Book recommendation: “Under the Banner of Heaven” by Jon Krakauer.

I recently finished Jon Krakauer’s book, Under the Banner of Heaven: A Story of Violent Faith. I found the book to be very revealing of early Mormon history (much of the stuff modern day Mormons prefer you didn’t know about). Namely this book tackled Mormonism’s twin doctrines of polygamy and Blood Atonement (and detailing the hellish results those unbiblical doctrines wrought on Mormons and non-Mormons alike).

Although this work was a scathing revelation of Mormonism’s twisted and violent history, I could not help but detect the author’s occasional sympathetic bent toward Joseph Smith and the Mormon organization as a whole.

Sympathy or poor research in some instances (I am not certain which), but one example of less-than accurate reporting is when Krakauer said that when Joseph Smith fired his gun at the angry mob (the gun that was smuggled into the Carthage jail), he wounded “at least one.”

However, Mormonism’s own History of the Church cites that Jospeh Smith actually “snapped the pistol six successive times; only three of the barrels, however, were discharged. I afterwards understood that two or three were wounded by these discharges, two of whom, I am informed, died.”

I must say that there’s a chasm of difference between “wounding at least one” and “two or three were wounded . . . two of whom . . . died.”

Another instance in the book where the author would have done well to have done better research is when he writes that Calvinists teach that God is “bent on making humans atone for Adam’s original sin.”

If Krakauer did his homework he would have known that that is not the historic Calvinist position (and never has been). Calvinism teaches that God’s Son (and Him alone) is the only One able to atone for mankind’s sin that was inherited through Adam and for the sins man commits daily. It is actually the belief of Mormonism (and Roman Catholics, and Jehovah’s Witnesses, and Seventh Day Adventists, and Muslims, etc.) that man can atone for or add to Christ’s atoning work on the cross; and this in direct opposition to Galatians 5:4.

In all, although the author was incorrect on a few points, I found the book to be a fascinating look into both the mainstream LDS organization (the one’s who broke away from the original teachings of Joseph Smith and Brigham Young) and the varios fundamental LDS organizations (the one’s who still follow the original teachings of Joseph Smith and Brigham Young) with the Lafferty brothers’ murder of Erica Lafferty and her baby, Erica, on July 24, 1984, as the back drop of the book.

The book, although containing a critical overtone toward all religion, horrifyingly exposes the results of following Joseph Smith and Brigham Young’s teachings faithfully, showing that Mormonism (much like Islam) is a violent religion full of lies, deception, adultery, sexual immorality, and forever marked by the bloodshed of innocent men, women, and children.

9 thoughts on “Book recommendation: “Under the Banner of Heaven” by Jon Krakauer.

  1. But they’re such good people!

    Truthfully, how hard it must be for a man with no apparent theological base to comprehend the not-so-subtle distinctions of God’s sovereignty as He works out His will in the salvation of sinners.


  2. Not to be a downer but the same type of book can be written in regards to Christianity referencing the Crusade atrocities.


  3. Brandon – herein is where one must be careful to differentiate between the actions of those who claims a certain faith and the essential doctrines and theology of that faith. Those who conducted the crusades and inquisitions were professing Christians; I have serious doubt that any who commanded them be done were – the cult of Satan known as the Roman Catholic Church being the authority behind them.


  4. Todd,
    You asked:

    “Which Mormon Bible? There are several, you know?”

    Actually they have four standard works that they consider “scripture.”

    1). The Book Mormon which their founder called “the most correct of any book on earth.”
    (This “most correct of any book on earth” has undergone almost 4,000 changes, alterations, and corrections since its inception.)

    2). The Pearl of Great Price
    (Which contains The Book of Abraham that was alleged to have been translated from “Reformed Egyptian” papyrus which has since been proven to be a lie as the papyrus in question turned out to be a common Egyptian funeral papyri having absolutely nothing to do with Abraham, and no such language as “Reformed Egyptian” ever existed. In spite of these facts, however, they still consider it to be scripture.)

    3). Doctrines and Covenants

    4). The KJV Bible “insofar as it is translated correctly.”
    (That couplet means that they believe the Bible until it contradicts any of the aforementioned works, then, conveniently, that’s where the Bible is not translated correctly.)

    They also treat the words of their prophets to be scripture as well, and a current prophet can completely contradict a former prophet if he wants to. This means that what was true yesterday can now be untrue tomorrow.


  5. @Pilgrim
    Understood. I was referring, specifically, to their use of not only the KJV translation (as far as it’s translated correctly…..or when it doesn’t stand in opposition to their leaders’ teachings), but to the Joseph Smith translation of the Bible. There’s also the “Inspired Version” and the “LDS-published version of the KJV. There’s also some Mor(m)ons who still prefer the Bernhisel Bible – which is not widely known.



  6. The LDS KJV will often have excerpts from the JST, and even the POGP has excerpts from it. The reason the LDS doesn’t claim it as a standard work is because the RLDS has the copyright. And they also claim Smith never finished it, but I can prove that is a lie by their own records!

    Bernhisel Bible is really just a hand-written manuscript supposedly copied from the JST manuscript, but often interpretive of the JST. So I don’t understand why any Mormon would prefer that one.


Tell us what you think:

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.