Our shirts do not promote the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) as the "true church" and tell people they must join it to be saved. What they do is bring attention to objective facts relating to the Latter-day Saints that are just astonishing. These facts are easily confirmable by anyone willing to spend a few minutes online or willing to examine the source materials.
Facts matter. The truth matters. "Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor" is not an empty commandment. At some point, the lying against the Latter-day Saints will stop - either by exposure or when one is standing before Christ, our Judge - who's repeatedly vowed that liars shall not be saved but will be cast into the lake of fire (Revelation 21:8; 22:15).
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints believes Jesus is God made flesh, the Father's only begotten Son, who is one God with the Father and Holy Spirit, and the only way for us to be saved. It teaches he suffered and died for all humanity and rose again from the dead. It teaches he will judge all of us at the last day.
Every one of these doctrines is found, repeatedly, in the Book of Mormon, the Doctrine and Covenants, and the Pearl of Great Price (the "Latter-day Scriptures") - works the Church considers to be equal to the Holy Bible. And the language used is much clearer and incontrovertible than what is found in the New Testament. It takes significant dishonesty to claim a faith that teaches all these things is not Christian.
This observation does not mean one is obligated to accept these books as genuine "Scripture" - they could very well be frauds and the product of deliberate deception. But the admission of their contents is simple acknowledgement of objective facts. No amount of misrepresentation or deliberate ignorance will change their contents from saying what they're saying.
What is without doubt is the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is not Catholic (does not recognize the authority of the Pope), not Protestant (does not believe in Sola Scriptura or Sola Fide), not Anglican/Independent Catholic (does not think denominational authority ends at a physical border), and not Eastern Christian (rejects the equality of the autonomous Patriarchates).
The Latter-day Saints' authority derives from Joseph Smith - which he claimed he received together with Oliver Cowdery in May 1829 by visitations from the resurrected John the Baptist and the Apostles Peter, James, and John. This means the Latter-day Saints are a separate branch of Christianity, since the simplest taxonomy of Christianity is one based on authoritative claims (which would cover at least 99.5% of total adherents).
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is Christianity's outlier denomination. It stands out of the thousands of Christian denominations in a manner far beyond its size by being the only credible alternative to the concept of the generational transmission of apostolic succession. And it provides empirical evidence for its credibility that anyone can confirm.
Ever since Clement of Rome in the late first century, Christianity viewed apostolic succession as the only way for a Christian church to be legitimate. (Brainy-Shirts defines this legitimacy as the transfer of authority to conduct actions that God accepts as valid in heaven such as performing baptism and giving the Holy Spirit - and not in the doctrinal fidelity sense.) All Christian churches by the fourth century were led by ecclesiastical leaders (like bishops) who could trace their line of authority back to the Apostles.
When Christianity started splitting apart due to doctrinal disagreements (starting with the Nestorians in 431 AD and Oriental Orthodox in 451 AD), their leaders were already ordained by those recognized as possessing legitimate authority through apostolic succession and they justified their separation from their historical tradition.
The same situation occurred in 1054 AD with the Great Schism where the largest body of Christianity split in two - the eastern half (Eastern Orthodox) were led by men who were ordained by those recognized as possessing legitimate authority through apostolic succession and the western half (Roman Catholic) were led by leaders who could claim the same.
Roman Catholicism continued its dominance in the West for another half millennium until experiencing the schisms of Protestantism and Anglicanism in the 16th century. The Anglicans and the later Independent Catholic groups, like the Union of Utrecht of the Old Catholic Churches, were led by men who were ordained by those recognized as possessing authority that God views as legitimate due to apostolic succession. Many of the Protestants were also led by those recognized as possessing legitimate authority and many who didn't, made the effort to be ordained by someone with said authority.
Some Protestants decided they didn't need apostolic succession. Belief was sufficient to make one a priest thanks to Sola Fide and Sola Scriptura. A few centuries later, some Nontrinitarian Protestants like the Jehovah's Witnesses and Iglesia ni Cristo, tried to straddle the two views together by claiming they solely possess baptismal authority without providing a credible claim of how God gave them the authoritative connection to the first century church.
The bottom line is the vast majority of Christians today belong to churches that are led by those who've been ordained via apostolic succession. Its importance is easily encapsulated by a simple saying:
You can't give what you don't have.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints also believes in the necessity of apostolic succession going back to the Apostles, but claims the unbroken line was initiated by a miraculous transmission instead of a generational one. This was because the early church fell into apostasy when the charismatic leaders (the 12 Apostles and Paul) passed away without charismatic successors similar to what happened when Judas was replaced.
It claims the resurrected John the Baptist and the early Apostles Peter, James, and John gave the priesthood authorities to Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery in May 1829. Upon receipt of the baptismal authority, Joseph baptized Oliver who then baptized Joseph afterward. Upon receipt of the higher Melchizedek Priesthood, they were able to organize the "true church."
While it is easy to dismiss the claim of Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery; the process is logically coherent. The same can also be said concerning the traditional understanding of apostolic succession because there is no proof that the charismatic leaders of the original Christian church intended for the ecclesiastical leaders they appointed over individual congregations to replace them if their congregations just so happen to become the largest and most influential congregations centuries later.
There are no independent eye-witnesses to either events and the self-serving charge can be leveled equally to both claims of apostolic succession.
However, it must be pointed out that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints can provide evidence that supports its claim that anyone can evaluate: The Book of Mormon. If it is credible (especially the presence within it of 22 argumentative essays which cannot be produced by dictation from "imagination"), then the claims of Joseph and Oliver are also credible.
The Latter-day Saints have given so much to the world - from technology such as the television, to creating hundreds of communities that allowed the United States to form as a single nation from the Atlantic to Pacific, to establishing civilization and civic volunteerism wherever its members congregate.
Their work ethic, charity, morality, and self-sacrifice are famous the world over. No one fears insulting the Latter-day Saints in areas where they are dominant.
It is also the only faith that has a Social Contract construct within its Scriptures that explicitly guarantees freedom of thought, religious plurality, and a prohibition to its adherents from forcing or pressuring outsiders to convert.
This brings up an astonishing fact about the faith that has been demonstrated in its establishment of over 500 towns and cities and nearly two centuries of existence:
The Latter-day Saints create and preserve civilization based on the impartial rule of law instead of giving state preference to their religion and adherents.
That is something truly wonderful and awe-inspiring.
The Book of Mormon is the fifth empirical evidence for God and is the second piece of evidence that the Christian God exists. It is the only external evidence that can be provided to claim the Holy Bible is genuine Scripture.
An objective fact is it contains 22 dictated argumentative or persuasive essays from five perspectives.
This is empirical - we can independently test whether it is possible for anyone without experience or education to dictate coherent argumentative essays of abstract ideas at a pace of 4000 words per day without any substantive rewrites.
As anyone who's had to do them in school can attest; argumentative essays (sometimes called persuasive essays, papers, or thesis/dissertations, or legal briefs depending on size and field) are completely different from creative writing and require substantial research, writing, and refinement to be effective. One cannot produce them by dictation in a few hours off the top of their head. And yet, Joseph Smith supposedly did so in 1829.
Charles Dickens, Mark Twain, Leo Tolstoy, Fyodor Dostoyevsky, and John Steinbeck are great examples of genius novelists. They were fantastic writers who brought their books alive and the reader is transported to the world they crafted. But this doesn’t mean they can dictate argumentative essays off the top of their head.
An argumentative or persuasive essay, paper, or thesis is a completely different style of writing and is much harder to accomplish. Unlike a story, argumentative essays strive to convince the listener of the speaker’s argument using a logical structure, be internally consistent, and not make unsupportable assumptions. This type of essay relies upon facts for persuasion, and these facts could be book facts, historical facts, experimental facts, or life experience facts.
Argumentative Essay Structure
1. Thesis Claim: Position one wants the listener to accept as true.
2. Frame of Argument: Arguments and evidence that support the thesis claim. This form can be a rebuttal, where an opposing position is refuted (more effective), or a one-sided form, where no opposing position is refuted (less effective).
3. Conclusion: Summary of position and possible restatement of thesis.
More than 20% of the Book of Mormon is comprised of argumentative essays and they are five different types:
1. Parental Exposition – Written from the perspective of a wise parent giving “truth” to his children
a. Lehi’s Exposition (2 Nephi 1:6-3:25) [3953 words]
b. Alma’s Exposition to Helaman (Alma 36-37) [3255 words]
c. Alma’s Exposition to Shiblon (Alma 38) [649 words]
d. Alma’s Exposition to Corianton (Alma 39-42) [3875 words]
e. Mormon’s Exposition to Moroni (Moroni 8) [887 words]
2. Authoritative Exposition – Written from the perspective of a wise and righteous leader sharing the secret of happiness to his subjects
a. Nephi’s First Exposition (2 Nephi 25-30) [7396 total]
b. Nephi’s Second Exposition (2 Nephi 31) [988 words]
c. Nephi’s Third Exposition (2 Nephi 32) [427 words]
d. Jacob’s First Exposition (2 Nephi 6-10) [5461 total]
e. Jacob’s Second Exposition (Jacobs 2-3:11) [1881 words]
f. King Benjamin’s Exposition (Mosiah 2:9-5:15) [4707 words]
3. Missionary Exposition – Written from the perspective of a missionary trying to convince his listeners of his message so that they will come or return to faith in Jesus Christ
a. Alma’s First Exposition (Alma 5) [2786 words]
b. Alma’s Second Exposition (Alma 7) [1439 words]
c. Alma’s Third Exposition (Alma 9,12-13) [3948 words]
d. Alma’s Fourth Exposition (Alma 32-33) [2279 words]
e. Amulek’s Exposition (Alma 34) [1545 words]
4. Contemporary Prophetic Exposition – Written from the perspective of a prophet speaking to those who can see him and hear his voice
a. Abinadi’s Speech (Mosiah 12:25-16:15) [3418 words]
b. Samuel the Lamanite’s Speech (Helaman 13-15) [3920 words]
5. Future Prophetic Exposition – Written from the perspective of a prophet speaking to those in the distant future
a. Mormon’s Exposition to Us (Moroni 7) [1881 words]
b. Moroni’s First Exposition to Us (Mormon 9) [1561 words]
c. Moroni’s Second Exposition to Us (Ether 12:6-41) [1352 words]
d. Moroni’s Third Exposition to Us (Moroni 10) [1149 words]
Lehi’s deathbed blessings to his children, King Benjamin’s speech, and Alma’s teachings to his sons are examples of highly complex and well-developed argumentative essays, where ideas are built upon ideas and life experience, premises are transformed to dogma, concepts are argued and expanded, and the argument’s structure of beginning, core, and end are fixed—all to one goal: to persuade the listener that the speaker’s position is valid and should be followed.
While an expert novelist can write a short story in a few days, an expert argumentative writer will need weeks to properly research a subject to develop a convincing argumentative essay of comparable word count (the actual writing could be a short as a day if the outline is properly developed and the writer is good). The novelist only needs to use his or her imagination while the argumentative writer will need to conduct an enormous amount of research on both sides of the position, test the ideas with others to determine their credibility and effectiveness, and do constant rewrites and refinements to improve the argumentative success of the essay.
As one with nearly 70,000 hours of experience analyzing documents and creating complex, organized documentation; I consider the Book of Mormon’s argumentative essays to be impossibilities.
I don’t care how good of a novelist someone is; argumentative essays need time, constant correction and revision, knowledge, and wisdom to create – none of which existed with the 23-year old Joseph Smith 200 years ago. Furthermore, how could a young, inexperienced farmer come up with perspectives vastly different than what one would expect out of any young, inexperienced farmer? Which of the five types of argumentative narratives could he relate to so that he can craft them properly?
It is not an issue of intelligence or imagination - but of life skills, training, and experience. I cannot conceive of how anyone can dictate a coherent argumentative essay – much less an uneducated young man 200 years ago. Just the amount of information that needs to be fixed in a lattice in the person’s mind and dictated in sequence to make a complete narrative is an ability that I, a subject matter expert, cannot fathom.
Download a free fillable Argumentative/Persuasive Writing Analysis form to see for yourself that each of the 22 referenced argumentative essays in the Book of Mormon truly exist. After verifying, ask yourself, "What is the most reasonable explanation for the presence of these argumentative essays within a book that strives to convince us that Jesus is the Christ, the Eternal God and that the Holy Bible is true?"
Joseph Smith was the founder of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Its adherent consider him to be a prophet while those who oppose them consider him to be a fraud and con man. Others consider him to be a false prophet or a follower of Satan.
Regardless of one's opinion, and irrespective of the passion behind the belief; what is beyond doubt is Joseph Smith is the most underrated genius in American history. His accomplishments in a mere 15 years before he died at just 38 years of age stagger the mind. How many of us can claim to have done even a fraction of what he did before his death in 1844?
Here's a partial list of what this uneducated farmer did:
– All before his 39th birthday.
As for the Book of Mormon:
As mentioned, it does not matter what one believes about him - what is beyond doubt is he did so much in such a short period of time in very different domains, using very different skill sets.
He was a supernova and we've never seen anyone else even remotely close to him.
Christians are supposed to follow Christ's command to share his message to the entire world, but we've all become too timid to open our mouths.
Our shirts invite discussion - they break the ice to start a conversation that can give eternal happiness to both parties.
We should not fear sharing our beliefs with others. Catholics should try to convince Protestants, Latter-day Saints, and everyone else to become Catholic; Protestants should try to convince others to become Protestant; and Latter-day Saints should try to convince them to become members.
We should all try to follow Christ's command for what we believe is his church.
For nearly 200 years, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has been attacked by other Christians just for being different. It has been portrayed as a "cult" and non-Christian despite its Scriptures clearly teach the same thing the New Testament says about Jesus Christ.
Its "Latter-day Scriptures" says, clearly and without doubt, that Jesus is God no less than 74 times (compared to the Bible's two instances in John 1 and Hebrews 1). It says in 24 places that Jesus is the only way we can be saved while the Bible only says the same four times. It says in dozens of places that Jesus suffered and died for mankind and rose from the dead.
The Latter-day Saints definitely have something wonderful to share.