Does The Book Of Mormon Contradict Joseph Smith’s Translation Of The Bible

“The Book of Mormon includes mistranslated biblical passages that were later changed in Joseph Smith’s translation of the Bible. These Book of Mormon verses should match the inspired JST version instead of the incorrect KJV version that Joseph later fixed” (CES Letter)

Few of Joseph Smith’s changes were corrections. The purpose of the Joseph Smith translation was not to restore the bible to what it originally said. I don’t believe Joseph Smith ever called the KJV translators “uninspired” or his version “corrected.” The terms of “correct” and “incorrect” misrepresent the nature of Joseph Smith’s translation.

There is six kinds of changes:

  • Lengthy additions from long-lost books
  • Common sense fixes to English translation
  • Clarification for confusing passages
  • Harmonizing conflicting passages
  • Inspired commentary on meanings
  • Grammar improvements

Joseph Smith’s “translations” are often clarifying additions or commentary, which obviously would not align word for word.

Sermon On The MountCES Letter matches up wrong verses to make the Book of Mormon look totally different than the bible translation. Here is how the scriptures actually compare:

Matthew 6:24-29 (JST) 3 Nephi 13:24-26
No man can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will hold to the one and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon.

And again, I say unto you, Go ye into the world and care not for the world; for the world will hate you, and will persecute you, and will turn you out of their synagogues.

Nevertheless, ye shall go forth from house to house, teaching the people; and I will go before you.

And your heavenly Father will provide for you whatsoever things ye need for food, what ye shall eat, and for raiment, what ye shall wear or put on.

Therefore, I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat or what ye shall drink, nor yet for your bodies, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment?

Behold the fowls of the air, for they sow not; neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are ye not much better than they? How much more will he not feed you?

No man can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will hold to the one and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and Mammon.

And now it came to pass that when Jesus had spoken these words he looked upon the twelve whom he had chosen, and said unto them: Remember the words which I have spoken. For behold, ye are they whom I have chosen to minister unto this people.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Therefore I say unto you, take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment?

Behold the fowls of the air, for they sow not, neither do they reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are ye not much better than they?

It is important to note that this is not “the same identical sermon.” No, it is not. Mormon did not write down the sermon that Jesus gave in Galilee. He recorded what Jesus said to the Nephites. Different event, different people, different context.

He was talking to people on the other side of the planet. Could it be Jesus did not talk about going “door to door” with the Nephites because they did not have doors on their houses? Perhaps? My guess is the reason he did not talk about going out into the “world” is because the Nephites did not live in the center of three connected continents like the Israelites did. What would that mean to people who live in a tightly-bound geographical area? The Nephites were not commanded to preach to the Gentiles like the disciples at Israel were. Both scripture additions give direction on how to go about preaching the word of God, suited to each context.

CES Letter snips off verses that match. Dishonest and deceitful:

Why Would Joseph Smith Change This Passage? – Why would Joseph Smith make changes to the bible that contradict a book he wrote himself just a couple years earlier? Why go to that effort? He didn’t. He made a few clarifications, appropriate according to the context.

CES Letter Logical Fallacies

Falsehood CES Letter snips out parts of the JST chapter to present an incorrect premise, that Joseph Smith took verses 26-27 out of 3 Nephi 13.

CES Letter incorrectly claims that these are the “same passages” yet that the Book of Mormon “has the incorrect Sermon on the Mount passage.” No, the correct sermon is there.

Strawman Argument CES Letter incorrectly claims the JST “should match” what is in the Book of Mormon. But this ignores differences in contexts, and the nature of Joseph Smith’s translation of the bible, which included clarification to meaning and prophetic commentary.
Cherry-Picking CES Letter (incorrectly) cherry-picks the only example they could find of a discrepency. They ignore the fact that both the Book of Mormon and JST bible claim that Jesus gave the Sermon on the Mount only to close disciples rather than the general public, a stunning parallel.

Too Much Association, Too Little Association – In their opening arguments, CES Letter goes back and forth between associations with between the bible and Book of Mormon that are too weak and too strong. Earlier, it was too weak. Now, CES Letter flips their narrative and complains that the association is too strong, that it ought to match perfectly the Joseph Smith inspired translation instead.

Every little discrepancy can be cherry-picked as evidence of the same conclusion. But later on, CES Letter suggests the bible is made up like the Book of Mormon. So why did they spend all this time trying to show weaknesses from association? Why not just say “the bible is false, so the Book of Mormon is false for quoting it”? Wouldn’t that be honest?

Contradiction Strategy – To discredit the Book of Mormon, CES Letter again portrays discrepancies between books of scripture, each of which they believe to be false. This time, they set a rigid standard of “correctness” that no scripture could realistically live up to. If the Book of Mormon is “the most correct book” and Joseph Smith “corrected” the bible, then they ought to be perfectly the same, right? NO! Of course not! This logic does not reflect how things realistically turn out. I don’t think Jesus was holding a script in his hand that he read for both people, the Nephites and the Israelites.

CES Letter‘s logic reflect the simplistic idealism that we see in the Plan of Satan. This idealistic standard for “correctness” makes people bitter that God allows tragedies to happen in their lives. It makes them skeptical of any opinion that doesn’t fit their narrow preconceived view of perfection. It thus sets a narrative that destroys Mormons’ testimonies and promotes Satan’s agenda.

God As A Dictator – Followers of Satan want everything spelled out for them. Do this. Say this. Don’t even bother thinking critically or making judgement calls for yourself. This is the heart of CES Letter‘s strawman argument that scripture should be a perfect, crystalized model of truth for every word we say and movement we make. They are authoritarian personalities who want a dictator.

Then again, Satanists don’t actually have a rigid model for truth. They only have their ideology, and they follow an ever-changing narrative to suit whatever helps the Satanic ideology in that moment. So, if you can’t trust ancient scripture to be infallible truth, who can you trust? Science! Science will tell you all you need to know. Science is great for Satanist because conclusions are always changing, always updating, and are easily manipulated. The frequent shifts in science can be exploited to push Satan’s ideology, which is an ideology of universal salvation and no personal responsibility.

So if Social Justice Warriors can convince you that the Book of Mormon is not trustworthy as ancient, unchanging truth, then they can also convince you that a good alternative to scripture should be constantly edited to fit modern circumstances and push this oppressive gospel of Satan. They make the case that modern “scripture” should direct every explicit part of your life, from the way you tie your shoes in the morning to which words you are allowed to speak.

CES Letter Use Of Marxist ‘Contradiction Strategy’

When you look into Letter to a CES Director, you find disturbing propaganda tactics straight out of 19th century Communism.

Just about every paragraph in CES Letter is dedicated to finding a contradiction in Mormon belief. That’s basically what CES Letter is all about. In the very first sentence, we see that the Book of Mormon claims to be ancient scripture yet “1769 King James” errors are present. How could it be ancient scripture then?

Law of Identity

One assumption of science is that natural laws are universally the same wherever you go. If a principle is the same no matter what circumstances it is in, that is a universal truth. Karl Marx and Engels built the Communist ideology on the study of social motion through dialectic:

“Dialectical philosophers claim that contradictions exist in reality and that the most appropriate way to understand the movement of that reality is to study the development of those contradictions… they have to be expunged in order to arrive at the truth.”

Chairman Mao, the man who slaughtered 65 million people to establish Communism, said we start by looking at “the contradiction between the productive forces.” We discover “exploiting and exploited classes.” Production is hindered by one class that oppresses another. Our conclusion, therefore, is that there is a “contradiction between the social character of production and the private character of ownership.” Private ownership is the problem. So, we deconstruct the bad influences and come to the pure identity of “production.” We find the most efficient thing is to get rid of private ownership, and thus we move on to a more effective system.

Accountability of the People

Vladimir Lenin called contradiction agitation “tribunes of the people.” We definitely see this idea in CES Letter. On their intro page, CES Letter quotes Reuben J. Clark: “If we have the truth, it cannot be harmed by investigation,” and near the end they assert that prophets are not “exempt from history and accountability from others.” It is “useful truth,” they say, to look into all the contradictions about Mormon priesthood leaders.

Agitation

When it comes to deconstructing the bad influences in society, Marxists need agitation. Marxist newspaper Revolution wrote:

“Agitation, whether spoken or written, generally focuses on one event, and one contradiction, and seeks to make a single idea powerfully clear to broad numbers of people. It is like a sharp knife seeking to expose and make raw a glaring contradiction and draw blood around it.

Lenin pointed out “the senselessness of the contradiction between the increase of wealth and the increase of poverty” in order to “rouse discontent and indignation among the masses against this crying injustice.”

What is brilliant about CES Letter is how they intersperse unreasonable associations as well, such as the Book of Mormon’s closeness to the bible. They go back and forth between contradiction and similarity, like a demolition man swinging a rusted old metal pole back and forth in order to tear it off quicker. One second we are appalled at inconsistencies. The next we are shocked at the similarities.

CES Letter portrays Mormon contradictions and similarities on several different categories:

  • Physical Contradictions In Scripture – How can scriptures be true when the Book of Mormon says one thing and the bible says another?
  • Scientific Contradictions – How can the Book of Mormon be true when there were no horses in pre-Columbian America?
  • Continuity Contradictions – Polygamy was wrong, then right, then wrong again?
  • Ethical Contradictions – Mormons believe in virtue yet married teenage girls polygamously.

In each case, they swing back and forth between unreasonable contradiction and unreasonable similarity. In each case, they deconstruct the issue in very black and white terms. Now, this is not easy because Chairman Mao said contradiction is a “complicated picture.” Post-Modernists look at “complexity and contradiction” rather than purity like early Communists did, because they realized there are more than two opposing forces to be considered. But CES Letter tries to boil things down to their pure form. Either Joseph Smith was a good virtuous man or he was a disgusting pervert who took multiple wives. No in-between.

The reason this is successful for CES Letter is they are able to squeeze each issue into a very narrow frame. When the Book of Mormon talks about horses there is no possible way it is talking about tapirs, because then it would use the word tapir, not horse. There is no possible way polygamous marriage “for eternity only” could exclude physical relations, because marriage is a physical relationship that involves sexual intercourse. That’s what marriage is.

This is what Revolution means when they refer to “focusing on the ‘particular essence.'” They take one particular issue, boil it down to a word or strict phrase, and draw a narrow frame around it. CES Letter can then say:

“…according to these unofficial apologists, translate doesn’t really mean translate, horses aren’t really horses (they’re tapirs), chariots aren’t really chariots (since tapirs can’t pull chariots without wheels), steel isn’t really steel, Hill Cumorah isn’t really in New York (it’s possibly in Mesoamerica), Lamanites aren’t really the principal ancestors of the Native American Indians, marriage isn’t really marriage (if they’re Joseph’s marriages?”

With these physical examples of contradiction in a very narrow frame of context, they are “painting the general picture of capitalist oppression and exploitation.” Specific physical examples illustrate general rules. Or as Communist Saul Alinsky famously put it: “Pick the target, freeze it, personalize it, and polarize it.”

CES Letter picks a physical target and inserts a very polarizing, binary frame with a strong reaction. Either Joseph Smith was monogamous or he was a disgusting pervert like Warren Jeffs. They point out a glaring contradiction in this constrained definition of the issue and attach a strong emotional expression. Joseph Smith was so disgusting! Behind each of these contradictions is a general principle that CES Letter is trying to deconstruct. Lenin said: “Agitation must be conducted with regard to every concrete example of this oppression.”

Exposure

One important part of deconstructive agitation is the sense of exposing something that oppressors don’t want the lower class to know about. CES Letter begins with the complaint that “I have been unable to find official answers from the Church for most of these issues.” They conclude with the accusation that the church is trying to cover it all up.

But most of all, exposure means revealing the pure nature of social institutions. Revolution writes:

“Fundamentally what is hidden and covered up by capitalism are the basic laws and class character of the contradictions in society. Behind such murky mists as ‘equal exchange’ (work for wages), ‘democracy,’ and ‘national interests’ lie exploitation, capitalist dictatorship and worldwide reaction, all of which demand the sharp knife of exposure, especially agitation, to lay them bare and raw.”

This is why CES Letter so often repeats “Prophet, Seer, and Revelation” in a negative connotation. They are replacing the deep meaning that we subconsciously apply to those words. By changing the language we perceive, they are changing the reality of what these things are.

This kind of exposure of concrete examples of contradiction allows the ideology to be “dissected, the root of these questions in capitalist society can be traced and their links to the present imperialist crisis and the need for socialist revolution can be shown in an all-around way.” The ideology is pealed apart and replaced with the Marxist ideology.

Revolution declares a “scientific outlook” needs to be impressed on the masses to make them hate the enemies of Marxism:

“How else but with vivid, compelling agitation, as well as propaganda, can the hatred which is provoked by daily life under capitalism be further aroused and sharpened against the bourgeoisie? How else but by agitation and propaganda can the word, the sparks, and the lessons of struggles waged by now one, now another, section of the masses be spread nationwide? How else can class struggle be waged in the crucial arena of public opinion against the ruling class…? “

New Marxist Meaning

The new meaning that Marxists apply to deconstructed ideas tend to be simplistic, naive, and unrealistic. This is because of the banal expression that was applied to each concrete example, and the focus on aesthetics for the new perception.

This simplicity can definitely be seen with CES Letter:

“The sun shines because of thermonuclear fusion; not because it gets its light from any other star as claimed by the Book of Abraham.”

Um, no. Anyone who has taken a college science course knows that the fusion that drives the sun is not thermonuclear; it is gravity not heat that causes the reaction in the sun. These kinds of middle school mistakes pepper CES Letter, as well as all kinds of logical fallacies and faulty reasoning.

But despite the low-brow intellectual appeals and childish appeals to emotion, CES Letter proves incredibly effective as anti-Mormon propaganda because of its clever use of the Marxist contradiction strategy. It is relentless in its full 84 pages in portraying physical and moral contradictions, and this weakens even the most strong-willed mind.

Satan himself used this debate tactic in is temptation of Christ. Satan did not believe Jesus to be the Son of God, so he mocked Jesus for not living up to his own claims in inspired scripture.

“And when the tempter came to him, he said, If thou be the Son of God, command that these stones be made bread.

But he answered and said, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.

Then the devil taketh him up into the holy city, and setteth him on a pinnacle of the temple,

And saith unto him, If thou be the Son of God, cast thyself down: for it is written, He shall give his angels charge concerning thee: and in their hands they shall bear thee up, lest at any time thou dash thy foot against a stone.

Jesus said unto him, It is written again, Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God.<"/blockquote>

Does The Book Of Mormon Incorrectly Change Isaiah 9:1 To “The Red Sea”?

“2 Nephi 19:1… quotes nearly verbatim from the 1611 AD translation of Isaiah 9:1 KJV… Additionally, Joseph qualified the sea as the Red Sea. The problem with this is that (a) Christ quoted Isaiah in Matt. 4:14-15 and did not mention the Red Sea, (b) “Red” sea is not found in any source manuscripts, and (c) the Red Sea is 250 miles away.”

Joseph Smith must have known that the Red Sea was hundreds of miles from Galilee. When someone talks about a “sea” in Galilee, the Sea of Galilee is the obvious answer. So why would Joseph Smith go out of his way to add an obvious error to a bible verse?

Two Trade Routes – Two major routes passed through Israel: The King’s Highway and the Way of the Sea. In Isaiah 9, it sounds like Israel would be invaded from the Way of the Sea to the west where Galilee is:

“Nevertheless the dimness not such as in her vexation, when at the first he lightly afflicted the land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, and afterward did more grievously afflict the way of the sea, beyond Jordan, in Galilee of the nations.” (Isaiah 9:1)

But in Nephi’s version, Israel would actually be invaded from the south or east, from the King’s Highway, which was also known as “The Way Of The Red Sea.” This is what this route was called when Israel was fleeing Egypt:

“Then we turned and set out for the wilderness by the way of the Red Sea, as the Lord spoke to me, and circled Mount Seir for many days.” (Deut.2:1)

“Tomorrow turn you, and get you into the wilderness by the way of the Red sea… And they journeyed from mount Hor by the way of the Red sea.”(Num.2:1, Num. 21:4)

This is the route that the Hebrews used to flee Egypt, and probably the same route that Lehi’s family used to flee Jerusalem. Lehi’s family found the geography of the Red Sea important, as they traveled along the Way of the Red Sea to get to their promised land. So this detail was important to Nephi. Furthermore, biblical scholars say Jesus compared himself to this route when he said: “I am the way (highway), and the truth, and the life; no man cometh to the Father, but through me.” (John 14:5-6) So it was incredibly important to Nephi to discuss the invasion of Israel through the same route Israel had used to settle the land, and the same route Nephi used to flee Israel, and then immediately afterwards discuss the birth of Jesus Christ, who called himself the true “King’s Highway.” The Book of Mormon is full of symbolism of Jesus and walking the “true path,” as we also see in Psalms 119 which compares the King’s Highway to God’s path: ” I have chosen the way of truth… I will speak of thy testimonies also before kings.”

Nephi’s version makes more sense.

  • In early times, the Way of the Sea was called “Way of the Philistines”. It didn’t have the name Way of the Sea. The phrase “way of the sea” never comes up in the bible except this one instance.
  • The King’s Highway was not the alternate name for “Way of the Red Sea” till later, and the phrase King’s Highway is not mentioned in the bible.
  • Both routes go to Galilee. “Galilee of the Gentiles” actually translates as “the circuit of the Gentiles” or circle of Gentiles, and refers to the region above the Chinnereth sea, which both routes lead to. “Beyond Jordan” refers to the land of Peraea that is directly east of Jordan, “the tract east of the sea and of the upper Jordan, where the five thousand were fed, and where our Lord was transfigured.” The Way of the Red Sea passes through this land, but the Way of the Sea does not.
  • Israel was indeed invaded from Way of the Red Sea, just as Isaiah said they would be “vexed”, Syrians and Assyrians from the east and Ptolemy Lathyrus who came up from Egypt. When was Israel ever invaded from the Mediterranean Sea by Way of the Sea? I don’t think it ever was.

So Nephi in the Book of Mormon clarified an important discrepancy. Either that or early transcribers of the bible omitted “Red” because they incorrectly assumed it was referring to the western trade route. Or maybe there is a third explanation…

Jesus Fulfilled The Prophesy – Matt 4:14-15 certainly quotes Isaiah 9:1 and omits the word “Red.” Yes, but this is not a quote from Jesus. It was written by Matthew. Maybe the word “Red” was dropped by a transcriber before the time of Matthew, or it never said “Red Sea” to begin with because the Way of the Sea was still called “Way of the Philistines.” Isaiah was written long before the time of Matthew and there was plenty of time for “Red” to be dropped, or just not included to begin with.

Modern scholars say this verse in Isaiah “requires an entire remodelling” to make sense. I don’t think so. The way Matthew quotes it, Jesus is the “great light” who comes to Zebulon and Nephthalim, to the way of the sea, to Peraea, and up to Galilee. The way Nephi quotes it, vexation comes to these places and then a great light comes. I see no contradiction.

Original Manuscript Is Lost – Unfortunately, we do not have original records to see what happened. 2 Nephi 19 is based on the Brass Plates, which are probably the lost record of Joseph and which included a copy of Isaiah from back when it was originally written. The record of Judah, which the Old Testament is based on, evidently had a few discrepancies, such as this one. But we do not have original manuscript sources today, or much from an ancient date. We have the Dead Sea Scroll of Isaiah, but that was written based on the record of Judah not the record of Joseph.

CES Letter Logical Fallacies

Falsehood Isaiah is not quoted by Jesus in Matthew, but by the author of Matthew.

We do not have source manuscripts to determine what they said as CES Letter claims.

The Red Sea is not 250 miles away from Galilee, but 200 miles. The Way of the Red Sea passes very close to it.

Shifting Goalposts In the previous argument, CES Letter complained that the Book of Mormon’s associations quoting the bible are too strong. Now they complain they are too weak.
Circular Argument CES Letter says “Joseph qualified the sea as the Red Sea,” but the whole point of this discussion is to determine whether Joseph wrote the Book of Mormon or whether ancient prophets did. CES Letter thus includes the premise of their argument within the argument itself.
Appeal to Authority Whether Jesus of Matthew included “Red Sea” is irrelevant, because the record of Judah already contained this discrepancy.
False Dilemma Nephi was working off a totally different record than what our bible is based off of, so there should be no surprise when a few differences like this arise.
Repetition CES Letter repeats the date of the KJV bible translation several times. “between 1604 and 1611,” “17th century,” “17th century.”

Too Much Association, Too Little Association – In the previous argument, CES Letter complained that the Book of Mormon’s association is too close to prove itself to be ancient scripture, as modern translator additions were supposedly included in its quotes from the bible. So now, CES Letter flips the narrative and complains that the association is too weak. It’s not close enough to the bible.

This is the game they play. Every little similarity that appears modern can be attacked. Every little discrepancy can be cherry-picked as evidence of the same conclusion. Finally, CES Letter suggests the bible is made up as well as the Book of Mormon. So why then are they trying to show weaknesses from association at all? Why not just say “the bible is false, so the Book of Mormon is false for quoting it”? Wouldn’t that be the honest way to argue?

The reason is CES Letter is trying to discredit the Book of Mormon by portraying discrepancies within its own narrative. This is not about discovering truth, but attacking a narrative and setting a rival narrative.

Fake ScienceCES Letter begins with an appeal to science in this argument, with their fake claim that source manuscripts contradict Nephi. CES Letter‘s rival narrative is that archaeological science disqualifies the Book of Mormon and presents a better truth. This appeals to the younger generation, who have not really studied the issue, and who have been brainwashed to believe anything as holy sacred truth if the word “scientific” is attached.

Contradiction Strategy – The manipulative tactic of portraying discrepancies comes straight out of the Marxist handbook. Extremist Marxists mastered the art of this agitating rhetoric, which anti-Christs like Korihor in the scriptures also used. Marxists are taught to point out logical discrepancies in their enemy’s narrative, as well as discrepancies between their moral rules and historical behavior.

This strategy can always be applied. With something as complex as scripture, which claims to keep a consistent set of principles, there is always going to be some kind of apparent discrepancy. Once their enemy doubts themselves, the Marxists can insert their own ideology as a replacement belief system. You can see CES Letter do this here, as they point to “science” as the higher authority for truth.

Satan himself used this debate tactic in is second temptation of Christ. Satan did not believe Jesus to be the chosen Son of God, so he mocked Jesus for not living up to his own claims in inspired scripture. “If you really are the Son of God, jump from this spire and prove it!”

Why Do Italic Translators’ Words From The KJV Bible Appear In The Book Of Mormon?

“When King James translators were translating the KJV Bible between 1604 and 1611, they would occasionally put in their own words into the text to make the English more readable. We know exactly what these words are because they’re italicized in the KJV Bible. What are these 17th century italicized words doing in the Book of Mormon? Word for word? What does this say about the Book of Mormon being an ancient record?” (CES Letter)

Not true. Sometimes the italic words appear in the Book of Mormon verses and sometimes they don’t. If you look at some of the very first verses that quote Isaiah, the Book of Mormon does not follow the italics:

Isaiah 48:6 1 Nephi 20:6
Thou hast heard, see all this; and will not ye declare it? I have shewed thee new things from this time, even hidden things, and thou didst not know them. Thou hast seen and heard all this; and will ye not declare them? And that I have showed thee new things from this time, even hidden things, and thou didst not know them.

The bible verses are definitely not copied “word for word.” There are lots of differences, particularly when it comes to the italicized translators’ words.

Added Italics Are Obvious – When you look at the quoted verses without the italics, there is only one obvious when to read the verse so that it makes sense. If I said “Hand me phone,” you would know that I meant “Hand me the phone.” Nobody would render it as, “Hand me tree phone.” CES Letter is incorrect in assuming that the italics are the translator’s own words. They are not added words, but words that are used when there is no strictly correct way to say something in English. It might take two words in English to say one Hebrew word. Anyone who is bilingual knows that sometimes you need to add words to clarify meanings, and that it is usually consistently the same words added.

New Testament Does The Same Thing – The New Testament frequently quotes the Old Testament, and guess what? It usually includes the same italicized words that were added by KJV translators, just as the Book of Mormon does. Does this mean the New Testament writers traveled forward in time and read what the KJV translators italicized? No, it is because the words to add are obvious and straightforward.

Example: Isaiah 9:1

“Nevertheless the dimness not such as in her vexation, when at the first he lightly afflicted the land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, and afterward did more grievously afflict the way of the sea, beyond Jordan, in Galilee of the nations.” (Isaiah 9:1)

There is only one sensible way to read this. Since the chapter is written in the future tense, we get:

Nevertheless, the dimness shall not be such as was in her vexation, when at first he lightly afflicted the land of Zebulun, and the land of Naphtali, and afterwards did more grievously afflict by the way of the Red Sea beyond Jordan in Galilee of the nations.” (2 Nephi 19:1)

If Joseph Smith blindly copied this out of the bible, why did he add a comma after “nevertheless”? That wasn’t part of what the KJV translators added. Why did he remove “the” before the word “first”? Why did he remove the comma after “Jordan”? Why is there “Red” before “Sea?” There are all kinds of differences from what is italicized!

Also, why didn’t CES Letter italicize the word her? It is italicized in the KJV bible. Did they intentionally misquote the KJV bible because the premise of their argument is obviously false? The Book of Mormon does not include the italicized word “her,” and the Book of Mormon therefore does not copy italicized portions “word for word.” Very dishonest.

Example: Malachi 3:10

“Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith, said the Lord of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that not enough.”

This one is a little bit trickier. The literal Hebrew of “that not enough” is “till not enough.” Till not enough what? If you look at the entire verse (which CES Letter fails to do), you see that the context is a blessing being poured out. The only sensible way to render it is: “there shall not be room enough to receive it.” Biblical scholars agree. That’s why most bible translations translate it the same way.

CES Letter Logical Fallacies

Falsehood The premise of this argument is false. The Book of Mormon does not quote the bible’s translator’s words “word for word.” In fact, CES Letter misquoted the bible verse, and made an italic word a normal word, because the Book of Mormon did not include this word.

CES Letter falsely claims that the Book of Mormon dates the Isaiah verse to 550 B.C. That is when Nephi copied it, but actually the original text came from before then.

Non Sequiter Regardless, whether Joseph Smith referenced his KJV bible or not when translating the content of these quotes, why not add these words to make reading them easier?
Argument By Repetition CES Letter repeats the date of the KJV bible in their first two arguments six time. They are basically repeating the premise that the Book of Mormon copies a modern text.

CES Letter repeats the same argument on p.81

Guilt by Association As with the previous question, which incorrectly claimed the KJV “edition” of the bible has translation “errors,” CES Letter is implying that these added italic words were somehow improper and should not have been in the Book of Mormon if the Book of Mormon were based on an earlier text. This is an unfair characterization of these italic words. They were not errors in any way.
False Dilemna Could it be that these words which are so often similar were added independently? Unlikely, but it could be.

Kafkatrapping – This argument attacks the belief that the Book of Mormon is ancient scripture by cherry-picking associations with modern bible translations. CES Letter says the association is too strong, and then in other arguments they complain that the differences are too many. The truth is, the Book of Mormon added and removed lots of words from verses that are quoted from the Old Testament, just as the New Testament does with the Old Testament. This kind of deception is flagrant, and it is obvious to anyone who has actually sat down and compared the bible and Book of Mormon side by side.

But just raising the question gives it some tiny amount of credibility. As is often the case with inuendo, this argument successfully uses the kafkatrapping tactic. They begin with the frame that the Book of Mormon’s relationship with the bible deserves to be called into question, and we buy into it. As the strongest physical evidence for the Mormon Church’s authenticity, this allows CES Letter to go on and use physical evidence as a wedge to attack the church. This leads to an obsession with truth that you can only see, and a superstitious outlook.

Changeable Truth – The level of ignorance from CES Letter, that they think the italic words from the bible are just modern additions, just goes is staggering. It just goes to show how little they believe in truth that is unchanging. What is the alternative to scripture that has remained essentially the same for many thousands of years? Scripture that is always changing. Truth that is never static. In the anti-Mormon’s narrative, there is no way the story of Noah is true today the way it was back then, nor should it be. Truth is relative, always fitting modernity.

Today, why don’t we add some italic words to add more female characters to the Book of Mormon, to show that we are “inclusive?” Why don’t we add some italic words to justify gay marriage or abortion? The italic words in our scriptures, our political speeches, our classroom assignments, popular culture, entertainment media, need to constantly be updated to fit the current year. The same old ideas repeatedly repackaged in a flashy modern frame.

Innuendo Rather Than LogicCES Letter gives a few lines of incorrect leading evidence, and the reader connects to dots in their mind to an inevitable conclusion. If the Book of Mormon includes all of the bible translator’s words that were added in 1604, obviously the Book of Mormon wasn’t written before then. CES Letter spell out this logic, but the reader’s mind connects the dots on its own. People are much more likely to believe a deduction if they figured it out on their own, subconsciously. They are also more likely to believe the evidences for that deduction, which in this case are falsehoods.

Why Do KJV Bible Errors Appear In The Book Of Mormon?

CES Letter: “What are 1769 King James Version edition errors doing in the Book of Mormon? An ancient text? Errors which are unique to the 1769 edition that Joseph Smith owned?”

No, the King James Version bible does not contain unique errors which also appear in the Book of Mormon. The premise of this argument is false.

KJV does not take the word for “rock” and accidentally translate it is “lamp post.” Now, there are plenty of words that I would have translated a little differently if I were doing it, but this is all subjective. It is a matter of opinion which word is a better translation.

I would not have used the words “dragon” as the KJV bible does, but this is actually not a translation error, as the original Hebrew tannin means “serpent” and the Greek drakon means “serpent” as well. The word “satyr” in the bible is also not incorrect, as the original Hebrew described a goat-like demon, and the closest thing in our language is the mythical satyr.

Why Change The Universal Translation? – I think Joseph Smith was aware that the mythical creatures “dragon” and “satyr” are not real. So why keep these words if a lot of people are going to get the wrong idea from them? Well, Joseph Smith started a large project later in his life where he went through and made inspired corrections and commentary to the bible. But for the purpose of the Book of Mormon, why change quotes from a text that everybody was universally familiar with? Everybody used the KJV bible.

The real question is whether it was appropriate for Joseph Smith to use the 1769 language from his KJV bible when translating quotes that appeared in the Book of Mormon, considering how different our language is today. I think it was. But the point is actually moot, as scholars have recently found that Joseph Smith did not even uses KJV language. That’s right. He used 16th-17th century language that appeared in earlier bibles, such as John Wycliffe’s 1382 version, which were also the basis for the KJV bible.

“For example, To require, meaning “to request.” Enos 1:18 reads “and the Lord said unto me: thy fathers have also required of me this thing.” It may seem unusual that Enos’s ancestral fathers (Lehi, Nephi, and Jacob) required the Lord to preserve their records. Notice that the word also in verse 18 implies that Enos too is “requiring” the Lord to preserve these records, yet previously (in verses 15—17) Enos simply asks the Lord to do so. But the passage makes perfectly good sense when we observe that earlier in English the verb require had the meaning “to ask, request, or desire someone to do something.”

Another example is To cast arrows, meaning “to shoot arrows.” Alma 49:4 reads “the Lamanites could not cast their stones and their arrows at them.” Similarly, verse 19 reads “and thus were the Nephites prepared to destroy all such as should attempt to climb up to enter the fort by any other way by casting over stones and arrows at them.” For us today, it seems strange to cast arrows. Yet the Oxford English Dictionary gives the following comment for definition 2 under the verb cast: “Formerly said also of military engines, bows, and the like, which throw or shoot projectiles.” Oxford English Dictionary citations date from about 1300 to 1609, including the following biblical one in John Wycliffe’s 1382 translation of 2 Kings 13:17: “Helise seyde, kast an arowe; and he kest.” The King James Bible uses the verb shoot in translating this same passage: “Then Elisha said, Shoot. And he shot.” But there is one place in the King James Bible where the verb cast does occur with arrows: “As a mad man who casteth firebrands, arrows, and death” (Proverbs 26:18).

In 2 Nephi 20:29 all the printed editions as well as the printer’s manuscript read Ramath instead of the Ramah found in Isaiah 10:29 (the original manuscript is not extant for this passage). A number of scholars have noted that Ramath would have been the earlier Hebrew form for Ramah and have therefore claimed that the Book of Mormon text here maintains the earlier Hebrew name for this place, thus supporting that the Book of Mormon text may have been translated from a more ancient version of Isaiah.”

He used early archaic words and phrases that sometimes got passed on to the KJV–and sometimes didn’t. Joseph Smith did not have access to these other versions, so how did he end up using their language? Coincidence?

Makes Translating Easier – I once sat down to translate a 15the century German book into English. Despite my fluency in German, I found this extremely challenging, and I was relieved when I realized parts of the book were quoting a book that had already been translated into English. With great relief, I grabbed that book and used it as a close reference for those parts.

Is this what Joseph Smith did with the KJV parts in the Book of Mormon? Probably. But it is very telling that he replaces some words with more archaeic English from earlier bible versions. Maybe the spirit of John Wycliffe had a role in it, who knows? In any case, anyone who is bilingual will tell you there is no reason why Joseph Smith should mire through difficult bible quotes when he could just grab a bible off the shelf for help.

KJV Is Not An “Edition” – This question suggests a multitude of falsehoods. One interesting lie is that the KJV is an “edition” of the bible, rather than a “version.” KJV stands for King James Version not King James Edition. This is a significant difference because edition means “one of a series of printings or of the same book… each issued at a different time and differing from another by alternations, additions.” This does not describe the KJV bible. There were no alterations or additions, just different translations from the same sources as other versions. By calling it an “edition”, CES Letter falsely implies that the content that appears in the Book of Mormon is different or unique from earlier bibles, and that the KJV is appropriate for 1769 and not today, which is false.

CES Letter Logical Fallacies

Falsehood The King James Version is a version, not edition, of the bible.
Burden Of Proof CES Letter provides zero examples or evidence to back up their false claim that KJV translation errors appear in the Book of Mormon.
Argument From Ignorance Early texts of the bible are in existence, and we have the Dead Sea Scrolls, but we do not have the original documents that the bible came from, so we can’t know for sure what is an “error” and what isn’t.
Anachronism In Joseph Smith’s time, the KJV was the only bible in English, so obviously there is no other “edition” to compare his translations to.
Subjectivist Fallacy The existence of modern translations lead some people to believe that things could have been better translated, but that is just a subjective opinion, not an “error.”
Argument From Repetition CES Letter repeats this same argument on p. 81
Guilt by Association This arguments incorrectly claims that the KJV “edition” of the bible has translation “errors,” and the Book of Mormon is in error for copying them.

Current Year – Socialists are obsessed with what is known as the “current year.” All of their recycled ideas and philosophies stem from Marxism, Paganism, going back to Babylon, and before that. The same old ideas become repeatedly repackaged in a flashy modern frame.

Socialists find this a convenient way to pervert religious doctrine, as we see with modern translations of the bible that erase important truths and spin important pure doctrine. The KJV is the oldest universal English translation, and even if a couple words are a little hokey, so what? It is still the best version we have. Socialists exploit these few hokey translations as an excuse to revise a new “edition” of the bible that erases important doctrine. The atheists use it as a hammer to ridicule us for not being modern. This opening attack on the Book of Mormon sets a Satanic narrative that scripture needs to be framed in a modern package with modern language, or it is in “error.”

Innuendo Rather Than LogicCES Letter drops a few (incorrect) bits of leading evidence, and the reader connects to dots in their mind to the inevitable conclusion. If errors which were introduced in 1769 appear in the Book of Mormon, obviously the Book of Mormon wasn’t produced before then. CES Letter does not give us this logic, but allows the reader’s mind to string it together. They do this because people are much more likely to believe a deduction if they figured it out on their own, subconsciously. They are also more likely to believe the evidences for that deduction, which in this case are falsehoods.

Are Mormons Leaving The Church Over History Issues Found On The Internet?

Reuters news quoted LDS leader Marlin K. Jensen out of context, making it sound like Mormons are going apostate because of history issues they discover online.

CES Letter: “I was reading the news online when I came across the following news article: Mormonism Besieged by the Modern Age. In the article was information about a Q&A meeting at Utah State University that LDS Church Historian and General Authority, Elder Marlin K. Jensen gave in late 2011. He was asked his thoughts regarding the effects of Google on membership and people who are “leaving in droves” over Church history. Elder Marlin K. Jensen’s response:

“Maybe since Kirtland, we’ve never had a period of – I’ll call it apostasy, like we’re having now; largely over these issues…”

This truly shocked me. I didn’t understand what was going on or why people would leave “over history.”

The “issues” that Elder Marlin Jensen was talking about wasn’t church history. He was answering a question about “the effects of Google on membership,” and he discussed a “search engine optimization” strategy for the church’s website that would drive traffic to church sources rather than anti-Mormon sources of information. The “apostasy” that “we’re having now” is due to biased anti-Mormon sites being the top search results on Google for Mormon topics. Obviously, people are more likely to go apostate and leave the church if they can only find information about the church on hateful anti-Mormon websites, rather than objective truthful sources.

Trust Only Original Sources – This includes reputable websites that most trust, such as Wikipedia. Once, I edited a Wikipedia page about Blacks and the Priesthood, and now everything I wrote is wiped away. Now, Wikipedia is full of misinformation and skewed propaganda that I would expect from the most virulent anti-Mormon sites.

So where is one supposed to go for truth about Mormon history? Go to the original source. All of the original documents and histories are available. That’s the only place you are going to get objective information. If you don’t have time to read through it all, then you are just going to have to get both sides of the issues and try to discern what’s really going on. But be warned, 99% of writings about Mormon history are propaganda, either pro-Mormon or anti-Mormon.

The fact that a news organization like Reuters which is supposed to be reputable bases an important article off complete misrepresentations is evidence that everyone has an agenda. Why shouldn’t the church try to boost their Google page ranking so they get more visitors?

Information Has Always Been ThereReuters frames their article as if the new availability of information causes people to doubt their faith, much like the Catholic Church was in crisis when the printing press was invented. CES Letter likewise acts as if they had no ideas about all of these issues until the internet. But this couldn’t be further from the truth. Anti-Mormon literature has always been there. It is the same material that has been around hundreds of years.

The internet makes it easier to access, but the problem is not accessibility. The problem is the internet is saturated with bias. People don’t have enough time to look through thousands of pages of volumes and church history documents, so they turn to biased sources like Wikipedia that omit important information, skew facts, and shed Mormons in a negative light.

Emotional Attacks Are The Problem – Sure, there are some aspects of Mormon church history about which one could easily mock Mormons, like polygamy. But the negative spin that anti-Mormons place on the facts is just a small part of the problem. The listed author of CES Letter actually illustrates with his own life how other pieces of the puzzle come into play. In an interview with anti-Mormon podcast Mormon Stories, he tells an emotional story about his parents’ divorce and the Bishop’s involvement:

“My parents were divorced when I was three or four years old. So, that had a really profound impact on my life and on the life of my brothers and my family. That’s an interesting situation right there. My parents, as they were going through their divorce, it kind of got hairy in the courts, and so somehow, I’m not sure if my dad proposed the idea or the Bishop came to them, but it was proposed that instead of the judge in the court deciding which kid goes with who, we would have the Bishop do it.

Yeah, so it it wasn’t like this Bishop was a judge or a social worker or anything. He was a financial planner, so sounds qualified. But at the time that shows you how strongly my parents believed, maybe this man has inspiration, he would know what God would want for our family. So, from what I understand, the Bishop decided me and my oldest brother would go with my dad and my other brother would go with my mom. That was pretty devastating to my mom.

From what I understand, it created a pretty crazy situation over there… they just couldn’t believe how a Bishop would decide this. A lot of people felt that it should have been the courts.”

This says a lot about why he apostatized, and why he delivers the kind of frame he does in CES Letter, where men in the church victimize women and priesthood leaders make horrible choices. This emotional reality in his life was the origin of his apostasy, it appears.

The listed author of CES Letter goes on to tell about a priesthood blessing that his hearing loss would be restore–a promise which he doesn’t believe came true:

“My dad arranged with our Stake President to meet with the Area Authority at the time, Elder Lance B. Wickman, and we met with him for me to get a hearing blessing. And so, what we wanted to do is, basically, we went to him to see if he could restore my hearing because as a teenager it was a tough situation not being able to hear very well in my circle of friends and school. It was a tough situation. I really believed all the stories I’d read and heard in church about Christ healing the deaf and the lame and the blind, and I really believed in the concept that the church was restored in these latter days and the priesthood was real, and if it worked then why can’t it work now?…

When I went up to him, I shook his hand, and I experienced this really powerful wave of emotion… from then on in my life I identified that as the Spirit… The entire meeting was very spiritual. He gave me a blessing that basically stated that my ears would be unstopped and my hearing would be restored. So, it was pretty bold. My dad was in tears. I was in tears…

I was expecting my hearing issues to be resolved… Well, that week went by, and another week went by, and weeks turned into months, and years, and my hearing just kept getting worse and worse.”

The truly ironic thing is this anti-Mormon Mormon Stories podcast begins with a video about a cochlear implant that “just totally changed my life” by giving part of his hearing back. I guess this miracle of science doesn’t count as a fulfillment of that blessing?

These two events are examples of powerful emotional explosions that direct the LDS faith of a young man, early in his impressionable years, to turn against the Mormon faith. The “cognitive dissonance” as he calls it between powerful emotions and what we want to be know to be true can only be put on the shelf for so long.

The second factor in apostasy is the loss of a spiritual testimony. This happens when a person commits sin or removes themselves from a healthy spiritual environment, often through internet porn or associations with bad friends who bring them down.

The third factor is an intellectual knowledge of the gospel, and this is where anti-Mormon websites like to hit hard. This is where CES Letter devotes the first part of their literature to attack. By spinning, covering up facts, replacing context, and through sophistic rhetoric, they give an emotionally and spiritually weakened Mormon the justification to “free themselves” of Mormonism.

CES Letter Logical Fallacies

Bandwagon CES Letter suggests it is right to consider leaving the church because “droves” of people are doing it, which Elder Jensen didn’t even admit to; he only said there is widespread apostasy.
Non Sequiter Elder Jensen said the low Google rank of pro-church websites is leading people to get church information from anti-Mormon sites which frame it in a negative way. CES Letter assumes from this, “church history” is making them leave, rather than how it is framed. The truth is nobody is leaving due to access to church history, as it has always been accessible.
Red Herring Does the availability and popularity of a gospel’s history make it true or untrue?

Anti-Mormons Rule The Internet – This is a sneaky way for CES Letter to start out their literature, to take a quote about SEO strategies out of context and suggest church history is being covered up. This directs CES Letter in the spotlight like some kind of hero for bringing hidden truth to light.

I find it hard to believe that any devout Mormon would be shocked that some people would leave the church “over history.” Polygamy? Ever heard of it? We all know there is controversial history. Well, it is portrayed as controversial by the mainstream media, anyway. The sad truth is anti-Mormons rule the internet. You don’t see any normal true-believing Mormon that make up the majority of congregations, because fake Mormons rule the online “Mormon” scene and they bully true believers off. I have seen a dozen Mormon websites close down because socially Leftist “Mormons” threaten and harass them. Right now, there is no safe space on the internet for devout Mormons.

Actually, anti-Mormons were some of the original pioneers of the popular internet. Back when Yahoo was a new thing and people talked about “surfing the web,” anti-Mormons were setting up their shop with extensive literature. They spread the same old talking points, wrapped in an impressive new package, and I have to admit, their websites were very well made. Some of the best.

Discussing In Bad FaithCES Letter says they stumbled across this quote as “I was reading the new online.” Just happened upon it? But then in the anti-Mormon podcast, he admits that that one of the first websites he looked for Mormon information was Mormon Think. Is it just coincidence that this quote and the same argument against the church appears on Mormon Think? I’m wondering whether CES Letter is being honest about how they came across information that made them doubt their testimony, and whether they are being honest about the rest of their story?

Why can’t they just be straightforward? If you looked for an anti-Mormon website one day and became convinced by their arguments, just say so. Why this narrative about stumbling across dubious church history? Because, again, this is all about portraying himeslf as the underdog hero who fights for truth. Followers of Satan cover up their true history, their true intentions, and their true actions in order to portray a positive image to their audience.

How Study Of Theology Can Strengthen Or Weaken Your Faith

Theology college courses change people. As the student sits down for his first lecture, he is surprised to hear the instructor sound atheist. Jericho was destroyed long before the Israelites got there. The bible was written during Israel’s captivity in Babylon, long after the supposed events took place. The Garden of Eden was just a fairytale based on other local legends.

“Well I still believe in the bible,” the student thinks. “I can learn all this important information and still hold on to my faith.”

Years later, the student receives a college degree. He still believes in his religion, but now he talks and acts very differently. When someone asks him about Paul’s sexist doctrine in the New Testament, he replies with a lengthy rationalization about what Paul actually meant according to the original Greek. When a young woman confides that she is ashamed about having sex outside of marriage, he tells her God loves all His children and she will not be damned for such a minor offense. In his Sunday sermons, he delivers pearls of wisdom from the scriptures, feel-good lessons that help people lead a better life.

But does he really believe the words he reads from the bible? Not any more.

People treat religion like a headache medicine. They want quick-term relief and comfort to help them sleep at night. But what happens when you become the pharmacist? What happens when you become the authoritative expert? Few are prepared to engage their religious beliefs in a rigorous classroom setting, and involve archaeology, philosophy, linguistics, ethics, and rhetoric.

When you turn personal beliefs into science , what you thought you know and what you find is reality rarely match up. It’s like that moment when you are dating and you realize all the imperfections in your partner, things you never could have imagined at first, and you have to decide whether to go on with the relationship. These dissonances will make the most brilliant and determined student push faith away, making it less personal. It will become detached and academic.

Follow Your Instinct

My number one rule has always been to follow my inner voice. My college teachers and even my church leaders may be smart and inspired people, but some of the biggest problems in life are caused by following the advice of others. There are core beliefs that are only between you and God.

Archaeologist Frank Calvert defied all his colleagues as he searched for the legendary city of Troy. Everyone told him that Troy was nothing but a myth from Iliad. But after many years his convictions paid off, and the city was discovered right where he said it would be.

There will be plenty of disillusionment as you study theology, but unless these moments of realization are uplifting, they do not make you a better man. Did Joshua really knock down the walls of Jericho like the bible says? The site of Jericho was destroyed before Joshua, so how could he? A weak theology student will take this as overwhelming evidence that the story was a myth. But, well, maybe there were two Jerrichos. There were two Bethlehems, after all. Or maybe the walls were wood, not stone, and have long ago rotted away. Or maybe the walls were dismantled and distributed to construct other buildings. There’s any number of explanations.

Or maybe the bible account we read is not what was originally written.

The challenge is to be open enough that you aren’t rationalizing everything that you presuppose, and yet you are sticking by your core convictions. Do not distance or detach yourself from your theology. I find that when I earnestly follow my honest instinct, my beliefs happen to end up in line with canon and true prophets. I find that my core convictions pay off and end up being right.

Avoid Social Justice Theory

There is no avoiding the primary question of existence: free choice vs. universal salvation. Oh we may think we got past that question long ago in the preexistence, when Lucifer’s plan was overthrown and we chose to come down to earth. But this battle is still at the heart of every non-believer, and the influence of Lucifer’s plan infests every society on earth.

How could a benevolent God allow suffering to exist? Why didn’t God create human beings who innately have enough integrity so that everyone chooses the right path? These doubtful questions are the reason why there are so many nonbelievers in America today, and they affect theologian more than anyone. The more you study theology, the more you get pushed to confront these foundational questions. Consider how great theologian C.S. Lewis doubted God’s benevolence after his beloved wife died. Or how Peter thrice denied Jesus after he saw Jesus being led away to his death. These doubts will come no matter who you are. The more you know about theology the less you are willing to just say: “I don’t know how the atonement works.” The important thing is that you are prepared in how you will deal these temptations when they come.

Popular culture today thrives on social justice. Environmentalism, social equality, gender equality, etc. all rely on social justice as the fundamental belief. The same rhetoric we fought against in the pre-existence is taught nonstop on PBS television and in the gender studies classroom–and in theology university courses. Social justice is merely a rehash of universal salvation, the same highly-competitive belief system that has been around from ancient Babylon to modern-day Communism.

The God of Christianity is like a math teacher who gives some students A’s and other students C’s. But is it just for God to create some people who eventually fail? Why can’t everybody get A’s? Universal salvation declares that nobody should be allowed to be better than anyone else. They will force you to live the right way to get to heaven. We are surrounded by chilling social justice rhetoric today.

Most religion professors and journalists put the cart before the horse in order to push a social agenda. They use religion to push gender equality or gay rights. But you get your social agendas from religion, not religion from your social agendas. With faith deconstructed, the theology classroom convinces students to replace empty meaning with social justice causes. So what is really at the heart of your social crusades, religious journalists?

Universal salvation.

Go On Your Own

In 1967, the LDS church acquired some fragments of the Joseph Smith papyri that some falsely say Joseph Smith used to translate the Book of Abraham. The church’s leading expert in archaeology, Dr. Hugh Nibley, translated the fragments and discovered they were from the Egyptian Book of Breathing, not from the Book of Abraham. Nibley was tasked with presenting his findings to the world. So how did Nibley explain it?

Nibley wrote the most important volume on Mormon archaeology ever produced: Message of the Joseph Smith Papyri:. The fragments contained only a small handful of hieroglyphics, so the easy explanation was that the Book of Breathings was a companion to the Book of Abraham text, which has not survived. But this was not enough for Nibley. He researched the crap out of it, exploring every angle and the background of every piece. He did not seek rationalizations of his religious beliefs, but earnest investigations from various conjectures. His answers fit neither the narrative of the church nor the narrative of mainstream archeology. He explored new theories on the nature of translation and inspiration. He confronted what the world fundamentally thought about Egypt and ancient literature, and changed everything. He was honest and sincere.

Do not be afraid to break new ground. Now, this is dangerous because I see plenty of religious journalists out there pushing all kinds of wacky theories, spreading false doctrines. It is important to keep your ideas grounded in reality. Wacky theories arise when people try to take shortcuts to truth. No, Ezekiel 1 is not about aliens. The answer is much more complex, and only an earnest, hard worker will discover it.

Do not rationalize your false beliefs. Yet do not make hasty conclusions without exploring every piece of evidence. The answer is there. The scriptures lead you to the answer. Theology is great because you can involve all kinds of fields of study to back you up. We are encouraged to “seek ye diligently and teach one another words of wisdom; yea, seek ye out of the best books words of wisdom; seek learning, even by study and also by faith.” (D&C 88:118) The key is a combination of study and faith.

Science can enrich your theology. Sir Francis Bacon pointed out, “even that school which is most accused of atheism doth most demonstrate religion.” An atheist scientist who sincerely seeks out truth can deliver truth. I find that to be true. It is up to you to deeply ponder the facts and tie them all together. The Social Justice ideology is thin and easily defeated with reason and logic. The “contemplative atheist is rare” to be found, indeed.

Evil ideology is cold and bears a false resemblance of humanity. True religion embraces human warmth in a sincere way, as it points man to God for his magnanimity. Feel out this direction with your eyes closed, like rays of the sun, and do not heed the calls of anyone else. To comfort the widow, strengthen the weak, cloth the naked, this is true religion.

See also: Why Do People Who Look Into Mormon History Lose Their Faith

Why Do People Who Look Into Mormon Church History Lose Their Testimony?

CES Letter: “I’m just going to be straightforward and blunt… All this information is a result of over a year of intense research and an absolute rabid obsession with Joseph Smith and Church history…. Like you, I put my pants on one leg at a time and I see through a glass darkly. You may have new information and/or a new perspective that I may not have heard or considered before. This is why I’m genuinely interested in what your answers and thoughts are to these troubling problems.”

When anti-Mormons are quick to tell me how much deep research and rigorous study they put into Mormonism, I find that it turns out all they did was read some anti-Mormon websites. History can be dangerous to testimonies for those who do not take an intelligent approach.

Look At Original Sources – As for CES Letter, I do not doubt their claim that they read several books, including Rough Stone Rolling, but I do doubt that they did so objectively or in good faith. My guess is they first read some anti-Mormon sites like Mormon Think, and then read these books as an after-thought so they could tell everyone they sought both sides of the argument. But really their mind was already made up.

I came across the website Ex-Mormon when I was very young. A dump-truck of attacks were flung at me, but I noticed one glaring lie: they said it was scientifically false for the Book of Mormon to claim elephants existed in the time of the Nephites, but I knew the Book of Mormon made no such claim; elephants existed in the time of the Jaradites, thousands of years earlier. With the knowledge that one of the attacks was a bold-faced lie, this helped me plot a course for keeping my faith.

My attention turned to raw information. I started reading, at a young age, through lengthy volumes of official Church History. I collected general conference talks and searched through apologists sites like Jeff Lindsay and Hugh Nibley. I believe the scholarly approach is to personally investigate and study the raw data for myself, rather than skim through Wikipedia or some angry blogger.

Guide your research smartly and put in a lot of time and effort.

When I looked at the Ex-Mormon Reddit site, I was struck by the incredible sophomoric pompousness and fake humility. It’s unbearable to read. CES Letter sounds open to considering new information, but they already showed an unwillingness to consider perspectives outside of their narrow frame.
 

Yep, real Rhodes Scholar, this one.

There is no “new” information – Let’s face it, there is nothing new under the sun. The same anti-Mormon attacks have been published thousands of times. Nothing I say is going to change CES Letter‘s mind. All they want is an “official” response so they can gain credibility for their theories and gain new material to attack the church with. Millions of eyes have poured over the vast library of Mormon writings in existence, so it is hard to believe that CES Letter is going to be interested in what some random guy has to say.

Fake intellectualism and skewed history is a convenient excuse for those who want to doubt their faith.

CES Letter Logical Fallacies

Appeal to Novelty CES Letter disregards hundreds of years of research that directly addresses his issues, and wants “new information.” He briefly mentions modern websites like Fair Mormon, but does not even consider looking at raw information from the 19th century and studying the issues objectively.
Post Hoc
 Reasoning
CES Letter implies that their concerns with Joseph Smith developed due to a “rabid obsession” and “intense research.” They don’t admit that the concerns were sparked by anti-Mormon websites, which he did admit in a anti-Mormon podcast. They want to pass it off like the concerns naturally developed during church membership. We are left to assume that evidence cropped up in his normal church study which led to his anti-Mormon turn.
Affirming the Consequent By requesting “new” information to address their questions because nothing else satisfies them, CES Letter gives the impression that their arguments themselves are new and groundbreaking discoveries. They aren’t. They have been around for hundreds of years.
Appeal to Common Folk CES Letter builds a connection of trust with the audience by acting like a regular person. “Like you, I put my pants on one leg at a time and I see through a glass darkly.” Actually, he is a rabid anti-Mormon who spent many hours coming up with persuasive attacks against the church.
Appeal to Mystery CES Letter claims no existing information has answered the troubling questions, that it will take “new” revelation or data. We “see through a glass darkly” otherwise.

Prideful Approach To Scholarship – By using euphemisms like “concerns” rather than “anti-Mormon narratives,” and by casting this image of a normal every-day guy with normal needs, CES Letter shields themselves from normal scrutiny. The scholastic approach is to welcome scrutiny and provide easy methods for opposing voices to test and disprove your theories.

CES Letter is deceitful about why they compiled all these claims. In the anti-Mormon podcast, Jeremy Runnells admits that he included many concerns to make connections between issues and to build a stronger narrative. But in the publication, they claim:

“I’ve decided to lay down just about all the major concerns that I have. I went through my notes from my past year of research and compiled them together. It doesn’t make sense for me to just lay down 5 concerns while I also have 20 other legitimate concerns that are keeping me from believing the truth claims of the LDS Church.”

This kind of prideful approach to Mormon scholarly studies, where you start out with rigid assumptions and build narratives that only boost your assumptions, is certain to result in a damaged testimony. It is not about how many books you have read or how much you pretend to be interested in other people’s opinions. It is about how you approach the information objectively and in good faith, truly listening to both sides and searching for answers for yourself.

Image Obsession – Followers of Satan are careful to give an impression of humility and erudite intelligence. It is the impression that counts, not the rigor or soundness of their intellectual and spiritual approach.

A successful seeker of truth does not need to convince the reader about the sincerity of his approach, as it will be self-evident.

Infiltration – Another hallmark of Satan’s followers is infiltration and corruption of righteous institutions, sowing seeds of doubt and apostate messages. Rough Stone Rolling is presented as a great pro-Mormon book, and many Mormons even believe it as such, but really it is anti-Mormonism in disguise. CES Letter likewise gives the impression in their introduction here that they are “like you.”

Here is what he is really like. Consider his behavior at his excommunication council:

Why Doesn’t The Mormon Church Give Official Responses To Anti-Mormon Questions?

CES Letter: “I’m interested in your thoughts and answers as I have been unable to find official answers from the Church for most of these issues… Among the first sources I looked to for answers were official Church sources such as Mormon.org and LDS.org. I couldn’t find them… I desperately searched for answers to all of the problems.”

The LDS church publishes essays on their official website to explain anti-Mormons issues. CES Letter acknowledges the existence of these essays. But rather than admit official answers exist, CES Letter cherry-picks and spins the essays as “disavowals” of past church doctrine to further attack the church. Then they still pretend official responses don’t exist.

Anti-Mormons Ask In Bad Faith – I’m not saying their questions aren’t sincere. I believe they really do want answers. But the problem is how they frame their discussion, in a way that attacks any answers that do not fit their narrow view. They set a frame where polygamy could not possibly be permissible, so our answers only make them more angry.

It is tactically not smart to pivot to the defense and allow anti-Mormons to frame the issues. Why doesn’t the United States give official responses to North Korea or ISIS? It would be easy enough for the United States to fact-check the conspiracy theories that ISIS spreads, but any direct response just lends credibility to the accusations and fuels further conspiracy theories. We do not want to legitimize the anti-Mormon narrative.

The church confronts these issues within the church’s narrative, which is smart. It’s reasonable to have questions, but there is a whole lot behind the way anti-Mormons present their questions. CES Letter says they just have some “concerns and questions” about the Mormon church, but does it take 84 pages to ask a few questions? Really, they are pushing conspiracy theories and spreading dehumanizing propaganda about Mormons.

Why Should The Church Give Responses? – Why should the church give official responses to everyone? Did the ancient church in the bible ever directly address anti-Christian charges? Did Elijah sit and try to answer all the concerns from the priests of Baal? No. How did Moses deal with apostates–I mean those who aggressively opposed the gospel? He didn’t reason with them but simply expelled them. There is a fine line between sincere faith-building questions, and questions that anti-Mormons use to agitate for apostasy.

Even in the Book of Mormon, when prophets responded to hostile anti-Christians, they redirected the issue to their own frame. Korihor sought an audience with Alma in order to ask his ‘questions and concerns,’ and Alma blasted him for destroying people’s faith and boldly condemned him if he further denied what he knew deep inside was true.

Abinadi was arrested by King Noah and gave a striking example of how to speak to anti-Mormons. No apologies. No defensiveness. Alma did not allow Zeezrom to twist his words to fit a false narrative. Neither should we.

CES Letter Logical Fallacies

Falsehood The church does give official responses to these issues, and CES Letter even talks about some of these essays, as well as “official declarations.” Anti-Mormons may argue these responses are insufficient, but they are still official responses.
Circular Logic CES Letter cherry-picks from the official essays to claim that the church “admits” their anti-Mormon argument is true. Even more direct answers from Fair Mormon and other “apologists” for the church are dismissed out-of-hand as “bizarre.” If you want direct answers, is it reasonable to pivot and complain that “their version of Mormonism” is “alien and foreign to the Chapel Mormonism that I grew up in”? The only way to answer direct questions is to assume the frame behind them, and the frame is what is alien to the church culture. So how is one supposed to give an acceptable answer? It’s impossible. Therefore, the lack of answers cannot be used as evidence of the arguments’ validity.
Burden Of Proof CES Letter does not explain why their “concerns” are sufficiently valid to warrant a response. Just that they were upset about it.
Poisoning the Well CES Letter displays unwillingness to even consider answers to their questions, as they label Fair Mormon “bizarre”.

Dominant Posturing – Why start off a lengthy anti-Mormon pamphlet by complaining about the lack of official answers? This immediately shifts the burden on the church and Mormons (“unofficial apologists”) to answer every single anti-Mormon claim thrown at them. It is like a bully taunting a kid at school. “You are too scared to even answer me!” Then any kind of answer results in double the hostility.

Why is the church obligated to give official answers to CES Letter’s charges? Right away, it’s like CES Letter is the prosecutor and the church is the defense in a court room, which is unfair. Let’s talk about the validity of CES Letter’s beliefs. Why don’t they ever talk about what they believe in, or what alternative they would propose to “troubling” church doctrine? What do they believe in? They disarm the church from talking about any of their beliefs, while the church is forced to dodge all kinds of bullets. It’s a one-sided gun fight.

By framing the church as obligated to give answers, CES Letter’s right away damages the faith of their readers. Right away we ask, why would an all-powerful God create such an imperfect church, a church that can’t even answer a few questions? It reminds me of some Americans who lost faith in the United States immediately after September 11th. Why couldn’t the government keep them safe? Then the conspiracy theories crept in, and demands for overbearing state surveillance, reading our emails and listening to our phone calls.

The church is a convenient vehicle for poking holes in people’s testimonies, because the church is made up of people, and people are very imperfect.

AuthoritarianismCES Letter rarely presents an alternative reality or explanation for Mormon principles, but we can discern what they believe in from their arguments themselves. This opening line from CES Letter reminds me of multiple apostates and anti-Christs in the scriptures who complain that prophets are unsatisfactory in giving us truth.

“The Lord maketh no such thing known.”

“To the unknown God.”

They want us to feel abandoned by the church and by God. When Satan first tempted Adam, he brilliantly showed a glaring omission in God’s commandments, and contradiction, which made Adam feel abandoned. Adam was not given official answers to his questions. But still he held strong. He took self-responsibility to find answers for himself, and he patiently endured until answers came.

The narrative in CES Letter shows symptoms of an authoritarian personality. They demand strong leadership to answer every little question explicitly and to take care of everybody with a quickly watchful eye and strong hand. The narrative furthermore divides those that do not fall in line with their beliefs into a negative category.

I do not recall ever as a missionary ridiculing people for not giving official answers to every issue. When a Catholic answered the door, I did not demand to see the Catholic church’s official statement on families in the afterlife. “Why hasn’t the Catholic church officially explained the obvious immorality of selling indulgences?” I never spoke these words as a missionary, because I do not believe in tearing down people’s faith. Only building faith. God never tried to poke holes in Satan’s narrative when he spoke to Adam, did he? Or demanded official explanations for issues with Satan’s Plan?

That is because it is exclusively Satan’s tactic to demand official answers be given for every little concern. That is Satan’s ideology. God’s way is to find answers yourself through rigorous study, faithful endurance, pondering, and praying.

Joseph Smith Likely Had No Sexual Relations With His Plural ‘Wives’

The history books say Joseph Smith had sex with his plural wives. Even dedicated Mormon apologists say the matter is settled. But they fail to consider the evidence in its entire context. Careful investigation reveals a much more skeptical picture.

DNA Testing Disproves Paternity

Researchers have carefully investigated claims of Joseph Smith’s paternity by descendants of Joseph Smith’s wives, and each one has been thoroughly debunked by DNA testing. Joseph Smith did not have children from any of them.

Sylvia Sessions told her daughter that she was Joseph Smith’s child:

“Just prior to my mothers death in 1882 she called me to her bedside and told me that her days on earth were about numbered and before she passed away from mortality she desired to tell me something which she had kept as an entire secret fro me and from others until no but which she now desired to communicate to me. She then told me that I was the daughter of the Prophet Joseph Smith, she having been sealed to the Prophet at the time that her husband Mr. Lyon had was out of fellowship with the Church.”

But DNA testing has since proven this is false. DNA researcher Ugo. A. Perego found Sylvia Sesson’s husband Windsor Lyon, who she was married to “for time” while she was sealed to Joseph Smith “for eternity,” was Josephine’s father.

It is not like Joseph Smith was infertile either. He had five children with Emma in a short length of time. Yet none of these other women that Joseph Smith allegedly had sexual relations with had any children? Why not?

Contradictionss

Three of Joseph Smith’s plural wives made direct allegations of physical relationships:

Almera W. Johnson I “lived with Joseph Smith as his wife.”
Malissa Lott “Did you ever room with Joseph Smith as his wife?” “Yes sir,”
Emily Partridge “Did you ever have carnal intercourse with Joseph Smith?” “Yes sir,”

Here are allegations from other witnesses:

Joseph Nobles “Right straight across the river at my house they slept together.” (Louisa Beaman)
Benjamin F. Johnson “occupied the Same Room & Bed” (Emily or Eliza Partridge)
Benjamin F. Johnson “The first plural wife brought to my house with whom the Prophet stayed, was Eliza Partridge.”
Benjamin F. Johnson “I saw one of my sisters [Almera] married to him and know that with her he occupied my house on May 16 and 17, 1843.”
Lucy Walker (according to D. H. Morris via Vesta P. Crawford) I “married Joseph Smith as a plural wife and lived and cohabited with him as such.”
Theodocia Frances Walker Davis Lucy Walker told her that she lived with Joseph Smith as a wife.
William Law (bitter apostate) Lived “in an open state of adultery” with Maria Lawrence.
Lucy Walker (according to Robert B. Neal) “I know that [Emma] gave her consent to the marriage of at least four women to her husband as plural wives, and she was well aware that he associated and cohabited with them as wives.”

Other than these three, the wives either suggested they did not have sexual relations with Joseph Smith, or they dodged the question. Of the three, the only clear indication that there was sexual intercourse comes from Emily Partridge in the Temple Lot court case (p.484).

But this came only after lengthy badgering from the examining lawyer. During the lengthy hearing, the lawyer asked her about it over a dozen times, and ridiculed her for dodging the question. Emily Partridge was under pressure to prove her relationship with Joseph Smith as legitimate marriage, because a splinter sect was trying to claim ownership of temple grounds based on the claim that polygamy never actually happened. The LDS church eventually won the case on the grounds that they were the true successor to Joseph Smith, because they practiced polygamy.

Emily Partridge said her marriage to Joseph Smith was for time and eternity, which meant it was a physical “earth” marriage as well as a spiritual marriage for the afterlife. Therefore, the type of relationship allowed every opportunity for children. Her subsequent marriage to Brigham Young after Joseph Smith had died was only for time, a physical “earth” marriage.

Kelly How many children did you have by Joseph Smith?
Partridge None at all. I have told you two or three times I had none….
Kelly You had children by Brigham Young?
Partridge Yes sir.
Kelly The the law of proxy–marriage by the law of proxy–will raise children, while marriage by the law of the church will not? Is that it?
Partridge I don’t understand your question….
Kelly Then you were sealed to Joseph Smith at the same time that you were married to Brigham Young, were you now?
Partridge Yes sir, I was sealed to him on that day….
Kelly For eternity?
Partridge Yes sir.
Kelly Well how were you married to Brigham Young? Were you sealed to him also?
Partridge Yes sir, but I was sealed to him for time.
Kelly You were not sealed to him then for both time and eternity?
Partridge No sir. Of course I was not sealed to Joseph Smith then for he was dead when I married Brigham Young, but I had been sealed to him before that….
Kelly That you were sealed to Brigham Young during your natural life that day?
Partridge Yes sir.
Kelly And eternity you were to be the wife of Joseph Smith?
Partridge Yes sir.
Kelly But you never had any children by Joseph Smith?
Partridge No sir….
Kelly Now Mrs. Young, don’t you know that you were just simpl[y] sealed to him for eternity? Don’t you know that that was all that was done Mrs. Young–that you were simply sealed to him for eternity?
Partridge I know that I was sealed to him for time and eternity.

But she gives a contradiction. Emily goes on to claim none of the plural wives lived with Joseph Smith. Those other women said they did.

Kelly Did you ever live with Joseph Smith after you were married to him after that first night that you roomed together?
Partridge No sir. Emma knew that we were married to him, but she never allowed us to live with him
Kelly Well do you make the declaration now that you ever roomed with him at any time.
Partridge Yes sir.
Kelly Do you make the declaration that you ever slept with him in the same bed?
Partridge Yes sir.
Kelly How many nights?
Partridge One.
Kelly Only one night?
Partridge Yes sir…
Kelly Did you ever have carnal intercourse with Joseph Smith?
Partridge Yes sir.
Kelly How many nights?
Partridge I could not tell you.

She claimed that she and the other wives were not allowed to live with Joseph Smith, yet the other women claimed they lived with Joseph Smith and never made mention of carnal intercourse?

Emily claimed she only slept with Joseph Smith one time, yet she didn’t know to what extent she had carnal intercourse? How is that? If she didn’t know because the number of times was too great, why was there no pregnancy, considering they were both very fertile?

With the shifting and the contradictions, it seems like Emily Partridge exaggerated her relationship. Yes, the marriage was for time and eternity, but did it involve a peck on the cheek or much more? What exactly did she consider carnal intercourse?

Just Going Through The Motions?

Joseph Smith claimed that he was uneasy about the new plural marriage doctrine. It took an angel threatening him with a sword to finally take it seriously. Most roll their eyes. Yeah, sure he wasn’t into it!… But, well, maybe he actually wasn’t into it. This would explain Emily’s behavior.

Think about it. By the time of her court testimony, Emily Partridge and the other women were old ladies, surrounded by polygamy, and were roundly admired for being Joseph Smith’s wives. They had every reason to boast about deeply intimate relationships with Joseph Smith. But instead they didn’t want to talk about the details.

It reminds me of the wedding of Tyrion Lannister and Sansa Stark on Game of Thrones. In the show, 17-year old Sansa is arranged to be married to a snarky middle-aged little-person named Tyrion. Tyrion smartly keeps up appearances by going through the motions, but when they are alone in the bed chamber he sleeps on the floor. They both would be dishonored if they showed disgust for the arrangement. Sansa admires Tyrion as a person and is grateful for his respect, so she puts on a happy public face and goes through the motions.

As prophet, Joseph Smith was tasked with introducing polygamy to a very puritan Christian society. Not an easy thing to do, especially since lots of people were already trying to kill him. He had to introduce things gradually. He had to show enthusiastic support and insist on everyone adopting the policy, and he had to set the example.

Cultists like Jeff Warrens escalate their perversions, but Joseph Smith did not go on to be sealed to ever younger girls, but old widows. He barely spent any time with any of his wives. When they got older and once he was dead, none of the women denounced Joseph Smith, but instead they always spoke highly of him, with deep respect and admiration, as Sana Stark would have spoken of Tyrion Lannister. In the court testimonies, they don’t sound like women who are being pressured to say nice things about their abusers. They have no problem criticizing Joseph Smith in other ways. For example, Emily Partridge makes it clear that she wish he had told her more about the technicalities of plural marriage arrangements. But really, they sound more like chummy old friends recounting old times than abuse victims recounting trauma. It all just does not fit the picture of a perverted relationship. With many of the wives, Joseph Smith was married only for “eternity,” which meant no physical relations in any case.

Burden Of Proof

Some of the sealings included “for time,” which meant he had every opportunity to assume sexual relationships. The circumstances of a religious leader introducing polygamy certainly gives the appearance of this intent. But there is little evidence that this is actually what happened. There is only a few mentions of sharing a bed from a few of the women.

Even if he did have physical relationships with them, so what? What does that prove? Well, the anti-Mormon narrative is that Joseph Smith got caught having an affair with Fanny Alger, so he came up with polygamous sealings as a cover to excuse himself. But that seems like an awfully elaborate and unnecessary cover story. Why not just deny the affair instead? Or some kind of “holy nudity” excuse like Catholic priest abusers have done? Why a big elaborate mess about polygamy that you know is just going to get you in more trouble? And besides, there is no direct evidence for this narrative, just innuendo and circumstance.

From what I could tell, Joseph Smith probably did his best to make the women feel comfortable in such an awkward situation, but that he wasn’t really into having physical relations with them. Maybe some of them he felt more comfortable with so he went so far as to kiss them? Maybe that’s what happened with Emily Partridge? But it is fairly certain that he did not marry them just so he could take advantage of them and move on to the next girl.