The Main and Plain Things of the Mormon and Christian Divide



I am woefully ignorant of the Mormons, but they keep coming to my door. How do I deal with them?

I think that you want to always stick with the main and the plain things. With Mormonism, the main and the plain thing has to do with who is Jesus Christ. In Mormon theology Jesus Christ is not the one who spoke and the universe leaped into existence; rather, Jesus Christ is the spirit brother of Lucifer, and that is a big, big difference between what Christianity teaches and what Mormonism teaches.

The Jesus of Mormonism is the spirit brother of Lucifer not only but one who was conceived in heaven by a celestial mother and then came in flesh as the direct result of the Father having sex with the virgin Mary. That is a different Jesus than the Jesus of the Bible.

I would stick with those main points but there’s another point that will probably come up in the conversation very early on, and that is what is your authority? Because they’re going to point to the Book of Mormon as the most correct of any book on earth and the keystone to their religion, where you are going to point to the Bible as the most correct on any book on earth, and as a result of that you have a difference with respect to what you trust as an authority. The Book of Mormon fails the tests of reliability both from the standpoint of anthropology as well as archaeology, which is to say that the Book of Mormon is not a reliable source.

One other point I think I ought to bring out and that is that the Mormon thought with respect to salvation is very different than the Bible’s declaration with respect to salvation. In Christianity, we believe that we are saved by God’s grace through faith in Jesus Christ alone. In Mormonism, you have a completely different idea, where Mormons appear before Heavenly Father dressed in fig leaf aprons, and holding good works in their hands. It is about works not what Jesus Christ has done but what you can do. The interesting thing is in their celestial heaven you basically become a god of your own planet, for the believe God was once a man and we can become what God now is.

—Hank Hanegraaff

For further related study, please access the following:

The Basics of Mormonism (Hank Hanegraaff)

Is the Book of Mormon credible?

Does Mormonism Really teach that Jesus is the Spirit Brother of Satan?

Mormonism: Christian, Cult, or??? (Bill McKeever and Eric Johnson)

DNA Science Challenges LDS History (Bill McKeever)

LDS Apologetics and the Battle for Mormon History (Bill McKeever and Eric Johnson)

The Mormon View of Salvation: A Gospel That is Truly Impossible (Bill McKeever and Eric Johnson)

Blog adapted from “How do I witness to Mormons that come to my door?


Book of Mormon Fails


The Book of Mormon is the record of two great civilizations—at least allegedly. First the Jaredites, who left the Tower of Babel and migrated to the Americas twenty-two hundred years before Christ. The second migrated from Jerusalem around six-hundred BC, and divided into two great nations—the Nephites and the Lamanites.

The Lamanites, according to the Book of Mormon, were “white and exceedingly fair and delightsome;” however, due to sin, “the Lord God did cause a skin of blackness to come upon them” (2 Nephi 5:21). The lone Nephite survivor in the final battle with their Lamanite enemies was a mighty military commander named Moroni. (You, of course, see him on steeples of Mormon temples.)

Along with his father Mormon, Moroni inscribed the most correct of any book on earth in Reformed Egyptian hieroglyphics and buried it in the hill of Cumorah. After bring resurrected as an angel, Moroni appeared to the prophet Joseph Smith, and instructed him relative to its destined translation into the English language. Smith, in due course, found the book inscribed upon golden plates along with a pair of magical eye glasses that he used to translate the Egyptian into English. The result was a new revelation called the Book of Mormon.

There is a problem. No archaeological evidence for a language such as Reformed Egyptian hieroglyphics. No archaeological evidence for the great civilizations chronicled in the Book of Mormon. No archaeological evidence for lands such as the land of Moron that is described in Ether 7. No anthropological evidence that the Nephites and the Lamanites migrated from Jerusalem to Mesoamerica. Indeed, both archaeology and anthropology militate against the people, places and particulars that are part and parcel of the Book of Mormon and demonstrate conclusively that the book is little more than the product of a fertile and you might say enterprising imagination.

Here is the deal. Like the Book of Mormon, the Bible has been roundly denounced, as a cleverly invented story. But, there is a difference. Unlike the Book of Mormon, the Bible is buttressed by history and evidence. While the archaeologist spade continues to mount up evidence against the Book of Mormon, it has piled up proof upon proof for the people, places, and particulars that are inscribed in the parchment and papyrus of biblical manuscripts. I’ve written about that evidence in my book Has God Spoken?

—Hank Hanegraaff

For further related study, please access the following:

Is the Book of Mormon Credible? (Hank Hanegraaff)

DNA Science Challenges LDS History (Bill McKeever)

LDS Apologetics and the Battle for Mormon History (Bill McKeever and Eric Johnson)

Book of Mormon Word Change (Bill McKeever)

Problems with the Gold Plates of the Book of Mormon (Bill McKeever)

LDS Church Acknowledges Anniversary’s Ban on Priesthood for Blacks (Eric Johnson)

Historical Artifacts and Biblical Sources: Determining what is True (Jerry Pattengale)

Biblical History: The Faulty Criticism of Biblical Historicity (Paul Maier)

Biblical Archaeology: Ally or Adversary (Paul Maier)

Blog adapted from the January 12, 2017 Bible Answer Man broadcast.


When is it Proper to Tell Mormons the Truth?

JAM200-Mormon Tell Truth

Review: JAM200 | by Bill McKeever and Eric Johnson

Book review: David L. Rowe, I Love Mormons: A New Way to Share Christ with Latter‐day Saints (Baker Books, 2005). This review first appeared in the Christian Research Journal, volume 29, number 6 (2006). For further information or to subscribe to the Christian Research Journal go to: http://www.equip.org

David L. Rowe, a professor at Salt Lake Theological Seminary and a Utah resident since 1975, has pooled his ministry experiences into a “how to” manual for Christians who are interested in sharing their faith with members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter‐day Saints (LDS, Mormons). Rowe describes Mormons as having “their own culture, lingo, and worldview” (back cover).

There are positive aspects to I Love Mormons. The catchy title may prove to be a stumbling block, however, at least for some readers. Many Latter‐day Saints, after all, dislike being called “Mormons” and often complain that this term is only a nickname. The book’s subtitle, A New Way to Share Christ with Latter‐day Saints, may be problematic as well because many Latter‐day Saints think Christ already is the central figure of their religion. The subtitle also might be puzzling to Christians who have been witnessing to Mormons long before this book was published. Rowe’s “new” evangelism model centers on creating relationships with Mormons, which appears to be simply an offshoot of the “friendship evangelism” model that was popularized several decades ago. Is the subtitle implying that Christians who use the “old” model have failed to share their faith with Mormons? Or is it implying that those who use tactics other than relational evangelism hate Mormons, or that they have failed to “learn and respect LDS culture,” as the back cover puts it?

Rowe’s main point in the book is that Christians should avoid the “traditional way” of evangelism, which utilizes what he calls a “warrior saint” approach that uses “jousting games,” because it results in the three‐part sequence of “‘discussion,’ recoil, and shutdown” (17). He seems to jab mainly at the few vocal Christian street preachers who frequent Salt Lake City during the LDS Church’s general conferences, which are held twice a year. He wonders if these “wannabe zealots” may be exhibiting “unharnessed anger hurling imagined God‐bombs at people with a smug pride” (129). He adds, “Generally, ‘Bible bash’ evangelism with its heresy‐hunting rationalism simply squashes the life out of relationships and builds walls, not bridges” (154).

The impression Rowe gives, however, is that anyone who uses tracts or any other “confrontational” methods is not evangelizing using the recommended “wiser, gentler” tactic. If Rowe is merely trying to highlight the fact that Christians can be insensitive by cramming Bible verses down a Mormon’s throat and using inappropriate tactics, then we are in full agreement. Rowe does a disservice, however, to many Christians who practice bolder evangelistic methods while simultaneously exhibit‐ ing a sweeter spirit than those to whom he specifically refers.

Rowe states that Christians generally should not initiate theological discussions with Mormons, but he does not mean that we should not discuss doctrine. In fact, Rowe wants to hammer home” the idea that Christians “need to prayerfully seek and sensitively seize the doors of opportunity God grants us in which our theological knowledge truly counts” (68). We agree wholeheartedly; but there are occasions when there is not enough time to develop long‐lasting relationships, such as when sitting next to someone on a plane or talking to a clerk in a store. Do we set aside our sense of urgency to share important biblical truths merely because we do not have a relationship with the person? The mistaken message Rowe conveys—whether intentionally or unintentionally—is that successful evangelism can take place only after years of friendship.

Culture vs. Cult. One of the more controversial emphases in I Love Mormons is that Mormonism is a culture rather than a cult. Rowe practically apologizes for having his book listed under the category of “cults” that is printed above the barcode on the back cover. He writes, “As an author I have no control over this practice and the institutional bias that drives it. I’m arguing it’s high time we rethink this bias” (29).

This is where we have our sharpest disagreement with Rowe: Mormonism certainly has its own cultural characteristics, but this does not diminish the fact that Mormonism has characteristics that historically have warranted categorizing it as a cult. This designation historically has been applied to groups that insist that they truly represent Christianity while they deny or distort the basic biblical tenets that historically have defined Christianity. We should not intentionally use the designation “cult” as a pejorative, but it does apply to modern‐day Mormonism.

It may surprise some to know that LDS leaders have used this label to describe other groups. For instance, 10th LDS president Joseph Fielding Smith used it to refer to the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter‐day Saints (later changed to the Community of Christ) based in Independence, Missouri (Doctrines of Salvation, 1:284). Twelfth president Spencer W. Kimball described fundamentalist polygamists as cultists (Conference Report, October 1974, 5). Mormon apostle Bruce McConkie even went so far as to say that all Trinitarian Christians had a “false system of worship” with “a false Christ” and were therefore “a false church” and “a false cult” (The Millennial Messiah: The Second Coming of the Son of Man, 48).

For years the word cult has clearly marked the boundary between orthodox and unorthodox groups. It has served as a warning sign to those who may not understand the sometimes confusing doctrines and ideologies of certain groups. Does it really serve the general public, or the Christian church for that matter, to insist that the designation does not apply to the LDS Church just because it might offend someone?

Is Mormonism Changing? Rowe believes that the LDS Church is moving “away from the unorthodox, radically Mormon claims we do not find in the Bible” (166). He insists that the “subject matter of these changes is not just trivial but deals with central, crucial teachings of the LDS Church.” To bolster his point, he compares the 1978 edition of the LDS Church manual Gospel Principles with the more current 1992 and 1997 editions. Rowe correctly notes that the rhetoric on doctrines such as the potential for men to become gods has been toned down.

We would like to share Rowe’s enthusiasm over these changes, but we cannot over‐ look the fact that Gospel Principles is a basic overview of LDS teachings that is used to instruct new converts and those who are investigating the church. The LDS Church often prints this manual in a new language even before they translate the complete set of the LDS standard into that particular language. It is meant to be an introduction to the Mormon faith, so it is not surprising that the LDS Church might deemphasize or even omit doctrines from the manual that might unnecessarily alarm potential converts. Church manuals meant primarily for the instruction of LDS members, on the other hand, fail to demonstrate a departure from Mormonism’s historically heretical positions.

For example, the idea that men may become gods still can be found in the Doctrines of the Gospel, Student Manual: Religion 430 and 431 (which carries a 2004 copyright date). The student manual cites President Spencer Kimball: “Man can transform himself and he must. Man has in himself the seeds of godhood, which can germinate and grow and develop. As the acorn becomes the oak, the mortal man becomes a god. It is within his power to lift himself by his very bootstraps from the plane on which he finds himself to the plane on which he should be. It may be a long, hard lift with many obstacles, but it is a real possibility” (52) (from The Teachings of Spencer W. Kimball, 28).

We would love to see the LDS Church leadership cease promoting heretical teachings, but the evidence from LDS conference speeches and church manuals is not encouraging. Just because a doctrine is not being emphasized fully does not mean it is being denounced.

Shared Concern. Despite our disagreements with I Love Mormons, we do believe that Rowe has a genuine concern for the spiritual welfare of the LDS people. His understanding of the Mormon mindset and the LDS belief system is, for the most part, accurate. Readers who plan to move to Utah or who have LDS friends or relatives certainly will benefit from Rowe’s personal experience of living among the LDS people.

It is unfortunate that the book comes across as offering the only legitimate method to evangelize Mormons. Christians, of course, should treat Mormons respectfully, but we should never think that friendship, apart from the truth of the Word, will convert anybody. Despite its many good points, I Love Mormons seems to be too cautious in this department. We personally know far too many ex‐Mormons who, after being confronted with the doctrinal errors of Mormonism, became Christians because someone who barely knew them spent the time and effort to share the truth in love. Different people and different circumstances sometimes demand different methods of sharing God’s love with the lost.

Bill McKeever lives in Utah and is the founding director at Mormonism Research Ministry (MRM). Eric Johnson is an associate at MRM and teaches high school, college, and seminary classes in Southern California. Together they wrote Mormonism 101 (Baker, 2000).

In the News, Journal Topics

Mormon Leaders Want To Stop “Unauthorized” Baptisms for the Dead

Howard Berkes for National Public Radio reported that this coming Sunday (March 11, 2012), Mormon leaders are formally warning followers to stop controversial baptisms for the dead, particularly of “unauthorized groups” such as “celebrities and Jewish Holocaust victims,” and a letter will be read in every congregation stating: “Our preeminent obligation is to seek out and identify our own ancestors…Those whose names are submitted for proxy [baptisms] should be related to the submitter.” There is also concern over non-Mormons being offended in finding out their deceased family members had been baptized into Mormonism.

The complete letter to be read has been published in The Church of Jesus Christ Latter-Day Saints Newsroom article “First Presidency Issues Direction on Names Submitted for Temple Ordinances.” It is as follows:

We would like to reiterate the policies first stated in 1995 concerning the submission of names for proxy temple ordinances:

Our preeminent obligation is to seek out and identify our own ancestors. Those whose names are submitted for proxy temple ordinances should be related to the submitter.

Without exception, Church members must not submit for proxy temple ordinances any names from unauthorized groups, such as celebrities and Jewish Holocaust victims. If members do so, they may forfeit their New FamilySearch privileges. Other corrective action may also be taken.

Members are encouraged to participate in FamilySearch indexing which is vital to family history and temple work.

Bishops are asked to post this letter on their meetinghouse bulletin boards. Church members may seek the assistance of the family history consultants in their area for additional information, if needed. Name submission policies are also clearly stated on New.FamilySearch.org.

We appreciate the faithful adherence to these policies by all members of the Church.

Sincerely yours,

Thomas S. Monson

Henry B. Eyring

Dieter F. Uchtdorf

The First Presidency

Baptism for the dead is one of several Mormon Temple Rituals vital for attaining godhood, which Hank Hanegraaff contends have no biblical sanction. Although just exactly what the apostle Paul meant in speaking of the “baptism for the dead” in 1 Corinthians 15:29 is a matter of some debate, the Mormon interpretation and practice is clearly not consistent with the teaching of Scripture. The Christian Research Journal has well-critiqued baptism by proxy and set forth viable interpretations of 1 Corinthians 15:29 in the articles “The Mormon Doctrine of Salvation for the Dead: An Examination of Its Claimed Biblical Basis” by Luke P. Wilson, and “Baptism for the Dead: Discerning Historical Precedent from Mere Prose” by Steve Bright.

—Warren Nozaki, Research

For further study on Mormonism, CRI recommends the following bookstore resources:

Memorable Keys to the M-O-R-M-O-N Mirage by Hank Hanegraaff

Mormonism 101 by Bill McKeever and Eric Johnson

One Nation Under Gods: A History of the Mormon Church by Richard Abanes

Mormonism’s Greatest Problems Package featuring Bill McKeever, Eric Johnson, and Sandra Tanner


An Interview with Sandra Tanner Part 3

The following is a transcript of Hank Hanegraaff’s interview with Sandra Tanner, co-founder of Utah Lighthouse Ministry aired on 10/10/2011. Sandra is the great-great-granddaughter of Brigham Young and a leading expert on the Mormon religion.

HANK HANEGRAAFF: On the line, the great-great granddaughter of Brigham Young, the second president of the Mormon Church; her name’s Sandra Tanner, co-founder of Utah Lighthouse Ministry. We’re talking about Mormonism, it’s in the news, particularly animated today about an article that I read in the Charlotte Observer, in which you had a pastor, a Baptist pastor, come right out and say Mormonism was a cult, and Romney was not a Christian. Then you had Bill Bennett denouncing the pastor for bigotry against Mormons, which of course begs the question, how do we deal with the whole issue of Mormonism in a way that reaches as opposed to repels, and how do we communicate the truth in love to the very people we want to reach? Mormonism is gaining worldwide credibility. I’ve seen that even in my trips to China, where I was asked by officials of the Communist Party—personally asked—about Mormonism, whether Mormonism was in fact an acceptable form of religion that would not disrupt China. Particularly in their case, they were concerned from a sociological perspective. How should we think about Mormonism? Because Mormonism is making inroads in China, just like it is in a lot of places throughout the world.

One of the things we discussed last week on this broadcast, Sandra, was this notion that not only do Mormons communicate that Christ did not exist from all eternity, but they contend that our Lord was conceived in heaven by Heavenly Mother and then came in flesh as the result of Heavenly Father having sex with the Virgin Mary. Now in evidence of that, I quoted quite a few different Mormon authorities, and yet, Mormon callers and communicators in all kinds of venues contacted our ministry and said, “We do not teach that.” Your response—

SANDRA TANNER: Well, the Mormon has usually heard the phrase: Jesus is the literal Son of the Father in the flesh. That’s a common phrase used in Mormonism: literal Son of the Father in the flesh. The question—the problem—is the Mormon doesn’t think through the implications of the statement. Because they believe Heavenly Father once lived on another earth, died and was resurrected, and achieved godhood, that makes God have a physical body. And when they speak of Jesus being the literal Son of the Father in the flesh, their church leaders have said at various times over many years that this was in a natural course of things. That Jesus was begotten and born of Mary in the same way that every mortal man has been fathered and brought forth into mortality. So it has to mean that God had sex with Mary. I don’t understand how the Mormons can understand it any other way. Bruce McConkie, one of their apostles, just within the last twenty years, he said, “There is nothing figurative or hidden or beyond comprehension in our Lord’s coming into mortality. He is the Son of God in the same sense and way that we are the sons of mortal fathers” [1].

HANK: I might add that Mormon apostle Orson Pratt, who incidentally was an original member of the Quorum of Twelve Apostles, once explained that “the fleshly body of Jesus required a Mother as well as a Father. Therefore, the Father and Mother of Jesus, according to the flesh, must have been associated together in the capacity of Husband and Wife: Hence, the Virgin Mary must have been, for the time being, the lawful wife of God the Father” [2]. So what we are communicating here is simply what Mormons communicate, but, Sandra, as we talked before, their revelations are ever-changing; it could be that a current revelator in the church changes this doctrine.

SANDRA: Well, there’s no official statement changing it. They just want to skirt around the wording. But they still always say Jesus is the literal Son of the Father in the flesh, and making a distinction between we are all God’s literal children in heaven, we were born to God in this life, in a pre-earth life, and so when they say that Jesus is the literal Son of the Father in the flesh, they mean here in mortality, God was His father, not just God was His father in this pre-earth life, but He was His father here on earth. Their leaders have made it very specific at times that this was a natural act. Now the average Mormon may not have connected the dots on what that all means, but it would be the logical conclusion from all their statements about Jesus being the literal son of a physical resurrected man.

HANK: But what I’m actually alluding to here, Sandra, is something else; what I’m trying to underscore here and get your comment on is that—well, lets use this example: Back in 1978, the President and Prophet Spencer Kimble, he changed official doctrine when it came to men of African descent holding the priesthood. So what I’m suggesting is, if Mormons really don’t like this notion of the Father literally having sex with the Virgin Mary, as a glorified man, if they don’t like that, their current president could, as the revelator in the church currently, he could change that doctrine. So if they don’t like it, change it.

SANDRA: Yes, they could change—they could any of their doctrines. They started out condemning polygamy, then Joseph went into polygamy and they for fifty years or so they preached it was the only way you got exaltation in the celestial kingdom, and then in 1890 they said nope, we’re doing away with that; we’re not going to practice polygamy anymore. That has been another issue that’s changed. Just like on the Blacks, before ‘78 a Black couldn’t hold priesthood, then in ‘78 God evidently told the prophet that now they can. We see many changes through all of Mormon history of an evolution of thought. Through Joseph Smith’s lifetime, I can show they’ve changed over a fourteen-year period. He changed his view of God. He changed his view of marriage. He changed his view of polygamy. He changed his view on Masonry. He introduced new temple rituals that weren’t part of Mormonism in the beginning. There is this constant flux of change, but to the Mormon, they say, “Well, he’s God’s prophet, so yes, we can have change. That’s not a problem.” But then, how can you say that Mormonism is supposedly a restoration of New Testament Christianity? You can’t say something is a restoration and also keep changing it.

HANK: And we’re talking about the difference between the Mormon authority and the Christian authority. When we look at our authority, we say that the Bible is the infallible authority of redemptive revelation, and, therefore, it becomes the final court of arbitration. There are no new revelations; all revelations in the present must be ultimately judged by the revelation that God has already given us.

In the remaining moments, Sandra, I want to deal with the most salient issue, and that is what Mormons look forward to in eternity. You’ve touched on this, but I want to unpack this a little more, because Mormons contend that they will appear before Heavenly Father dressed in fig-leaf aprons, holding good works in their hands, and according to the Latter-day Saints virtually everyone qualifies for heaven. Talk about their plan of salvation, and their concept of eternity, and the distinction with that given through orthodox Christianity.

SANDRA: Well, in Christianity, we look to Jesus’ words, that in the end times, the sheep will be separated from the goats, and there’s a narrow way and a broad way, and the Christian understanding was that the narrow way led to heaven and the broad way led to hell. Mormons have reversed this, so that the broad way leads to heaven, almost everyone’s going to go there, and just a few people go to hell. In their theology, it’s almost a universalism. Everybody, practically everybody, is going to go to some level of heaven. But the Mormon hopes for more than heaven. He hopes for the highest level of the Mormon heavens. They have it three tiered: telestial for bad people of the world, they’ll still go to heaven and be saved. Then the terrestrial where the good people of the world like you and all nice Muslims, Baptists, Hindus, doesn’t matter what your religion is, if you’re a good moral person, then you can go to the terrestrial, the middle kingdom. But the Mormon’s aim is celestial kingdom. In order to have the Mormon concept of the eternal life—which to them is different than being saved—to have eternal life means you can progress to be a god over your world someday. So all this temple ritual they go through, this work for the dead, it’s all with the hope that this will add up to enough to qualify them to have the reward of eternal life, whereas the Christian looks to Christ for eternal life through the grace of Christ that’s given to us—not because of any merit of our own, but because of the merit of Christ. Mormonism says, “Well, yes, Christ’s atonement was necessary to get us into heaven, but in order to go to that top level and become a god, we have to achieve that. That is a reward for our faithfulness as a Mormon.” And only Mormons receive eternal life; the rest of us get some sort of sub-heaven and are not in the presence of Heavenly Father.

HANK: Talking to Sandra Tanner. Sandra is co-founder of Utah Lighthouse Ministry, and we appreciate your ministry and certainly appreciate your contribution to the Bible Answer Man broadcast today.

SANDRA: Thank you.

HANK: God bless you, Sandra Tanner. Again, Sandra Tanner is the great-great granddaughter of Brigham Young, the second president to the Mormon Church. She is an authority on Mormonism, and we’ll call upon her from time to time as the war for the rhetoric for words continues to heat up. Again, some strong words in the paper today, chronicled from a conference, and once again underscores the fact that we need to be ready always to give an answer, a reason for the hope that lies within us with gentleness and respect.


1. cf. Bruce McConkie, Mormon Doctrine (Salt Lake City, UT: Bookcraft, Inc., 1966), 742.

2. Orson Pratt, The Seer (Washington, D.C.: n.p., 1853–54), 158–59.


An Interview with Sandra Tanner Part 2

The following is a transcript of Hank Hanegraaff’s interview with Sandra Tanner, co-founder of Utah Lighthouse Ministry aired on 10/10/2011. Sandra is the great-great-granddaughter of Brigham Young and a leading expert on the Mormon religion.

HANK HANEGRAAFF: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS) was birthed in 1820 by an alleged vision in which two celestial personages appeared to Joseph Smith, claiming all existing churches were wrong, all their creeds were an abomination, and all their professors were corrupt. According to these personages, Smith had been chosen to restore (not reform, but restore) a church that had disappeared from the face of the earth. The Mormon doctrines that have evolved from that vision compromise, confuse, or contradict the nature of God, the authority of Scripture, and the way of salvation. Talking about that with me on this broadcast: Sandra Tanner, she founded, along with her husband Jerald, Utah Lighthouse Ministry. It’s a Christian nonprofit organization, an important nonprofit organization reaching Mormons with the truth and love that only the Jesus Christ of Christianity can bring to the human heart—not the Christ of Mormonism. These are two different Jesuses. This broadcast prompted in part by an article I read today in the Charlotte Observer, in which a pastor, not just a pastor but lead pastor, at First Baptist Church in Dallas called Mormonism a cult and said Mitt Romney was not a Christian and latter was denounced by Bill Bennett for bigotry against Mormons, and then Mitt Romney himself talked about this “poisonous language which doesn’t advance our cause” and that we need to remember that “decency and civility are values,” values that should be adhered to. I want to contextualize this, Sandra, in that it is true that we are called to communicate the gospel with gentleness and with respect. The question now becomes: Is it right to call Mormonism a cult from a theological perspective?

SANDRA TANNER: Well, certainly, it represents a great heresy. If we’re going to say we’re Christian, we’ve got to adhere to some sort of standard; otherwise Buddhists could say they’re Christians. If the test of Christianity is morality and good living and being a nice neighbor, I’m sure people in all kinds of religions would qualify under that kind of a definition. But Christianity has always embodied a certain set of doctrines, and one of those doctrines is the absoluteness of the one eternal God, and that Jesus has eternally been God. Mormonism rejects both those concepts. Christianity has traditionally said God has spoken through the Bible, and that the New Testament is the standard for Christian beliefs. Mormonism rejects that and takes additional books of scripture that they believe supersede the Bible. The Bible is only secondary in their chain of authority; their other scriptures are paramount. So they get to redefine all the terms. But we also have to keep in mind that Joseph Smith himself was claiming that Christianity was in a total state of apostasy when he started Mormonism in 1830, and that what he established was the “only true church.” So when people become excited because we want to say Mormonism doesn’t fit under the Christian umbrella, you have to understand that Joseph Smith didn’t claim to fit under the Christian umbrella. He said he was doing something totally different than the Christian churches.

HANK: I want you to address an issue that comes up from time to time. That is: a lot of people feel that it is dangerous for me right now to be talking about Mormonism because it could hurt Mitt Romney’s chances to be President of the United States, and therefore, we should hold back, because they are suggesting that right now that is the only solution for our country. He’s likely to be the GOP [Grand Old Party/Republican] candidate running against Barack Obama. Therefore, we should probably temper our criticism of Mormonism. How would you respond to that?

SANDRA: Well, what happens in the political arena is I believe in God’s hand. I don’t think that discussing Mitt’s religion is a matter of attacking him on a political agenda. It’s simply stated: Mormonism does not fall under the umbrella of standard Christianity. And then the Mormons and the media want to make this some sort of Mormon bashing. Is it Mormon bashing—I mean is it bashing for the Mormon to say they aren’t part of standard Christianity? When they say there’re the “only true church,” that’s attacking my belief. So it’s sort of a funny game they get into here on what’s acceptable. We aren’t out putting out slanderous statements about Mitt Romney; we’re simply talking about what his Church advocates. This is their theological position. I think anyone, in evaluating the candidate or thinking about Mormonism, needs to look at the core doctrines of Mormonism. Regardless of how they vote, they need to be informed on what Mitt Romney stands for, just like you would want to consider if the candidate was Jehovah’s Witness. It would have certain implications about medicine and all sorts of issues with them. If a person were opposed to going to war—was a pacifist or something—that would have an impact on how you viewed them for running the country. If a person was a Muslim, it would make a difference on how you view them in terms of international affairs in the military. Everyone’s belief systems do rely to some degree on how they would perform in the office of President. This is just one aspect of Romney—it’s one—but it’s an aspect of everyone that runs for office, we want to know what their core values are, what they really believe in, what they hold sacred and special in their own thoughts, how would this affect how they would run the country. I think those are fair questions.

HANK: Just in fairness, let me add that I have over the years been very critical about the statements made by Barack Obama with respect to the Bible. When he says that the Bible teaches slavery and that eating shellfish is an abomination, or he says that the Bible teaches you to stone your child if he strays from the faith, I’ve been very critical about those statements and pointed out in no uncertain terms that this belies the fact that he has not learned to mine the Bible for all its wealth or certainly not to read the Bible for all it’s worth. In fact, it sounds at times that he got his cues from the once-famous West Wing series.

I want to ask you a question, Sandra, with respect to eschatology. In fairness, this is something that Mitt Romney himself has been rather candid about. He felt compelled to underscore the Mormon notion that during the Millennium that Jesus will reign from “two places—Missouri and Jerusalem,” then added, “Throughout the Bible, Christ appears in Jerusalem, splits the Mount of Olives to stop the war that’s coming in to kill all the Jews. Our church believes that. That’s when the coming of Christ in glory occurs. We also believe that over the thousand years that follows, the Millennium, He will reign from two places, that the law will come forth from one place in Missouri, and the other will be in Jerusalem” [1] And I might add, and this is something I think in terms of going back to the history of Mormonism, millennial madness so gripped Joseph Smith that he laid a cornerstone in Jackson County, Missouri, at the exact location he supposed the millennial temple would be constructed. And not only did Joseph Smith believe that Christ would setup the millennial reign in Independence, Missouri, but he supposed Western Missouri, not Southern Mesopotamia, to be the location of the Garden of Eden, and therefore, believed that the first man Adam would return to the state of Missouri to prepare the way for the thousand-year reign of Jesus Christ upon the earth. Of course, in Christian theology the coming of Christ forever rendered the notion of an earthly temple, whether in Jerusalem or in Missouri, obsolete. But I find interesting, Sandra, that Mormon has—I mean Mitt Romney—has been pretty forthcoming with respect to his Mormon eschatological beliefs.

SANDRA: Yes, but when he says that most people don’t understand that when he speaks of Christ reigning out of Missouri, that is through the Mormon Church, that the Mormon Church will be set up as the kingdom of God when Christ returns. So, yes, he admits to the Missouri part, but people don’t understand the implications of that statement. This will mean Mormonism will be God’s church on earth and be the ecclesiastical authority ruling the world at that time.

HANK: Beyond that, how significant do you think, if at all, the prophecy by Joseph Smith was that one day the U.S. Constitution would be hanging by a thread only to be saved by the elders of the LDS Church. Does that comport with what you just said?

SANDRA: Yes, now there are Mormons, who will always point out to me that is not a doctrine set in their scriptures; however, it is commonly understood and known within the Mormon community of this prophecy, and I have since this whole thing with Romney got going, I had one guy write and tell me, Well, we see it coming true, the Constitution’s hanging by a thread, and we now have a Mormon to step in and save the day. So Mormons are certainly thinking that this is about to be fulfilled through a Mormon president.

HANK: Talking to Sandra Tanner, she is the founder, along with her husband Jerald, of Utah Lighthouse Ministry. It’s a Christian nonprofit organization providing humanitarian outreach to the community and printing critical resource and making that resource, research, and documentation on Mormonism available. Again, that ministry, an important ministry, Utah Lighthouse Ministry and Sandra Tanner, my guest today, as we talk about Mormonism. When we get back from the break, I want to broach a very significant subject that has been previously dealt with on the Bible Answer Man broadcast. Some of you will remember last week there were some very strong statements made by Mormons on this broadcast about my contention that they teach Jesus Christ was conceived by sexual intercourse between God and the Virgin Mary. So I want to talk to Sandra Tanner about preexistence as a concept with respect to Mormonism, and then talk about how in Mormon theology Jesus Christ is conceived and how that differs dramatically from Christian orthodoxy. We’ll be right talking more with Sandra Tanner in just a few moments.


1. Mitt Romney, interview on WHO radio, Covington, Kentucky, n.d., video online at http://www.youtube.come/watch?v=i0rcAByKUFM, accessed December 21, 2007.


An Interview with Sandra Tanner Part 1

The following is a transcript of Hank Hanegraaff’s interview with Sandra Tanner, co-founder of Utah Lighthouse Ministry aired on 10/10/2011. Sandra is the great-great-granddaughter of Brigham Young and a leading expert on the Mormon religion.

HANK HANEGRAAFF: We want to do a special edition of the Bible Answer Man broadcast today as a direct result of Mormonism being increasingly in the news. As well, we have a particular offer that we want to put into your hands. It’s more important now than ever before: Memorable Keys to the M-O-R-M-O-N Mirage flipchart. I say “more important now than ever before” in that it is incumbent upon Christians to understand not only what they believe and why they believe what they believe, as well as who they believe, because virtually every single theological heresy begins with a misconception of the nature of God. But it is important for us to be able to use the deviations of Mormonism as opportunities to share the truth and life and grace and love that only the Jesus of Christianity can bring to the human heart. I’ve asked Sandra Tanner to join me on the broadcast today. The ministry they founded has had a transcendent impact in terms of reaching Mormons with the gospel.

Now today some might say that is a divisive thing to do, because Mormons are already Christians. And that is the topic for today’s discussion: Are Mormons really Christians?

Jerald and Sandra Tanner founded Utah Light House Ministry. It is a Christian nonprofit organization providing humanitarian outreach to the community and printing critical research and documentation on the Mormon Church. A particular note is that Sandra Tanner is not only an authority when it comes to Mormonism, but she is the great-great granddaughter of Brigham Young, the second president of the Mormon Church. The Tanners have authored over forty books on the subject of Mormonism; therefore, you will not hear a greater authority on Mormonism anywhere at anytime. I think her voice is desperately needed at this particular juncture in American history, in world history, in Christian history, because we unfortunately are falling for “political correctness,” popularity, and all that goes with it in the Christian church. At stake are the lives of people from a spiritual perspective.

This is about whether you inherit eternal life. This is about what it takes to be reconciled to the One who spoke and the universe leaped into existence, the One who knit us together in our mother’s womb. This is about more than jobs. This is about more than the economy. This is about a kingdom that will never end. So the issues of today’s broadcast are transcendently important. They’re not spoken out of any divisiveness—certainly not out of bigotry—but motivated by love. If you are a believer today, listening to this broadcast, I underscore the reality that you need to know what it is that you have given your life to. This is important in that we now stand in the shadow of the Bible, rather than standing in the pages of the Bible.

Before I bring Sandra Tanner on, I do want to bring your attention to an article in the newspaper this morning, and this has to do with a headline entitled “Romney” who is saying that we have to “Be Civil about Faith.” Here I’m talking about Mitt Romney now running for the Presidency of the United States. Before I read just a portion of this article, let me underscore again that this is not about politics; this is about spirituality. This is about making an eternal decision to reconcile your self to the real Jesus, the real gospel, and therefore we have to know the distinction between that which is false and that which is true. As we make comments on today’s broadcast, remember when people say we’re not to judge, that’s dead wrong. Jesus never taught us not to judge; He taught us not to judge self-righteously or hypocritically. Indeed, Jesus taught us to judge and when we judge, we are to judge by a right standard.

The article says this: “Questions about his faith plagued Romney’s 2008 presidential run, but he had been able to keep them at bay so far this time….That changed when Robert Jeffress, the lead pastor at First Baptist Church in Dallas who introduced [Rick] Perry to cultural conservatives, called Mormonism a cult and said Romney is ‘not a Christian’” [1]. That prompted Bill Bennett at the same conference to denounce Jeffress for bigotry against Mormons. Mitt Romney echoed that sentiment, he said, “We should remember that decency and civility are values, too….Poisonous language doesn’t advance our cause. It’s never softened a single heart nor changed a single mind” [2].

In part, I would agree with that. Poisonous language doesn’t advance any cause. But we have to remember that tolerance when it comes to personal relationships is a virtue, but tolerance when it comes to truth is a travesty. The question ultimately is: What is a cult? At the Christian Research Institute, we make a very clear distinction with respect to terminology when we talk about those who are involved in cults, because the moment you say the word cult, the media-driven definition surfaces. Cults can be defined from a sociological perspective. We think of Heaven’s Gate or Jonestown or Waco where people are controlled in virtually every dimension of their lives by a charismatic leader, someone who controls them from a sociological perspective. But when we’re using the term cult today, we are not talking about sociology per se, but theology, which is to say, we’re talking about what essential Christian doctrine teaches and by contrast what Mormonism teaches. So we need to be very careful that we define the word cult.

What did Joseph Smith say? In founding the Mormon Church, he said the existing churches were wrong. Their doctrines were an abomination. He took on essential Christian doctrine head-on. Is it bigotry really to suggest that Mormonism is not Christian? Mormons today are seeking to convert Christians all the time. They’re showing up on their doorsteps trying to convert people from Christianity to Mormonism. There is a difference, the difference is substantial, and no one better to discuss that with than Sandra Tanner who joins me now. Sandra, good to have you on the broadcast.


HANK: When we talk about Mormonism, you have overtly said that when someone takes Mormonism and makes it sound the same as evangelical Christianity, they’re making a big mistake because the distinction is as big as the distinction between a dog and a cat.

SANDRA: Absolutely! Mormonism uses the verbiage of standard Christianity, but they’ve redefined all the words. And just like, I have a dog, but if I told you, “I have a cat,” and then you saw my dog, you would say, “That’s not a cat.” “Well, I have four legs, I have a tail, I have pointed ears…” You know, so, Mormons can list a lot of similarities, but it does not make them part of the Christian community. Historically, Christianity has always been known for being monotheistic: one God, absolute, eternal, never changing. That’s the Jewish view as well: One God eternally existing. But in the Mormon Church, they’re saying that the god they pray to was once a human on some other world system where some other god was in charge. This man went through a human experience, married, died, was resurrected on this other world, went to heaven, and we don’t know how long it takes, but after millions of years he progressed to becoming a god over his own world. So the god that the Mormon prays to is not the God that Christians are talking about. My God’s eternally existent; their god has not eternally existed as God.

HANK: I think one of the things that we have to get to the bottom line of on this broadcast is what the Mormons teach with respect to revelation, because their doctrine is continuously in a state of flux, because their revelations are ongoing. Therefore they have present day revelations that negate previous revelations. Touch that issue, because from a Christian perspective, we say that the Bible is the repository of redemptive revelation, that it has been demonstrated to be true through history and evidence, that you can build a cumulative case that the Bible is divine as opposed to merely human in origin, whereas the Book of Mormon has been utterly discredited by both anthropology and archeology.

SANDRA: Absolutely! The Book of Mormon just has Joseph Smith to attest to it and his followers. It has no prior history from him. He’s the one who brings forth supposedly a manuscript that he says he got from plates that no one ever saw. So that his new book of scripture relies completely on Joseph Smith’s word, there’s no archeology, no artifacts, nothing to establish this people mentioned in the Book of Mormon ever existed. But that’s not their only book of scripture; that’s the one they take to the public because it sounds the closest to the Bible. But they have two other books of scripture besides the Book of Mormon. They have the Doctrine and Covenants, which is Joseph Smith’s revelations to the Church. And then they have The Pearl of Great Price, which is supposedly the hidden record of Moses and Abraham. These other books of scripture, these three books of scripture, all take precedent over the Bible. So that when a Christian talks to a Mormon and brings up a Bible verse, in a Mormon’s mind the Bible is an unreliable source. They believe it’s been changed and corrupted and their scriptures become paramount. So Mormon doctrine is always defined through Mormon revelation; truth is defined through the president of the church. A Mormon today listens to conference to their church leaders every year and what those leaders say could take precedent over anything that was written before even in their own scriptures. Their prophet is seen as like Moses, who could at any time change any doctrine in the church, and they would accept it because he’s God’s mouthpiece.

HANK: Talking to Sandra Tanner. She is probably, I would say conservatively, the foremost expert on Mormonism alive today. We rely on her research. It’s carefully researched. But we also rely not just on facts that she presents but the method in which she presents those facts, because her passion—her love—is to reach, not repel. This is not about bigotry against Mormons; this is about reaching Mormons trapped in a web of false teaching. When we get back from the break, I want to ask Sandra Tanner direct-on: Is it true that to say Mormonism is a cult from a theological perspective is, somehow or another, bigotry against Mormonism? How should we refer to Mormons? What’s the best way in the battle to reach as opposed to repel? We’ll also talk about Mitt Romney again—not about his politics, but about the significance of possibly having a Mormon in the White House. We’ll be talking about all of that and more as soon as the broadcast resumes right after this break.


1. Kasie Hunt and Charles Babington, “Romney: Be Civil about Faith,” Charlotte Observer, http://www.charlotteobserver.com/2011/10/09/v-print/2676273/romney-be-civil-about-faith.html.

2. Ibid.

Apologetics, In the News

Myths and Truths about Mormonism

Mormon journalist Joanna Brooks recently published an op-ed piece for the Washington Post entitled “Five Myths about Mormonism.” What Brooks purports to be myths are, for the most part, facts spun in favor of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS).

The idea that “Mormons aren’t Christian” is for Brooks a myth, who contends millions of members of the LDS pray in the name of Jesus Christ, receive “a bread-and-water sacrament memorializing the body and blood of Christ,” and discuss Christ’s teachings in Sunday school. In her youth, she remembers being accused of belonging to a “cult,” knowing about “anti-Mormon films” being screened at local churches, and receiving “anti-Mormon notes” taped to her school locker. But she resolves, “Ask my Jewish husband if he thinks his Christmas-celebrating, New Testament-reading Mormon wife is Christian, and his answer will be absolutely yes.”

Here it is important for discerning Christians to scale the language barrier. Mormonism uses Christian terms like “Jesus Christ,” but twists them with a theologically cultic redefinition. It is important to remember that Mormon founder Joseph Smith declared that all churches were wrong and all their creeds an abomination. In 1839, Smith purported seeing an angel named Moroni and receiving new divine revelation on gold plates written in “reformed Egyptian,” out of which came the Book of Mormon. Smith and other Mormon prophets received further revelations, which were then codified in the Doctrine and Covenants and the Pearl of Great Price. Yet, it does not stop with this “quad” of books, and Mormon prophets continually purport to receive new divine revelations. From these new extra-biblical revelations, the Mormon learns that God was once a man who progressed to godhood [1] and that people can likewise progress to godhood [2]. They also learn that the polygamous “Heavenly Father” has many wives who are collectively called “Heavenly Mother” [3]. They moreover learn that Jesus was the child of the sexual union between God the Father and Mary [4] and is the spirit brother of Lucifer [5]. Mormons, moreover, reject the essential Christian doctrines of the Trinity [6], original sin [7], and salvation by grace through faith [8]. These beliefs distinguish Mormonism as a pseudo-Christian cult (see “The Basics of Mormonism,” “A Different Jesus? Worse: A Different God, Gospel and Faith,” “Is Jesus Christ the Spirit Brother of Satan?Pinning Down Mormon Doctrine Part 1, Pinning Down Mormon Doctrine Part 2 and “Philosophical Problems with the Mormon Concept Of God”).

There may be a grain of truth to what Brooks’ labels as myths, such as “Mormons practice polygamy,” “Mormon women are second-class citizens,” and “most Mormons are white, English-speaking conservatives.”

Brooks also correctly points out that polygamy was practiced by Mormons, that Joseph Smith had multiple wives, that due to “political pressure” the LDS “phased out the practice,” that mainstream Mormons anticipate polygamy in the afterlife (the Mormon Millennial Kingdom), and that there are fringe Mormon “splinter-groups” maintaining the practice. Nevertheless, the Bible condemns polygamy on either side of eternity (see “Does the Bible Promote Polygamy?”).

The belief of a Heavenly Father and Heavenly Mother on the surface appears egalitarian; however, as mentioned above, the Mormon belief is in a polygamous Heavenly Father with many wives who are spoken of collectively as “Heavenly Mother.” One can even make the case that women are not really liberated in polygamous societies; rather, it is the uniquely Christian idea of monogamy coupled with the sexual ethics of the Bible that became a social structure contributing to the empowerment of women.

Mormonism even has a worldwide presence with converts from many different people groups; however, this is in spite of the fact that the LDS has through the years struggled with doctrines promoting discrimination and inequality, such as black skin being a curse on account of being less valiant people in their preexistence, and the former banning of blacks from the priesthood (see “LDS Church Acknowledges Anniversary’s Ban on Priesthood for Blacks”).

There are certainly a number of Mormons in public office, including Presidential hopefuls Mitt Romney (R) and Jon Huntsman Jr. (R), but also others including Senator Harry Reid (D). Brooks, however, considers the idea that “a Mormon president would blur the line between church and state” to be a myth and even notes that “for 2012, the church has asserted its neutrality and instructed employees and officers not to donate to, endorse or campaign for any candidate.” Still, it would be a mistake to think the religious beliefs of civic leaders have no influence on the policies they make, albeit a creed or confession is not a “deal breaker” when it comes to voting for a political candidate (see Is it Permissible for a Christian to Vote for a Mormon?).

— Warren Nozaki, Research

For further insights into the doctrinal errors of Mormonism, please consider Hank Hanegraaff’s latest resource Memorable Keys to the M-O-R-M-O-N Mirage

The following resources are also available through the CRI bookstore:

Mormonism 101

The Bible vs. The Book of Mormon

DNA vs. The Book of Mormon

Lifting The Veil Of Polygamy

Mormonism’s Greatest Problems Package


  1. The Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith (Salt Lake City, UT: Desert Book Company, 1979), 345.
  2. Milton R. Hunter, The Gospel Through the Ages (Salt Lake City, UT: 1958), 104.
  3. Bruce R. McConkie, Mormon Doctrine (Salt Lake City, UT: Bookcraft, 1966), 516.
  4. McConkie, 546-547, 742; Orson Pratt, The Seer (Washington, DC: n.p., 1853-54), 158-59; Brigham Young, Desert News, October 10, 1866; Ezra Taft Benson, The Teaching of Ezra Taft Benson (Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1988), 7.
  5. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Gospel Principles (Salt Lake City, UT: Church of Jesus Christ Latter-day Saints, 1992), 17–19.
  6. The Mormon belief is polytheistic, seeing a plurality of gods from the beginning, and the three persons, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit as three separate gods, as opposed to the Christian concept of the Trinity, which is there is one God who is revealed in three in coequal coeternal persons (cf. Joseph Smith, Jr., History of the Church, vol. 6. [Salt Lake City, UT: Desert Books, 1978] 473–479)
  7. cf. McConkie, 550; James E. Talmage, Articles of Faith (Salt Lake City, UT: Church of Jesus Christ Latter-day Saints, 1982), 476.
  8. cf. 2 Nephi 25:23; According to Joseph Fielding Smith, “to enter the celestial kingdom and obtain exaltation it is necessary that the whole law be kept” (Joseph Felding Smith, The Way of Perfection [Salt Lake City, UT: Desert Book Company, 1970], 206).
In the News

What Does the Mormonism of Mitt Romney Have to Do with the Ballot Box?

In a Los Angeles Times op-ed column entitled “A Religious ‘Test’ for Mitt Romney,” Tim Rutten ranted against objections raised against support for the former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney run for the presidency on the basis of Mormon beliefs as a “dangerous turn in American politics.” Whether it be Warren Cole Smith’s warnings about how a person’s worldview beliefs would influence one’s values and behavior, or Sarah Palin and Catholic archbishop of Denver Charles Chaput’s criticisms against John F. Kennedy’s paradigm for looking at candidates and their religions, Rutten finds that such analysis threatens “the Constitution’s ban on religious test for office.”

Christians are to understand that there is a great divide between Christianity and the Mormonism of Mitt Romney. Mormon beliefs are clearly antithetical to a biblical worldview. Hank Hanegraaff, in the Complete Bible Answer Book, offers a helpful synopsis under the section entitled “Is Mormonism Christian?” Also recommended is Hank’s resource The Mormon Mirage: Seeing Through the Illusion of Mainstream Mormonism.

It is true that beliefs determine values and behavior (please see “What We Think, What We Believe, How We Act” by Gretchen Passantino), so the political candidate’s faith (Christianity, Islam, Judaism, Hinduism, Buddhism, Mormonism, atheism, etc.) does indeed contribute to his or her polices; however, a political candidate’s religious belief is not necessarily the game changer at the ballot box, and there are many other factors to take into consideration in a biblically sound and robust voting strategy (please see “Wise as Serpents: Christians, Politics, and Strategic Voting” and “Is it Permissible for a Christian to Vote for a Mormon?” by Francis J. Beckwith). Ultimately, the Christian must consider whether or not it is possible for churches to support non-Christian political candidates to bring about positive changes in legislation for the common good.

—Warren Nozaki, Research

Apologetics, Journal Topics

The Gold Plates of Mormon

If there are two elements at the heart of Mormonism, they are Joseph Smith and the gold plates. The two are in many ways inseparable because Joseph Smith claimed he was told by an angelic visitor to retrieve this buried record at a specific time and to translate it. The result, of course, was the Book of Mormon, a record believed by Mormons to be an ancient scripture in which Joseph Smith claimed was the “most correct book on earth.” To many members of the LDS Church, the Book of Mormon validates Joseph Smith’s calling as a prophet in these “latter days.” Yet it is this same book that has caused skeptics to draw the conclusion that Smith was nothing but a charlatan who merely took advantage of gullible followers.

While much of the critical emphasis is on the contents of the Book of Mormon, the lesser focus is on the plates that are allegedly the source of that book. If they actually existed, what were they made of, how heavy would they have been, and were they really seen by anyone? The problematic story as it has originally been told has led many Mormon historians and apologists to contrive explanations that are just as perplexing as the story itself. Do Mormon explanations solve the dilemma, or do they make the whole gold plates story even harder to believe?

Bill McKeever is the founder and president of Mormonism Research Ministry, a Christian ministry based in the Salt Lake City area of Utah. Bill is the author of four books, including In Their Own Words: A Collection of Mormon Quotations (Morris Publishing, 2010). His feature article, “Problems with the Gold Plates of the Book of Mormon” on which this post is based appears in the Volume 34, No. 2 issue of the Christian Research Journal (a 6-issue subscription is $39.50). To read the full article, please subscribe or renew your subscription or give a gift subscription.

For Further Study CRI Recommends:

Book: Mormonism 101

CD Package: Mormonism’s Greatest Problems

Article: DNA Science Challenges LDS History

Article: Pinning Down Mormon Doctrine: Part One

Article: Pinning Down Mormon Doctrine: Part Two

Article: LDS Apologetics and the Battle for Mormon History