…Barhanas broke forth from the place where he was being held and took hold of Laman and Lemuel and was about to throw them into the depths of the ocean…And Barhanas broke the bonds that held Nephi.”

10. Book of Mormon = Nephi and his family and friends leave the land of their first landing after being warned by the Lord to flee because Laman and Lemuel desired to kill them (2 Nephi 5:2, 5)

“But behold, their anger did increase against me, insomuch that they did seek to take away my life…And it came to pass that the Lord did warn me, that I, Nephi, should depart from them and flee into the wilderness, and all those who would go with me.”

Nemelka = The Lamanites are chased out of the land by Nephi and his guards armed with swords fashioned after the sword of Laban (Lehi 7:13, 23, 25/8:6, p. 624, 627)

“And it came to pass that Laman and Lemuel began to separate themselves from the people of Nephi and they called themselves Lamanites…And it came to pass that Nephi commanded his best foundry men and his strongest guards to take the sword of Laban and construct other swords…And the Lamanites were sore afraid of the weapons of the Nephites, and they fled into the wilderness…many years passed in peace and happiness among the Nephites. And all of their enemies were swept away from among them.”

11. Book of Mormon = Abinadom is the son of Chemish (Omni 1:10-11)

“Behold, I, Abinadom, am the son of Chemish…And behold, the record of this people is engraven upon plates which is had by the kings, according to the generations.”

Nemelka = Abinadom was named after his father (Lehi 8:37, p. 629)

“And Abinadom, who was named after his father…took his family and fled into the wilderness with Mosiah. And Abinadom had many of the records of the Nephites in his possession.”