Who is the angel Moroni?

Question

Who is the angel Moroni?

Answer

The angel Moroni is associated with the cult called Mormonism or the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (see below). He is not mentioned in the Bible at all.

According to Mormon doctrine Moroni began life as a human being. He was supposedly the son of the Nephite prophet Mormon. Very early within history the person Mormon is said to have begun writing his message(s) on golden tablets. Then after his death his son Moroni finished the work and buried the tablets. Later Moroni became an angel and appeared to Joseph Smith. [1][2][3]

However, this is contrary to what the Bible teaches. Angels and humans are two entirely different types of lifeforms created by God. For instance, God created the angels to neither marry nor procreate (Matt. 22:30). But God made man to do both (Gen. 1:26-28). The author of Hebrews states that all angels are spirits (Heb. 1:14), invisible beings, usually visible to humans unless God reveals them (cf. Num. 22:31; 2 Kings 6:17; Luke 2:13). Angels can change forms (Gen. 18:2; Heb. 13:2). Angel duties even include watching over man (Psa. 91:11; Matt. 18:10).

Indeed, angels were created before mankind. The angels were even present at the very creation of the world. We observe this when God asks Job in Job 38:4-7:

Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth? Tell me, if you have understanding. Who determined its measurements — surely you know! Or who stretched the line upon it? On what were its bases sunk, or who laid its cornerstone, when the morning stars sang together and all the sons of God shouted for joy?

In context, the sons of God refers to angelic beings. Nehemiah 9:6 states, “You are the Lord, you alone. You have made heaven, the heaven of heavens, with all their host, the earth and all that is on it, the seas and all that is in them; and you preserve all of them; and the host of heaven worships you.” Note that in context, angels (host) are mentioned before “the earth and all that is on it, the seas and all that is in them." While this alone is insufficient evidence, this coupled with the fact that the angels sang at the creation reveals that they existed prior to God’s creation in Genesis 1:2 and following. However, mankind wasn’t made until the sixth day (Gen. 1:26-31).

Additionally, the Bible makes it clear that the saints will judge angels: “Do you not know that we are to judge angels? How much more, then, matters pertaining to this life!” (1 Cor. 6:3). Is Moroni going to judge himself? Biblically, angels were created some time before human beings were and the saints will ultimately judge angels. So, Mormonism is incorrect. Angels never began as human beings as human beings did not exit when angels were created. [4]

Within Mormonism, Moroni is identified as the angel in Revelation 14:6. Moreover, Moroni purportedly appeared to the prophet Joseph Smith numerous times. He allegedly gave to Joseph Smith the interpretation of the previously mentioned gold plates who then wrote the Book of Mormon. [5] However, if the identity of the angel Moroni is biblically false then what does this tell us about Joseph Smith and his Book of Mormon?

Perhaps an angel did appear to Joseph Smith — a false prophet (cf. Matt. 24:11; 2 Pet. 2:1). When Satan fell from heaven (Luke 10:18) he took a number of fallen beings with him (Rev. 12:4). And Satan disguises himself as an angel of light (2 Cor. 11:14). As Paul writes, “But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed” (cf. Gal. 1:6-8). Satan and his seed desire to pervert the gospel of Christ. What better ploy than for Satan to disguise himself as one of God’s angels and rewrite the Word of God!

References

[1] The last Nephite prophet in the Book of Mormon (about A.D. 421). Just before Mormon’s death, he delivered a historical record called the plates of Mormon to his son Moroni (Words of Mormon 1:1). Moroni finished compiling the plates of Mormon. LDS website. “Moroni, Son of Mormon” (https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/study/scriptures/gs/moroni-son-of-mormon?lang=eng ). Last accessed 8 Jan. 2020.

[2] Smith, Joseph; Cowdery, Oliver; Rigdon, Sidney; Williams, Frederick G. (1835), Doctrine and Covenants of the Church of the Latter Day Saints: Carefully Selected from the Revelations of God, Kirtland, Ohio: F. G. Williams & Co., p. 180. And Cowdery, Oliver (1835), "Letter VI to W.W. Phelps, Esq.", Latter Day Saints' Messenger and Advocate, 1 (7), p. 112.

[3] “Moroni, whom I have sent unto you to reveal the book of Mormon, containing the fulness of my everlasting gospel; to whom I have committed the keys of the record of the stick of Ephraim,” Smith, p. 180.

[4] LDS teaches that human beings existed in heaven as spirits before the formation of the earth. They use the phrase “sons of God” in Job 38:3-7 to support this idea. However, in these passages – and others (Job 38:12-18, 19-21) – the LORD is challenging Job. Job had presumed to question God’s divine justice. And God responds by exposing Job’s ignorance! So, the phrase, “Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth?” is a rhetorical question. The answer assumes “Nowhere” as Job wasn’t created yet! The next line states, “Tell me, if you have understanding.” Job’s final answer is rather revealing, “Therefore I have uttered what I did not understand, things too wonderful for me, which I did not know” (Job 42:3). So, Job is clearly not among the “sons of God” in Job 38:7 who witnessed the creation of the earth. The “sons of God” refers to angels (cf. Gen. 6:2, 4; Job 1:6; 2:1; 38:7). So, against Mormonism Job 38:4-7 doesn’t teach the pre-existence of humans in heaven (cf. Gen. 1:26-31; Col. 1:16).

Related links

What is Mormonism?
Can you briefly state the Mormon plan of salvation?
The Bible vs. The Book of Mormon
The Fictitious Mormon Jesus
Mormonism and Celestial Marriage
Are Mormonism and Islam similar in any way(s)?
The Mormon View of their god

Answer by Dr. Joseph R. Nally, Jr.

Dr. Joseph R. Nally, Jr., D.D., M.Div. is the Theological Editor at Third Millennium Ministries (Thirdmill).