Contradictions Between the Book of Mormon and the Bible
There are many serious objections to the claim of Joseph Smith and the LDS church that the Book of Mormon is divinely inspired latter-day scripture supplemental to the Bible. However, none are more significant than the numerous contradictions between Book of Mormon teaching and the Bible. This list is illustrative only, not exhaustive.
1. The Book of Mormon teaches that little children are not capable of sin because they do not have a sinful nature (Moroni 8:8). In contrast, the Bible in Psalm 51:5 clearly teaches that we have sinful nature from birth: "Surely I was sinful at birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me" (NIV). (This does not mean that those who die in infancy are lost.*)
2. The Book of Mormon teaches that the disobedience of Adam and Eve in eating the forbidden fruit was necessary so that they could have children and bring joy to mankind (2 Nephi 2:23-25). In contrast, the Bible specifically declares that Adam’s transgression was a sinful act of rebellion that unleashed the power of sin and death in the human heart and throughout God’s perfect world (Genesis 3:16-19; Romans 5:12; 8:20-21). There is no Biblical support for the view that Adam and Eve could only fulfill the command to "be fruitful and multiply" (Genesis 1:28) by disobeying God’s command regarding the forbidden fruit (Genesis 2:17). The Book of Mormon teaching that these divine commands are contradictory, and that God expected Adam and Eve to figure out that in reality He wanted them to break the latter command ("of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it") in order to keep the former ("be fruitful and multiply"), has no basis in logic or the Biblical text, and attributes equivocation to God.
3. The Book of Mormon teaches that black skin is a sign of God’s curse, so that white-skinned people are considered morally and spiritually superior to black skinned people (2 Nephi 5:21). In contrast, the Bible teaches that God "made of one blood all nations of men" (Acts 17:26, KJV), that in Christ distinctions of ethnicity, gender and social class are erased (Galatians 3:28), and that God condemns favoritism (James 2:1).
4. The Book of Mormon teaches that, "it is by grace that we are saved, after all we can do" (2 Nephi 25:23; see also Moroni 10:32). In contrast, the Bible teaches that apart from Christ we are dead in sin (Ephesians 2:1,5) and unable to do anything to merit forgiveness and eternal life. Salvation is wholly of grace (Ephesians 2:8-9; Romans 11:6; Titus 3:5-6), not by grace plus works. Good works are a result, not the basis, of a right relationship with God (Ephesians 2:10).
5. According to the Book of Mormon, about 600 years before Christ, a Nephite prophet predicted that "many plain and precious parts" (1 Nephi 13:26-28) would be removed from the Bible. In contrast, from the Bible it is clear that during His earthly ministry, Jesus himself constantly quoted from the Old Testament Scriptures, and showed full confidence in their completeness and accurate transmission as they had survived down to His time. Jesus declared that "heaven and earth shall pass away, but my word shall not pass away" (Mark 13:31; see also Matthew 5:18), and promised His disciples who were to pen the New Testament that the Holy Ghost "shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you" (John 14:26); Jesus further promised the apostles that they would "bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain" (John 15:16). These promises clearly imply that the fruit of the apostles — the New Testament Scriptures and the Christian church — would endure.
6. According to a Book of Mormon prophecy (Helaman 14:27), at the time of Christ’s crucifixion "darkness should cover the face of the whole earth for the space of three days." In contrast, the New Testament gospel accounts declare repeatedly that there was darkness for only three hours while Jesus was on the cross (Matthew 27:45; Mark 15:33; Luke 23:44).
An earlier prophecy in 1 Nephi 19:10 implies the three days of darkness will be more than regional in scope for it says this sign will be "unto those who inhabit the isles of the sea, more especially given unto those who are of the house of Israel." The darkness then would extend over the ocean to the islands and reach as far as Israel in the Middle East.
Book of Mormon references to the fulfillment of this prophecy, however, use wording that could be understood to mean the three days of darkness was only in the Americas, stating that the three days of darkness would be "over the face of the land." (3 Nephi 8:3ff; 10:9). This appears to be the position of the late Mormon General Authority B. H. Roberts in his book Studies of the Book of Mormon, p. 292). If this is the case, then this would resolve the apparent contradiction between the Bible and the Book of Mormon regarding what happened at the time of Christ's death, for we would have 3 hours of darkness in Israel and 3 days of darkness on the American continents. However, this would make the earlier prophecies of 1 Nephi and Helaman internally contradictory with later BOM references, since their phrasing of "the isles of the sea ... those who are of the house of Israel" and "the whole face of the whole earth" is difficult to understand as merely a localized time of darkness.
7. The Book of Mormon people are said to have observed "all things according to the law of Moses (2 Nephi 5:10; 25:24). However, although they are supposed to have been Hebrews, they were descendents of the tribe of Joseph (1 Nephi 5:17) or Manasseh (Alma 10:3), not the tribe of Levi and family line of Aaron, as the Law of Moses dictates (Numbers 3:10; Exodus 29:9; Numbers 18:1-7), so they would not have had a legitimate priesthood.
8. According to the Book of Mormon, there were many high priests serving at the same time (Mosiah 11:11; Alma 13:9-10; 46:6,38; Helaman 3:25) in the New World, among those it describes as Jewish immigrants from ancient Israel who "kept the law of Moses" (e.g., 2 Nephi 25:10; Jacob 4:5; Jarom 1:5). In contrast, it is clear from the Bible that only one individual at a time occupied the office of high priest under the Old Testament dispensation (see, for example Leviticus 21:10; Matthew 26:3; Hebrews 8:6-7). (The mention in Luke 3:2 of "Annas and Caiaphas being the high priests" is not a real exception -- in Christ’s time Israel was under the domination of the Romans, who intervened to change the high priest at will. That is, this office became a kind of "political football," rather than following the appointment process dictated in the Law of Moses. See John 18:13, which describes Annas as "father-in-law to Caiaphas, which was the high priest that same year.")
9. The people described in the Book of Mormon operated multiple temples (Alma 16:13; 23:2; 26:29). This violates the dictates of the Old Testament Scriptures on two counts: First, God commanded Israel to build only one temple to reflect that fact that there is only one true God (Deuteronomy 12:5,13-14; 16:5-6). Second, the one legitimate temple was to be built in Jerusalem (Zion), the location designated by God (The Old Testament is filled with explicit references to God choosing Jerusalem [Zion] as the place where "His name would dwell" in the temple: for example, 1 Kings 8:44,48; 11:13,32,36; 14:21; 2 Kings 21:7; 23:27; 1 Chronicles 28:4; 2 Chronicles 6:6; 7:12,16; Psalm 78:68-69; Isaiah 18:7.
10. The most common biblical terms used to describe the Old Testament priesthood, temple and appointed feasts, are entirely missing from the Book of Mormon. Here are 10 examples of such biblical terms with their frequencies, that never appear once in the Book of Mormon:
- "laver" (13 times in Bible)
- "incense" (121 times in Bible)
- "ark of the covenant" (48 times in Bible)
- "sons of Aaron" (97 times in Bible)
- "mercy seat" (23 in Bible)
- "day of atonement" (21 times in Bible)
- "feast of tabernacles" (17 times in Bible)
- "passover" (59 times in Bible)
- "house of the LORD" (627 in Bible)
- "Aaron" – this name appears 48 times in the Book of Mormon, but never in reference to the biblical Aaron or the Aaronic priesthood
Conclusion: The contradictions between the Book of Mormon and the Bible constitute a most serious obstacle to accepting the Book of Mormon as Latter-day scripture that is supplemental to the Bible. The Bible came first, not the Book of Mormon. And whereas the Bible is organically linked to the earthly ministry of Jesus Christ by extensive surviving manuscript evidence going back as far as A.D. 125-30, the Book of Mormon is wholly lacking in any such evidences of ancient origin. Is it not reasonable, therefore, to make the Bible the standard for judging the Book of Mormon, and not the other way around? If we accept the Bible as our "measuring stick" for spiritual truth, the Book of Mormon must be rejected.
*For further reading regarding infancy and salvation, see the Christian Apologetics & Research Ministry's article on the subject. For another resource on this subject and many others, see Millard J. Erickson's Christian Theology, in his section on original sin.