Letters To A Mormon No. 1
(Introductory note: We are in the process of trying to bring a sincere and intelligent Mormon friend to the truth of the gospel of Christ. Since opportunities for personal contact are very slight, most of the effort is by correspondence. It has occurred to us that the readers of this journal might find some of the letters of interest, and we hope to publish a few from time to time. — F.Y.T.)
My dear friend:
Since I am almost constantly on the road, and will have very, very little opportunity to sit down with you and talk over the differences between Christianity and Mormonism, between the Bible and the Book of Mormon I am going to try to write out the things I'd like to say to you, and let you read and ponder them.
We both know how important and significant is this study. Your eternal salvation and happiness (as well as my own) may well depend on the final outcome of this study. I know you are both sincere and intelligent. I believe you have the same confidence in me. I have agreed to read carefully and earnestly whatever literature you give me, as you have agreed to give the same thoughtful study to whatever I present to you. You will perhaps think some of the things I recommend for reading are slow and heavy to wade through. And I assure you that the Book of Mormon (which you have given me to read) is neither easy nor light. I feel much about it as Mark Twain once remarked of Mary Baker Eddy's "Science and Health With Key to the Scriptures" that it is nothing more nor less than "chloroform in print.' Nevertheless, I will read every word of it. I will free my mind, as nearly as I can, from every preconceived idea regarding it, and will try, sincerely and honestly, to read it from your point of view. I ask that you give the Bible the same careful study.
The first thing I want you to consider, as we begin our study is the simple fact that the Bible and the Book of Mormon are mutually exclusive. They CANNOT both be true. If one is true, the other is false. If the Bible is God's Word, the Book of Mormon is false. If the Book of Mormon is God's Word, the Bible is false and untrustworthy.
Your first reaction, of course, will be to reject that statement; for you have been taught from babyhood that BOTH books are true, and that the Book of Mormon is simply a further and later revelation of God, simply an addition to the Bible. I know this is your conviction because in the very opening page of the little booklet you gave me to read, "Why I Believe the Book of Mormon to be the Word of God," by Wm. A. Morton, I find this statement:
"I believe implicitly in the Book of Mormon; I believe it to be the Word of God to the Nephites and Lamanites who once inhabited this continent, even as I believe the Bible to be the Word of God to the Jews and also to the Gentiles."
Furthermore, your very "Articles of Faith of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints" demand that you accept both the Bible and the Book of Mormon as coming from God. Here is Article Eight:
"We believe the Bible to be the Word of God, as far as it is translated correctly; we also believe the Book of Mormon to be the Word of God."
It was Orson Pratt, one of the greatest of all Mormon prophets who declared:
"The nature of the message in the Book of Mormon is such that, if true, no one can possibly be saved and reject it, if false, no one can possibly be saved and receive it."
— Divine Authenticity, p. 124 Yet, in contrast to these claims, the Bible repeatedly, emphatically, and unequivocally declares its own completeness, all-sufficiency, and adequacy for all men of all time. Consider these passages:
"All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works."
— II Timothy 3:16, 17.
"But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you that that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed."
— Galatians 1:8.
"For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book: And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book."
— Revelation 22:18, 19.
Is it not perfectly obvious to you that the Book of Mormon is an addition to the Bible? Does not your religion so teach? Is it not Mormon doctrine that an "angel from heaven" directed Joseph Smith in his work of bringing the Book of Mormon to mankind? Thus, the Book of Mormon falls under the very description given by Bible writers of "another gospel," an "addition" to that which had been given, and is a "going beyond that which is written." (See I Corinthians 4:6; II John 9.)
If the above Bible passages are true, then there is no place for the Book of Mormon! If the Book of Mormon is indeed and in truth "inspired of God," then the men who wrote these above passages were NOT inspired, for they here proclaimed all-sufficiency and completeness for the Bible.
There is no escape from this dilemma; there is no way to avoid it, avert it, or deny it. One or the other of these books is FALSE! As we continue our correspondence and study, I pray that it may become increasingly clear to you, as it has to untold thousands of sincere Mormons through the years, that no man can understand the teachings of the Bible and the teachings of the Book of Mormon, and reconcile the two. They are absolutely at variance the one with the other; there can be no possible way under heaven to harmonize them.
I shall write you more in detail concerning some of these contradictory teachings in my next letter. Sincerely yours, F. Y. T.