Brigham Young, the second LDS president and prophet, taught there were some sins a person could commit, for which they must shed their own blood and life to be forgiven. Even though such a person may accept Jesus Christ as their Savior, His blood and death is not sufficient to cover some sins. This is called blood atonement.
WAS IT PRACTICED?
Several recent LDS leaders have said it was not practiced. One LDS leader said anti-Mormons used parts of talks by Mr. Young to wrongly accuse him of something he did teach but did not practice. Apostle Bruce R. McConkie says: From the days of Joseph Smith to the present, wicked and evilly-disposed persons have fabricated false and slanderous stories to the effect that the Church, in the early days of this dispensation, engaged in a practice of blood atonement whereunder the blood of apostates and others was shed by the Church as an atonement for their sins. These claims are false and were known by their originators to be false. There is not one historical instance of so-called blood atonement in this dispensation, nor has there been one event or occurrence whatever, of any nature, from which the slightest inference arises that any such practice either existed or was taught...dishonest persons have attempted to make it appear that Brigham Young and others taught things just the opposite of what they really believed and taught. (Mormon Doctrine, "Blood Atonement," Apostle Bruce R. McConkie, page 92)
But then Mr. McConkie goes on to admit that some sins cannot be forgiven:
But under certain circumstances there are some serious sins for which the cleansing of Christ does not operate, and the law of God is that men must then have their own blood shed to atone for their sins. Murder, for instance, is one of these sins; hence we find the Lord commanding capital punishment. (Ibid, page 92)
The Doctrine and Covenants also supports the above:
And now, behold, I speak unto the church. Thou shalt not kill; and he that kills shall not have forgiveness in this world, nor in the world to come. (Doctrine and Covenants 42:18)
IT WAS PRACTICED
However, Brigham Young did teach and allow the practice of blood atonement, as can be seen from the following:
There are sins that men commit for which they cannot receive forgiveness in this world, or in that which is to come, and if they had their eyes open to see their true condition, they would be perfectly willing to have their blood spilt upon the ground, that the smoke thereof might ascend to heaven as an offering for their sins; and the smoking incense would atone for their sins, whereas, if such is not the case, they will stick to them and remain upon them in the spirit world. ....I know that there are transgressors, who, if they knew themselves, and the only condition upon which they can obtain forgiveness would beg of their brethren to shed their blood, that the smoke thereof might ascend to God....It is true that the blood of the Son of God was shed for sins through the fall and those committed by men, yet men can commit sins which it can never remit... (President Brigham Young, Sept. 21, 1856, Deseret News, page 235; very similar to Journal of Discourses 4:53-54). Suppose you found your brother in bed with your wife, and put a javelin through both of them, you would be justified, and they would atone for their sins, and be received into the kingdom of God. I would at once do so in such a case; and under such circumstances, I have no wife whom I love so well that I would not put a javelin through her heart, and I would do it with clean hands. (President Brigham Young, March 16, 1856, Journal of Discourses, 3:247). I could refer you to plenty of instances where men have been righteously slain, in order to atone for their sins. I have seen scores and hundreds of people for whom there would have been a chance (in the last resurrection there will be) if their lives had been taken and their blood spilled on the ground as a smoking incense to the Almighty, but who are now angels to the devil, until our elder brother Jesus Christ raises them up--conquers death, hell, and the grave. I have known a great many men who have left this Church for whom there is no chance whatever for exaltation, but if their blood had been spilled, it would have been better for them. (President Brigham Young, February 8, 1857, Journal of Discourses, 4:220)
Was blood atonement actually practiced? Yes, the above quote from Brigham Young shows that. And there is other evidence, but details are too complicated to include here. The Tanner's cover this on pages 403, 404, 404-A of Mormonism - Shadow or Reality? On page 403 is described how Rosmos Anderson, a Danish man, was blood atoned for adultery. Several other examples are documented also. The Mountain Meadows Massacre in 1857, where about 120 non-Mormon men, women and children were slaughtered by Mormons and Indians, clearly shows that Mormonism, in Brigham Young's time, led men to do terrible things in the name of God.
WHAT DOES THE BIBLE SAY?
The Bible teaches us that the sincere repentant sinner, who has Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, is forgiven of all sin (1 John 1:7). That LDS leaders would teach otherwise is an indictment of their prophetic skills and evidence they are not called by the one true God of the Bible.
Suggested resources for more on Mormonism's blood atonement: Mormonism - Shadow or Reality, pages 398-404; The Mountain Meadows Massacre, by Juanita Brooks, Un. of Oklahoma Press, Norman, eighth printing 1985; Massacre at Mountain Meadows - An American Legend and a Monumental Crime, by William Wise, Thomas, Crowell Co, New York, 1976.
THE FIRST VISION
The First Vision is one of the major historical and doctrinal events in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The official version may be summed up this way: On a clear spring morning in 1820, Joseph Smith, when 14 years old, retired to woods near his home to pray. His subject: which if any of the churches was right; "...Who of all these parties are right, or, are they all wrong together? (It is interesting to note that just eight verses later Joseph Smith said: "...for at this time it had never entered into my heart that all were wrong..." Joseph Smith-History 1:18.) If any one of them be right, which is it, and how shall I know it?" (Joseph Smith-History 1:10.) These questions were allegedly raised in Joseph's mind by "...an unusual excitement on the subject of religion". A religious revival had allegedly occurred and four members of Joseph's family had joined the Presbyterian Church, his mother Lucy, his brothers Hyrum and Samuel Harrison, and his sister, Sophronia (Joseph Smith-History, 1:7.) Joseph wanted to know which church he should join. Several notable events allegedly occurred while Joseph was in the woods praying: He was almost overcome by an evil power; his tongue was bound; a pillar of light fell upon him; he was "...delivered from the enemy..."; he saw two personages, God the Father and his Son Jesus Christ; Joseph asked the personages a question: "...which of all the sects was right..."; he was told all were wrong, to join none of them. The official story was not accepted for inclusion in the standard works until 1880. (Ensign, Dec. 1984, page 38; Encyclopedia of Mormonism, 3:1071, under Pearl of Great Price.) It can now be found in the Mormon Scripture Pearl of Great Price, Joseph Smith-History (JSH) 1:1-20, pages 47-50, 1981 Ed.
JOSEPH SMITH'S 1832 DIARY ACCOUNT
On page 2 and 3 of his 1832 diary (Ensign, December 1984 pages 24-26, January 1985, page 11; The Personal Writings of Joseph Smith, compiled and edited by Dean C. Jessee, Deseret Book Co., Salt Lake City, pages 4-6) Joseph Smith wrote in his own hand an account of his First Vision and his thoughts preceding it
1) From page 2 of the diary Joseph Smith writes: "...by searching the scriptures I found that mankind did not come unto the Lord but that they had apostatized from the true and living faith and there was no society or denomination that built up the gospel of Jesus Christ..." On page 3 of the diary it should be noted that Joseph does not ask Jesus which of the sects was right and which he should join. He already knew the answer as a result of searching the Scriptures! In the official version (JSH 1:18) Joseph does ask which church is true.
2) Joseph is 15 years old, not 14 as in the official version (JSH 1:7, 14);
3) No evil power is mentioned; the official version mentions an evil power (JSH 1:15-16);
4) Only one personage, Jesus, is mentioned; the official version mentions two personages, which LDS read to be the Father and the Son (JSH 1:17-18);
5) There is no mention of a religious excitement which in the official version (JSH 1:8) provoked his need to pray.
There are over 9 versions of the First Vision from Joseph Smith and those with whom he shared details.
NOTABLE ITEMS AND DIFFERENCES
There are several observations worth noting about the First Vision stories.
The official version did not appear in any LDS official publication until March and April 1842, (Times and Season, Vol. III, No. 10, March 15, 1842, pages 726-728 and Vol.III, No, 11, April 1, 1842, pages 748-749.) 22 years after the alleged vision. There are very significant differences between the various versions, i.e. Joseph was 14 and 15 years of age, an evil power was present/not present; the number of personages ranged from none to two (0-2); God the Father and Jesus Christ were present/not present, angels were reported in some cases; no question was asked in some cases (join which church?); the revival that caused Joseph Smith to pray is not mentioned in all versions. The October and December 1834 and February 1835 Messenger and Advocate article relating of the early history of the Church said nothing about the First Vision story. There is more on this below. Note that the versions chronologically closest to the alleged actual event (items 2 and 3 in the Table) differ significantly from the final official version. Also worth noting is that the version (item 6) from early members, who later became high ranking church leaders, also differs significantly from the final official version.
NO REVIVAL IN 1820
Using period Presbyterian and Methodist Church records and other historical sources the Reverend Wesley P. Walters in his 26 page booklet New Light on Mormon Origins (First published by the Utah Christian Tract Society, P.O. Box 725, La Mesa, CA 92041, 1967. It is currently available from Mormonism Research Ministry, P.O. Box 20705, El Cajon, CA 92021.) and his book, Inventing Mormonism (by H. Michael Marquardt and Wesley P. Walters) (Salt Lake City, Smith Research Associates, 1994, distributed by Signature Books, pages 15-41.), clearly demonstrates there was no revival in the Palmyra, New York, area in the 1820 period and shows that the revival actually occurred in 1824. Evidence that there was no 1820 revival is also found in the official Mormon Church's paper of the period. In its first issue editor Oliver Cowdery, (Oliver Cowdery was Joseph Smith's scribe for most of the writing of the Book of Mormon, was present during the alleged restoration of the priesthood and was the "second elder," i.e. the number two man in the whole church.) states that he will write a "full history" of the sect with Joseph Smith's assistance: ...we have thought that a full history of the rise of the church of the Latter Day Saints and the most interesting parts of its progress to the present time,...that our narrative may be correct, and particularly the introduction, it is proper to inform our patrons, that our brother J. Smith Jr. had offered to assist us. (Messenger and Advocate, Vol. 1, No. 1, October 1834, page 13)
Two months later (Vol. 1, No. 3, December 1834, page 42) (This paper's paging started with 1 at the start of the October 1834 edition and continued increasing with each paper's publication. The new edition continued the page numbering where the previous one left off.) he says Joseph Smith was in his 15th year when a religious revival resulted in his wondering which church was right. After another two months (Vol. 1, No. 5, February 1835, page 78) he corrects what he said on page 42. He now says (apparently with Joseph Smith assistance) that Joseph was in his 17th year when the religious excitement occurred. In this correction Mr. Cowdery says: You will recollect that I mentioned the time of a religious excitement in Palmyra and vicinity to have been in the 15th year of our brother J. Smith Jr's, age - that was an error in the type - it should have been in the 17th - you will please remember this correction as it will be necessary for the full understanding of what will follow in time. This would bring the date down to the year 1823. (Messenger and Advocate, Vol. 1, No. 5, February 1835, page 78) Oliver Cowdery continues the full history in the Messenger and Advocate on pages 78-79. He relates how on the evening of the 21st of September 1823 a personage sent by the commandment of the Lord visited Joseph Smith in his bedroom. Nothing is said about Joseph's praying outdoors in the sacred Grove and being visited by the Father and Son. The full history places the revival in 1823, not 1820 as in the official version (Mormon scripture, Joseph Smith-History 1:1-20). It points to the conclusion that today's official version was a later invention.
Lucy Mack Smith, Joseph Smith's mother, in her unpublished account of the family history conveys similar historical information as provided by Oliver Cowdery in the Messenger and Advocate. She says nothing about a First Vision event in 1820 and places a "great revival in religion" that interested them after the death of her son Alvin, (Preliminary draft of "Lucy Smith's History," (This was published in a greatly modified form under "History of Joseph Smith" By His Mother Lucy Mack Smith, Bookcraft, 1958. page 55 of the handwritten copy, page 174 of the typed transcript in the LDS Church Archives, Salt Lake City). Alvin died November 19, 1823. This must be the revival that Joseph in the present official version (Joseph Smith - History 1:7) that allegedly occurred in 1820. Joseph's mother does says her son was visited by an angel ("Lucy Smith's History," handwritten copy, pages 46-47), but nothing is said about a visitation of God the Father and Jesus Christ.
SMITHS NOT LIVING ON FARM IN 1820
The Reverend Wesley Walters in his article "Joseph's First Vision Story Undermined", (Quarterly Journal, Personal Freedom Outreach, Vol. 8, No. 1, Jan.-March, 1987, page 4) and his book Inventing Mormonism (by H. Michael Marquardt and Wesley P. Walters), (Salt Lake City, Smith Research Associates, distributed by Signature Books, 1994, pages 1-13.) uses Palmyra road tax records (Salt Lake City, Smith Research Associates, distributed by Signature Books, 1994, pages 1-13.), a Town of Manchester property tax assessment record and other historical documents to show that the Smiths did not move from Palmyra, New York to their farm in Manchester, New York (about 2 miles from the Village of Palmyra) until sometime after April, 1822 and before July 1823. By using Joseph Smith-History 1:5 where Joseph says that the revival occurred in the second year after their move to Manchester, Reverend Walters again shows that the revival must have occurred in the 1824 time frame, not 1820 as stated in the official version (1:3-5).
Additional evidence appears in the Smiths' genealogy. It states that Lucy Smith, the youngest child of the Smith family, was born July 18, 1821 in Palmyra (Inventing Mormonism, by H. Michael Marquardt and Wesley P. Walters, pages XXV and 7.) Another indication that the Smiths were not living on their farm in Manchester, New York in 1820 is found in Joseph Smith-History 1:3, 5:
I was born in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and five, on the twenty third day of December...My father...moved to Palmyra, Ontario (now Wayne) county, in the State of New York, when I was in my tenth year [1814-1815], or thereabouts. In about four years [1818-1819] after my father's arrival in Palmyra, he moved with his family into Manchester in the same county of Ontario- ...Some time in the second year [1820-1821] after our removal to Manchester there was in the place where we lived an unusual excitement on the subject of religion... [Joseph then goes on to describe the excitement on religion and how it led to his desire to know which church to join and then his subsequent prayer and vision in the spring of 1820] (Joseph Smith - History 1:14) According to the time calculations Joseph Smith supplies here they moved to the farm in "Manchester" about 1818. Wayne County was not formed until April 11, 1823 and it was Ontario County prior to this, as Joseph recognized. But the area Joseph called Manchester did not have this name in the 1818 to 1821 time period. It was first called Farmington, then renamed Burt on March 31, 1821. It was not named Manchester until April 16, 1822 (Gazetteer of the State of New York, by J. H. French, LL.D., page 497, 1860; Gazetteer of the State of New York, by Horatio Gates Spafford, LL.D., page 302, 1824).) It could be said that Joseph Smith just made a mistake in calling the town Manchester but it is consistent with the other evidence to believe that Joseph Smith correctly named it Manchester. If the revival occurred in the second year after the move to Manchester (JSH 1:5), then we have it occurring in 1824 (Two years after April 16, 1822, at least) - a date consistent with church revival records/history and with what tax records reveal about the family's move, as shown above.
The "Explanatory Introduction" of the 1981 edition of the Doctrine and Covenants has an interesting statement on the subject of where the Smiths' were living: During his early life he moved with his family to Manchester, in western New York. It was while he was living near Manchester in the spring of 1820, when he was fourteen years of age, that he experienced his first vision, in which he was visited in person by God, the Eternal Father, and his Son Jesus Christ. This LDS commentary places the Smith's near Manchester when Joseph Smith allegedly had his First Vision.
WHAT DID LOCAL NEWSPAPERS HAVE?
In Joseph Smith-History 1:21-23 and 75 Joseph Smith relates that, when he shared with others the vision he had of the Father and Son he was greatly persecuted. I soon found, however, that my telling the story had excited a great deal of prejudice against me among professors (These were not college teachers, these were church members, see more on this in chapter 6 in Answering Questions and Objections From Mormons.) of religion, and was the cause of great persecution, which continued to increase; and though I was an obscure boy, only between fourteen and fifteen years of age, and my circumstances in life such as to make a boy of no consequence in the world, yet men of high standing would take notice sufficient to excite the public mind against me, and create a bitter persecution; and this was common among all the sectsall united to persecute me. (Joseph Smith-History 1:22) We had been threatened with being mobbed, from time to time, and this, too, by professors of religion. And their intentions of mobbing us were only counteracted by the influence of my wife's father's family (under Divine providence), who had become very friendly to me, and who were opposed to mobs, and were willing that I should be allowed to continue the work of translation without interruption; and therefore offered and promised us protection from all unlawful proceedings, as far as in them lay. (Joseph Smith-History 1:75)
It would seem that public persecution of the scope and magnitude described here would be noted in the local newspaper, but there is nothing. In fact the editor of the local paper, the Palmyra Reflector, edited by Obadiah Dogberry (a pseudonym for Abner Cole) had the following to say: It however appears quite certain that the prophet himself never made any serious pretensions to religion until his late pretended revelation [the discovery of the Book of Mormon] (The brackets are in the quote. The Book of Mormon publication process started in 1827; see Appendix 2 for the dates associated with the Book of Mormon.). (Palmyra Reflector, February 1, 1831) ...It is well know that Joe Smith never pretended to any communion with angels, until a long period after the pretended finding of his book... (Palmyra Reflector, article Number V, February 28, 1831; this article and the one above were reported in: A New Witness For Christ in America, by Francis W. Kirkham, Zion Printing and Publishing Co., Independence, 1942, 281-295 and No Man Knows My History, by Fawn M. Brodie, Alfred A. Knopf, New York, 1974, pages 22-23, 429-431)
Four separate main lines of evidence now show that the revival was not in 1820:
1) the tax records referenced above along with Joseph Smith-History 1:3-5.
2) The Messenger and Advocate article by Oliver Cowdery.
3) Presbyterian and Methodist Church records.
4) Joseph Smith said the town they moved to was Manchester.
There is no evidence that there were two revivals of the magnitude described by Joseph Smith, one in 1820 and another in the 1824 time frame. The only revival that fits Joseph Smith's statement "...became general among all sects in that region of country...the whole district of country seemed affected... great multitudes united themselves to different religious parties..." (Joseph Smith-History 1:5) - occurred in 1824. If no revival occurred in 1820 then Joseph Smith lied. If he lied he is a false prophet, condemned by the Bible (Deut. 18:20-22; Col. 3:9; 1 Tim. 4:2). A possible explanation is that whoever wrote the current official history based it on the Messenger and Advocate, Vol. 1, No. 3, December 1834, page 42 and missed the correction in Vol. 1, No. 5, February 1835, page 78. This would mean the official version, a foundational event in the Mormon Church, is based upon a typographical error. Another possible explanation of why the First Vision story changed is that Joseph Smith did not want this event to be overshadowed by vision claims of others. Visions about religion and the use of seer stones were not that unusual in the period of Joseph Smith's youth (Joseph Smith, The First Mormon, by Donna Hill, Doubleday & Co. Inc., 1977, page 48; Early Mormonism and the Magic World View, by D. Michael Quinn, Signature Books, Salt Lake City, 1987, pages 38-50, 122-123, 143-148, 194-214.). Hiram Page, an early convert who left the Mormon Church in 1838, allegedly had a vision in 1830 about the location of Zion and the New Jerusalem ("And again, thou shalt take thy brother, Hiram Page, between him and thee alone, and tell him that those things which he hath written from that stone are not of me and that Satan deceiveth him;" (also note the historical heading - Sept. 1830, Doctrine and Covenants 28:11; History of the Church, 1:111)
"EARLY SPECULATION AS TO SITE OF NEW JERUSALEM. When it was made known that the New Jerusalem was to be built in America, the saints began to wonder where the city would be. Hiram Page, one of the witnesses of the Book of Mormon, secured a "peep stone" by means of which he claimed to receive revelation for the Church. Among the things he attempted to make known was where this city was to be built, Considerable commotion naturally prevailed, and even Oliver Cowdery was deceived into accepting what Hiram Page had given. The Prophet Joseph Smith had some difficulty in correcting this evil and composing the minds of the members of the Church." (Doctrines of Salvation, Joseph Fielding Smith Jr., 3:75) "Hiram Page Born in Vermont 1800; baptized April 11, 1830; withdrew from the Church, 1838; died in Ray Co., Missouri, August 12, 1852." (The Articles of Faith, James E. Talmage, page 503) "To our great grief, however, we soon found that Satan had been lying in wait to deceive, and seeking whom he might devour. Brother Hiram Page had in his possession a certain stone, by which he had obtained certain revelations concerning the upbuilding (sic) of Zion, the order of the Church , etc,..." History of the Church, 1:109-110).
Early convert Solomon Chamberlain, who lived 20 miles east of Manchester when Joseph Smith was there, claimed the Lord, through a vision, told him that all churches were corrupt and all people, with a few exceptions, were wrong (Joseph Smith The First Mormon, by Donna Hill, Doubleday & Co. Inc., 1977, page 48.). Others in this same time period were reported to have had visions. ( "Smith's accounts of this first vision were consistent with other contemporary ecstatic experiences; nothing about his account was unusual for his time and place." The Mormon Hierarchy, by D. Michael Quinn, Signature Books, 1994, page 3; In note 13 on page 269 of this same reference several examples are given.) When the LDS were in Kirtland, Ohio (1831-1838) the Father and Son were allegedly seen at least a dozen times at four separate sites. Joseph Smith saw many of these appearances in Kirtland (Joseph Smith's Kirtland, by Karl Ricks Anderson, Deseret Books, Salt Lake City, 1989, pages 107-113.). He may have felt compelled to embellish his first vision account so that it would not be overshadowed by these later visions.
Pro-Mormon historian Marvin Hill, in speaking about the 1832 version (item 3 in Figure 1), said: Merely on the face of it, the 1832 version stands a better chance of being more accurate and unembellished than the 1838 account [the official version] which was intended as a public statement, streamlined for publication. When Joseph dictated his 1838 version (if he did in fact actually dictate it), he was aware of what had been previously published by Oliver Cowdery and aware of his stature as the prophet of a new and important religious movement. It would be natural for him to have smoothed out the story, making it more logical and compelling than perhaps it first seemed in 1820. (Dialogue, A Journal of Mormon Thought, Vol. XV, No. 2, Summer 1982, "The First Vision Controversy: A Critique and Reconciliation," page 39 (This article is also available from: Mormon Miscellaneous, 8865 South 1300 East, Sandy, UT 84092, March 1986, Reprint 7, page 9.).
This pro-Mormon writer admits that Joseph Smith may have fabricated much of the first vision account.
WHAT SOME LDS MIGHT SAY IN RESPONSE
DIFFERENCES IN THE GOSPEL
Some Mormons might point to the first four books of the New Testament to justify the conflicting versions of the First Vision. They might say: "Look at the differences between Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. If they can have differences then why can't Joseph Smith?" This argument ignores the fact that the referenced gospels were penned by four different authors describing the same historical events from different perspectives, different vantage points. It is logical that one would exclude things another would include. But with the First Vision story there is only one person telling the story. He is the one who allegedly experienced it. Yet he tells it differently each time, contradicting his own testimony. There is really no valid comparison between the gospels by Matthew, Mark, Luke and John and the First Vision stories by one writer, Joseph Smith.
IT DOESN'T REALLY MEAN THAT...
Some LDS may say: "What you call an attack in Joseph Smith-History 1:18-20 really applied only to that day (1820), not to our time. You just don't really understand what is being said." Some Mormons are embarrassed by the harshness of Joseph Smith-History 1:18-20. In an effort to mitigate its harshness some will take various approaches. Some will say that the first vision only applied to the 1820 period, but not to our time frame. The Mormon Church has not sanctioned this idea, so, we are only dealing with personal opinion. There is no internal evidence in the first vision story that supports this idea, but there is evidence that proves it wrong. JS-H 1:19 says that the creeds of the sects were an abomination. The creeds of the Methodist and Presbyterian churches (JS-H 1:5, 8-10 names the churches) are essentially the same now as they were in 1820. While the Baptist church does not use formal creeds, its founding document (in 1800) said salvation is by the grace of God. The modern day continuation of this church still adheres to this same belief (These ideas are expanded on in a private paper Creeds, Sects and the Mormon Church, by John Farkas, July 2, 1992.). If the creeds and beliefs of the churches in 1820 are essentially unchanged today, it seems logical that if they were an abomination in 1820 they would also be an abomination today. There is nothing published by the Mormon Church that would contradict this idea.
Another approach Mormons use is to say that the "professors" mentioned in Joseph Smith-History 1:19 are "public teachers or college professors". To say that "professors" were public teachers is not consistent with:
1) The 1820 period dictionary meaning of the word.
2) The context of its use in JS-H 1:19, 22 and 75.
3) The schools in the Palmyra area in the spring of 1820.
The context is the local churches and their creeds. The key thoughts in verses 18 and 19 (up to the word professor) are:
1) Joseph Smith asks "which of all the sects was right" (These sects are the local churches mentioned in verses 5, 8-10).
2) Joseph is told he should join none of them, as they were all wrong.
3) The creeds of these churches were an abomination is God's sight.
We should also consider the meaning of professor in dictionaries of the 1820 period. The first definition of professors in three dictionaries of the period is: "One who makes open declaration of his sentiments or opinions; particularly, one who makes a public avowal of his belief in the Scriptures and his faith in Christ, and thus unites himself to the visible church." (An American Dictionary of the English Language: by Noah Webster, 1828); "One who declares himself of any opinion or party." (A Dictionary of the English Language, by Samuel Johnson, 1805); "One who declares himself of any opinion or party." (A Dictionary of the English Language, Abridged by the editor, from that of Dr Samuel Johnson, as edited by Robert Gordon Latham, 1876). A professor then, by the first definition, in the context of JS-H 1:19, 22 and 75, is one who accepts (professes belief in) the creeds that were allegedly an abomination in God's sight. It is they who were teaching "commandments of men". Many LDS only give the second dictionary meaning of professor. The second and third definition in the dictionary references above are: "One that publicly teaches any science or branch of learning; particularly an officer in a university, college or other seminary..."; "One who publickly (sic) practises (sic) or teaches an art." and "One who publicly practises (sic), or teaches, an art...One who is visibly religious."
Using the second and third dictionary definitions is not consistent with the schools in the Palmyra area in the spring of 1820. It was a newly settled area and the schools were not sophisticated enough to have professors teaching at a college, university, seminary level or teaching an art. Milton V. Backman in his book Joseph Smith's First Vision, page 51, (Bookcraft Inc, Salt Lake City, 1971, 1980) reports: In the summer of 1820 [after Joseph Smith's First Vision] an academy was opened in Palmyra village where students studied Latin and Greek. Four years later an independent school was also established there and pupils gathered in the upper room of the academy where they were taught geography, mathematics, astronomy, surveying, grammar, reading, and writing. The schools in the spring of 1820 were one room school houses teaching the basics - reading, writing and arithmetic, not church creeds (ibid, page 51).
To assume that the JS-H 1:19 meaning of professor is the second dictionary definition is inconsistent with the reality of schools in the Palmyra area in the spring of 1820 and with the context of verses 1:5, 8-10, 18-19, 22 and 75. It is clear that the professors in JS-H were those who professed to (accepted) the creeds of the Palmyra churches (sects) Joseph Smith was praying about.
Picture yourself, for a moment, seated as a juror in a court of law where a criminal case is being tried. On the witness stand in his own defense, the defendant has just submitted to questioning by his attorney, during which questioning he related in detail his testimony as to what took place at the alleged crime scene. Now, as the cross-examination proceeds, the prosecuting attorney repeats the same questions. The defendant tells the story again, only this time he tells it differently. So, the prosecutor asks him to go through it all a third time. When he does, he changes his story again. The clerk of the court is then asked to read aloud a statement the defendant signed shortly after his arrest, and this presents still another version of events. Summing up, the prosecutor points out that the defendant testified variously that a certain father and son were present at the scene, that only the son was present, and that neither was present; that he needed information and so asked a question, and that he already had the information and hence asked nothing; that a certain evil influence was present, and that it was not - and so on, with these and other aspects of the story changing each time it was retold. "Ladies and gentlemen of the jury," the prosecutor concludes, "I leave it to you to decide whether the defendant is a credible witness on his own behalf." Applying the same standard of judgment leads many observers to question the LDS Church's official First Vision story. At best, it is incorrect and not supportable by historical data. At worst, the First Vision was an invention fabricated by Joseph Smith and embellished to meet changing needs in his early church. Neither possibility inspires much confidence in this foundation of Mormonism.
WILL THE MORMON MISSIONARIES TELL PEOPLE HOW UNRELIABLE THE BIBLE IS?
Now that the Mormon Church is offering free Bibles in public advertizing, will the missionaries tell people about the defects in it? Will they tell people what top Mormon leaders and Mormon Scriptures say? Some of what is said is shown below? In its general public statements about the Bible today The Mormon Church usually cites its own Articles of Faith, found in its Scripture, the Pearl of Great Price. We believe the Bible to be the word of God as far as it is translated correctly;... (Articles of Faith, #8)
Christians should not have any difficulty with this statement, as there are indeed some truly poor and bad translations. The Jehovah's Witness's New World Translation of the Holy Scriptures is one example. But is this what the Mormons really have in mind? Speaking more frankly to their own members recent Mormon leaders have expressed themselves this way: The most reliable way to measure the accuracy of any biblical passage is not by comparing different texts, but by comparison with the Book of Mormon and modern-day revelations. (Church News, June 20, 1992, page 3, a letter from the First Presidency (Presidents Benson, Hinckley, and Monson) dated May 22, 1992, to all members of the Church)Thus, instead of using the Bible to evaluate Mormonism they reverse this and use Mormonism to judge the Bible. When speaking frankly, Mormon leaders view the Book of Mormon as more reliable than the Bible: Unlike the Bible, which passed through generations of copyists, translators, and corrupt religionists who tampered with the text, the Book of Mormon came from writer to reader in just one inspired step of translation. ("The Keystone of Our Religion", Ensign, by President Ezra Taft Benson, January 1992, page 5).
The Book of Mormon itself claims important parts of the Bible have been removed.
And after they go forth by the hand of the twelve apostles of the Lamb, from the Jews unto the Gentiles, thou seest the formation of a great and abominable church, which is most abominable above all other churches; for behold, they have taken away from the gospel of the Lamb many parts which are plain and most precious; and also many covenants of the Lord have they taken away....because of the plain and most precious parts of the gospel of the Lamb which have been kept back by that abominable church, whose formation thou hast seen...because of the most plain and precious parts of the gospel of the Lamb which have been kept back by that abominable church, which is the mother of harlots, saith the Lamb.... (1 Nephi 13:26, 32, 34; also see 2 Nephi 29:2-3, 6-8)
Top LDS leader have a similar message.
I [Joseph Smith] believe the Bible as it read when it came from the pen of the original writers. Ignorant translators, careless transcribers, or designing and corrupt priests have committed many errors.(Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p.327) ...It was not until February 16, 1832, however, after a conference in Amherst, Ohio, that Joseph said it was apparent to him, "from sundry revelations which had been received, "that "many important points touching the salvation of man had been taken from the Bible, or lost before it was compiled." (Preface to D&C 76.) (Meek and Lowly, by Neal A. Maxwell, p.73) Further, it is well known that the original manuscripts of the Old Testament have passed through numerous hands before they reached the form available to us. They were copied by hand. Inaccurate as well as accurate, dishonest as well as honest, unbelieving as well as believing scribes have had access to them. Material may have been added or taken away; mutilations may have occurred; through misunderstandings, or by deliberate act, errors and changes may have crept into the text. In the words of Joseph Smith, the Prophet, "I believe the Bible as it read when it came from the pen of the original writers. Ignorant translators, careless transcribers, or designing and corrupt priests have committed many errors." (Evidences and Reconciliations, John A. Widtsoe, p.132)
Far more important, however, are the errors of another kindwillful, man-made changes. And we know by divine authority that such deliberate changes were made....On the other hand, the planned changes resulted from man's deliberate altering of the original text and meaning to serve his own purposes and not to preserve the words of the Lord. (See Pearl of Great Price, Moses 1:41.) (The Inspired Revision of the Bible, Merrill Y. Van Wagoner, pp.5, 24) The fact that some changes were made in a particular passage or chapter does not mean that all needed corrections were given even in that portion of the Bible. Important changes were made in several thousand verses, but there are yet thousands of passages to be revised, clarified, and perfected. After his work of revision, the Prophet frequently quoted parts of the King James Version, announced that they contained errors, and gave clarified translations -- none of which he had incorporated into his prior revisions of the Bible. (Mormon Doctrine, Bruce R. McConkie, p.384, under Inspired Version of the Bible) It is abundantly proved by various learned writers, that the Greek copies of the New Testament are awfully corrupted in almost every text....What shall we say then, concerning the Bible's being a copies of the scriptures sufficient guide? Can we rely upon it in its present known corrupted state, as being a faithful record of God's word? We all know that but a few of the inspired writings have descended to our times, which few quote the names of some twenty other books which are lost, and it is quite certain that there were many other inspired books that even the names have not reached us. What few have come down to our day, have been mutilated, changed and corrupted, in such a shameful manner that no two manuscripts agree. Verses and even whole chapters have been added by unknown persons; and even we do not know the authors of some whole books; and we are not certain that all those which we do know, were written by inspiration. (Divine Authenticity of Book of Mormon, Orson Pratt, No. 3 (1850), pp.46-48)
Because of the above thoughts expressed by Mormon leaders and Mormon Scriptures, will the inside cover of the Bibles being handed out have a disclaimer/warning on the inside cover? Perhaps such a disclaimer might say:
THIS BOOK MAY BE DANGEROUS TO YOUR SPIRITUAL HEALTH.*
It has passed through generations of copyists, translators, and corrupt religionists who tampered with the text. The abominable church, which is most abominable above all other churches, took away from the gospel of the Lamb many parts which are plain and most precious; and also many covenants of the Lord have they taken away. Many changes and errors have, of course, been made in all of the gospel accounts since they left the hands of the original inspired authors. The most reliable way to measure the accuracy of any biblical passage is not by comparing different texts, but by comparison with the Book of Mormon and modern-day revelations.
* Except for this heading, all of the comments in this paragraph are from Mormon Scriptures or by top Mormon leaders. Do you think such a disclaimer will be included or some how clearly stated?
THE VIRGIN BIRTH OF JESUS CHRIST WHAT DOES THE MORMON CHURCH TEACH? VIRGIN OR THE NOT SO VIRGIN, VIRGIN BIRTH
What Does the Bible Say?
The Bible in Matthew 1:20 and Luke 1:35 says that the Holy Ghost came upon Mary, and as a result she conceived our Lord Jesus Christ. The only conclusion reasonably possible is that this was a miraculous event, not a physical one. These verses have:But while he thought on these things, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a dream, saying, Joseph, thou son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife: for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost. [1 - this is an endnote] (Matthew 1:20) And the angel answered and said unto her, The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God. (Luke 1:35) These are a fulfillment of Isaiah 7:14. Interestingly, the Book of Mormon teaches the same idea as in the above two verses:And behold, he shall be born of Mary, at Jerusalem  which is the land of our forefathers, she being a virgin, a precious and chosen vessel, who shall be overshadowed and conceive by the power of the Holy Ghost, and bring forth a son, yea, even the Son of God. (Alma 7:10) 
Attributes of God the Father
Does the Mormon Church, in its teaching manuals and in talks and books by its top leaders teach what these three Mormon verses say? It will help in understanding the answer to this question to first know something about the attributes of the Mormon God the Father and Holy Ghost. From the following we learn that God the Father has a body of flesh and bones and has the parts and passions of a man and is a separate God from the Holy Ghost.The Father has a body of flesh and bones as tangible as man's; the Son also; but the Holy Ghost has not a body of flesh and bones, but is a personage of Spirit. Were it not so, the Holy Ghost could not dwell in us. (Doctrine and Covenants 130:22)I have always declared God to be a distinct personage, Jesus Christ a separate and distinct personage from God the Father, and the Holy Ghost was a distinct personage and a Spirit: and these three constitute three distinct personages and three Gods. If this is in accordance with the New Testament, lo and behold! we have three Gods anyhow, and they are plural; and who can contradict it? (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, Edited by Joseph Fielding Smith, p.370, 1976)From these two references we learn that the Father, Son and Holy Ghost are three distinct personages and are three Gods according to the Mormon Church. The Father is not the Holy Ghost and the Holy Ghost is not the Father. Now let us move on to another set of attributes of the Father.
Our Father in heaven is a personage of tabernacle, just as much as I am who stand before you to&SHY;day, and he has all the parts and passions of a perfect man, and his body is composed of flesh and bones, but not of blood. (President Brigham Young, to Sunday School children in Tabernacle, Journal of Discourses, 19:64, July 24, 1877) The true God exists both in time and in space, and has as much relation to them as man or any other being. He has extension, and form, and dimensions, as well as man. He occupies space; has a body, parts and passions; can go from place to place... ("The Kingdom of God", by Orson Pratt, No. 2, p. 4, October 31, 1848) Personality of Each Member of the Godhead &SHY;&SHY; From the evidence already presented, it is clear that the Father is a personal being, possessing a definite form, with bodily parts and spiritual passions. (Articles of Faith, by James E. Talmage, p.41, 1968) For Latter&SHY;day Saints, God exists in the normal sense in association with time and space, rather than in the abstract Platonic sense of beyond time and space. The traditional disparagement of matter and of the physical state of being is not well grounded biblically, and Latter&SHY;day Saints believe it is a product of hellenistic thought. They also think the concept of a God "without body, parts or passions" dismisses too much of the biblical data or allegorizes it excessively. (Encyclopedia of Mormonism, Vol.1, p. 400, 1992)
Here are a few references showing the error of the teaching of the so&SHY;called Christian world, all creeds and denominations, on this point, and proving that God has both body, parts and passions: Gen. 1:26. 5:1 and 9:6. James 3:8&SHY;9. Exodus 33:9&SHY;23. Numbers 12:7&SHY;8. Ex. 20:5. Deut. 4:24. (Church History and Modern Revelation, Joseph Fielding Smith [1876-1972], Vol 1, p.11)This loving God who introduced his crucified and resurrected Son was not a God lacking in body, parts, or passions &SHY;&SHY; the God of a man&SHY;made philosophy. Rather, God our Father has ears with which to hear our prayers. He has eyes with which to see our actions. He has a mouth with which to speak to us. He has a heart with which to feel compassion and love. He is real. He is living. We are his children made in his image. We look like him and he looks like us. (Thomas S. Monson [1927-], Conference Report, April 1966, p.63)  What is Jesus Christ? He is the son of God, and is every way like his father, being "the brightness of his father's glory, and the express image of his person." He is material intelligence, with body, parts and passions; possessing immortal flesh and immortal bones. (The Mormon Doctrine of Deity, by B. H. Roberts [1857-1933], p.256) What Kind of Being is God?....if you were to see him today, you would see him like a man in form...God is perfect... (Gospel Principles, p. 6 in pre-1986 editions, p. 9 in 1992 edition)
I have provided a broad number of sources over a long time period to show that this teaching about the attributes of the Father and Holy Ghost are not isolated to one time period or to one small group of authors/sources. Do these leave any doubt whatsoever that the Mormon God the Father has a body of flesh and bones with all of the parts and passions of living man? This is important in understanding how the Father uses these attributes as described below.
How Did Mary Conceive Jesus Christ According to the Mormon Church and its Top Leaders?
Now let us see how Father God, according to the Mormon Church, used his parts and passions.
When the Virgin Mary conceived the child Jesus, the Father had begotten him in his own likeness. He was not begotten by the Holy Ghost. And who is the Father?...Now remember from this time forth, and forever, that Jesus Christ was not begotten by the Holy Ghost. I will repeat a little anecdote. I was in conversation with a certain learned professor upon this subject, when I replied, to this idea&SHY;&SHY;"if the Son was begotten by the Holy Ghost, it would be very dangerous to baptize and confirm females, and give the Holy Ghost to them, lest he should beget children, to be palmed upon the Elders by the people, bringing the Elders into great difficulties." (Journal of Discourses, Brigham Young, 1:51-52, April 9, 1852)
On other occasions Brigham Young said:
We first begin to read that Jesus came in the flesh...But suppose I examine that, a moment. The New Testament tells me that the Father gave His only&SHY;begotten Son a ransom for the sins of the world. Do you believe that, brother B.? Do you believe that Jesus Christ is the only&SHY;begotten Son of the Father? "Yes." Do you believe the Son was begotten by the Father, as the Apostles said he was? Here I shall have to disagree with you, to begin with; for I believe the Father came down from heaven, as the Apostles said he did,  and begot the Saviour of the world; for he is the ONLY&SHY;begotten of the Father, which could not be if the Father did not actually beget him in person. (Journal of Discourses, Brigham Young, 1:237&SHY;238, July 24, 1853) The Being whom we call Father was the Father of the spirit of the Lord Jesus Christ, and he was also his Father pertaining to the flesh. (Journal of Discourses, Brigham Young, 7:286, October 9, 1859)...The man Joseph, the husband of Mary, did not, that we know of, have more than one wife, but Mary the wife of Joseph had another husband... The very babe that was cradled in the manger, was begotten, not by Joseph, the husband of Mary, but by another Being. Do you inquire by whom? He was begotten by God our heavenly Father. (Journal of Discourses, Brigham Young, 11:268, August 19, 1866) These are interesting statements, because if we accept them we would also have to believe that the Father committed incest. The Father according to Brigham Young took one of his spirit daughters as his wife and procreated the body of Jesus Christ with her. I find this offensive. Are these isolated teachings only by Brigham Young? No, they are not. Now let us learn what another president and prophet of the Mormon Church said while speaking to children at an official meeting:
A MODERN PROPHET'S ANSWER...I want the little folks [children] to hear what I am going to tell you. I am going to tell you a simple truth, yet it is one of the greatest truths and one of the most simple facts ever revealed to the children of men. You all know that your fathers are indeed your fathers and that your mothers are indeed your mothers - you all know that don't you? You cannot deny it. Now, we are told in scriptures that Jesus Christ is the only begotten Son of God in the flesh. Well, now for the benefit of the older ones, how are children begotten? I answer just as Jesus Christ was begotten of his father...Now my little friends, I will repeat again in words as simple as I can, and you ask your parents about it, that God, the Eternal Father, is literally the father of Jesus Christ. (Joseph F. Smith, Box Elder Stake Conference Dec 20, 1914 as quoted in Brigham City Box Elder News, 28 Jan, 1915, pp.1-2.) (Family Home Evening [Manual], Personal Commitment, copyright 1972 by Corporation of the President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, pages 125-126). Note in the first paragraph of this reference the phrases "I am going to tell you a simple truth," "one of the greatest truths" and "simple facts ever revealed to the children of men." In other words what is said is truth and revelation. Note that the person speaking was the president of the Mormon Church and he was speaking at an official meeting. This was not just his personal opinion. On page 126 of this last reference, a teaching manual published by the Mormon Church, is a graphic picture of an algebraic equation:
Daddy + Mommy = You
Our Heavenly Father + Mary = Jesus
(Ibid, page 126).
Another LDS teaching manual has:
...he was able to make payment because he lived a sinless life and because he was actually, literally, biologically the Son of God in the flesh. (Messages for Exaltation, For the Sunday Schools of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Gospel Doctrine Class, published by the Deseret Sunday School Union, printed by Deseret News Press, 1967, pages 378-379)
Another top Mormon leader, Apostle Orson Pratt, in his publication, The Seer, expressed a similar idea.God, the Father of our spirits, became the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ according to the flesh....it was the personage of the Father who begat the body of Jesus...both the spirit and body of Jesus were begotten by the Father... 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. (The Seer, by Apostle Orson Pratt, October 1853, Vol. 1, No. 10, p. 158)
Another president and prophet said:
President Ezra Taft Benson stated, "The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter&SHY;day Saints proclaims that Jesus Christ is the Son of God in the most literal sense. The body in which He performed His mission in the flesh was fathered by that same Holy Being we worship as God, our Eternal Father. Jesus was not the son of Joseph, nor was He begotten by the Holy Ghost. He is the Son of the Eternal Father!" (Benson, p. 4). (Encyclopedia of Mormonism, Vol. 2, p. 725, 1992; The Teachings of Ezra Taft Benson, p. 7) Ancient and modern scriptures use the title Only Begotten to emphasize the divine nature of Jesus Christ. Latter&SHY;day Saints recognize Jesus as literally the Only Begotten Son of God the Father in the flesh (John 3:16; D&C 93:11; Moses 6:52). This title signifies that Jesus' physical body was the offspring of a mortal mother and of the eternal Father (Luke 1:35, 1 Ne. 11:18). It is LDS doctrine that Jesus Christ is the child of Mary and God the Father, "not in violation of natural law but in accordance with a higher manifestation thereof" (Jesus The Christ, James E. Talmage, p. 81). (Encyclopedia of Mormonism, Vol.2, page 729) It is very plain if men will comprehend, firstly, the fact, that God is the Father of man, spiritually, and that God is the Father of Jesus Christ, both temporally and spiritually, and that Jesus Christ is nothing more nor less than the Son of God, begotten of His Father, as absolutely, and as truly as any child was begotten of his earthly father. You don't need to mince the matter. (Latter&SHY;Day Saints Follow Teachings of the Savior, Scrapbook of Mormon Literature, Joseph F. Smith, [1838-1918], Vol. 2, p.557)
All that I have to say in reply to that charge is this&SHY;&SHY;they worship a Savior that is too pure and holy to fulfil the commands of his Father. I worship one that is just pure and holy enough "to fulfil [sic] all righteousness;" not only the righteous law of baptism, but the still more righteous and important law "to multiply and replenish the earth." Startle not at this! for even the Father himself honored that law by coming down to Mary, without a natural body, and begetting a son; and if Jesus begat children, he only "did that which he had seen his Father do." (Journal of Discourses, Orson Hyde, 2:210, March 18, 1855) We believe absolutely that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, begotten of God, the first-born in the spirit and the only begotten in the flesh; that He is the Son of God just as much as you and I are the sons of our Fathers. ("Analysis of the Articles of Faith," Heber J. Grant, Millennial Star, 5 Jan. 1922, p. 2)
The First Presidency (the president/prophet and his counselors) at another time said:
It was our Father in Heaven who begat the spirit of him [Christ]  who was 'the Firstborn' of all the spirits that come to this earth, and who was also his Father by the Virgin Mary, making him 'the only begotten in the flesh' (Joseph F. Smith, Anthon H. Lund, Charles W. Penrose, in James R. Clark, comp., Messages of the First Presidency of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 6 vol. [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1965-75], 4:266). (as quoted in a Mormon Church teaching manual, New Testament, Seminary Student Manual, p. 7, 1984)
Let us now see what a more recent LDS apostle, Bruce R. McConkie, had to say about the virgin birth:
Our Lord is the only mortal person ever born to a virgin,  because he is the only person who ever had an immortal Father. Mary, his mother, "was carried away in the Spirit" (1 Ne. 11:13&SHY;21), was "overshadowed" by the Holy Ghost, and the conception which took place "by the power of the Holy Ghost" resulted in the bringing forth of the literal and personal Son of God the Father. (Alma 7:10; 2 Ne. 17:14; Isa. 7:14; Matt. 1:18&SHY;25; Luke 1:26&SHY;38.) Christ is not the Son of the Holy Ghost, but of the Father. (Doctrines of Salvation, vol. 1, pp. 18&SHY;20.) Modernistic teachings denying the virgin birth are utterly and completely apostate and false. (Mormon Doctrine, Bruce R. McConkie, p. 822, 1979)These name&SHY;titles all signify that our Lord is the only Son of the Father in the flesh. Each of the words is to be understood literally. Only means only; Begotten means begotten; and Son means son. Christ was begotten by an Immortal Father in the same way that mortal men are begotten by mortal fathers. (ibid, pp. 546-547) God the Father is a perfected, glorified, holy Man, an immortal Personage. And Christ was born into the world as the literal Son of this Holy Being; he was born in the same personal, real, and literal sense that any mortal son is born to a mortal father. There is nothing figurative about his paternity; he was begotten, conceived and born in the normal and natural course of events, for he is the Son of God, and that designation means what it says. (ibid, p. 742)
Another LDS teaching manual says it this way.
Thus, God the Father became the literal father of Jesus Christ. (Gospel Principles, p. 57 in pre-1986 editions, p. 64 in 1992 edition) As with the attributes of the Father, I have provided a broad number of sources over a long time period to show that the teachings about the conception of Jesus Christ are not isolated to one time period or to one small group of authors/sources.
A Major Error By Mormons
John 3:16, one of my favorite verses, says "For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son....." Mormons read this term "only begotten Son" to mean the Son was begotten physically, biologically, was fathered, was procreated. The mistake is that the Greek word "monogenes" that is translated "only begotten" does not mean this. There is a Greek word, "gennao" that could cover what the Mormons are believing and teaching. But it was not used. The Complete Biblical Library says it this way: In the Fourth Century, a heresy known as Arianism mistakenly saw monogenes  as a derivation related to the word gennao (1074), which means "to beget, to generate, or to give birth." This inappropriate connection was used to support the false doctrine that Jesus was created by God and was not eternal with Him. However, the context of John's Gospel makes it clear that monogenes is emphasizing the unique relationship between God the Son and God the Father, and not the physical birth of Jesus. Nowhere does the Bible teach that Jesus is a created being. On the contrary, the Scriptures reveal Jesus Christ to be the Second Person of the Trinity, coeternal with the Father and with the Holy Spirit. "For in him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily" (Colossians 2:9). Jesus was with God [as God] in eternity past. In addition, as the "only-begotten" of the Father, Jesus is not simply unique, He is the One who was with God from the beginning, the pre-existent, eternal Son (John 1:2; 8:58; 17:5,24). He did not become the "Son" of God at the Incarnation; He is the Son from eternity and remains so forever. This truth is a divine mystery which John did not attempt to fully explain. In one creed of the Church (the Nicene Creed) this mystery is stated as follows: Christ is "eternally begotten of the Father." Strong 3439, Bauer 527, Moulton-Milligan; 416-17, Kittel, 4:737-41, Liddell-Scott 1144; Colin Brown 2:723-25. ("The New Testament Greek-English Dictionary" 2948-3664, Complete Bible Library, Springfield, MO, p. 219)
Also not understood is the term "begotten" ("gennao" in Greek) when applied to our Lord's conception. Again let us look at what the Greek word means. In the messianic Psalms two familiar passages employ a form of gennao [begotten, #1074] in the Septuagint translation. Psalm 2:7 (quoted in Acts 13:33 and Hebrews 1:5; 5:5) states, "Thou art my Son; this day have I begotten thee." Psalm 110:3 (listed as 109:3 in the Septuagint) declares, "I have begotten thee from the womb before the morning." Throughout the history of Christianity there has been some debate over the meaning of Christ being the begotten (or "only begotten," monogenes ) Son of the Father. Orthodox Christianity has always declared that Jesus was born (or begotten) of the virgin Mary (Matthew 1: 16); however, the debate has centered around Christ being begotten of the Father. Some, such as Arius in the Fourth Century, believed this meant Christ was born or created at a point in time, implying that there was a time when He did not exist. Thus, Christ's preexistence as the second person of the Trinity was called into question. The debate over Christ having been begotten of the Father partially resulted in several major Councils of the ancient Christian church (e.g., Nicea, A.D. 325; Chalcedon, A.D. 451). At these gatherings of church leaders, orthodox parties affirmed that because Christ is "begotten" does not necessitate His having been "created." In this sense, "begotten" refers to the eternal Father-Son relationship and that the Father sent forth the Son into the world. Thus, the great creeds of the Church affirm that the Son is "begotten, not made." Actually, however, monogenes means "only" in the sense of "unique, one of a kind."
Forms of gennao are often used in the New Testament in both a literal and metaphoric way. It appears frequently to denote a biological birth. It is often used metaphorically to describe being "born again" or "born of the Spirit" (cf. John 3:3-8; 1 John 3:9; 4:7; 5:18). Strong 1080, Bauer 155, Moulton-Milligan 124, Kittel 1:665-72, Liddell-Scott 344, Colin Brown 1:176-79. ("The New Testament Greek-English Dictionary", 1-1131, ibid, p. 605)Thus we see that the terms "only begotten" and "begotten" do not necessarily mean a biological relationship between our Lord and His Father. Note that those who teach this are guilty of the heresy know as Arianism. The Apostle Paul explained the fulfillment of Psalms 2:7 in Acts 13:32-34 which is in the context of our Lord's resurrection. He confirmed this thought in Romans 1:4. I will declare the decree: the LORD hath said unto me, Thou art my Son; this day have I begotten thee. (Psalms 2:7)
32 And we declare unto you glad tidings, how that the promise which was made unto the fathers, 33 God hath fulfilled the same unto us their children, in that he hath raised up Jesus again; as it is also written in the second psalm, Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee. 34 And as concerning that he raised him up from the dead, now no more to return to corruption, he said on this wise, I will give you the sure mercies of David. (Acts 13:32-34 And declared to be the Son of God with power, according to the spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead. (Romans 1:4)Note the bold face type in Acts 13:34, "concerning that he raised him up from the dead." Begotten as it relates to the Father and Son is about the resurrection of the Son. Now let us look at another verse, note the bold face phrase.And from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, and the first begotten of the dead, and the prince of the kings of the earth. Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood, (Revelation 1:5)
The following provides a similar view.
And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence. (Colossians 1:18) Thus we see that from these verses that the words begotten and firstborn are about the resurrection of Jesus Christ and not about our Lord's biological relationship with the Father.
Our Lord Has Always Been God
Reinforcing this idea are the following verses that make it clear that the Son, as God, has always existed. But first you must understand who the LORD is in these verses. The King James edition of the Old Testament, as others, follows the tradition that the Hebrew word "Yahweh" (YHWH), frequently given as Jehovah, is shown as LORD, in small capital letters (The Holy Bible, New Revised Standard Version, Holman Bible Publishers, 1989, in the preface called "To The Reader," p. 3). Mormon teachings say this is the pre-incarnate Jesus Christ, the Lord before he came to earth (The Holy Bible, published by the Mormon Church, at the back is the Bible Dictionary, p. 710-711 under "Jehovah" and Mormon Doctrine, p. 392 under "Jehovah"). This should be kept in mind as you read the Old Testament verses. Now let us look at who the creator is and how long He has existed.
For by him [Jesus Christ] were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him: (Colossians 1:16)
Hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he [Jesus Christ] made the worlds; (Hebrews 1:2)
Also see John 1:3; Acts 4:24 and Isaiah 44:24. From these verses we learn that our Lord Jesus Christ is the creator. From the following we also learn that our LORD, as given in the Old Testament, is also the creator and is from everlasting to everlasting. The only conclusion is that Jesus Christ is our LORD and God and has been so from eternity and will be to eternity.
Thou, even thou, art LORD alone; thou hast made heaven, the heaven of heavens, with all their host, the earth, and all things that are therein, the seas, and all that is therein, and thou preservest them all; and the host of heaven worshippeth thee. (Nehemiah 9:6)
Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever thou hadst formed the earth and the world, even from everlasting to everlasting, thou art God. (Psalms 90:2)
But the mercy of the LORD is from everlasting to everlasting ... (Psalms 103:17)
The net result is that our Lord Jesus Christ, as God, has always existed. His body (and spirit) was not created by a biological act.
How Might Mormons Respond To This Information?
My experience in discussing this information with LDS is that about 50% or so are not aware of it, will even deny it, and vigorously argue for what the Bible and Book of Mormon teaches about the virgin birth of our Lord. It also seem that women are the most offended by what the Mormon Church teaches. It can be a useful tool in witnessing to the ignorant.
In summary, the top leaders of the Mormon Church, and in its teaching manuals, have taught that the body of Jesus Christ was procreated in the same way we men and women were procreated by our parents - by a physical biological act of a man and wife. Thelma "Granny" Geer, author of Mormonism, Mama & Me frequently summarized it this way: "The Mormon God has a body of parts...and he uses them... ALL of them!" Now go back to the start of this paper and read again what the Bible says - "for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost." and "The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee." Isaiah 7:14 says "a virgin shall conceive" and Luke 1:31 says "thou shalt conceive in thy womb." According to the Bible the best that can be said it was a miraculous event. Nothing is said about a physical act. Who do you want to believe? The Bible (and the Book of Mormon if you accept it as scripture) or the Mormon Church's top leaders and its teaching manuals?
1) Within quotes, bold face type, underlining and words in brackets are by this author, John Farkas
2) Yes, according to the Book of Mormon Jesus Christ was born in Jerusalem, not Bethlehem as the Bible says (Matt 2:1; Lk 2:4).
3) All references are from Mormon Scriptures or talks by top Mormon leaders or teaching manuals published by the Mormon Church.
4) Elder Monson is now First Counselor in the First Presidency (2-27-97).
5) This idea "I believe the Father came down from heaven, as the Apostles said he did," is not found in the Bible or the Book of Mormon.
6) The brackets with Christ are in the quote.
7) Calling Mary a virgin even after her "consummated marriage" to God the Father is an anomaly. Another Mormon leader said the same thing. He was the Only Begotten Son of our Heavenly Father in the flesh-the only child whose mortal body was begotten by our Heavenly Father. His mortal mother, Mary, was called a virgin, both before and after she gave birth... (Teachings of Ezra Taft Benson, p.7, March 1986) But how could this be seeing Mary had physical relations with the Father? Perhaps, to these men, a virgin is a woman who has not had a physical biological relationship with a mortal man, but with an immortal God doesn't matter.
8) The brackets, with 3302 are in the quote.
9) This is the teaching of the Mormon Church. When the Mormon God the Father was progressing to become a God his Son's body and spirit did not exist. The Son was not God then. He also had to progress to become a God under the Father. For more on this see my booklet An Introduction to Mormonism, For Christians, p. 14-16.
10) The Mormon Church teaches that men, angels, the devil and his demons are all of the same nature as God, but just at different levels of progression toward becoming a God.
11) The Hebrew word Elohim, which to Mormons is the name of the Father, is here translated as God. In other words, in Mormon terms, the Son is the Father.
[ Source: John Farkas - Berean Christian Ministries; P.O. Box 1091; Webster, NY 14580 E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org Web page: http://www.frontiernet.net/~bcmmin ]