Tear apart a building’s foundation and the superstructure crumbles. Likewise, if a book of doctrine is shown to be false, then a religion based upon that book must also be false. Mormonism owes its existence to the Book of Mormon (BOM). If the BOM is true, then Mormonism is true. If it is false, then Mormonism is a false religion. A comparison between the Bible and the BOM reveals the falsity of the entire Mormon system.
The Introduction to the BOM states that the Bible is the word of God and that the BOM is equal to the Bible: “The Book of Mormon is a volume of holy scripture comparable to the Bible. It is a record of God’s dealings with the ancient inhabitants of the Americas and contains, as does the Bible, the fulness of the everlasting gospel.”
Truth must always harmonize; it can never contradict itself. In logic, the law of non-contradiction states that no two contradictory statements can both be true at the same time and in the same sense (Geisler & Brooks, 16). The word of God is truth (John 17:17). Therefore, if both the Bible and the BOM are the word of God, they will never contradict each other. Since Mormons admit that the Bible is from God and true, if we demonstrate that the BOM contradicts the Bible we can show that the BOM is false based on their own claims.
Lets begin with Jesus’ birthplace. Micah 5:2 predicts that the coming ruler will be born in Bethlehem. The Jews in the first century expected their Messiah to arise from Bethlehem—David’s city (Micah 5:2; John 7:42). And indeed, Matthew records that Jesus was born in Bethlehem (Matt. 2:1). The BOM tells a different tale. The prophet Alma predicts that Mary will give birth to Jesus in Jerusalem (Alma 7:10) This is an unfortunate gaffe for the cause of Mormonism. Bethlehem is a separate city and lies five miles south of Jerusalem (Pfeiffer, 191).
Another contradiction involves the very beginning of Christianity. The Bible reveals that the Lord’s disciples were called Christians for the first time in Antioch of Syria (Acts 11:26). This was after Jesus’ death and resurrection began to be proclaimed and penitent sinners responded to that message (cf. Acts 2:22-36). These became followers of Christ, or Christians.
According to the Mormon Manifesto, disciples were dubbed Christians before Jesus even came down from Heaven to live as a man (Alma 46:13-16). This would mean there were Christians before there was a Christ! Not only does this contradict the Bible, it is absurd. Other examples could be cited, but these suffice to prove that the BOM contradicts the Bible.
The Test for Truth
The Bible can be objectively tested to examine its claims. It was written by about 40 men over a period of 1,500 to 1,600 years (Boyd, 23), yet there are no internal contradictions. It always harmonizes with previous revelation (cf. Deut. 13:1-5). Bible writers performed miracles to confirm what they spoke and wrote (Ex. 4:1-9; Mark 16:17-20; Heb. 2:1-4). The New Testament alone is confirmed by a mountain of historical data. There are over 5,600 Greek manuscripts and thousands of early translations (Strobel, 63), as well as an abundance of quotations from the patristic writers (Geisler, 430). The BOM has no such objective tests. It was written by one man, Joseph Smith, and Mormons admit that Smith performed no miracles to verify his claims.
Mormons attempt to confirm the truthfulness of the BOM in two ways. First, the BOM contains the testimony of eleven witnesses, three of whom claimed they saw an angel deliver the golden plates that Joseph Smith used to translate the BOM. Eight other witnesses claimed they later saw the angelically delivered plates.
Even if this account were true, the angel and the men who taught the BOM would be accursed. We have shown that the BOM contradicts the Bible. In fact, this document represents a completely different system than New Testament Christianity. According to Paul’s warning to the churches of Galatia, since the BOM presents a perverted, different gospel, those who are responsible for its delivery and promotion stand condemned (Gal. 1:6-9).
And even if the testimony of the 11 witnesses was unimpeached, at least one of them must be false since the Bible and the BOM contradict each other. The Bible’s evidence with its miracles, testimony of multiple writers, and a mountain of textual evidence far outweighs that of Joseph Smith and his 11 friends.
However, not all of Smith’s witnesses stayed on the reservation. One of them, Martin Harris, later cast his lot with the Shakers. In a letter written in 1844 from Phineas Young to Brigham Young, the former writes, “Martin Harris is a firm believer in Shakerism, says his testimony is greater than it was of the Book of Mormon” (Gunnell, 52). Although Harris claimed to have seen the golden plates delivered by an angel which revealed God’s will for man, he later supported a different religion!
Witness Oliver Cowdery followed suit. He left and became a member of the Methodist Protestant Church (Shook, 58-59). He was later rebaptized back into the Mormon Church in 1848.
Another witness, David Whitmer, claimed that God later spoke to him again. This time, Whitmer said God told him to separate himself from the Latter-day Saints because so many had gone into error (Whitmer, 27). None of Christ’s witnesses ever changed their testimony or their religion, even in the face of death.
The second test for the truthfulness of the BOM comes from its own pages. Moroni 10:3-5 informs us that if we will read the BOM and ask God if it is true, God will reveal to us that it is true. A more subjective test would be difficult to conjure. This means that if one does read the BOM and asks God if it’s true and then hears nothing but silence coming from heaven, the problem must lie with the one asking. This is reminiscent of the claim that those unable to be healed by modern day miracle workers just don’t have enough faith. Meanwhile, the Bible invites readers to vigorously investigate it and use reason to determine its truthfulness (Isa. 1:18; John 20:30-31; Acts 17:1-4,11; Eph. 3:4). The manuscript evidence and the testimony of ancient secular history also bear objective witness to the Bible’s truthfulness.
The Book of Mormon is Not Needed
A Gospel preacher once told of a conversation he had with two members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. He asked them if he could take just the New Testament, do exactly what it says to do to be saved, and go to heaven. They thought for a moment and responded, “Yes.” The preacher then asked, “Then why do I need the Book of Mormon?”
Here is a dilemma. If the Bible alone can tell us how to go to heaven, the BOM is not needed. But if Mormons say the Bible cannot do the job, then they’ve contradicted the Bible. The Bible is sufficient to get us to heaven (2 Pet. 1:3).
In a personal conversation, a young Mormon elder said that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the fastest growing “Christian church” in the world. The foundation for that church is the Book of Mormon. The BOM contradicts the Bible, its evidence does not even approach the objective evidence for the Bible’s truthfulness, and by their own admission is not needed to go to heaven. The BOM is false. Therefore, those who promote and follow its teachings are condemned (Gal. 1:6-9). Only the Gospel of Christ, as revealed in the New Testament, is God’s power to save (Rom. 1:16).
Boyd, Robert T., World’s Bible Handbook, Iowa Falls: World Bible Publishers Inc., 1991.
Geisler, Norman L. and Ronald M. Brooks, Come, Let Us Reason, Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 1990.
Geisler, Norman L. and William E. Nix, A General Introduction to the Bible. Chicago: Moody Press, 1986.
Gunnell, Wayne C. Martin Harris, Witness and Benefactor to the Book of Mormon. BYU Thesis, 1955, cited in Jerry Brewer, “The Unreliability of the Witnesses,” Oklahoma City Lectureship: Mormonism, sermon notes, 2002.
Pfeiffer, Charles F., Bakers Bible Atlas, Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1979.
Shook, Charles A., The True Origin of Mormonism. Cincinnati, Ohio, 1914, cited in D. Michael Quinn, “The Mormon Hierarchy: Origins of Power. “ Signature Books, 1994.
Strobel, Lee, The Case for Christ, Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1998.
Whitmer, David, Address to all Believers in Christ. Richmond, Missouri, 1887, cited in Jerry Brewer, “The Unreliability of the Witnesses,” Oklahoma City Lectureship: Mormonism, sermon notes, 2002.