The title of this book, Mormon Claims Answered, sums up its message and its purpose. Since its inception, Mormonism has claimed that all other churches are universally apostate (heretical) and that the LDS church alone is the "only true and living church upon the face of the whole earth" (D. & C. 1:30). The purpose of this book is not to attack, ridicule or persecute Mormons, but rather to show that LDS claims against historic Christianity are flawed. The LDS claim that they alone have the keys to salvation would mean that the LDS Church is a necessary "mediator" between God and men and that conflicts with I Tim. 2:5 which declares that Jesus Christ is the only mediator!
No one questions the fact that many Mormons are good, sincere people. But, people with those same characteristics can be found in other churches as well as nearly all religions of the world. Therefore, goodness and sincerity do not assure that any religion has the only truth on earth.
This book examines basic Mormon claims in the light of historical documents, scientific evidence, the Bible, and authoritative Mormon sources. Since truth has nothing to fear from investigation, all Mormons who sincerely want the truth should welcome such an examination. Mormon leaders themselves have often invited examination of their claims as the following quotations demonstrate:
President Joseph Fielding Smith, the tenth Prophet of the Mormon Church, said,
If Joseph Smith was a deceiver, who willfully attempted to mislead the people, then he should be exposed; his claims should be refuted, and his doctrines shown to be false, for the doctrines of an impostor cannot be made to harmonize in all particulars with divine truth. If his claims and declarations were built upon fraud and deceit, there would appear many errors and contradictions, which would be easy to detect. The doctrines of false teachers will not stand the test when tried by the accepted standards of measurement, the scriptures... The world has been unable to place a finger upon anything that is inconsistent or out of harmony in the revelations to Joseph Smith, with that which has been revealed before, or predicted by the prophets and the Lord Himself (D. of S., Vol. I, p. 188-189).
LDS Apostle Orson Pratt also said, "If we compare the historical, prophetical, and doctrinal parts of the Book of Mormon with the great truths of science and nature, we find no contradictions - no absurdities - nothing unreasonable. The most perfect harmony therefore exists between the great truths revealed in the Book of Mormon and all other known truths, whether religious, historical, or scientific" (Divine Authenticity of the Book of Mormon, p. 56; see also A. of F., p. 505).
But, many "errors and contradictions" do exist in Mormon history and doctrine which are quite "easy to detect." And contrary to Orson Pratt's statement, the Book of Mormon does contain "contradictions, absurdities, and unreasonable" material. However, those problems have not prevented zealous Mormons from continuing to make claims like those just mentioned. Joseph Smith, Mormonism's founder, knew that most people would not know how to respond to their claims, so he said that the Lord commanded:
Wherefore, confound your enemies; call upon them to meet you both in public and in private; and inasmuch as ye are faithful their shame shall be made manifest (D. & C. 71:7).
We accept Smith's invitation and this book is our response to it. We encourage the reader to study the quotations we have given in their contexts along with the evidence to see if Mormonism's claims are valid. If they can show that we have misquoted or misrepresented something, we invite them to send us their documented evidence along with their name and address, so that we can dialogue with them. If we are wrong, we want to know it, because we certainly do not want to mislead anyone! Yet, we cannot accept someone's opinion or testimony as evidence since those can be found on both sides of nearly every subject. When people deal with the evidence rather than attacking one another the real truth can be found.
LDS President Joseph Fielding Smith rightly questioned, "How are we going to walk in the truth if we do not know it? There is no valid excuse on the part of any member of the Church for a display of ignorance of the fundamental principles of the Gospel as they are now revealed and published for the benefit of the world, for our attention has been forcibly called to them, and we have been commanded to make ourselves familiar with them by study and also by faith. They are accessible and within the reach of all" (D. of S., Vol. I, p. 302).
He further said, "I advise all to go on to perfection, and search deeper and deeper into the mysteries of Godliness" (Ibid., p. 364). D. & C. 131:6 also declares, "It is impossible for a man to be saved in ignorance." LDS Apostle John Widtsoe wrote, "From the beginning of its history the Church has opposed unsupported beliefs. It has fought half-truth and untruth" (E. & R., p. 226). He also said, "Latter-day Saints should not and do not accept Church doctrine blindly" (Ibid., p. 228).
And President David O. McKay said, "Members of the Church are admonished to acquire learning by study, and also by faith and prayer; to seek after everything that is virtuous, lovely, of good report or praiseworthy. In this seeking after, they are not confined to narrow limits of dogma or creed but are free to launch into the realm of the infinite" (Deseret News, April 8, 1968, p. 6A).
President McKay also said, "A man must know what he teaches before he can effectively teach it to others" (Deseret News, "Church News," October 11, 1969, p. 7). Thus, LDS leaders have encouraged the study of their claims as well as the evidence to support it in order to know the truth.
The Bible also encourages people to search and study in order to find the truth. For example, Jesus said, "Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me. And ye will not come to me, that ye might have life" (John 5:39-40). Paul also wrote, "Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed rightly dividing the word of truth" (II Tim. 2:15).
No real truth has anything to fear from investigation! It was while the author was studying as a Mormon that he discovered many of the facts revealed in this volume. He was looking for information that would help prove Mormonism was true, but the evidence he found proved just the opposite! While that was a devastating experience, it led him to continue his search until he came to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ. He now proclaims the message that "He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life" (I John 5:12). He knows that if Mormonism is not what it claims to be, then Mormons are in grave danger of being eternally separated from God. It is his earnest prayer that many more Mormons will find peace and eternal life with God through Jesus Christ (Rom. 5:1).
The first chapter of this book begins by briefly telling the Mormon story as LDS tell it today. Then it compares that story with other records and evidence for those events. From chapter two to the end of the book, it compares LDS doctrines with what the Bible teaches and with other authoritative Mormon sources. Each of those chapters begin by quoting one of the thirteen LDS Articles of Faith that refers to that particular doctrine. The titles of LDS books have been abbreviated by using the first letter of the key words in the title. Thus, B. of M. refers to the Book of Mormon, and so on. A complete key to the books used is found in the front of this volume. We have used the King James Version when quoting the Bible because it is the official version used by the LDS church.
Marvin W. Cowan