Last revision: June 3, 2015
(plus some minor ones)
Contradictions are a mark of falseness. If two statements contradict each other, then one of them must be false. If both statements come from the same person, then the suspicion must arise that the person is lying (or at least grossly mistaken) in one of them, or perhaps both.
If both of the contradictory statements are supposed to be from God, or from God's spokesman (a prophet or a scripture) then we are justified in considering this supposed spokesman to be fraudulent, since God is not supposed to lie or to make contradictory statements.
"For I am the Lord, I change not;..." - Malachi 3:6Mormon leaders insist that there are no contradictions in Mormonism. Joseph Fielding Smith, the tenth president of the church, said:
"God is not a man, that he should lie;.. hath he spoken, and shall he not make it good?" - Num 23:19
"...with [God] is no variableness, neither shadow of turning." - James 1:17 (see also BoM Morm 9:9, Mosiah 2:22, Alma 7:20)If his [Joseph Smith's] claims and declarations were built upon fraud and deceit, there would appear many errors and contradictions, which would be easy to detect. - Doctrines of Salvation 1:188-189
Contradictions do not seem to bother religious apologists, since they have developed very clever ways of dealing with them, primarily by explaining them away with various excuses:
How religious apologists deal with contradictions
- One of the statements only appears to contradict the other; with the proper spirit and the proper interpretation (usually by the prophet himself, or by a later prophet), and by assigning different (special) meanings to some of the words, the contradiction disappears;
- One of the statements was not intended to be taken literally (this is a variation on the previous excuse);
- The statement the apologist likes best takes precedence over the other one, because:
- It was made earlier in time and thus has seniority;
- It was made later in time and thus supersedes the prior one;
- The other statement was made only to a limited, special audience at a limited time, and thus only applies to them;
- One of the statements is not accurately recorded; the prophet never really said that;
- The prophet was not speaking as a prophet when making the apparently contradictory statement - he was merely expressing his personal (and therefore human and error-prone) opinion;
- This is one of the Great Mysteries, which we will understand in God's own due time. Such mysteries can only make us pause in humility and in admiration of God's wisdom, since only He is capable of understanding them.
- As a last resort, the apologist simply ignores one of them.
This listing is by no means complete. It includes only those contradictions which are most difficult for Mormons to explain satisfactorily (except to a faithful and all-accepting fellow Mormon who desperately wants an explanation in order to protect his faith). It generally does not include contradictions with Bible passages, since Mormons consider the Bible to have many translation errors, and since the Bible itself is often ambiguous and subject to varying interpretations.
Some Contradictions in Mormon Scripture, Teachings and Doctrine
Abbreviations used:BoM: Book of Mormon
D&C: Doctrine and Covenants
PoGP: Pearl of Great Price
BoA: Book of Abraham
LoF: Lectures on Faith (until 1921 part of D&C)
HoC: History of the Church
JoD: Journal of Discourses
TJS: Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith
JST Joseph Smith Translation of the Bible ("Inspired Version")
Ensign: Ensign Magazine, official publication of the church
Notice that it is not a question of whether different people at different times might be commanded or permitted or forbidden to practice polygamy; it has only to do with God's view of specific acts of polygamy. And remember that God is unchanging! (BoM, 3 Nephi 24:6)
"For I know that God is not a partial God, neither a changeable being; but he is unchangeable from all eternity to all eternity." (Moroni 8:18)
"...God is the same yesterday, today, and forever, and in him there is no variableness neither shadow of changing." (Morm 9:9)
"...there is a God in heaven, who is infinite and eternal, from everlasting to everlasting the same unchangeable God..."
""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.... God himself was once as we are now, and is an exalted Man, and sits enthroned in yonder heavens. That is the great secret... It is the first principle of the Gospel to know for a certainty the character of God and to know...that he was once a man like us..." (from the "King Follett Discourse" TJS 342-343, also JoD 6:3-4)
"He [God] is our Father - the Father of our spirits, and was once a man in mortal flesh as we are, and is now an exalted being." (JoD 7:333):
Alma 18:26-28 says God is a spirit, confirming John 4:24 ("God is a Spirit").
The Mormons try to explain this by saying that of course God is a spirit, we all are "spirit" because we have a spirit. And so does God. However, in the LoF passage, the intent is clearly to differentiate between the Father and the Son, and the difference given is that the Son is "of the flesh."
Apostle Bruce R. McConkie says that John 4:24 is mistranslated (Mormon Doctrine, "God As A Spirit"), perhaps because in Joseph Smith's "Inspired Verson" of the Bible, that passage is omitted. He says nothing about the translation of the passage in Alma. One must wonder how a passage which is mistranslated in the King James Version appears in the very same words in the Book of Mormon, which was supposedly translated by divine power.
If we should take a million of worlds like this and number their particles, we should find that there are more Gods than there are particles of matter in those worlds. - JoD 2:345
BoM, 1830 edition:
1 Nephi 11:21: "And the angel said unto me: Behold, the Lamb of God, yea, even the Eternal Father!"
1 Nephi 13:40: "...the Lamb of God is the Eternal Father, and the Savior of the world..."
In present editions, the words "the Son of" have been inserted before "the Eternal Father" in these (and similar) passages.
1 Nephi 19:11 says that the "God of Abraham" was Jesus who was "lifted up [and crucified]"
"...without the ordinances thereof [i.e. of the priesthood], and the authority of the priesthood, the power of godliness is not manifest unto men in the flesh; 22 For without this no man can see the face of God, even the Father, and live."BUT:
"The order of the House of God has been and ever will be the same, even after Christ comes, and after the termination of the thousand years it will be the same;..." (TJS p 91)
"Ordinances instituted in the heavens before the foundation of the world, in the priesthood, for the salvation of men, are not to be altered or changed." (TJS p 308)
"...the ordinances must be kept in the very way God has appointed; otherwise their priesthood will prove a cursing instead of a blessing." (TJS p.169)
See also Isaiah 24:5, Malachi 3:7, condemning those who change God's ordinances
The Mormon church leaders have made numerous fundamental changes in the temple ordinances:
This distinction is also portrayed in the Mormon temple ritual, the "endowment," where "Elohim" gives instructions to "Jehovah and Michael" and sends them off to carry them out, which they do.
In the Flood story, God is referred to as "Elohim" in Gen 6:9-22; 7:9, 16; 8:1, 15. But God - apparently the same God - is called "YHWH (Jehovah)" in 6:5-7; 7:1-5, 16; 8:20.
In God's dealings with Abraham, God is called "Elohim" in Genesis 17, but "YHWH" in Genesis 18. It is clear that these are not two different personages, but just one God, referred to by two different terms.
Hundreds of other examples could be cited. (See any analytical concordance under "God" and "Lord" for a complete listing.)
Apostle Bruce R. McConkie admitted in a private letter that this doctrine was taught by Brigham Young: "Yes, President Young did teach that Adam was the father of our spirits, and all the related things that the cultists ascribe to him [i.e. that Adam is God]. "
The present prophet Gordon B. Hinckley admitted that Brigham Young had taught this doctrine in an interview with the New Yorker magazine (January 21, 2002, p. 44)
See also Doctrines of Salvation 1:96-106, by Joseph Fielding Smith, later president of the church.
BoM 1 Nephi 11, narrates a vision of Nephi. He sees the virgin Mary (v. 15-18), and then he "beheld that she was carried away in the Spirit;" (v. 19) and after a time he sees her "bearing a child in her arms" (v. 20)
"The birth of the Saviour was as natural as are the births of our children; it was the result of natural action. He ...was begotten of his Father, as we were of our fathers." (JoD 8:115)
"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 husabnd... That 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." (JoD 11:268)
Apostle Bruce R. McConkie wrote: "Christ was begotten by an Immortal Father in the same way that mortal men are begotten by mortal fathers." (Mormon Doctrine, 1966 ed, 546-547)
"He [Jesus] is the Son of God in the same sense and way that we are the sons of mortal fathers. It is that simple." (The Promised Messiah, pp 467-468).
Joseph Fielding Smith (apostle, later president of the church) says: "There is no greater crime in all the world than to teach false doctrines.." (Doctrines of Salvation, 1:34
"Third: The Living Prophet is more important to us than a dead prophet... Beware of those who would pit the dead prophets against the living prophets, for the living prophets always take precedence."
In spite of this clear language, Mormons have devoted much effort to "doing temple work" for millions of dead people, including thousands of unsavory historical figures such as Adolf Hitler.
Joseph Smith said: "All sins, and all blasphemies, and every transgression, except one, that man can be guilty of, may be forgiven; and there is a salvation for all men, either in this world or the world to come,... unless he has committed that unpardonable sin [the sin against the Holy Ghost]..." JoD 6:8 (the "King Follett Discourse")
Joseph Smith said: "A murderer, for instance, one that sheds innocent blood, cannot have forgiveness... They [can] not be baptized for the remission of sins for they [have] shed innocent blood." TJS 339
Comment: Mormons try to explain this by suggesting that those Biblical names were also used in Adam's day to refer to areas and rivers in ancient Missouri. This argument overlooks the fact that the author of Genesis (or the inspired "Book of Moses" - who was the biblical Moses, according to Mormon doctrine) was writing for an audience who knew those names only as designations in the Old World, and would have understood them as such.
"...ask God...if these things are not true; and if ye shall ask with a sincere heart, with real intent, having faith in Christ, he will manifest the truth of it unto you, by the power of the Holy Ghost."
See also D&C 98:39-46, where the Lord promises to punish to the third and fourth generation the descendants of Joseph Smith's enemies (echoing Deut 5:9 and many other Bible passages).
D&C 58:21 says: "Let no man break the laws of the land, for he that keepeth the laws of God hath no need to break the laws of the land." (See also Jesus' teaching, "Render unto Caesar that which is Caesar's" - Matt 22:21)
(The present practice of the church is that only the upper echelons in the church hierarchy receive salaries and other remuneration, as well as those employed as full-time teachers, secretaries, etc. Local-level elders, bishops, high priests, missionaries, etc., support themselves by outside employment.)
At BoM 3 Nephi 11:31-40 Jesus declares that his "doctrine" is faith, repentance and baptism, and that "whoso shall declare more or less than this, and establish it for my doctrine, the same cometh of evil..." and will go to hell (v 40)
George Q. Cannon (First Presidency) said: "We are commanded to be subject to the direction of the Holy Spirit when we arise to speak; for if we speak as we should do, it is not we who speak, but it is the Spirit of God which speaks through us. On this account, the Elders of the Church do not, at least as a rule, prepare themselves before hand with either written or memorized sermons, for if they were to do so, they would depart from the order of heaven, and would prove utter failures." Ogden, (Weber Stake Conference), Sunday Morning, July 21, 1889
Update: In January 2003, the church announced that it was modifying its missionary methods so that missionaries could rely on the "spirit" rather than memorized presentations, thus reversing a practice of over fifty years. It appears, then, that the church has decided to follow its own scriptures in this regard.However, the General Authorities do not follow D&C 84:85: their sermons in general conference are carefully prepared beforehand and submitted to a committee for approval. Even the prayers offered during general conference are written ahead of time.
Dr. John C. Bennett converted to the church at Nauvoo in 1840 and quickly became one of Joseph Smith's closest advisers. He was sustained as "Assistant President" of the church April 8, 1841, a position which he held for over a year. He was excommunicated in 1842 and wrote a book exposing the Mormon practice of polygamy.
Again, let my servant John C. Bennett help you in your labor in sending my word to the kings and people of the earth, and stand by you, even you my servant Joseph Smith, in the hour of afflictions; and his reward shall not fail if he receive counsel.
And for his love he shall be great, for he shall be mine if he do this, saith the Lord. I have seen the work he hath done, which I accept if he continue, and will crown him with blessings and great glory. [emphasis added]
About the early part of July, 1841, I received a letter from Pittsburg, Pennsylvania; in it was contained information setting forth that said Bennett had a wife and two or three children then living. This I read to him, and he acknowledged it was true. ... It can be proven by hundreds of witnesses that he is one of the basest of liars, and that his whole routine of proceedings, while among us, has been of the basest kind.Comment: Didn't God know (before July 1841) that Bennett was a lying deceiver?
"And now behold, these are the words which ye shall say, calling them by name, saying:BUT:
Having authority given me of Jesus Christ, I baptize you in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Amen.
"[The baptizer] shall say, calling him or her by name: Having been commissioned of Jesus Christ, I baptize you in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Amen.BUT:
"Helam, I baptize thee, having authority from the Almighty God, as a testimony that ye have entered into a covenant to serve him until you are dead as to the mortal body; and may the Spirit of the Lord be poured out upon you; and may he grant unto you eternal life, through the redemption of Christ, whom he has prepared from the foundation of the world."
Comment: The Church Handbook of Instructions (p. 36, 2006 edition) says: "The baptism must be repeated if the words are not spoken exactly as given in Doctrine and Covenants 20:73," implying that otherwise the baptism is not valid. It would seem that either the BoM baptisms were not valid, or the modern church has changed the ordinance (which they say was established at the beginning of the world - and the true church does not change sacred ordinances).
"Thou shalt have no ofher gods before me." (Ex 20:3) Verse 5 implies that only the God giving this commandment should be worshipped. (Mormons believe that Jesus and the Jehovah of the OT are one and the same personage; thus, it is Jesus who gave this commandment.)
His followers worshipped him, apparently without his rebuking them: "And when they [the eleven disciples] saw him, they worshipped him...." (Matthew 28:17; see also Matthew 8:2, 9:18, 14:13, 15:25,18:26, 28:9, Mark 5:6, Luke 24:52, John 9:38)
"And they did all, both they who had been healed and they who were whole, bow down at his [Jesus'] feet, and did worship him; and as many as could come for the multitude did kiss his feet, insomuch that they did bathe his feet with their tears." (3 Nephi 17:10; see also 3 Nephi 11:17; this also apparently without any rebuke from Jesus).
"We worship the Father and him only and no one else. We do not worship the Son and we do not worship the Holy Ghost. I know perfectly well what the scriptures say about worshipping Christ and Jehovah, but they are speaking in an entirely different sense -- the sense of standing in awe and being reverentially grateful to Him who has redeemed us" - "Our Relationship With The Lord," a devotional speech given March 2, 1982, at Brigham Young University
"Another peril is that [they] begin to pray directly to Christ because of some special friendship they feel has been developed. In this connection a current and unwise book, which advocates gaining a special relationship with Jesus, contains this sentence: `Because the Savior is our mediator, our prayers go through Christ to the Father, and the Father answers our prayers through His Son.' This is plain sectarian nonsense. Our prayers are addressed to the Father, and to Him only. They do not go through Christ, ..."
"Latter-day Saints worship and pray to the Father and offer all other sacred performances to him in the name of the Son, Jesus Christ.".
To love completely with a wholeness even as Christ loved, to manifest a mature and unconditional love in all human relations, would minimize many fears. [emphasis added] -First Presidency Message: "With an Eye Single to His Glory," Ensign, Dec. 1971Elder Ronald E. Poelman (First Council of Seventy) said YES:
God is our father; he loves us; his love is infinite and unconditional. His sorrow is great when we disobey his commandments and break his laws. He cannot condone our transgressions, but he loves us and wants us to return to him. I know of no greater inducement to repentance and reconciliation with our Father in Heaven than an awareness of his unconditional love for us personally and individually. [emphasis added] - "God's Love for Us Transcends Our Transgressions," Ensign, May 1982, p. 27Apostle Marvin J. Ashton said YES:
The greatest example of love available to all of us is, of course, found in the scripture from John: 'For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son.' (John 3:16.) By the greatest of all acts of love and by this supreme sacrifice, God set the pattern. He demonstrated to us that His love was unconditional and sufficient to encircle every person. [emphasis added] - "We Serve That Which We Love," Ensign, May 1981, p. 22BUT:
Divine love is also conditional. While divine love can be called perfect, infinite, enduring, and universal, it cannot correctly be characterized as unconditional. The word does not appear in the scriptures. On the other hand, many verses affirm that the higher levels of love the Father and the Son feel for each of us - and certain divine blessings stemming from that love - are conditional.Comment: It seems that Apostle Nelson is very close to calling his fellow prophets "anti-Christs".
Understanding that divine love and blessings are not truly 'unconditional' can defend us against common fallacies such as these: 'Since God's love is unconditional, He will love me regardless...'; or 'Since 'God is love,' He will love me unconditionally, regardless...' These arguments are used by anti-Christs to woo people with deception.
The full flower of divine love and our greatest blessings from that love are conditional - predicated upon our obedience to eternal law. [emphasis added] - "Divine Love," Ensign, Feb. 2003, p. 20
2. Plan of Salvation
3. Atonement of Jesus Christ
4. Dispensation, Apostacy, and Restoration
5. Prophets and Revelation
6. Priesthood and Priesthood Keys
7. Ordinances and Covenants
8. Marriage and Family
"He [the angel] said there was a book deposited, written upon gold plates, giving an account of the former inhabitants of this continent, and the source from which they sprang."(PoGP, JS-Hist 1:34)
"Latter-day Saints also consider the Book of Mormon to be a record of great ancient-American civilizations."BUT:
"...invite a friend to read the Book of Mormon. Explain that it is not a novel or a history book."
Update 2/18/10: The video at the above links has been removed because of objections from the LDS church over copyright. It showed Hinckley first addressing a Mormon audience, urging the listeners to be proud of their pioneer heritage and to do their genealogical research. The second video showed Hinckley addressing the audience at a ceremony held at the scene of the Mountain Meadows Massacre, where Mormons in 1857 massacred 120 immigrants headed for California, killing all the adults and the older children. The church has never taken responsibility for the massacre or for the subsequent cover-up, even though there is evidence that top church authorities were involved in both the planning and the cover-up. Hinckley suggested that it was all in the past, and therefore should be forgotten.
For other contradictions
between present Mormon doctrines
and the Book of Mormon click
This listing is a work in progress. Many more items can (and hopefully will) be added. Please forward your suggestions.