|Did Joseph Smith Believe the Book of Mormon?|
In 1844 Joseph Smith declared that "the Book of Mormon was the most correct book of any book on earth, and the keystone of our religion, and a man would get nearer to God by abiding by its precepts than by any other book." (Introduction page in the Book of Mormon, 6th paragraph; Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p 194; History of the Church, 4:461). One would think that the Prophet would found his church upon the teachings of this "keystone" book.
Where does the Book of Mormon teach
Joseph Smith apparently did not believe the teachings of the very book that he proclaimed in the Introduction to the Book of Mormon as "the most correct of any book on earth." This presumable fact can be demonstrated by a careful examination of these 20 distinctive teachings of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. If you had difficulty locating these teachings, then read on, for, in fact, they cannot be found in the "most correct" book.
The Book of Mormon does not teach:
1. God was once a mortal man.
The Book of Mormon never says God was once mortal. In fact, it teaches that God was always God. Take for instance Moroni 8.18. It says that God is unchangeable from eternity to all eternity. Joseph Smith, however, taught, "We have imagined and supposed that God was God from all eternity, I will refute that idea, and take away the veil so that you may see." (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p. 345)
2. God has a body of flesh.
The Book of Mormon never says God has a body of flesh and bones. On more than one occasion it clearly teaches that God is a God of spirit (see Alma 18.2-5, 24-28; Alma 22.9-11). This is taught in Doctrine and Covenants 130:28. See also Parley Pratt, Key to the Science of Theology, 1978 ed., p. 23.
3. God is married.
The Book of Mormon never teaches that God is married. This was taught by LDS Apostle Orson Pratt (The Seer, pp. 37, 158).
4. Men can become Gods.
The Book of Mormon never says that men can become Gods. This was publicly proclaimed by the Prophet Joseph Smith on April 7, 1844 at the general conference of the LDS Church in Nauvoo. Known as the "King Follett Discourse," it is recorded in the Journal of Discourses 8:1-11. See also The Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, pp. 342-362, and the teachings of Prophet Lorenzo Snow quoted by Milton R. Hunter in The Gospel Through the Ages, pp. 105-106.
5. Temple participation in necessary.
The Book of Mormon never mentions that a men must participate in temple ordinances in order to become exalted. This is found in Doctrine and Covenants 131:1-4. See also Bruce R. McConkie, Mormon Doctrine, p. 779.
6. Jesus and Lucifer are brothers.
The Book of Mormon never teaches that Jesus and Lucifer are brothers. This is found in Milton R. Hunter, The Gospel Through the Ages, p. 15.
7. The cleansing power of Christ's blood is not always sufficient.
Never does the Book of Mormon hint that there are sins beyond the cleansing power of Christ's blood. However, 2nd LDS Prophet Brigham Young taught, "There is not a man or a woman, who violates the covenants made with their God, that will not be required to pay the debt. The blood of Christ will never wipe that out, your own blood must atone for it; and the judgments of the Almighty will come, sooner or later, and every man or woman will have to atone for breaking their covenants (Discourses of Brigham Young, p385). Mormon Apostle Bruce McConkie wrote, "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 have their own blood shed to atone for their sins" (Mormon Doctrine p. 92.).
8. Salvation is contingent on being baptized on behalf of dead relatives.
The Book of Mormon never teaches that baptism for the dead is a necessary ordinance. In fact, the Book of Mormon teaches that if a person dies in his sins, the devil has sealed him his and this is the final state of the wicked (see Alma 34:34-35). However, LDS President Joseph Fielding Smith stated, "If we willfully neglect the salvation of our dead, then also we shall stand rejected of the Lord, because we have neglected our dead; and just so sure their blood will be required at our hands ... we cannot be saved without them" (Doctrines of Salvation 2:145, 149).
9. The Plurality of Gods.
The Book of Mormon never teaches there is a plurality of Gods. In fact, it strongly teaches there is only one true God (see Alma 11:26-29). This was proclaimed by the Prophet Joseph Smith, History of the Church, 6:474.
10. The Priesthood.
The Book of Mormon never mentions either the Aaronic or Melchizedek priesthood. You will find this in Gospel Principles, p. 73.
11. Can't drink coffee or tea.
This is taken from Doctrine and Covenants 89. Still, this health law never mentions coffee or tea specifically, only "hot drinks." Mormon General Authority George Q. Cannon included soup in this prohibition when he said, "We must not permit them to drink liquor or hot drinks, or hot soups or to use tobacco or other articles that are injurious" (Journal of Discourses 12:223).
12. Three degrees of glory.
The terrestrial, telestial, and celestial kingdoms are never mentioned in the Book of Mormon. See Bruce R. McConkie, Mormon Doctrine, pp. 777-778).
13. The Holy Ghost is a son of God.
Only Jesus and those who embrace Christ as their Savior are given that title in the Book of Mormon. Under the heading of "Holy Ghost," The Encyclopedia of Mormonism, Vol. 2, states, "The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints teaches that the Holy Ghost is a spirit man, a spirit son of God the Father."
14. Polygamy was approved by God.
Polygamy is never mentioned in a positive way in the Book of Mormon, it is always described as an abominable practice. However, LDS Prophet Joseph F. Smith taught that polygamy was essential to exaltation (Journal of Discourses, 20:28).
15. A man must have a woman to be saved.
The Book of Mormon never teaches that. However, Brigham Young taught, "No man can be perfect without the woman, so no woman can be perfect without a man to lead her. I tell you the truth as it is in the bosom of eternity. If he wishes to be saved, he cannot be saved without a woman by his side" (as quoted by Spencer W. Kimball, The Miracle of Forgiveness, p 245). See also Improvement Era, Vol 21, Dec 1917, pp 105-106, as well as Joseph F. Smith, Gospel Doctrine, p. 272.
16. Protective Garments.
The Book of Mormon never mentions "garments of the Holy Priesthood" yet Temple Mormons are told that as long as they do not defile them, the garment will "be a shield and a protection" to them against the power of the Destroyer. This is found in Bruce R. McConkie, The Mortal Messiah, 2:295. See also Teachings of Ezra Taft Benson, p. 357.
17. Doctrine to be voted on.
Never were the words of the Book of Mormon prophets sustained by the believers in the Book of Mormon in order to be considered official teaching. The LDS vote in order "to sustain" official teachings as well as church officials. However, see Bruce R. McConkie, Mormon Doctrine, pp. 149-150.
18. The Seed of Cain.
This concept is not to be found in the Book of Mormon. However, third LDS Prophet John Taylor said, "And after the flood we are told that the curse that had been pronounced upon Cain was continued through Ham's wife, as he had married a woman of that seed. And why did it pass through the flood? Because it was necessary that the devil should have a representation upon the earth as well as God" (Journal of Discourses, 22:304).
19. God having a father and a grandfather.
The Book of Mormon never mentions it. However, Joseph Smith claimed, "If Jesus Christ was the Son of God, and John discovered that God the Father of Christ had a Father, you may suppose that He had a Father also" (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p. 373).
20. The Church of the Firstborn.
Such an expression is never used in the Book of Mormon. The Church of the Firstborn is found in Doctrine and Covenants 76:94 and The History of the Church 1:283.
Joseph Smith did not really believe the Book of Mormon,