Arguments Against Denver Snuffer (Part II)

This article is a response to Denver Snuffer Jr.’s talk entitled “Other Sheep Indeed” presented at the Salt Lake City Sunstone Symposium (2017, click here for full article). Snuffer argues that the LDS church’s doctrine is incomplete and that the way to receive the full truth of the gospel is to seek out other religions and see if they have truths to add to our own. Since Snuffer makes many arguments in his talk, I find it best to respond to some of his quotes individually:

Snuffer Quotes #1:

  • “The “keystone” of Mormonism is the Book of Mormon. That book alerts its readers that there are many others from vastly different places with vastly different scriptures who are nonetheless Christ’s sheep. Book of Mormon readers are expected to search for, welcome and learn from them. In contrast, institutional Mormonism of all stripes confine trustworthy new religious ideas to their authorized leaders. Early in the text we learn that our faith, like our scriptures, is unfinished, and to anticipate a flood of additional sacred texts to help remove our ignorance.”
  • “What if the “fullness of the mysteries of God” have been scattered, like pieces of a jigsaw puzzle, worldwide among remnants of believers who have received truths in different times and places?” (p. 21)

Response: Throughout the talk, Snuffer makes several assertions that are not found anywhere in the Book of Mormon. He says that there are many other people who have written God’s word. That is true. Mormons believe that and we believe that these writings will be revealed to us in the last days (2 Nephi 29:11-13/3 Nephi 16:1-3). We do not believe, however, that the truth has been scattered across many religions and it’s each individual member’s job to go out and find other religions and see if they have additional truth. Neither is it true that these scriptures which will be revealed are “vastly different” than what we have now. Quite the opposite. The Lord said “Wherefore, I speak the same words unto one nation like unto another. And when the two nations shall run together the testimony of the two nations shall run together also” (2 Nephi 29:8). In other words, the purpose of the “flood of additional sacred texts” is to show that God speaks the same words to all nations who hear his voice. The prophesied texts will serve to support the doctrine of the Book of Mormon and the Bible, not “remove our ignorance” by providing some completely new doctrine we did not anticipate.

He also says that we “are expected to search for, welcome and learn from them” (or other religious texts, regardless of whether they teach the doctrine of Christ). I agree that we should learn about other religions. I myself have read the Koran in its entirety. However, not once did Christ ever say “put down the scriptures and find truths in other religions.” On the contrary, Jesus Christ, the Son of God, the creator of Heaven and Earth and all that in them is, commanded the Nephites and the readers of the Book of Mormon not to look for more scriptures, but instead search and feast upon the words of the prophets that they already had:

  • “And now, behold, I say unto you, that ye ought to search these things. Yea, a commandment I give unto you that ye search these things diligently; for great are the words of Isaiah” (3 Nephi 23:1)
  • “And whosoever will hearken unto my words and repenteth and is baptized, the same shall be saved. Search the prophets, for many there be that testify of these things” (3 Nephi 23:5)
  • “Wherefore, I said unto you, feast upon the words of Christ; for behold, the words of Christ will tell you all things what ye should do” (2 Nephi 32:3)

Snuffer Quote #2:

  • “Why aren’t people from around the world eager to teach Mormons? What would it be like if Mormons sent out missionaries to inquire if others had any great truths to share with us?” (p. 11)

 

Response: Missionaries should be respectful of other religions and be willing to listen to other people, but the reason why we don’t send out missionaries “to inquire if others had any great truths to share with us” is because Christ commanded us to follow his gospel as contained in the Bible and the Book of Mormon and to preach it to all the world.

  • “For behold, thus said Jesus Christ, the Son of God, unto his disciples who should tarry, yea, and also to all his disciples, in the hearing of the multitude: Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature; And he that believeth and is baptized shall be saved, but he that believeth not shall be damned” (Mormon 9:22-23)
  • “And now it came to pass that when Jesus had expounded all the scriptures in one, which they had written, he commanded them that they should teach the things which he had expounded unto them” (3 Nephi 23:14)

Snuffer Quotes #3:

  • Mormonism announced in its founding book of scripture that it is an incomplete, markedly unfinished religion searching for more truth to achieve its destiny” (p. 1)
  • Mormonism is only a “starter” religion based on an incipient planting by the Gods. It remains wanting. We Mormons should be people of wit and religion, willing to consider and value all truth from whatever source it springs. The greatness of Mormonism has not been realized in any of its past, and those who have managed to profit from organizing institutions based on its mere beginning are threatened by the idea that there is yet much more to be added” (p. 28)

Response: Once again, Snuffer makes claims that just aren’t true. Yes, Mormons believe that we will receive more words of the Lord such as the sealed portion of the Book of Mormon (Ether 3:27). However, we believe that the Book of Mormon and other standard works provide the Gospel of Christ necessary for salvation.

  • Behold I have given unto you my gospel, and this is the gospel which I have given unto you—that I came into the world to do the will of my Father, because my Father sent me” (3 Nephi 27:13)
  • “Wherefore, if ye shall press forward, feasting upon the word of Christ, and endure to the end, behold, thus saith the Father: Ye shall have eternal life. And now, behold, my beloved brethren, this is the way; and there is none other way nor name given under heaven whereby man can be saved in the kingdom of God. And now, behold, this is the doctrine of Christ (2 Nephi 31:20)
  • “I must speak concerning the doctrine of Christ…Wherefore, my beloved brethren, I know that if ye shall follow the Son, with full purpose of heart, acting no hypocrisy and no deception before God, but with real intent, repenting of your sins, witnessing unto the Father that ye are willing to take upon you the name of Christ, by baptism—yea, by following your Lord and your Savior down into the water, according to his word, behold, then shall ye receive the Holy Ghost; yea, then cometh the baptism of fire and of the Holy Ghost; and then can ye speak with the tongue of angels, and shout praises unto the Holy One of Israel” (2 Nephi 31:2, 13)
  • “Wherefore, I said unto you, feast upon the words of Christ; for behold, the words of Christ will tell you all things what ye should do” (2 Nephi 32:3)
  • “Verily, verily, I say unto you, that this is my doctrine, and whoso buildeth upon this buildeth upon my rock, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against them. And whoso shall declare more or less than this, and establish it for my doctrine, the same cometh of evil, and is not built upon my rock…Therefore, go forth unto this people, and declare the words which I have spoken, unto the ends of the earth” (3 Nephi 11:39-41)

Snuffer Quote #4

  • “Institutional forms of Mormonism want to claim that God has finished His work for our day and given His authority to a select group of professional clergy. Their jealousy and envy keep them out of the kingdom, and those under their control are prevented from entering God’s kingdom. What an odd outcome this is for institutional Mormonism when the religion was founded on the relentless search for truth, anywhere it may be found.”

Response: The LDS church/religion is not “founded upon the relentless search for truth, anywhere it may be found.” Nowhere does the Book of Mormon say this. Yes, it is important for us to learn as much as we can about the world. If we find truth in other places, then yes, we should accept it. The LDS religion is founded upon the gospel of Jesus Christ; not on the aimless searching for other truths when the plainness of the gospel of Christ is right in front of you.

  • “Verily, verily, I say unto you, that this is my doctrine, and whoso buildeth upon this buildeth upon my rock, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against them. And whoso shall declare more or less than this, and establish it for my doctrine, the same cometh of evil, and is not built upon my rock…Therefore, go forth unto this people, and declare the words which I have spoken, unto the ends of the earth” (3 Nephi 11:39-41)
  • “But if it be called by my name then it is my church, if it so be that they are built upon my gospel” (3 Nephi 27:8)

The Lesser Portion of the Word

Snuffer criticizes members of the LDS church for being prideful because they do not learn from other religions to see what hidden truths they hold that we do not have. He bases this on scriptures that say there are other books written that will eventually come forth (1 Nephi 13:39-42/2 Nephi 29:11-13/3 Nephi 16:1-3). The fact that they haven’t yet come forth must mean that the LDS church is wicked.

Snuffer likens the LDS church to the people of Ammonihah when Alma said:

  • he that will harden his heart, the same receiveth the lesser portion of the word; and he that will not harden his heart, to him is given the greater portion of the word, until it is given unto him to know the mysteries of God until he know them in full. And they that will harden their hearts, to them is given the lesser portion of the word until they know nothing concerning his mysteries; and then they are taken captive by the devil…” (Alma 12:10-11).

Snuffer makes a false equivalency between the people of Ammonihah not obeying the commandments and the LDS church not adopting Buddhist texts as canon. Alma is not advocating that the people of Ammonihah travel to the ends of the earth to read all other sacred texts and try to piece together all the lost truths of the gospel. He is advocating that they follow the commandments of God as found in the Holy Scriptures.

Snuffer compares the LDS church to the people of Ammonihah, but I think a more accurate comparison is to liken Snuffer to the Jews in Jerusalem, whom Jacob criticizes in Jacob 4:13-14:

  • These things are manifested unto us plainly, for the salvation of our souls. But behold, we are not witnesses alone in these things; for God also spake them unto prophets of old. But behold, the Jews were a stiffnecked people; and they despised the words of plainness, and killed the prophets, and sought for things that they could not understand. Wherefore, because of their blindness, which blindness came by looking beyond the mark, they must needs fall; for God hath taken away his plainness from them, and delivered unto them many things which they cannot understand, because they desired it. And because they desired it God hath done it, that they may stumble”

Snuffer and his followers are not satisfied with the revelations and scriptures they have been given. They want God to give them more and they want to receive these promised scriptures on their own time table. Because they cannot see the plainness of the gospel in front of them, they are looking beyond the mark and will receive the lesser portion of the word.

 

Do Prophets Know Everything?

This may seem like a silly question with an obvious answer, but nevertheless many members of the LDS church find it a trial of their faith to discover that leaders of the church have been deceived (e.g., Mark Hofmann selling forged historical documents to the church) or that LDS leaders engage in what seem like typical business meetings to discuss church affairs (e.g., MormonLeaks releasing video of the twelve apostles discussing church affairs via PowerPoint).  If the leaders of the church have the spirit of prophecy and revelation, how come there are instances where they don’t have all the answers?

The following is a list of examples in the Book of Mormon that suggest the prophets of God are not omnipresent beings who know what any given member of the church ate for breakfast two weeks ago. While they do receive revelation from the Lord when he sees fit, the prophets, like any other human beings, face the same challenges of mortality:

  1. Alma, the high priest of the church, had to send men to spy on the camp of the rebellious Amlicites, and were surprised to know that they had joined forces with the Lamanites. This is interesting because at a future date Alma was able to predict where the Lamanites were headed when Captain Moroni asked him for help.
  • “And Alma sent spies to follow the remnant of the Amlicites, that he might know of their plans and their plots, whereby he might guard himself against them, that he might preserve his people from being destroyed” (Alma 2:21)
  • “Moroni sent spies into the wilderness to watch their camp; and Moroni, also, knowing of the prophecies of Alma, sent certain men unto him desiring him that he should inquire of the Lord whither the armies of the Nephites should go to defend themselves against the Lamanites. And it came to pass that the word of the Lord came unto Alma, and Alma informed the messengers of Moroni, that the armies of the Lamanites were marching round about in the wilderness, that they might come over into the land of Manti” (Alma 43:23-24)

 

  1. There are some mysteries which no human knows. For example, no one knows when the second coming and the final resurrection will happen.
  • “Now, I unfold unto you a mystery; nevertheless, there are many mysteries which are kept, that no one knoweth them save God himself. But I show unto you one thing which I have inquired diligently of God that I might know—that is concerning the resurrection. Behold, there is a time appointed that all shall come forth from the dead. Now when this time cometh no one knows; but God knoweth the time which is appointed” (Alma 40:3-4)

 

  1. Alma does not know whether the resurrection will happen all at once. He is therefore left to theorize that he believes that many righteous people will be resurrected at the time Jesus is resurrected.
  • Now, whether the souls and the bodies of those of whom has been spoken shall all be reunited at once, the wicked as well as the righteous, I do not say; let it suffice, that I say that they all come forth; or in other words, their resurrection cometh to pass before the resurrection of those who die after the resurrection of Christ. Now, my son, I do not say that their resurrection cometh at the resurrection of Christ; but behold, I give it as my opinion, that the souls and the bodies are reunited, of the righteous, at the resurrection of Christ, and his ascension into heaven” (Alma 40:19-20)

 

  1. King Mosiah, Alma, and the priests consulted with each other over the affairs of the church.
  • “And now it came to pass that the persecutions which were inflicted on the church by the unbelievers became so great that the church began to murmur, and complain to their leaders concerning the matter; and they did complain to Alma. And Alma laid the case before their king, Mosiah. And Mosiah consulted with his priests.” (Mosiah 27:1)

 

  1. Nephi and Mormon did not know why they should include the small plates of Nephi into the Book of Mormon record. They only knew that the Lord commanded them.
  • “But behold, I shall take these plates, which contain these prophesyings and revelations, and put them with the remainder of my record, for they are choice unto me; and I know they will be choice unto my brethren. And I do this for a wise purpose; for thus it whispereth me, according to the workings of the Spirit of the Lord which is in me. And now, I do not know all things; but the Lord knoweth all things which are to come; wherefore, he worketh in me to do according to his will” (Words of Mormon 1:6-7)
  • “And I knew not at the time when I made them that I should be commanded of the Lord to make these plates…and that the things which were written should be kept for the instruction of my people, who should possess the land, and also for other wise purposes, which purposes are known unto the Lord” (1 Nephi 19:2-3)

 

  1. The Brother of Jared, who had conversed with the Lord many times before, did not know that the Lord had a spiritual body.
  • “And he saith unto the Lord: I saw the finger of the Lord, and I feared lest he should smite me; for I knew not that the Lord had flesh and blood” (Ether 3:8)

 

  1. Nephi forgot to write about the dead rising from the grave after Christ’s resurrection. 
  • “And when Nephi had brought forth the records, and laid them before him, he cast his eyes upon them and said: Verily I say unto you, I commanded my servant Samuel, the Lamanite, that he should testify…that there were many saints who should arise from the dead, and should appear unto many…And Jesus said unto them: How be it that ye have not written this thing, that many saints did arise and appear unto many and did minister unto them? And it came to pass that Nephi remembered that this thing had not been written” (3 Nephi 23:8-9, 11-12)

 

  1. Mosiah did not know the location or the status of those who went to repossess the land of Lehi-Nephi.
  • “And now, it came to pass that after king Mosiah had had continual peace for the space of three years, he was desirous to know concerning the people who went up to dwell in the land of Lehi-Nephi, or in the city of Lehi-Nephi; for his people had heard nothing from them…And now, they knew not the course they should travel in the wilderness to go up to the land of Lehi-Nephi; therefore they wandered many days in the wilderness, even forty days did they wander” (Mosiah 7:1, 3)

 

  1. Moroni and Helaman did not know the fate of Pahoran, the governor of Zarahemla during the war with the Lamanites. Moroni assumed that the government was lazy and run by sinners. 
  • Now we do not know the cause that the government does not grant us more strength; neither do those men who came up unto us know why we have not received greater strength…And it came to pass that Moroni was angry with the government, because of their indifference concerning the freedom of their country…I, Pahoran…say unto you, Moroni, that I do not joy in your great afflictions, yea, it grieves my soul. But behold, there are those who do joy in your afflictions, yea, insomuch that they have risen up in rebellion against me, and also those of my people who are freemen” (Alma 58:34/59:13/61:2-3)

 

  1. Nobody knows where the ten tribes of Israel are.
  • “And behold, there are many who are already lost from the knowledge of those who are at Jerusalem. Yea, the more part of all the tribes have been led away; and they are scattered to and fro upon the isles of the sea; and whither they are one of us knoweth, save that we know that they have been led away” (1 Nephi 22:4)

 

11. Lehi, and presumably other prophets that existed before, did not know the that “Jesus Christ” would be the name of the Messiah. The name of the Messiah was not known until it was revealed to Jacob by an angel.

  • “Wherefore, as I said unto you, it must needs be expedient that Christ—for in the last night the angel spake unto me that this should be his name–should come among the Jews, among those who are the more wicked part of the world; and they shall crucify him—for thus it behooveth our God, and there is none other nation on earth that would crucify their God” (2 Nephi 10:3)

Arguments against Denver Snuffer Jr. according to the Book of Mormon (Part I)

Once again, there is a new sect within the LDS church receiving some attention in the media, inspired by the teachings and revelations of a man named Denver Snuffer Jr. Like most apostate leaders, Denver Snuffer has many grievances against the LDS church, which include its pride, its financial investments, its violent history, and its corporate leadership.

Snuffer makes the following assertions against the current LDS Church (the articles referenced can be found at http://www.denversnuffer.com):

  1. The “church” should not have a hierarchical organization of priesthood authority who command its members. There is no single prophet or leader of Christ’s church.
  2. The church should not be a single institution, but rather a collection of small groups whose members have local autonomy over doctrines and principles.
  3. All members of the church should be equal in their ability to receive revelation or teach. We do not look to authoritative prophets or priests to command us what to preach or believe.
  4. The church should not build chapels or temples or try to assemble large groups of people in a single location. It should instead follow the model of the early Christian church where small groups met in members’ homes.
  5. An evidence of the LDS Church’s wickedness is its wealth and corporate efficiency. Christ’s church should be poor.
  6. All members of the church should come together and participate in writing or proposing new doctrines and scriptures.

Snuffer justifies many of his arguments by appealing to the Book of Mormon. He suggests that the Book of Mormon “gives a blueprint of the necessary steps for the gentiles to take for them to become numbered with the remnant and entitled to possess the promised land as their inheritance” (Things to Keep us Awake at Night, p. 28). According to Snuffer, the Lord agrees, stating “The Book of Mormon was given as my covenant for this day and contains my gospel, which came forth to allow people to understand my work and then obtain my salvation” (Answer to the Prayer for Covenant, p. 3)

For this reason I will refer to the Book of Mormon to respond to Snuffer’s assertions:

SNUFFER ARGUMENT #1: The “church” should not be a single institution, but rather small groups of members who are only bound spiritually. These fellowships should be unique to meet the individual needs of their members.

  • We don’t need to create yet another institutional opportunity to abuse one another. We don’t need to repeat the terrible mistakes that hijacked the opportunity offered by the Lord through Joseph Smith. We should learn from the corrupt institutions claiming Joseph as their founder. I don’t care who thinks they are awake to our awful situation, or how soft their heart is, or how inclined they are to follow God, the Mormon institutions are the perfect mouse trap” (Things to Keep us Awake at Night, p. 27)
  • We seek to belong to that spiritual body, not an institution created by men on earth, subject to the laws of man, and capable of interfering with faith in God. The presiding leader of that congregation is Christ. Seek for a spiritual “Church” as defined by the Lord in the revelations. (D&C 10:67) We want to find that group of believers who will accept and abide covenants from God. Those who are spiritually connected, not institutionally connected. “Church” as defined by the Lord in the revelations (D&C 10:67), not “church” as defined by filing with the corporate Secretary of State creating an institution that owns property” (Things to Keep us Awake at Night, p. 27)

ANSWER: Christ’s church is a single entity. Even though all members meet in different places, they are all subject to a single church organization and all follow the same doctrine.

  • “King Mosiah granted unto Alma that he might establish churches throughout all the land of Zarahemla; and gave him power to ordain priests and teachers over every church. Now this was done because there were so many people that they could not all be governed by one teacher; neither could they all hear the word of God in one assembly; Therefore they did assemble themselves together in different bodies, being called churches; every church having their priests and their teachers, and every priest preaching the word according as it was delivered to him by the mouth of Alma. And thus, notwithstanding there being many churches they were all one church, yea, even the church of God; for there was nothing preached in all the churches except it were repentance and faith in God” (Mosiah 25:19-22)

SNUFFER ARGUMENT #2: We can all receive revelation, prophecy, authority, etc. Therefore, anyone should be able to teach or preach doctrines in the church.

  • “While I claim no right to control, manage or command any other person, I do claim the right to teach. Like any other person who believes in something greater than him or herself, we all have the right to teach what is important to us and have others consider” (Things to Keep us Awake at Night, p. 23)
  • “But I require a statement of principles to be adopted by the mutual agreement of my people, for if you cannot do so you will be unable to accomplish other works that I will require at your hands. When you have an agreed statement of principles I require it to also be added as a guide and standard for my people to follow” (Answer to a Prayer for Covenant, p. 8)

ANSWER: Alma, when he established the church of Christ, specifically ordained people to teach and preach. No one else had authority to teach the doctrines of the church.

  • “And now, Alma was their high priest, he being the founder of their church. And it came to pass that none received authority to preach or to teach except it were by him from God. Therefore he consecrated all their priests and all their teachers, and none were consecrated except they were just men” (Mosiah 23:16-17)
  • “every church having their priests and their teachers, and every priest preaching the word according as it was delivered to him by the mouth of Alma” (Mosiah 25:21)

SNUFFER ARGUMENT #3: There should be no hierarchical order in the church. There should be no prophet who claims to have power to command the church and pass that authority down to others. Local groups of saints should have autonomy to deal with their own issues.

  • “I would ask that we not be required to provide a statement of principles, but the people be left to govern themselves according to their varying circumstances, needs and desires” (Prayer for Covenant, p. 5)
  • “The “keystone” of Mormonism is the Book of Mormon. That book alerts its readers that there are many others from vastly different places with vastly different scriptures who are nonetheless Christ’s sheep. Book of Mormon readers are expected to search for, welcome and learn from them. In contrast, institutional Mormonism of all stripes confine trustworthy new religious ideas to their authorized leaders” (Other Sheep Indeed, p. 1)
  • “But even the concept of “continuing revelation” has been institutionally curtailed. The only institutionally authorized source for revelation is a single leader. When he is not gifted with that capacity, the concept of “continuing revelation” is given lip service without any substantive proof” (Other Sheep Indeed, p. 1)

 ANSWER #1: Alma and Alma the younger were given authority over the entire church in all its many locations.

  • “Now king Mosiah had given Alma the authority over the church” (Mosiah 26:7-8)
  • “And it came to pass that Alma did regulate all the affairs of the church; and they began again to have peace and to prosper exceedingly in the affairs of the church” (Mosiah 26:37)
  • “And it came to pass that Alma was appointed to be the first chief judge, he being also the high priest, his father having conferred the office upon him, and having given him the charge concerning all the affairs of the church” (Mosiah 29:42)
  • “And they began to establish the church more fully; yea, and many were baptized in the waters of Sidon and were joined to the church or God; yea, they were baptized by the hand of Alma, who had been consecrated the high priest over the people of the church, by the hand of his father Alma” (Alma 4:4)
  • “I, Alma, having been consecrated by my father, Alma, to be a high priest over the church of God, he having power and authority from God to do these things, behold, I say unto you that he began to establish a church in the land which was in the borders of Nephi” (Alma 5:3)
  • “And now it came to pass that when Alma had made these regulations he departed from them, yea, from the church which was in the city of Zarahemla…and Alma went and began to declare the word of God unto the church which was established in the valley of Gideon” (Alma 6:7-8)
  • “And now it came to pass that Alma returned from the land of Gideon, after having taught the people of Gideon many things which cannot be written, having established the order of the church, according as he had before done in the land of Zarahemla…And he began to teach the people in the land of Melek according to the holy order of God, by which he had been called” (Alma 8:1, 4)
  • “I am Alma, and am the high priest over the church of God throughout the land” (Alma 8:23)

ANSWER #2: Alma and Alma the younger gave commandments to the church for what they could preach and who could be baptized.

  • “And he commanded them that they should teach nothing save it were the things which he had taught, and which had been spoken by the mouth of the holy prophets. Yea, even he commanded them that they should preach nothing save it were repentance and faith on the Lord…And he commanded them that there should be no contention…And thus he commanded them to preach…And he commanded them that they should observe the Sabbath day…And he also commanded them that the priests he had ordained should labor with their own hands…And again Alma commanded that the people of the church should impart of their substance…And this he said unto them, having been commanded by God…” (Mosiah 18:19-24, 27, 29)
  • “Now there was a strict law among the people of the church, that there should not any man belonging to the church, arise and persecute those that did not belong to the church…” (Alma 1:21)
  • I speak by way of command unto you that belong to the church; and unto those who do not belong to the church I speak by way of invitation, saying: Come and be baptized unto repentance, that ye also may be partakers of the fruit of the tree of life” (Alma 5:62)
  • “And now we know that because we are not of thy church we know that thou has no power over us; and thou hast delivered up the judgment seat unto Nephihah; therefore thou art not the chief judge over us” (Alma 8:12)

ANSWER #3: There was a hierarchical organization of priesthood power in the Book of Mormon churches. If there were disputes among members, they appealed to the higher authorities in the church, with the high priest having the final say. Teachers reported to priests, and priests reported to the high priest or king (Alma, Alma the younger, and Mosiah).

  • “the church began to murmur, and complain to their leaders concerning the matter; and they did complain to Alma. And Alma laid the case before the king, Mosiah. And Mosiah consulted with his priests” (Mosiah 27:1)
  • “For it came to pass that they did deceive many with their flattering words, who were in the church, and did cause them to commit many sins; therefore it became expedient that those who committed sin, that were in the church, should be admonished by the church. And it came to pass that they were brought before the priests, and delivered up unto the priests by the teachers; and the priests brought them before Alma, who was the high priest. Now king Mosiah had given Alma the authority over the church” (Mosiah 26:6-9)

ANSWER #4: The church organization as described previously is approved by the Lord himself.

  1. “And blessed art thou because thou hast established a church among this people; and they shall be established, and they shall be my people” (Mosiah 26:17)
  2. “For behold, this is my church; whosoever is baptized shall be baptized unto repentance…” (Mosiah 26:22)

ANSWER #5: Even Jesus Christ, after his resurrection, organized a church with twelve disciples who were given special authority according to their calling. The calling of Priests and Elders continued until the days of Moroni.

  1. “(now the number of them who had been called, and received power and authority to baptize, was twelve) and behold, he stretched forth his hand unto the multitude, and cried unto them, saying: Blessed are ye if ye shall give heed unto the words of these twelve whom I have chosen from among you to minister unto you, and to be your servants; and unto them I have given power that they may baptize you with water; and after that ye are baptized with water, behold, I will baptize you with fire and with the Holy Ghost” (3 Nephi 12:1)
  2. “Behold, there shall one be ordained among you, and to him will I give power that he shall break bread and bless it and give it unto the people of my church” (3 Nephi 18:5)
  3. “the disciples bare record that he gave them power to give the Holy Ghost” (3 Nephi 18:37)
  4. “The manner which the disciples, who were called the elders of the church, ordained priests and teachers” (Moroni 3:1)

SNUFFER ARGUMENT #4: If we really want to create a unified society like those of Enoch and Melchizedek, then all members of the church should be “equal.” This means there are no prophets or high priests, just people of one heart and one mind.

  • The only examples we have of Zion are the two I have by-passed. Those two, Enoch and Melchizedek, did not follow the pattern of the others. They did one thing that escapes most people’s notice. They took disorganized people and assembled them into a unified body that was equal, of one heart and one mind, without any poor among them. There is no mention anywhere in scripture of a structure or hierarchy among either of these people. It is clear these two were both ranked among history’s most towering spiritual figures. But they led two communities of equals. They assumed no authority other than that of a teacher and preacher of repentance” (Things to Keep us Awake at Night, p. 27)

ANSWER: Having a hierarchy of priesthood authority within the church and being equal in the eyes of God are not mutually exclusive.

  • “And they were called the church of God, or the church of Christ, from that time forward. And it came to pass that whosoever was baptized by the power and authority of God was added to his church. And it came to pass that Alma, having authority from God, ordained priests, even one priest to every fifty of their number did he ordain to preach unto them, and to teach them concerning the things pertaining to the kingdom of God…And he commanded them that there should be no contention one with another, but that they should look forward with one eye, having one faith and one baptism, having their hearts knit together in unity and in love one towards another” (Mosiah 18:17-18, 21)
  • “And when the priests left their labor to impart the word of God unto the people, the people also left their labors to hear the word of God. And when the priest had imparted unto them the word of God they all returned again diligently unto their labors; and the priest, not esteeming himself above his hearers…and thus they were all equal, every man according to his strength” (Alma 1:26)

SNUFFER ARGUMENT #5: The LDS Church is wicked because it has money, land investments, and nice corporate office buildings. The true church of God should be poor.

  • “Mormonism has been a dismal underachiever. Its most wealthy sect is riddled with errors, controlled by an oligarchy of priestcraft, jealous of their power, wealth and influence. It has a criminal past, an unstable present, and an insecure future. That empire is diversifying its portfolio into land development, banking and business enterprises to replace the now diminishing tithing cashstream upon which the empire was built” (Things to Keep us Awake at Night, p. 8)

ANSWER: In the Book of Mormon, the righteous saints are blessed with riches AND they impart of their substance to the needy and poor.

  • “And thus they did established the affairs of the church; and thus they began to have continual peace again, notwithstanding all their persecutions. And now, because of the steadiness of the church they began to be exceedingly rich, having abundance of all things whatsoever they stood in need—an abundance of flocks and herds, and fatlings of every kind, and also abundance of grain, and of gold, and of silver, and of precious things, and abundance of silk and fine-twined linen, and all manner of good homely cloth. And thus, in their prosperous circumstances, they did not send away any who were naked, or that were hungry, or that were athirst, or that were sick, or that had not been nourished; and they did not set their hearts upon riches; therefore they were liberal to all, both old and young, both bond and free, both male and female, whether out of the church or in the church, having no respect to persons as to those who stood in need. And thus they did prosper and become far more wealthy than those who did not belong to their church” (Alma 1:28-31)

Answers to the Alt-Right according to the Book of Mormon

There exists an “Alternative-Right” (Alt-Right) movement among some members of the LDS church. In spite of the LDS church’s recent statement condemning white nationalism (see here), many within the LDS church who identify as Alt-Right remain vigilant in support of white nationalism. The Alt-Right’s political stances tend to vary, but the most common points of agreement among various alt-right factions can be found here. On it’s face, it seems like a fairly reasonable list, but after reading many blog posts from Alt-Right supporters (for example, https://wifewithapurpose.com/, or the former http://www.redgulls.com), their arguments sound more like this:

  • The United States of America will face moral and economic collapse if it does not maintain a white majority.
  • All forms of immigration from people of color should be severely restricted so that other cultures supposedly more prone to violence and moral degeneracy do not denigrate the white cultural heritage of the U.S.
  • There should be no free-trade between nations. Free-trade between nations benefits poorer nations at the expense of white blue collar workers.
  • And for the LDS Alt-Right, the gospel should be spread across the world but non-white members from other nations should stay within their own borders. Charitable contributions should also stay within the borders of the U.S.

The LDS Alt-Right may justify their support for these principles scripturally by making a false equivalency between the struggle between the Lamanites and the Nephites and present-day immigration in the United States.

To answer some of these claims, I have included arguments and scriptures below that the LDS Alt-Right may make to support their principles. Under each argument is a response I have made based on passages of the Book of Mormon. I have excluded any “love thy neighbor” scriptures from the arguments because the Alt-Right claims to love everyone; they just want people of color to stay far away. NOTE: These “responses” I make should not be taken as advocacy for or against any specific government policy. Rather, I am trying to convey a general mindset founded in the Book of Mormon as an alternative to the conclusions of the LDS Alt-Right:

Alt-Right Argument #1: The Lamanites were given dark skin so that the white Nephites would not mix with them. They were also separated because the Lamanites had a wicked culture. Like the Nephites and the Lamanites, white people in the U.S. should not mix with cultures of people of color to preserve the more righteous white culture.

  • “as they were white, and exceedingly fair and delightsome, that they might not be enticing unto my people the Lord God did cause a skin of blackness to come upon themAnd cursed shall be the seed of him that mixeth with their seed, for they shall be cursed even with the same cursing.” (2 Nephi 5:21, 23)
  • “And because of their cursing which was upon them they did become an idle people, full of mischief and subtlety, and did seek in the wilderness for beasts of prey” (2 Nephi 5:24)

Response: The Nephites continuously sought to make peace with the Lamanites and cure them of their hatred towards the Nephites. Like the Nephites, members of the LDS church should seek out every opportunity to reach out to all nations and cultures, including those who openly hate us.

  • “And it came to pass that many means were devised to reclaim and restore the Lamanites to the knowledge of the truth” (Jacob 7:24)
  • “And I bear record that the people of Nephi did seek diligently to restore the Lamanites unto the true faith in God.” (Enos 1:20)
  • “the sons of Mosiah…desired of him that he would grant unto them that they might…preach the things which they had heard, and that they might impart the word of God to their brethren, the Lamanites—That perhaps they might bring them to the knowledge of the Lord their God, and convince them of the iniquity of their fathers; and that perhaps they might cure them of their hatred towards the Nephites, that they might also be brought to rejoice in the Lord their God, that they might become friendly to one another, and that there should be no more contentions in all the land which the Lord their God had given them.” (Mosiah 28:1-2)

Alt-Right Argument #2: The Nephites separated themselves from the Lamanites geographically so that they would not be overrun. In addition, the Nephites were eventually destroyed because they were outnumbered by the Lamanites. Like the Nephites, white people in the U.S. should build strong borders and have as many white children as possible to protect against invading immigrants

  • “And it came to pass that the Nephites had inhabited the land Bountiful, even from the east unto the west sea, and thus the Nephites in their wisdom, with their guards and their armies, had hemmed in the Lamanites on the south, that thereby they should have no more possession on the north, that they might not overrun the land northward. Therefore the Lamanites could have no more possessions only in the land of Nephi, and the wilderness round about. Now this was wisdom in the Nephites—as the Lamanites were an enemy to them, they would not suffer their afflictions on every hand, and also that they might have a country whither they might flee, according to their desires” (Alma 22:33-34)
  • “And they were scattered upon much of the face of the land, and the Lamanites also. And they were exceedingly more numerous than were they of the Nephites; and they loved murder and would drink the blood of beasts” (Jarom 1:6)

Response: Few would disagree that the U.S. should be strategically protected from foreign invaders. The Lamanites, however, at that time were an actual invading army bent on killing all of the Nephites. Immigrants who want to work and freely trade in the U.S. are not an invading army. When the Nephites and the Lamanites had free-trade and immigration, there was peace and economic prosperity for all. In addition, a union of the Lamanites and Nephites was even necessary to defeat a common enemy; the Gadianton robbers. These Lamanites were then assimilated with the Nephites. Like the Nephites, we should allow immigrants of other cultures to live here peaceably

  • “the Lamanites…delighted in wars and bloodshed, and they had an eternal hatred against us, their brethren. And they sought by the power of their arms to destroy us continually” (Jacob 7:24)
  • “And behold, there was peace in all the land, insomuch that the Nephites did go into whatsoever part of the land they would, whether among the Nephites or the Lamanites. And it came to pass that the Lamanites did also go whithersoever they would, whether it were among the Lamanites or among the Nephites; and thus they did have free intercourse one with another, to buy and to sell, and to get gain, according to their desire. And it came to pass that they became exceedingly rich…And thus the sixty and fourth year did pass away in peace.” (Helaman 6:7-9, 13)
  • “it became expedient that all the people, both the Nephites and the Lamanites, should take up arms against them [the Gadianton robbers]. Therefore, all the Lamanites who had become converted unto the Lord did unite with their brethren, the Nephites…And it came to pass that those Lamanites who had united with the Nephites were numbered among the Nephites” (3 Nephi 2:11, 12, 14)

Alt-Right Argument #3: White members of the LDS church should be less charitable to people oversees or to refugees and should instead focus on helping their own people in the U.S.

Response: The Nephites were charitable to all people, both within and without the church. The Nephites also accepted refugees who were fleeing violence. We should also be charitable to all people and be willing to accept refugees fleeing violence.

  • “when Ammon and his brethren saw this great work of destruction, they were moved with compassion, and they said unto the king [of the Lamanites]: Let us gather together this people of the Lord, and let us go down to the land of Zarahemla to our brethren the Nephites, and flee out of the hands of our enemies, that we be not destroyed…And it came to pass that the voice of the people [the Nephites] came, saying: Behold, we will give up the land of Jershon…And behold, we will set our armies between the land Jershon and the land Nephi, that we may protect our brethren in the land Jershon…” (Alma 27:4, 22-23)
  • “And thus, in their prosperous circumstances, they did not send away any who were naked, or that were hungry, or that were athirst, or that were sick, or that had not been nourished; and they did not set their hearts upon riches; therefore they were liberal to all, both old and young, both bond and free, both male and female, whether out of the church or in the church, having no respect to persons as to those who stood in need” (Alma 1:30)

Alt-Right Argument #4: Russell M. Nelson said that the gathering place for the saints in Brasil is in Brasil, etc. This means that members of the LDS church in other nations should stay in their own lands.

  • “The Lord has decreed the establishment of Zion in each realm where He has given His Saints their birth and nationality. Scripture foretells that the people “shall be gathered home to the lands of their inheritance, and shall be established in all their lands of promise.” “Every nation is the gathering place for its own people.” The place of gathering for Brazilian Saints is in Brazil; the place of gathering for Nigerian Saints is in Nigeria; the place of gathering for Korean Saints is in Korea; and so forth. Zion is “the pure in heart.” Zion is wherever righteous Saints are.” (https://www.lds.org/general-conference/2006/10/the-gathering-of-scattered-israel.p12?lang=eng)

Response: Write a letter to Elder Nelson and see if he agrees with your interpretation of his quote. He was clearly stating that members of the LDS church should feel no obligation to gather in Salt Lake City, but that saints everywhere can create their own Zion where they live. Nowhere does he say “we want all the people of color to leave and we don’t want any more to immigrate here because they will destroy our white culture”

ADDITIONAL POINTS FOR THE ALT-RIGHT MEMBERS OF THE LDS CHURCH TO CONSIDER

God probably doesn’t care what your culture is. The Pharisees and Sadducees also thought they were special because of their heritage. God only cares that you keep his commandments

John the Baptist criticized the Pharisees and Sadducees, who believed they had no reason to repent for their sins because of their being heirs of the Abrahamic covenant. John mocks their feelings of superiority based on their heritage by stating:

“And think not to say within yourselves, We have Abraham to our father: for I say unto you, that God is able of these stones to raise up children unto Abraham” (Matthew 3:9). It is my opinion that John would say the same thing to white nationalists who advocate expelling non-white cultures from the U.S. in the name of preserving a white majority.

 

No member of the church should ever revile against anyone based on the color of their skin. Members of the LDS church should only worry about their own iniquities

“Wherefore, a commandment I give unto you, which is the word of God, that ye revile no more against them [the Lamanites] because of the darkness of their skins; neither shall ye revile against them because of their filthiness; but ye shall remember your own filthiness, and remember that their filthiness came because of their fathers” (Jacob 3:9)

 

Does the Book of Mormon Plagiarize the Bible?

Critics argue that the large number of similarities between the Book of Mormon and the Bible suggest that Joseph Smith is guilty of plagiarism. While the characters in the Book of Mormon often give credit to the Biblical authors they are quoting (see 1 Nephi 20-21/2 Nephi 7-8/Mosiah 14/3 Nephi 12-14, 22, 24-25), there are other instances where it seems significant sections of the Bible are borrowed by Book of Mormon characters without citing the original authors (see Moroni 10:8-23/Ether 12/Moroni 7:44-46/Alma 13:14-20). There are many explanations justifying the existence of Biblical passages in the Book of Mormon (click here for my take). The most common arguments are that the Holy Spirit and ministering angels are capable of revealing the same doctrines to people separated across time and location (2 Nephi 29:7-8/Alma 39:17-19), or that the Book of Mormon and the Bible are both citing from earlier source material that has been lost over time (1 Nephi 13:23-27/Jacob 5).

Regardless of how authors in the Book of Mormon were able to write passages similar to passages in the Bible, it should be acknowledged that citing another author’s work without giving credit to the original author (plagiarism) is common in the Bible. It is therefore unjustified to fault the Book of Mormon for borrowed concepts without also condemning the Biblical prophets for the same actions.

Here are just a few examples in the Old and New Testaments of prophets plagiarizing each other’s writings:

  1. Armor of righteousness = (Isaiah 59:17)/(Ephesians 6:13-17)/(II Corinthians 6:7)
  2. As sheep having no shepherd = (Matthew 9:36)/(Numbers 27:17)
  3. Babylon is fallen = (Revelation 14:8)/(Isaiah 21:9)
  4. Blot out their iniquities = (Psalm 51:9)/(Isaiah 43:25)
  5. Blot out their name in the book of life = (Psalms 69:28)/(Revelation 3:5)
  6. Both soul and body = (Isaiah 10:18)/(Matthew 10:28)
  7. Days are as a flowers of grass in the field = (Psalm 103:15-16)/(James 1:10)/(1 Peter 1:24)
  8. Day of vengeance = (Luke 21:22)/(Jeremiah 46:10)/(Isaiah 61:2)
  9. Eat, drink, be merry; tomorrow we die = (I Corinthians 15:32)/(Isaiah 22:13)
  10. Fear not what man can do = (Hebrews 13:6)/(Psalms 118:6)
  11. Feet on the mountains who publish peace = (Nahum 1:15)/(Isaiah 52:7)
  12. Feet like brass = (Revelation 1:15)/(Ezekiel 1:7)
  13. Fountain of living waters = (Revelation 7:17)/(Jeremiah 2:13)/(Psalm 36:9)
  14. Give his life a ransom = (Mark 10:45)/(1 Timothy 2:6)/(Isaiah 35:10)/(Jeremiah 31:11)/(Hosea 13:14)
  15. God is a consuming fire = (Hebrews 12:29)/(Deuteronomy 4:24)
  16. God of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob = (Acts 3:13)/(Exodus 3:15)
  17. Heaven, earth, and all that in them is = (Acts 4:24)/(Exodus 20:11)
  18. Heaven is the Lord’s throne, and the earth is his footstool = (Matthew 5:34-35)/(Isaiah 66:1)
  19. Heaven rolled together as a scroll = (Isaiah 34:4)/(Revelation 6:14)
  20. Lamb to the slaughter = (Jeremiah 11:19)/(Psalms 44:22)/(Isaiah 53:7)
  21. Light to the Gentiles = (Isaiah 49:6)/(Acts 13:47)
  22. Make intercession = (Jeremiah 27:18)/(Isaiah 53:12)/(Hebrews 7:25)
  23. Mark the righteous on their foreheads = (Ezekiel 9:4)/(Revelation 7:3)
  24. Marvelous are thy works = (Psalms 139:14)/(Revelation 15:3)
  25. Meek will inherit the earth = (Matthew 5:5)/(Psalm 37:11)
  26. Mercy endureth forever = (Jeremiah 33:11)/(Psalms 106:1)
  27. Mountains, fall on us = (Hosea 10:8)/(Luke 23:30)
  28. New name = (Isaiah 62:2)/(Revelation 2:17)
  29. New heaven and new earth = (Isaiah 65:17/66:22)/(Revelation 21:1)/(2 Peter 3:13)
  30. No respect of persons = (1 Peter 1:17)/(2 Chronicles 19:7)
  31. One heart = (Jeremiah 32:39)/(Ezekiel 11:19)/(Acts 4:32)
  32. Perverse and crooked generation/nation = (Deut 32:5)/(Phil 2:15)
  33. Rock of his salvation = (Deuteronomy 32:15)/(Psalm 95:1)
  34. Rod of iron = (Psalms 2:9)/(Revelation 2:27)
  35. Seeing they see not, hearing they hear not = (Jeremiah 5:21)/(Matthew 13:13)/(Ezekiel 12:2)
  36. Signs and wonders = (Deuteronomy 28:46)/(Hebrews 2:4)
  37. Sing a new song = (Revelation 14:3)/(Psalms 144:9)
  38. Sow among thorns = (Matthew 13:7)/(Jeremiah 4:3)
  39. Sun and moon refuse to shine = (Isaiah 13:10)/(Matthew 24:29)
  40. Table of thy heart = (Proverbs 7:3)/(2 Corinthians 3:3)
  41. Tree of life = (Revelation 2:7)/(Proverbs 3:18)
  42. Triest the hearts and reins = (Psalm 7:9)/(Jeremiah 11:20/20:12)/(Revelation 2:23)
  43. Uncircumcised of heart = (Jeremiah 9:26)/(Ezekiel 44:7)/(Acts 7:51)
  44. Imagination of the heart = (Romans 1:21)/(Jeremiah 13:10)
  45. Wax old like a garment = (Psalms 102:26)/(Isaiah 50:9)/(Hebrews 1:11)
  46. Voice sounded like great waters = (Ezekiel 1:24)/(Revelation 1:15)

Why does the Book of Mormon quote the New Testament?

Members of the LDS faith believe that the Book of Mormon is a true history of an ancient people (the Nephites) that lived on the American continent from around 592 B.C. to 425 A.D. The Book of Mormon contains hundreds (if not thousands) of references to the Old and New Testaments, which include names, doctrines, symbols, idiomatic expressions, and direct quotes. In some instances, the Book of Mormon contains words, phrases, or doctrines that appear exclusively in the New Testament. This is problematic because the Book of Mormon quotes several New Testament phrases hundreds of years before Christ was born. Critics argue that these anachronisms prove that the Book of Mormon is a 19th century work of fiction. While each example of New Testament quotes appearing in the Book of Mormon is different and can be afforded its own explanation, here are some general reasons for why New Testament phrases may be found in the Book of Mormon.

  1. The Brass Plates contained writings not found in today’s Old Testament. These could have provided source material for the Apostle’s writings in the New Testament

Nephi and his brothers obtained brass plates from Laban that contained the five books of Moses, writings of the prophets up until Jeremiah, and Lehi’s genealogy (1 Nephi 5:11-14). The brass plates contained writings from at least three other prophets that are not found in the Old or New Testaments. These prophets were Zenos, Zenock, and Neum, each of whom specifically prophesied concerning the Son of God (1 Nephi 19:10-17/Jacob 5/Alma 33:3-16). They also contained revelations from Jacob of the Old Testament (Alma 46:24) and Joseph his son (2 Nephi 3:6-22). In addition, an angel of the Lord tells Nephi that the brass plates contain more writings than are found in today’s Old Testament (1 Nephi 13:23). It should also be noted that the Nephites received additional scripture from the records of the Jaredites (Omni 1:20-22/Mosiah 28:11-17) and potentially from writings on the temple wall interpreted by Aminadab (Alma 10:2). It is therefore possible that phrases found in the New Testament have their origin in other scriptures found in the brass plates but not in today’s Old Testament. One example is found in Romans 11:16-25 in the New Testament and Jacob 5 (written by Zenos) in the Book of Mormon. Both authors compare the house of Israel to an olive tree and refer to Gentiles being grafted into the house of Israel. Since the prophet Zenos is believed to have lived centuries before Paul, some argue that Paul was basing his writings on the allegory of the olive tree found in the brass plates.

  1. The Nephites received more revelations than did the Jews in Jerusalem because of their righteousness. These revelations and teachings could have been the same teachings given to the Apostles by angels and the Holy Spirit

Lehi and his family were led by the Lord out of Jerusalem because of their righteousness (1 Nephi 2:1-2). The Nephites, therefore, received more revelation than the Jews in Jerusalem (Jacob 4:12-14/Alma 9:19-23). Here are some examples of prophets in the Book of Mormon having New Testament principles revealed to them by visions, angels, and the Spirit of the Lord:

  • Lehi sees a vision of the 12 apostles and receives a book of revelation (1 Nephi 1:10)
  • Lehi predicts the date in which Christ will be born (1 Nephi 10:4)
  • Lehi sees a vision of John the Baptist baptizing Jesus Christ (1 Nephi 10:7-10)
  • Lehi prophesies that the house of Israel will be compared to an Olive Tree (1 Nephi 10:12)
  • Nephi sees a vision of Christ’s birth (1 Nephi 11:18-20)
  • Nephi sees a vision of today’s Bible. Many doctrines contained therein have been lost (1 Nephi 13:19-27)
  • Nephi sees John the Revelator and much of what he saw (1 Nephi 14:20-27)
  • Jacob learns the name of Christ (2 Nephi 10:3)
  • The Book of Mormon is a second witness of God and the Bible, to prove that God is the same yesterday, today, and forever (2 Nephi 29:6-9)
  • Nephi receives a commandment from God that all should be baptized (2 Nephi 31:4-15)
  • Jacob has angels minister to him regularly (Jacob 7:5)
  • King Benjamin sees an angel who tells him of Christ’s birth and purpose (Mosiah 3:2-11)
  • Abinadi is commanded of the Lord to prophesy of Christ’s coming (Mosiah 12:1/Mosiah 15)
  • Alma is given authority from the Holy Spirit to baptize (Mosiah 18:13)
  • King Lamoni and the queen see the Savior and minister to their people (Alma 19:12-13, 29-31)
  • Alma says that it is just as easy for the Lord to send an angel to declare future events as it is for him to send an angel during or after the event (Alma 39:15-19)
  • Alma predicts the year that the Nephites will begin to be destroyed (Alma 45:10)
  • Samuel the Lamanite predicts signs of the birth and death of Christ (Helaman 14)
  • The Lord tells Nephi the day he will be born (3 Nephi 1:11-14)
  • Christ appears in the Americas and teaches them (3 Nephi 11)
  • Christ gives the Nephites scriptures they did not have previously (3 Nephi 23:6/3 Nephi 24-25)
  • The Brother of Jared sees Christ and sees unspeakable visions (Ether 3)
  • Moroni remembers the word of the Lord as found in the New Testament (Ether 12:32-37)
  • Ether sees the New Jerusalem (Ether 13:3-6)
  • Mormon receives the words of the Savior by the Holy Ghost (Moroni 8:7-9)

While unlikely to satisfy critics, the Book of Mormon provides many plausible explanations as to why it shares so much in common with the New Testament.

Are the LDS Church’s Financial Investments Contrary to Gospel Teachings?

When Mitt Romney was running for president in 2012, the LDS church came under fire for its lucrative financial investments. While the LDS Church claims to have given over $1.3 in humanitarian aid over the last 20 years, critics point out that this is only a small amount of the LDS Church’s actual annual income from financial investments such as malls, ranches, farms, real estate, media, etc. (See https://www.bloomberg.com/news/photo-essays/2012-07-12/the-mormon-global-business-empire and http://archive.sltrib.com/story.php?ref=/sltrib/news/54478720-78/church-money-lds-mall.html.csp)

Critics of the LDS Church enjoy referring to the church as a corporation rather than a religious institution, and even argue that such financial investments go against the fundamental teachings of Christ which seem to chastise the wealthy and those who seek for riches (Luke 18:22-25/James 2:5-6). A central theme of the Book of Mormon is the repeated warnings of the dangers of pride resulting from economic prosperity, and it chastises those who seek for riches before serving God (Alma 39:14/Helaman 6:17/Helaman 12:2). It goes so far as to suggest that churches are robbing the poor when they spend money on expensive materials (2 Nephi 28:13). On the other hand, the Book of Mormon states that it is possible for a rich person to use their wealth for good (Jacob 2:19). It is even possible for the saints to be rich and yet not be prideful (Alma 62:48-49).

I cannot effectively argue what the economic impacts are of the LDS Church’s financial investments, or whether such activities are effective in reducing poverty, increasing prosperity, and reducing human suffering. I don’t know whether it is inherently more Christ-like for the LDS Church to give away all its money in the form of welfare checks to the poor than it is to both give money to the poor and invest in a city’s or nation’s economy. There are, however, many verses in the Book of Mormon that could potentially justify the LDS Church in seeking to increase the economic prosperity of its members and non-members beyond simply handing out cash to every person below an arbitrary socio-economic threshold.

  1. The saints in the Book of Mormon are commanded to labor with their hands for their own support (excluding the sick and otherwise afflicted). It is possible that the LDS Church’s financial investments help members and non-members fulfill that commandment.

 

  • “And it came to pass that I, Nephi, did cause my people to be industrious, and to labor with their hands” (2 Nephi 5:17)
  • “And he also commanded them that the priests whom he had ordained should labor with their own hands for their support” (Mosiah 18:24)
  • “That they should let no pride nor haughtiness disturb their peace; that every man should esteem his neighbor as himself, laboring with their own hands for their support. Yea, and all their priests and teachers should labor with their own hands for their support, in all cases save it were in sickness, or in much want; and doing these things, they did abound in the grace of God” (Mosiah 27:4-5)
  • “Therefore, all the prisoners of the Lamanites did join the people of Ammon, and did begin to labor exceedingly…” (Alma 62:29)

 

  1. The saints in the Book of Mormon are an industrious people who build buildings and manufacture all sorts of material goods. It is possible that the LDS Church’s financial investments help members and non-members be more industrious.

 

  • “And I did teach my people to build buildings, and to work in all manner of wood, and or iron, and of copper, and of brass, and of steel, and of gold, and of silver, and of precious ores, which were in great abundance” (2 Nephi 5:15)
  • “And we multiplied exceedingly, and spread upon the face of the land, and became exceedingly rich in gold, and in silver, and in precious things, and in fine workmanship of wood, in buildings, and in machinery, and also in iron and copper, and brass and steel, making all manner of tools of every kind to till the ground, and weapons of war—year, the sharp pointed arrow, and the quiver, and the dart, and the javelin, and all preparations for war” (Jarom 1:8)
  • “And they were exceedingly industrious, and they did buy and sell and traffic one with another, that they might get gain…And they did work in all manner of ore…And they did work all manner of cloth…And they did make all manner of tools to till the earth…And they did make all manner of weapons of war” (Ether 10:22-27)

 

  1. The saints in the Book of Mormon must refrain from being idle or lazy. The LDS Church is potentially helping people refrain from idleness through its financial investments. 

 

  • “See that ye refrain from idleness” (Alma 38:12)
  • “Now they were a lazy and an idolatrous people; therefore they were desirous to bring us into bondage, that they might glut themselves with the labors of our hands; yea, that they might feast themselves upon the flocks of our fields” (Mosiah 9:12)
  • “Yea, and thus they were supported in their laziness, and in their idolatry, and in their whoredoms, by the taxes which king Noah had put upon his people; thus did the people labor exceedingly to support iniquity” (Mosiah 11:6)

 

  1. Economic prosperity can benefit the society as a whole, provided the people follow the commandments of God. If the LDS Church’s financial investments improve economic prosperity for all, then they are fulfilling the Lord’s promises to the people of this land as described in the Book of Mormon.

 

  • “And we did observe to keep the judgments, and the statutes, and the commandments of the Lord in all things, according to the law of Moses. And the Lord was with us; and we did prosper exceedingly; for we did sow seed, and we did reap again in abundance. And we began to raise flocks, and herds, and animals of every kind” (2 Nephi 5:10-11)
  • “Yea, and many did preach with exceedingly great power and authority, unto the bringing down many of them into the depths of humility, to be the humble followers of God and the Lamb…And behold, there was peace in all the land…and thus they did have free intercourse one with another, to buy and to sell, and to get gain, according to their desire. And it came to pass that they became exceedingly rich…and there were also curious workmen, who did work all kinds of ore and did refine it; and thus they did become rich. They did raise grain in abundance…And in the sixty and fifth year they did also have great joy and peace, yea, much preaching and many prophecies concerning that which was to come.” (Helaman 6:5, 7-9, 11, 12, 14)
  • “And the people of Nephi began to prosper again in the land, and began to multiply and to wax exceedingly strong again in the land. And they began to grow exceedingly rich. But notwithstanding their riches, or their strength, or their prosperity, they were not lifted up in the pride of their eyes; neither were they slow to remember the Lord their God; but they did humble themselves exceedingly before him” (Alma 62:48-49)