Questions about Mormonism that are not often asked
Many of us left Mormonism because we asked too many questions for which there were no satisfactory answers. Usually the Mormons we asked (missionaries, bishops, family members) quickly told us that our questions were improper, unnecessary, prideful, absurd, and/or "inspired by Satan."
But any trial attorney knows that probing questions of an opposition witness, based on what the witness has already said, is the way to uncover and display the weaknesses or absurdities in the witness' story and to show that the witness is lying - making it up. No witness would be allowed to say, "You are asking too many questions - you should just accept what I have told you and be content with that." If the testimony is true, it will withstand the most probing questioning.
We are all familiar with many of the questions that have arisen about Mormonism. But there are some questions that I have never heard asked. I would like to share some of them that have occurred to me lately. Feel free to use them in your own discussions with Mormons.
I'm sure there are more unasked questions, but that's enough for now.
- Joseph Smith was always being visited by angels. He had no hesitation about telling his followers about the visitations. Why have no general authorities of the church in the last hundred years told us about their angel visits?
- The president of the church is supposed to be able to translate ancient records (D&C 107:92). The church now owns the Egyptian papyrus which Joseph Smith identified as the "Book of Joseph". Why hasn't any church president translated this precious scripture?
- Why has no Mormon prophet (including Joseph Smith) provided a translation of the few "reformed Egyptian" characters which were copied from the plates and presented to Professor Anthon?
- Why didn't Joseph make a rubbing of one
or two of the plates, instead of just trying to copy the "caractors" (which Martin Harris showed to Professor Anthon)? It
would have been so much faster, easier and more authentic. Wouldn't that
have been a wonderful "facsimile" to include in every copy of the Book of Mormon?
- The Book of Mormon (1 Nephi 5:18-19) says that the "brass plates" should "go forth unto all nations, kindreds tongues". The Encyclopedia of Mormonism says about them: "It is also evident from the scriptural quotations in the Book of Mormon that the plates of brass contained a more extensive record of the writings of Hebrew prophets than does the present Old Testament. For example, the Book of Mormon includes prophecies of Joseph of Egypt that are not found in the Bible, as well as writings of Zenos, Zenock, Neum, and Ezias, prophets who are not specifically named in the Old Testament." (Encyclopedia of Mormonism, Vol.1, "Book of Mormon Plates and Records") So, where are they? Does Deseret Book sell a translation?
- If Moroni could simply appear and take the gold plates back when Joseph had finished his translation, why couldn't he have simply kept them with him in the first place, rather than leaving them buried in the hill for all those years?
- Why would God be so secretive about allowing people to see the plates from which the Book of Mormon was translated, and yet the Egyptian papyrus from which the equally sacred Book of Abraham was translated got passed from hand to hand, and was displayed to the public by both Chandler and Smith (Smith gave his mother Lucy the franchise: she charged 25 cents to anyone who wanted to see the papyrus.)
- Why wasn't Joseph Smith - God's divinely appointed "translator" of ancient documents (D&C 7, 21:1, 107:92, 124:125) able to identify the Egyptian papyri correctly as the "Breathing Permit of Hor," dating from sometime around the time of Christ?
- Why would God put a sacred scripture such as the Book of Abraham in a common pagan burial papyrus? Did all such Egyptian "Breathing Permits" with similar texts also contain Abraham's sacred words?
- What about the stone box that the plates were concealed in for so many years? That would have been easy to find it, and would have
added credence to the whole story. Why didn't some of Joseph's pals go out there and retrieve this artifact of ancient workmanship that was 1400 years old, and display it the way they displayed the mummies later?
- About the "war in heaven..." How can spirits fight a war? Do they get wounded, killed? What weapons do they use? Exactly where did this war take place? Where God lives (on the planet near Kolob)?
- The war in heaven is supposed to have included everyone who eventually will be born on earth, and everyone who already has been born (since participation in the war determined our earthly destiny). That means that the war ended before anybody was born on the earth. Is God no longer producing "spirit children", then? If not, how is he going to occupy his time? If so, is there going to have to be another war in heaven?
- Does God have any "fun"? Does he have a sense of humor? Does he ever crack a joke?
- If "salvation" means returning to the presence of God, does that mean that the celestial kingdom is on the planet near Kolob?
- The Book of Mormon says that for there to be happiness, there must be "opposition" (2 Nephi 2:11) - in other words, there must be evil to appreciate good. But how then can we be happy in heaven, where there will be no evil and no temptation?
- Since there will be no temptation in heaven, doesn't that mean that we will have lost our free agency, since we can no longer choose to sin?
- If all of us spirit children desperately wanted a body, what about the Holy Ghost, who doesn't have (and apparently never had) a body? (I have seen this question asked a few times before.)
- Mormons teach that Jesus was the Jehovah of the Old Testament, who gave Israel the Ten Commandments, including the one that says they should worship no other gods but him. But Mormons do not pray to Jesus, but to "God the Father". So where is "God the Father" in the Old Testament?
- The human body (in spite of a few design flaws) does what it does very well: it ingests nourishment, expels waste, uses the physical senses to acquire information, stores information in the brain cells, has systems to distribute needed nourishment (food, oxygen), reproduces itself when coupled with another body, defends itself against disease, etc. Why does God need or want such a thing? What good are any of these bodily systems to an omnipotent being? (He doesn't need eyes to see, does he?)
- Why does God need our "mother in heaven" to produce spirits? If both God and "mother in heaven" have physical bodies, why don't their reproductive activities produce bodies, instead of spirits?
- In most religions, the rituals are conducted by a priest wearing priestly robes, with the worshippers dressed in ordinary clothing. But in the Mormon temple it's just the opposite: the worshippers wear the "robes of the priesthood" and the ones conducting the rituals are dressed in ordinary clothing (white, to be sure, but still just ordinary clothing). Isn't this backwards?
- What is the purpose or symbolic meaning of the little string that connects the men's temple cap to the shoulder of the temple robe?
- Mormon boys are usually ordained to the Aaronic priesthood at age twelve and hold offices in that priesthood until they are about eighteen, when they are ordained to the higher Melchizedek priesthood. But boys who hold the Aaronic priesthood are never taught the first and second "signs" or "tokens" of the Aaronic priesthood, nor are they allowed to wear the robe of the Aaronic priesthood. They only receive these things after they are ordained to the Mechizedek priesthood, in the temple endowment. Why aren't Aaronic priesthood holders given those things?
- D&C 129 gives a test by which you can know whether someone claiming to be an angel from God is telling you the truth: you offer to shake his hand, and if you can feel his hand, that proves he is an angel. So if I walk up to you and tell you I am an angel from God and I have a message for you, and you shake my hand, I will pass the test. Isn't that rather stupid?
- The Book of Mormon mentions a harlot named Isabel (Alma 39:3). "Isabel" is a name that only came into use in France and Italy during the late middle ages. How could it occur in the Book of Mormon during Alma's life? (Of course, this is only one of hundreds of anachronisms in the Book of Mormon.)
- D&C 137:7 says that all those who die without having heard the gospel will automatically inherit the celestial kingdom. Why then is it necessary to do temple work for them, the purpose of which is to enable them to enter the celestial kingdom?
- The early Christians (except for Paul's Gentile converts) continued to practice Judaism (Acts 2:46), circumcising, avoiding unclean foods and not eating with Gentiles. The agreement between the Jerusalem apostles (Peter, James, et al.) and Paul seems to have been that Gentile converts did not need to practice Judaism, but that converts from the House of Israel did. Since most modern Mormons, by revelation in their patriarchal blessings, are of the "house of Israel," why do they not observe those requirements (circumcision, Jewish dietary rules, etc.)?
- God revealed the "Word of Wisdom" (D&C 89) as a health guide for the Saints. Why did he not mention the necessity of boiling questionable water, avoiding excessive salt, avoiding obesity, washing hands after voiding? Instead he recommends tobacco as a poultice for bruises.
- Many utterances by Mormon prophets and apostles in the past are now disregarded by the modern church, with the explanation that those men were merely expressing a personal opinion, or suggesting an idea on their own, without intending it to be taken as the Word of God. And yet today's prophets and apostles urge Mormons to accept their own utterances (especially in General Conference) as divinely inspired. Why don't the modern prophets label each utterance as "in my personal opinion" or "thus saith the Lord" so as to avoid future confusion? (Thanks to M.M. for this question.)
- At D&C 35:8-9 God says that "all those who believe on my name" will be able to heal the sick if they "ask it in my name in faith." (See also 84:68.) But 42:44 says that when Mormons are sick they should call at least two elders, who are to pray and lay hands on the sick (presumably to effect healing, although the passage says that they might die anyway). Mormon tradition emphasizes that it is holders of the Melchizedek priesthood who should anoint the sick with consecrated oil and bless them, using the power of the priesthood. If any faithful Mormon (including non-priesthood holders such as women) can heal the sick, why is priesthood authority required? How is it better? Does God pay more attention to the blessing of two elders than to the prayer of a concerned and devout mother? And why does the oil make a difference? It isn't even mentioned in Mormon scripture as necessary or helpful for healing the sick.
- In 1978 the president of the church (Spencer W. Kimball) received a revelation which reversed over a hundred years of church practice and doctrine. Until then, black members were not allowed to hold the Mormon priesthood, nor could black members receive the endowment or be married for eternity in the temple. Any trace of Negro ancestry was a bar, however worthy they otherwise might have been. In the announcement of the revelation (the revelation itself has never been published, only the fact that it was received) at D&C OD-2, the First Presidency said that the revelation came as a result of their having "pleaded long and earnestly [with God]..., spending many hours in the Upper Room of the Temple, supplicating the Lord for divine guidance."
Two questions arise:
1) Why would the church leaders be pleading for God to reverse one of his doctrines?
2) Are the Brethren similarly spending hours in the temple pleading for God to grant the priesthood to faithful women? And to remove all stigma from homosexual members, even those who are in permanent, loving relationships with a partner of the same sex?
(Thanks to M. M. for this question)
- If God handed Moses tablets with the Ten Commandments, why couldn't he just hand Joseph Smith a copy of the Book of Mormon in English, rather than making him translate the plates with a rock in a hat? (Thanks to "scarecrowfromoz" for this question)
Please suggest any other question that you don't think anyone else has asked....
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© 2005 Richard Packham
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