Those of us who have delved, over a period of many years, into the maze of Mormon doctrines and practices have looked with admiration and awe at the labors of Jerald and Sandra Tanner.
Probably no pseudo-Christian cult has accumulated such a volume of literature, in the creation and defense of its doctrines, as has the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. And no body of literature has drawn such a volume of rebuttal. Joseph Smith's writings are especially vulnerable to criticism because they were based on his dreams and visions. Smith's mother and others of Smith's associates were equally obsessed with dreams and omens, and those concepts entered quite freely into the early writings.
As Smith's successors viewed those early writings with more balanced viewpoints, they began to write defensive literature, correcting and interpreting, deleting and amending, usually without footnotes. All of that was done in such a way as to retain the integrity of the Prophet.
In the process of rewriting Joseph Smith's teachings, variant interpretations and even outright contradictions entered into the literature, all of which complicated the research of students like the Tanners. For instance, there are at least six versions of the famed First Vision of the Prophet, with his own final version, written about 1838, being the least credible. There are a dozen variations of the story of the finding and translating of the Book of Mormon's golden plates, and several versions of the experiences of the three witnesses who claimed to have seen the plates.
Jerald and Sandra Tanner were both sincere Mormons, descended from Mormon "first families." They believed the Mormon writings and, in studying them, applied the same sincerity in examining the seeming contradictions. As they began to compare the Mormon scriptures with the Bible, they could come to only one conclusion — that the two did not agree. It was with deep conviction that they yielded to the claims of the Bible, left Mormonism, and became newborn Christians.
In this new volume of documentation, the Tanners have provided an encyclopaedia of Mormonism's lack of credibility. Their book contains no satire or spitefulness but rather a knowledgeable yearning and hoping that former Mormon friends will be converted to the Lord Jesus as a result of reading the Tanners' documented study. Certainly that has been the result in the lives of many of their readers.
With the publishing of this new volume, the authors are not finished with their task. Mormons are still making errors and are still trying to cover up the blunders of the past. The Tanners have come through many battles unflinchingly and have won the respect of their adversaries in the Mormon camp.
This volume is a must for anyone who would study the cult of Mormonism in depth.
GORDON H. FRASER