Buyer Beware

On March 26th, 1830, following a reprint of the text from the title page of the Book of Mormon, this announcement appeared in the Wayne Sentinel:

The above work, containing about 600 pages, large Duodecimo, is now for sale, wholesale and retail, at the Palmyra Bookstore, by HOWARD & GRANDIN.

The initial printing totaled 5,000 copies. Not much is known about the sale of the books, but according to one formal statement made by a contemporary of Joseph Smith,

“After the Book was published, I frequently bantered with him for a copy. He asked fourteen shillings a piece for them; I told him I would not give so much; he told me had had a revelation that they must be sold at that price. Sometime afterwards I talked with Martin Harris about buying one of the Books and he told me they had had a new revelation, that they might be sold at ten shillings a piece.” (Sworn affidavit of Henry Harris, quoted in E.D. Howe, Mormonism Unvailed, 252)

Today, nearly 170 years after the first Books of Mormon went on sale, over 140 million copies have been distributed. It is currently for sale in U.S. bookstores with a cover price of $24.95.

A few statements by LDS leaders demonstrate that the Book of Mormon is very important to Mormonism.

“Take away the Book of Mormon and the revelations, and where is our religion? We have none.” (Joseph Smith, History of the Church 2:52)

“There will be more people saved in the kingdom of God–ten thousand times over–because of the Book of Mormon than there will be because of the Bible.” (President Ezra Taft Benson quoting Apostle Bruce McConkie, “A New Witness for Christ,” Ensign (Conference Edition), November, 1984, 7)

“All scripture is not of equal value. The book that is the ‘keystone of our religion’ and that will get a man ‘nearer to God by abiding by its precepts, than by any other book’ [i.e., The Book of Mormon] needs to be studied con¬stantly.” (President Ezra Taft Benson, A Witness and a Warning, vii)

“The fact is, we do not depend on the Bible or on traditional biblical interpretations for our theology. We do not know that the Book of Mormon is true or accurate from what we might find in the Bible. It is the other way around: the Book of Mormon has been given to prove the essential truthfulness of the Bible (D&C 20:11; see also 1 Nephi 13:39–40; Mormon 7:9).” (BYU Profes¬sor Robert L. Millet, Review of Books on the Book of Mormon 6:1, 1994, 198)

A very sobering statement for Latter-day Saints comes from early LDS Apostle Orson Pratt:

“This book must be either true or false. If true, it is one of the most important messages ever sent from God to man, affecting both the temporal and eternal interests of every people under heaven to the same extent and in the same degree that the message of Noah affected the inhabitants of the old world. If false, it is one of the most cunning, wicked, bold, deep-laid impositions ever palmed upon the world, calculated to deceive and ruin millions who will sincerely receive it as the word of God, and will suppose themselves securely built upon the rock of truth until they are plunged with their families into hopeless despair. The nature of the message in the Book of Mormon is such, that if true, no one can possibly be saved and reject it; if false, no one can possibly be saved and re¬ceive it.” (Orson Pratt, Divine Authenticity of the Book of Mormon, 1:1, Liverpool, October 15, 1850)

Buyer beware.

“You must understand that there is only one door to salvation, and that is Christ; there is one way, and that is Christ; one truth, and that is Christ; one life, and that is Christ. Salvation lies in Jesus only…” (read more)

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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59 Responses to Buyer Beware

  1. Jack also wrote “the Mormon Church does not encourage a scholarly approach to biblical study”

    We have previously discussed why the Mormon Church does not produce a “correctly” translated version of the Bible (or, why it does not use the Joseph Smith Translation).

    I wonder if the LDS Church, or any of its scholars has even commissioned a Bible commentary? (A commentary, in case you don’t know, goes through the text verse by verse and discusses, or comments on its meaning).

    I purchased a commentary of Matthew’s Gospel over the weekend. It was written by Theophylact, a Greek Orthodox Bishop in Bulgaria, and it has recently been translated into English. There are two things that I’m enjoying about this;

    1 Theophylact not only speaks Greek as his native tongue, he is also closely situated to ancient eastern mediterranean culture

    2 Theophylact lived over 900 years ago. Given that the Gospel he reads is the same as the Gospel I read, and that the meaning he sees in it is pretty authentic, what happened to the so-called “Great Apostasy” when the Gospel was, literally, driven from the earth? If you’re concerned about the preservation of the Gospel in the Dark Ages, then you should know that there was at least one Monastery in Bulgaria where it was secured.

    But then, if there was no “Great Apostasy”, then there was no “Restoration”, and Joseph Smith and the whole LDS enterprise is redundant.

  2. shematwater says:


    I think I see the problem. You believe in the trinity as one God (three in one). With this what you say is perfectly logical. However, I believe they are three separate and disctint beings. They are one, or one Godhead. But they are separate in body and mind. With this, as I said, it is logical to say we have a contract with one, but a gift from another.
    We have a contract with The Father. As we cannot satisfy that contract the Son has given us a gift so that we can. They are separate. The contract demands Justice, while the gift provides mercy. (did you watch the video I mentioned. It does a better job at explaining this.)

    Claiming the totality of teh Bible is not a good argument, as there are just as many, if not references that declare works are necessary for salvation as there are that declare faith is necessary.
    There are few places in the Bible where a blessing is given without an effort on the part of the recipient. There are even less places where people are forgiven without doing something.
    I do not take my belief in works from what church leaders say, but from what i have read in the Bible, and the example I see in every great prophet, or great leader that is ever mentioned. If these men were required to perform certain works how can I hope to gain salvation and not do the same.
    I do not deny faith. Faith is just as important to our salvation as works are. Without both we cannot truly be saved.

    You tell me I take things out of context. I would like to know what you see as the context of James’ Epistle. I see him writing to the twelves tribes of Isreal. He is giving them a lesson in faith and religion. He is telling them what is right and what is not. In the second chapter he is telling them that their faith will do them little good if they do not have the works to back it up. He compares this to devils, who also have faith. He than gives us two examples (Abraham and Rahab). How am I taking this out of context?
    We believe in scolarly approaches to the Bible, but only when they are guided by the spirit. We have an exhaustive cross-reference and topical guide system so that readers can compare passages from various parts of the Bible to gain further insight into what they are readng at the time. We have class manuels for semenary and institute, as well as sunday school that give us further scolarly information. We have all this, and yet we have all come to the conclusion that there are things we have to do to be saved.
    Here is a little logic. God is Just. So, if works cannot save then they cannot condemn. If God will not count your good works to your benefit he cannot count your evil works to your downfall. If this is so what is the point in obeying the law. Sure it is what God wants, but if he will justify me as long as I have faith, does it matter.


    There are more than one. There is one for Semenary, one for Institute, one each level of sunday school, and I believe one for the primary. Each is designed for the age level to which it is intended, and gives a very nice explanation of things. It does not go verse by verse, but more event by event. Sort of like following beat changes.

  3. jackg says:


    My brother, Falcon, was right. Mormons will do whatever they can to argue for their doctrines regardless of the evidence shown to them. It’s your prerogative to believe in unbiblical teachings and cite whoever you want, regardless of their biblical acumen. What you present is a clear example of synchretism, and it denies the power and grace of God to save us all on His own. So, go ahead and stick to your works-righteousness theology all you want. All I can do is share the truth of God’s grace with you. It’s up to you to believe the truth or not, and you are choosing not to. Again, your choice. However, I still pray that you will come to accept the truth and live a life of freedom. Remember, works don’t save you–the blood of Jesus Christ offers you that salvation, but you have to accept Him–the real and authentic biblical Jesus, not the Jesus espoused by JS, who made Satan Jesus’ brother. There is a difference between angels and God.

    Peace and Grace!

  4. gundeck says:


    As you point out the great apostasy is a weak link in Mormon philosophy. This can be approached historically or theologically there is no evidence for anything even remotely resembling the apostasy that Joseph Smith taught. I am sure the great apostasy seemed like a good idea in 1830 before the information revolution but now with the vast resources available to anybody it just doesn’t hold water.

  5. shematwater says:


    I will end this thread here. I pray to God that you will see the truth and return to the strait path and narrow gate that you were once on.

  6. Michael P says:

    JackG– “My brother, Falcon, was right. Mormons will do whatever they can to argue for their doctrines regardless of the evidence shown to them”

    Shem– “I will end this thread here. I pray to God that you will see the truth and return to the strait path and narrow gate that you were once on.”

    Doing whatever they can must also include running from the argument or sweeping it under the rug. I do know the belief that Mormons have regarding when the spirit leaves them in matters of contention, or however they phrase it (don’t want to misprepresent their belief.) But this is convenient, right here…

    And Shem, are you telling me that God and the Father are not totally united in purpose? If they are, wouldn’t their requirements and standards be the same? You say one offers a gift, but the other a contract. By definition, these are opposite thoughts, and that does not see lke a uniting of purpose if they require opposite standards to be saved…

    And looking at them together, even, if salvation from both beings is required, and one requires works and the other gives a gift, is just believing going to get you there? Nope. Works, the contract one, governs. So ultimately it is the contract that saves, not the faith. (And of course it works the same way going the other direction, ie works alone will not do it, but you cannot separate the two prongs under Mormon thought.)

  7. jackg says:


    I’m on the right path. I have tested my spiritual experience against the written Word. But, thanks for your concern, anyway. And, I will pray for you to see the Truth, and that when you do, you will have the courage to leave Mormonism.

    Peace and Grace!

  8. Gundeck wrote “there is no evidence for anything even remotely resembling the apostasy that Joseph Smith taught”

    Not just JS. I was loaned James E Talmadge’s “Articles of Faith”, by a colleague who used it in his missionary training (we can safely say that this is de facto “official” doctrine). Talmadge’s phrase, if I recall correctly, was that the “Gospel was driven from the earth”, contrary to some of the postings we’ve had here, which appear to water this down to “the Gospel ceased to be understood correctly”.

    Now we can talk about the latter because it is our business to understand the Gospel correctly, but to assert that there was absolutely nothing on earth to convey the Gospel, not even the writings of the Bible, is absurd. As you say, theologically or historically it doesn’t hold water. Obviously, JS had never heard of Theophylact of Bulgaria, but neither did I more than a week ago.

    Incidentally, I say “recall”, because I returned the loaned book. Despite my repeated requests to buy a copy through my colleagues, they never seemed to get round to getting me one, and I am currently Talmadge-less. I’m still on cordial relations with my previous colleagues, but I can’t help thinking that they considered that the less I knew about their religion, the better.

  9. gundeck says:


    All, or many, of Talmadge’s books are available on Google Books. This is an outstanding resource for online books. Talmage’s “The Great Apostasy” is available as are “Jesus the Christ” and the “Articles of Faith” Check it out this might help you save some money on books.

    I have read a fair amount of Tamage and like his style. I haven’t read everything but I ussualy check him first when looking for what the Mormon position is on a matter. He is in my judgment the best of the Mormon philosophers and writers. He is lightyears ahead of there modern writers and if I were advising Mormons I would point them to Talmage, he is almost a presuppositionalist Mormon

    I am using Google books for my reading of the Puritans, it is incredible the amount of material available on line.

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