Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Defending Christianity against Mormonism




“But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect” (NIV 1 Peter 3:15).
In other words, LOVE THEM.
Mormons                                                                                Biblical Truths
Mormons are polytheistic, meaning, they believe in many gods.

LDS believe that “As man is, God once was; and as God is, man may become.”


LDS do not believe in Hell.

LDS believe God is flesh and bones.

LDS believe in baptism for the dead.

LDS believe Jesus and Satan are created brothers.



LDS do not believe in the Trinity.


LDS believe that “it is by grace we are saved, after all we can do” (Nephi 25:23).
Deuteronomy 6:4 says, “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one” (See also Isaiah 43:11; Acts 5:4; 1 Timothy 2:5; Exodus 20:3; et. al.). God knows of no other God (Isaiah 44:8). Apart from Him, there is no other God (Isaiah 45:5; 45:14, 21, 22; 46:5, 9).
The Bible says that God never changes (Malachi 3:6), so He was never a man or mortal (Hosea 11:9; Numbers 23:19; see also Psalm 90:2). "I am He; before Me there was no God formed, neither shall there be after Me" (Isaiah 43:10).

The Bible says that everyone, when they die, will exist either in Heaven or Hell, for eternity (Daniel 12:2-3; Matthew 25:46; Revelation 20:14-15).
Matthew 16:17 shows that God is not flesh and blood. John 4:22-24 explains that God is a spirit, which Jesus defines in Luke 24:37-40).
They base an entire doctrine off of one verse (1 Cor. 15:29), which clearly shows how Paul is talking about pagans “they” as opposed to Christians “we.”
Jesus is eternally existent (John 1:1-2) and the creator and sustainer of all things (John 1:3, 10; Colossians 1:16-17; Hebrews 1:3,10). Jesus is the ONLY son of God (John 3:16) and Jesus is not an angel, like Satan was (Hebrews 1:5-9; Job 1:6; Zech 3:1-2; Luke 10:18; Rev 12:9; Ezek 28:14).
Jesus says, “Go and baptize people...in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit” (Matt. 28:19), signifying equivalence. Jesus also says, “I and the Father are One” (John 10:30). Paul calls the Holy Spirit, “God” (Acts 5:3-4).
The Bible says that it is by grace that we have been saved, through faith, and that this is not from us, but is a gift from God, not by works, so that no one could boast (Ephesians 2:8-9).
The goal (at minimum) is to plant seeds of doubt
Definitions:
LDS= “Latter Day Saints” or simply, “Mormons”
BoM= Book of Mormon
Nephites= Light skinned people, Hebrew descent
Lamanites= Dark skinned people, Hebrew descent; ancestors of American Indians

Other Facts:
                2 Nephi 25:23 in the book of Mormon says “For we know that it is by grace that we are saved, after all we can do.” The Bible says that we are saved through grace alone and not by works (Ephesians 2:8-9). In other words, Mormons believe that salvation comes through works, but the Bible contradicts this and says that salvation is a free gift.
                Mormons believe that God lives on a distant planet called “Kolob.” This belief was taken from the book of Abraham, which Mormons believe that Joseph Smith translated from “Reformed Egyptian Hieroglyphics.” No non-Mormon scholar in the world recognizes “Reformed Egyptian” as a verifiable, legitimate, ancient or modern language. Reformed Egyptian Hieroglyphics has also never been found in archaeology.  
                No city in the book of Mormon has ever been located archaeologically. Not one speck of evidence. The cities mentioned in the Bible however, can be visited today.
                No ancient inscriptions in Hebrew or "reformed Egyptian" that predate Columbus have ever been found in America. No copies of the book of Mormon have ever been found that predate 1830 when Smith "found" and "interpreted" the tablets. In any event, no archaeological evidence exists that demonstrates that the book of Mormon is true.
                In Mormon, chapter six, “hundreds of thousands are slain with the sword,” in Manchester, New York. If this were true, there would be millions of weapons, coins, shields, swords, etc., but nothing has been found.
                Lamanites are the principle ancestors of the American Indians, according to the book of Mormon. In other words, you have to believe that the Native Americans living among us are actually Jewish. So, if the BoM is true, Native Americans have to be of Hebrew descent. This goes against DNA test results.
                Mormons will suggest that you read Deut. 4:2 “Do not add to what I command you and do not subtract from it, but keep the commands of the Lord your God that I give you” when you ask them about the verses in Revelation 22:18-19, which says, “I warn everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this scroll: If anyone adds anything to them, God will add to that person the plagues described in this scroll. And if anyone takes words away from this scroll of prophecy, God will take away from that person any share in the tree of life and in the Holy City, which are described in this scroll.” The idea behind the Mormon motive is that you can’t write anything after Deut. 4:2, even though the rest of the Bible exists. Clearly these are talking about two different subjects; commandments and prophecies.
                In other words, there are 613 commandments up until the end of the book of Deuteronomy, and there are never any commandments added to them in the entire Bible. In the book of Revelation, however, Mormons are adding to the prophecies of “this scroll” because the prophecies in the BoM come after the book of Revelation.
                It is good to ask them who Jesus is in order to get their definition exposed. Likely, they will tell you that He is the savior of the world, but will refrain from telling you that he is Satan’s spirit brother.
                Mormons will frequently tell you that you need to read the BoM and pray that God reveals the truth about it to you (or something of that nature). They will show you James 1:5, which explains that God will give you wisdom if you simply ask for it. One problem with this is that the book of James is written to people who are already believers (James 1:1), therefore they knew the truth from the Word of God. The Bible is truth; therefore we go to it for answers, not to our feelings. Jeremiah 17:9 explains that the heart is deceitful above all things! We cannot trust it! If we could trust our hearts, then everyone would be correct. This is clearly not the case.


The BoM in a nutshell:
Mormon tells his son, Moroni (a Nephite) to bury the record of their people in the ground. Centuries later, Moroni appears to Joseph Smith and tells Joseph that he recorded the events of his people on golden plates and where he buried these plates. Joseph Smith then “translates” the plates and that is how the BoM came to be.

Dos and Don’ts:
Most Mormons are unfortunately victims of deception. They think in their mind that they are doing well, but in reality, they are spreading lies and teaching a false gospel (see Galatians 1:6-9!). With this in mind, be gentle and respectful when confronting Mormons.
Do begin by being pleasant, maybe asking them what they like to do for fun. This helps them see that you are human and not some kind of enemy.
Don’t begin by talking about the Trinity or by attacking their faith in some manner. This could cause them to put up mental or spiritual barriers.
Don’t attack Joseph Smith. He is held dearly by them and telling them that he is a false prophet will just make them angry or frustrated.
Be loving and gentle. Try to create an inviting and comfortable atmosphere.
Be prepared for their visit. Try reading over this information and the Bible references that are mentioned, in order to be familiar with the material.
Don’t tell them that you are “protestant” or “Baptist,” etc., but instead, tell them that you are “a believer in the biblical and historical Jesus.”
Do take control of the conversation. Maybe you could ask them if they would set the BoM aside for a week or so and let God talk to them through it exclusively.
Do invite them into your home. They are very nice and professional people that can be trusted. They are just severely misled.
Don’t be afraid that they will take over your life. They will usually only stay for a few minutes to a half an hour at the most. Invite them back to talk.
Do remember that telling them that you would like to learn more about the Mormon religion would cause them to return.
Do remember, YOU are the boss. You don’t have to do anything you don’t want to (like, giving them your phone number or email address or go to their church). Just kindly tell them that you are not ready to give out your information yet.
Do remember that if you don’t feel comfortable having them back again, you can gently make them leave and not come back if you say something like, “I feel that we have exhausted our conversations in our debates but I want to thank you for your respect.”
Do try to plant a seed of doubt.
Do remember that this is only a small portion of information regarding the refutation of and defense against Mormonism. I encourage you to study further, starting with reading the Word of God.

See also:
In John 10:34, Jesus says “Is it not written in your law, I have said you are Gods?” Jesus is quoting Psalm 82:6, which Mormons might take you to, thinking it is evidence for their claims of mankind being able to become gods. But Psalm 82:7 says about these “gods” that they will “die like mere mortals; [they] will fall like every other ruler.”
Link: So... Joseph Smith had several wives... now what?

Questions to ask Mormons (Questions are a great way to plant seeds of doubt and also to begin conversation):

Can you show me proof from non-Mormon sources that the cities and towns and people groups existed historically and archaeologically? They might try to dance around the subject, but gently try to get them to answer this question directly.

Why do you baptize for the dead when the Bible (Heb. 9:27) and Mosiah 3:25 both state that there is absolutely no chance of salvation after death? They might try to say that God can’t be that unjust as to condemn people to hell if they have never heard of Jesus. The problem with this is, it is not up to us to save people, and it is only in God’s hands. Romans 1:20 explains that mankind is without excuse in believing in the existence of God. In other words, we see that there is a designer when we observe trees and birds, etc. With this in mind, knowing that there is a designer because the earth and the things in it are a witness to the designer, Matthew 7:7-8 explains that all we have to do is ask, seek and knock, and He will provide a way for this person to learn of Jesus. To sum this all up, the person living in a remote area who does not know Christ, will see the witness of God’s beautiful creation, then question, “how did this all get here?” and when he seeks with all his heart, God might bring a missionary to him or something of that nature.

How do you explain psalm 90:2? God was never a man, but was always God.
Malachi 3:6 explains that God does not change and Hebrews 13:8 says that Jesus is the same yesterday today and forever. How was God once a man? How was Jesus created?

Why did Joseph Smith translate the plates into the King James language when it was not common for people to speak that way during Joseph’s life?

Have you studied the material that opposes Mormonism so you can make a discerning and intelligent conclusion for yourself?

Feel free to reply or ask questions to this post, or on the ATC facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/ApologeticalAndTheologicalCommentary


Written by Nace Howell through the grace of the Lord Jesus

VIEWING ARCHAEOLOGY THROUGH THE EYES OF ETHICS, PRACTICALITY, AND APOLOGETICS





Synopsis
There are several issues regarding modern archaeology. Questions seem to naturally rise in the minds of people who think about the concept, such as: “How much does archaeology actually benefit modern science and history? Is it really worth destroying the earth to find historical information that just seems completely arbitrary? Is it morally permissible to disturb certain cultures in order to get a few bits of information? These are just a few of several concerns. On what seems to be the opposite end of the spectrum, other concerns focus on issues involving the historicity of the book of Mormon for instance. Is the book of Mormon really credible historically? It seems that since archaeology consists of evidence from historical events, then there should be large amounts of artifacts and ruins that still exist where the book of Mormon claims that wars and such took place.
Archaeology is apologetical in that it challenges historical claims with little bias. Think about it... if there were a group of Native Americans centuries ago on top of a mountain chipping away stone to make arrowheads and such, then because stone doesn’t decompose as quickly as modern litter, if we dig carefully enough, we should be able to find these stone chips. If someone were to say, “Native Americans never existed.” The artifacts that have been found would simply disagree.  Likewise, if there are legends and records of past events, Investigation should confirm or deny some of these events. Simply put, it is what it is. Whether archeology proves biblical history, or puts the historicity of the book Mormon into serious question, the goal of archaeology is to learn the truth of what happened, where it happened, why it happened, who was involved, and when the actual events took place.

To dig or not to dig
The question of whether or not archaeology should be performed, in comparison to the ethics of abortion or euthanasia, seems clear. It should be performed because of the benefits and knowledge taken from it, but should be done with respect to culture, and not to mention, it should disturb the surface of the earth as little as possible for the sake of vegetation and aesthetics. It has not only benefitted modern science and medicine, but is also extremely beneficial to the Bible as well as secular history, in that it supports and corrects theories with evidence.

Archaeology gives us understanding of ancient medicines and science which logically help people understand such things better in present times.
Obviously, if an action was documented by someone (or documented by the surroundings of the action) in the past, those who are in the present can logically benefit from it. Think of it as a somewhat cryptic testimony.

‘Scientists recently exhumed the bodies of victims of the 1918 flu epidemic because they had been buried in marked graves. Data from this research has been crucial in preparing medical defenses against future epidemics,’ added Mays.
‘Archaeological research has also shown that until relatively recently, children were weaned around the age of three,’ said archaeologist David Miles, ‘for the reason that late-weaned children were better protected against infections. Weaning children early, as we do today, is not necessarily a good thing, the lesson of history would suggest.’[1]

Since Children were weaned until a later age to fight infection, it seems that applying this practice to third world countries, for instance, may prove to be beneficial in regards to improving health and immune systems. The fact of whether or not there exists a moral issue is another story.
Ancient Egyptians have taught the modern world a considerable amount on preserving the deceased. Now that many procedures of the mummification process are common knowledge because of the history books found in public schools, it seems to spark curiosity among many modern scientists:

Bodies donated to science generally serve as interactive textbooks for the next generation of doctors… But some corpses go beyond the call of duty. Thirteen years ago, the donor—then a man in his seventies—died of a stroke, and the body was handed over to Bob Brier, an Egyptologist at Long Island University, and Ronald Wade, director of the Maryland State Anatomy Board. After removing and pickling all the organs except the heart, Brier and Wade buried the body under hundreds of pounds of natron (basically baking soda and salt) for 30 days to dehydrate it. Once they removed the clumps of soggy natron, Brier and Wade sprinkled the desiccated body with frankincense and myrrh.[2]

This article goes on to explain that there were tissue samples donated to many different scientists for their own separate research. “Corthals[3] experimented with samples from the modern mummy and found she could retrieve plenty of DNA from the bones but nothing useful in the skin or other tissues. That was enough to convince the council[4] to let Corthals go to work on the would-be Hatshepsut[5][6] In other words, the process of this modern mummification has already helped in determining some important factors to the public eye.
Another article on the same subject helps us understand a controversy that has been going on for quite some time. The question in focus is how the body was dried with natron, a substance of salt and baking soda. “This technique would require large vats to soak the corpses in, no evidence to support this theory has ever been found. Instead, there is evidence of large tables being used for the drying process. But it has never been clear why these tables are nearly six feet across, wide enough to fit two corpses. These and many more questions were answered during the mummification of Mumab[7].[8]
Now since we have seen that questions have been answered with modern science’s look at the ancient, the next question is whether or not this whole situation is ethical. The man who donated his body to “science” is something one might wonder if this man, while living, would have thought this to be considered science. Nevertheless, he left the decision of what happens to his body in the name of the person or group of people who decide what seems to them, to be a–no boundary–ethical issue. Since the Egyptians, roughly five thousand years ago, have decided to figure out a way to preserve their dead, one can definitely come to the conclusion that the act of archaeology doesn’t reach an immoral or unethical issue. In other words, because they are preserving their dead, aside from religious beliefs, it seems logical that they would have no reason to quarrel about exhuming the deceased. The issue of culturally focused offenses is another story. It is a question in which we probably could not answer without the help of a time machine.

Biblical archaeology brings life to the Bible, and also proves its history.
There are many references that can be found in Scripture showing certain things such as the name of the City of David found in some Biblical books such as 2 Samuel, 1-2 Kings, and 1 Chronicles, for a few examples. In other words, these places with names such as this have been in existence since early Biblical times, and still exist in modern day. As opposed to other “ancient” writings such as what is found in the book of Mormon, the Bible speaks of recognizable, tangible places, helping to bring the Bible to life. The book of Mormon speaks of wars and cities and towns that the earth doesn’t currently have named after it, where certain events have taken place in the Bible people have named towns and cities after these events which are still named.
The findings of the Dead Sea Scrolls in the Caves at Qumran are definitely a strong argument for the fact that Biblical history is hard to deny. “In a cave in the Judean Desert cliffs south of Qumran, Bedouins in 1947 found the first Dead Sea scrolls. Following this discovery, Qumran was excavated by the Dominican Father R. de Vaux in the years 1951-56. A complex of buildings, extending over an area of 100 x 80 m. was uncovered, dating to the Second Temple period.”[9] As is well known, the Second Temple period ended around 70 A. D. Since these buildings had copies of the Bible; books such as Genesis, Isaiah, Psalms and Deuteronomy, one can come to the conclusion that the highly skilled people in charge of this ancient library considered the contents of the books saturated with history very sacred.

The question of whether or not Biblical archaeology should be used to formulate secular history comes to mind. One can open nearly any study Bible and see a timeline that has both secular and Biblical events that take place. This holds a considerable amount of weight in the argument that the Bible should and can be used to formulate secular history. As with any type of archaeology, Biblical or secular, relics and artifacts are matched up with theories in history. Judging from what the archaeologist finds, whether it is something bronze or iron for example, possibly plays an integral part in the story as the surroundings of the subject. So it appears that if the desire is to know something about X, then because W and Y surround it and are known and found, more can be understood of X.
The Bible clearly tells us to “Test everything. Hold on to the good” (1 Thess. 5:21, NIV).[10] A paraphrase might sound like, “do what is reasonable to find out what the truth is.” Look at what some disciples’ reactions were when they heard the news of Jesus body not being in the tomb:

So Peter and the other disciple started for the tomb. Both were running, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first. He bent over and looked in at the strips of linen lying there but did not go in. Then Simon Peter, who was behind him, arrived and went into the tomb. He saw the strips of linen lying there, as well as the burial cloth that had been around Jesus’ head. The cloth was folded up by itself, separate from the linen. Finally the other disciple, who had reached the tomb first, also went inside. He saw and believed. –John 20:3-8, (NIV)

There was clearly no disturbance of culture or earth, and no one was disrespected by their actions of going into the tomb.
In the Bible, the idea that God’s people will rebuild on ancient ruins is perfectly acceptable: “Your people will rebuild the ancient ruins and will raise up the age-old foundations; you will be called Repairer of Broken Walls, Restorer of Streets with Dwellings” (Isaiah 58:12, NIV). The fact that the Israelites are pretty much told to rebuild on ancient ruins, shows the value of the ruins, which seems to have practical value.

Archaeological studies have proven some “historical” events to be fallacies that never actually took place.
The book of Mormon makes some extraordinary claims about there being wars with large numbers of warriors in the Americas.[11] The problem with this is that there has been no archaeological evidence to support these claims that the book of Mormon makes. “The Smithsonian Institution has never used the Book of Mormon in any way as a scientific guide. Smithsonian archeologists see no direct connection between the archeology of the New World and the subject matter of the book… No reputable Egyptologist or other specialist on Old World archeology, and no expert on New World prehistory, has discovered or confirmed any relationship between archeological remains in Mexico and archeological remains in Egypt.”[12] In other words, when someone does something, there is evidence of it. For every action there is a reaction!
Since there is so much archaeological evidence of ancient Greece and ancient Jerusalem, from ruins the whole way down to pottery, it is easy to not only believe the events in history that took place, but one can literally take a leap back in time and understand certain things with precision. Not so with Mormon history. Since there is no realistic archaeological evidence of Mormon history, it is not only hard to believe that the events written in the book of Mormon took place, it is also hard to put any type of credit into the book of Mormon because of this fact. The same logic can be used for the History in the Bible. Because we “see” the history that took place, the Bible has a strong argument for validity.

Archaeology is sometimes considered disrespectful to cultures whose ancestors are being excavated and to the actual deceased.
The Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (NAGPRA), is a federal law that requires items found to be returned—“human remains, funerary objects, sacred objects, or objects of cultural patrimony—to lineal descendants, and culturally affiliated Indian tribes and Native Hawaiian organizations.”[13] Now what seems to be ethical here is the fact that when a person’s grandparent dies, the material that was accumulated by them must go to the descendents. This ethic has been this way for thousands of years, but for some reason it must have seemed necessary to place the NAGPRA law in effect in 1990: “I hated all the things I had toiled for under the sun, because I must leave them to the one who comes after me” (Eccl. 2:18, NIV). So, clearly, this law being passed makes sense. The natural heirs are obviously the descendants. Disrespect takes place when someone digs illegally, and keeps the artifacts that they find.
There arises a question that points to the actual act of digging up graves. Whether these graves are Native American, ancient Egyptian or Israeli doesn’t matter, ethnicity concerning these morals holds no weight unless it were somehow religious to do such things, and even then it would be questionable. What are the things being disturbed here? Is it only the deceased? Or is it the lineage as well? If there are bodies that are being disturbed that are well over a hundred generations old, then there can obviously be no familial ties to those in the lineage living presently. Thus, the opposite end of the spectrum arises. If bodies are being excavated that are only one or two generations old, then emotional family ties still exist. The thing is though, there is probably only one reason that someone would be excavated if they were that recently buried.
The logic that seems to overrule the act of not digging up recent graves is because the case of their death is not closed, or has been reopened on a matter of justice. So because Justice has more ethical support than exhuming the dead, it seems relatively close to being along the lines of morally acceptable. If someone recently put the body in the ground, why does that same person not have the right to exhume the body? When the body is buried, does that mean from that point on it is not to be disturbed? If yes, is that because the person who buried the body has the divine authority to make the carcass to rest in peace? Obviously, only God can have that authority. “And Joseph’s bones, which the Israelites had brought up from Egypt, were buried at Shechem in the tract of land that Jacob bought for a hundred pieces of silver” (Josh. 24:32, NIV). Clearly humans are just movers of things of the earth, and sometimes, answers are more important than the disturbance of the deceased.

Archaeology, performed in a respectful manner, not only benefits modern science and medicine, but is also extremely beneficial to the Bible as well as secular history, in that it supports and corrects theories with evidence.
The historical impact of archaeological studies has proven to benefit several important factors in life. The easiest argument aiding in favor of archaeology is the fact that archaeologists have found so many things that involve historical events, as well as corrected theories, proven truth, forgeries and false accounts. Archaeology has provided a great deal of information for the classroom history books, subject material for museums and answers concerning long lasting controversies.
Future trends in the ethics of archaeology seem to point towards laws that will crack down on illegal digs and looting in a more punishable manner. Greed motivates certain people to do things such as create forgeries, perform illegal digs and trespass, leading to looting. It seems for these and other reasons, the Departments of Environmental Conservation and the Environmental Protection Agencies are at every site that concerns the disturbance of water or anything that is over a certain number of years in age.
Many archaeologists are hired by the U. S. government to do such things as govern the careful digs of construction when necessary, such as around Native American burial sites and such, as well as during the destruction and clean up of dams that were built a century or so ago, and have since breached. It doesn’t seem like archaeology has the future of what many people have come to believe due to movies like Indiana Jones and such, but at least in America, more of a future of protection and respect to culture, regulating disturbance to historical items, and occasionally,  actually looking for answers to questions that have been in controversy for years.

Dig deep
With all of these things in mind, whether or not to perform the act of archaeology seems clear. Because it gives us so much as far as knowledge is concerned, it not only should be performed, but it needs to be performed. Where do we draw the line as far as respect for the deceased? It seems that would all depend on how far away in generations the deceased is from the living descendents. Where do we draw the line as far as culture is concerned? Obviously, if people stick to the general rule of thumb that the descendents get what is found, then it would seem that there is less room for offense. In any event, we should “Test everything. Hold on to the good” (1 Thess. 5:21, NIV).

Written by Nace Howell through the grace of the Lord Jesus 


[1] McKie, Robin; The Observer: Archaeology: Ancient Bones Could Help Combat TB. Sunday 13, July 2008 (http://www.guardian.co.uk/science/2008/jul/13/medicalresearch.health).
[2] Peck, Morgen. Mummies Back from the Dead. (http://discovermagazine.com/2007/oct/mummification-is-back-from-the-dead October 15, 2007).
[3] A biomedical Egyptologist.
[4] The Supreme Council of Antiquities
[5]  One of four female pharaohs whose identity is not certain.
[6] Peck, Morgen. Mummies Back from the Dead. (http://discovermagazine.com/2007/oct/mummification-is-back-from-the-dead October 15, 2007)
[7] The name of the modern mummy.
[9] Israeli Foreign Ministry (IFM). Qumran: The American Israeli Cooperative Enterprise. (http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/Archaeology/Qumran.html).
[10] All Bible quotations are from the New International Version.
[11] See Mormon, 6:10; Helaman 1:30-33; Alma 62:15; et. al. The Book of Mormon: (Corporation of the president of the Church of Jesus Christ Latter Day Saints, Salt Lake City 1981).
[12] Smithsonian; Statement Regarding the Book of Mormon: (Department of Anthropology National Museum of Natural History MRC 112 Smithsonian Institution Washington, 1996); emphasis mine.
[13] National NAGPRA; FAQ: (National Park Service, Department of the Interior. http://www.nps.gov/history/nagpra/FAQ/INDEX.HTM).