I recently uncovered a little buried treasure tonight that I had to share!
For a long time, I’ve utilized a simple argument with Mormons that I’ve found quite effective. When we talk about Mormonism and they start talking about the restoration of Christianity (or the book of Mormon), the idea that Joseph Smith was a prophet frequently comes up. Instead of arguing about whether or not he was a prophet, I direct the conversation to how a person know whether or not anyone is a prophet.
I use the following simple line of reasoning:
1. If Joseph Smith was a true prophet of God, I must listen to him.
2. God has established specific criteria for determining prophecy.
3. If Joseph Smith meets that criteria, then he’s a prophet and I must listen to what he has to say.
At that point, most Mormons tend to misunderstand me and try to urge me to read the book of Mormon and pray about it. I cut them off and tell them that if Joseph Smith is a false prophet, the Bible commands me to do several things:
i. Do not listen to them (Deut. 13:3; Matt. 24:25-26)
ii. Treat them as unbelievers (Gal. 1:8-9)
iii. Avoid them (Rom. 16:17-19)
iv. Do not associate with them (2 John 1:10-11)
Notice that “pray about it” isn’t on the list.
I then ask them about whether or not they know what the Bible does say about the test for prophets, and they’re always stumped to respond. It’s at this point that we shift the conversation to places like Deut. 13:1-11, Deut. 18:21-22, Is. 8:19-20, Rom. 16:17, Titus 1:9-11, etc. We used to talk about prophetic fulfillment and orthodoxy. I also have wanted to bring up Ex. 4:1-9 and 1 Kin. 17:17-24 and the idea of miraculous verification.
I haven’t really had any fuel on that front though, not really being super familiar with Joseph Smith or whether or not he attempted to perform any miracles.
Tonight I randomly stumbled across an account of several of his failed miracles. The following pictures are from the article “History of Mormonism” in The Southern Quarterly Review: Volume: 1, Issue: 2, Apr 1842, pp. 398-413. I’ve marked out the relevant section.
How’s that for failed miraculous verification?
No wonder that “he has finally concluded, that the power to work miracles is a non-essential as far as the truth of the brazen bible, and the Mormon faith in general.” It’s utterly amazing to me that Mormonism is as big as it is today, given the slapstick beginnings it had. Then again, I’m continually reminded at how unbelievably gullible large quantities of people can be. There’s absolutely no shortage of proof of that on the web.
Until Next Time,
Lyndon “doing my best to remain as unpopular as possible” Unger