I feel that so many times we play defense as members, always having to justify our “strange” beliefs or a particular piece of doctrine or statement made by a church leader 100 years ago. At times it seems as if we are being attacked by all sides by those who have left the church and those who know nothing about the church. So this is part two to our series of articles pointing out some of the strengths of the church and justifications as to why I believe it to be true.
Thanks to Jeff Lindsay who has put together an amazing website at Jefflindsay.com and from which we pulled these list of questions that are featured on this post. If you enjoy this post, you’ll definitely enjoy what Jeff has put together on his page and if you want more info on the background of these questions make sure to check out his page.
As I stated earlier with our post in “The Strength of Our Position” I understand that there are intellectual reasons for why people think that the church may not be true. I’m not here to try to reconvert or show you how wrong you may or may not be. What I am trying to do however is show that there are two sides to the table of questions. Critics of the church constantly bombard us with questions that it sometimes feel as if we are always trying to defensively justify our faith. In this post, hopefully we can show that there is plenty of “offense” to our beliefs and questions that the critics in turn have not yet answered.
There are plenty of intellectual reasons and justification for staying in the church. Mormons are not just a bunch of blind followers who have no claim to anything they claim to believe in. If what we believe in is true, there ought to be some evidence of those truths. So without any further delay, here is our “Big List” of questions to the critics.
How did Joseph know so much about the Arabian Peninsula, including specific names and places that were not known in his day?
Was it just blind luck that the rare place name Nahom in the Book of Mormon, identified as the place where Ishmael was buried, turns out to correspond to an ancient burial site right where the Book of Mormon says it is?
How could Joseph Smith so accurately and plausibly describe the nature and location of the place Bountiful in the Arabian Peninsula – when critics for years have been denying the possibility of such a place being anywhere in the region?
How does one account for the recent discovery of a plausible candidate for the River Laman, continuously flowing into the Red Sea as the Book of Mormon indicates, in spite of the repeated claims of critics that no such river exists?
If the gold plates never existed, how did Joseph get numerous witnesses to stand by their stories until their dying day, even when some of them later became angry with Joseph and left the Church?
Why would Martin Harris, a prosperous man praised by many non-Mormons for his integrity throughout his life, continue to claim that he had seen the gold plates and an angel, when this only brought harm to him?
Why would David Whitmer, after he became bitter toward Joseph Smith, still go out of his way to refute rumors that he had denied his testimony of the Book of Mormon?
If the Book of Mormon were a fraud, why involve “witnesses” at all – especially so many witnesses who might spill the beans and ruin everything?
How could Joseph have known about ancient cement technology in the first century B.C. in Mesoamerica?
Why does ancient Mesoamerican geography AND culture provide a plausible setting for the Book of Mormon?
How was Joseph able to accurately describe a natural disaster involving volcanic action, and then manage to have scientists later find evidence of massive volcanic action in a place and time compatible with the Book of Mormon?
How could Joseph Smith make up dozens of names in the Book of Mormon that would later be shown to be authentic ancient Semitic names?
Where did Joseph Smith get the idea of ancient scriptures written on metal plates?
How did Joseph Smith know about ancient practices regarding preservations of sacred texts?
Why do other ancient documents support the Book of Mormon’s idea that the ancient Joseph prophesied of Moses and Aaron?
Why does the Book of Mormon contain numerous, carefully crafted examples of ancient Hebrew poetical forms that Joseph Smith could not have known about?
Why does the Book of Mormon contain numerous language structures pointing to Hebraic roots? (See, for example, the Hebraic conditionals that were in the original Book of Mormon manuscript, wherein “if … then … ” clauses are written as “if … and …” – perfectly good Hebrew but awkward English. That wasn’t part of Joseph’s dialect of English, nor part of the King James Bible, so how would an unschooled forger be able to come with that sophisticated Hebraism? These were later replaced with more proper English “if … then …” clauses in the 1837 edition of the Book of Mormon.)
What other church better follows the Biblical model of emphasizing the bilateral covenant nature of the Gospel?
If there was no apostasy in the Church of Jesus Christ, then what happened to prophets? They were a crucial part of the original Church.
Just where in the Bible does it say that there would be no more prophets after the Bible was complete?
Just where in the Bible does it say that the Bible was complete? (And if you do point to a verse about the goodness and power of the scriptures, hoping to make it mean that the Bible was complete, why did God’s servants keep writing additional verses, chapters, and books after writing a verse allegedly implying that the text was complete?)
Where in the Bible does it say that God would cease following His ancient and well established pattern of speaking to man through His chosen prophets?
What other Church better follows the Biblical model of revelation guiding the Church?
If the New Testament Church was operated through revelation from God to leaders that He selected, why isn’t your church run that way? Is there a chance that something was lost in some kind of Apostasy?
What other Church better follows the Biblical organization given for the Church?
If Joseph Smith just made up the idea of vicarious baptism for the dead, why do numerous ancient documents validate the LDS claim that this was an authentic early Christian practice?
At a time when all Christian churches taught that temples were no longer needed, how did Joseph so effectively restore the ancient temple concept on his own?
If the Temple is not meant to be part of true Christianity, why does the Bible teach that it was important to early Christians? Why does it prophecy that it will be important in the future?
What other church better corresponds with early Christianity in terms of teaching the true relationship between faith, grace, and works?
Why do the earliest Christian writings sound much closer to LDS theology than they to modern “mainstream” Christianity?
If the modern concept of the Trinity is true, then why does the different LDS view on the oneness of God find such strong support in the writings of the earliest Christians?
If the modern concept of the Trinity is true, then why does the different LDS view on the oneness of God find such strong support in the writings of the earliest Christians?
Why would Father Joseph Vajda, a Roman Catholic Dominican monk, successfully complete a master’s thesis at the University of California, Berkeley, which shows that this LDS doctrine of human exaltation is consistent with early Christian teachings?
If the Bible is infallible, complete, and sufficient, then which Bible? How do you know?
If the Bible is infallible, by whose authority were the various books of the Bible selected in an infallible manner? By whose authority were the infallible translations made and approved?
Who authorized the changes in the ritual of baptism that occurred since the New Testament Church? And who in your church has true authority from God to perform baptisms?
18 Replies to “Unanswered Questions by Critics to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints”
Lmao, uh, those questions have been answered. If you would pull your head out of the sand, and actually read the materials “anti-Mormon’s” (as you call those who are actually providing the Truth) have produced, you would realize the questions you say are unanswered by critics of Moronism, have already been answered.
And the answer is a pretty simple one when you boil it down:
Joseph Smith was a liar, a fraud, a charlatan, and an occultist, and he fabricated the LDS Church in collusion with the early founders of Mormonism, and he/they did it for three simple reasons:
Sex, Power, and Money
If baptism is prerequisite to enter Heaven, then what of the thief on the cross? Jesus said assuredly you will be in heaven with me just before they both died. Now you have to agree the Romans weren’t taking him down and allowing him to be baptized and then put back on the cross. Are you willing to say Jesus lied?
Jesus did not lie, members of the LDS church can be baptised by proxy for those who have gone before and did not have the opportunity to be baptised on the Earth. The ordinance must be performed on the Earth that is all.
Candy, that makes no sense, whatsoever. You’ve read the biblical account, correct? Jesus promised the thief on the cross that, “Today you will be with me in paradise.” Did the thief need someone to come along and baptize him by proxy, or was what Jesus said, in fact, true? The thief would be WITH Christ, in paradise, that day. Baptism, in person or by proxy, seems not to have been a prerequisite, whatsoever.
Citations are provided in great detail on Jeff Lindsay’s page. Follow the provided link and you will see.
Not good enough. If I’m going to evaluate the worth of this page, I will do so based on the sources the author provides.
This is fantastic.
You ask a lot of “tough” questions that squarely place the burden of proof on you. Where are the citations for any of your claims?
– What early Christian writings affirm baptism for the dead? Certainly 1 Corinthians 15 gives no insight and asks why “they” (not “we”) are baptized for the dead. Baptism is from the Greek word “baptiso,” which means “to immerse.” Many religions practiced ceremonial washings. Certainly, if baptism for the dead were practiced in the early church, the Didache would have mentioned it and more books accepted as Scripture would have mentioned it, beyond the oblique reference in 1 Corinthians 15. Nothing anywhere in the Bible (or the Book of Mormon, for that matter, not that it is anything more than a work of 19th century fiction) suggests anything that suggests baptism for the dead was normative for early Christians.
– Your argument that the early Christians’ theology lines up best with LDS theology is simply not supported in your writing. The burden of proof rests with you. I am well-read in early church theology and I can easily counter that this is simply not the case.
– Nowhere in the Bible does it say the canon is closed. Hypothetically, I agree: the canon is open and there may be more Scripture than what’s in the Bible. That Scripture would bear certain marks of canonicity. I will simply argue that no other writing I’ve seen–including LDS-unique “Scripture”–bears any of those marks.
– You give all kinds of examples of geography bearing out the Book of Mormon. But you cite none of your sources. Again the burden of proof is on you.
– Regardless of their later disagreements with Joseph Smith, each of the 11 Book of Mormon witnesses has deep credibility problems, not the least of which they most are all related to Joseph Smith or David Whitmer, either by blood or marriage.
– Many churches teach the proper biblical balance between grace, faith, and works, as taught in the books of Scripture that the early church long accepted as such. The LDS church isn’t one of them. Any early writings that conflict (and you cite none) were never recognized as Scripture. Further, the LDS church delights in painting other Christian churches as teaching that their members can do whatever they want because they’re covered by grace. This philosophy is called “antinomianism,” mainline Christians churches all denounce the attitude as heresy… good works are a necessary manifestation of a life transformed through grace.
– The Bible never says the word “Trinity.” Yet the concept is certainly taught throughout the New Testament, especially in the Gospel of John and the First Epistle of John.
– I always have to shake my head at the “Great Apostasy.” Yes, apostasy has always happened, still happens and the New Testament certainly speaks to apostasy in general, never to a “Great Apostasy” where the church (that Jesus promised the gates of hell would not prevail against) would need to be completely restored. In truth, even when the church of Rome departed so far from the Scriptures, there always remained a faithful remnant. The burden of proof for such a general apostasy remains upon Mormons. And, if there was such a “Great Apostasy,” when did it occur? And wouldn’t it make the “early Christian writings” you allude to (but never cite) somewhat suspect? You can’t have it both ways.
– WHICH Bible is complete, inerrant, and true? A strawman argument. All English Bibles are translations. Certainly some are better than others. And certainly, none of the earliest manuscripts available bear out any of the changes Joseph Smith made in his “Inspired Version” (the JST).
– What about the Book of Abraham? The CoJCoLDS has the papyri that Joseph Smith claimed was the writing of Abraham “by his own hand, on the papyrus.” The CoJCoLDS allowed Egyptologists to examine the document. It’s a simple Egyptian funerary text and does not date back to Abraham.
– Surely something as wonderful as the gold plates from which Joseph Smith translated the Book of Mormon would lend great credence to the LDS faith. Too bad they aren’t available for inspection.
– Where is the archaeological evidence for the Book of Mormon peoples? No reputable, non-LDS archaeologist finds any. Yet, over and over again, archaeology bears out the Bible. Until the 20th century, many “scholars” believed the Hittites mentioned in the Bible to be a fiction and many believed Pontius Pilate was a fictional character. Yet archaeology bears out the biblical witness.
– What happened to the prophets? you ask. As for “prophet” with a lower case “p”–meaning people who could teach and expound upon a bit a scripture, they’ve always existed in the church and never went anywhere. If we are talking Prophets with a capital “P,” then Jesus Christ, Son of God is the crowning Prophet, as explained in Hebrews 1:1-2, “(1) God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, (2) Hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds…”
– I could go on, and maybe I will later, but suffice to say that you’ve made a bunch of unsubstantiated claims not born out by the biblical witness or the historical record. Your failure to cite your sources makes your assertions simple hearsay. Moreover, most of your questions are strawmen that do nothing to prove the veracity of the truth claims of either Joseph Smith or the CoJCoLDS.
This post is a repost of the article that I cited above. All the citation are there.
Why should I have to dig? What’s more, I’m familiar with the sources cited, and Lindsay’s arguments are weak. I have to scratch my head, John, when you say “our turn” to be critical because, at its very foundational base, Mormonism is a critique of other Christian churches. The CoJCoLDS claims to be the one true church…that means all others are false. That may not reflect your personal opinion, and that I can respect. That is certainly what Joseph Smith claimed in his First Vision account. It is certainly what LDS leaders over the last 200 years have said.
Maybe for your next big list you could list all of the prophecies and revelations of the LDS prophets, seers and revelators. I would very much like to see that list. Don’t leave off the moon-quakers.
When a critic refutes a claim, no amount of misdirection can ratify it. I wish there were believable answers for the major issues (BoA mistranslations, kinderhook plates, Bainbridge trial, BoM anachronisms, polyandry, lying for the lord, etc.) rather than a pile of unrelated naive assertions. Seriously, have you read even the wikipedia page on Martin Harris? That guy was off his rocker, abusive, gullible, and chock-full of tall tales.
Hi I’m concerned about your mental wellbeing and whether or not you subject your children to such nonsense. Read the CES letter. Read Dawkins the God Delusion. Please stop trying to subject people to an oppressive cult. It’s silly. Thanks.
This is satire, right?
Read “The Demon Haunted World” by Carl Sagan and apply the critical thinking skills you’ll learn to any religious faith, and you’ll find that it all crumbles into meaningless drivel. “Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence” -something completely lacking in religious claims. Theology is a waste of time- useful during a period of human history but made irrelevant when better tools were created to answer Life’s questions. Question everything about your faith and be honest with yourself when the answers aren’t what you want them to be.
All the points here are so easily refuted. I think you’re living in fantasy land man…