Rejecting the Book of Mormon

Early Mormon apostle Orson Pratt sometimes found himself in trouble with leaders of the LDS Church because of things he had written. Mr. Pratt was a prolific writer, and freely expounded on Mormon doctrine, as he understood it. The First Presidency of the Mormon Church issued a Proclamation in 1865 wherein the Latter-day Saints were warned to accept Pratt’s writings with caution. The Proclamation said in part,

“Whenever brother Orson Pratt has written upon that which he knows, and has confined himself to doctrines which he understands, his arguments are convincing and unanswerable; but, when he has indulged in hypotheses and theories, he has launched forth on an endless sea of speculation to which there is no horizon.”

Nevertheless, Orson Pratt’s writings are valuable in that they at least give insight into what an early Mormon apostle firmly believed – and taught. Consider a few excerpts from Mr. Pratt’s “Questions and Answers on Doctrine” from his periodical, The Seer, dated February 1854. Here he discusses the Book of Mormon, how it compares to the Bible, and the importance of the Book of Mormon to mankind.

After explaining that the doctrines and prophecies contained in the Book of Mormon are “very definite, pointed, and plain,” the question is asked, “But is not the Jewish Record or the Bible equally as plain?” Mormon Apostle Pratt answers,

A. No: it no doubt was once just as plain and definite as the sacred Scriptures given in Ancient America. But the Bible has been robbed of its plainness; many sacred books having been lost, others rejected by the Romish Church, and what few we have left, were copied and re-copied so many times, that it is admitted that almost every verse has been corrupted and mutilated to that degree that scarcely any two of them read alike… The first thing, therefore, necessary to the re-establishment of the kingdom of Christ on the earth was to reveal in perfect plainness the exact and precise principles of the gospel in all their fullness; this was accomplished in the remarkable discovery and translation of the sacred records of Ancient America.

michelangelo-last-judgmentTherefore, when Mr. Pratt is asked, “What does the Lord require of the people of the United States?” the Bible does not figure into God’s requirements in any way. Mr. Pratt’s answer centers on repentance, embracing the message found in the Book of Mormon, and baptism into the LDS Church. The Q and A continues with a pronouncement of dire consequences for those who reject the Book of Mormon — not for those who reject the message, but for those who reject the divine authenticity of the book itself (for the Bible, even in its alleged corrupted and mutilated state, clearly contains the specific message that Mr. Pratt defines: a call to repent, be baptized, and receive the Holy Spirit — see Acts 2:38).

Q. What will be the consequence if they do not embrace the Book of Mormon as a divine revelation?

A. They will be destroyed from the land and sent down to hell, like all other generations who have rejected a divine message.

Q. In what way will the Lord destroy this nation if they reject the Book of Mormon?

A. By a succession of the most terrible judgments. Plague will follow plague in rapid succession, desolating populous cities and destroying hundreds of thousands. The rains of heaven will be staid, and the earth will not yield forth her wonted harvests, and thousands will pine away with hunger and perish. The bonds of the Union which now hold together the States of this Republic, will be severed, and a fearful, desolating, civil war will rage between the South and the North. The people then will no longer dwell upon their farms, and in their villages, and cities with security, but they will flee from city to city, and from State to State before the face of their enemies, and fear and terror will be upon them by day and night. The laws of the land will then be powerless, and the people will no longer be under their wholesome influence; bands of robbers and murderers will wander over the land unrestrained, and thus will the whole nation mourn and waste away and perish, unless they will hearken unto the great message which God has in mercy sent to them. There is no other alternative; they must either embrace the Book of Mormon as a divine revelation, or be cut off by judgments from the land, for it is the sure and certain decree of heaven. God is not to be mocked, neither can a message be rejected from Him with impunity. Now is the day of mercy; now peace dwells within your borders; now the proclamation is repent and come forth with humble hearts and contrite spirits and be baptized for the remission of sins, that you may receive the Holy Ghost. If this proclamation is unheeded, the sword of justice, which is already unsheathed, will fall heavily upon you.

MichelangeloLastJudgmentSo it’s not the call to repent that must be heeded, for if it was, the Book of Mormon wouldn’t be necessary since the call to repent is definitely, pointedly, and plainly presented in the Bible. Yet in his own “very definite, pointed, and plain” language, Mr. Pratt tells his readers that “there is no other alternative” than to embrace the Book of Mormon as divine revelation. This is the only way (or perhaps he meant it is the only way to begin) to escape God’s “fierce judgment” against this nation collectively, and its people individually.

As is often the case with the teachings of Mormon leaders, this doctrine does not square with the Bible. The Bible that Orson Pratt dismissed as corrupt and untrustworthy says this: “And now, Israel, what does the Lord your God require of you, but to fear the Lord your God, to walk in all his ways, to love him, to serve the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul” (Deuteronomy 10:12). There is nothing here about the Book of Mormon. In fact, the Book of Mormon isn’t mentioned in the Bible at all.

On this subject of escaping God’s judgment, would today’s Mormonism say that Latter-day Apostle Orson Pratt engaged in teaching “doctrines which he understands”? Or had he imprudently “launched forth on an endless sea of speculation”? I don’t think Mr. Pratt’s teaching would raise many eyebrows in today’s Mormonism – although the LDS Church would probably rather not say so in such “definite, pointed, and plain” language.

About Sharon Lindbloom

Sharon surrendered her life to the Lord Jesus Christ in 1979. Deeply passionate about Truth, Sharon loves serving as a full-time volunteer research associate with Mormonism Research Ministry. Sharon and her husband live in Minnesota.
This entry was posted in Book of Mormon, Early Mormonism and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

61 Responses to Rejecting the Book of Mormon

  1. MistakenTestimony says:

    Ralph, how do you know that your testimony is from the Holy Ghost?

  2. Rick B says:

    Hey Ralph?
    If you go to the MrM homepage and you see the picture in the right hand corner of your screen, it is a picture of the Dome of the rock, The Muslim (Un)holy place, with Jeruslam behind it. I walked by that place and am walking in the old city. How come no Mormons can post a picture on their blog or website of a city or picture of a building from the BoM, and not some place mentioned in the BoM that is a Bible land, since thats already in the Bible? Then say, I have been their or am here now? Because these places simply dont exist.

    Now I know you guys will say, we have faith and prayed about it, the BoM. But what about people like Muslims, or JW, or and other religion that also claims they prayed and have faith/ why are they wrong and your not? Dont say they are right, because first off that goes against the BoM saying their is only ONE TRUE CHURCH. Then it also goes against comman sense. Muslims cannot say Jesus is not a god, or not God, only a mere propthet, and also claim what you believe to be true.

    Atheists believe on faith that God is not real and does not exist. So either any religion that believes God exists is corret or Atheists are, we cannot have God existing and not existing at the same time.

  3. Ralph says:

    I asked you to prove the Bible was the word of God – ie, NOT jewish kyths and legends which can show some historicity and arvhaeology which is what you are doing at the moment by describing places you’ve visited. You have said nothing in evidence to prove the Bible is the word of God yet. Can you do it? If so please let me know so I can prove it to my athiest friend who is a scientific researcher by career so is well up to date on scientific and factual evidences.

    I never said that if the BoM is false then the Bible is false. I never hold that position and have never said it either. I do hold to the LDS position that if the Bible is falsse then so is the BoM, eben the BoM states that.

  4. fifth monarchy man says:

    Hey Ralph,

    you said,

    I asked you to prove the Bible was the word of God

    I say,

    Premise 1: Jesus is God
    Premise 2: Jesus holds the Bible to be Scripture (the word of God)
    conclusion: the Bible is Scripture (the Word of God)

    This is not rocket science. If you accept the premises the conclusion follows necessarily. That is the very definition of proof.

    Now an atheist or a rebel might not accept one or more of the premises but anyone who is a true “Christian” would certainly accept them don’t you agree.

    Do you deny the premises?


  5. fifth monarchy man says:


    Once that we’ve established conclusively that “the Bible” is the word of God. the only thing left to do is determine if an individual writing (like the book of Mormon) is part of the Bible.

    We evaluate the book of Mormon the same way we do other writings like the supposed gospel of Thomas or the Qur’an. The BOM fails the test for the same reason all those other wannabe scripture do. It does not have the Apostleisitic credentials. It’s just that simple


  6. MistakenTestimony says:

    Ralph said,

    “I asked you to prove the Bible was the word of God … You have said nothing in evidence to prove the Bible is the word of God yet.”

    Before a person can understand astrophysics they need to be able to understand basic arithmetic first. What you are asking for is astrophysics (I.e. divinity). What you should be asking for is basic arithmetic first (I.e. historicity). The Bible has it, the BoM doesn’t. The BoM doesn’t even pass first grade math, so your call for understanding astrophysics is a rabbit hole to nowhere.

  7. MistakenTestimony says:

    And once again, how do you know your testimony of the historicity of the BoM is from the Holy Ghost?

  8. johnsepistle says:

    Ralph is, as usual, missing some things here. For a collection of documents such as the Bible or the Book of Mormon, historical authenticity is a necessary (though not in itself sufficient) condition for being divinely inspired revelation. (Actually, this statement is an oversimplification: it would be more precise to say that provenance and the veracity of historical narratives within it are the necessary condition.)

    What Rick and others are rightly pointing out is that, when it comes to the historical narratives we have in the Bible, we have the external corroboration that allows us to reasonably conclude that it meets this first condition to some extent. We can go and walk in many of the places it describes. We have a sufficient grasp of the provenance to be assured that it meets that criterion as well. However, the Book of Mormon fails on both counts. First, its provenance is much more plausibly understood as a nineteenth-century origin during the Second Great Awakening, given its doctrinal themes, its earliest attestation in the manuscript tradition, and its relationships with other pieces of nineteenth-century literature (a study furthered in recent times by the renewed focus on Gilbert Hunt’s 1816 The Late War). Second, its putative description, in narrative form, of the history of Israelite peoples in the Americas, not only lacks archaeological attestation but, moreover, flies drastically in the face of known facts about civilizations in the Americas during that era, in addition to genetic considerations regarding the descendants of those native peoples. Hence, on these grounds, the Book of Mormon does not really get off the ground.

    Now, Ralph wants to attempt to compel us to bypass this question and leap to another one, namely, the divine inspiration of the biblical documents. His presumed intention is to show that no airtight case can be made for biblical inspiration, and that therefore we must rest on some form of wholly fideistic approach, thereby legitimating his own epistemic follies. However, this tactic rests on a complete misunderstanding – perhaps intentional, perhaps not – of the points that his interlocutors here have been raising.

    Let it be reiterated: the Book of Mormon does not get a pass here. Even if it were the case that the divine inspiration of the Bible were believed in because of a fideistic leap, it would still be a fideistic leap from meeting the first set of necessary criteria, and therefore would not legitimate the radically larger leap required to affirm the divine inspiration of the Book of Mormon.

    That said, I do not think that belief in the divine inspiration of the Bible requires such a fideistic leap at all. I believe in the inspiration of the Bible for several reasons. I begin from my awareness of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ – which are historical facts. (There is no circular logic here, for it does not require the divine inspiration of the Gospels to reasonably affirm these facts.) Given Jesus Christ’s claims about himself, it follows that he is the ultimate standard and guide for all things. Consequent to that, I accept the Old Testament as divinely inspired on the foremost ground that Jesus Christ affirmed it as revelation. It reliably tells, in a variety of literary forms, the saga of God’s redemptive work through his chosen people, leading up to the Messiah in whom the story finds its culmination. I accept the New Testament as divinely inspired because of its provenance in the circles of those specially commissioned by Jesus to shepherd the people whom he created. Finally, I note that I experience the presence of God amidst the words of the text – but this is a tertiary reason, not to be taken as ultimate outside of the context of these other considerations.

    None of these reasons, then, provide justification for accepting the Book of Mormon as divinely inspired. So, while Ralph may have tried to trap us into offering him fodder for his case, he has once more failed in this endeavor.

  9. Rick B says:

    Ralph, let me plainly state,
    No matter what I or anyone says, you flat out reject it and claim it is not evidence. I was not telling you Jewish Fables, I told you facts and hard evidence that the Bible mentions, theirfore proving in part, the Bible is true, and that you cannot give me the same evidence proving the BoM true. The evidence I gave does not prove in and of it’s self that Jesus is God, But does prove when the Bible mentions those places we know they exist, so we have a start.

    Then Jews admit Both Religious and secular, Jesus as a male human did live and walk the earth, they just deny His divinaty. You have over the years been given tons of info and as awalys reject it in favor of lies, thats proof of the Bible, because the bible said that would happen.

  10. MJP says:


    I’ll try to simplify what you have been presented:

    The existence of the vast archeological evidence is in itself not proof that the Bible is God’s inspired word, but it helps in its proof. Because the Bible is reliable historically, we can more safely assume it is reliable spiritually. Stated negatively, if the Bible failed historically, we would have strong reason to fail spiritually. There is no reason to believe in a book that cannot give an accurate history if it is said to be of God, who knows all things. See, why would God allow a book to be compiled that gave wrong information about himself and his people?

    That is precisely the problem we attribute to the Book of Mormon. It has no credible evidence to support its history of Hebrew peoples in America. It is supposed to be a true book relaying the history of God’s people, and yet we have no evidence that it accurate relays the history of God’s people.

    Why should we believe what it has to say about spirituality, too? Why should we give credence to a spiritual system that is born out of an unreliable book?

    These questions do not provide proof of anything, but do demonstrate the very real trouble with Mormonism, especially when contrasted with historical Christianity.

  11. Rick B says:

    Hey Ralph,
    I’m not just saying and neither are the other Christians that we believe the Bible simply because of archeological evidence. We have in the Bible about 1,800 prophecys. Just 500 alone go into great detail about when Jesus would be born, where, How, to who, what Time, where He would die, His beard would be pulled out, the two Thieves next to Him, I could go on.

    then we have more prophecys about the Jews being driven from their Homeland, then being scattered over the entire world, then hundreds of years later coming back into their homeland, still having their language. This has never happend to any nation, EVER. Then The Bible said it would happen. Now I know you will say, But this does not prove Jesus is God. Well it does. Jesus said He was/is God many times. Then How would God prove He wrote the Bible? By giving us all this evidence. Then Jesus also said, search the Scriptures for the testify of Me.

    What Scriptures were Jesus talking about? The OT. And all the little Details in the OT speak of Jesus, How the temple was built and the passover lamb and how it was to be sacrficed and many other things. You cannot show me this detail in the BoM, and you also have made no attempt to do this after I asked, and it’s because you cannot. Why will you believe in a false prophet when all the evidence proves him to be?

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