“I Never Knew You.”

The March 2008 issue of Tabletalk included a good article on Jesus’ words found in Matthew 7:21-23. The article is here reprinted with permission.


The Most Frightening Words

by Tom Ascol

As Jesus draws His Sermon on the Mount to a close, He makes one of the most frightening statements to be found in Scripture. Martyn Lloyd-Jones calls His declaration the most solemn and solemnizing words ever uttered in this world.

“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart form me, you workers of lawlessness'” (Matt. 7:21-23).

Last JudgmentIt is hard to imagine anything more devastating than to hear the meek and lowly Jesus Christ utter these words to people who were expecting to be welcomed into heaven by Him. These are people who have been deceived. They lived their lives believing a lie.

Think about the kind of people Jesus describes here. They are not irreligious. They call Jesus “Lord.” They know the lingo and even make a proper profession about Christ. Furthermore, they have been very active in the practice of their religion. They have been preachers, exorcists, and miracle workers, and they did all of their religious works in the name of Jesus.

On that fateful day, however, neither their religious fervor nor their activities will save them. They have deceived themselves into believing that they know Christ, but in reality they have missed Him. They profess to having a saving relationship with Him. He professes never to have known them. And Jesus’ profession is the one that ultimately matters.

Self-deception is an insidious condition. You will never meet a person who knows he is self-deceived. By definition, those ensnared are completely unaware that they are.

This is why God gives us so many warnings to be careful in our walk through this world (Acts 13:40-41; 2 Peter 3:17; Heb. 3:12, etc.). It really is a dangerous journey.

John Bunyan graphically depicts this in the final scene of The Pilgrim’s Progress. After describing the glorious reception that the king gave Christian and Hopeful into the Celestial City, Bunyan describes the outcome of the character he called “Ignorance.”

His name is not a commentary on his intellect but on his lack of understanding of the true way of salvation. Earlier in the story we learn the Ignorance is quite confident that he will make it to heaven because, as he says, “I know my Lord’s will and have been a good liver; I pay every man his own; I pray, fast, pay tithes, and give alms.” Furthermore, he speaks freely of Christ and says that he often thinks of God and heaven and genuinely desires to go to them.

Despite Christian’s and Hopeful’s best efforts, they are unable to dissuade Ignorance from his confidence, ill-founded though it is. He has not been born again. He is not trusting Christ alone to justify him before God. Thus he is not living by faith in obedience to God’s commands.

So in that final scene that takes place at the very threshold of heaven, Ignorance’s self-deception is exposed when he is not allowed to enter. The king has him bound hand and foot and taken away. “Then,” Bunyan writes, “I saw that there was a way to hell, even from the gates of heaven.”

That is the very point that Jesus makes in the Sermon on the Mount. Why does our Lord speak these frightening words? Is it simply to scare us? Is it to make us worry about our salvation or keep us from assurance?

No. It is to warn us and to spur us on to “make our calling and election sure” (2 Peter 1:10). It is to motivate us to “examine ourselves to see whether you are in the faith (2 Cor. 13:5). Jesus speaks these words not to rob us of joy but to help insure that we do not miss the joy that comes from knowing Him savingly.

At the end of the day, what matters is not a profession of religious zeal and activity. What matters is that we are known – savingly known – by Jesus Christ.

Those who know Christ and are known by Christ follow Him by obeying His commandments. They don’t obey in order to be right with Him, but because they have been declared to be right with Him.

This, after all, is the basis on which the Lord will make His shattering pronouncement on the Day of Judgment. Heaven is reserved for those who do the will of God. Those who do not do His will will be exposed as “workers of lawlessness” and, despite their religious professions, will be removed from His presence forever.

It is a great kindness that our Lord speaks so plainly to us in His Word. We are without excuse. He warns us of self-deception and instructs us in the way to avoid it. He speaks frightening truth in order to save.

Dr. Tom Ascol is pastor of Grace Baptist Church in Cape Coral, Florida, and executive director of Founders Ministries.


Reprinted from Tabletalk, March 2008, volume 32, number 3. Used by permission of Ligonier Ministries, home of Renewing Your Mind.

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.
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61 Responses to “I Never Knew You.”

  1. falcon says:

    The Book of Revelation is for me perhaps the most sobering of all of the Books of the Bible. It’s really not the end times prophetic pronouncments that I find sobering but the letters to the various Churches which Jesus addresses in chapters 2 and 3. There is a clear message of confronting heretical teachings that lead people away from the Gospel. It tells me that as believers we need to have hightened awareness of false doctrine/teaching and that we have to be incredably aggressive in the intellectual side of our faith. To-this-end as Christians we can’t be lazy. Dr. Walter Martin used to say “question everything people tell you, including me”. We also need to have confidence when false teachers and prophets appear to call them on their revelations and stand up and say “I don’t think so friend.” and hold them accountable. I thank God that I’m not in a situation where I have to defend a leader, living or dead, or a religious sect. Having the freedom to vigoriously question and search out answers does not lead me away from Christ, but strenghtens my faith in Him. We all have to assume that responsibility.

  2. Arthur Sido says:


    “It’s really not the end times prophetic pronouncments that I find sobering but the letters to the various Churches which Jesus addresses in chapters 2 and 3. There is a clear message of confronting heretical teachings that lead people away from the Gospel. It tells me that as believers we need to have hightened awareness of false doctrine/teaching and that we have to be incredably aggressive in the intellectual side of our faith.”

    Amen to that. There is warning there for all of us today who have let the church drift. It is not that we all worship Jesus in our own way, Christian and mormon. It is that mormons worship a Jesus of their own making, instead of the eternal Word described in His self-revelatory Word. The triune God of the Bible is not a buffet, to be worshipped by picking and choosing what we like and making subtitutes where we feel warranted. He declares Himself and we either worship Him as He is or stand opposed to Him.

  3. falcon says:

    Well over thirty years ago, I got into a Bible study and it was there that I discovered my own “Ignorance”. I was saved and walking steadfastly with Christ, I was even reading my Bible, but my depth of understanding was not what I thought it should be. So I embarked on an intense course of study in an attempt to have a broader and deeper knowledge of Bible history, doctrine and theology. It’s funny, but all these years later I still am humbled by what I feel is my limited knowledge. But, like a seasoned bank teller, I can tell at a glance, counterfeit currency from the real thing. It is my opinion that our Mormon friends, having received what they feel is a testimony regarding Joseph Smith and the LDS church, shut down intellectually. In order to maintain that testimony, further investigation stops. That’s why when faced with solid empirical evidence that the BoM is not a historically accurate book, they will say “God didn’t reveal that information, it came from men.” This is not faith. It is Ignorance.

  4. amanda says:

    Frightening words? I’ve read this passage many times, and have never found it frightening. The Savior’s ministry has always brought me peace.

    I’m not sure how this sentiment expressed by the savior is any evidence against His restored gospel. Frankly, I don’t look to evangelical bloggers for wisdom on where I’m going after this life…I pray to my Heavenly Father, in Jesus name…and the answers I receive in prayer are evidence enough for me of His restored gospel, and what He wishes I do to be what He wants me to be… not what evangelicals perceive I should be or shouldn’t be.

    I think it is wrong to use the Savior’s words to further an ideological agenda. I try my utmost to use His words to straighten myself out, and not judge others—but love them. I think Christ would have us look to Him to be critical of yourself–and more loving and charitable toward others.

  5. amanda says:


    “That’s why when faced with solid empirical evidence that the BoM is not a historically accurate book… this is not faith. this is ignorance.”

    Your post is truly ironic. Speaking of ignorance…

    I believe there is “empirical” evidence that the bible is not a historically accurate book…Or are you completely ignorant to the origins of the writings of Christian tradition??? See, empirical evidence is a litmus test for scholars, not believers.

    Read, “Misquoting Jesus”…written by a fellow evangelical who once believed he was saved- till he studied the “empirical evidence” you claim supports your ideological point of view. By your own standards, Falcon, you couldn’t be a believer, because if you place the same standard to the bible, your position fails, MISERABLY.

    Now, don’t twist my words, because I am in no way stating my view of the Bible…only using your words to invalidate your point about the Book of Mormon. There are more variations and “errors” in the Bible than there are so called “changes” in the Book of Mormon, or perceived errors.

    I suggest educating yourself on the history of the bible before you catch yourself throwing stones in a glass house.

  6. Ed says:

    Excellent blog entry! I am reminded of Paul’s words in Romans chapter 10:1-4:

    “Brothers, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for the Israelites is that they may be saved. For I can testify about them that they are zealous for God, but their zeal is not based on knowledge. Since they did not know the righteousness that comes from God and sought to establish their own, they did not submit to God’s righteousness. Christ is the end of the law so that there may be righteousness for everyone who believes.”

    Ultimately, our zeal to serve God profits us nothing if it is based in something false. We may have good intentions and be trying very hard, but in the end it means nothing if we fail to recognize that it is God’s righteousness, not our own, that saves us.

  7. Lautensack says:

    One, nice to see you back. Two Bart Ehrman is not an evangelical he is an apostate. Thirdly Ehrman plays this little shell game in his book “Misquoting Jesus” he takes possibility and turns in into probability and then from that he creates certainty. Thus Ehrman makes a huge leap of faith, because certain texts don’t line up exactly to they must have been actively changed. No true scholar of textual criticism would state that we cannot know what was written in the bible originally because it was not transmitted in the like of a children’s game of telephone but through multiple vines, but because people are naturally God haters they often find any reason they can justify their hated toward Him and His word. (Please note I am not trying to make the bible the fourth member of the Trinity.) For a review of Ehrman’s book by one of the worlds leading scholars on biblical Greek Click Here

    As to the original post Matthew 7 is a very difficult passage as I know many people who have just enough religion to send them straight to hell. How often and with what earnestness are we to pray as Paul did in love that God might grant them repentance that they might come to Christ. (Romans 9:1-3;10:1-4)


  8. eric017 says:

    This is how I see this issue as a former Mormon who is now a Christian.

    I agree with falcon that the first few chapters of Revelation are dire warnings for the churches (bodies of believers in different locals) to be watchful of heretical teachings. Warnings of these sorts are found throughout the epistles; indeed Jesus himself issued such warnings. Why? I believe the Gospel is the most powerful message/idea in humanity’s history. It is literally life changing. Jesus, Paul et al. knew the Gospel’s power and understood very well that persons with alterior motives (e.g. Joseph Smith in my perview; but also many others since Christ’s assention) would co-opt the beautiful message for thier own personal gain or influence over believers.

    While the behaviour of Smith (and also Brigham Young) during the early history of the LDS church certainly fit this pattern, the modern LDS church is a different animal, I think. I don’t think the current prophet and apostles are motivated in such ways, at least overtly or consciously. Rather, the power gained from distorting the Gospel has been internalized within the bureaucracy of the LDS church. The current church functions much more like a corporation who’s power is derived from members believing the distorted message. The board members and chairmen (First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve) serve to maximize the efficiency of the organization, while no one individual overtly seems more powerful. To me this explains the piety and hubris of General Conference messages.

    Most Mormons are living thier lives as best they can, though I believe they are kept in bondage to the LDS corporation through a never ending cycle of sin and repentence. Achieving personal worthyness before Jesus’s atonement is acceptable is not the Gospel Jesus, Paul, or anyone else in the NT taught. Thus, we as Christians absolutely need to be warry of any message that is contrary to the Christian message of Salvation through Jesus and Jesus alone.

  9. David says:

    I think it is wrong to use the Savior’s words to further an ideological agenda.

    Does Mormonism count as an ideology and does a Mormon quoting Jesus count as furthering an ideological agenda, or does the “Restored Gospel” get a free pass?

    Your argument amounts to – Well, the Bible is bogus too. That is a reason to ditch anything claiming to be Christianity (including Mormonism) but it is hardly a ringing endorsement for Mormonism.

    There are more variations and “errors” in the Bible than there are so called “changes” in the Book of Mormon, or perceived errors.

    O really, and what would those be? At some point you need to do the nitty gritty work of examining and comparing the two books, and honestly Amanda I don’t think you have done that (here praying doesn’t count). If you knew the claims regarding the Bom’s origins you would know there should be zero textual variations (if you use that lame line about printer’s mistakes you will be laughed at). The changes in the BoM are not just so called. The Bible is a work of antiquity, and like other ancient books, there will be text variants. The BoM is a work of antiquity, or so it claims to be, but there is a serious wrinkle when only a handful of people have seen the only surviving text. Also, Joseph Smith claims to have perfectly translated it – you know the part about the text for the next page not appearing until the text he was peeping out was transcribed correctly.

    Amanda, we are not against praying or even testimonials, but those are what are known as non-transferables. You prayed about the BoM and God told you it was true? Well, people here can say that they prayed the same but God told them it was false. That is why, here, we deal with arguments and “evidence”.

    BTW, I will call Bart Ehrman a “fellow Evangelical” when you start calling Sandra Tanner a “fellow Mormon”.

  10. falcon says:

    Well Amanda, here we go down the same old Bart Ehrman road with you again. I think his scholarship has been adequately debunked on previous threads and also with this one. In order for Joseph Smith to sell his religion it was necessary for him to do a couple of things. One, he had to sell the idea that the Bible is corrupted and that many plain and precious truths have been lost. But, what do you know, this practioner of magic arts has a new improved “restored” version based on his personal visions and revelations. He promoted his own doctrine based on his dubious revelations. He created a class of “believers” who truly fit into the category of “I never knew you” because they have never truly known Jesus. I read something recently that applies to those who believe in Smith: for the true believer there can be no such thing as disconfirming evidence, simply because his true belief was never based on evidence in the first place. Mormon belief like all fanatical, false beliefs, only maintains a veneer of rational justification; underneath, it is virtually content-free. It is, in fact, merely a psychological state, distinguishable only by the particular totems it anchors itself with (the BoM, Joseph Smith)
    Jesus words are sobering to those of us who follow Him because we know what the stakes are.

  11. Ralph says:

    This article works both ways – either we LDS are the only true church on this earth as we claim and thus Jesus will be saying this to you Evangelicals;


    You evangelicals are correct and Jesus will be saying this to us LDS.

    To me, the burden of proof falls on God as to which is the true church, and I have my answer from God.

    As for proof about the Bible and BoM, they are both books of faith. There is very little evidence of the truthfulness of either book as a book from the one and only true God. Who’s to say the Muslems are not the ones who are correct? The way you Evangelicals believe and think about us LDS is the same way atheists think about the whole Christian movement and those who believe in a god of sorts.

    And before anyone says that there can be found evidence of cities, people and events from the Bible which proves it is true, there can also be found evidence of cities, people and events from ‘Forrest Gump’, does that make it true? Read carefully what I said – there is NO evidence of the truthfulness of the Bible as COMING FROM the ONE AND ONLY GOD. I said nothing about its historicity or archaeology, although it is also lacking there.

  12. Michael P says:

    Amanda and Ralph, be careful about saying there is no evidence for the Bible. There is more than you think, though I will grant that as a book of faith, you need faith for it to become real to you. But that does not negate the evidence for its truthfulness. And as to the atheists, I understand your insistence on bringing them up, but this appeal to others and emotion doesn’t quite work. It actually only serves as a distraction from the issues. If we are to get anywhere, we need to focus on the evidence, not on what others believe on faith.

    And Raplh, you say God is your arbiter: can you perhaps explain this verse to me: 1 John 4: 1-6. Seems we have to do some research on what we are told by teachers, and that is not just based on prayer

  13. falcon says:

    You better spend a little more time in Bible study and a little less time interpreting subjective feelings that you use to undergird your belief in Joseph Smith. The Bible tells us that the scriptures are “God breathed” which proves that the Bible comes from God. Again, it is necessary for Mormons to degrade the Bible in their vain attempts to make it equivalent to Joseph Smith’s fantasy. Actually, Mormons have to depend on a “testimony” because the evidence that Joseph Smith is a false prophet is overwhelming. As Tal Bachman, an exMormon blogger says: ….a few mind games, a bit of selective blindness and amnesia, are all that’s needed for this to be no problem whatsoever for devout Mormons. The list goes on forever-Smith didn’t use any plates for the translation? No problem. He stared into a stone and dictated? No problem. He was charged with fraud. No problem. He tried to get rid of all those “Books of Commandments” and re-wrote some of his “prophecies” in the subsequent edition D&C, no problem. The sun doesn’t draw it’s light from a star called Kolob? No problem. DNA evidence refutes Smith’s claims? No problem. He deflowered a bewildered 14 year old? No problem. He changed his “first vison” story fundamentally over the years? No problem.
    Jesus warned about false prophets. The evidence regarding Smith as a false prophet is endless. Remember Jesus’ words “I never knew you”.

  14. amanda says:

    “scholarship has been adequately debunked on previous thread”

    By whom? Dr. Aaron Shafavoloff?

    But way to actually respond to my point, which was a good one. There are many evidences to question how Christians (mainstream) come to any conclusions on doctrine. Yet you have so many problems with the book of mormon, yet the doctrine is clear. There have been no doctrinal changes. So really, the problems (according to scholarly thinking, which was YOUR litmus test, and was the logic I was responding to) with the bible are much larger and on a grander scale than any issues you could possibly find with the book of mormon.

    Aside from scholarly proof, I rely on the witness from the spirit to testify truth to me, I don’t wait around for approval from scholars :). And yes, that is enough. The witness of the Holy Ghost is of far greater importance than empirical evidence. And if you disagree, then yes, we do not agree on what the Savior taught.

    Acts 5: 32
    32 And we are his witnesses of these things; and so is also the Holy Ghost, whom God hath given to them that obey him.
    Acts 15: 8
    8 And God, which knoweth the hearts, bare them witness, giving them the Holy Ghost, even as he did unto us;

    Rom. 9: 1
    1 I say the truth in Christ, I lie not, my conscience also bearing me witness in the Holy Ghost,

    Heb. 2: 4
    4 God also bearing them witness, both with signs and wonders, and with divers miracles, and gifts of the Holy Ghost, according to his own will?

    Heb. 10: 15
    15 Whereof the Holy Ghost also is a witness to us: for after that he had said before,

    I think that if empirical evidence were a litmus test for the Lord, you would see it mentioned in scripture 🙂

    So the only standard anyone should use in judging the Book of Mormon would be the promptings of the Holy Ghost, not empirical evidence or scholarly opinion, which is the foundation your opinion of His restored gospel is built on…ever read about the foolish man who built his house on the sand?

  15. amanda says:


    “Your argument amounts to – Well, the Bible is bogus too.”

    That actually wasn’t my argument at all. But I’m not surprised at your response, I had a feeling that was coming, which is why I mentioned,

    “Now, don’t twist my words, because I am in no way stating my view of the Bible” (I am in no way stating that I believe the bible is “bogus”)

    I believe I also said, “empirical evidence is a litmus test for scholars, not believers” (I am a believer)

    I was attempting to point out was that evangelicals do not use the same standards they scrutinize the Book of Mormon with, on the bible. They just blindly accept the bible as the word of God just because it’s been around a REALLY long time. The book itself didn’t just fall out of the heavens bound and ready to read. The forming of the bible is a constant struggle in scholarly circles. And to scrutinize the Book of Mormon in this same fashion is just complete ignorance on the part of evangelicals.

    I was attempting to point out that empirical evidence is irrelevant when it comes to faith. Faith is a belief in things unseen- not things you can prove. And anything pertaining to His gospel can be proven or dis-proven by simply relying on the Holy Ghost.

    Maybe the disconnect we are having is that the bulk of Christian tradition relies on text. They are a textual tradition, much like the Jews. Yet the Jews themselves relied too much on their traditions that they laughed at the Savior when He came and used their traditions to “disprove”, scholarly, that He was in no way what He said He was. And He was crucified. If they had only humbled themselves, and relied on the spirit to teach them truth, they would have known Him.

    The bible is merely a testament, not HOLY in and of itself.


    Hi, And how can Bart Ehrman be an apostate when he was “saved”. So works do matter? I’m sorry, but I find evangelicals on this point to be incredibly confusing

  16. Lautensack says:

    Please do not try to deceive the naive lurking on this site. There have been doctrinal changes to the Book of Mormon, to say that there hasn’t is to bring, either your own knowledge of history, or personal integrity into question. Such changes include those of a Christological and Theology Proper nature. See also 1981 BoM 1 Nephi 11:18-32;13:40 vs 1830 BOM 1 Nephi pg 25-26,32.

    As for the promptings of the Holy Ghost, you have your testimony I have mine and they are utterly at odds with one another for mine tells me that there is one true and eternal God, who is, unchangeable, unique, all-powerful (Deut 6:4;Isa 43:10;44:5-8; Psalm 90:2;96:5;Mal 3:6;James 1:17) who created all things; there is nothing that exists anywhere that He did not bring into existence.(Isa 40:22;41:4;44:24; Jer 10:10-11) God is spirit, and is not limited to time and space, both of which He Himself created. (2 Chr 6:18; Jer 23:24; John 4:24) Man was created God, and God should not be thought of as an exalted man. (Zech 12:1; Psalm 50:21; Isa 29:16; Hosea 11:9) Jesus Christ has eternally existed as God, (John 1:1; Phil. 2:5-6; Heb 1:10) He created all things.(John 1:3; Col 1:15-17; Heb 1:1-3) and His blood cleanses from all sin. (Col 1:19-20;2:13-14; 1 Pet 1:18-19; 1 John 1:7)

    Thus since the Spirit tells us two different things about God we must not be listening to the same Spirit, therefore we are to test all spirits and hold to that which is Good. My testimony withstands the test of Scripture, as noted, because it is built upon the Rock that is Jesus Christ and His Word, not the shifting sands of Joseph Smith Jr., does yours?


  17. Michael P says:

    Actually, Amanda, you miss this verse: Acts 17:11.

    “11Now the Bereans were of more noble character than the Thessalonians, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true.”

    I’ll even post in the KJV: “11These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so.”

    You should consider this, as yes, truth, all truth, lies in the words you say is not Holy. In other words, everything can be found in the very book.

    I’ll also state this again: we both believe in the Bible, right? Why try to make arguments against it. If it falls, so does your faith along with ours. What we must do, since we both put our faith in it, is discuss the Bible, not tear it apart. And when we do this, it is fair to discuss evidence that supports/goes against the BoM. Here is just one area where the BoM lags behind the Bible in this regard: is the BoM used as a map for archeologists like the Bible?

  18. Lautensack says:

    Sorry I posted my response prior to seeing your second response so allow me to respond to the Bart Ehrman reference. How can someone who was saved be an apostate, if we are saved by grace? I think that pretty much summarizes your question in layman’s terms does it not? According to Websters dictionary, an Apostate is:

    1. One who has forsaken the faith, principles, or party, to which he before adhered; esp., one who has forsaken his religion for another; a pervert; a renegade.

    2. (R. C. Ch.) One who, after having received sacred orders, renounces his clerical profession.

    Ehrman most assuredly fits in the second category does he not? However to take the question to the full depth we must look to scripture and see what it says about apostasy. For this I look to Matthew 24:10; Luke 8:11-15; Hebrews 6:4-6 which clearly state that some who profess faith will fall away. Now if we simply had those passages it would seem as though our works were meritorious toward our salvation but St. John makes it so clear in his letters that the reason men fall away is not because of lack of works, though good works do accompany the believer, but because they do not have God(2 John 9) and were never a Christian to begin with, though they professed faith. (1 John 2:19) They are the seed of Luke 8:13 that sprung up quickly but had no root. We must remember that it is God and not men or self that keeps us from falling away. (Jude 24)


  19. Lautensack says:

    Oops…Just reread what I wrote earlier and I typoed the line that said,

    Man was created God, and God should not be thought of as an exalted man. (Zech 12:1; Psalm 50:21; Isa 29:16; Hosea 11:9)

    This should read,

    Man was created BY God, and God should not be thought of as an exalted man. (Zech 12:1; Psalm 50:21; Isa 29:16; Hosea 11:9)

    I am sincerely sorry for any confusion that this might have caused and I needed to edit my error before someone slammed me for it. Oh and Mods sorry for the Back to back posts, if you feel like inserting the edits mentioned into the previous post feel free to delete this one.
    Again sorry for any confusion I may have caused, I am not a Kabbalahist.


  20. Brian says:

    Thank you, Tom, for your great column.

    I especially enjoyed your inclusion of The Pilgrim’s Progress. It is a masterpiece. Near the end of Book I, there are chapters relating to Hopeful and to Ignorance.

    Here are some of the notes I took on these chapters:

    Chapter 18 – Hopeful Tells of His Conversion

    In what amounts to a detailed Gospel presentation, Hopeful speaks to Christian of his attempts to relieve his guilt though religious performances. Hopeful finds no lasting peace, until he discovers that God’s grace really is sufficient for him. Many themes are presented here, including the inability of man to be right with God by his own efforts, and the righteousness of Christ imputed to the believer.

    Chapter 19 – The Pilgrims Deal with Ignorance

    Here, Christian and Hopeful speak with Ignorance. Though Ignorance speaks highly of Christ, saying that Christ did die for his sins, Ignorance believes Christ’s death justifies his own religious performances before God. Many 17th-century objections to salvation by grace alone are voiced by Ignorance and answered Biblically by Christian. The objections are the very same ones we hear so commonly today.

    Ignorance could not see himself as a sinner. Christian and Hopeful examine this in the following excert:

    “How do they seek to stifle them [convictions of sin]?” asked Hopeful.

    Christian explained, “First–they think those fears are caused by the Devil–though they are actually caused by God–and thinking so, they resist them as things that directly work toward their overthrow. Second–they also think these fears work toward spoiling their faith when–alas for them, poor individuals that they are!–they have none at all! Therefore, they harden their hearts against them. Third–they presume they shouldn’t fear, and, therefore, in contempt of them they become presumptuously confident. Fourth–they see those fears work to take away from them their pitiful old self-holiness. Therefore, they resist them with all their might.”

  21. David says:


    Your response to my response is called reasoning and around here we could also call that “evidence”. You are using reasoning, just as Jesus and we do, yet – when arguments arise against Mormonism you claim that we are to rely on faith/Holy Ghost only (yet you use reasoning to do so). It seems highly disingenuious.

    “I was attempting to point out was that evangelicals do not use the same standards they scrutinize the Book of Mormon with, on the bible. They just blindly accept the bible as the word of God just because it’s been around a REALLY long time.”

    The above is merely an assertion that you have made to try to bolster your point. You, like many Mormons, lump the Bible and BoM in the same category. You say that “evidence” has disproven both so Evangelicals are being inconsistent to use evidence to prove the BoM wrong. However, this is the very point of contention.

    Most here have looked long and hard at the BoM and the Bible (as well as other religious books) and we see stark differences between the Bible and the BoM. You are being dismissive to pass over the mountain of evidence by simply calling it irrelevant. I would state that this is the fatal flaw that many Mormons make: you don’t love God with all your mind. We (traditional Christians) cannot completely divorce faith from reason/evidence. If I really believed the Bible to be merely a work of Middle Eastern fiction then I would not be a Christian.

    True faith does not go against all evidence but rather exists where things are unseen. Faith is not the conviction against all facts.

    It seems like you missed, or deemed irrelevant, the portion I wrote on non-transferables – so here goes. The Holy Spirit inside me does not jive with the unholy spirits inside Mormon temples. The Holy Spirit warns me to be on guard around those places. So, Mormonism is false because the Holy Spirit tells me so. I do not write that for mere polemical value but because it is true.

  22. Jacob5 says:

    I still have had no answer as to my questions of peoples faith in the bible. So, let me restate this. I find no doubt in your belief that there is a great deal in the historical places and recordings of the bible. Actually I believe in it too. Now, there is still another part that I wish to understand. Aside from all the historical points, what supports your faith that the miracles in the book actually happened? With all that Christ did during his ministry which still appears to be impossible today with all of our science and knowledge, with all the prophets before had performed (Moses and the plagues, the destruction of Jericho, etc.) What backs up your faith in those miracles? Science certainly falls short when it comes to those explanations and we have no empirical evidence to back them up either. What supports your faith? I believe in them with the same faith that I believe in the Book of Mormon. That even if science may show perceived discrepencies I have received knowledge from God that they are true. And as the Bible has had well over a thousand years for its evidencies to appear, christianity had gone through the ringer before all this came to be, I proclaim that in time the Book of Mormon will have such proof. But even if it doesn’t, I still have my faith which is not based on the precepts of the intellectual, but the pure truth from God.
    So, in closing when you denegrate our testimonies based on our faith, then the same argument could be thrown right back at you. Show the evidence of the miracles of the Bible other than just saying God told you so.
    Please try to answer that question and don’t dance around it.

  23. Ed says:

    Jacob5 –

    Because faith must ultimately be based in reality to be valid (remember Alma 32:21?). Nobody on this board claims to believe in the Bible solely based on the physical evidence that God has left. Faith is essential, and faith is absolutely necessary to be able to accept events like Jesus walking out of the tomb or Elijah being carried off to heaven in a flaming chariot.

    Where Mormon faith differs from Christian faith, however, is that LDS put their faith not into things that can’t be proven correct, but in things that have been proven fraudulent. The Book of Mormon has been debunked by archeology, anthropology, microbiology, linguistics, critical analysis of literature, etc. The Book of Abraham is an open and shut fraud case. Joseph Smith’s “translation” of the Bible has been shown to be incorrect when compared against Biblical manuscripts that predate Christ (and the formation of Nephi’s Great and Abominable church which supposedly changed it). “Faith” in these things in no longer faith, but rather dillusion, however sincere the person professing it may be.

    So I go back to the verse I cited earlier from Romans 10: We believe that the LDS do indeed have a zeal to serve God, but that it is not based on correct knowledge. As Paul says to the Romans, this zeal eventually profits nothing as it ultimately carries people away from God.

  24. Michael P says:

    Jacob, Ed did a good job summarizong it, but I’ll add my two cents. The Bible requires faith, otherwise it is just a book. But why believe in the miracles? Because so much else has been proven true. Prophesy, history, customs, so much in the Bible has been verified that it makes sense to believe in the miracles as well. Contrast this with the BoM, which you claim one day will have such evidence. Perhaps, but then again, not necessarilly. They once thought the civilizations were in New York. Now, they think they might be in Mexico and Central America. That’s quite a mistake, and quite the difference. They also used to think that American Indians were the primary decsendants of these societies, now they are just one of many. You also have things that have been proven false in Mormonism, which Ed goes over in his response. Believing in those miracles and the BoM is less credible.

    And another thought, we have always had substantial archeological knowledge of ancient Biblical times, never not knowing where Egypt was or Jerusalem, for instance. What is being found now only adds to it and makes it more credible.

    In contrast, we know nothing of the ancients who came to the new world. Might we gain that knowledge? Perhaps. But probably not.

  25. clarity67 says:


    I am curious as to your source for your claim that “the entire Book of Abraham is an open and shut fraud case-“ Please kindly advise.

    As for the claims debunking the authenticity of the Book of Mormon, although I am skeptical that you may venture to read such, I include the reference just the same. See (lds.org) Daniel C. Peterson, “Mounting Evidence for the Book of Mormon,” Ensign, Jan 2000, 19. Afterwards, please unmask the unanswered interrogatory as to how, indeed, did an uneducated man of scanty means, resources, and intellect ever produce such a work in the limited window framed by his circumstance???


    I find it curious that a man of your intelligence is resigning the veracity of the Book of Mormon to the opinions of archaeologists and anthropologists. If we are to use this same standard as “they once believed the civ. to be in NY and now Mexico or S. America” then we must apply the same to the Bible since there are countless questions with regard to,… (i.e)the Land of Goshen (where is it?), or where the Israelites crossed the Jordan. Experts still dispute the identity of the Israelite invaders of Jericho around the time of Joshua and earlier, and even the Hyksos dynasty of the Bronze Age Egypt can only be conjecturally connected with the ruins. etc…

    The facts are that corroboration is nice, but no guarantee. Rather, I submit the following from an impartial source.

    Karl R. Popper, The Logic of Scientific Discovery (New York: Basic Books, 1959), p. 280. “The old scientific ideal of episteme—of absolutely certain, demonstrable knowledge—has proved to be an idol. The demand for scientific objectivity makes it inevitable that every scientific statement must remain TENATIVE forever. It may indeed be corroborated, but every corroboration is relative to other statements which, again, are tentative. Only in our subjective experiences of conviction, in our subjective faith, can we be ‘absolutely certain.'”

  26. Michael P says:

    Clarity, in all due respect, your retort is relativism to the core. You are saying that all we can rely on is our faith, and what is observable is subject to interpretation, ie, we can never know truth except through our own eyes. This would keep alive the burning in the bosom phenomenon, most certainly.

    As to the archeology, sure, there are things left unknown, but the more that is discovered jives with what is in the Bible. Can the same be said about the BoM? This is the jist of the argument.

    I do not expect you to agree, but surely you can understand the argument presented.

    Oh, and do you think there is evidence outside of Mormonism that gives the religion credence?


  27. amanda says:


    FACTS fall short of finding truth.

    There are numerous examples where Scientists thought they had it figured out…Darwin comes to mind- So what facts do we have of the creation? There is some science now about the complexity of cells- but this is recent discovery, what about believers before this perceived proof? We have a book that says Adam was created by God. In a Factual world, all we can claim is that we have proof that someone WROTE that Adam was created by God- we don’t have actual proof of the event. We don’t have proof even that what the bible says is from God…we only know that it was indeed written by men who called themselves prophets…

    So fact does not shed light on the entire picture does it? Faith first.

    Faith is what clarifies fact. Yet many evangelicals search for scholarly fact to disprove the book of mormon without having faith first. Prioritize faith first and eventually the facts, as you discover them will only amplify your original faith. I see those pieces of evidence very differently than you see them, because of my faith.

    God gives his children all knowledge that they posses…Seek Him first, instead of replacing Him with facts. Is God not capable of revealing truth without our complete factual understanding? The more we learn about science the more, however minute, we are able to grasp a creation or design. But we shouldn’t believe in Him until that point in our understanding??

    The ideas of man change with the wind, but our Father is constant, and he communicates to us through our faith and prayers. Otherwise, the most humble of men would be kept from a knowledge of their Father. Not everyone is a scholar, but even scholars need to humble themselves and place faith first.

  28. Michael P says:

    Amanda, you say this: “Prioritize faith first and eventually the facts, as you discover them will only amplify your original faith.”

    Could it be that this amplification is really just wishful thinking?

    I agree faith is a necessary part. But faith that has no evidence outside of the faith itself I would call foolish. God gave us minds and reason for a purpose.

    And I just said this to Clarity, but Mormonism seems to resort to relativistic arguments when in a corner. Essentially, you say that the truth can’t really be known, but you believe yours is because it feels right.

    It is interesting that you say the ideas of man change; as they do. So, why has the Mormon ida of polygamy shifted? What about blacks? Adam God? God doesn’t change, but your (Mormon) thoughts on these issues and more have. This, by the way, is why I said earlier it is as if you sweep ideas under the rug.

    And one final question, as a woman, what are your thoughts on polygamy? Would you like your husband to have more than one wife? Why or why not? I really am very curious as to what Mormon women feel on this topic.

  29. Ralph says:

    Falcon said, “The Bible tells us that the scriptures are “God breathed” which proves that the Bible comes from God.” The BoM has statements that its from God in it as well, does that mean its also true? I believe the Koran has something similar in it too so is it from the one and only true God too? This is circular logic – the Bible is true because it says its true. It does not prove a thing except to those who wish to believe in it. This is not an attack on the Bible, but an attack on your logic and belief.

  30. Ed says:

    clarity –

    Please, you assume too much with your skepticism. 🙂

    I was active LDS for 11 years and have spent and continue to spend a considerable amount of time reading LDS apologetics (just finished Davis Bitton’s “I Don’t Have a Testimony of the History of the Church”).

    I read the Daniel Petersen article while on my mission and remembered not being impressed with it even then. I just pulled the article up to refresh my memory and again find myself less than swayed. I don’t want to detract from the topic of the post, but here are few things I find lacking in the things that used to be the most faith-promoting to me:

    -Citation of the new Colombus publication. This looks impressive (wow! how could JS have known that!), unless you realize that the BofM description of Columbus also matches the Washington Irving account (published 1828), which Joseph Smith would have had access to. Of course, citing the Irving book in the article would have undermined the point, which is why I am guessing that it was omitted.

    -63 Days in translation: This is a circular argument that presupposes that Joseph Smith actually translated the Book from another language when it has yet to be proven. The argument fails to consier the, in my opinion, more likely alternative that Smith had been working on the BofM story line for years prior to the “translation”. Remember what his mother used to say about his story-telling abilities as a teenager? This reduces the BofM to something more like Kerouac’s “On the Road”.

    -Word Print Analysis: I actually had lunch with Dr. Larson while at BYU (his son was my roomate for a time) where we discussed this research. I used to think very highly of this until I gained a background in statistics and saw some of the glaring holes in the methodology. See http://www.lds-mormon.com/wordprin.shtml for more information on some of the issues.

    I could go on, but need to get dinner ready. 🙂

  31. Ed says:

    clarity –

    As to the Book of Abraham question, I hope I didn’t come across too strong with the “open and shut fraud case” comment. I do stand by the intent: I think that if a dispassionate person was given the totality of the evidence regarding the Book of Abraham, they would come to the same fraud conclusion.

    I have read quite a bit on both sides of the fence concerning this issue as well. I think that Robert Ritner and Charles Larson both did a convincing job here of showing that the papyrus are not what the LDS church has claimed as well as debunking the common LDS apologetics regarding the BofA.

    From the apologist perpective, I have read the theories ranging from Tvednes’ “hidden code” theory, to the “lost papyrus” theory, to Nibley’s “tick and chigger hunt” through the ancient world, to the more modern touchstone theories (the current apologist favorite, since it is totally subjective). With all of these, I just found them to be grasping for straws rather than actually presenting strong arguments. The arguments against the BofA authenticity are just stronger overall.

  32. Jacob5 says:

    So ultimately because we don’t have faith in the same things, the LDS faith is wrong? I believe I specifically asked for what they base their faith on for all the miracles of the bible. I am getting the distinct impression that that is an avoided topic. Perhaps this is because if you acknowledge your faith in an until now unverifiable issue, then that may give a basis for LDS faith. Please inform me if I err in this regard. If so, then I reiterrate my statement. Show me the type of evidence that would convince a person not of your faith that the miracles in the bible actually occurred other than simply saying you received it from God and then I will concede the point. But if not then perhaps you may understand our view that we yet believe these things despite all your points to the contrary.
    I will continue to wait.

  33. clarity67 says:


    Well with the Irving document you sure do give JS a lot of credit for having done his research, you know with all the extra time he had on his hands to double check and cover his bases you know. I’m sure if it wasn’t him it was the team of writers that he had working around the clock to conjure up all the names of people, places, cities, monetary units, battle strategies, and on and on in order for the BoM to at least sound plausible to the naïve reader. Are you kidding me? If this is your explanation that he imagined all of this and compiled such over a period of years, you are reaching, at best.

    And let’s say for a moment that he did. Then I say to you Joseph Smith was a man of profound intellect and one underestimated for not only his literary ability as a novelist but perhaps the best long-con fraud perpetrator the world has ever seen. Obviously in his foresight, he anticipated the relentless persecution that followed his preposterous claims, yet forged ahead regardless and for what? It never ceases to amaze me that on one hand you cite the original apostle’s demise as EVIDENCE of their calling, testimony, and recorded words, saying (“why would they have endured such if their testimony of Christ were not assured) yet when the same is applied to Joseph Smith you cannot bring yourself to even acknowledge the POSSIBILITY of his prophetic calling. Was he perfect, absolutely not. But ladies and gentlemen, either he saw God the Father and Jesus Christ or he didn’t. Truth is the way things were, are, and are to come. If he didn’t, then he is the great master of deception, but if he did, God’s Church is restored whether anyone here decides to accept it or not.

  34. clarity67 says:


    Thank you for the reference to Charles Larson and Robert Ritner, I shall explore.

    You know I noticed that you glossed over the references to the plates themselves and the testimony of the witnesses regarding their having seen them. Also, the other evidence that the plates were consistent with other discoveries of the same time period of the BOM. I understand that you need not address the non-contradictory points, however, I find your approach at least somewhat disingenuous in this regard. It appears that you seek some concrete or otherwise incontrovertible evidence that proves beyond a doubt the Book of Mormon’s authenticity. The witnesses, the testimonies of the same, the Book itself and the history of its origin and its coming forth are not enough. My friend, they will never be enough. God does not appear to everyone and slam his foot down and declare with solemnity His word, thus negating the need for faith. This is true with the Bible as well as the Book of Mormon. The difference is that many can somehow give the Bible the benefit of the doubt because they know not the entire history of its culmination, writers, and contributors.

    Also, I am curious, since you are no longer a member I presume, what Church now captures your interest, which has more truth (I am assuming of course you pursue the truth) and which offers more peace to you than your previous affiliation. I ask with sincerity and no desire to condemn. Humbly await your response.

  35. Ed says:

    clarity –

    I will probably need to break my responses up into more than one post, so please bear with me. 🙂

    As to the Washington Irving book, its message was firmly embedded into the American mythos surrounding the country at the time when Smith wrote the Book of Mormon. It isn’t a huge leap, as you claim, to assume that Joseph Smith would have been at least aware of the idea. At any rate, my main point with this is that it was a glaring omission on the part of Dr. Petersen that essentially nullifies his point in the Ensign article. I have seen many apologists (not just LDS ones) use the same technique: cherry-pick the evidence that supports the desired outcome, ignore everything else while hoping that nobody catches on, and declare a hasty victory. It makes for poor research, but more importantly is just dishonest.

    That the Book of Mormon has lots of place names and people is evidence that it is true? By this logic, the Eragon series (written by a kid younger than Smith, mind you) and the Tolkien novels must also be prophetic literature?

    As to the reasons that JS did it, I am not going to attempt to look into the man’s heart, but I think it is pretty easy to see some possibilities. Power over his followers? Unlimited sexual access to the females in his population? This has been more than enough for other religious leaders in the past. Feel free to research David Koresh, Jim Jones, and John of Lieden if you need further evidence.

  36. Ed says:

    clarity –

    Part 2:

    As to your accusation that I “glossed over” certain things, I made it very clear in my original post that I wasn’t attempting to answer every point made in the article (Dr. Petersen gives 10 drive-by apologetics, and I do have a 2000 character limit!) As I said before, I was just taking a stab at a few that were very special to me while LDS.

    It is beyond the scope of this blog entry to try to hash out each of the supposed evidences. If I may make a suggestion, you could try going over to CARM.org on the Mormonism board and start some threads on these topics if they are of interest to you. There are quite a few intellegent and well researched Christians and Mormons on the board, and we hash out these very topics quite frequently. I have found it really helpful in seeing both sides of the relevant issues, at least. Just a thought.

    As to the faith/evidence topic (the real one of import), I think (and I apologize if I am wrong) you seem to be under the impression that only LDS claim to have faith based on spiritual ephiphany and feelings and that Traditional Christians simply convince themselves that the Bible is true by evidence alone. This is a gross misrepresentation of what we believe. All of us on this board claim that God has given us faith in things that we cannot see. For example, I have felt things in my Christian church when hearing about salvation by grace, the Trinity, etc that beat the pants off anything that I ever felt inside of Mormonism. By your logic, that would make my church true.

    However, the problem with subjective faith claims is that members of ALL religions (Muslim to Christian to Mormon) claim the exact same experiences that you and I claim. The problem, of course, is that we all have divergent theologies. God is not a relativist who is going to tell different people different things. God can’t tell you that JS is a prophet and yet tell me that he isn’t (which I claim he has).

  37. Ed says:

    clarity –

    Part 3:

    Given that people of vastly different faiths claim guidance by the Supreme to justify their beliefs begs a very important question. If God intends for us to determine his truth by faith and feelings (subjective things alone), why do so many sincere people claim faith to justify the things that they believe? Either God is a relativist/liar, or perhaps the feelings argument isn’t the best metric for evaluating truth. This, in part, is why we turn to evidence to see if a person’s faith is rational or irrational.

    Examining the evidence, do we find that the Book of Mormon is trustworth in light of the evidence marshalled against it? Not really. In the light of the Bible’s manuscript history that predates Jesus, do we find that Joseph Smith’s claim that a post-Christian Great and Abominable church altered the Bible reliable? Again, no. When we put the Bible under the same mirror, we don’t find the same kind of evidence vacuum. The list goes on and on, but this is sufficient for now. I most certainly can’t go into as much detail as I would like in this forum.

    Looking at the Bible, we find quite the opposite of what we do in Mormonism. We find archeological evidence of cities mentioned in the Bible, we find secular histories that confirm many of the events discussed in the Bible, we have manuscript evidence that shows that the Bible is transmitted correctly.

    In closing, I would like to ask you a question: Assuming that Mormonism is true and that Heavenly Father wants more than anything for us to follow him, why would he do everything in his power to hide any substantial evidence that would support his true church and yet give so many brownie points to the second place Christian religion?

  38. clarity67 says:

    I appreciate your suggestion to CARM since the limited access here is often frustrating and restrictive. I find it refreshing to have a common sense viewpoint of the subject matter presented here rather than many of the saber rattling scripture wars that often end inconclusively. I apologize for accusing you of being disingenuous when I understand that space here is limited.

    To answer your question, I would have to say that it presents more questions than real answers I possess. First, the assumption that God is “doing everything in his power” hiding evidence is perhaps suspect, but it could be true, although I agree that usually he does not operate like that. Perhaps the other side of that is, have we examined and understand all that he has already revealed sufficient to Him revealing more than he has? Or does it depend on that? Who knows? Is there a plausible explanation as to why God would prevent or otherwise hinder the discovery of more corroborating evidence for, particularly, the Book of Mormon if it is of God? I don’t know one, but I am not Him. Would it serve His purposes to or not to? Or has HE already, but we just haven’t recognized it? If we take the BOM at its word that it is another testament of Jesus Christ, and its purpose is to convince both Jew and Gentile that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God, then I would agree that obscuring it, or additional substantiating evidence, would not be in God’s plan. Point taken.

    So, let’s examine what we do know on the plausibility scale. We know that 11 witnesses saw the plates and that 3 of them also saw the Angel Moroni. To my knowledge these witnesses have not recanted –now as soon as I say this someone is going to dig up someone’s great great grandmother’s journal and stir up a whopper to the contrary. For purposes of this discussion, simply to demonstrate that JS did have the plates at some point, I will assume the liberty of concluding they (the witnesses) are intact

  39. Jacob5 says:

    If we’re going to do this Washington Irving thing, then let us consider the story of the biblical flood. Many learned people consider that the flood story was just copied from other such stories that existed at the time and therefore the story in the bible was not uniquly written by Moses. Moses appearantly was a plagarist, right? I mean he would have to be if there is evidence that the story existed before his writing of the flood. Wrong. The fact is even though the story of the flood may have been ubiquitous in most cultures at the time, it in no way concludes that Moses simply copied it into the book of Genesis simply to make his own book sound a bit more exciting. It is simply a coincidence that what he was writing about came from God and was an obviouse truth that other cultures stories coincided with that of the story of Noah.
    The fact that Washington Irving had written a story about the ancient inhabitants does not prove plagarism on Joseph Smith’s part, but that it is simply an idea that happened to coincide with the truth of the Book of Mormon.
    And as for the witness of the Book of Mormon. How many court cases have been settled on less than 11 witnesses? And there is another witness as well with regards to Oliver Cowdery. He also had another occasion to examine the Book of Mormon. He had asked permission to try to translate the Gold Plates as well. He had direct contact with the Gold Plates. So, if that at least proves the existence of plates, it would have been truly remarkable for Joseph Smith Jr. to have found that much gold to make a set of pretend scripture just to fool others to joining him and then never try to sell that gold later on (in another form) to strike it rich. But then again, where do we have the stories of Joseph Smith dying a rich man after syphoning off of his followers, or at least from the gold off those plates which obviously existed?

  40. clarity67 says:

    Contd. TY Jacob I was cut off


    Based upon your explanation as to why JS fabricated the BOM was, among other things, to gain “Power over his followers and Unlimited sexual access to the females in his population.. You give him so much credit (for his ability to scheme with amazing foresight) it’s really hard to follow. So, if I’m Joseph Smith and I have these gold plates in 1827-1828, rather than disappear and hock those babies for all I could get which would have amounted to more money anyone in his company could have imagined, rather than doing that I decide to start a Church which makes people absolutely hate my guts and hunt me down from place to place so that I get beaten and tarred and feathered and driven out continually, so that I could eventually, at some point, or in some instances, some people might think I had a gift and then they would follow me and I would have “power” over them, and finally at some point, (unknown exactly, perhaps 1839-43) some ten to fifteen years in the future I could get to exercise my influence over some females for my own sexual gratification and THEN….. FINALLY after arriving at getting what I wanted I deliberately cut that “good thing going” short by submitting to the law when at the same time I command the largest military force in the State????? Have I got this right?? Ed, brother, please sell this somewhere else. If he had the plates, and his family was poor as we know, why not sell them, trade them, something? That would have given him IMMEDIATELY everything you say that he wanted in the first place without having to endure all the garbage and put together the big “Church front”.

    For that matter why even show the things to anyone in the first place – ever?? Would you?? That is the first way to get yourself killed over someone’s greed. How stupid to show them to anyone, unless, of course, ….. he was commanded. And where are the plates??


  41. clarity67 says:

    Ed, (contd)

    We know what he SAID happened to them, but if they really didn’t contain the Book of Mormon, why didn’t he sell them? To keep the secret, right?

    If he would have, wouldn’t we see a page here or there pop up somewhere for sale or offered to a museum or the Church and they could be examined and scrutinized. Or is it plausible at all that he returned them as he said, since we have no evidence to the contrary??? Just this one piece of evidence (the plates) simply does not scan in the plausibility scale AT ALL for your theory.

    The absence of corroborating evidence is not, by itself, an affirmation of a negative conclusion. Otherwise, we could conclude many things about God that we simply don’t have evidence for, but may, ultimately, be untrue.

    You make it sound like (since you accredit him with such) JS had a great plan from the very beginning. I wonder, what was it that made him take the risk with a book of new scripture, and the wild story to go along with it (pretty original for his time) when others (as you pointed out) had/have done so with so much less? Sounds pretty risky, don‘t you think?

    I wonder what the plausible explanation is for that? Care to comment?

  42. Michael P says:

    To add another possibility: he never had the plates, and the others never saw them.

    Frankly, I doubt they did.

    Do I think it is some conspiracy? I don’t know, but possibly.

    Do I think they were duped? More likely.

    Given JS’s propensity before to decieve, I see no reason why he would change his behavior. And given the nature of his story all along, and it constantly changing (for example, the first vision), I absolutely think he was able to fool his followers.

    I don’t think his initial intention was to woo women, but to gain power. He wanted control. The sexual control came later, after he was firmly rooted.

  43. Ed says:

    Jacob –

    You mentioned Irving writing about ancient inhabitants? Irvin’s book was about Columbus, not the ancients. If I am misunderstanding your post, I apologize.

    Again, my point with the Irving book wasn’t that Joseph Smith *must* have copied it (though I think it is likely given the distincly 19th century Manifest Destiny element of the Book of Mormon that was fueled greatly by the Irving book), but rather that the fact that the Irving book was well known at the time Smith rules out the use of the Columbus reference to bolster the truth claims of the Book of Mormon the way that Daniel Petersen used it in the article under discussion (i.e. “Wow! Joseph Smith couldn’t have known that Columbus felt inspired by God like the BofM says, ergo the Book of Mormon is true!”).

    As to the plagiarism issue with the flood, even as you state, flood myths exist in most cultures. In addition, it exists in many cultures that had no contact with the Mesopotamian groups that had the Gilgamesh epic (what most secular folk claim to be the Biblical flood source). At any rate, this seems like more of a strength for the flood story than a weakness.

  44. Ed says:

    clarity, jacob –

    The BofM witnesses is something else that I held onto for a long time, though now I no longer find this a valid reason to hold on to faith in the Book of Mormon for several reasons:

    1) The Witnesses, contrary to what the LDS church generally teaches, were not consistent in their accounts of the Book of Mormon. Martin Harris, for example, will describe his seeing the Book of Mormon with “spiritual eyes”, i.e. a vision rather than a physical, objective experience. Many of the others will do the same thing.

    2) The Witnesses personal lives makes their testimony suspect. I am NOT trying to say here that they were dishonest, but it is well documented that they followed a rather magical world view. For example, the used divining rods and peepstones (just like Smith) and found those things to be reliable. When the magical world and physical world come so close together, claims that they were objective become blurred, and this most certainly seems to make sense given the “spiritual eyes” statements that many of the witnesses make.

    3) Other spiritual books have been published that had witnesses testify to divine manifestations that accompanied them. By the common LDS witness logic, this would make those books true, but as they run contrary to LDS (and Christian!) doctrine this would present a problem. Two examples of this are James Strang’s “Book of the Law of the Lord” and the Shakers “Sacred Roll and Book”. Strang broke off from the main LDS church when Joseph Smith died and moved his group to Wisconsin where he claimed to find metal plates that he later translated. Seven Witnesses certified that the plates were real and that they had seen and felt them. If this were true, it would mean that the mainstream LDS broke away from the true church some 160 years ago. The Shaker’s book was supposedly delivered by an angel as well, and had witnesses who testified to seeing the angel. As an aside, Martin Harris will end up a Shaker.

  45. Ed says:

    Just two last things:

    1) Grant Palmer wrote an excellent book dealing with several Mormon topics, including the Book of Abraham and the BofM witnesses if you are interested in further reading. The book is called “An Insider’s view of Mormon Origins”. Palmer is still a member of the LDS church and believes in the divine call of Joseph Smith, though he feels that much of LDS history is seriously distorted by the church hierarchy to make things more believable. He was disfellowshipped for writing the book. The witnesses material that I covered before is covered in much more detail in his book with good source documentation.

    2) clarity – If you do decide to give CARM a shot and would like, I would be more than happy to introduce you on the board. Just let me know what your login name will be if you want.


  46. clarity67 says:


    Well, at least you’re predictable. I have to say that I believe that no evidence presented would begin to move you one inch toward the remote possibility that JS’s account is true. It can’t, because you have already predetermined that no matter what is presented, it must be false, hence your conclusion that the witnesses were either duped, coerced, deceived, or just wrong in their “visual senses” when all the evidence points to the contrary. Of course, IT MUST BE because that is the data that supports the foregone conclusion in your mind.

    Thank you for your predictable response with regard to a varied First Vision account. How many times do you think he related that experience over the course of 24 years? Tell me, if you had an experience of a similar nature which was overwhelming (assuming ,of course, that it is still possible for God to appear and speak to man) do you think you would tell it exactly the same every time you told it? I can’t even relate the last auto accident I witnessed or the last sporting event I attended (two relatively insignificant instances) without at least some variation.

    How about this? Tell me if this even works, at all, for plausible. According to you, he didn’t have the plates at all and the 11 documented and additional undocumented persons who “allegedly” saw and hefted (touched) them either forgot, lied, were coerced, paid, or were friends and associates willing to conspire or “help”. Why put them in the Book if you know that they were obtained under false pretenses and eventually they won’t stand up?? Isn’t this setting yourself up for failure? The fact that the witnesses remain intact is NOT a testament to your theory as, certainly, the evidence in hand indicates otherwise. To argue the contrary is futile and defies common sense.

  47. amanda says:

    It’s interesting to me that many evangelicals lack the same scrutinizing skills with their own history and doctrinal accounts (i.e. the bible, and all the many versions that exist) as they so dutifully apply to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.

    I have said this many times on this site but I have to say it again. It is absolutely a contradiction of faith to place facts before a testimony that has been gained by walking in faith. Facts are a funny thing, and ironically, not infallible- simply because humans are the ones trying to make sense of the facts. Facts are just facts. They can change when more facts surface- because it’s the interpretation of those facts that are so volatile and unreliable.

    We are taught time and time again in scripture to put our trust in the Lord, pray, learn of Him…and place our testimonies that are gained through the witness of the Holy Ghost FIRST AND FOREMOST and not rely on the arm of flesh (i.e. in this example: the interpretation of facts by the eternally limited perception of men) Allow testimony to enlighten facts, rather than the other way around.

    1 Cor. 2: 5
    5 That your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God.

    James 1: 5 (caps added)
    5 If any of you lack wisdom, LET HIM ASK OF GOD, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.

    2 Ne. 9: 28
    28 O that cunning plan of the evil one! O the vainness, and the frailties, and the foolishness of men! When they are learned they think they are wise, and they hearken not unto the counsel of God, for they set it aside, supposing they know of themselves, wherefore, their wisdom is foolishness and it profiteth them not. And they shall perish.

    (couldn’t have said it better myself)

  48. amanda says:

    2 Ne. 28: 30
    30 For behold, thus saith the Lord God: I will give unto the children of men line upon line, precept upon precept, here a little and there a little; and blessed are those who hearken unto my precepts, and lend an ear unto my counsel, for they shall learn wisdom; for unto him that receiveth I will give more; and from them that shall say, We have enough, from them shall be taken away even that which they have.

    Mosiah 8: 20
    20 O how marvelous are the works of the Lord, and how long doth he suffer with his people; yea, and how blind and impenetrable are the understandings of the children of men; for they will not seek wisdom, neither do they desire that she should rule over them!


  49. Ed says:

    amanda –

    I then ask my earlier question again to you: If we are intended to learn about God through subjective faith experiences alone, why do so many people that use this method come to absolutely different conclusions about who God is and what His will is? I am not just talking about Christians and Mormons, but Hindus, Muslims, FLDS, Jehovah’s Witness’, etc that have completely incompatible teaches. As I said before, either God is a relativist/liar, or this method alone is not a good metric for evaluating truth.

    A second question, if discussing the evidences that relate to Mormonism is so wrong in the eyes of God, why was it encouraged by early LDS church leaders:

    “Thoughts and expressions compete in the marketplace of thought, and in that competition truth emerges triumphant. Only error fears freedom of expression . . . This free exchange of ideas is not to be deplored as long as men and women remain humble and teachable. [Hugh B. Brown, An Abudnant Life: The Memoirs of Hugh B. Brown, SLC, Siganture Books, 1988, pp 137-139].

    “Convince us of our errors of doctrine, if we have any, by reason, by logical arguments, or by the word of God, and we will be ever grateful for the information, and you will ever have the pleasing reflection that you have been instruments in the hands of God of redeeming your fellow beings from the darkness which you may see enveloping their minds.” Orson Pratt, The Seer, 1853, pp 15-16.

    A couple of Bible verses to consider:

    I Thes 5:21: “Prove all things, hold fast to that which is good”

    Acts 17:11: “Now the Bereans were of more noble character than the Thessalonians, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true.” (Note: the Bereans went to God’s word to verify if the new teachings they heard were true, not pray about it to get a subjective experience).

    BTW: James 1:5 says to ask for wisdom, not knowledge. They are different

  50. Lautensack says:

    One Wisdom (sophia in the Greek) and Knowledge (gnosis in the Greek) are two different things.
    As to the many versions of the Bible, yes there are many translations, I agree. But we have the original languages to re-translate as language evolves. For anyone interested in textual criticism and Ehrman, check out the debate between Daniel Wallace and Bart Ehrman from April 4-5. It costs 10 bucks at watchman.org Furthermore even according to Ehrman the vast majority of the textual variants are meaningless.
    Also you speak of the arm of the flesh. Would an emotional existential experience not be considered part of the arm of the flesh? Feelings are funny things, and ironically, not infallible- simply because humans are the ones trying to make sense of the feelings. Feelings are just feelings. They can change when more feelings surface- because it’s the interpretation of those feelings that are so volatile and unreliable.* Hence why you can feel the Book of Mormon is true and I can feel that it is a lie. If such testimonies clash, as I noted April 21 they are utterly at odds, we must seek to understand why since while we can both be wrong we cannot both be right, nor can the testimonies come from the same source if we believe God does not lie. Furthermore if such testimonies are based upon false presuppositions, then we must correct those falsehoods, that God may perhaps grant repentance from them leading to a knowledge of the Truth, and those who believed them may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, after being captured by him to do his will.
    Well that was three for the day and everyone here seems to be ending with scripture and quotes so I think I’ll join the club. Food for thought.

    Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. 2 Timothy 2:15

    Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee. Psalm 119:11

    *You know it was cute

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