by Michael Wolsey
Most members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (CoJCoLDS) would argue strongly against any criticism of their founding prophet, Joseph Smith. As the author of their faith, the man that God would use to save His church from all the false religions in the world, Joseph Smith is seen as divine and untouchable. Unfortunately, this view of Joseph Smith elevates him to an equal plane with Jesus, the Son of God. I will point out some of the reasons I think the CoJCoLDS are able to do such a thing in the light of Bible scripture, which the CoJCoLDS freely admits is the Word of God, just not the ONLY Word of God.
Afterwards, I will invite all my CoJCoLDS brothers and sisters to take a genuinely unbiased look at the Book of Abraham.
For all of us have become like one who is unclean, And all our righteous deeds are like a filthy garment; And all of us wither like a leaf, And our iniquities, like the wind, take us away. Isaiah 64:6
The CoJCoLDS carry a KJV of the Bible, yet also consider 3 other books to be holy scripture in addition to the Bible. The CoJCoLDS teach, and any member of the church will tell you that they believe the Bible only insofar as it is translated correctly. What does the Bible say about itself?
All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work. 2 Timothy 3:16-17
This clause, “insofar as it is translated correctly”, attached to God’s Holy Word gives the church an “out” for the numerous times the CoJCoLDS scripture conflicts with the Bible. The church can just say, “Well, the Bible is just not translated correctly there.” In this way, they place the other 3 CoJCoLDS books, Book of Mormon, Doctrine and Covenants, and The Pearl of Great Price, on a higher plane than the Bible. From my experience, the church is not shy about this and will confirm what I have said in any discussion on this topic.
This is one of the reasons we at Grace and Truth reject Mormonism. We believe 2 Timothy 3:16-17 and that the Holy Spirit does not include as scripture any other books besides those in our current Bibles.
Indeed, members of the CoJCoLDS are taught at a very early age that Joseph Smith is an equal to the true Savior of the world, Jesus Christ. Perhaps this comes from other LDS teachings which do not affirm that Jesus is one member of the Holy Triune God; Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, that He is God in human form, both fully man, and Fully God. The CoJCoLDS teach that Jesus is the spirit brother of all humans on earth and that we too, if worthy, may become god’s of our own Earth-like planet. In the eyes of a member of the CoJCoLDS, Joseph Smith was a chosen vessel of God, the same as Jesus, and the two are equals. Some even say, and I believe there is evidence to suggest, Joseph Smith is thought of above Jesus and Joseph Smith was sent to save God’s church by establishing,
“the only true and living church upon the face of the whole earth.” Doctrine and Covenants 1:30
I believe by diminishing the value and diety of Jesus, and calling into question the authority of the Bible, the CoJCoLDS cultivates an unquestioning faith in Joseph Smith and a general consensus within the church that Joseph is untouchable. As witnesses of the true and living God, Jesus Christ, we at Grace and Truth for Mormons strive to give the truth to our CoJCoLDS friends and family through the Love of Christ in us. We do not wish to be adversarial, but wish to honestly compare what the CoJCoLDS teach in a Biblical context and test the spirits to see that which is true.
“Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world.” 1 John 4:1
We invite you, if you are a member of the CoJCoLDS to test the spirits along with us on matters as they pertain to Joseph Smith. It may be hard for you to literally go against all that you have been taught but we must over and above all, know the truth of God’s Word. That journey starts with a single step that starts with a simple question, “Have I been taught the truth about God?”
“Have I been taught the truth about God?”
To me, one of the most glaring of all criticisms of all the writings of Joseph Smith revolves around the Book of Abraham, which can be read as part of the Pearl of Great Price, the CoJCoLDS scripture previously mentioned. I recall my journey out of the CoJCoLDS church and into the Biblical church of the true and living God, Jesus the Christ, and I still remember the impact that learning the source of the Book of Abraham had on me. I was trying to figure out why my Grandmother rejected my new faith in Jesus. I was blown away at what I found!
Those familiar with the CoJCoLDS know that the Book of Mormon was “translated” from long buried golden plates that were supposedly a written record of life in the Americas and of an alleged visit to that part of the world by the risen Jesus after his crucifixion, burial, and resurrection. After writing the Book of Mormon, a foundational scripture for the CoJCoLDS, Joseph buried the so called golden plates, which have never been seen again. In other words, unlike every book in the Bible, which we have multiple copies of early manuscripts of each book, all 66 of them, which all harmonize perfectly, there is not one shred of an original manuscript for any of the CoJCoLDS scripture……or is there? Is there any manuscript from CoJCoLDS scripture that we can examine and study like those of the Bible? It turns out, there is! And it has been extensively studied by both CoJCoLDS and non CoJCoLDS alike. It’s the original manuscript of, you guessed it, the Book of Abraham.
In 1835, Joseph Smith bought four Egyptian mummies and papyri from a traveling Egyptian exhibit. After viewing the papyri, Joseph made the bold statement, “one of the rolls contained the writings of Abraham, another the writings of Joseph of Egypt” (History of the Church, Vol. 2: 236).
Seven years later the translation had been completed by Joseph Smith and canonized into CoJCoLDS scripture. Not long afterward the papyri fragments whereabouts became unknown and were, for a long time thought to be lost. However, they were rediscovered in 1966 and have been extensively studied since then. The undeniable consensus is that these papyri fragments were part of very ordinary burial scrolls that were commonly found with mummified Egyptians of that time and not a manuscript written by Abraham and Joseph. It was also determined upon careful dating procedures that the fragments were not nearly old enough to have been written by Abraham and Joseph.
This is an issue of great importance to anyone who is a member of the CoJCoLDS. If the Book of Abraham can be shown to be false, it calls into question everything Joseph Smith ever said or wrote. If you are going to stake your eternal soul on Joseph Smith, do you not think it’s important to make 100% sure that everything Joseph Smith said or did is actually from God, as he claimed?
This is a long and complex story that I pray will be viewed by my CoJCoLDS brothers and sisters who have questions about their faith, or to those who, perhaps are just open to find out if what they really believe is true.
All this to say, take a look at the Book of Abraham dear friend. As a member of the CoJCoLDS, I would think this to be a very special book to you and THE only verifiable manuscript in the entire canon of CoJCoLDS scripture. Don’t you, of all people, want to know if you have believed a lie or not?
For a condensed read on this topic, I recommend this article.
A good documentary about the Book Abraham is above and called The Lost Book of Abraham.
For a deeper look into the Book of Abraham, work your way through the enlightening 6 part Video titled Truth of the Book of Abraham.
We pray that this information will be received by our CoJCoLDS brothers and sisters and that for many, this will be the beginning of finding the true and living God, Jesus the Christ! Amen.
As always, we at Grace and Truth are here to support and serve you in any way we can. Please contact us if you feel led to do so.