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)

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.

Comparing Motifs and Phrases in Alma 5 to the Bible

The following is a list of some of the motifs and phrases in Alma 5 that are found in the Bible. Some of these references are found in the LDS Topical Guide, but many are not. There are also many more Biblical references found in Alma 5 that are not included in this list. The number of specific references in Alma 5 to scriptures found across the Old and New Testament suggest that the author(s) of the Book of Mormon had an intimate knowledge of scriptural language beyond simply trying to mimic the KJV style of language.


1. “having been consecrated by my father, Alma, to be a high priest” (Alma 5:3)
“consecrate them, and sanctify them, that they may minister unto me in the priest’s office” (Exodus 28:41)
2. “he having power and authority from God” (Alma 5:3)
“with authority and power he commandeth the unclean spirits” (Luke 4:36)
3. “by the power of his word” (Alma 5:5)
“upholding all things by the word of his power” (Hebrews 1:3)
4. “he awakened them out of a deep sleep” (Alma 5:7)
“Awake thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead” (Ephesians 5:14)
5. “encircled about by the bands of death” (Alma 5:7)
“for there are no bands in their death” (Psalm 73:4)
“He brought them out of darkness and the shadow of death, and brake their bands in sunder” (Psalm 107:14)
6. “have you sufficiently retained in remembrance the captivity of your fathers? (Alma 5:6)
“But thou shalt remember that thou wast a bondman in Egypt, and the Lord thy God redeemed thee thence” (Deuteronomy 24:18)
7. “the bands of death, and the chains of hell” (Alma 5:7)
“delivered them into chains of darkness” (2 Peter 2:4)
8. “and an everlasting destruction did await them” (Alma 5:7)
“who shall be punished with everlasting destruction” (2 Thessalonians 1:9)
9. “and their souls did expand” (Alma 5:9)
“when thou shalt enlarge my heart” (Psalm 119:32)
10. “what grounds had they to hope for salvation?” (Alma 5:10)
“and for an helmet, the hope of salvation” (1 Thessalonians 5:8)
11. “put their trust in the true and living God’ (Alma 5:13)
“But the Lord is the true God, he is the living God” (Jeremiah 10:10)
12. “have ye spiritually been born of God” (Alma 5:14)
“Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God” (John 3:6)
13. “view this mortal body raised in immortality, and this corruption raised in incorruption” (Alma 5:15)
“For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality” (1 Corinthians 15:53)
14. “Come unto me ye blessed” (Alma 5:16)
“Come, ye blessed of my Father” (Matthew 25:34)
15. “can ye look up to God at that day with a pure heart and clean hands?” (Alma 5:19)
“He that hath clean hands, and a pure heart” (Psalm 24:4)
16. “a place to sit down in the kingdom of God, with Abraham, with Isaac, and with Jacob” (Alma 5:24)
“shall sit down with Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, in the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 8:11)
17. “ye make our Creator a liar from the beginning” (Alma 5:25)
“he that believeth not God hath made him a liar” (1 John 5:10)
18. “they are the children of the kingdom of the devil” (Alma 5:25)
“thou child of the devil” (Acts 13:10)
19. “Have ye walked, keeping yourselves blameless before God?” (Alma 5:27)
“walking in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blameless” (Luke 1:6)
20. “who will come to redeem his people from their sins?” (Alma 5:27)
“for he shall save his people from their sins” (Matthew 1:21)
21. “he knoweth not when the time shall come” (Alma 5:29)
“ye know not what hour your Lord doth come” (Matthew 24:42)
“for ye know neither the day nor the hour wherein the Son of man cometh” (Matthew           25:13)
22. “wo unto all ye workers of iniquity” (Alma 5:32)
“thou hatest all workers of iniquity” (Psalms 5:5)
23. “ye shall eat and drink of the bread and the waters of life freely” (Alma 5:34)
“And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely” (Revelation 22:17)
24. “ye shall not be hewn down and cast into the fire” (Alma 5:35)
“hewn down, and cast into the fire” (Matthew 7:19)
25. “whosoever bringeth forth not good fruit” (Alma 5:36)
“Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit” (Matthew 7:19)
26. “have gone astray, as sheep having no shepherd” (Alma 5:37)
“be not as sheep which have no shepherd” (Numbers 27:17)
“scattered abroad, as sheep having no shepherd” (Matthew 9:36)
27. “the good shepherd doth call you” (Alma 5:38)
“I am the good shepherd” (John 10:11)
28. “yea, and in his own name he doth call you” (Alma 5:38)
“he calleth his own sheep by name, and leadeth them out” (John 10:3)
29. “whatsoever is good cometh from God” (Alma 5:40)
“Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above” (James 1:17)
30. “how do ye suppose that I know of their surety?” (Alma 5:45)
“Now I know of a surety, that the Lord hath sent his angel” (Acts 12:11)
31. “they are made known unto me by the Holy Spirit of God” Alma 5:46)
“the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God” (1 Corinthians 2:11)
32. “according to the spirit of prophecy which is in me” (Alma 5:47)
“the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy” (Revelation 19:10)
33. “the Only Begotten of the Father, full of grace, and mercy, and truth” (Alma 5:48)
“the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth” (John 1:14)
34. “both old and young, both bond and free” (Alma 5:49)
“There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female” (Galatians 3:28)
35. “They must repent and be born again” (Alma 5:49)
“Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again” (John 3:7)
36. “the Son of God cometh in his glory, in his might, majesty, power, and dominion” (Alma 5:50)
“To the only wise God our Savior, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and forever” (Jude 1:25)
37. “the King of heaven shall very soon shine forth among all the children of men” (Alma 5:50)
“he shined forth from mount Paran” (Deuteronomy 33:2)
38. “ye can in nowise inherit the kingdom of heaven” (Alma 5:51)
“for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 5:10)
39. “the Spirit saith: Behold, the ax is laid at the root of the tree” (Alma 5:52)
“And now also the ax is laid unto the root of the trees” (Matthew 3:10)
40. “fire which cannot be consumed, even an unquenchable fire” (Alma 5:52)
“the chaff he will burn with fire unquenchable” (Luke 3:17)
41. “the Holy One hath spoken it” (Alma 5:52)
“the Holy One of Israel is our king” (Psalm 89:18)
42. “and trample the Holy One under your feet” (Alma 5:53)
“lest they trample them under their feet, and turn again and rend you” (Matthew 7:6)
43. “having been sanctified by the Holy Spirit” (Alma 5:54)
“being sanctified by the Holy Ghost” (Romans 15:16)
44. “come ye out from the wicked, and be ye separate, and touch not their unclean things” (Alma 5:57)
“all such as had separated themselves unto them from the filthiness of the heathen” (Ezra 6:21)
45. “behold, their names shall be blotted out” (Alma 5:57)
“blot out their name from under heaven” (Deuteronomy 9:14)
46. “For the names of the righteous shall be written in the book of life” (Alma 5:58)
“Let them be blotted out of the book of the living, and not be written with the righteous” (Psalm 69:28)
“And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire” (Revelation 20:15)
47. “unto them will I grant an inheritance at my right hand” (Alma 5:58)
“Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand…inherit the kingdom prepared for you…” (Matthew 25:34)
48. “he will bring you into his fold, and ye are his sheep” (Alma 5:60)
“and will bring them again to their folds” (Jeremiah 23:3)

Some “textual errors” in the Book of Mormon also found in the Bible

The Book of Mormon is often criticized as being full of grammatical errors that have been changed over the years. What is rarely acknowledged, however, is that many of the “errors” are also found in the King James version of the Bible. The following compares changes made from the first edition of the Book of Mormon to the 1981 edition.

  1. An extra “for” which was deleted in later editions of the Book of Mormon

a. “and their precious things, for to perish in the wilderness” (1 Nephi 2:11)

b. “the daughters of the Lamanites did gather themselves together for to sing” (Mosiah 20:1)

c. “And if ye will receive it, this is Elias, which was for to come” (Matthew 11:14)

d. “he went into the synagogue on the sabbath day, and stood up for to read” (Luke 4:16)

e. “Then drew near unto him all the publicans and sinners for to hear him” (Luke 15:1)

f. “Him hath God exalted with his right hand to be a Prince and a Saviour, for to give repentance to Israel, and forgiveness of sins” (Acts 5:31) (See also Acts 8:27/11:2/12:25/15:6/16:4/17:15/20:1/22:5/Romans 13:6/II Corinthians 2:9/Psalm 75:1)

2.  A superfluous “a” which was deleted 

a. “As I was a journeying to see a very near kindred” (Alma 10:7)

b. “and there he found Muloki a preaching the word unto them” (Alma 21:11)

c. “For he had only one daughter, about twelve years of age, and she lay a dying” (Luke 8:42)

d. “thou hast destroyed all them that go a whoring from thee” (Psalm 73:27)

e. “in the days of Noah, while the ark was a preparing” (I Peter 3:20)

3. A superfluous “that” which was deleted

a. “wherefore, after that I have abridged the record of my father” (1 Nephi 1:17)

b. “because that he was a visionary man” (1 Nephi 2:11)

c. “And after that the angel had spoken unto us, he departed.” (1 Nephi 3:31)

d. “Until the day in which he was taken up, after that he through the Holy Ghost had given commandments” (Acts 1:2)

e. “But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you” (Acts 1:8)

f. “And Paul, after that the governor had beckoned unto him to speak” (Acts 24:10)

4. Changing “exceeding” to “exceedingly”

a. “I, Nephi, being exceeding young” (1 Nephi 2:16)

b. “when Laban saw our property, and that it was exceeding great” (1 Nephi 3:25)

c. “and the workmanship thereof was exceeding fine” (1 Nephi 4:9)

d. “Then Herod, when he saw that he was mocked of the wise men, was exceeding wroth” (Matthew 2:16)

e. “And his raiment became shining, exceeding white as snow” (Mark 9:3)

f. “My soul is exceeding sorrowful unto death” (Mark 14:34)

5. Switching past tense with present tense

a. “And I saith unto them: If God had commanded me to do all things” (1 Nephi 17:50)

b. “he was also wroth; and he saith: Who is Abinadi” (Mosiah 11:27)

c. “And when they were departed, behold, the angel of the Lord appeareth to Joseph in a dream” (Matthew 2:13)

d. “Then the devil taketh him up into the holy city” (Matthew 4:5)

e. “When Jesus heard it, he saith unto them” (Mark 2:17)

6. Changing “which” to “who” and “whom”

a. “pointing their fingers towards those which had come at and were partaking of the fruit” (1 Nephi 8:27)

b. “Behold the twelve disciples of the Lamb, which are chosen to minister unto thy seed” (1 Nephi 12:8)

c. “show unto them that fight against my word and against my people, which are of the house of Israel” (2 Nephi 29:14)

d. “even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect” (Matthew 5:48)

e. “Then one of them, which was a lawyer, asked him a question” (Matthew 22:35)

e. “there be some of them that stand here, which shall not taste of death” (Mark 9:1)

Consistencies in Book of Mormon Geography (Part 1)

The Book of Mormon is a work that has strong internal consistency with regards to geography. I have decided to examine the geography of the Book of Mormon to see if any of the geographical locations can serve as evidence supporting the argument that the Book of Mormon is an ancient record translated by the power of God. Here is a random sampling of some of the consistencies that I have found upon examining the ancient American geography described in the Book of Mormon. I have used the 1981 Edition of the Book of Mormon for this examination (The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Salt Lake City, Utah)

  1. “Go up” to the land of Zarahemla, “go down” to the land of Nephi: It is well established in the Book of Mormon that the Land of Zarahemla (Nephites) is in the northern regions of the land, and that the Land of Nephi (Lamanites) is in the southern region (Alma 22:27-34). I believe that it is a common notion that when describing a land that is northward, the words “up” or “above” the southern land would be used to describe its location. However, the Book of Mormon does not use this language, but rather always refers to traveling to the Land of Nephi as “going up” to the land of Nephi, and the land of Zarahemla as “going down” to the land of Zarahemla. This may suggest that the Land of Nephi was a higher elevation than the land of Zarahemla (though the elevation of Zarahemla and Nephi is never mentioned), or it may have some significance since it was the place where they first landed. This phrasing is consistently used throughout the Book of Mormon, suggesting that using phrases such as “went up to the land south” was intentional, yet it is a highly unusual style for most in the modern western world.

Land of Zarahemla:

a)    Alma 27:5 “Let us gather together this people of the Lord, and let us go down to the land of Zarahemla to our brethren the Nephites, and flee out of the hands of our enemies, that we be not destroyed.

b)    Alma 56:25 “Neither durst they march down against the city of Zarahemla.”

c)     Alma 51:11 “Amalickiah had gathered together a wonderfully great army, insomuch that he feared not to come down to the land of Zarahemla.

d)    Alma 53:10 “they had been converted unto the Lord; and they had been brought down into the land of Zarahemla…

e)    Alma 53:12 “And for this cause they were brought down into the land of Zarahemla…”

f)     Alma 56:25 “Neither durst they march down against the city of Zarahemla; neither durst they cross the head of Sidon, over to the city of Nephihah.”

g)    Alma 57:16 “we did resolve to send them down to the land of Zarahemla…

h)    Alma 57:28 “they had started to go down to the land of Zarahemla with.”

i)     Alma 57:29 “Behold, we did start to go down to the land of Zarahemla.

j)     Helaman 6:4 “And it came to pass that many of the Lamanites did come down into the land of Zarahemla…

Land of Nephi:

a)     Mosiah 28:1 “and desired of him that he would grant unto them that they might, with these whom they had selected, go up to the land of Nephi that they might preach the things which they had heard…”

b)     Alma 22:30-31 “And they came from there up into the south wilderness. Thus the land on the northward was called Desolation, and the land on the southward was called Bountiful”

c)    Alma 29:14 “because of the success of my brethren, who have been up to the land of Nephi.”

d)     Alma 47:1 “he had taken those who went with him, and went up in the land of Nephi among the Lamanites…”

e)    Alma 56:3 “two thousand of the sons of those men whom Ammon brought down out of the land of Nephi…

  1. The Destruction of Ammonihah:

The City of Ammonihah is destroyed by the Lamanites in 81 B.C. (Alma 16:11/p. 249). Those who are killed are buried in shallow graves. It states in verse 11 “And now so great was the scent thereof that the people did not go in to possess the land for many years.”

In Alma 49:1-2 (p. 330) it states “Lamanites were seen approaching towards the land of Ammonihah. And behold, the city had been rebuilt…” by Moroni, and this occurred in 72 B.C., 9 years after the destruction of those in Ammonihah. The rebuilding of Ammonihah is consistent with the fact that it was uninhabitable for a number of years because of the scent of the dead. This is a consistency that is 83 pages apart.

  1. The City of Moroni sinks into the ocean.

The city of Moroni is built by the seashore, as it states in Alma 62:32 “And it came to pass that the Nephites began the foundation of a city; and they called the name of the city Moroni; and it was by the east sea; and it was on the south by the line of the possessions of the Lamanites” (p. 365/Alma 62:32).

The city of Moroni, which is by the east seashore, sinks into the ocean when Christ is killed in 33 A.D. as it states in 3 Nephi 8:9 (p. 422) “And the city of Moroni did sink into the depths of the sea…” The destruction of the city of Moroni in 33 A.D. is consistent with its geographical location.

  1. The City of Noah is close to Ammonihah.

After the Lamanites destroy the people of Ammonihah, they also attack some of the people “around the borders of Noah” (Alma 16:3/p. 248).

Alma 49:11-12 references the fact that these cities are located close together and that the Lamanites had attacked them previously. In Alma 49:11, when the Lamanites decide again to attack the city of Ammonihah nearly ten years after they had so easily destroyed it, they find that it has been rebuilt by the Nephites to be a stronghold. The Lamanites then flee from the city of Ammonihah because it has been fortified, and decide to attack the city of Noah, which they had also easily attacked in the past (Alma 49:11/p. 331). When the Lamanites arrive in the land of Noah, they are surprised to see that is has also been fortified (Alma 49:14/p. 331). This is an internal consistency in that the city of Noah and the city of Ammonihah are in close proximity, and in the past were relatively easy targets for the Lamanites.

  1. Zarahemla was destroyed by fire

In Helaman 13:13 (p. 398), Samuel the Lamanite declares that the voice of the Lord told him “I would cause that fire should come down out of heaven and destroy it [Zarahemla]. But behold, it is for the righteous’ sake that it is spared.”

In 3 Nephi 8:8 (p. 422), after the death of the Savior and as a sign of his death, it states: “And the city of Zarahemla did take fire.” The word of the Lord is fulfilled when there are no more righteous in the land.

  1. City of Nephihah/Lehi/Morianton/Gid/Mulek/Moroni

There is geographical consistency in the chapters beginning in Alma 50:13 to Helaman 5:15. The cities mentioned in Alma 51:26 are on the eastern seashore, and the armies of the Lamanites take control of them one at a time, suggesting they may have followed a highway.

The following are scriptures showing how the cities mentioned above are in close proximity to each other and are along the eastern seashore:

  1. “And they called the name of the city Moroni; and it was by the east sea” (Alma 50:13)
  2. “began a foundation for a city between the city of Moroni and the city of Aaron…called the name of the city, or land, Nephihah.” (Alma 50:14)
  3. “And they also began in that same year to build many cities on the north, one in a particular manner which they called Lehi, which was in the north by the borders of the seashore” (Alma 50:15)
  4. “The city of Nephihah, and the city of Lehi, and the city of Morianton, and the city of Omner, and the city of Gid and the city of Mulek, all of which were on the east borders by the seashore.” (Alma 51:26)
  5. “The people of Nephihah, who were gathered together from the city of Moroni and the city of Lehi and the city of Morianton, were attacked by the Lamanites.” (Alma 59:5-6)

Those who live in Moroni, Lehi, Morianton, and Melek, are compelled to flea to Nephihah (Alma 59:5-6/Alma 51:24). Nephihah is then attacked. The prisoners of the Nephites are kept in the city of Gid, and Moroni gets the prisoners back by strategem (Alma 55:7) In Alma 62:30, Moroni regains the land of Nephihah and goes on to regain the land of Lehi. Afterwards, they then attack the Lamanites, who were one great army, in the land of Moroni (Alma 62:32). Moroni, Lehi, and Teancum destroy the Lamanites and chase them out of the land (Alma 62:38). After the wars between the Nephites and the Lamanites, the prophets Nephi and Lehi preach to those in Bountiful, then go to Gid, and then go to Mulek, both of which were on the line of cities on the east seashore mentioned in Alma 51:26 (Helaman 5:15). These consistencies suggest that the Book of Mormon follows a strict geographical structure that could not be made up from one’s head as one went along dictating the book. A detailed map would have been required to maintain the consistency.

An Argument in Favor of the Divinity of the Book of Mormon Translation (Part II)

In part II of this work I will focus on the Book of Ether and how it exists as evidence that the Book of Mormon was not made up while it was dictated, and its complexity suggests that more than a simple genealogical outline would be necessary to accomplish the task of dictating the Book of Ether. I will be using the 1981 edition of the Book of Mormon in this examination (The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Salt Lake City, Utah, USA 1994). The evidence from the Book of Ether, as well as evidence analyzed in Part I and in future installments of this series, will help support the likelihood that Joseph Smith did in fact translate the Book of Mormon from an ancient record.

1. THE GENEALOGY OF ETHER: The Book of Ether follows the history of a people (known as the Jaredites) who left for the Americas soon after the corrupting of languages at the Tower of Babel. Moroni abridges this book from 24 plates hidden by the prophet Ether, found by King Limhi, the son of King Noah. In Ether 1:6-32, Moroni gives the genealogy of Ether, the last Prophet among the Jaredites, all the way back to Jared, the first to arrive to the Americas after the Tower of Babel. Moroni gives 30 names for the genealogy, stating simply:

He that wrote this record was Ether, and he was a descendant of Coriantor. Coriantor was the son of Moron. And Moron was the son of Ethem. And Ethem was the son of Ahah. And Ahah was the son of Seth. And Seth was the son of Shiblon. And Shiblon was the son of Com. And Com was the son of Coriantum. And Coriantum was the son of Amnigaddah. And Amnigaddah was the son of Aaron. And Aaron was a descendant of Heth, who was the son of Hearthom. And Hearthom was the son of Lib. And Lib was the son of Kish. And Kish was the son of Corom. And Corom was the son of Levi. And Levi was the son of Kim. And Kim was the son of Moriatnon. And Morianton was a descendant of Riplakish. And Riplakish was the son of Shez. And Shez was the son of Heth. And Heth was the son of Com. And Com was the son of Coriantum. And Coriantum was the son of Emer. And Emer was the son of Omer. And Omer was the son of Shule. And Shule was the son of Kib. And Kib was the son of Orihah, who was the son of Jared.” (Ether 1:6-32).

The Book of Ether then goes on to describe the history and wars of the Jaredites, and it follows this exact genealogy in reverse order, starting with Jared and then ending with Ether.

Ether 6:14 “And Jared had four sons; and they were called Jacom, and Gilgah, and Mahah, and Orihah.”

Ether 7:3 “And it came to pass that he also begat Kib in his old age. And it came to pass that Kib reigned in his stead; and Kib begat Corihor.”

Ether 7:7 “nevertheless, Kib begat Shule in his old age, while he was yet in captivity.”

Ether 8:1 “And it came to pass that he begat Omer, and Omer reigned in his stead. And Omer begat Jared; and Jared begat sons and daughters.

Ether 9:14 “And it came to pass that Omer began to be old; nevertheless, in his old age he begat Emer; and he appointed Emer to be king to reign in his stead.”

Ether 9:21 “And Emer did execute judgment in righteousness all his days, and he begat many sons and daughters; and he begat Coriantum, and he anointed Coriantum to reign in his stead.”

Ether 9:25 “And it came to pass that he begat Com, and Com reigned in his stead; and he reigned forty and nine years, and he begat Heth; and he also begat other sons and daughters.

Ether 10:1 “And it came to pass that Shez, who was a descendant of Heth-for Heth had perished by the famine and all his household save it were Shez…

Ether 10:4 “And Shez did live to an exceedingly old age; and he begat Riplakish.”

Ether 10:9 “And it came to pass after the space of many years, Morianton (he being a descendant of Riplakish)…”

Ether 10:13 “And Morianton did live to an exceedingly great age, and then he begat Kim; and Kim did reign in the stead of his father.”

Ether 10:14 “And he begat sons and daughters in captivity, and in his old age he begat Levi

Ether 10:16 “and begat sons and daughters; and he also begat Corom, whom he anointed king in his stead.

Ether 10:17 “and after he had seen many days he did pass away, even like unto the rest of the earth; and Kish reigned in his stead.

Ether 10:18 “And it came to pass that Kish passed away also, and Lib reigned in his stead.

Ether 10:29 “And it came to pass that Lib did live many years, and begat sons and daughters; and he also begat Hearthom.

Ether 10:31 “And he begat Heth, and Heth lived in captivity all his days. And Heth begat Aaron, and Aaron dwelt in captivity all his days; and he begat Amnigaddah, and Amnigaddah also dwelt in captivity all his days; and he begat Coriantum, and Coriantum dwelt in captivity all his days; and he begat Com.

Ether 11:4 “And he lived to a good old age, and begat Shiblom” (there seems to be an error here, as the genealogy in Ether 1 says “Shiblon.” This is most likely an error made in the original writing or the printer’s manuscript. This error was not corrected in the 1981 edition.

Ether 11:9 “And it came to pass that Shiblom was slain, and Seth was brought into captivity…”

Ether 11:10 “And it came to pass that Ahah, his son, did obtain the kingdom…”

Ether 11:11 “And Ethem, being a descendant of Ahah, did obtain the kingdom.”

Ether 11:14 “And it came to pass that Ethem did execute judgment in wickedness all his days; and he begat Moron.”

Ether 11:18 “Moron dwelt in captivity all the remainder of his days; and he begat Coriantor.”

Ether 11:23 “And it came to pass that Coriantor begat Ether, and he died, having dwelt in captivity all his days.

In addition to following the genealogy given in Ether 1, the Book of Ether speaks of many other sons and descendants of that are not found in the genealogy of Ether 1. This only adds to the complexity of an already complex family line. Not only does it write the history of a list of 30 people in reverse chronology, but he also includes the descendants and sons/daughters of these individuals as well. For example, after Orihah begat Kib, Kib begat Corihor (Ether 7:3). Corihor is not mentioned in the original genealogy, but he plays a significant part in the chapter as he overthrows his father, who then has a son named Shule (part of the genealogy of Ether 1) while in captivity (Ether7:7). The writer then goes on to describe the genealogy of Corihor, who is overthrown by Shule (Ether 7:9), but has a son named Noah who rebels with his brother Cohor (Ether 7:15). Noah is killed and then the son of Noah, whose name is Cohor, takes over part of the kingdom (Ether 7:20). Cohor is slain, and his son Nimrod gives up the kingdom to Shule (Ether 7:21-22).

These multiple story-lines  continue in Ether 8 when Shule begat Omer (part of Ether’s genealogy) and Omer begat Jared (not part of the genealogy) (Ether 8:1). Omer has two sons named Esrom and Coriantumr, who take back the kingdom (Ether 8:4-6). Akish, the son of Kimnor, then plots with Jared to killer Omer (Ether 8:10-14). Omer escapes, then Akish kills Jared and takes over the kingdom (Ether 9:3-5). Then Akish kills his son, and his brother flees with others to Omer, and Akish gives battle to his sons (Ether 9:7-13). Omer is restored to the throne, and then he has a son named Emer, finally reaching the next in the line of Ether’s ancestors (Ether 9:14). Adding in these story-lines and additional descendants and families not mentioned in Ether 1:6-32 would have confused someone who was making it up as they went along, and would require an extremely detailed and lengthy outline to account for all of the events and the accuracy with which the genealogy is followed in the Book of Ether.

The Book of Ether goes on for roughly 30 pages, and includes the writings of Moroni, the visions of the Brother of Jared, the method used to travel to the Americas, the rise and fall of kings, and the battles that took place in ancient America. In addition, the story of the Book of Ether is referenced in other portions of the Book of Mormon (see Omni 1:21-22/Mosiah 8:7-11/Alma 37:21-32). It would require superhuman ability to recount the genealogy provided in Ether 1:6-32 in reverse order and include separate genealogies, interjections by the narrator, and other story arcs in the manner of translation often mocked by critics. The incredible amount of detail suggests that a complex outline would be required in order to have dictated such a history, in addition to the overall narrative outline found in part I of this series, and the complex writings of Alma 36 and Jacob 5, which I will review in future installments. Since no witnesses saw Joseph with an outline (and if he had the whole story of the Book of Mormon previously written on pages and pages of guiding outlines, why did he need scribes to write his dictation?), it is unlikely that Joseph had such an all-encompassing outline at his disposal while dictating the translation.