How do Mormons actually believe what they do?

1 Mormons claim the Bible to be the inspired Word of God as so far as it is translated correctly, but the founding Prophet, Joseph Smith, contradicted many aspects of the Bible.

Example: In the Times and Seasons, Vol 5 Pages 613-614, Joseph Smith makes it very clear that God was a man like all of us, God lived on this earth, God came into existance, and there are many gods.

Isaiah 43:10 tells us that there weren’t any gods before God, nor will there be any gods after Him. Isaiah 45:21-22 tell us that no god exists apart from God. Lastly, the very first verse in the Bible, Genesis 1:1 tells us that God existed before the earth…

The Mormon God is constantly changing.

Many Mormons do not realize that the founding Prophet, Joseph Smith, would be excommunicated and denounced by today’s church. This is because God now condemns polygamy, where-as before He endorsed it for “certain” leaders who were willing to “accept this challenge.”

The same goes for those of darker skin color… Joseph Smith, and the following prophet, Brigham Young both claimed that dark skin was caused by sin, and was in fact the mark of Cain. For this reason African Americans were not allowed into priesthood, until June of 1978 when Spencer Kimball received a revelation from God to allow all into the priesthood, and cleansing African-Americans of their sin.

The Bible tells us in Malachi 3:6, James 1:17, and Numbers 23:19 that God does not change His mind, and Matthew 5:18 makes it clear that God’s Law does not go away.

The three “blessed” witnesses who saw the “Holy Plates” were all excommunicated from the “Restored” Church.

The Book of Mormon is based on the golden plates that God revealed to Joseph Smith, and then to the three witnesses; Oliver Cowdery, David Whitmer, and Martin Harris. All three of these witnesses were later excommunicated by the church due to accusations of lying, stealing, cheating, counterfeiting, defrauding, and persecuting the Mormons.

Even Joseph Smith exclaimed, “Such characters as these… David Whitmer, Oliver Cowdery, and Martin Harris are too mean to mention, and we had liked to have forgotten them.”

In fact, of the 12 key people who had a role in starting the Church of Latter Day Saints, 8 later left the church leaving Joseph Smith, his father, and two brothers.

This has to raise the question, why would the key founders abandon the church, with one of the “blessed witnesses,” Oliver Cowdery, becoming a member of the Methodist Church- church that has always opposed LDS theology.

(one a side note, despite what happened to Christ’s followers they stood by what they knew to be true… until the very end.)

The Manuscript the church claimed Joseph Smith used to translate the Book of Abraham turned out to be a description of Pagan Funerals.

A Egyptian Manuscript, thought to be lost in the Chicago Fire was found and then donated to the Church of Latter Day Saints after they identified it as the one that Joseph Smith had used to make his translation.

The identification process was made fairly easy, because the Church had backed the papyrus with a heavy paper. This was done back in Joseph Smith’s time.

However, when several qualified Egyptologists translated the papyrus, they found nothing of Abraham, but rather a description of Pagan Funerals.

As it turns out, Smith had translated one letter into seventy-six words, and he had also translated the name of the Egyptian moon god 177 different ways (none correctly). When a member of the church named Grant Howard pointed this out, he was excommunicated from the church!

The Nephites were greeted in the Americas by Animals that did not exist in America until thousands of years later.

In 1 Nephi 18:25, it states that they saw beasts of every kind, including the cow, ox, ***, horse, and goats. However, there’s a few problems with this… cows and oxen didn’t come to the Americas until about 1600AD. As for donkeys being in the United States, Asses, also, were not native to the Americas, and first appeared 1495.

But at least Horses lived in the Americas an estimated 2.6 million years ago, right? The only problem here, is that these native horses were completely wiped out in the late Pleistocene period, and were not reintroduced to the Americans until the end of the 15th Century!

So even if we remove cows and oxen from the verse, the soonest the Nephites could have seen these animals in the New World would have been late 15th Century!

The Book of Mormon is supposedly the “most accurate book” known to man, however it is also one of the most revised having over 4,000 changes between the two versions.

“…the Book of Mormon was the most correct of any book on earth, and the keystone of our religion, and a man would get nearer to God by abiding by its precepts, than by any other book…”

  • excerpt from History of the church, Vol. 4, p. 461

While many of the changes between the 1830 and present day Book of Mormon were gramatical, there were also many modifications that changed the meaning of verses (ie: Mary being called the mother of God, changed to Mary the mother of the Son of God).

In the early days of Christianity…Jews, pagans, et al asked the same question of Jesus’ followers…how do they believe what they do?


I think they’re still asking that question in these latter days.

If you want to know “How do Mormons actually believe what they do?”, maybe you should ask a Mormon :wink:

I’ve gotten two similar responses from the LDSs I’ve interacted with.

First, the emphasis on the continuation of prophecy through the First Presidency means that although the current leadership teaches things that are directly contrary to those revealed by earlier “prophets” (e.g. blacks in the priesthood, polygamy) or ignored (e.g. Adam-god doctrine, blood atonement). What people said back then doesn’t matter; what matters is what the living prophets teach.

As a side note, appealing to the Bible doesn’t work. Although there’s evidence that Joseph Smith thought his “revisions” were finished (I think around 1833?), the LDS church doesn’t recognize the Joseph Smith translation as authoritative. It uses the KJV, but since there’s the proviso about “insofar as it is translated correctly” from the articles of faith… They can use it to support Mormon doctrine, but you can’t use it to disprove, since those parts must be incorrectly translated. It’s not even a word-choice issue; the Book of Mormon alleges that the bad, evil “Most Abominable Church” (Catholics) tampered with Scripture itself.

1 Nephi 13:28 Wherefore, thou seest that after the book hath gone forth through the hands of the great and abominable church, that there are many plain and precious things taken away from the book, which is the book of the Lamb of God.

Why the LDS haven’t asked for a revelation letting us know which parts of the Bible need to be corrected or fixing them, I can’t say.

Further, the Mormon religion is based entirely on subjective experience and emotion, based on a misapplication of James 1:5,

If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives to all men generously and without reproaching, and it will be given him.]

and adding in their extra works,

Moroni 10:4 And when ye shall receive these things, I would exhort you that ye would ask God, the Eternal Father, in the name of Christ, if these things are not true; and if ye shall ask with a sincere heart, with real intent, having faith in Christ, he will manifest the truth of it unto you, by the power of the Holy Ghost.

Since they believe that they’ve had the truth of their view proven them by the Holy Spirit, things like external evidence, contrary reasoning, appeals to history, appeals to the Bible, etc. can be dismissed. During my interactions with missionaries, I repeatedly asked if there was anything else they could offer- anything that would make me believe that Joseph Smith was a prophet and that the LDS were the true church. All I got in return was their own personal testimony and feeling.

To sum up: it can be very difficult to reason someone out of a position he never reasoned himself into.

Why do mormons believe the teachings of Mormonism that are at such radical and diametrically opposed odds with the teachings of historical Christianity for over 1800 years?

Easily answered…

As far as the Bible being true “as far as it is translated correctly,” two problems present themselves to Mormons. The first one is, Why rely on translations? Why not study the Bible in the original languages, then you would not have to worry about the “correctness” of the “translation.”

The second problem is more serious. Mormon missionaries and evangelists quote extensively from the Bible in defense of and to prove their doctrines are true and policies are in harmony with the Will of God. How can they do this!? They are using translations. How do they know the translations they are using are “correct”? Do they care? Has the Church provided an official list of “correctly translated” verses and passages, or an official list of “incorrectly translated” verses and passages, or both? Or has the Church taken the position of an absentee landlord who doesn’t care what the tenants do as long as they don’t make too much noise or cause him discomfort?

If I accept that the Bible is true “as far as it is translated correctly,”
then I would expect the Mormon Church to inform me, in its revelatory capacity, and as the Church which has “translators” as well as prophets,
what was translated correctly, and what was not.

And finally, why isn’t the same qualification put on the Book of Mormon? It was translated from gold plates (allegedly), some of the writings of which had been earlier translated from *other *records in *other *languages. (The alternative is to say things about American languages that no one could believe.) And there are passages in the Book of Mormon which apologize for the errors in the Book of Mormon. So who will correct *those *errors? And until the errors are pointed out, why should we trust any of the Book of Mormon, for any particular part could be a part filled with errors.

Most Mormons of my acquaintance are insufficiently familiar with either psychology or epistemology to provide adequate answer to the question.

Nor is it true that one can only understand how a category of people believe what they do, if one is himself a member of that category. Otherwise, no one would ever understand or sympathize with anyone else. It is quite possible, and quite common, to figure out how it is that people believe in a wide range of things, including Mormonism. The subject has been studied in some detail, with some variety, but also with strong agreement on certain points.

Would you say that a psychology or epistemology degree is required to have faith or explain why/how you believe what you do?

Would you not say a Catholic is the best person to ask why a Catholic beliefs? Or am I supposed to ask an atheist? I’m not trying to be obstinate here, but it means sound protocol to get answers from primary sources.

Yes, a person not of that group can understand another, but that by definition makes them a secondary source.

I think the quotes are a little more difficult to deal with than the people at FAIR allow. From the book of Isaiah:

43:10 “You are my witnesses,” says the Lord,
“and my servant whom I have chosen,
that you may know and believe me
and understand that I am He.
Before me no god was formed,
nor shall there be any after me.
11 I, I am the Lord,
and besides me there is no savior.
12 I declared and saved and proclaimed,
when there was no strange god among you;
and you are my witnesses,” says the Lord.
13 “I am God, and also henceforth I am He;
there is none who can deliver from my hand;
I work and who can hinder it?”

It’s not just that there is no god beside God - there are none before or after, no other savior (on other planets - also shows the unity of the Father and Son), and no one who can oppose His power (like, say, a brother god, or Elohim’s father, or His father’s father, etc.)

A serious question: suppose, for the sake of argument, that God wanted the Bible to teach that there was only one God. How could he have written it to make it any clearer than this? What else could He possibly have said?

44:24 Thus says the Lord, your Redeemer,
who formed you from the womb:
“I am the Lord, who made all things,
who stretched out the heavens alone,
who spread out the earth—Who was with me?

Again, suppose that the Scripture wanted to teach that God is the sole creator of all that exists; He didn’t depend on a council of Gods. How could you teach that in clearer language than this?

I can explain why I am Catholic using logic and reasoning. Many Mormons use “feelings” to explain why they are LDS rather than logic & reasoning. Yes I have a good, great even, feeling when I go to Mass, when I pray, when I live my faith, but I can back it up with solid documented history. I have a solid Church that has not changed it’s core beliefs for more than 2000 years. That Church is backed up by the bible and Scared Tradition.

So while being Catholic makes me feel good, even a “burning in my bosom”, that feeling is not what I rely on to know the truth of the Catholic Church.

Why do you believe the LDS is the true church?

Most of the “solid, documented history” was tailored and massaged to validate your feelings.

Including the ones about bad popes? :smiley:

Because I find it to be the most in line with scripture, logic, my observations of life/nature/sociology, and my personal conversations with God.

I find history and “because someone told me so” to be poor methodologies for discerning truth (both are secondary sources).

I respect that other people’s views differ, and have no interest in critically dissecting their reasons, or vise versa.

How would you know what validates my feelings? You don’t know me and you don’t know my steps to the Catholic Church.

So asking a Mormon why they believe what they believe isn’t OK? :shrug:

What scripture? The bible pre-JS? Where in a pre-JS bible does it back up what the LDS believe. I struggle with the logic of it since the LDS and the JS story seem so illogical to so many. Scripture tells me Jesus Christ found the one true church and that church (called the Catholic Church) has been in existence without fail (no "Great Apostasy) since the resurrection.

You find history and Scared Tradition to be poor methodologies for discerning the truth but this is exactly what the LDS do. They believe in the LDS faith “because someone told me”.

You say you respect other’s view and don’t want to dissect their reasons but yet you post on a forum doing just that.

“History” is the incomplete recounting of past events, recounted by the victor, and interpreted by who fallible beings whom live in a completely different world when things occurred. Hence my opinion of it’s poor usefulness for discerning Truth.

I really get annoyed when someone acts like a group of people are the Borg and do/believe/wish/whatever things all the same.

And your assumption is incorrect, I do believe anything simply because someone told me to (I’m just that obstinate ;))

Posting on a forum is sharing what/why I believe/feel/think.

Dissecting someone’s beliefs is going through an making them justify every little piece. I’m really uninterested in doing that in public (either dissecting or being dissected). But if you really want to talk further, feel free to shoot me a PM and we can chat.

I don’t believe it’s a good reason for anyone to believe anything, hence why I described it as a poor method for discerned truth.

I also haven’t said anything about why Catholics believe what they do (Catholic should answer that, not me).

I haven’t posted anything about Catholic people or beliefs this thread, positive or negative.

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit