Reason #156: The Book of Mormon Restored What?
Does the Book of Mormon itself restore—or even mention—doctrines missing from the Bible? No, in fact, the theology of the Book of Mormon isn’t Mormon – at least, not twenty-first century Mormonism. Latter-day Saints quote Doctrine and Covenants 20:9, 42:12, and 135:3 which claim that the Book of Mormon has “the fullness” of the everlasting Gospel. But as ex-Mormon writer Bob Witte has pointed out, most of the elements that make modern Mormonism distinctive aren’t in that book. In addition to temple worship, plural marriage, and the Negro-priesthood issue, Witte notes that the Book of Mormon also does not teach the following recently-advocated LDS doctrines:
- God has a body of flesh and bones
- God is an exalted man
- God is a product of eternal progression
- There is a plurality of gods (polytheism)
- Men may become gods
- The Trinity consists of three separate Gods
- There is no eternal hell and punishment
- “Intelligences”[i] are eternal
- The pre-existence of humans as spirits
- Marriage for eternity
- Three degrees of glory[ii]
- A mother in heaven
- A New Testament-era “Melchizidek Priesthood” with the offices and functions of elder, high priest, seventy, patriarch, and apostle
- A New Testament-era “Aaronic Priesthood” with the offices and functions of deacon, teacher, priest and bishop
- The functions and offices of evangelists, bishoprics, stake presidencies, apostles, a first presidency and president of the church
- Baptism for the dead and “second-chance salvation”[iii]
Authors Gruss and Thuet add to this list the requirements for LDS exaltation (that is, entrance into the Celestial Kingdom) that aren’t commanded in the Book of Mormon: LDS baptism and confirmation, paying of tithes, priesthood ordinances, and eternal polygamy; among other doctrines.[iv]
This matter of “plain and precious parts,” that the Book of Mormon supposedly restored, has puzzled Christians since 1830. A kind way to put it is to say that it is certainly no easier to understand than the Bible. Nor does it explain in any greater detail any biblical tenet.
[i] According to LDS doctrine, each human existed first as pure intelligence, then as a soul with a spirit body, and then came to earth to be clothed with a physical body.
[ii] In other words, merited levels of heaven.
[iii] Bob Witte, compiler, Where Does It Say That? (Safety Harbor, Fla: Ex-Mormons for Jesus, n.d.), 4. This is a very useful and compact compilation of photo-reprints of LDS documents and other materials. It has various other printing dates and places of publication.
[iv] Emond A. Gruss and Lane A. Thuet offer an excellent and detailed discussion concerning the historical inconsistencies regarding, and Biblical teachings countering, LDS priesthood claims. What Every Mormon (and Non-Mormon) Should Know (n.p.: Xulon Press, 2006),96-97.
For more information, see The Mormon Mirage 3rd Edition: A Former Member Looks at the Mormon Church Today(Zondervan, 2009). Also available as an audiobook and as an expanded-text E-book for Nook, Kindle and other reading devices.