Bill McKeever Responds to the Book of Mormon Answer Man Web Site
On July 22, 1998, I received an e-mail from one of our readers that said he had read a letter posted on The Book of Mormon Answer Man web site bearing my name. Not recalling ever writing such a letter, I logged on to read the following post from “Bill McKeever, Protestant Christian, Age: 35-49, Submitted: 1998-07-05 00:00:00, Record:1851, S:1”:
“I run what you would call an “anti- Mormon” ministry. You would be hard- pressed to find any person who would say that LDS missionaries are motivated by anything but a sincere desire to share their faith with those who are not members of their Church. Why is it then, when Bible- believing Christians (such as myself among others) desire to shear their faith with a member of the LDS Church, we are often accused of being hateful and bigoted. Any effort on their part to discuss the teachings of Mormonism is often looked upon as an act of persecution. Is this right? What I do at my ministry is try to educate Christian about the beliefs of your Church. I try to defend what I believe is scared (sic), which 50,000+ LDS missionaries are going door to door telling people are not. If all those missionaries can tell people that my Church is an “abomination in the sight of God” as the Mormon god told young Joseph, and when Brigham Young tells us that Christians is a “pack of nonsense” (JOD 6:167), and that we are “heathens as to the knowledge of the salvation of God” (JOD 8:171). Am I wrong, should your missionaries have the right to tell them my church is wrong and has no authority, but I can’t do the same with out the tag “hateful anti- Mormon”?
In response, an unnamed Mormon wrote the following answer:
This actually is a fair question because there is most definitely some confusion on the matter.
If we were promoting our own ideas and had no authority from the Lord, then we would most definitely be hypocrites to make such bold statements. But it is not us who made the original statement. The missionaries tell the true account of what the Lord said, which is that all their creeds were an abomination in His sight; that those professors were all corrupt; that “they draw near to me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me; they teach for doctrines the commandments of men: having a form of godliness, but they deny the power thereof.” (see the Joseph Smith story). It is no different than preaching scripture when we teach it. But when others attack our beliefs, without a specific authority from the Lord, then it is the work of a man, even though they have every freedom to do so. All should be able to worship how they please, and make choices on what they hear.
Joseph Smith received authority from the Lord, and was called to be the prophet of the Lord Jesus Christ in this latter day. Like a Moses. That is a truth that I know by the Spirit. And he was most definitely instrumental in the hands of the Lord to bring much light and truth to the world.
It was through this prophet that Jesus Christ restored His authority and priesthood once again to the earth. It was through Joseph Smith that Jesus Christ sent revelation upon revelation, and brought once again the fulness of the gospel to the earth. A fulness which was dimmed by the great apostasy that took place during the dark ages.
I testify to the truthfulness of this work, a marvelous work and a wonder, and hope that people will just give these things a faithful chance, and by humbly and prayerfully considering all these things will come to a knowledge and testimony of the restored gospel of Jesus Christ.”
Because I did not send this letter which bears my name, I sent a message on July 28, 1998 to the Book of Mormon Answer Man web site asking them to kindly remove the letter as well as my name from their “search” database. Needless to say, I was quite surprised to get the following response from Grant Johnson on August 13th:
It is rare that we ever delete the contributions of any individual who participates on our site. Since we can not verify who is sending in the questions with absolute certainty, we are not in the policing business of these things anymore than a newsgroup would attempt to do this. If the questions have educational merit, they are used on the site. It is very possible that you are a case of mistaken identity as well, and that there are several Bill McKeever’s out in the world. Since we don’t ask for photos and addresses of our submitters, we will never know for sure who the persons are that submit material. This is the nature of the Internet.
This is the same principle that applies to your ability to publish biased info on mrm.org that flies in the face of reason and truth (such as the trash story about Emma trying to poison Joseph Smith), we don’t know much about the people that are promoting such negative information. We don’t know much about you. I don’t know that this email even came from Bill McKeever at mrm, for sure.
While not atypical, I found Mr. Johnson’s reply to be quite unprofessional. Thinking perhaps that he lacked in his deductive reasoning skills, I sent the following reply on August 14th:
I must say I was miffed by your response to my request to have the letter bearing my name removed from the Book of Mormon Answer Man site.
Correct me if I am wrong, but I assume you will not remove it because you cannot verify whether or not some other person by the name of Bill McKeever may have written it.
Please think for a moment: How many Bill McKeevers are there in this world? How many are between the ages of 35-49? How many are interested in Mormonism? How many have ministries to Mormons? How many would care to address your site? How many of those would use material from articles I have written in the past? I think if you use some simple deductive reasoning, you will see that since I have told you the letter is not mine, that someone has used my name surreptitiously. If you do not remove it, I will assume you are accusing me of lying.
Again, I ask you to remove the post as well as my name from your database. I would appreciate a prompt reply as to your decision.
As of this writing (September 12, 1998), Mr. Johnson has not offered me the courtesy of a reply nor has he seen that my request be met. This leads me to wonder, “How many other letters does the Book of Mormon Answer Man web site post that have a dubious nature? If they will continue to print the letter that erroneously bears my name, how many others are not legitimate posts?”
First of all, I personally would never say I run an “anti-Mormon” ministry. I feel the term is offensive and used by Mormons only as a means to question the motives of those who challenge the claims of the LDS Church. Whoever wrote this letter apparently took the contents from one of many articles we include in our temple newspaper used at LDS temple open houses. While the person who sent this letter may have had the best of intentions, the fact remains, I did not send it.
Having said this, I would like to respond to the answer that was given on the web site as well as Mr. Johnson’s comments made to me in his posts.
The argument, “when others attack our beliefs, without a specific authority from the Lord, then it is the work of a man,” is a two-edged sword that Mormons often blindly use to justify the negative comments made by LDS leaders regarding Christians and their
beliefs. Where each gets their authority is one of the primary subjects of the debate. Mormons claim to get their authority via the words of a self-proclaimed prophet and his 19th century novel; Christians claim their authority is based in the time-proven Word of God, the Bible, a set of 66 books also accepted as scripture by the Mormon Church. When Mormon leaders like Gordon Hinckley insist they never say negative things about other churches (as he did in his September 8, 1998 interview with Larry King), they promulgate a falsehood that needs to be responded to. To justify these negative comments on the basis that a Mormon feels they are true only serves to demonstrate their arrogance, not a legitimate response.
Just as the Mormon feels he has authority from the Lord to say what he does, the Christian does also since they believe this authority comes directly from the Word of God. If the Mormon expects us to respect their conclusions, they should also respect ours.
Mr. Johnson immediately goes into attack mode and questions what he calls our “ability to publish biased info on mrm.org that flies in the face of reason and truth (such as the trash story about Emma trying to poison Joseph Smith), we don’t know much about the people that are promoting such negative information.” Mr. Johnson refers to a quote on our web site by Brigham Young which read:
“To my certain knowledge Emma Smith is one of the damdest (sic) liars I know of on this earth; yet there is no good thing I would refuse to do for her, if she would only be a righteous woman; but she will continue in her wickedness. Not six months before the death of Joseph, he called his wife Emma into a secret council, and there he told her the truth, and called upon her to deny it if she could. He told her that the judgments of God would come upon her forthwith if she did not repent. He told her of the time she undertook to poison him, and he told her that she was a child of hell, and literally the most wicked woman on this earth, that there was not one more wicked then she. He told her where she got the poison, and how she put it in a cup of coffee; said he, ‘You got that poison so and so, and I drank it, but you could not kill me.’ When it entered his stomach he went to the door and threw it off. He spoke to her in that council in a very severe manner, and she never said one word in reply. I have witnesses of this scene all around, who can testify that I am now telling the truth. Twice she undertook to kill him” (Brigham Young, The Essential Brigham Young, pp.188-189).
Mr. Johnson assumes the quote “flies in the face of reason and truth.” He does not say how he arrived at such a conclusion. Perhaps he should have checked to see if the quote is authentic before making such a comment. If he did, he would have found that Young made this statement in an October 1866 General Conference address. There seems to be little doubt that Young believed the story was true, although some Mormon apologists have said that Smith may have been mistaken when he accused Emma of such a dastardly deed.
Does Mr. Johnson think such a comment is unreasonable because he feels Joseph and Emma had such a great marriage relationship? Former LDS historian D. Michael Quinn wrote to say how Smith “deceived his wife regarding about forty of his polygamous marriages” (The Mormon Hierarchy – Origins of Power, p.261). Smith’s double standard and voyeurism could have quite possibly led Emma to such a drastic measure.
Does Mr. Johnson think such a comment is unreasonable because Smith allegedly did not drink coffee? It would seem to make little sense to poison a drink that Smith did not believe should be ingested. However, this conclusion assumes that Smith never broke his 1833 “Word of Wisdom.” The fact is, Smith violated the Word of Wisdom on several occasions, including on the day he died. According to the History of the Church 7:101: “Sometime after dinner we sent for some wine. It has been reported by some that this was taken as a sacrament. It was no such thing; our spirits were generally dull and heavy, and it was sent for to revive us.”
Does Mr. Johnson really expect us to believe that he or any Mormon for that matter does not have biases? Everyone has them. The goal is to lay them aside as much as possible in order to draw a conclusion based on objective reasoning. Unfortunately, many Mormons refuse to do this.
Mr. Johnson is certainly entitled to his opinions; however, I feel his insistence to continue publishing a letter with my name on it, when I have demonstrated that it is not mine, shows a complete lack on integrity on his part. Hopefully other Mormons will not follow his lead.