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Interview with Tom Hobson Part 2

Viewpoint on Mormonism / Bill McKeever
The Truth Network Radio
October 26, 2020 9:15 pm

Interview with Tom Hobson Part 2

Viewpoint on Mormonism / Bill McKeever

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Viewpoint on Mormonism, the program that examines the teachings of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints from a biblical perspective. Viewpoint on Mormonism is sponsored by Mormonism Research Ministry. Since 1979, Mormonism Research Ministry has been dedicated to equipping the body of Christ with answers regarding the Christian faith in a manner that expresses gentleness and respect. And now your host for today's Viewpoint on Mormonism.

Why is it that many Latter-day Saints are not convinced by evidence? Welcome to this edition of Viewpoint on Mormonism. I'm your host, Bill McKeever, founder and director of Mormonism Research Ministry. And with me today is Tom Hobson. Tom is the author of a book titled The Historical Jesus and The Historical Joseph Smith. Tom, welcome to the show.

Great to be here with you, Bill. And yesterday's show, Tom, we were looking at your book and you have a section in it that I think is worthy of talking about. And I want to recap that as we go on today. But you asked the question, how can we know the facts? And then you list a number of subheadings here like multiple independent sources, embarrassment, dissimilarity, coherence, and rejection.

Now this, of course, is in the context of demonstrating the person and divinity, I would say, of Jesus himself. But you asked also the question on page five of your book, but what good is evidence? And as you and I were talking before we started recording, you have experienced the same thing that we have experienced when talking to some Latter-day Saints, that sometimes evidence doesn't seem to work as well as we would hope, even though I would think most Latter-day Saints in everyday life use evidence when it comes to drawing conclusions. But what is your experience when talking with the Latter-day Saints and why this section in your book, what good is evidence?

Bill, I find that we all tend to see evidence the way that we want to based on our own preconceived biases. In the book, I tell the story about the mental patient who was convinced that he was dead. The therapist ends up proving to him through all sorts of evidence that dead people don't bleed.

Then the therapist stabs the patient in the hand with a scalpel and the patient looks down with his bleeding hand and cries out, dead people do bleed after all. So that's how it tends to be that the testimony of the Holy Ghost for the LDS tends to overrule any amount of evidence that we would share. And I definitely found that to be true in dialogue. Evidence and the Holy Ghost go hand in hand. On the one hand, God's Spirit cannot authenticate a falsehood.

And so that's where the book fits in. We're trying to establish the facts, because if you claim that God has told you this, but it's not backed up by facts, we need to consider whether this is God's Spirit or not. But the role of evidence is to give us reasons why we should trust the testimony to Jesus or to Joseph Smith, and not the testimony of countless Muslims or Hindus who have testimony to their own claims of faith. I think that's a great point. And it's one of the problems that of course you're going to have when talking with a Latter-day Saint.

I recall so many times having discussions about Mormon history and how you could lay it out for the Latter-day Saint that this historical aspect of Mormonism doesn't seem to really demonstrate the point that they're trying to make. It actually contradicts what they're saying. And they'll say, well, that doesn't matter. I've prayed about it.

Therefore, I know it's true. It's like the evidence doesn't mean anything to them. And I've actually used a phrase sometimes with Latter-day Saints, like why are you blaming the Holy Spirit for telling you something that he couldn't possibly have told you? Because you're right. The Holy Spirit is supposed to lead us to all truth.

He's not going to confirm something that's not true. The Holy Spirit also is there to help open our eyes to recognize evidence for what it is. That's where prayer does kick in as being extremely important.

I've blogged on the subject under the title Pray About It, Not Always, which can be found on the book website. But basically when God has clearly spoken on a subject, prayer becomes an evasion. For example, is the LDS person going to pray about whether it's okay to practice fornication even just once? Or are they going to pray about whether it's okay to use mind-altering drugs?

I don't think so. And as we look in the Bible, we look at the Council of Jerusalem, the question whether Gentiles have to become Jews before they can follow Jesus. There may have been prayer at that conference, but the Bible doesn't mention prayer. The Bible gives us all sorts of coverage of the discussion based on Scripture.

Good point. Sometimes I think we run the risk if we challenge a Mormon too abrasively about his prayer life on this matter, because usually they will be looking at us as saying, we don't take prayer seriously. And I've had to correct Mormons who have assumed that with me, and I'll say, no, I do take prayer very seriously, even to the point that I feel it is a sin to abuse prayer. And I don't mean to be offensive in this, but I think when you use prayer to confirm some of the presuppositions that you choose to have, you're actually abusing prayer. Would you agree?

Oh yeah. The issue is when God is clearly spoken on a subject, prayer becomes an evasion. But where God is not clearly spoken, like shall we call pastors so-and-so to become our church's pastor, there you have to go to prayer because the Bible didn't give us the name of the next pastor for our church. So those are the kinds of places where prayer is crucial. And as I just said, one of those places where prayer is crucial is for the Holy Ghost to open people's eyes, to see the evidence for what it is, no matter how smart we are, no matter how good the evidence, if God doesn't open the eyes, it ain't going to get seen.

True. You say on page five, you say truth cannot be based on feelings and you cite Proverbs 14, 12. There is a way that seems right to a person, but its end is the way of death. You gave the illustration of the death of John F. Kennedy Jr. Why don't you relate that story to our listeners? On July 16th, 1999, John Kennedy was flying private planes. He believed he was flying on a level course. That's what his feelings were telling him.

But in reality, he and his passengers were plunging straight down to their death. So the instruments in his cockpit told a different story than his feelings. And we would say that the instruments of the cockpit would be the word of God. Unfortunately, from our worldview, we see Latter-day Saints ignoring those instruments in the cockpit and going by their subjectivism, which can be very, very dangerous.

All we can do is continue to present the evidence of the instruments. Joseph's far-reaching claims. And in this chapter, you list the Mormon doctrine of pre-existence, Adam and Eve residing in Missouri. And you also list in that chapter, among other things, the great apostasy. Why should these be problematic for anyone who wonders if Joseph Smith was a true prophet? I believe you're talking about chapter 10.

It's the longest chapter in the book. The pre-existence and Adam and Eve in Missouri, I kind of deal with briefly. Adam and Eve in Missouri, it's simply, it's the Bible versus Joseph.

Nothing else really matters on that one. On the pre-existence, the pre-existence is a miniature reincarnation, which creates problems for biblical doctrine of salvation. But pre-existence is very important to LDS, I've found. But really, both of those are of far less importance than, you know, the huge central claim made by Joseph Smith and the Book of Mormon is the great apostasy, that the church supposedly disappeared from the earth, the true church, at the end of the first century, and then had to get restarted by Joseph Smith.

That's a huge claim. And to defend that, you have to say that the plain and precious teachings have been removed from the Bible. That's a sub-claim, claims that the Bible is not translated correctly. That's another sub-claim. And then you have the claim that the church as it existed in the first century AD was pretty much the same as today's LDS church. And I can give you the details what they say the early church looked like. And again, we just take that apart.

It's not true. So let's talk about the plain and precious things. Let's discuss that because on page 62, you asked the question, has anything plain and precious been removed from the Bible? And of course, you're citing from 1st Nephi 1328 in the Book of Mormon, which says, Wherefore thou seest that after the book hath gone forth through the hands of the great and abominable church, that there are many plain and precious things taken away from the book, which is the book of the Lamb of God.

Talk to us about what you have in the book regarding that very issue. Basically, the heretic Marcion, back in the second century, around 140 AD, tried to remove a huge amount of plain and precious things from the Bible. Basically, he tried to cut out anything Jewish. The problem is that he failed miserably. In fact, all of our copies of the Bible have everything in them that he tried to cut out. The only place you can find any copies of Marcion's chop job Bible are quoted from the early Christian leader Tertullian. But otherwise, his attempt to do this is a colossal failure. To me, that is a huge argument against Joseph's claim that any items on this scale could have been removed from the Bible that otherwise would have proved his gospel or his church.

You look at the book of Ephesians and there are copies of Ephesians with and without the words in Ephesus in the address line in verse one, which shows us there were two editions of Ephesians out there. We did not lose that fact. We have enough evidence to show us that little alterations like that happened. So therefore, the kind of alterations that Joseph proposes have no basis in fact or evidence. Yeah, many Mormons agree with the premise found in Article 8 of the Articles of Faith. We believe the Bible to be the word of God as far as it's translated correctly.

Very quickly, how should Christians respond to this charge? Well, I have found very, very few instances where translation makes any difference in what divides us. There is one particular item I mentioned in the book from the book of Hebrews 724, where Jesus is said to hold an unchangeable priesthood. I translate unchangeable.

It basically means literally un-pass-on-able. Jesus priesthood cannot be passed on to someone else. So the Melchizedek priesthood, there was one and only one Melchizedek priest, and that was Jesus himself. And that's a translation difference. There are some other, one or two others that I have put in a new version of the book, just a couple of paragraphs here and there.

But that one, if nothing else, is the big translation item where we disagree. We've been talking to Tom Hobson. He's the author of the book The Historical Jesus and The Historical Joseph Smith. Very quickly, Tom, where can someone find a copy of this book? Go to, right on the homepage, are five links where the book can be purchased.

The lowest price can be found in the link to I also recommend Utah Lighthouse Ministry, Tom Hobson's book, The Historical Jesus and The Historical Joseph Smith.

Thank you for listening. If you would like more information regarding Mormonism Research Ministry, we encourage you to visit our website at, where you can request our free newsletter, Mormonism Research. We hope you will join us again as we look at another viewpoint on Mormonism. You just listened to today's broadcast of Viewpoint on Mormonism. But did you know that you can hear previous shows at your convenience? The Viewpoint on Mormonism podcast is free on the internet and will help you learn more about the LDS religion. Feel free to listen on your computer or download to your favorite listening device. Just go to and click on the right side where it says, On Air. All of our shows are here, so visit today.
Whisper: medium.en / 2024-02-01 12:41:28 / 2024-02-01 12:46:51 / 5

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