Racism in the Book of Mormon

Racism in the Book of Mormon

The Book of Mormon is an explosively racist book which is exactly what we would expect if it was written by Joseph Smith instead of God. It is a product of its time and reflects the theological beliefs of racist white America in the nineteenth century. The Book of Mormon advocates the “curse of Cain” interpretation of Genesis 4:15 which was common at this period of time. This is the reason why, up until 1978 when the priesthood ban on blacks was lifted, the uniform teaching of Mormonism was racist.

2 Nephi 5:21 says that God caused the skin of the Lamanites to be turned black as a curse for their sin:

“And he had caused the cursing to come upon them, yea, even a sore cursing, because of their iniquity. For behold, they had hardened their hearts against him, and they had become like unto a flint; wherefore, 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 them.”

The reason why God caused their skin to become black was so that the righteous Nephites who were white would not be tempted to intermarry with them. Hence, black skin was given as a deterrent to prevent interracial marriage. Alma 3:6 calls this dark skin the “mark” and “curse” of their rebellion:

“And the skins of the Lamanites were dark, according to the mark which was set upon their fathers, which was a curse upon them because of their transgression and their rebellion against their brethren, who consisted of Nephi, Jacob, and Joseph, and Sam, who were just and holy men.”

But whenever Lamanites repented and turned to the Lord, their black skin would become white like the Nephites:

“And their curse was taken from them, and their skin became white like unto the Nephites; And their young men and their daughters became exceedingly fair, and they were numbered among the Nephites, and were called Nephites. And thus ended the thirteenth year” (3 Nephi 2:15-16).

In keeping with this belief, Brigham Young believed that Native Americans would become white when they embraced Mormonism:

“You may inquire of the intelligent of the world whether they can tell why the aborigines of this country are dark, loathsome, ignorant, and sunken into the depths of degradation . . . When the Lord has a people, he makes covenants with them and gives unto them promises: then, if they transgress his law, change his ordinances, and break his covenants he has made with them, he will put a mark upon them, as in the case of the Lamanites and other portions of the house of Israel; but by-and-by they will become a white and delightsome people” (Journal of Discourses, vol. 7, page 336).

Mormon President Spencer Kimball likewise believed that Native Americans who became Mormons would turn white:

“At one meeting a father and mother and their sixteen-year-old daughter were present, the little member girl—sixteen—sitting between the dark father and mother, and it was evident she was several shades lighter than her parents—on the same reservation, in the same hogan, subject to the same sun and wind and weather. There was the doctor in a Utah city who for two years had had an Indian boy in his home who stated that he was some shades lighter than the younger brother just coming into the program from the reservation. These young members of the Church are changing to whiteness and to delightsomeness. One white elder jokingly said that he and his companion were donating blood regularly to the hospital in the hope that the process might be accelerated.”

Young also taught that interracial marriage was worthy of death since the Nephites were not allowed to marry the Lamanites:

“If the white man who belongs to the chosen seed mixes his blood with the seed of Cain, the penalty, under the law of God, is death on the spot. This will always be so” (Journal of Discourses, vol. 10, p. 110).

Young was an active supporter of Southern slavery and believed that black slaves were getting what they deserved:

“You must not think, from what I say, that I am opposed to slavery. No! The negro is damned, and is to serve his master till God chooses to remove the curse of Ham” (New York Herald, May 4, 1855, as cited in Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought, Spring 1973, p. 56).

Young believed that the devil was black and those who leave Mormonism would become black like him just as the Lamanites became black. He said apostates would “become gray-haired, wrinkled, and black, just like the Devil” (Journal of Discourses, vol. 5, page 332).

In contrast to Mormonism, the Bible teaches that ethnic differences are no barrier to fellowship in the church. People with dark skin do not need to become white to be acceptable to God:

Galatians 3:28: “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”

Colossians 3:11: “Here there is not Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave, free; but Christ is all, and in all.”

For a collection of more racist quotes in Mormonism, see this article.


How the Kinderhook Plates Disprove Mormonism

How the Kinderhook Plates Disprove Mormonism

The Kinderhook Plates controversy is one of the clearest examples of why Joseph Smith was not a true prophet of God. In 1843, Wilbur Fugate forged a collection of six brass plates known as the Kinderhook Plates to prove that Smith was a fraud and had no ability to translate ancient languages. The plates were then hidden in an ancient Native American burial mound near Kinderhook, Illinois which was then dug up by Robert Wiley who was also in on the hoax. The plates were then taken to Smith to be translated. Smith fell for the hoax proving that he was lying about his ability to translate ancient languages.

We know that the plates are a hoax, not only because of the later testimony of Fugate and Wiley, but also because one of them was rediscovered in the Chicago Historical Society Museum and tested by the LDS Church which confirmed that the plate was created in the nineteenth century and not of ancient origin. Mormon apologists respond by claiming that Smith never fell for the plates because he never made an official translation of them.

But Smith himself claimed that they were authentic and told the story of a descendant of Pharaoh:

“I insert fac-similes of the six brass plates found near Kinderhook, in Pike county, Illinois, on April 23, by Mr. Robert Wiley and others, while excavating a large mound. They found a skeleton about six feet from the surface of the earth, which must have stood nine feet high. The plates were found on the breast of the skeleton and were covered on both sides with ancient characters. I have translated a portion of them, and find they contain the history of the person with whom they were found. He was a descendant of Ham, through the loins of Pharaoh, king of Egypt, and that he received his kingdom from the Ruler of heaven and earth” (History of the Church, vol. 5, page 372).

For more information on the subject, see this article.

Why the Pearl of Great Price Is Not from God

Why the Pearl of Great Price Is Not from God

The Pearl of Great Price is the third collection of Mormon Scriptures which include the books of Moses and Abraham. In 1835, Joseph Smith bought an Egyptian mummy from a traveling merchant and claimed that the papyri found on it was written by Abraham “by his own hand upon papyrus.” These papyri became the basis for the Book of Abraham. But unlike the golden plates from which it is claimed that the Book of Mormon was translated, the papyri from which Smith claimed that the Book of Abraham was translated were rediscovered in 1966. But when the text was translated by people who actually know Egyptian, the correct translation of the papyri did not match the text of the Book of Abraham proving that Smith was a fraud.

Smith even created his own Grammar and Alphabet of the Egyptian Language to prove that God had given him a supernatural ability to understand Egyptian. The Egyptian characters in his grammar correspond with the Egyptian characters in the papyri he bought demonstrating that he was claiming to make a word for word translation of the text. You can see a reproduction of the original papyri for yourself in Charles Larson’s book By His Own Hand Upon Papyrus.

Smith could get away with claiming to know Egyptian because the Egyptian language was unknown at this time. But when people who can actually translate Egyptian today read Joseph Smith’s Grammar and Alphabet of the Egyptian Language, they realize that his definitions for the different Egyptian characters is a complete fabrication. The Joseph Smith Papyri are actually common Egyptian funerary texts. Smith’s descriptions of the figures in the papyri in the Book of Abraham do not match what we know from Egyptian archaeology. For example, Smith identified the pagan god Min as God sitting upon his throne.

Jeremy Runnells in his CES Letter convincingly demonstrates that the Book of Abraham is a fraud and his work is causing record numbers of young Mormons to leave the LDS Church. It is a devastating exposé of Mormonism. But sadly, Runnells went from Mormonism to atheism as a large portion of those who leave the LDS faith do. He concluded that if Joseph Smith was a deceiver, then Jesus Christ must have been one as well. He also argues in his letter against the existence of a global flood. But there is good scientific evidence for the Genesis flood. Unlike Mormonism, the case for Christianity is built on objective, verifiable evidence.

Why the Book of Mormon Is Not from God

Why the Book of Mormon Is Not from God

One of the strongest arguments against the divine origin of Mormonism is that its theology evolved over time. While the Book of Mormon teaches monotheism, the doctrine of the Trinity, that hell is a place of eternal conscious torment, and condemns polygamy, Joseph Smith later taught polytheism, three levels of heaven without a hell of endless torment, and polygamy.

The testimony of the three witnesses in the introduction to the Book of Mormon concludes with an affirmation of the doctrine of the Trinity:

“And the honor be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost, which is one God. Amen.”

At least four other texts teach that the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit exist as one God:

2 Nephi 31:21: “And now, behold, this is the doctrine of Christ, and the only and true doctrine of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, which is one God, without end. Amen.”

Alma 11:44: “And shall be brought and be arraigned before the bar of Christ the Son, and God the Father, and the Holy Spirit, which is one Eternal God.”

Mormon 7:7: “To sing ceaseless praises with the choirs above, unto the Father, and unto the Son, and unto the Holy Ghost, which are one God.”

D&C 20:28: “Which Father, Son, and Holy Ghost are one God, infinite and eternal, without end. Amen.”

But Joseph Smith later taught that the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit are not only three distinct persons, but three distinct gods as well:

“I have always declared God to be a distinct personage, Jesus Christ a separate and distinct personage from God the Father, and that the Holy Ghost was a distinct personage and a Spirit: and these three constitute three distinct personages and three Gods. If this is in accordance with the New Testament, lo and behold! we have three Gods anyhow, and they are plural: and who can contradict it!” (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, 370).

But the Book of Mormon contradicts it by teaching that there is only one God:

Alma 11:28-29, 35: “Now Zeezrom said: Is there more than one God? And he answered, No. . . . Now Zeezrom said unto the people: See that ye remember these things; for he said there is but one God.”

Mosiah 15:4: “And they are one God, yea, the very Eternal Father of heaven and of earth.”

Ether 2:8: “And he had sworn in his wrath unto the brother of Jared, that whoso should possess this land of promise, from that time henceforth and forever, should serve him, the true and only God, or they should be swept off when the fulness of his wrath should come upon them.”

When it comes to the nature of God, the Book of Mormon teaches that God is eternally unchangeable, all-knowing, and infinite:

Moroni 8:18: “For I know that God is not a partial God, neither a changeable being; but he is unchangeable from all eternity to all eternity.”

Moroni 7:22: “For behold, God knowing all things, being from everlasting to everlasting, behold, he sent angels to minister unto the children of men, to make manifest concerning the coming of Christ; and in Christ there should come every good thing.”

Mormon 9:9: “For do we not read that God is the same yesterday, today, and forever, and in him there is no variableness neither shadow of changing?”

D&C 20:17: “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.”

But Mormon leaders later taught that God was once a man as we are now and had to become exalted to Godhood by his God.

The Book of Mormon condemns polygamy in even stronger language than the Bible does:

Jacob 1:15: “And now it came to pass that the people of Nephi, under the reign of the second king, began to grow hard in their hearts, and indulge themselves somewhat in wicked practices, such as like unto David of old desiring many wives and concubines, and also Solomon, his son.”

Jacob 2:24, 27: “Behold, David and Solomon truly had many wives and concubines, which thing was abominable before me, saith the Lord. . . . Wherefore, my brethren, hear me, and hearken to the word of the Lord: For there shall not any man among you have save it be one wife; and concubines he shall have none.”

Jacob 3:5: “Behold, the Lamanites your brethren, whom ye hate because of their filthiness and the cursing which hath come upon their skins, are more righteous than you; for they have not forgotten the commandment of the Lord, which was given unto our father—that they should have save it were one wife, and concubines they should have none.”

But Smith later taught that David and Solomon did not sin by having multiple wives:

D&C 132:38: “David also received many wives and concubines, and also Solomon and Moses my servants, as also many others of my servants, from the beginning of creation until this time; and in nothing did they sin save in those things which they received not of me.”

The Book of Mormon teaches over and over again that hell is a place of eternal conscious torment:

Jacob 6:10: “And according to the power of justice, for justice cannot be denied, ye must go away into that lake of fire and brimstone, whose flames are unquenchable, and whose smoke ascendeth up forever and ever, which lake of fire and brimstone is endless torment.”

Mosiah 2:39: “And now I say unto you, that mercy hath no claim on that man; therefore his final doom is to endure a never-ending torment.”

Mosiah 3:25: “And if they be evil they are consigned to an awful view of their own guilt and abominations, which doth cause them to shrink from the presence of the Lord into a state of misery and endless torment, from whence they can no more return; therefore they have drunk damnation to their own souls.”

Mosiah 28:3: “Now they were desirous that salvation should be declared to every creature, for they could not bear that any human soul should perish; yea, even the very thoughts that any soul should endure endless torment did cause them to quake and tremble.”

Alma 28:11: “And the bodies of many thousands are laid low in the earth, while the bodies of many thousands are moldering in heaps upon the face of the earth; yea, and many thousands are mourning for the loss of their kindred, because they have reason to fear, according to the promises of the Lord, that they are consigned to a state of endless wo.”

Helaman 12:25-26: “And I would that all men might be saved. But we read that in the great and last day there are some who shall be cast out, yea, who shall be cast off from the presence of the Lord; Yea, who shall be consigned to a state of endless misery, fulfilling the words which say: They that have done good shall have everlasting life; and they that have done evil shall have everlasting damnation. And thus it is. Amen.”

The Book of Mormon says that it would be better for those who do not receive the message of Christ to have never been born:

3 Nephi 28:34-35: “And wo be unto him that will not hearken unto the words of Jesus, and also to them whom he hath chosen and sent among them; for whoso receiveth not the words of Jesus and the words of those whom he hath sent receiveth not him; and therefore he will not receive them at the last day; And it would be better for them if they had not been born. For do ye suppose that ye can get rid of the justice of an offended God, who hath been trampled under feet of men, that thereby salvation might come?”

But D&C 76:89 describes the glory of the telestial kingdom (the lowest level of heaven reserved for those who do not believe the restored gospel) as one “which surpasses all understanding.”

So, how would going to the telestial kingdom which never ends be worse than never being born?

More Strange Teachings in Mormonism

More Strange Teachings in Mormonism

Out of all the religions I have studied, Mormonism is by far the strangest. We have already explored Mormonism’s belief that we can become gods, their denial of the virgin birth of Christ, the practice of blood atonement, Brigham Young’s belief that there are people living on the sun, Joseph Smith’s lies about his polygamy, and how similar Islam is to Mormonism. But in this article, I want to examine a few more.

Young taught that any white man who marries a black woman must be put to death:

“If the white man who belongs to the chosen seed mixes his blood with the seed of Cain, the penalty, under the law of God, is death on the spot. This will always be so” (Journal of Discourses, vol. 10, p. 110).

But apparently, God’s law has changed given that the modern leadership of Mormonism does not agree with this sentiment at all. But historically, Mormon leaders taught and practiced racism while claiming to speak as prophets of God. This is one of the clearest contradictions in Mormonism.

According to Young, there are multiple earths each with their own Jesus and Satan figure where the plan of redemption is played out over and over again:

“Sin is upon every earth that ever was created, and if it was not so, I would like some philosophers to let us know how people can be exalted to become sons of God, and enjoy a fulness of glory with the Redeemer. Consequently every earth has its redeemer, and every earth has its tempter; and every earth, and the people thereof, in their turn and time, receive all that we receive, and pass through all the ordeals that we are passing through” (Journal of Discourses, vol. 14, p. 71-72).

Hence, when we become gods, we will have our own planet and spirit children who will recapitulate the events of this world. We will literally take God’s place over our own world, receive worship from our spirit children, and do everything he did.

In Mormonism, the fall of Adam into sin was actually a good thing because it was the fall that enabled men to become gods. 2 Nephi 2:22-25 states that Adam fell that we might have joy:

“And now, behold, if Adam had not transgressed he would not have fallen, but he would have remained in the garden of Eden. And all things which were created must have remained in the same state in which they were after they were created; and they must have remained forever, and had no end. And they would have had no children; wherefore they would have remained in a state of innocence, having no joy, for they knew no misery; doing no good, for they knew no sin. But behold, all things have been done in the wisdom of him who knoweth all things. Adam fell that men might be; and men are, that they might have joy.”

This belief is repeated in Moses 5:10-11 where Adam and Eve praise God for their fall into sin and having their eyes opened:

“And in that day Adam blessed God and was filled, and began to prophesy concerning all the families of the earth, saying: Blessed be the name of God, for because of my transgression my eyes are opened, and in this life I shall have joy, and again in the flesh I shall see God. And Eve, his wife, heard all these things and was glad, saying: Were it not for our transgression we never should have had seed, and never should have known good and evil, and the joy of our redemption, and the eternal life which God giveth unto all the obedient.”

But remember, from Young’s perspective, Adam is our Heavenly Father. Young thought that our Heavenly Father, the archangel Michael, and Adam were simply different names for the same person:

“Yahovah Michael goes and does as he is told. What I am now going to tell you, will no doubt astonish the whole of you. When Yahovah Michael had organized the world, and brought from another kingdom the beasts, fish, fowl, and insects, and every tree, and plant with which we are acquainted, and thousands that we never saw, when He had filled the Earth with animal and vegetable life, Michael or Adam goes down to the new made world, and there he stays” (Essential Brigham Young, p. 94).

Young taught that polygamy is essential for exaltation to Godhood:

“The only men who become Gods, even the Sons of God, are those who enter into polygamy. Others attain unto a glory and may even be permitted to come into the presence of the Father and the Son; but they cannot reign as kings in glory, because they had blessings offered unto them, and they refused to accept them” (Journal of Discourses, vol. 11, p.268-269).

But today, Mormons deny that any church leader has ever taught that polygamy is essential to exaltation.

Young said that Emma, Smith’s first wife, would go to hell because she rejected the revelation of polygamy in D&C 132:

“Emma took that revelation, supposing she had all there was; but Joseph had wisdom enough to take care of it, and he had handed the revelation to Bishop Whitney, and he wrote it all off. After Joseph had been to Bishop Whitney’s he went home, and Emma began teasing for the revelation. Said she — ‘Joseph, you promised me that revelation, and if you are a man of your word you will give it to me.’ Joseph took it from his pocket and said — ‘Take it.’ She went to the fire-place and put it in, and put the candle under it and burnt it, and she thought that was the end of it, and she will be damned as sure as she is a living woman” (Journal of Discourses, vol. 17, p. 159).

Young also taught that no one can become a god without the consent of Joseph Smith so that Smith essentially takes the place of Jesus Christ as our final judge:

“No man or woman in this dispensation will ever enter into the celestial kingdom of God without the consent of Joseph Smith. From the day that the Priesthood was taken from the earth to the winding-up scene of all things, every man and woman must have the certificate of Joseph Smith, junior, as a passport to their entrance into the mansion where God and Christ are – I with you and you with me. I cannot go there without his consent. He holds the keys of that kingdom for the last dispensation – the keys to rule in the spirit-world; and he rules there triumphantly, for he gained full power and a glorious victory over the power of Satan while he was yet in the flesh, and was a martyr to his religion and to the name of Christ, which gives him a most perfect victory in the spirit-world. He reigns there as supreme a being in his sphere, capacity, and calling, as God does in heaven” (Journal of Discourses, vol. 7, p. 289).

Young declared that belief in Joseph Smith is essential to salvation:

“I know that Joseph Smith is a Prophet of God, that this is the Gospel of salvation, and if you do not believe it you will be damned, every one of you” (Journal of Discourses, vol. 4, p. 298).

It’s easy to see why Young would say this when we read Smith’s boastful claims about himself:

“I have more to boast of than ever any man had. I am the only man that has ever been able to keep a whole church together since the days of Adam. A large majority of the whole have stood by me. Neither Paul, John, Peter, nor Jesus ever did it. I boast that no man ever did such a work as I. The followers of Jesus ran away from Him; but the Latter-day Saints never ran away from me yet” (History of the Church, vol. 6, p. 408-409).

It is amazing that Smith was able to keep his followers together for so long considering how outlandish his beliefs were. It is even more amazing that Young was able to keep the Mormons together when his teachings were even stranger. In addition to the plurality of gods, Smith taught that the Garden of Eden was in Missouri, that Noah’s Ark was built in South Carolina, that Jesus and Satan are spirit brothers, that Elijah and Elias were two different prophets, and that the Book of Mormon was more correct than the Bible.

Mormonism is Satan’s version of Christianity. His original temptation that “you will be like God” in Genesis 3:5 comes to its fulfillment in Mormonism where we become gods who beget our own spirit children who then in turn worship us instead of worshiping the one true and living God alone.

Exodus 34:14: “For you shall worship no other god, for the LORD, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God.”

Isaiah 44:6-8: “Thus says the LORD, the King of Israel and his Redeemer, the LORD of hosts: ‘I am the first and I am the last; besides me there is no god. Who is like me? Let him proclaim it. Let him declare and set it before me, since I appointed an ancient people. Let them declare what is to come, and what will happen. Fear not, nor be afraid; have I not told you from of old and declared it? And you are my witnesses! Is there a God besides me? There is no Rock; I know not any.”

For more on Mormonism, see LDS Video Encyclopedia.

Mormonism: the Islam of the West

Mormonism: the Islam of the West

Mormonism has been called the Islam of the West. And when you compare the two religions side by side, it’s not difficult to see why. Let’s list some of the similarities between them:

1. Both Joseph Smith and Muhammad claimed to be prophets who received additional revelation from God through angels (the Book of Mormon and the Quran).

2. Both leaders practiced polygamy. Joseph Smith had at least 28 wives and Muhammad had 11.

3. Both religions believe that the God of Christianity had sexual relations with Mary to conceive Jesus. While Mormonism embraces this and denies the virgin birth, Islam rejects this because they misunderstand the Christian doctrine of the sonship of Christ as if Jesus is the literal offspring of God’s union with Mary.

4. Both leaders believed that the true Christian doctrine of God is polytheistic. Whereas Joseph Smith embraced polytheism, Muhammad mistakenly believed that the Trinity is three different gods who are God, Mary, and Jesus.

5. Both leaders taught that sexual relationships will continue in the afterlife.

6. Both leaders rejected the doctrine of original sin believing that we are born innocent and pure as Adam was before the fall.

7. Both leaders taught a works-based understanding of salvation where God’s grace alone is not enough to save us.

8. Both leaders believed their coming is the fulfillment of biblical prophecy.

9. Both leaders had their own theocracy and army.

10. Both leaders were persecuted and forced to flee to a different town (Muhammad fled from Mecca to Medina while Joseph Smith fled from Missouri to Illinois).

11. Both leaders made self-serving prophecies to satisfy their own sexual desires. Muhammad revealed Surah 33 to justify taking Zaynab, his adopted son’s wife, for himself while Joseph Smith revealed D&C 132 to justify sharing the wives of other men in marriage and threatened his wife Emma with destruction if she did not go along with it.

12. Both religions teach that the Bible we have today has been corrupted and therefore cannot be used to correct the later revelation given by their prophets.

13. Both religions claim to be the fulfillment of Christianity because it had become corrupted by the time their prophet received revelation from God.

14. Both religions experienced great turmoil and division after their leader was killed.

15. Both religions outlaw the use of alcohol entirely and have many traditions that govern the most intimate details of life.

16. Both religions have taught that the devil has black skin.

17. Both religions demand vengeance against those who murdered their prophet.

So, how is it that these two religions could have so many common features since even Mormons can see this? I believe the answer lies in the fact that Satan and his demons stand behind them. These are demonically inspired false religions and the same demons who were involved in the founding of Islam are the same ones who deceived the early Mormons. They simply repackaged the old errors of Islam in American garb because it had already worked once before. Demons are pragmatists and know how to deceive people into embracing falsehood by appealing to the appetites of those enslaved to sin.

Both Islam and Mormonism are attractive because they promise never-ending sex in paradise for those who keep all of their rules and regulations. They promote a man-centered view of heaven as if it revolves around us getting to satisfy every carnal desire that we could not on earth. In contrast, the biblical view of heaven is all about God and worshiping and serving him for all eternity. False religions are man-centered while true Christianity is God-centered.

Joseph Smith’s Misinterpretation of 1 Corinthians 8:5

Joseph Smith’s Misinterpretation of 1 Corinthians 8:5

One of the stranger interpretations of Joseph Smith was that Paul affirmed a plurality of gods in 1 Corinthians 8:5. The text says, “For although there may be so-called gods in heaven or on earth – as indeed there are many gods and many lords.” Smith argued in response to his critics:

“Some say I do not interpret the Scripture the same as they do. They say it (1 Cor. 8:5) means the heathen’s gods. Paul says there are Gods many and Lords many; and that makes a plurality of Gods, in spite of the whims of all men. Without a revelation, I am not going to give them the knowledge of the God of heaven. You know and I testify that Paul had no allusion to the heathen gods. I have it from God, and get over it if you can. I have a witness of the Holy Ghost, and a testimony that Paul had no allusion to the heathen gods in the text” (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, 371).

But this is a gross distortion of the text that ignores the context and glosses over the phrase “so-called” which comes from the Greek participle legomenoi which can be translated as “called” or “so-called.” Paul calls these gods “so-called” to indicate that they are not real gods. Pagans may call them gods, but that does not make them gods. The beliefs of these people are then sharply contrasted with what Christians believe in the next verse: “Yet for us there is one God, the Father, from whom are all things and for whom we exist, and one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom are all things and through whom we exist.” The belief that there are many so-called gods is not what Christians believe. The physical idols of pagans are those which exist “on earth” and the gods of mythology are those which exist “in heaven.” And it is to these that Paul refers when he says there are many gods and many lords.

A passage which is parallel to 1 Corinthians 8:4-5 is Psalm 96:4-5. Verse four of Psalm 96 says, “For great is the LORD, and greatly to be praised; he is to be feared above all gods.” This verse, if removed from its context, could be used to argue for polytheism since the Psalmist speaks of “gods.” But then he defines what he means by “gods” in verse five: “For all the gods of the peoples are worthless idols, but the LORD made the heavens.” We must allow the author to define what he means by “gods” by paying attention to what comes before and after the verse.

And in 1 Corinthians 8:5, the context before this verse is a discussion of pagan idolatry and the worship of false gods. In verse four, Paul affirms as true the phrase “there is no God but one.” This statement alone is enough to refute the Mormon belief in a plurality of gods since Paul affirmed that there was no God but one. This statement is an allusion to Deuteronomy 4:35 and other monotheist texts in the Old Testament: “To you it was shown, that you might know that the LORD is God; there is no other besides him.”

Then immediately after verse five, Paul contrasts what pagans believe with what Christians believe by saying that there is only one God. Paul refers to the Father as God and the Son as Lord because that is the normal way he distinguishes between the two. The names “God” and “Lord” are references to the two most common Old Testament names for God: Elohim and Yahweh. The background of 1 Corinthians 8:6 is Deuteronomy 6:4 where “God” and “Lord” both describe the one God of Israel. To say that Jesus is the one Lord is to say that he is Yahweh (Rom 10:9-13). How incredibly ironic it is that Smith used a passage which teaches monotheism to attempt to turn Paul into a polytheist!

1 Timothy 1:17: “To the King of ages, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen.”

1 Timothy 2:5: “For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus.”

1 Timothy 6:15-16: “He who is the blessed and only Sovereign, the King of kings and Lord of lords, who alone has immortality, who dwells in unapproachable light, whom no one has ever seen or can see. To him be honor and eternal dominion. Amen.”