“The Book of Mormon taught and still teaches a Trinitarian view of the Godhead. Joseph Smith’s early theology also held this view. As part of the over 100,000 changes to the Book of Mormon, there were major changes made to reflect Joseph’s evolved view of the Godhead…
LDS scholar, Boyd Kirkland, made the following observation: ‘The Book of Mormon and early revelations of Joseph Smith do indeed vividly portray a picture of the Father and Son as the same God…why is it that the Book of Mormon not only doesn’t clear up questions about the Godhead which have raged in Christianity for centuries, but on the contrary just adds to the confusion? This seems particularly ironic, since a major avowed purpose of the book was to restore lost truths and end doctrinal controversies caused by the “great and abominable Church’s” corruption of the Bible…In later years he [Joseph] reversed his earlier efforts to completely ‘monotheise’ the godhead and instead ‘tritheised’ it.’
Assuming that the official 1838 First Vision account is truthful and accurate, why would Joseph Smith hold a Trinitarian view of the Godhead if he personally saw God the Father and Jesus Christ as separate and embodied beings a few years earlier in the Sacred Grove?” (CES Letter)
This argument is a false dilemma, because the Book of Mormon’s explanation of the character of Gode is no different than the bible, and Mormons believe in the bible. If the Book of Mormon were to emphasize a non-trinitarian theology, anti-Mormons would claim the Book of Mormon contradicts the bible. If it didn’t, anti-Mormons would claim the Book of Mormon contradicts other Mormon scripture. So this is a no-win argument for Mormons. Either way anti-Mormons complain.
But the simple answer is the Book of Mormon narrative is the same as the bible, and the “mainstream” interpretation of the bible is false. Trinitarianism came from the Nicene Creed in 325 AD, not from the bible.
Wasn’t A Controversy – The reason that both the bible and the Book of Mormon do not more clearly explain the distinct differences between God the Father and the Son is because it was not such an issue as it is today. The Book of Mormon explains that plain and precious truths such as the character of God were taken out of the scriptures after both the bible and Book of Mormon were written. It became an issue only after they were written. So why would the Book of Mormon discuss it in greater detail?
Popular contemporary religions held a non-trinitarian view similar to Mormonism. Paul went to great lengths to explain the concept of divine saving grace, as the pagans he lived around believed in salvation because of works. Egyptian was a close contemporary religion to the Book of Mormon people, so why wouldn’t the Book of Mormon go to great lengths to clarify the theology as Trinitarian if that is indeed what they believed? Shouldn’t the Book of Mormon go out of its way to call the Son and Father the same person?
There are plenty of other plain and precious truths that were perverted or erased after the scriptures were written: baptism for the dead, eternal progression, eternal marriage, etc. The Book of Mormon also doesn’t address these. That’s because prophets were discussing issues that were controversial in their day. How many ancient American civilizations believed God the Father was the same being as the Son? Zero. Egyptians and other contemporary religions separated them as well.
Book Of Mormon Explains The Difference – CES Letter quotes only a snippet of Alma 11. But the full discourse in Alma actually explains the Godhead very well. The Son of God is the Eternal Father, in that Jehovah created the heavens and the earth with the Father:
“Now Zeezrom said unto the people: See that ye remember these things; for he said there is but one God; yet he saith that the Son of God shall come, but he shall not save his people… Is the Son of God the very Eternal Father?
And Amulek said unto him: Yea, he is the very Eternal Father of heaven and of earth, and all things which in them are; he is the beginning and the end, the first and the last… every thing shall be restored to its perfect frame, as it is now, or in the body, and shall be brought and be arraigned before the bar of Christ the Son, and God the Father, and the Holy Spirit, which is one Eternal God, to be judged according to their works.”
Mosiah 15 further explains Jesus was conceived by the power of the Father. He is the Son, as Jehovah is the only one to receive the fullness of the Father in order to be the creator and Savior:
“And now Abinadi said unto them: I would that ye should understand that God himself shall come down among the children of men, and shall redeem his people.
And because he dwelleth in flesh he shall be called the Son of God, and having subjected the flesh to the will of the Father, being the Father and the Son—The Father, because he was conceived by the power of God; and the Son, because of the flesh; thus becoming the Father and Son—And they are one God, yea, the very Eternal Father of heaven and of earth.”
The next chapter explains the reason why the Son must be separate from the Father. The Messiah can be our advocate from sin, and the Father cannot because it is injustice for the advocate to be the same person as the judge:
“Thus all mankind were lost; and behold, they would have been endlessly lost were it not that God redeemed his people from their lost and fallen state… And now if Christ had not come into the world, speaking of things to come as though they had already come, there could have been no redemption… Teach them that redemption cometh through Christ the Lord, who is the very Eternal Father.”
Ether 3 reinforces this theology, but you’ve got to pay attention to the future, present, and past tense grammar. The physical creation of man is explained in active grammar, while the spiritual creation is passive grammar, indicating Jehovah created the physical but not the spiritual. Our spirits were created by the Father. Our bodies were created by the Father and the Son in the Son’s image. Our spiritual lives will be redeemed by the Son. As the Firstborn, we become his children through his redemption:
“Behold, I am he who was prepared from the foundation of the world to redeem my people. Behold, I am Jesus Christ. I am the Father and the Son. In me shall all mankind have life, and that eternally, even they who shall believe on my name; and they shall become my sons and my daughters.
And never have I showed myself unto man whom I have created, for never has man believed in me as thou hast. Seest thou that ye are created after mine own image? Yea, even all men were created in the beginning after mine own image.
Behold, this body, which ye now behold, is the body of my spirit; and man have I created after the body of my spirit…”
Joseph Smith recorded D&C 20 before the Book of Mormon was published, and it calls the Father a separate person than the Son:
“He was crucified, died, and rose again the third day; And ascended into heaven, to sit down on the right hand of the Father, to reign with almighty power according to the will of the Father… As well as those who should come after, who should believe in the gifts and callings of God by the Holy Ghost, which beareth record of the Father and of the Son; Which Father, Son, and Holy Ghost are one God, infinite and eternal, without end. Amen.”
The Book of Mormon frequently calls the Father separate from the Son. 3 Nephi 11:
Having authority given me of Jesus Christ, I baptize you in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Amen.
Book of Mormon Changes Do Not Change Theology – CES Letter complains that a few verse were changed to “the Son” from “the Father.” This was done to clear up confusion, but there are plenty of other verses which were not changed that could be twisted to a Trinitarian view. Why didn’t Joseph Smith change those verses as well? Even the title page reads: “Jesus is the Christ, the Eternal God.” Why wasn’t that changed to “the Son” if the purpose was to change theology?
Who Is Boyd Kirtland? – CES Letter calls this guy Boyd Kirtland an “LDS scholar.” I’m not sure who that is. I’ve never heard of him. Are they referring to the guy from California who worked on GI Joe cartoons? Does making GI Joe cartoons make you a scholar? Whoever he is, he clearly doesn’t know what he’s talking about.
CES Letter Logical Fallacies
|Circular Argument||The only reason why the Book of Mormon would explicitly explain the godhead to a clearer extent than the bible is if it were written in a different context, which it doesn’t claim to do. CES Letter claims the Book of Mormon’s purpose is to clear up today’s “doctrinal controversies,” but that’s only what it would be if it were a modern creation, which is what they are trying to prove.|
|False Dilemma||The Book of Mormon does not present God as either the Father or the Son; it presents God as both. “God” can be three things while one of those three things is not the totality of God. Apples can be a fruit while not all fruits are apples.
This argument presents it as if the Book of Mormon either contradicts the bible or falls in line with mainstream trinitarian interpretation of the bible, but does not allow for the possibility that the modern mainstream interpretation is wrong. Not everything is fully explained in the Book of Mormon.
|Poison the Well||Alma 11 and Mosiah 15 explains the Godhead pretty well, but CES Letter quotes only a snippet out of the context to bolster their argument that the Book of Mormon gives a contradictory explanation.|
|Confirmation Bias||CES Letter mentions the Book of Mormon had 100,000 changes (a claim which I’ve never actually seen verified), but fails to mention almost all changes were grammar corrections because the original manuscript had no punctuation, and the printer added the errors.|
|Strawman Argument||Just because the Book of Mormon doesn’t explain something as fully as other Mormon sources doesn’t mean they are contradicting each other. Mormon doctrine has always said Jesus is the fullness of the Father, the creator of everything physical, the Father of salvation, the character of the Eternal Father, One God, just as the Book of Mormon says. There is nothing in the Book of Mormon that differs or contradicts other Mormon sources.|
|Bandwagon||Joseph Smith must have thought the Father and Son were the same because everyone else around him did?|
|Repetition||CES Letter repeats this argument in their attack on the First Vision.|
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 hold mainstream Christainity’s interpretation of the bible as the standard which the Book of Mormon must consistently live up to. This is quite a feat, as CES Letter never actually shows the Book of Mormon contradicting any other source. They just interpret it the same way lost of mainstream Christians interpret the bible and argue this contradicts the founding Mormon event, of Joseph Smith seeing the Father and Son in the First Vision.
CES Letter assumes the character of a mainstream Christianity who believes in the bible, even though they elsewhere make clear that they think the bible is a myth.
In previous arguments, CES Letter pointed out alleged contradictions between the Book of Mormon and the bible or science. Now they move on to contradictions within Mormonism itself. When it comes to history, there is so much we don’t know and will never know. Fools jump to conclusions. Followers of Satan are easily tricked when it comes to history, because they are lazy and do not care to use critical thought. If there is vague evidence for something but we mostly don’t know what really happened because it is ancient history, followers of Satan will jump to lazy conclusions, whatever narrative is hyped up with emotional language. It is easy to manipulate Satan’s followers when it comes to history because they rely only on what they can see and put no true faith in anything.
Changeable Truth – What alternative ideology is CES Letter trying to promote in this contradiction strategy? The answer lies in their phony straw-man portrayal of Joseph Smith’s beliefs, that they evolved. Followers of Satan evolve their beliefs to the current year. 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 more female characters to the Book of Mormon, to show that we are “inclusive?” Why don’t we add some justification for gay marriage or abortion? We see this kind of evolution in the world’s popular scriptures, political speeches, classroom assignments, popular culture, entertainment media–the need to constantly be updated to fit the current year. The same old ideas repeatedly repackaged in a flashy modern frame.
Innuendo Rather Than Logic – CES 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.
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.
Use Opponent As Authority Tactic – This is a popular Marxist tactic that anti-Mormons use. They use Mormonism’s own authorities to discredit the faith, such as an alleged Mormon scholar. What makes this argument powerful is:
- Deceptively discredits the vast libraries of study on Book of Mormon theology by LDS professionals.
- Gives more focus to a phony frame that attacks the Mormon church.
- Divides the ranks of the church.
- Establishes a frame that demands a clear, modern explanation in the Book of Mormon for every religious issue in existence, and that it be exactly corroborated by every other Mormon source.
This is a powerful introduction to CES Letter‘s next attacks which is the Big Lie that Joseph Smith used a rock in a hat to create the Book of Mormon, as they go on to use obscure “Mormon” sources to back up their wacky claims.
***UPDATE: jvalentiner from Ex-Mo Reddit left a comment, and it apparently got lost… The commenting system is not set to review comments before approval. We don’t know what happened, but it was a good question, and we are sorry it didn’t post. Here it is:
“Book of Mormon Changes Do Not Change Theology – CES Letter complains that a few verse were changed to “the Son” from “the Father.” This was done to clear up confusion, but there are plenty of other verses which were not changed that could be twisted to a Trinitarian view. Why didn’t Joseph Smith change those verses as well? Even the title page reads: “Jesus is the Christ, the Eternal God.” Why wasn’t that changed to “the Son” if the purpose was to change theology?”
If this is true, why didn’t you deal with the parts of the Book of Mormon that were actually changed, e.g. 1 Nephi?
Why did the 1830 Edition of the Book of Mormon read “Lamb of God, yea, even the Eternal Father”? (Pg. 25, corresponding to 1 Nephi 11:21, see optical scans of the 1830 Book of Mormon here at the church sponsored Joseph Smith Papers (JSP): http://www.josephsmithpapers.org/paper-summary/book-of-mormon-1830/31)
Why did it explicitly say the Lamb of God is the Everlasting God, and that Nephi saw that he was lifted up upon the cross, i.e. “Lamb of God, that he was taken by the people, yea, the Everlasting God, was judged of the world, and I saw and bear record. And I, Nephi, saw that he was lifted up upon the cross, and slain for the sins of the world”? (Pg. 26, corresponding to 1 Nephi 11:32, see at JSP: http://www.josephsmithpapers.org/paper-summary/book-of-mormon-1830/32)
Why did it explicitly say the Lamb of God is the Eternal Father and the Saviour of the World, i.e. “the twelve apostles of the Lamb . . . that the Lamb of God is the Eternal Father and the Saviour of the world”? (Pg. 32, corresponding to 1 Nephi 13:40-41, see here: http://www.josephsmithpapers.org/paper-summary/book-of-mormon-1830/38)”
We will revise this article to explain this better. Jesus IS the everlasting Father, or everlasting God. As Elder McKonkie explained, Jesus took the role of creator of the universe, co-creator of our physical bodies, and creator of our salvation. The Father is the creator of our spirits. The godhead together is the “Everlasting Father.”