Chapter 1: The Restoration of the Gospel—The Dawning of a Brighter Day

During 2017, LDS members will be studying the latest manual published by their church, Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Gordon B. Hinckley. We will evaluate this book regularly, chapter by chapter, by showing interesting quotes and providing an Evangelical Christian take on this manual. If you would like to see the church manual online, go here. Latter-day Saints study this material on the second and third Sundays of each month (thus, chapters 1-2 are January, chapter 3-4 are February, etc.)

NOTE: This article contains many links to other sources to support my case. Instead of turning this into a 30-page review, I am including these links in order to keep the original view as succinct as possible. This is hard to do when so many topics are introduced in one chapter!

Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Gordon B. Hinckley, 2016

In this first chapter of the book dedicated to Gordon B. Hinckley, the church correlation committee lays out some of the distinguishing marks of the “restored” church, also known as “The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.” Topics include the Great Apostasy, the First Vision, the Book of Mormon, and the Godhead, summarizing those issues that separates the LDS Church from other churches. Since what is written in this manual should be considered official doctrine, let’s consider and respond to each point.

 “This glorious gospel was ushered in with the appearance of the Father and the Son to the boy Joseph.”

[Jesus Christ] was and is the great central figure of human history, the zenith of the times and seasons of all men.

Before His death, He had ordained His Apostles. They carried on for a period. His Church was set in place.

Following the Savior’s death, the Church He had established drifted into apostasy. Fulfilled were the words of Isaiah, who said, “The earth also is defiled under the inhabitants thereof; because they have transgressed the laws, changed the ordinance, broken the everlasting covenant” (Isaiah 24:5).

The topic of Joseph Smith and the “restoration” of the Mormon Church is the centerpiece of the LDS religion. According to Seventy B.H. Roberts,

Nothing less than a complete apostasy from the Christian religion would warrant the establishment of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (History of the Church 1:XL).

A church manual states:

One by one, the Apostles were killed or otherwise taken from the earth. Because of wickedness and apostasy, the apostolic authority and priesthood keys were also taken from the earth. The organiza­tion that Jesus Christ had established no longer existed, and con­fusion resulted. More and more error crept into Church doctrine, and soon the dissolution of the Church was complete. The period of time when the true Church no longer existed on earth is called the Great Apostasy. Soon pagan beliefs dominated the thinking of those called Christians (Gospel Principles, 2009, p. 92).

Referring to Joseph Smith—History 1:19, the same manual explains,

The Savior told him not to join any church because the true Church was not on the earth. He also said that the creeds of pres­ent churches were “an abomination in his sight” (Gospel Principles, 2009, p. 96).

Many Mormons don’t realize how offensive Joseph Smith—History 1:19 is for biblical Christians. After all, God is portrayed as saying that those not possessing proper “authority” (meaning, a valid priesthood ordained by God) are unable to possess true doctrine. When I explained my offense about how God supposedly told Smith how the churches were corrupt, a Mormon told me, “Well, that’s just what God said and it was just reported by Joseph Smith.” But what if God never told him “not to join any church”? What if he made it all up? Latter-day Saints are required to depend 100% upon the testimony of Joseph Smith. If Mormonism is true, then by definition Christianity is without authority and all its creeds are an “abomination.” This is why I find it fascinating that many Mormons desire to cloud the issue by clamoring to own the title of “Christian,” which does nothing more than cause confusion. Why not just be content to be known as “Latter-day Saints” or even “Mormon” and take pride in the differential?

It is true that Mormonism needs the “great apostasy” in order to have any relevance. After all, if there was not such an event, then there was no need for a “restoration.”  Tenth LDS President Joseph Fielding Smith said,

Every Latter-day Saint knows that following the death of the apos­tles, Paul’s prophecy was fulfilled, for there were many “grievous wolves” that entered the flock, and men arose “speaking perverse things,” so that the doctrines were changed and the true Church of Jesus Christ ceased to be on the earth. For this reason there had to come a restoration of the Church and a new revelation and bestowal of divine authority. The Church of Jesus Christ and the Holy Scriptures are, therefore, not responsible for the changed doctrines and unscientific teachings of those times, when unin­spired ecclesiastics controlled the thinking of the people (Man, His Origin and Destiny, p. 467).

What are these “changed doctrines and unscientific teachings”? The assumption is that facets of the true religion—did it look like modern-day Mormonism?—disappeared. Yet there is no evidence to show how the early church held to unique LDS doctrines such as:

  • God having a body of flesh and bones, once a human being in a previous existence (Apostle Quentin L. Cook said, “Among the first principles lost in the Apostasy was an under­standing of God the Father” (“The Doctrine of the Father,” Ensign, February 2012, p. 33);
  • All humanity once existing in a premortal existence as spirits, born of Heavenly Father and one of his spiritual wives;
  • Temple marriage (with secret rites) and work for the dead, all of which are required to attain exaltation;
  • Couples having the opportunity to populate a new world with spiritual children.

The New Testament warned that a time would come when people would turn from the true faith and give heed to “seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils” (1 Tim. 4:1). Writing to the Thessalonian church, Paul said, “Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day [the return of Christ] shall not come, except there come a falling away first” (2 Thess. 2:3). Jesus Himself warned the fledgling church to be aware of false prophets. He said that these prophets would be like wolves in sheep’s clothing, seeking those whom they could devour. Impersonators would show great signs and wonders in order to make themselves look authentic in their attempt to deceive the people (Matt. 7:15; 24:24). Peter added that these false prophets would introduce “damnable heresies” and deny God (2 Peter 2:1). Many zealous LDS members have used these passages to describe what they call “modern Christianity,” but in light of all the unbiblical teachings brought forth by LDS teachers, what guarantee can Mormons give that these passages are not talking about them?

While some apostasies were certainly predicted, a complete apostasy where God’s authority fully left the earth was never predicted or implied. In 1 Timothy 4:1–3 Paul said a time would come when “some” would depart from the faith. Charles R. Harrell agrees that the Mormon explanation of the apostasy verses tends to overreach the New Testament texts, saying

in understanding Paul’s comment to the Ephesians in Acts [20:29–30], it is significant that he would later write to Timothy at Ephesus prophesying that only ‘some shall depart from the faith’ (1 Tim. 4:1; emphasis mine). Even assuming that Paul anticipated an entire overthrow of the flock at Ephesus, it isn’t clear that he intended his comment for the entire church.” (This is My Doctrine, 37).

A passage that goes against the complete apostasy theory is Matthew 16:18. It reads, “And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” Because the literal meaning would eliminate the “loss of keys” for the “primitive” Christian church, many Mormons choose to spiritualize this otherwise straightforward verse.

Paul’s letters cried out for strength among the followers of Christ, lest they fall into the ways of the wicked one. But a spirit of apostasy ultimately prevailed.

As mentioned, “some” apostasies were predicted. That’s not being disputed. And Paul does cry out for strength among the followers of Christ. But this is not a prelude to a complete apostasy where all “priesthood authority” was lost. If, in fact, the early disciples allowed for this great apostasy to take place, they are culpable and perhaps nothing they said should be believed. Think about it: After Judas was replaced by Matthias in Acts 1, there were no other replacements. Doesn’t that seem strange? Why did no apostle or other leader at that time complain? Apostasy could have been avoided had those original disciples been more on the ball!

Jesus was very clear that he would never leave nor forsake His people (Heb. 13:5) and that He would be with His people forever (Matt. 28:19-20). If He wasn’t telling the truth, then He is not who He claimed to be.

Here are some additional articles on this topic:

The centuries rolled on. A cloud of darkness settled over the earth. Isaiah described it: “For, behold, the darkness shall cover the earth, and gross darkness the people” (Isa. 60:2).

This verse has nothing to do with a “great apostasy.” Bible commentator Ronald Youngblood writes that

A careful reading of Isaiah 60 leads to the conclusion that its verses interweave predictions of the return of the exiled Jews to Jerusalem in 538 B.C. (the relatively near future) with predictions concerning the new Jerusalem of the last days (the remote future).

Verses taken out of context can be made to say anything, and that’s what Hinckley does here.

It was a season of plunder and suffering, marked by long and bloody conflict. … It was an age of hopelessness, a time of masters and serfs.

The first thousand years passed, and the second millennium dawned. Its earlier centuries were a continuation of the former. It was a time fraught with fear and suffering.

In other words, Hinckley is saying how true Christianity was lost from the earth. To get a better picture of what this looked like, let me add the words of several other LDS leaders:

Religious denominations relied entirely on the dead letter of the Bible for their authority. They closed the heavens against themselves, and their interpretations of scripture without divine guidance led them into division, subdivision, and multiplication of churches, each going its own way blindly and in confusion. The power of the priesthood was lost and the true Church of Jesus Christ ceased to exist on the earth. There had been no prophet, no revelation, or divine instruction from the time of the apostles of old until the Lord again opened the heavens and sent holy messengers to restore that which had been taken away (Joseph Fielding Smith, Answers to Gospel Questions, 1:97).

Here is divine authority. Do any of our friends or neighbors make such a claim? We know the claim of the Catholic church, and all we say in response is that “By their fruits ye shall know them.” These were the words of our Savior, and that is enough on that score. But our Protestant friends do not even have that much of a claim. They have a form of godliness, but deny the power thereof. And because they do not have the authority themselves they think no one else has” (Charles W. Nibley, Conference Reports, October 1926, p. 24).

In short, apostasy reigned supreme; it was universal, complete, all pervading. The religion of the lowly Nazarene was no where to be found. All sects, parties and denominations had gone astray. Satan rejoiced and his angels laughed. Such were the social conditions of the day (Bruce R. McConkie, “Once or Twice in a Thousand Years,” Ensign (Reprinted conference address), April 2005, p. 56).

The great apostasy is the dividing line separating Mormonism from Christianity.

The Restoration was ushered in with the appearance of the Father and the Son to Joseph Smith.

After many generations had walked the earth—so many of them in conflict, hatred, darkness, and evil—there arrived the great, new day of the Restoration. This glorious gospel was ushered in with the appearance of the Father and the Son to the boy Joseph.

How truly remarkable was that vision in the year 1820 when Joseph prayed in the woods and there appeared before him both the Father and the Son. One of these spoke to him, calling him by name and, pointing to the other, said, “This is My Beloved Son. Hear Him!” (Joseph Smith—History 1:17).

Nothing like it had ever happened before. One is led to wonder why it was so important that both the Father and the Son appear. I think it was because They were ushering in the dispensation of the fulness of times, the last and final dispensation of the gospel, when there would be gathered together in one the elements of all previous dispensations. This was to be the final chapter in the long chronicle of God’s dealing with men and women upon the earth.

Every claim that we make concerning divine authority, every truth that we offer concerning the validity of this work, all finds its root in the First Vision of the boy prophet. Without it we would not have anything much to say. This was the great curtain-raiser on the dispensation of the fulness of times, when God promised that He would restore all the power, the gifts, the blessings, of all previous dispensations.

Just like the Great Apostasy, either the First Vision took place…or it did not. This fact is ascertained by Hinckley’s own words:

Our whole strength rests on the validity of that vision. It either occurred or it did not occur. If it did not, then this work is a fraud… upon that unique and wonderful experience stands the validity of this church (“The Marvelous Foundation of our Faith,” Ensign (Conference Edition), November 2002, p. 80. Ellipsis mine).

Every claim that we make concerning divine authority, every truth that we offer concerning the validity of this work, all finds its roots in the First Vision of the boy prophet (Teachings of Gordon B. Hinckley, p. 226).

That becomes the hinge pin on which this whole cause turns. If the First Vision was true, if it actually happened, then the Book of Mormon is true. Then we have the priesthood. Then we have the Church organization and all of the other keys and blessings of au­thority which we say we have. If the First Vision did not occur, then we are involved in a great sham. It is just that simple (Teachings of Gordon B. Hinckley, p. 227).

But the question is, was there a “First Vision.” In fact, the accounts of the First Vision collide. Check out this article written by Bill McKeever and me that will explain what I mean.

Priesthood authority and keys were restored.

The authority and keys of the Melchizedek Priesthood were restored to the earth as part of the Restoration.

In restoring the Aaronic Priesthood, the resurrected John the Baptist laid his hands on the heads of Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery and said, “Upon you my fellow servants, in the name of Messiah I confer the Priesthood of Aaron, which holds the keys of the ministering of angels, and of the gospel of repentance, and of baptism by immersion for the remission of sins” (D&C 13:1).

This was followed by a visitation of Peter, James, and John, Apostles of the Lord Jesus Christ, who conferred upon Joseph and Oliver Cowdery the Melchizedek Priesthood, which had been received by these Apostles under the hands of the Lord Himself.

Three of [the Savior’s] Apostles—Peter, James, and John—appeared to Joseph and Oliver somewhere “in the wilderness” along the Susquehanna River (see D&C 128:20). They placed their hands upon their heads and conferred upon them this holy authority. …

Even if it were possible for Smith to see God, Doctrine and Covenants 84:21–22 explains that the priesthood would have been needed in order for Smith to see Him: “And without the ordinances thereof, and the authority of the priesthood, the power of godliness is not manifest unto men in the flesh; For without this no man can see the face of God, even the Father, and live.”

Melvin J. Petersen, who taught church history and doctrine at Brigham Young University, acknowledged that Smith had no such priesthood in 1820, the year he claimed to have seen God. However, he pointed to John 1:18 of the Joseph Smith Translation of the Bible to support the idea that Smith saw God, which reads, “No man hath seen God at any time, except he hath bourne record of the Son.”(A Sure Foundation, 79). In noting this dilemma, Brigham Young University professor Charles R. Harrell states,

Explanations about how Joseph could have seen God before being ordained to the Melchizedek Priesthood or having received its ordinances have been varied. Early Mormon brethren who confronted this issue concluded that Joseph did hold the priesthood having, in some sense, brought it with him from the preexistence.

Harrell went on to say, “According to Joseph Fielding Smith, since the priesthood wasn’t yet on the earth, young Joseph was exempt from this requirement.”(“This is My Doctrine,” 146 n. 65). If the First Vision never happened and Joseph Smith later conjured up the notion in an attempt to give his story some credibility, it creates a major problem because it calls into question his calling as a prophet and his integrity as a whole.

I can trace my priesthood in a direct line to this event. It goes as follows: I was ordained by David O. McKay; who was ordained by Joseph F. Smith; who was ordained by Brigham Young; who was ordained by the Three Witnesses; who were ordained by Joseph Smith Jr. and Oliver Cowdery; who were ordained by Peter, James, and John; who were ordained by the Lord Jesus Christ.

It has similarly come to [each Melchizedek Priesthood holder]. Each of you brethren who hold this priesthood has also received it in a direct line from the bestowal made by Peter, James, and John.

Contrary to LDS teaching, the Bible shows that neither the Aaronic nor the Melchizedek priesthoods are available for believers today. The Aaronic priesthood was for the priests of the biblical temple, as defined in the books of Moses known as the Pentateuch. The New Testament shows no need for such a priesthood for Christian believers. As far as the Melchizedek priesthood, Charles R. Harrell sees the traditional LDS interpretation as an argument from silence by pointing out how

Hebrews speaks of Christ being a “priest after the order of Melchizedek” (Heb. 5:6–10), but gives no indication that any of Jesus’s disciples possessed this priesthood. There is no concept in Hebrews of a general order of the priesthood called the Melchizedek Priesthood. Christ alone is extolled as a priest in the “similitude of Melchizedek” (Heb. 7:15). Drawing on contemporary speculations regarding the king-priest Melchizedek, the writer of Hebrews explains that Melchizedek, as a type of Christ, had “neither beginning of days, nor end of life; but made like unto the Son of God; abideth a priest continually” (Heb. 7:3). (“This is My Doctrine,” 376).

As for the authority of the believers, 1 Peter 2:9 says Christians are part of “a chosen generation” and “a royal priesthood.” The Christian is given the right to be called a child of God. Indeed, when speaking of believers, 1 John 3:2 says that “now are we the sons of God.” First John 5:5 adds that only those who believe “that Jesus is the Son of God” have overcome the world. They, then, are the ones who have been given divine authority.

Through Joseph Smith, the Lord revealed truths that distinguish us from other churches.

Let’s be forthright. The word “distinguish” here is meant to show how the LDS Church is superior to other churches.

Permit me to name a few of many doctrines and practices which distinguish us from all other churches, and all of which have come of revelation to the youthful Prophet. They are familiar to you, but they are worth repeating and reflecting on.

The Godhead

The first of these … is the manifestation of God Himself and His Beloved Son, the risen Lord Jesus Christ. This grand theophany is, in my judgment, the greatest such event since the birth, life, death, and Resurrection of our Lord in the meridian of time.

We have no record of any other event to equal it.

But did this event really take place? The only “witness” to it was Joseph Smith. There is much doubt shed as to whether this event really took place. Here are some more articles to consider about this very important issue:

For more information on this topic, check out these articles:

Podcasts:

For centuries men gathered and argued concerning the nature of Deity. Constantine assembled scholars of various factions at Nicaea in the year 325. After two months of bitter debate, they compromised on a definition which for generations has been the doctrinal statement among Christians concerning the Godhead.

The Council of Nicaea is often used by Latter-day Saints as a reason for the Great Apostasy. But how many have actually studied what this fourth century council was all about? Honestly, it’s not many. I know because I have spoken with many Mormons who have brought up this issue. For more information along with Viewpoint on Mormonism podcasts, see The Story Behind the Council of Nicea. If you are a Latter-day Saint, be sure you understand what this council was about before using it as an argument against Christianity’s view of the Godhead.

I invite you to read that definition and compare it with the statement of the boy Joseph. He simply says that God stood before him and spoke to him. Joseph could see Him and could hear Him. He was in form like a man, a being of substance. Beside Him was the resurrected Lord, a separate being, whom He introduced as His Beloved Son and with whom Joseph also spoke.

I explained above the problem of seeing God before having the priesthood. How can this dilemma be explained by Latter-day Saints?

I submit that in the short time of that remarkable vision Joseph learned more concerning Deity than all of the scholars and clerics of the past.

That’s a pretty bold statement. He really “learned more”? Instead, I believe Joseph Smith created his view of Deity. Consider the things about God as taught by the Standard Works:

For I know that God is not a partial God, neither a changeable be­ing; but he is unchangeable from all eternity to all eternity (The Book of Mormon, Moroni 8:18).

By these things we know that there is a God in heaven, who is infinite and eternal, from everlasting to everlasting the same un­changeable God, the framer of heaven and earth, and all things which are in them; And that he created man, male and female, after his own image and in his own likeness, created he them; And gave unto them commandments that they should love and serve him, the only living and true God, and that he should be the only being whom they should worship (Doctrine and Covenants 20:17-19).

From eternity to eternity he is the same, and his years never fail (Doctrine and Covenants 76:4).

Yet D&C 130:22 says, “The Father has a body of flesh and bones as tangible as man’s.” This is consistent with Smith’s later teachings, including:

God himself was once as we are now, and is an exalted man, and sits enthroned in yonder heavens! That is the great secret, if the veil were rent today, and the great God who holds this world in its orbit, and who upholds all worlds and all things by his power, was to make himself visible,—I say, if you were to see him today, you would see him like a man in form—like yourselves in all the person, image, and very form as a man; for Adam was created in the very fashion, image and like­ness of God, and received instruction from, and walked, talked and con­versed with him, as one man talks and communes with another” (Joseph Smith, Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p. 345. Italics in original. See also Achieving a Celestial Marriage, p. 129).

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. These are incomprehensible ideas to some, but they are simple. It is the first principle of the Gospel to know for a certainty the Character of God, and to know that we may converse with him as one man converses with another, and that he was once a man like us; yea, that God the Father of us all, dwelt on an earth, the same as Jesus Christ himself did, and I will show it from the Bible (Joseph Smith, Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, pp. 345-346. Italics in original. See also Gospel Principles, 1997, p. 305).

Here, then, is eternal life-to know the only wise and true God; and you have got to learn how to be Gods yourselves, and to be kings and priests to God, the same as all Gods have done before you, namely, by going from one small degree to another, and from a small capacity to a great one; from grace to grace, from exalta­tion to exaltation, until you attain to the resurrection of the dead and are able to dwell in everlasting burnings, and to sit in glory, as do those who sit enthroned in everlasting power (Joseph Smith, Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, pp. 346-347).

The Law of Non-Contradiction says that something cannot be A and non-A at the same time. If this is true–and it either is or isn’t!–then how could God be “unchangeable from all eternity to all eternity” if He hadn’t been “God from all eternity”? Do you see the problem? Mormonism says that people can become gods in their own right, but where does it teach this in the Book of Mormon, a scripture that has been called “the most correct book on earth” that could be used “to get nearer to God” through “abiding by its precepts than by any other book.” If that is true, how can these contradictions be reconciled?

In addition, the Mormon view of God certainly contradicts the view of the Bible. Consider these two YouTube videos (they’re short!)

  • Does God have a body? (4:15) Although Mormonism teaches that God has a body of flesh and bones, this teaching contradicts the Bible.
  • How many gods are there? (3:19) Christianity worships one God. Is Mormonism monotheistic in this way?

In this divine revelation there was reaffirmed beyond doubt the reality of the literal Resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ.

This knowledge of Deity, hidden from the world for centuries, was the first and great thing which God revealed to His chosen servant.

Be aware when someone claims  that the “knowledge of Deity” was “hidden from the world for centuries.” Really? Why should you (whoever “you” might be, including Joseph Smith) be trusted as a reliable source? Fortunately, the Bible is accessible to humanity. God has made Himself very clear that:

  • There is only one God in existence (Deut. 6:4)
  • There is NO god before or after God (Is. 43:10)
  • God does not know of any other God (Is. 44:6,8)
  • God never changes (Numbers 23:19; Malachi 3:6; Hebrews 13:8; James 1:17)

Yet Joseph Smith comes along and, using verses out of context, changes the biblical view of the Godhead, apparently accepted as true by millions of people. When the Bible is the source, have doubt. This is why Latter-day Saints respond to use of the Bible with Article 8, which says the Bible is true only “as far as it is translated correctly.” Hence, Smith is allowed whatever he needs in his production of heresy. This is problematic.

The Book of Mormon as a companion witness with the Bible

 “The Book of Mormon … speaks as a voice from the dust in testimony of the Son of God.”

I speak next of another very important thing which God revealed.

The Christian world accepts the Bible as the word of God. Most have no idea of how it came to us.

Au contraire. I believe most Mormons have no idea about how the Bible came to us. I have talked to many Latter-day Saints about this issue. When I ask how the Bible came to us, I too often hear “translation of a translation,” “corrupt priests,” and “it’s from the Latin.” If you want to know more about this topic, check out an article asking the question  Is the Bible translated correct?

I have just completed reading a newly published book by a renowned scholar. It is apparent from information which he gives that the various books of the Bible were brought together in what appears to have been an unsystematic fashion. In some cases, the writings were not produced until long after the events they describe. One is led to ask, “Is the Bible true? Is it really the word of God?”

So here we go, more doubt shed on God’s Word! When in doubt, criticize the source. And that’s what Hinckley does. I’m not sure which “newly published book” he’s referring to, but of course there are many skeptic authors (including Bart Erdman) who dismiss the Bible. There’s no shortage of biblical critics. At the same time, there is plenty of evidence to provide us good reasons to believe the Bible is true. For more information, visit 10 reasons why it makes sense to trust the Bible

We reply that it is, insofar as it is translated correctly.

Check out Does Scholarship Support Article Eight?

The hand of the Lord was in its making. But it now does not stand alone. There is another witness of the significant and important truths found therein.

Scripture declares that “in the mouth of two or three witnesses shall every word be established” (2 Corinthians 13:1).

Talk about taking a verse and making it say anything you want! This verse has nothing to do about other scriptures! Or, should the Muslims be able to point to their Quran and, with 2 Cor. 13:1 as a proof text, say their holy book is also valid? Where will it end? The Tripitaka? The Vedas?  In addition, please catch the irony. Hinckley is questioning the reliability of the Bible, yet he does so by quoting a verse to support his case.  The Mormon will have to do all sorts of twisting to cite Article 8 while utilizing verses such as James 1:5, 1 Cor. 15:29 and James 2:20 to support the LDS presuppositions. If the source cannot be trusted, then why use it at all?

The Book of Mormon has come forth by the gift and power of God. It speaks as a voice from the dust in testimony of the Son of God. It speaks of His birth, of His ministry, of His Crucifixion and Resurrection, and of His appearance to the righteous in the land Bountiful on the American continent.

It is a tangible thing that can be handled, that can be read, that can be tested. It carries within its covers a promise of its divine origin. Millions now have put it to the test and found it to be a true and sacred record. …

The test is rigged! Check out the following:

As the Bible is the testament of the Old World, the Book of Mormon is the testament of the New. They go hand in hand in declaration of Jesus as the Son of the Father. … This sacred book, which came forth as a revelation of the Almighty, is indeed another testament of the divinity of our Lord.

The Book of Mormon has so much to prove for it to be accepted as legitimate scripture. Check out 10 reasons why the Book of Mormon is rejected as scripture by Christians

Priesthood authority and Church organization

Priesthood is the authority to act in the name of God. … I have read [a] book recently [that] deals with the Apostasy of the primitive Church. If the authority of that Church was lost, how was it to be replaced?

Hinckley read another book. By whom? (I would bet it was a Latter-day Saint.) Was the authority of the Christian church lost? How could it be if there have remained the apostle John and the three Nephite apostles who supposedly still roam the earth?

Priesthood authority came from the only place it could come, and that is from heaven. It was bestowed under the hands of those who held it when the Savior walked the earth. …

How beautiful is the unfolding of the pattern of restoration which led to the organization of the Church in the year 1830. … The very name of the Church came of revelation. Whose Church was it? Was it Joseph Smith’s? Was it Oliver Cowdery’s? No, it was the Church of Jesus Christ restored to earth in these latter days.

It really is a tired argument to have Latter-day Saints point to the name of their church and argue that their church is based on Christ since His name is part of the title. See The Name of God’s Church.

The family

Another great and singular revelation given to the Prophet was the plan for the eternal life of the family.

The family is a creation of the Almighty. It represents the most sacred of all relationships. It represents the most serious of all undertakings. It is the fundamental organization of society.

Through the revelations of God to His Prophet came the doctrine and authority under which families are sealed together not only for this life but for all eternity.

Check out The Family and Being Together Forever.

The innocence of little children

The innocence of little children is another revelation which God has given through the instrumentality of the Prophet Joseph. The general practice is the baptism of infants to take away the effects of what is described as the sin of Adam and Eve. Under the doctrine of the Restoration, baptism is for the remission of one’s individual and personal sins. It becomes a covenant between God and man. It is performed at the age of accountability, when people are old enough to recognize right from wrong. It is by immersion, in symbolism of the death and burial of Jesus Christ and His coming forth in the Resurrection.

The Bible never talks about an “age of accountability.” And why eight? Why not seven or nine? Who decided this? The Bible says in Romans 3:23 and Romans 5:12 that there is such a thing as original sin.  Everyone is culpable and needs a Savior. It’s silly to suggest that a seven-year-old who understands the Gospel doesn’t need a Savior.

Salvation for the dead

I go on to mention another revealed truth. We are told that God is no respecter of persons, and yet, in no other church of which I am aware, is provision made for those beyond the veil of death to receive every blessing which is afforded the living. The great doctrine of salvation for the dead is unique to this Church. … The dead are given the same opportunity as the living. Again, what a glorious and wonderful provision the Almighty has made through His revelation to His Prophet.

Which reference in the Book of Mormon will support this case? Actually, Alma 34 contradicts this concept when it says:

31 Yea, I would that ye would come forth and harden not your hearts any longer; for behold, now is the time and the day of your salvation; and therefore, if ye will repent and harden not your hearts, immediately shall the great plan of redemption be brought about unto you.

32 For behold, this life is the time for men to prepare to meet God; yea, behold the day of this life is the day for men to perform their labors.

33 And now, as I said unto you before, as ye have had so many witnesses, therefore, I beseech of you that ye do not procrastinate the day of your repentance until the end; for after this day of life, which is given us to prepare for eternity, behold, if we do not improve our time while in this life, then cometh the night of darkness wherein there can be no labor performed.

34 Ye cannot say, when ye are brought to that awful crisis, that I will repent, that I will return to my God. Nay, ye cannot say this; for that same spirit which doth possess your bodies at the time that ye go out of this life, that same spirit will have power to possess your body in that eternal world.

35 For behold, if ye have procrastinated the day of your repentance even until death, behold, ye have become subjected to the spirit of the devil, and he doth seal you his; therefore, the Spirit of the Lord hath withdrawn from you, and hath no place in you, and the devil hath all power over you; and this is the final state of the wicked.

Here are some resources to consider:

The nature, purpose, and potential of God’s children

The eternal nature of man has been revealed. We are sons and daughters of God. God is the Father of our spirits. We lived before we came here. We had personality. We were born into this life under a divine plan. We are here to test our worthiness, acting in the agency which God has given to us. When we die we shall go on living. Our eternal life is comprised of three phases: one, our premortal existence; two, our mortal existence; and three, our postmortal existence. In death we die to this world and step through the veil into the sphere we are worthy to enter. This, again, is a unique, singular, and precious doctrine of this Church which has come through revelation.

Premortality must be assumed by Latter-day Saints. Just because a doctrine might make someone feel good about themselves (the idea we have existed as God’s children in a previous life or the idea that we can live with families forever) does not make it true.

Modern revelation

I offer this brief summary of the tremendous outpouring of knowledge and authority from God upon the head of His Prophet. … There is one more that I must mention. This is the principle of modern revelation. The article of faith which the Prophet wrote declares:

“We believe all that God has revealed, all that He does now reveal, and we believe that He will yet reveal many great and important things pertaining to the Kingdom of God” (Articles of Faith 1:9).

A growing church, a church that is spreading across the earth in these complex times, needs constant revelation from the throne of heaven to guide it and move it forward. With prayer and anxious seeking of the will of the Lord, we testify that direction is received, that revelation comes, and that the Lord blesses His Church as it moves on its path of destiny.

Here is a question for the Latter-day Saint reader: When is the last time “constant revelation” took place in the Mormon Church? Certainly there was a “proclamation to the Family” from the mid-1990s. However, Christians have been teaching these principles for centuries.  The church did allow blacks to hold the priesthood–allowing them to do temple work–beginning in 1978. Still, Christianity has taught for centuries that one’s skin color or nationality (Gal. 3:28) is not a disqualifier for holding what Peter says in 1 Peter 2:9 is the royal priesthood. And, oh yes, plural marriage was denied by the church in 1904 (after the original “Manifesto” from 1890). Is this what is meant by “constant” revelation? The church leaders at General Conference seem to merely repeat the same do’s and don’ts that have been part of Mormonism since the 19th century, including “don’t work on Sundays,” “pay your tithes,” “attend temple,” “be hard workers,” etc. Is “constant revelation” really pertinent to the Mormon Church?

On the solid foundation of the Prophet Joseph’s divine calling and the revelations of God, which came through him, we go forward.

“Solid foundation”? Or could it be that Joseph Smith is a false prophet, of whom Jesus warned in Matthew 7? Here are 10 reasons why Joseph Smith should not be considered a true prophet of God

Standing as the 15th in line from Joseph Smith and bearing the prophetic mantle which came upon him, I solemnly declare my testimony that the Prophet Joseph’s account of [the events of the Restoration] is true, that the Father … bore witness of the divinity of His Son, that the Son instructed the boy prophet, and that there followed a train of events which led to the organization of “the only true and living church upon the face of the whole earth” [D&C 1:30].

For the Christian who is reading this, understand that God supposedly told Smith that the Mormon Church is “the only true and living church upon the face of the while earth.” Notice the next verses:

31 For I the Lord cannot look upon sin with the least degree of allowance;

32 Nevertheless, he that repents and does the commandments of the Lord shall be forgiven.

According to Mormonism, the only way to fulfill the requirements of the “one true church” is to be a commandment keeper. In fact, D&C 25:15 says,

Keep my commandments continually, and a crown of righteousness thou shalt receive. And except thou do this, where I am you cannot come.

While this particular “revelation” was originally given to Emma Smith, verse 16 says this command is meant for “all.” To the Latter-day Saint, are you a commandment keeper? If so, then you have no need to repent any longer. Repentance is asking for forgiveness for breaking a commandment. Yet I have never met a Latter-day Saint who has stopped repenting. If this is the “only true and living church upon the face of the whole earth,” then everyone is in trouble!

Finally, the word “church” as used in the Bible does not mean an organization or a singular entity. Rather, it refers to the body of Christ made up of individual believers.


To read other reviews of the Gordon B. Hinckley manual, click here.