Reviewed in the United States on June 8, 2019
Seriously, the alleged and likely staged, deer in the headlights appearing Mormon (Greg Gifford) must have been largely uninformed of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints doctrine, or he was purposely (and poorly) acting that way. Obviously, he had no LDS testimony as he repeatedly said, “I was taught” rather than “I believe.”
To Joel Kramer, challenger to the Book of Mormon:
Your opinion of what Mormons believe and what they do believe are poles apart. You are trying to impose your limited understanding on additional latter-day revelation, and it does not work that way. The same is true when a Jew argues that you cannot add to the Old Testament or tries to prove a Christian wrong from a Jewish perspective. You arguments do not prove that Joseph Smith or prophets of the Book of Mormon failed.
Unfortunately, you did not present a debate, but instead a cloaked lecture. There was not a single argument that you presented that does not have a definitive rebuttal. Below are just a few brief points that Mr. Gifford could have and should have made if he were a true defendant of the restored gospel:
1. D&C 84: 5-6 says the temple lot would be built in this generation in Independence, Missouri, but today the site is vacant. True it is not yet built, and true that the people living in Joseph Smith time have long since passed away. Evidence of a false prophecy?
First define a “generation.” If the above is false prophecy, then what does Luke 21:32 mean when speaking of things that will come to pass before his second coming, Jesus said, “Verily I say unto you, This generation shall not pass away, till all be fulfilled.” He has not yet come. By that standard was Jesus a false prophet? So, if Jesus was not, then Joseph was not either by his using the same wording.
2. Land of Jerusalem (Alma 7:10): Every child who has had any Bible study knows that Jesus was born in Bethlehem. Again, you are putting your interpretation to the Book of Mormon, and you do not consider the meaning for a people and a culture a half world away over 500 years after Lehi left Jerusalem. They knew about Jerusalem and that Alma meant in the vicinity of the land of Jerusalem. If Joseph Smith was trying to fake the writing, would he have included this description as such to cause any question? Or would he have honestly translated what was written?
3. Addition to John 1:1 “…the Son was of God” (JST) rather than “…the Word was God” (KJV). Were you not born of your father? Of course, if you believe in a three-in-one God, I understand your view. But is that what the Bible says and means? John 10: 30 says, “I and my Father are one.” Case closed? But John 17: 11 adds, “that they may be one as we are.” So, the “one” in this context has to mean one in spirit and purpose, not one in and of the same by different names. Therefore, we are separate beings as is the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.
4. Joseph changed Romans 4:16: He added “Therefore you are justified of faith and works through grace to the end...” Did this change the context of the New Testament? See James 1:22 (be ye doers of the word), James 2:20 (faith without words is dead, and Luke 13:27 (I know ye not…depart)). Works alone cannot save anyone, but with a balance of mercy (grace) and justice, the Lord judges works as a reflection of our true faith. How else should a fair-minded God judge us?
5. There are no archeological findings or manuscripts to verify the Book of Mormon: If the biblical setting had been in a jungle rather than a desert area, parchment manuscripts would have long since dissolved. Buildings and places would have been covered by over-growth. A testimony of the Book of Mormon is not meant to dependent on physical evidences, but spiritual ones. The high standard of a spiritual testimony should be the basis of all Christian testimonies with or without physical evidences. In time physical proof will emerge, but now there are many possible evidences to consider.
6. There are (apparent) contradictions between the Bible and Book of Mormon: Do a simple Google search and explain the many contradictions cited within the Bible; then give the same consideration to the Book of Mormon. And be careful being critical of the Book of Mormon as parallel examples can be found in the Bible.
7 Translation: What is a translation? The dictionary says, “the process of translating words or text from one language into another.” Does this always mean word for word? What if a meaning was understood in the past, perhaps from the other books mentioned in the Bible, but now missing? Then if for example, Isaiah were to offer his message to the people today, would he have written his message in exactly the same way? Joseph Smith’s translation was inspired to teach a truth, not necessarily to tell a word for word account. Would you expect less of a modern-day prophet who was teaching the now generation for better understanding?
8. Confusion: You stated that the D&C and the inspired version of the Bible were confusing. Really? There are over 100 translations of the Bible, no two exactly the same, and over 1000 Christian denominations, none of which believe exactly the same. To me that is the definition of confusion, and sure reason for the need of a modern-day prophet.
9. Finding truth: So, how does one discern truth? Study and pray with the intent to learn, not to argue; ask sincerely with the intent to understand; and be willing to follow the Spirit, no matter what. Problem of deception? Is man’s puny understanding and opinionated guesses a sure protection from deception? No. God’s confirmed truth is the sure way, not just by reading the scriptures, but by the Spirit teaching the true meaning. Unless a person was stubbornly unwilling to act upon the inspiration given, what motive would God have to let a truth seeker be deceived?
10. What determines proof: The bottom line is this: “…no man can say that Jesus is the Lord, but by the Holy Spirit.”(1 Corinthians 12:3) “But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all the truth...” (John 13:16) Therefore, the Spirit, and not man’s views defines, inspires, and testifies of gospel truth.
Now I ask that you carefully read the book of Alma in the Book of Mormon. Explain how an uneducated farmer’s son in his early twenties could have possibly written such deep doctrinal concepts. The fact is that you cannot. How did a man endure persecution all his life until he was killed by a mob, if it was just built on a lie? He gave his life as his final testimony when he could have escaped. Can you explain why? I say because as a young boy Joseph had previously said, “For I had seen a vision; God knew it, and I knew that God knew it, and I could not deny it…” (JSH 1:25) Others witnessed visions and the gold plates, and none ever denied it. Joseph Smith fulfilled his mission as a prophet of God, and this is my spirit-based testimony.
So, I say, first look at your own beams before casting stones. Seek to see the right in Joseph’s work and mission, and you will find it to be an incredible marvelous work and a wonder.