Answering a Crook

Michael Crook is an ex-Mormon with a website that claims he will soon have the video of the endowment on his site. I hope the Church’s lawyers take note and pay him a visit for copyright issues.

On his page, he has a list of questions. I would like to address at least some of them.  Part of the reason is to show just how disingenuous his questions tend to be, for one.  Secondly, to show how old some of his questions are, and have been answered many times in the past.

If Heavenly Father was once a man like we are today, then how does his lineage trace back to a Heavenly Father, or God, being forever? Who created the first Heavenly Father, and then who created that deity, and so forth? Such a belief is not supported by science, logic, or common sense.

Such reasoning also can be asked of the traditional God, who has always existed, even before time and space.  The answer: we do not know. But that does not mean there isn’t an answer.  It is basically like asking a scientist what happened 1 billion years before the Big Bang.  They can conjecture, but the reality is, there is no answer to such a hypothetical. The Big Bang as a beginning ends any testing on what existence, space, etc., may have been prior to it.

How is it possible, scientifically speaking, for Heavenly Father to know what’s in our minds at all times? That would amount to billions of people to monitor all at once. Such a feat simply is not possible.

How is it possible today to provide the information to us that they did not have a century ago? People from Jesus’ day would be amazed at our technology, considering it witch craft or the power of a god.  Imagine what technology may do a century from now: we are just now on the edge of reading the brain and its thoughts. It is just a matter of time before very powerful computers can do what you claim “is not possible.”

The conventional wisdom among many in Mormonism seems to be that the planetis 6000 years old. How can this be, in the face of scientific evidence that goes back billions of years? Is the logic that this planet was the planet used by a previous Heavenly Father? If so, I refer you to Question The First.

The Church’s does not have an official position on the age of the earth. Most members believe the earth to be approx 4.5 billion years old, as science also teaches. The Church schools (BYU, etc) teach a 4.5 billion year old earth.  So, this is a logical fallacy. You claim “many” but do not show that many LDS believe in a 6000 year old earth. Then you ask us to prove your straw man.

If Joseph Smith was truly a prophet, and a man of God, how is it that he married multiple wives(well over 20), two of whom were 14 years old at the time? Does the LDS Church condone such behavior? No? Then why is it okay for a man considered to have been a prophet?

Yes, Joseph was married to many women.  We believe God commanded him to do so.  Joseph was reticent to do so, until he was threatened by an angel.  God also had Abraham, Jacob and Moses marry more than one woman. That he married some as young as 14 years old may sound bad today, but 200 years ago in the wilderness of the United States, it was more common than you think.  Women tended to die early because of childbirth, and so many women married young in the wilderness, to improve their chances of survival. In the wilderness, there was little education and no hospitals, and so marriages were performed in this manner.  God commanded Abraham to sacrifice Isaac – is this any worse? God commanded Moses to slaughter cities of women and children. When God commands through a prophet, whether Moses, Isaiah, Peter or Joseph Smith, one learns to obey, even if it is a difficult thing.  And we should not judge people of other times according to our culture and morals today.

Joseph Smith was poorly educated, if at all. How is it that he supposedly translated what was on the golden plates into the book called The Book of Mormon? Why did Smith take credit as the author in the first edition of the book? Is he admitting that he wrote the book, as opposed to supposedly translating it?…did an uneducated farm boy magically procure the ability to translate a foreign language (with a stone)?

Joseph called himself the “author” because it was required by law, in order to maintain the copyright on the book.  Otherwise, he consistently called himself the translator.  How could Joseph translate the book?  Given that the book contains many ancient concepts, names, places, etc., that were not known in his day, it could only have been translated by the power of God.  No one in 19th century America could have written the Book of Mormon without God’s assistance. It contains Egyptian names that Champollion had not yet translated. It contained Hebrew names unknown until the Bar Kochba letters were found a century later. It contains doctrines unknown until the Dead Sea Scrolls and Nag Hammadi were found in the 1940s. Only God could produce it.

As for translating with a stone and magic, it is no different than the power God used in the Bible.  Moses used a staff to part the Red Sea.  Jesus used clay to heal the blind man’s eyes.  Today, thanks to science, we are able to speak into a small handheld device and get a translation into another language.  Why couldn’t God give Joseph Smith technology to do the same things we can do today?

How is it that the Book of Mormon has multiple citations of one God, yet the Church believes that men can become Gods themselves? Would that not result in more than one God? How do you reconcile that with the belief that there is only one God?

It is because you read it out of context.  When the BoM tells us that the “Father, Son and Holy Ghost are one God”, it always in reference to the unity of the three, and how we mortals must also learn to be one, even as they are one. You can see this same concept in John 17, where Christ prays that his disciples may be one, even as he and the Father are one.  I’ve written extensively on this elsewhere.

If The Book of Mormon is “another testament of Jesus Christ,” how does that reconcile with the notion that one should not add to or take away from the Holy Bible, a scripture that Latter-day Saints sustain?

Again, you misread scripture.  When the apostle John wrote his Revelation (approx 93 AD), the New Testament nor the Bible were yet formed.  In John’s day, there were many who were taking documents, reworking them, and then claiming the words were from an apostle or prophet of old. Professor Bart Ehrman has written extensively on this in many books.  John is placing a curse at the end of his book (Revelation), to tell others not to mess with his book.  That said, Revelation 22 tells us that “no man” may add to or take away. The intent being that if God wishes to change something through a prophet, he may do so.  That the Bible is not complete can be seen in the many books it mentions that are not included.  Enoch is referenced 39 times in the New Testament, but was not included when the Bible was made (see Jude for an example). If such things are important enough for Jude and others to include, then it shows that we are missing from the sacred tome.  Second, what do we do with the Dead Sea Scrolls?  They contain all the Old Testament (save Esther), and hundreds of other documents once considered sacred. Are they no longer worthy of consideration?  Clearly, the end of adding scripture was a human decision, and not one from God. As Proverbs tell us, “where there is no vision, the people perish.”

Why does the Book of Mormon contradict the Holy Bible on so many occasions, if it is a true work of God?

Clear straw man.  No mention of where and what contradicts.  I see no contradictions and I’ve been studying them for over 35 years.

He asks some questions regarding the temple and the changes made in 1990 to the endowment. I won’t quote him, but will answer it here:  Joseph Smith used the Masonic rite as a catalyst for developing the LDS endowment.  While they have some similarities in the framework, there are very clear differences. The symbolism of the Masonic rite was useful to a people (early Mormons) that often were Masons themselves.  Such symbolism helped them understand the overall endowment. Note that these are symbols, not used as a mortal threat to mankind, but to help the initiate understand the spiritual importance of keeping sacred things sacred.  As the LDS Church became international, now with over 1/2 its members outside the USA/Canada, many of those symbols do not mean anything to them.  The endowment was reworked to remove much of the old symbolism that will not help a convert from Buddhism understand the covenants and ordinances he’s receiving.  The most important parts of the endowment: covenants, ordinances, and preparing us to enter into God’s presence, are still intact.

He asks about the 1978 revelation on priesthood, claiming it “occurred” because of the Church wanting more people paying tithing into its coffers.  Well, the fact is, the Church receives tithes from all active members, whether holding the priesthood or not.  The priesthood ban was set in place by Brigham Young. We do not know whether it was due to a revelation, or whether he and others were reading into the scriptures a curse on the blacks. Most LDS today do not believe there was a curse, as a close reading of scripture does not show it.  Several prophets over the years sought to have the ban lifted.  David O. McKay’s biography shows how saddened and disappointed he was when the Lord told him the time was not right.  That some racism may have been involved in beginning the concept of a curse is acknowledged.  That it was the same 19th century racism that caused the Southern Baptists to break away from the American Baptists, in order to promote slavery, and that they also used to promote Jim Crow Laws in the 20th century, should show us that racism affects all people and their beliefs.  That since 1978, we now have General Authorities, stake presidents, bishops and others that are black, shows we have quickly moved forward from those earlier days.

I will continue discussing the other questions in my next post.



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About rameumptom

Gerald (Rameumptom) Smith is a student of the gospel. Joining the Church of Jesus Christ when he was 16, he served a mission in Santa Cruz Bolivia (1978=1980). He is married to Ramona, has 3 stepchildren and 7 grandchildren. Retired Air Force (Aim High!). He has been on the Internet since 1986 when only colleges and military were online. Gerald has defended the gospel since the 1980s, and was on the first Latter-Day Saint email lists, including the late Bill Hamblin's Morm-Ant. Gerald has worked with FairMormon, More Good Foundation, LDS.Net and other pro-LDS online groups. He has blogged on the scriptures for over a decade at his site: Joel's Monastery ( He has the following degrees: AAS Computer Management, BS Resource Mgmt, MA Teaching/History. Gerald was the leader for the Tuskegee Alabama group, prior to it becoming a branch. He opened the door for missionary work to African Americans in Montgomery Alabama in the 1980s. He's served in two bishoprics, stake clerk, high council, HP group leader and several other callings over the years. While on his mission, he served as a counselor in a branch Relief Society presidency.

13 thoughts on “Answering a Crook

  1. On the first point I think it is important to note that God has always existed, as have we. We don’t subscribe to the notion that God created the universe but is part of its infinite existence, so there is no reason to be concerned with an infinite regress.

  2. Ram:
    WRT covenant breaking,

    I think there’s more going on than just: we got fewer masons. Society morphed: instead of farmers who kill their own cows, pigs, and chickens, those items now come from the store, neatly wrapped in plastic, keeping the blood from dripping on our car carpets.

    Plus, Mormons in general got stupider. As fewer members read the Old Testament (unproven assertion, I know) fewer know about the way that covenants were “cut” in the old testament. Many knew less and less about Simile Curses.

    my 0.02$.

  3. The thinking on display is so shallow, I can’t decide whether Crook was a particularly ill-informed member, or whether turning away from the light caused him to have taken away what little wisdom he had.

    You know, sometimes that sure seems true, doesn’t it?

  4. This guy’s ramblings don’t merit a serious rebuttal.

    Ram, I believe you wasted your time in this.

  5. Bookslinger, I just wanted to ensure there was a response somewhere for his questions that members could reference. Here it is.

    h_nu, I do not think Mormons are stupider than before. Lazier, maybe. Joseph Smith’s original endowment lasted most of a day. He gave Brigham Young the responsibility to shorten it, and that isn’t because the members suddenly became dumber. Prior to the changes in the 1990s, there was a segment where a minister tries to describe Satan and God, according to the traditions of Christianity. This would have been meaningless to someone raised outside of Protestantism. In Joseph’s endowment, he had a group of ministers, who argued amongst themselves on the doctrines of the gospel – clearly a symbol of his own youthful experience in Palmyra. Yet, today’s one sentence discussing the “philosophies of men mingled with scripture” can symbolize any philosophical system, not just the mistakes that have crept into traditional Christianity. We see a little Nibley in the change, as we now see the difference between a horizontal religion (men using their own wisdom) versus a vertical religion, where we seek greater light and knowledge from Father through revelation.

    I personally prefer the newer endowment, and not just because it is shorter. It is also set up so that I must seek out my own revelation while in the temple. Threats of punishment are not necessary to teach the Saints the covenants and ordinances of godliness.

  6. RAM,
    I think you fall into the same trap that other members did before. They misunderstood them as “threats of punishment” rather than simile curses. The existence of simile curses in our endowment was a huge testimony builder for me. The fact that others do not know how to properly contextualize them only reflects poorly on them.

  7. h_nu, actually I do understand them as simile curses. However, I do not see them as material to the covenants and ordinances of exaltation. In fact, I think that for most members they were distracting from focusing on the important things of the endowment. The most important points of the endowment are: Creation, Fall, Atonement, Ordinance/Covenant, Return to the Presence of God.

    The penalties had little to do with any of these, except to stress the importance of the covenants. They distract from the covenants themselves, and so I’m glad they are no longer in the endowment.

  8. Oh, I also don’t think that if members do not understand the penalties as similes, that it “reflects poorly upon them.” The penalties are not needed for exaltation, therefore they are just additional information that can benefit some. However, with a global church, most members were not going to understand the simile without training, and the Church wasn’t going to extend the temple prep class to explain penalties as similes.

    What reflects poorly on some members is when they/us judge others by our own standard, instead of Christ’s standard. What is Christ’s standard, which is also taught in the temple? Faith in Christ, Repentance, Ordinances/Covenants, Receiving the Holy Ghost/Godhead. I think we need to avoid such hubris. I may know more about the deep doctrines than many others in the Church, but they may understand humility, service, charity and faith much more than I. Perhaps they are the better Christians for spending their time on what is of greatest worth.

  9. So Ram,
    When is the church going to start pulling pages out of the BoM that deal with Simile curses?

  10. h_nu, your one-horse comments are getting a little tedious. They are not adding to the discussion, and represent only one bit of what I have written. You seem to be swallowing camels and straining at gnats.

    Simile curses in the BoM are not as obvious. There is a lot of information in its 500+ pages that do not relate to any curse. This is very different than a 2 hour endowment, where such are more noticeable and prominent.

    In the endowment, they become a distraction from the more important teachings of covenant. In the Book of Mormon, they are but one small topic among many.

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