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)

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)

Comparing Isaiah in the Bible and the Book of Mormon (Part 1)

The following is a comparison of Chapter 6 in the First Book of Nephi (1 Nephi 20-21) in the original 1830 edition text of the Book of Mormon (BOM) and Isaiah 48-49 of the King James version of the Old Testament. In several instances, prophets in the BOM quote from Old Testament prophets, whose writing were contained on the plates of brass. There are several differences between the King James version of the revelations of Isaiah and the text provided by Nephi in the Herald Heritage Reprint (1973) of the 1830 edition of the BOM. It should be noted that much of the text (excluding spelling errors) in the 1830 edition and today’s 2013 version of the BOM are nearly identical. Some differences include changing the word “which” to “who” and adding “or out of the waters of baptism” in 1 Nephi 20:1 in later additions of the BOM (most likely to provide clarity to the meaning “waters of Judah”).

Text that is found in the BOM but not found in the Old Testament will be bolded, underlined, and italicizedText that is included in the Old Testament and not found in the BOM will have a line through the text. The chapters will not be reproduced in their entirety, but all changes aside from spelling errors will be noted.

“First Book of Nephi: Chapter 6” (1 Nephi 20)/Isaiah 48

Verse 1.”Hearken and hear ye this, O house of Jacob, which are called by the name of Israel, and are come forth out of the waters of Judah, which swear by the name of the Lord, and make mention of the God of Israel, yet they swear but not in truth, nor in righteousness-”

2. “Nevertheless For they call themselves of the Holy city, but they do not and stay themselves upon the God of Israel, which is the Lord of hosts; yea, the Lord of hosts is his name.”

3. “Behold, I have declared the former things from the beginning; and they went forth out of my mouth, and I shewed them; I did shew them suddenly, and they came to pass.

4. “And I did it because I knew that thou art obstinate, and thy neck was an iron sinew, and thy brow brass;”

5. “And I have, even from the beginning, declared it to thee; before it came to pass I shewed them it thee; and I shewed them for fear lest thou shouldst say, Mine idol hath done them; and my graven image, and my molten image, hath commanded them.”

6. “Thou hast seen and heard see all this; and will ye not declare them it? And that I have shewed thee new things from this time, even hidden things, and thou didst not know them.”

7. “They are created now, and not from the beginning; even before the day when thou heardest them not, they were declared unto thee, lest thou shouldst say, Behold, I knew them.”

8. “Yea, and thou heardest not; yea, thou knewest not; yea, from that time, that thine ear was not opened…”

9. “Nevertheless, for my name‘s sake will I defer mine anger, and for my praise will I refrain from for thee…”

10. “For, behold, I have refined thee, but not with silver; I have chosen thee in the furnace of affliction.”

11. “For mine own sake, yea even, for mine own sake, will I do this it; for I will not suffer how should my name to be polluted…”

12. “Hearken unto me, O Jacob and Israel, my called; for I am he; and I am the first, and I am also also am the last.”

13. “Mine hand hath also also hath laid the foundations of the earth, and my right hand hath spanned the heavens: and when I called unto them, and they stand up together.”

14. “All ye, assemble yourselves, and hear; which among them hath declared these things unto them? The Lord hath loved him: yea, and he will fulfill his word which he hath declared by them; and he will do his pleasure on Babylon, and his arm shall come upon be on the Chaldeans.”

15. “Also, saith the Lord; I the Lord, yea, even I have spoken, yea, I have called him, to declare I have brought him…”

16. “Come ye near unto me, hear ye this: I have not spoken in secret from the beginning; from the time that it was declared, have I spoken there am I; and now the Lord God, and his spirit, hath sent me.”

17. “And thus saith the Lord, thy Redeemer, the Holy one of Israel; I have sent him am, the Lord thy God, which teacheth thee to profit, which leadeth thee by the way that thou shouldst go, hath done it.

19. “Thy seed also had been as the sand, and the offspring of thy bowels like the gravel thereof…”

20. “…with a voice of singing declare ye, tell this, utter it even to the end of the earth…”

21. “And they thirsted not; when he led them through the deserts: he caused the waters to flow out of the rock for them: he cleaved clave the rock also, and the waters gushed out.”

22. “And notwithstanding he hath done all this, and greater also, There is no peace, saith the Lord, unto the wicked.”

“First Book of Nephi: Chapter 6” (1 Nephi 21)/Isaiah 49

1. “And again: Hearken, O ye house of Israel, all ye that are broken off and driven out, because of the wickedness of the pastors of my people; yea, all ye that are broken off, that are scattered abroad, which are of my people, O house of Israel. Listen, O isles, unto me…”

4. “…I have spent my strength for nought, and in vain; yet surely, my judgment is with the Lord…”

5. “And now, saith the Lord, that formed me from the womb that I should to be his servant…”

7. “Thus saith the Lord, the Redeemer of Israel, and his Holy One, to him whom man despiseth, to him whom the nations abhorreth, to a servant of rulers, Kings shall see and arise, princes also shall worship, because of the Lord that is faithful, and the Holy One of Israel, and he shall choose thee.

8. “Thus saith the Lord, In an acceptable time I have heard thee, O isles of the sea, and in a day of salvation have I helped thee: and I will preserve thee, and give thee my servant for a covenant of the people…”

9. “That thou mayest say to the prisoners, Go forth; to them that sit are in darkness, Shew yourselves…”

12. “And then, O house of Israel, behold, these shall come from far…”

13. “Sing, O heavens; and be joyful, O earth; for the feet of them which are in the east shall be established; and break forth into singing, O mountains: for they shall be smitten no more: for the Lord hath comforted his people…”

14. “But, behold, Zion hath said, The Lord hath forsaken me, and my Lord hath forgotten me; but he will shew that he hath not.

15. “For can a woman forget her sucking child, that she should not have compassion on the son of her womb? Yea, they may forget, yet will I not forget thee, O house of Israel.

17. “Thy children shall make haste against thy destroyers; and they that made thee waste, shall go forth of thee.”

18. “Lift up thine eyes round about, and behold: all these gather themselves together, and they shall come to thee. And as I live, saith the Lord, thou shalt surely clothe thee with them all, as with an ornament, and bind them on thee even as a bride doeth.”

19. “The children which thou shalt have, after thou hast lost the other, shall again in thine ears say shall say again in thine ears, the place is too strait for me…”

21. “…Behold, I was left alone; these, where have had they been?

24. “For shall the prey be taken from the mighty, or the lawful captives delivered?”

26. ” And I will feed them that oppress thee with their own flesh; and they shall be drunken with their own blood…”

 

The Vision of the Tree of Life (Part II): Biblical Comparisons

The following is a comparison of Nephi’s/Lehi’s vision of the Tree of Life to several other scriptures in the Bible. This portion of the Book of Mormon uses motifs from multiple sources in the Bible, and makes changes to reflect the circumstances of Lehi’s family rather than blatantly copying from such sources. This further illustrates the complexity of the Book of Mormon and supports the notion that it is not simply a regurgitation of memorized scriptures. The vision of the tree of life comprises 1 Nephi 8 and 1 Nephi 11-14 respectively.

  1. STRUCTURE OF THE VISION OF LEHI AND NEPHI = The vision presented to Nephi and Lehi follow similar patterns of visions given to John the Revelator as well as other Old Testament Prophets like Jeremiah and Ezekiel.

a) I WAS TAKEN TO A HIGH MOUNTAIN= Multiple prophets refer to being carried away in a vision. They are taken to different locations, such as high mountains.

  • “For it came to pass after I had desired to know the things that my father had seen, and believing that the Lord was able to make them known unto me, as I sat pondering in my heart I was caught away in the Spirit of the Lord, yea, into an exceedingly high mountain, which I never had before seen, and upon which I never had before set my foot” (1 Nephi 11:1)
  • “And there came unto me one of the seven angels which had the seven vials…And he carried me away in the spirit to a great and high mountain, and shewed me that great city, the holy Jerusalem, descending out of heaven from God” (Revelation 21:9-10)” (Revelation 21:10)
  • “Afterwards the spirit took me up, and brought me in a vision by the Spirit of God into Chaldea” (Ezekiel 11:24)

b) I TURNED TO LOOK= Both John and Nephi turn to see the voice that is speaking to them, but they turn and no longer see the person speaking, but rather continue to see the vision unfold.

  • “he said unto me: Look! And I looked as if to look upon him, and I saw him not; for he had gone from before my presence” (1 Nephi 11:12)
  • “And I turned to see the voice that spake with me. And being turned, I saw seven golden candlesticks” (Revelation 1:12)

c) WHAT SEEST THOU? = The Spirit who guides the visions asks those who see the vision to identify what they are seeing.

  • “and an angel came down and stood before me; and he said unto me: Nephi, what beholdest thou? And I said unto him: A virgin, most beautiful and fair…” (1 Nephi 11:14-15)
  • “Then said the Lord unto me, What seest thou, Jeremiah? And I said, Figs; the good figs, very good and the evil, very evil…” (Jeremiah 24:3)

2. SIMILARITIES AND DIFFERENCES OF MOTIFS

a) THE ROD OF IRON = (See “The Vision of the Tree of Life: Part I”)

b) TREE OF LIFE= The tree of life is a motif used in both the Old Testament and New Testament. On many occasions, the Bible refers to trees that are planted near rivers of water. While this may be a minor consistency, it is nevertheless important to note that the Tree of Life in Nephi’s/Lehi’s vision is placed near a river of water and a tree planted near a river of water is a common metaphor used in the Old Testament. Proverbs 3:13-18 also combines the emotion of happiness to the tree of life.

  • “I beheld a river of water; and it ran along, and it was near the tree of which I was partaking of the fruit” (1 Nephi 8:13)
  • “And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season” (Psalm 1:3)
  • “For he shall be as a tree planted by the waters, and that spreadeth out her roots by the river” (Jeremiah 17:8)
  • “He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the tree of life, which is in the midst of the paradise of God” (Revelation 2:7)
  • “And it came to pass that I beheld a tree, whose fruit was desirable to make one happy” (1 Nephi 8:10)
  • Happy is the man that findeth wisdom…she is a tree of life to them that lay hold upon her: and happy is everyone that retaineth her” (Proverbs 3:13-18)

c) CHURCH OF SATAN = There is a subtle difference between the revelations of Nephi and John. John, who has witnessed the persecution of the saints by the Jews, has identified them as being members of the “synagogue of Satan” (Revelation 2:9/3:9). Nephi, on the other hand, identifies a church among the Gentiles that is founded by the devil. Both are similar motifs used to describe different circumstances.

  • “Which say they are Jews, and are not, but are the synagogue of Satan” (Revelation 2:9)
  • “Behold, I will make them of the synagogue of Satan, which they say are Jews” (Revelation 3:9)
  • “I beheld this great and abominable church, and I saw the devil that he was the founder of it” (1 Nephi 13:6)

d) FOUNTAIN OF LIFE = In addition to this being a Biblical motif, it is interesting that Nephi uses “fountain of living waters” and “the tree of life” interchangeably. As far as I know there are no examples in the Bible of these two motifs combined in such a manner. It is also important to note that John (Revelation 7:17) states that Jesus Christ will lead the righteous to the fountain of life. Similarly, Nephi’s and Lehi’s vision show a rod of iron, interpreted as the “word of God,” leading to the fountain of living waters (Jesus Christ is sometimes referred to as “the Word” (John 1:14))

  • “And it came to pass that I beheld that the rod of iron, which my father had seen, was the word of God, which led to the fountain of living waters, or to the tree of life, which waters are a representation of the love of God; and I also beheld that the tree of life was a representation of the love of God” (1 Nephi 11:25)
  • “For the Lamb which is in the midst of the throne shall feed them, and shall lead them unto living fountains of waters…” (Revelation 7:17)
  • “For with thee is the fountain of life: in thy light shall we see light” (Psalm 36:9)
  • “they have forsaken me the fountain of living waters” (Jeremiah 2:13/17:13)

e) PIT OF HELL = This motif seems to be a synthesis of the “bottomless pit” described in the book of Revelation and the pits described by David as being digged by the wicked to ensnare him, only for them to fall in their own pits. Nephi’s vision combines these two motifs.

  • “And that great pit, which hath been digged for them by that great and abominable church, which was founded by the devil and his children…that great pit which hath been digged for the destruction of men shall be filled by those who digged it” (1 Nehpi 14:3)
  • “And he opened the bottomless pit; and there arose a smoke out of the pit, as the smoke out of a great furnace; and the sun and the air were darkened by reason of the smoke of the pit” (Revelation 9:2)
  • “The heathen are sunk down in the pit that they made: in the net which they hid is their own foot taken” (Psalm 9:15)
  • “They have prepared a net for my steps; my soul is bowed down: they have digged a pit before me, into the midst whereof they are fallen themselves. Selah” (Psalm 57:6)
  • He made a pit, and digged it, and is fallen into the ditch which he made. His mischief shall return upon his own head, and his violent dealing shall come down upon his own pate” (Psalm 7:15-16)

f) THE WHORE OF THE EARTH = This motif is also founded in the book of Revelation and other scriptures in the Old and New Testaments, but the motif is used somewhat differently in the Book of Mormon. John uses Bablyon as a metaphor of wickedness, whereas the vision presented to Nephi and Lehi excludes the great city of Bablyon, and substitutes the metaphor with a “great and spacious building.” This may be due to the fact that Lehi and his family left before the Jews were taken captive by Babylon. While Lehi and his descendants knew that Babylon and destroyed Jerusalem, the metaphor would not have been as significant for them since they had been in the wilderness for many years before the Babylonian captivity.

  • “belongeth to that great church, which is the mother of abominations; and she is the whore of all the earth…and she sat upon many waters” (1 Nephi 14:10-11)
  • “I will shew unto thee the judgment of the great whore that sitteth upon many waters” (Revelation 17:1)
  • “And the woman which thou sawest is that great city, which reigneth over the kings of the earth” (Revelation 17:18)

g) BABYLON HAS FALLEN = This further expands upon the metaphor described previously, but combines language similar to Matthew 7:27. Once again, Nephi’s vision replaces the city of Babylon with the great and spacious building.

  • “the great and spacious building was the pride of the world; and it fell, and the fall thereof was exceedingly great” (1 Nephi 11:36)
  • “And he cried mightily, with a strong voice, saying, Babylon the great is fallen, is fallen, and is become the habitation of devils…” (Revelation 18:2)
  • “And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell: and great was the fall of it.” (Matthew 7:27)

h) RICHES ARE THE DESIRES OF BABYLON/THE GREAT CHURCH 

 “And saying, Alas, alas, that great city, that was clothed in fine linen, and purple, and scarlet, and decked with gold, and precious stones, and pearls!” (Revelation 18:16)

“Behold the gold, and the silver, and the silks, and the scarlets, and fine-twined linen, and the precious clothing, and the harlots, are the desires of this great and abominable church” (1 Nephi 13:8)

i) DROWNING IN THE RIVER = On several occasions in the Bible, the wicked are described as being drowned in iniquity or overcome by water. This motif is reflected in the vision of the tree of life, where those who stray from the rod of iron are drowned in the filthy water of the river.

“And it came to pass that many were drowned in the depths of the fountain; and many were lost from his view, wandering in strange roads” (1 Nephi 8:32)

“But they that will be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition” (1 Timothy 6:9)

“Then they had swallowed us up quick, when their wrath was kindled against us: Then the waters had overwhelmed us, the stream had gone over our soul. Then the proud waters had gone over our soul” (Psalm 124:3-5)

j) MISTS OF DARKNESS = Take note of Proverbs 2:12-16, which describes wicked people who leave the path of righteousness to walk in darkness after the temptations of a harlot. This imagery is very similar to the harlot described in the book of Revelation and the Book of Mormon, where the mother of harlots draws the wicked to her to fight against the Lamb of God. The mist of darkness seems absent from the Book of Revelation, other than a reference to the land being darkened by smoke coming from the bottomless pit.

“And it came to pass that there arose a mist of darkness; yea, even an exceedingly great mist of darkness, insomuch that they who had commenced in the path did lose their way, that they wandered off and were lost.” (1 Nephi 8:23)

“And after they had tasted of the fruit they were ashamed, because of those that were scoffing at them; and they fell away into forbidden paths and were lost.” (1 Nephi 8:28)

“And the mists of darkness are the temptations of the devil” (1 Nephi 12:17)

“These are wells without water, clouds that are carried with a tempest; to whom the mist of darkness is reserved for ever.”   (II Peter 2:17)

“and the sun and the air were darkened by reason of the smoke of the pit” (Revelation 9:2)

“To deliver thee from the way of the evil man, from the man that speaketh froward things; who leave the paths of uprightness, to walk in the ways of darkness; who rejoice to do evil, and delight in the frowardness of the wicked; whose ways are crooked, and they froward in their paths; to deliver thee from the strange woman, even from the stranger which flattereth with her wordsNone that go unto her return again, neither take they hold of the paths of life” (Proverbs 2:12-16, 19)

3. RANDOM BIBLICAL REFERENCES FOUND IN THE VISION OF THE TREE OF LIFE

a) DREAMED A DREAM

  • “I have dreamed a dream; or, in other words, I have seen a vision” (1 Nephi 8:2) 
  • “And the king said unto them, I have dreamed a dream” (Daniel 2:3)

b) MULTITUDE OF HIS TENDER MERCIES

  • “I began to pray unto the Lord that he would have mercy on me, according to the multitude of his tender mercies” (1 Nephi 8:8)
  • Have mercy upon me, O God, according to thy lovingkindness: according unto the multitude of thy tender mercies blot out my transgressions.” (Psalm 51:1)

c) THE LOVE OF GOD SHED ABROAD

  • “And I answered him, saying: Yea, it is the love of God, which sheddeth itself abroad in the hearts of the children of men; wherefore, it is the most desirable above all things” (1 Nephi 11:22)
  • “And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us” (Romans 5:5)

d) A YOKE OF IRON

  • “yea, and tortureth them and bindeth them down, and yoketh them with a yoke of iron, and bringeth them down into captivity” (1 Nephi 13:5)
  • I have put a yoke of iron upon the neck of all these nations, that they may serve Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon” (Jeremiah 28:14)

e) A MARVELOUS WORK

  • “For the time cometh, saith the Lamb of God, that I will work a great and a marvelous work among the children of men” (1 Nephi 14:7)
  • “I will proceed to do a marvellous work among this people, even a marvellous work and a wonder” (Isaiah 29:14)

f) A TERRIBLE GULF DIVIDETH THEM

  • “And the large and spacious building, which thy father saw, is vain imaginations and the pride of the children of men. And a great and a terrible gulf divideth them; yea, even the word of the justice of the Eternal God” (1 Nephi 12:18)
  • “And beside all this between us and you there is a great gulf fixed: so that they which would pass from hence to you cannot; neither can they pass to us, that would come from thence” (Luke 16:26)

g) THOSE WHO PUBLISH PEACE; HOW BEAUTIFUL UPON THE MOUNTAINS THEY WILL BE

  • “and whoso shall publish peace, yea, tidings of great joy, how beautiful upon the mountains shall they be” (1 Nephi 13:37)
  • How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him that bringeth good tidings, that publisheth peace; that bringeth good tidings of good, that publisheth salvation” (Isaiah 52:7)

Biblical Motifs and Doctrines in 2 Nephi 9

The following is a list of Biblical references to doctrines, events, or motifs contained in 2 Nephi 9 of the Book of Mormon. References will be listed by verse as they appear in 2 Nephi 9. The purpose of this reference is to help the reader better understand the complexity and precision of the author in using Biblical motifs in the writing of 2 Nephi 9. This represents only a portion of the motifs found in 2 Nephi 9 that can be traced back to the Bible.

  1. By the mouth of his holy prophets

(2 Nephi 9:2) “That he has spoken unto the Jews, by the mouth of his holy prophets, even from the beginning down”

(Acts 3:21) “which God hath spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets since the world began”

2. From generation to generation

(2 Nephi 9:2) “from generation to generation”

(Isaiah 13:20) “neither shall it be dwelt in from generation to generation”

(Daniel 4:3) “and his dominion is from generation to generation”

(Luke 1:50) “on them that fear him from generation to generation”

3. Fold of God

(2 Nephi 9:2) “restored to the true church and fold of God”

(Jeremiah 23:3) “And I will gather the remnant of my flock out of all countries…and will bring them again to their folds”

4. Lift up your heads

(2 Nephi 9:3) “rejoice, and lift up your heads forever”

(Psalm 24:7) “Lift up your heads, O ye gates”

5. Have searched to know of things to come

(2 Nephi 9:4) “ye have searched much, many of you, to know of things to come”

(1 Peter 1:10) “Of which salvation the prophets have inquired and searched diligently”

6. We will die, but we will see god in our flesh.

(2 Nephi 9:4) “Our flesh must waste away and die; nevertheless, in our bodies we shall see God”

(Job 19:26) “And though after my skin worms shall destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God”

7. Become subject unto Christ

(2 Nephi 9:5) “that all men might become subject unto him”

(Hebrews 2:8) “For in that he put all in subjection under him, he left nothing that is not put under him”

8. Power of the resurrection

(2 Nephi 9:6) “there must needs be a power of resurrection”

(Phillippians 3:10) “That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection”

9. Corruption must put on incorruption

(2 Nephi 9:7) “Save it should be an infinite atonement this corruption could not put on incorruption”

(1 Corinthians 15:53) “For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality”

10. An angel fell from heaven

(2 Nephi 9:8) “our spirits must become subject to that angel who fell from before the presence of the Eternal God”

(Isaiah 14:12) “How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning!”

11. Devil can transform into an angel of light

(2 Nephi 9:9) “who transformeth himself night unto an angel of light”

(II Corinthians 11:14) “for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light”

12. Devil beguiled Adam and Eve

(2 Nephi 9:9) “yea, to that being who beguiled our first parents”

(II Corinthians 11:3) “But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtilty, so your minds be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ.”

13. Goodness of God

(2 Nephi 9:10) “O how great the goodness of our God, who prepareth a way…”

(Psalm 31:19) “Oh how great is thy goodness, which thou hast laid up for them that fear thee”

14. Death and Hell

(2 Nephi 9:10) “yea, that monster, death and hell, which I call the death of the body, and also the death of the spirit”

(Revelation 6:8) “And I looked, and behold a pale horse: and his name that sat on him was Death, and Hell followed with him”

15. Death and Hell must deliver up the captives/The second death. 

(2 Nephi 9:12) “And this death of which I have spoken, which is the spiritual death, shall deliver up its dead; which spiritual death is hell; wherefore, death and hell must deliver up their dead, and hell must deliver up its captive spirits, and the grave must deliver up its captive bodies…”

(Revelation 20:13-15) “And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them; and they were judged every man according to their works. And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.”

(Revelation 21:8) “shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.”

16. The robe of righteousness

(2 Nephi 9:14) “being clothed with purity, even with the robe of righteousness”

(Isaiah 61:10) “he hath clothed me with the garments of salvation, he hath covered me with the robe of righteousness”

17. The judgment seat of Christ

(2 Nephi 9:15) “they must appear before the judgment-seat of the Holy One of Israel; and then cometh the judgment”

(Romans 14:10) “for we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ”

(II Corinthians 5:10) “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ…”

18. God’s word shall not pass away

(2 Nephi 9:16)”for the Lord God hath spoken it, and it is his eternal word, which cannot pass away…”

(Mark 13:31) “Heaven and earth shall pass away: but my words shall not pass away”

19. Righteous will be righteous still; filthy will be filthy still. 

(2 Nephi 9:16) “they who are righteous shall be righteous still, and they who are filthy shall be filthy still”

(Revelation 22:11) “He that is unjust, let him be unjust still: and he which is filthy, let him be filthy still: and he that is righteous, let him be righteous still: and he that is holy, let him be holy still”

20. Lake of fire and brimstone

(2 Nephi 9:16) “their torment is as a lake of fire an brimstone, whose flame ascendeth up forever and ever and has no end”

(Revelation 19:20) “These both were cast alive into a lake of fire burning with brimstone”

21. Flame/smoke ascends forever and ever

(2 Nephi 9:16) “and their torment is as a lake of fire and brimstone, whose flame ascendeth up forever and ever and has no end”

(Revelation 14:11) “And the smoke of their torment ascendeth up for ever and ever: and they have no rest day or night”

22. Endure the cross and despise the shame of it

(2 Nephi 9:18) “they who have believed in the holy one of Israel, they who have endured the crosses of the world, and despised the shame of it…”

(Hebrews 12:2) “who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God”

23. Inherit the kingdom prepared from the foundation of the world. 

(2 Nephi 9:18) “they shall inherit the kingdom of God, which was prepared for them from the foundation of the world”

(Matthew 25:34) “Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world”

24. Your joy may be full

(2 Nephi 9:18) “and their joy shall be full forever”

(John 1:4) “And these things write we unto you, that your joy may be full”

25. Endure to the end

(2 Nephi 9:24) “And if they will not repent…and endure to the end, they must be damned”

(Matthew 10:22) “but he that endureth to the end shall be saved”

26. No law, no sin

(2 Nephi 9:25) “Wherefore, he has given a law; and where there is no law given there is no punishment…”

(Romans 4:15) “Because the law worketh wrath: for where no law is, there is no transgression.”

27. Uncircumcised of heart

(2 Nephi 9:33) “Wo unto the uncircumcised of heart, for a knowledge of their iniquities shall smite them at the last day”

(Acts 7:51) “Ye stiffnecked and uncircumcised in heart and ears…”

(Jeremiah 9:26) “and all the house of Israel are uncircumcised in the heart”

28. Carnally minded is death

(2 Nephi 9:39) “Remember, to be carnally-minded is death, and to be spiritually-minded is life eternal”

(Romans 8:6) “For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace”

29. Spoken hard things

(2 Nephi 9:40) “Do not say that I have spoken hard things against you”

(Psalm 60:3) “Thou hast shewed thy people hard things: thou hast made us to drink the wine of astonishment”

30. Go on the straight path

(2 Nephi 9:41) “Behold, the way for man is narrow, but it lieth in a straight course before him…”

(Psalm 5:8) “Lead me, O Lord, in thy righteousness because of mine enemies; make thy way straight before my face”

(Matthew 3:3) “Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make his paths straight.”

31. Path of righteousness

(2 Nephi 9:41) “Remember that his paths are righteous” (originally “righteousness”)

(Psalm 23:3) “he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake”

32. Consider yourself a fool before God

(2 Nephi 9:42) “And save they shall cast these things away, and consider themselves fools before God, and come down in the depths of humility…”

(1 Corinthians 3:18) “If any man among you seemeth to be wise in this world, let him become a fool, that he may be wise.”

33. The wise and the prudent

(2 Nephi 9:43) “But the things of the wise and the prudent shall be hid from them forever…”

(1 Corinthians 1:19) “For it is written, I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and will bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent”

34. Shake my garments to rid myself of your blood

(2 Nephi 9:44) “Behold, I take off my garments, and I shake them before you…I shook your iniquities from my soul…and am rid of your blood”

(Acts 18:6) “he shook his raiment, and said unto them, Your blood be upon your own heads; I am clean…”

35. The searching eye of the Lord 

(2 Nephi 9:44) “I pray the God of my salvation that he view me with his all-searching eye”

(Psalm 139:23) “Search me, O Go, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts”

(Psalm 33:18) “Behold, the eye of the Lord is upon them that fear him…”

(Proverbs 15:3) “The eyes of the Lord are in every place, beholding the evil and the good.”

36. Stand with brightness

(2 Nephi 9:44) “That I stand with brightness before him”

(Isaiah 62:1) “I will not rest, until the righteousness thereof go forth as brightness…”

(Ezekiel 28:7,17) “and they shall defile thy brightness…thou hast corrupted by wisdom by reason of thy brightness”

37. Rock of my salvation

(2 Nephi 9:45) “come unto that God who is the rock of your salvation”

(Psalm 62:2) “He only is my rock and my salvation”

38. Chains of Hell

(2 Nephi 9:45) “shake off the chains of him that would bind you fast”

(2 Peter 2:4) “but cast them down to hell, and delivered them into chains of darkness”

(Jude 1:6) “he hath reserved in everlasting chains under darkness unto the judgment of the great day.”

39. Plainness of speech

(2 Nephi 9:47) “Would I be plain unto you according to the plainness of the truth if ye were freed from sin?”

(II Corinthians 3:12) “Seeing then that we have such hope, we use great plainness of speech”

40. Delight in righteousness

(2 Nephi 9:49) “Behold, my soul abhorreth sin, and my heart delighteth in righteousness…”

(Psalm 40:8) “I delight to do thy will, O my God; yea, thy law is within my heart.”

Further Arguments Against View of the Hebrews as Source Material for the Book of Mormon

Most of what is used as evidence in “View of the Hebrews” (VOTH) is not new material. Ethan Smith bases almost all of his assertions off of previously published materials. A list of cited authors can be found just after the table of contents on page 6. There are at least 48 authors who are cited thoughout VOTH, and many more not included in the table of contents. The point of listing all of these outside sources cited by Ethan Smith is to show that it is extremely difficult to suggest that Joseph Smith used VOTH as a source of inspiration for writing the Book of Mormon (BOM). If VOTH never existed, it could still be argued that Joseph Smith borrowed ideas from any of the other 40+ sources cited in VOTH. Once multiple source materials show that the same ideas and information have been circulated for decades, then the argument that any one document served as inspiration for another work of literature falls apart. I will be referring to the VOTH found in http://www.thechristianidentityforum.net/downloads/View-America.pdf

Below is a list of authors cited in VOTH. This list is found after the table of contents. Many of these authors argue that the Native Americans are the lost ten tribes of Israel, and many of these authors provide evidence of Hebrew origins found in Native American traditions:

“Adair, 80,84,88,89,92,95,98.

Archaelogia Americana, page

Bartram, 113,123-125.

Beatty, 96,98,116,119.

Boudinot, 87,91,93,96,98,100.

Buttrick , 130.

Carver, 123,154.

Casas, 176.

Chapman, 123,157.

Charlevoix, 85,174.

Clavigero, 116.

Colden, 94,109.

Columbus, 132.

Commissioners, 137.

Cushman, 105,174.

Dodge & Blight, 104. 174, 175.

Don Alonzo de Erici lla, 158.

Edwards, 86,89,162.

Esdras, 74.

Frey , 118.

Giddings, 88,102.

Gook in, 107.

Hebard, 101. 154.

Heckewelder, 107. Some of his

arguments, 147-

Herman, 140. 112,116,121,123.

Humboldt, 177.

Hunter, 162 188.

Hutchinson, 93,174.

Immanuel de M oraez, 97.

Jarvis, 79,116,120,123-125,133,134.

Lewis & Clark, 106,124.

Long, 141,160.

M’ Kenzie, 97,114,115, 138.

Mather, 127.

Melverda & Acasta, 162.

Morse, 91,126,142.

Occum, 106.

Pedro de Cicca, 88.

Penn, 107,174.

Pixley, 111,113,130.

Pratz, 87,175.

Robertson, 153.

Sauard, 92.

Schoolcraft, 145.

Smith, (C ol.) 117,126,134,136.

Ulloa, 83.

Williams, (Roger) 107

Williams, 88,101,110,114”

To gain a better understanding of just how heavily Ethan Smith relies on previously published works, here are just a few examples of how he cites other works in VOTH:

“Manasses Ben Israel, in a work entitled “The Hope of Israel,” has written to show that the American Indians are the ten tribes of Israel.” (p. 33) [p. 81]

“The main pillar of his evidence is James Adair, Esq. Mr. Adair was a man of established character, as appears from good authority. He lived a trader among the Indians, in the south of North America, for forty years. He left them and returned to England in 1774, and there published his “History of the American Indians;” and his reason for being persuaded that they are the ten tribes of Israel.” (p. 33)

“Mr. Adair gives his opinion that the ten tribes, soon after their banishment from the land of Israel, left Media, and reached this continent from the north-west, probably before the carrying away of the Jews of Babylon.” (p. 33) [p. 81]

“In the “Star in the West,” published by the Hon. Elias Boudinot, LL. D. upon this subject, that venerable man says; “The writer of these sheets has made a free use of Mr. Adair’s history of the Indians; which renders it necessary that something further should be said of him. Sometime about the year 1774, Mr. Adair came to Elizabethtown, (where the writer lived,) with his manuscript…” (P. 34) [p. 84]

“Mr. Adair expresses the same opinion; and the Indians have their tradition, that in the nation from which they originally came, all were one colour” (p. 36) [p. 88]

“Du Pratz says, in his history of Louisiania [sic], “The nations of North America derived their origin from the same country, since at bottom they all have the same manners and usages, and the same manner of speaking and thinking.” (p. 36) [p. 88]

“In the course of their remarks they add; ‘To the testimonies here adduced by Doctor Jarvis, (i.e. that the Indians are the ten tribes of Israel,) might have been added several of our New England historians, from the first settlement of the country.’ Some they proceed to mention; and then add, that the Rev. Messrs. Samuel Sewall, fellow of Harvard College, and Samuel Willard, vice president of the same, were of opinion, that “the Indians are the descendants of Israel.” Doct. Jarvis notes this as an hypothesis, which has been a favorite topic with European writers; and as a subject, to which it is hoped the Americans may be said to be waking up at last.” (p. 32) [p. 80-81]

“Doctor Williams, in his history of Vermont says; ‘In whatever manner this part of the earth was peopled, the Indians appear to have been the most ancient, or the original men of America. They had spread over the whole continent, from the fiftieth degree of north latitude, to the southern extremity of Cape Horn. And these men every w here appeared to be the same race or kind of people. In every part of the continent, the Indians marked with a similarity of colour, features, and every circumstance of external appearance. Pedro de Cicca de Leon, one of the conquerors of Peru, and who had travelled [sic] through many provinces of America, says of the Indians; ‘The people, men and women, although there are such a multitude of tribes or nations, in such diversities of climates, appear nevertheless like the children of one father and mother.’” (p. 36) [p. 88-89]

“Their language appears clearly to be Hebrew. In this, Doctor Edwards, Mr. Adair, and others were agreed. Doctor Edwards, after having a good acquaintance with their language, gave his reasons for believing it to have been originally Hebrew. Both, he remarks, are found without prepositions, and are formed with prefixes and suffixes; a thing probably known to no other language” (p. 36) [p. 89]

“Mr. Faber remarks; “They (the Indians) call the lightning and thunder, Eloha; and its rumbling, Rowah, which may not improperly be deduced from the Hebrew word Ruach, a name of the third person of the Holy Trinity, originally signifying, the air in motion , or a rushing wind.” Who can doubt but their name of thunder, Eloha, is derived from a Hebrew name of God, Elohim?” (p. 38) [p. 93]

“Bartram informs; ‘We arrived at the Apalachnela town, in the Creek nation. This is esteemed the mother town sacred to peace. No captives are put to death, nor human blood spilt here.’” (p. 46) [p. 113]

“In the Archaeologia Americana, containing Transaction s and Collections of the American Antiquarian Society,’ published at Worcester, Mass. in 1820; are found antiquities of the people who formerly inhabited the western part of the United States.’ Of some of these I shall give a concise view, as additional arguments in favour of my theory…” (p. 76) [p. 188-189]

“The celebrated William Penn gives accounts of the natives of Pennsylvania, which go to corroborate the same point. Mr. Penn saw the Indians of Pennsylvania, before they had been affected with the rude treatment of the white people. And in a letter to a friend in England he thus writes of those natives; ‘I found them with like countenances with the Hebrew race; and their children of so lively a resemblance to them, that a man would think himself in Duke’s place, or Barry street in London, when he sees them.’” (p. 44) [p. 108]

There are many more authors and citations that I could list, but a brief perusal of VOTH by the reader would provide evidence enough that VOTH is hardly the first nor the last publication to provide information that is vaguely similar to the BOM. This is important information for believers of the Book of Mormon because it shows that broad parallels can be drawn between many different works of literature, and yet two works with somewhat similar (and contradictory) assertions can exist together coincidentally.

Biblical Support for LDS doctrine of “Deification”

I have often heard from critics that the doctrine of “deification,” or the idea that faithful followers of Christ will become like God, is blasphemous and the invention of prideful zealots. For many Christians, this is one of the biggest points of contention with the LDS faith. I would like to appeal to the Bible to argue that this doctrine is not unbelievable or blasphemous. The following argument is not meant to provide irrefutable proof of LDS doctrine, but to show that the Bible is often unclear about humankind’s potential, and that the LDS doctrine of deification is not an impossible interpretation of the Bible. Critics and members of the LDS faith have very different understandings of deification. Critics tend to interpret the doctrine of deification as blasphemy against God (because there is only one God, the greatest of all) and that it shows that prideful members of the LDS faith lust for God-like power in the afterlife. LDS members, however, believe than an all-loving God wants us to become like Him, bless us with all that He has, and allow us to experience the joy He experiences. While I agree that the Bible does not clearly or explicitly state that mortal men and women can achieve god-like status (otherwise there would be no debate), I would like to present the following argument based on New Testament scriptures from the KJV Bible to support this LDS doctrine. I will not argue that the Bible says that “we will become gods,” (an oversimplified phrase often used by critics), but that the Bible suggests that we can be like God if we follow the teachings of Jesus Christ.

  1. We must obey all of the commandments of God the Father and Jesus Christ

a) “Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven; but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.” –               Matthew 5:19

b) “If ye love me, keep my commandments.” –John 14:15

2.  Jesus commanded that we must be perfect

a) “Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.” –Matthew 5:48

3.   We can be made perfect through Jesus Christ

a) “Whom we preach, warning every man, and teaching every man in all wisdom; that we may present every man perfect in Christ        Jesus.” –Colossians 1:28

b) “And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure.” -1 John 3:3

4.   Those who are perfect will be like the master

a) “The disciple is not above his master; but every one that is perfect shall be as his master” –Luke 6:40

b) “Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is. And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure.” -1 John 3:2-3

We must obey the commandments. One of these commandments is to be perfect like God. All can be made perfect through Christ. Those who are perfect shall be as God.

Therefore, we can be like God.