Another Testament of Jesus Christ

by Brett Hickey

You may have seen their ads on television. If so, you noticed how skillfully they communicated a family-oriented, God-honoring vision until they ended the commercial with their unapologetic promotion of "another testament of Jesus Christ." The ad referred to the Book of Mormon. For about 10 million "Latter-Day Saints" in about 160 countries (5 million in U.S.), the Book of Mormon is "the word of God" (the Pearl of Great Price, Doctrine and Covenants and any revelation or official statement by a prophet-president is also considered God's word).

Mormon roots go back to the 1820's with Joseph Smith of Palmyra, New York. Smith claimed the angel Moroni led him to buried golden plates. After translating the plates from "reformed Egyptian" into English, Smith presented the Book of Mormon to the world. Today, Mormons promote it as the "most accurate message from God" - surpassing the accuracy of our Old and New Testament.

Ironically, both times the phrase "another gospel" is found in the New Testament (2 Cor. 11:4; Gal. 1:6 9), they are decidedly unfavorable to Mormon claims. In the latter passage, Paul writes, "I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel: Which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ. But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed."

While Mormons claim to abide by the New Testament, the following eye-grabbing Mormon doctrines point in the opposite direction: So-called "elders" need not be married or have children (see I Tim. 3; Titus 1); Mormons can be baptized (and, more recently, unbaptized) for the dead (see Heb. 9:27); Joseph Smith said, "The Father has a body of flesh and bones as tangible as man's. . ." (see Jn. 4:24); Though it is no longer common among Mormons, polygamy is probably the most notorious practice associated with Mormonism. Joseph Smith said an angel threatened to slay him if he did not marry multiple wives. Historians say he had between 28 and 33 wives during 1840's (see Matt. 19:1-9; I Cor. 7: 1-7).

While this history and these doctrines do not seem to bother Mormons, recent DNA evidence is now challenging another fundamental Mormon teaching, namely, that all Native Americans are descendants of the prophet Lehi and his cohorts. The Book of Mormon teaches that these Israelites immigrated to the Americas from Israel in about 600 B.C. In a Los Angeles Times article (2/16/06) entitled "Bedrock of a Faith Is Jolted," Salt Lake City attorney Jose A. Loayza says "We were taught all the blessings of that Hebrew lineage belonged to us and that we were special people."

Former Mormon bishop, Simon G. Southerton, is a molecular biologist and senior research scientist with the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization in Australia. Southerton evaluated DNA lines of 7,300 Native Americans from 175 tribes throughout the Americas and found no Middle Eastern DNA. Meanwhile, Jews throughout the world had been linked by DNA to the Middle East.

How are other Mormons reacting to this new evidence? Some Mormon leaders are now saying that there were just not that many Lamanites from Israel - a hard sell for those who know that the traditional Mormon position has been used to proselytize potential converts in Central and South America. The Times quotes church president and prophet Gordon B. Hinckley to this effect as recently as 1997 in Lima, Peru.

Other Mormons are taking the findings lightly, saying that the evidence has "no bearing on (Book of Mormon's) central message as a testament of Jesus Christ." Still others have been chastised for pointing out these glaring inconsistencies. The Times reports that in 2002 the Mormon Church initiated the excommunication of Thomas W. Murphy, an anthropology professor at Edmonds Community College in Washington. His crime: saying Mormon writings "should be considered inspired fiction in light of the DNA evidence." Mormon officials dropped the matter after it gained national media attention.

The first century church and Mormonism differ fundamentally. There is an old testament and a new testament, but there is no "newer" new testament (2 Cor. 3:6, 14; Heb. 9:16-17). There is a first covenant and a second covenant, but there is no third covenant (Heb. 8:6-13; I Cor. 11:25). We are saved by the gospel, but that gospel was delivered only once for all saints (Jude 3) and anything added must be rejected (Rev. 22:18-19).