Should I Join The LDS Church? A Case For Why Thinking People Should Consider Mormonism
By David Metcalfe
January 9, 2018
It’s weird how similar my thoughts are to Bertrand Russell. It’s a shame that he died in 1970, because I feel like we would have been best friends. He once said,
“Three passions, simple but overwhelmingly strong, have governed my life: the longing for love, the search for knowledge, and unbearable pity for the suffering of mankind.”
Just like Russell, I too have been blessed (and possibly cursed) with these passions. I remember when I first truly realized the immense suffering of the world, and I sat and cried. I hated God for allowing such things, but after a while I realized that God was also a potential answer to alleviate the world’s suffering. I studied and studied: watching debates, reading books and articles, talking with whoever was willing, etc., and I have found that pursuit of knowledge to be very rewarding, although difficult at times. But throughout it all, I long for love, and I have not found anything in this world worthy of loving with all that I am. Perhaps, as all humans have throughout history, I too aspire towards something greater than myself, something divine.
From the age of 17 until now, I have gone from atheist to deist to agnostic Christian, and I am now considering Mormonism. I am not looking to convince anyone that God exists, that Jesus rose again, or that the latter-day prophets restored the gospel. However, I am encouraging you to thoughtfully and honestly consider such things as a potential fulfillment of humanity’s innate desire for morality, love, and connection to something greater than ourselves.
Why Should I Consider “God” In The First Place?
Religious thought has always been very important to me. I think, when thinking about such things, that agnostic atheism ought to be the default position. It is better to admit what you do not know than to pretend you know what you do not. Basically, don’t make up stuff without evidence, or you will just be some idiot who believes all kinds of crazy things.
However, atheism seems to be extremely limited in its ability to make sense of the world and how we ought to act towards ourselves and one another. For example, if the universe had a beginning, how did it come into being? If it was a natural cause, this natural thing would need to have already existed previously to nature existing. That which precedes the existence of nature cannot be nature. If, by nature, we mean things in the universe that are subject to physical space and time, then this cause would need to be outside the limits of space and time. It would need to be very powerful in order for the universe to explode into the vast expanse we now have. It would need to be very intelligent for order and complexity to exist in the state in which we observe things.
That is the Deistic concept of God: a prime mover who gave structure to the universe. Many of the great thinkers throughout history have been Deist. My favourites include Leonardo da Vinci, John Locke, Adam Smith, and majority of the Founding Fathers of America.
Should I Consider How To Interact With This “God”?
Theism, a relationship to this prime mover, starts to creep into my thought as I consider various aspects of humanity and morality. Richard Dawkins is a “thinker” who appeals to atheists who are mad at religion but have no understanding of history, morality, or proper philosophy. Even as an atheist, I couldn’t stand listening to Dawkins for any length of time. To this day, I much prefer listening to Hitchens and Dillahunty, since they actually understand concepts of humanity and morality, but simply lack the sense, in my opinion, to rid themselves of the dogma of materialism.
What we find throughout history is a continual story of humanity’s connection to the divine. The vast majority of it is misattribution. For example, the Aztecs didn’t know why the sun rises, so they said it was because a divine being does it, and in seeking relationship with this divine being, created the idea that the sun rising is dependant upon a sacrifice to the divine being. Every culture, whether it be the ancient Greeks, the Romans, or contemporary America, have some semblance of their connection to something greater than themselves. If God does not exist, and we are solely “DNA propagating machines”, why are we not content with simply existing and perpetuating our species? Humans have such a strong desire for the divine that we are quick to assume supernatural things, even when there is nothing supernatural about it. This desire seems to be innate within humanity, since it appears to be consistent across cultures in every place and time.
Is Jesus Christ the Fulfillment of This Desire For Divine Connection?
Although most cultures are incorrect in their specific attribution of divine interaction, there seems to be some overarching truth to this idea of not only wanting, but even needing this relationship to the divine. While we can easily dismiss certain divine attributions, there are others that warrant serious inquiry. The Jewish people of ancient Israel were just another typical group of people trying to ascertain their relationship to the divine. Like many other religious groups, they had prophesied the coming of certain events. Most notable of these events was that a Savior would come to deliver them from captivity and establish a Kingdom. It is well known among historians that the ancient Israelites were big on this concept as far back as three thousand years ago (Dead Sea Scrolls, 2014).
Approximately two thousand years ago, a group of people believed that the long-prophesied Savior had actually come to earth to establish his Kingdom. This person, Jesus of Nazareth, is noted by the Jewish historian Flavius Josephus as being a Jewish man who was crucified under the Roman governor Pontius Pilate, around 33 AD (Josephus, 93 AD). Jesus was believed to have risen from the dead after being crucified, and appeared to the disciples and nearly 500 other people. The disciples believed this so strongly that all of them, save for John, were martyred for it (Kiger, 2015). Many others also claimed to receive revelation of Jesus’ resurrection. Whether they actually had a revelation or not of the risen Jesus is disputed, but there is no doubt that many people at the time believed that was the case so adamantly that they were persecuted and even willing to die for it.
During Jesus’ time on earth, he is believed to have preached various concepts on morality. These, as well as an account of his life, were written down into what is known as the “Gospels”, about 50 years after his death. Jesus’ thoughts on life were a culmination of many of the great philosophers throughout history, and would go on to influence thought up to this day. The main idea was the concept and application of “transcendent morality”. Basically, we are to give up everything in our life for a greater purpose (Matthew 16:25). This greater purpose, he claimed, was to be like him, so that we could be in greater connection to God. This connection to God that had been sought throughout the entirety of human history was finally given a direction worth attaining toward.
There is tons of evidence to attest to the validity of the resurrection of Jesus, but it is still disputed among historians. Whether he actually rose from the dead or not is important, but it isn’t actually necessary for believing in him as a concept. Say, for example, that Jesus did not actually rise from the dead, and it is just a myth created by people later on: what we have is a bunch of humans who are striving for divine connection, and a means by which to do it that promotes love and peace among people. Then we die as we would have anyways. However, if he actually did rise from the dead, that means his claim of atoning for the sins of the world is all of a sudden extremely credible. At that point, Jesus is not just a great philosopher, like that of Socrates or Plato, but is the essence of truth, and his moral teachings are not looking to create a system of truth, but rather defining an already existing truth.
Ambiguity, Apostasy, and The Need For Revelation
The writings of Peter, John, James, Jude, and most notably, Paul, in the New Testament, seek to explain the continued revelations and attest to the resurrection of Jesus, and the application of this transcendent morality as it pertains to the life of each individual. The idea is that by pursuing truth, we are actually pursuing God, which results in greater connection with Him, and culminates in the ultimate connection with Him in heaven after we die.
People established various groups by which to teach and learn the teachings of Jesus Christ, and help one another to be more like him. That’s what church actually is supposed to be, although you wouldn’t know it by going to most churches in contemporary America, where it’s basically a freaking concert for the purpose of hanging out with your friends and feeling better about yourself. Anyway, after the disciples died, Christians were unsure of the specifics of what it means to live out the teachings of Jesus. Church groups had arguments about proper doctrine, and they began to split up for all kinds of reasons.
The Catholic Church, aka the “universal church” was set up as the one true Church in the second century, in an attempt to restore some Christian congeniality. Theodosius I adhered to the Catholic Church when he set up the state church of the Roman Empire in 380. That is why, to this day, the Catholic Church is the largest Christian denomination in the world (Miller, 2008).
But the Catholic Church was severely flawed. The concepts written about in the Bible were ambiguous and very general. To actually apply it to life and society, human interpretations of these scriptures were necessary. For example, before Jesus died, he ate bread and wine, and said, “Do this in remembrance of me” (Luke 22:19). But when are we supposed to do this? How often? Is it necessary for salvation? What is the purpose of it? The ambiguous nature of the New Testament gave rise to all kinds of human interpretation, which severely distorted the scriptures over time, as human-made tradition became inseparable from the scriptures themselves.
The prophet Amos had predicted this way back in ancient Israel in about 750 BC. He wrote that,
“’The days are coming’ declares the Sovereign Lord, ‘when I will send a famine through the land- not a famine of food or thirst for water, but a famine of hearing the words of the Lord. People will stagger from sea to sea and wander from north to east, searching for the word of the Lord, but they will not find it.” (Amos 8:11,12)
Basically, this time in human history pretty much sucked. There were essentially no advancements in thought or technology of any kind. The Church abused its power to do all kinds of horrible things, such as the Crusades, where they slaughtered thousands of innocent people, or the Inquisition, where their attempts to combat heresy resulted in the torture and deaths of people who did not accept their doctrines. They also stunted intellectual advancement, as was the case with Galileo (Peters, 1989).
Separation of church and state was a foreign concept before the age of enlightenment. Not only did the government have excessive power over the lives of individuals, but they were supposedly supported by divine mandate. Questioning the government or the church was a crime punishable by death. But thanks to The Renaissance, thought began to develop within each person. The massive changes that occurred throughout the 14th century onward is a testament to the amazing power of art, literature, science and philosophy to human flourishing. Martin Luther realized that the Catholic Church was abusing its power, and not following scriptures correctly, so he began a movement that would later result in Protestantism. The Catholic Church was forced to secede much of its power, and the values of free thought and individualism promoted within Protestantism spread rapidly throughout Europe and the New World (Oberman, 1982).
But with the loss of the Catholic Church to define doctrine and create unity, Christianity returned to the same issues that had happened in the early church. While it was good that each individual could interpret the Bible for themselves, it also created dramatic division within Christianity, and thousands of denominations came as a result. People abused Christianity to their whims, and used it to support whatever kinds of practices they wanted. Christianity was in dire need of further revelation to define doctrine and return to the intended goal of aspiring to be like Jesus.
Revolution, Revelation, and Restoration
One of my favorite books of all time on religion is “The Age of Reason” by Thomas Paine. It was written in 1794, just after the American Revolution had been achieved, and a government based on the principles of freedom, equality, and justice was set up to ensure everyone had their God given right to life, liberty, and property. Thomas Paine predicted that, since America had seen such a revolution in government, that next up would be a revolution in religion. The one that he was looking to create was one in which we adhere to no particular set of doctrine, but rather value reason above all else in religious matters. He goes on to reason why he is a deist who believes in limited interaction with God, and why he thinks it to be unreasonable for himself to adhere to any religion in particular.
I personally agree with the sentiments of Thomas Paine very much. I love when he says that “the most formidable weapon against errors of every kind is reason.” It is through the faculty of reason that we are able to make sense of ourselves and the environment that we exist in. A revolution in religion did happen, but not the type that Thomas Paine was predicting.
Since people in America were free to think as they wanted for the first time, it created some peculiar circumstances. Some places became more secular, since religion was no longer imposed on them. Other places, like upstate New York, became a hotbed of religious enthusiasm. But the Christians were confused about doctrine and were not living out the teachings of Jesus Christ. In 1830, a young man named Joseph Smith published a series of works known as “The Book of Mormon”. He claimed that it was not his writing, but rather was given to him by an angel, and that he was a prophet of God. Majority of people hated him, and even arrested him for disorderly conduct. He was acquitted, and went on to travel around America obtaining converts who wanted to follow the restored gospel of Jesus Christ.
He would go on to publish more works, such as the Doctrine and Covenants, Pearl of Great Price, and Articles of Faith. Smith got a little controversial, to say the least, for his practice of polygamy, desire for power, and various disputes with his adversaries. He was put in jail for allegedly starting a riot, and while in jail, a mob stormed the building and shot him multiple times (Bushman, 2005). He was remembered by his adherents as a hero, and his writings would go on to become official scripture in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.
The writings brought forth by Joseph Smith served to reduce the confusion that Christians suffered from. It established clear doctrine on a great number of issues, and solved many of the misinterpretations of scripture. One of the big problems with Christianity is that it did not have a well-defined culture. This lack of culture structure resulted in Christians essentially conforming to whatever culture they were in. We continue to see that today, of course, and it is why Christians so rarely follow the New Testament doctrine. How can you properly follow the doctrine in the New Testament when literally no one knows what it actually means? Clearly, God only gave partial revelation to the people of Israel at that time. People who are trying to follow the New Testament without the writings of the restored gospel are trying to follow a partial revelation.
Was Joseph Smith Actually A Prophet?
There’s no doubt that there were severe flaws in Christianity at the time, and fixing them was very beneficial, but the question is: who was this Joseph Smith guy?
There are three possible beliefs you can have about him:
1) He was a prophet from God who received tablets from an angel and restored the truth of the gospel
2) He was an intelligent theologian, philosopher, and social theorist who wanted to help Christianity
3) He was an insane, power hungry maniac who started a cult and deceived millions of people
Before choosing one of these options, I think it is worth doing sufficient study into the life and writings of Joseph Smith. For majority of my life, I was very adamant that it was the third option. The only reason I thought that is because Mormons seemed kind of weird, and I once Google searched Joseph Smith and saw an article that said he was a crazy person. I had a horribly unintelligent approach to considering Mormonism.
Whenever there is a question that I really want to know the answer to, I treat it like I am a judge presiding over a court case. The court system has been developed by some of the greatest minds in history over thousands of years. It is by far the best method we have for obtaining truth.
What many people do when researching a topic is look for things to confirm their bias. It’s like when a Christian reads Lee Strobel and Josh McDowell books and thinks they have proven that Jesus rose from the dead. It may have given you better reasons for what you already believe, but it is not a sincere pursuit of truth. There has to be no bias, and a fair representation of both sides in order to best obtain the truth of any matter.
Many critics of Joseph Smith go into it with incredible bias, and will use ad hominem or unrelated arguments against him and his writings. An appeal to unfamiliarity like, “He said we’re all from the planet Kolob”, offers no insight into the sincerity of him or his writings. Also, if there is an amazing lawyer representing one side, and a terrible lawyer representing the other side, there may be the illusion of fairness, but in actuality, it was tilted from the start. You need to find the best lawyers with the best arguments for either side in order to have the best quality of truth come from it.
I will not go into all of the evidences for each side in this article, because I am not here to argue one case or the other, but only to argue that this is something worth pursuing as a potential study. I will, however, share my personal view on the matter and how I am looking to develop it in my own pursuit of truth.
My Personal Pursuits Into Understanding Religion
Back in May 2017, I wanted to study different worldviews. I read through various books on the subjects, but I wanted to really experience the people who followed these religions. I visited Mosques, Synagogues, various Church denominations, the Atheist Society, and, of course, the Mormons. My studies and time spent with the Muslims, Jews, and atheists were interesting, but I easily destroyed their arguments for why their beliefs were true. It got awkward at times. And it wasn’t just that they were not good representatives. Their worldviews lacked a solid basis to properly understand reality and our relation to it. They also contradicted fundamental concepts of human value and morality that have been crucial to creating good ethics for societies to flourish and prevent evil.
However, it was the Christians and the Mormons that really stuck with me. Christianity might not be 100% true, but there is certainly a lot of truth in it. More so, the truth it has is very benevolent. The central ethic is: love God and others. Loving God fulfills our innate desire for connection with the divine, and loving others creates a good universal ethic for society to live by. However, while the New Testament tells us the concepts behind ethics, it fails to give us specifics on how to best live those out.
There are so many denominations, and in-fighting within each denomination. In addition, Christians do not seem to actually aspire towards the ethics espoused in the New Testament. As I went from church to church, I did not find people aspiring towards the transcendent morality that Jesus preached. There was no sacrifice in order to attain something greater. The best ethic I could find at any Christian church was: God will make your life better if you do what He says. And that’s why things like prosperity gospel so easily creep into Christian churches. Since Christianity does not have a well-defined culture, all kinds of various cultural things can get mixed in and dilute the central ethics.
What I found with Mormons, on the other hand, was not only a desire to live out this central ethic of loving God and others, but an actual consistent practice of it. They were kind, friendly, and genuinely cared about people. They lived in a constant state of trading away the vices of our existence: sex, money, hatred, etc., in exchange for a greater purpose to serve others. Mormons are dramatically less likely to have sex outside of marriage, have abortions, practice homosexuality, and abuse drugs and alcohol. They are more likely to graduate college, have happy marriages, and even live longer, when compared to Christians (Bahr, 1992).
While at the Christian church, I would sit and hear about how God helps you with your emotional problems, the Mormons were way past that. The Mormons have three-hour church services, where people discuss concepts of morality, and how they might inspire one another to live out the teachings of Jesus and love one another in community.
Being me, I always enjoy challenging teachers with the Socratic method. While at the Christian churches, people would rage and call me a heathen, the Mormons enjoyed the questioning. They have a strong desire for knowledge, and believe that questioning things is actually a gift from God that can help us find truth. A group of people who live ethically, are kind and fun to hang out with, and have a desire to pursue truth…now that’s my kind of people!
A Few Reasons Why Mormonism Is An Improvement To Christianity
The Problem of Hell: While Christians believe that everyone who doesn’t believe in Jesus during their time on earth will burn in hell, Mormons believe that everyone will get a chance to receive the gospel, whether in this life or the next.
Morality: While Christians believe they are saved by faith alone, and therefore good deeds do not matter for salvation, Mormons believe that faith is in combination with good deeds, and thus makes good deeds a necessary aspect of belief. This is why Mormons typically are more moral than Christians.
Defined Doctrine: While Christianity has all kinds of theological beliefs, and no one really knows what’s true, Mormonism has specific ideas on each theological issue. For example, Christians do not know whether humans have free will, but Mormons know that free will is a gift from God that brings a responsibility of each person to act in accordance with what is right.
Defined Culture: While Christians do not know how to interact with culture, and try to go based off of generic ideas like “be in the world but not of it”, Mormons have a clear culture that is well defined and helps them to properly attain to their values in whatever cultural atmosphere they are in. I will discuss these cultural differences further in the next section.
Pursuit of Knowledge: While Christianity does not encourage one to become learned, Mormonism emphasizes the value of education, and believes that one of the greatest aspects of humanity is our ability to learn and grow through that knowledge. Not that Christians are by necessity anti-intellectual (although many are), it’s that there is no real mandate to learning more about the Bible and its teachings. However, in the Mormon scriptures called the “Doctrine and Covenants” it says in section 130,
“Whatever principle of intelligence we attain unto in this life, it will rise with us in the resurrection. And if a person gains more knowledge and intelligence in this life through his diligence and obedience than another, he will have so much the advantage in the world to come.”
My Current Opinion of Joseph Smith
When I look at the incredibly benevolent effects of Joseph Smith’s writings, and appreciate their literary and philosophical value, I cannot believe that he was insane or evil. Would evil writings cause people to be more like Jesus? Would evil writings encourage education, equality, and altruism? Although Joseph Smith was not a perfect person by any means, his writings have incredible value.
But are these writings so incredibly good that they must have been from an angel sent by God? Probably not. In order to believe that, you would need to accept some very strong assertions with very little evidence. Now, he did show the plates to about 11 other people, 3 of whom claim to also have received visions. However, a revelation to one carries no obligation for others to believe it. The witnesses may have had motivation to lie, and many of them left the church or were ex-communicated later in their lives.
While it’s certainly possible that Joseph Smith was an actual prophet of God, and warrants increased study, it does not appear to me at the moment that I have sufficient evidence to make such a claim. As the great philosopher David Hume said, “A wise man proportions his belief to the evidence.” Without strong evidence, I cannot in good sense reason that Joseph Smith certainly had this revelation. That is why I believe the 2nd option is the most likely: that Joseph Smith was an intelligent and good-hearted man who wanted to reform Christianity, and knew that he would only be successful if people believed that he was divinely inspired.
Effects of Mormon Teaching On My Personal Life
Christianity is difficult to follow. There are a million different interpretations of every concept of morality, so we can never be sure if what we are doing is right. This lack of assurance has often resulted in a lack of conviction for me. In addition, the theoretical doctrine is confusing, like, what does prayer actually accomplish? Does everyone have a chance at salvation? Etc.
I remember meeting with some Mormons and explaining to them why prayer is illogical. Instead of making up some doctrine based on a couple ambiguous verses like Christians do, they simply showed me a passage in the Bible dictionary. It explained the concept that the fulfillment of God’s will is often dependent on our actions. For example, God does not want anyone to starve to death, but it is sometimes dependent on whether we go help them. Same with prayer. There are certain things that God wants to happen, but they are conditional on us praying for them. That was the first logical definition of prayer I had ever really heard. Christians would never agree on a definition of prayer, but Mormonism provided me with a certainty I could believe in.
The specific doctrines relating to sexual purity have helped me in significant ways. Christian girls often wear clothes that, whether intentionally or not, make themselves more sexually desirable. For Christian men, lust is often thought of as an acceptable pursuit, that will eventually be fulfilled in marriage. Mormons, however, are very devoted to sexual purity and honoring one another in the way they dress and act. “Fight the New Drug” is actually run by Mormons, although they claim it is secular in order to reach a mass audience. Also, much of the research in neuropsychology relating to the harmful effects of pornography have been done by Brigham Young University (a Mormon university).
Since Mormons aspire toward exchanging all kinds of worldly vices for something greater, they often do things to deny themselves in pursuit of something greater. For example, yesterday they all went without breakfast and lunch, and gave the money they would’ve spent on it to feed the homeless. Also, the men and women have positive and clearly defined relationships with one another. Dating is a very important and significant concept, so the distinction between friends and romantic prospects are well defined. This causes men to view women more as sisters than as potential sexual conquests, like what happens to a full extent in bar culture, or to a lesser extent, in Christian dating culture.
These things have made effects in my own life already. Within only two weeks of hanging out with Mormons and following the teachings, I have not looked at pornography a single time. More so, I haven’t even had the desire to look at pornography. I have also felt less lonely, had better self-esteem, and have an increased desire to live with discipline and purpose. I have enjoyed studying the writings of Joseph Smith, and applying the theories of Socrates, Paine, Rousseau, and others, to the concepts expressed in it.
Do Mormons Believe Crazy Things?
Well, first of all, we should not base truth solely on familiarity. If you were raised Christian, saying that “Jesus shed his blood for the sins of the world” sounds very normal. But if you said that to someone who had never heard of Christianity, they would think you are insane. Imagine when people first heard that everything in the universe is made up of microscopic atoms, or that the earth is orbiting around the sun.
So, how we define “crazy” is often subject to our individual bias. But I would say that I define “crazy” as believing something despite clear evidence to the contrary. For example, if someone thinks that Elvis Presley is still alive because they saw him in the mall one time, that is a crazy belief, because there is incredible evidence that he died, and very little that you actually saw him.
Having said that, yeah, I agree that many of the things talked about in Mormonism sound crazy, and don’t really have sufficient evidence to back them up. Are we all from the planet Kolob? Are we going to become Gods one day? Should we perform baptisms and marriages by proxy as a way to honor those who have passed away?
I can’t say I believe those things, and it’s possible that I never will. However, the Mormon church is not just about believing all of the right things. It is about being honest in your pursuit of knowledge so that you might better know God and love His creation. What I find amazing about the Mormons, is that I don’t feel like they are trying to convert me. I feel like they are honestly trying to pursue truth, and that we are working together in that process. However, as adherents to the religion, they are much more rhetorical in their pursuit than I am.
Although I do not currently identify as Mormon, since it would be disingenuous for me to make that claim without the adequate beliefs and practices that accompany it, I have found incredible value in their teachings. While the nominal Christianity in most American churches is boring, uninspiring, mostly void of pursuit of knowledge, lacking conviction, and confusing, Mormonism does not have these same difficulties, and actually offers many positive things in their place.
As Thomas Paine wrote in “The Age of Reason”,
“It is necessary to the happiness of man that he be mentally faithful to himself. Infidelity does not consist in believing, or in disbelieving; it consists in professing to believe what he does not believe.”
What I find in myself is a belief that God exists, and that I desire some kind of connection to Him. I have also become enamored with moral philosophy, and have been very impressed with Christian theology’s ability to provide a coherent and foundational framework for the existence of transcendent morality. However, I have not found many Christians who actually practice this morality, and it forces me to consider: are Christians the problem, or is there something innately lacking in Christianity?
And if there is something innately lacking in Christianity, are the teachings of the Mormon church the answer to that? Certainly, from my experience, it appears as though Mormons are fulfilling the teachings of Jesus much better than Christians, and it forces me to consider the potential merits of it. I do not wish to make you believe any particular thing, but discounting Mormonism without proper study is ignorant, and only speaks to the anti-intellectualism of anyone who does so.
P.S. If you want to learn more about Mormonism, I would recommend you check out their website at https://www.lds.org/?lang=eng and go to the “Scriptures and Study” section.
To learn more about Mormon apologetics (why they believe what they believe) check out https://www.fairmormon.org/
Or, to watch a good debate between a Mormon and Christian, you can watch https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b_QkvpIcdUc
Bahr, S. (1992). Social Characteristics. Encyclopedia of Mormonism. New York: Macmillan. Retrieved from http://contentdm.lib.byu.edu/cdm/compoundobject/collection/EoM/id/4391/show/4219
Bushman, R. (2005). Joseph Smith: Rough Stone Rolling. First Vintage Books.
Dead Sea Scrolls Digital Library. (2014). Israel Antiquities Authority. Retrieved from http://www.deadseascrolls.org.il/learn-about-the-scrolls/introduction
Josephus, F. (93 AD). The Antiquity of The Jews, Translated by William Whiston (1737). Retrieved from http://sacred-texts.com/jud/josephus/
Kiger, P. (2015). How did the apostles die? National Geographic. Retrieved from http://channel.nationalgeographic.com/killing-jesus/articles/how-did-the-apostles-die/
Miller, V. (2008). Where is the Church? Globalization and catholicity. Theological Studies. 69(2). Retrieved from http://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/004056390806900210
Oberman, H. (1982). Luther: Man between God and the Devil. Yale University Press. Retrieved from https://books.google.ca/books?id=vuES0JdltfcC&pg=PA54&dq=&hl=en&redir_esc=y#v=onepage&q&f=false
Paine, T. (1794). The Age of Reason.
Peters, E. (1989). Inquisition. University of California Press.