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If I Were A Mormon…

December 8, 2008

… I would want to know the research related to the following historical information. You can click on the sentences below for links to the historical evidence supporting the statement.

I’ve been extra-busy lately and haven’t had much time to study and blog about Mormonism, but hope to get back to it soon.

Following Jesus (not Joseph),

Jessica

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71 Comments leave one →
  1. December 8, 2008 5:41 am

    Since I Have A Testimony . . .

    . . . I don’t rely on the research of man to validate my beliefs. Call it cliché, but it is true.

    Following Jesus (who else?),

    Jesse

  2. measure76 permalink
    December 8, 2008 5:55 am

    So Jesse… If a hypothetical letter was found by a historian that was written by Joseph Smith, Certifying the entire church as a fraud… you’d still believe, because You wouldn’t take the researcher’s word for it?

    If I was still a mormon, I’d want to ask some questions, too. Like… Why did Oliver Cowdery tell his law firm partner that the book of mormon was a hoax?

    http://rfmorg.wordpress.com/2008/08/02/evidences-against-mormonism-3/

  3. December 8, 2008 11:14 pm

    I find the 1832 version of the first vision to be absolutely captivating due to the fact that it is written by Joseph’s own hand. The tone of the content is rather thought provoking as well.

    There is an image of the original document in Joseph’s handwriting located at the link below:

    http://www.utlm.org/onlineresources/firstvisionjosephsmith1832.htm

  4. December 9, 2008 1:40 am

    It truly is amazing, isn’t it 76, how much the knowledge of God transcends that of man’s.

  5. Darrell permalink
    December 10, 2008 1:00 pm

    Jesse,

    I understand where you are coming from… I myself was there at one time. I am ex-mormon and am now a Christian. I can relate to how you feel about your testimony. I have a question for you. Let me lay this out…

    1) I have talked with Muslims who say that God has told them that their faith is true. They have told me that I cannot understand it but that they KNOW b/c of revelation from God that their faith is true and that the Korean is God’s word.

    2) I have spoken with Protestant Christians who say the exact same thing. That God has spoken to their heart and told them that Mormonism is false and that their faith is true. They are very earnest in their conviction that God has told them PERSONALLY that their faith is true and the LDS church is false.

    3) Now, I have also spoken with Mormons like yourself who say that God has told them that the LDS Church is true. They say, just as you do and I did at one time, that they do not need evidence… that their church is true b/c the spirit has told them so.

    Now, my question is this. How can ALL THREE OF THESE DIFFERENT FAITHS say that God has told them all that their faiths are true? Has god told them ALL THREE that they are true. If so, God is a liar… for if the Korean is God’s word than Jesus was not who He says He was. If the Protestants are correct that God has told them the LDS Church is false and their faith is true than Mormonism is false. If JS was a prophet than Islam is NOT true adn the Protestant Faith is not correct either… so God would be lieing to them.

    You see, they all three contradict one another… yet followers of all three faiths are saying that God has told them that THEIR FAITH is the true one.

    Logically, they cannot all be true. There are only two possibilities. Either…

    1) One of them is true and the others are false

    Or

    2) All three are false

    So, how can you rely on something as subjective as a feeling/witness from the spirit to tell you that Mormonism is true? Given the fact that members of other faiths say they have received the SAME witness for their faith that you have received for yours makes me doubt the reliability of the “witness”.

    What do you think about that? It gave me pause when I was LDS.

    Darrell

  6. Tyler permalink
    December 11, 2008 12:22 am

    Darrell,
    May I ask for the basis for your faith? Are you a member of a denomination or simply a believer in Christ? If you are a believer in Christ, what do YOU say to the Muslim or Jew or Buddhist?
    Inter-Christian differentiation is a tough sell. Asking Jesse to evaluate her faith based on the faith of others is an argument that won’t work for your case either.
    Your argument is better for atheists.

  7. Darrell permalink
    December 11, 2008 1:12 am

    Tyler,

    Thank you for your comments. I will be happy to answer your questions to see if I can help clarify my position. I am a Christian and I attend a conservative Christian church. As I mentioned in my post, I used to be LDS.

    Before I clarify my position any further, it would be helpful to understand where you are coming from. How well do you understand the LDS faith? Are you LDS?

    Help me out with those questions and that will help me to make myself a little clearer.

    Thank you.

    Darrell

  8. Tyler permalink
    December 11, 2008 2:28 am

    Darrell,
    I have no problem telling you all about my religious background, but I can’t see how that could possibly help you to make yourself any clearer. In fact, I am hesitant to tell you if I am Christian, Mormon, Muslim, or Atheist first because I want to get the unvarnished response.
    Please answer my question and then we can start an honest discussion on belief.
    Thank you

  9. December 11, 2008 3:03 am

    Tyler,

    I am honestly not asking the question to “varnish” my response. Sorry you are taking me as being so “cloak and dagger”. I am asking so that I can honestly save time in our discussion. If I know whether or not you are LDS it will save us time in me having to explain things.

    Nevertheless, since you are hesitant to respond I will be forced to start from the beginning.

    To answer your first question… how would I respond to a Muslim. The same way I respond to Mormons. For both religions are based upon the same thing… a personal witness from “God”. There is no other basis for their faiths. If you look for evidence to support the historicity of the Korean or the BOM THERE IS NONE. To be exact, there is plenty of evidence to the OPPOSITE.

    The basis for a Mormon’s faith lies solely in a personal witness they receive from the “Holy Spirit”. When you ask a Mormon why they think their church is “true” they will always respond with something to the effect of “because I have a testimony… the Holy Spirit has confirmed the truthfullness of it to me”. This is purely a subjective response. It is based soly in emotion. There is no substance to the response beyond how they feel.

    We have actually received a warning in the Bible for this very phenomenon. We have been told in the Bible that satan can mask himself as angel of light and that He will seek to distort the pure Gospel message by sending his angels to witness to us (see Galations Chapter 1). This, IMO, is what has happened in both Mormonism and Islam. Both faiths were started by angelic visitations (Moroni and Gabriel) and both religions are distortions and/or outright lies. We hve the evidence to prove this.

    Next you ask, what is the basis for my faith. To start off I will say that I have an intelligent faith that is based in and supported by evidence. Check out some of my posts at http://www.toughquestionsanswered.wordpress.com and you will get a feel for why I think Christianity is true. Christianity can be backed up LOGICALLY and with EVIDENCE. I would recommend Lee Strobel’s book A Case For Christ to start out with. This will give you a great start in the evidence for Christianity. Another good one is CS Lewis’ Mere Christianity.

    I do not have to rely upon a burning in the bosom alone to support my faith. I can look to The Bible and KNOW for a fact that what it says is what was originally written down. Evidence shows that the text is 99.5% pure. In addition, there are logical arguements that support Christianity’s claims. For further reading on this I would recommend Josh McDowell’s book The New Evidence That Demands A Verdict.

    The bottom line is this. Christianity is the only religion on the face of the earth that is supported by the witness of the spirit IN ADDITION TO EVIDENCE.

    I hope that helps to clarify where I am coming from.

    Take Care!!
    Darrell

  10. measure76 permalink
    December 11, 2008 3:37 am

    Darrell- You say the Bible is 99.5 percent pure, I assume you mean to the earliest known copies of the books included in the bible.

    So my questions for you include:

    1-How do you know that the “Pure” source is anything more than the writings of men with no divine inspiration?

    2-How do you reconcile the 99.5 percent pure statement with the many contradictions contained within the text?

    3-How do you understand the process of what texts were chosen to include in the bible? Do you believe this process was divinely inspired? If so, does that not contradict your stance that inspiration is not necessary due to the evidence your GOD provided of Christianity?

    Thank you for your time.

  11. Tyler permalink
    December 11, 2008 4:17 am

    Darrell,
    Thank you for your response. I must disagree with some of your fundamental arguments.

    Muslims and Mormons do not base all of their belief on a personal witness from “God.” Islam doesn’t emphasize this in any way. The basis for Islam is similar to much of the Judeo-Christian tradition. There is no ‘burning bosom’ emphasis in Islam.

    As for Mormonism, how can you say they don’t have a historical basis for their faith? Mormons believe in the Bible in its entirety (perhaps omitting Songs of Salomon). The creation myths for Mormonism and mainstream Christianity are virtually identical. The belief in Jesus as the only Messiah is also the same. So you are left with the Book of Mormon. Now, were the BOM the only source in the Mormon canon, your argument would at least sound better. The LDS faithful do take a turn from modern Christianity with Joseph Smith. But how can you criticize them for belief in a prophet they never met while you both believe in all the ancient prophets (that you never met)?

    The fact that Bible characters existed does not in any way mean that they are the characters they are purported to be. Is there historical evidence for Moses and the Red Sea (let alone the existence of Moses)? The creation of the earth? Noah and the Ark (besides speculation)? Even the Messianic miracles are not historically validated. Did he walk on water? Heal the dead? Turn water into wine? Absolutely- if you are a believer. But what historical document could possibly PROVE even that Jesus rose from the dead?
    Christianity is not based on historical accuracy any more than Mormonism.

    Also, how can you be sure that the Bible you have in your hand is exactly as the original authors wrote and intended it (if you say because God made sure that it would, you prove my point). What possible objective, scientific study could prove that ‘99.5% of the text is pure?’ And again, even if it were that pure, how can you prove it to be true?

    Aren’t you discounting faith? The belief in God that Paul extols is not based on fact alone. There are many good reasons to believe in God, and His Christ. But facts and evidence fall short, and then must come faith.

    For the record, I am an active member of the LDS faith. I love all of CS Lewis’ works.

  12. December 11, 2008 4:32 am

    Measure76,

    1) No, I do not mean to the earliest known copies of the text of The New Testament. I mean 99.5% pure to what was originally written down. Please see the post and sources I referenced in the previous post to Tyler for detailed answers. Both Josh McDowell’s as well as Lee Strobel’s books handle this question and present answers in great detail. Have you read them?

    2) Again, see the above referenced sources. There are not, as you say, “MANY” contradictions in The New Testament. There are only 40 verses that are questioned by scholars in The New Testament. This adds up to .3% of the entire text… hence the conservative .5% variance that is used by Bruce Metzger, Norman Geisler and William Nix (Lee Strobel, Case For Christ, Pg 65).

    3) Yes, I believe the Bible was divinely inspired (if I didn’t I wouldn’t be a Christian) and no, that does not contradict my stance. Please explain how it would.

    Have a great night!

    Darrell

  13. measure76 permalink
    December 11, 2008 4:41 am

    Nah, Darrell, it wouldn’t get us anywhere. You believe in impossible things, such as virgin births, and people rising from the dead… and I don’t.

    As long as you believe in impossible things, any amount of logical argument will end in frustration for us both.

  14. Tyler permalink
    December 11, 2008 4:56 am

    Measure76,
    The pejorative nature of your comments are not conducive to good dialogue.
    When you define the other person in the argument as a fool you can win any debate.

  15. December 11, 2008 4:57 am

    Measure 76,

    Assuming from your comments and what I’ve read of your blog, it appears to me that you do hold to a belief in some impossible things. For example, for a person to believe there is no God requires the belief in some rather impossible odds of life evolving from non-life. The probability has been likened to that of a tornado going through a junkyard and spontaneously assembling a working 747 airplane.

    That’s a bit far fetched for me.

    “For the invisible things of Him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse. Because that, when they knew God, they glorified Him not as God, neither were thankful, but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing to be wise, they became fools” (Romans 1:20-22).

  16. December 11, 2008 5:15 am

    Tyler,

    Mormonism claims to be a restoration of the one true church on the face of the earth. It departs dramatically from Christianity in several areas. First of all it questions the integrity of the Bible (8th article of faith) and claims that the BOM is the most accurate book on the face of the earth. One of your early prophets is quoted as saying that there is not one verse of the bible that has escaped corruption. However, where is the evidence to support this claim? Where is the proof the Bible has been corrupted? Where is the proof to support that the BOM is an actual historical document? Where are the Lamanites? Nephites? Why did your church just make a dramatic change to the introduction to the BOM about the Lamanites being the primary ancestors to the American Indians (now they are just AMONG the ancestors)? The bottom line is THERE IS NO PROOF. To be exact the exact opposite is true. There is ample proof that the BOM is false. I own a 1830 copy of the BOM and it reads dramatically different in many KEY areas. Your church has made an aweful lot of changes to the book JS labeled “the most accurate book on the face of the earth”. I will do a separate post on that down the road on my blog.

    Now, as for the proof for The Bible… you really need to read the sources I cited. The Bible is well supported by several extrabiblical sources (Josephus for staters) and can be proven to be a real historical document. In addition, using The Bibliographical Test let’s look at The New Testament…

    1) We have 24,970 manuscripts for the New Testament alone. It is the #1 document in all of antiquity in manuscript authority. #2, Homer’s Illiad, is a distant second with only 643 manuscripts!!! Wow!!

    2) The time frame between the earliest manuscript we have goes back to within 100 years of the original!! 100 Years!!! We have fragments that go back to withink 50 YEARS!! 50 Years!!! To put this into perspective, scholars consider Thucydides to be the most accurate historian in all of antiquity. What is the time gap between the oldest surviving copy of his manuscript and the original? A STUNNING 1300 YEARS!!! How many copies do we have? 8!!! Look at this side by side…

    Thucydides – 1300 year gap – 8 copies – considered most accurate historian of antiquity!!

    The New Testament – 100 year gap – 24,970 copies – questioned by mormons!!

    This makes no sense!!

    There is a process that scholars go through using the 24,970 copies to recreate the autographa (the original). They are able to do this to a 99.5% pure text minimum!! 99.5%!! What this amounts to is that there are only 40 verses in The New Testament that are questioned at all.

    We have proof that what was written down is what we have today. As for proof that what was written down was true… there are arguements to support this as well. I will address that later in a seperate post on my blog. In the meantime… please pick up the books I mentioned. They go into great detail on this.

    Nevertheless, your statement that “Christianity is not based on historical accuracy any more than Mormonism.” is blatantly unsupported by evidence. Evidence shows us The Bible is a historical document that has not been corrupted. As for the BOM, that is another story all together. Sorry!!

    Darrell

  17. December 11, 2008 5:24 am

    Tyler,

    A couple of more things…

    You said…

    “But what historical document could possibly PROVE even that Jesus rose from the dead?”

    I would recomment reading some of Gary Habermas’ work on this. He is the world’s leading expert on proof for the resurrection. You would love his work.

    You also said…

    “Aren’t you discounting faith? The belief in God that Paul extols is not based on fact alone. There are many good reasons to believe in God, and His Christ. But facts and evidence fall short, and then must come faith.”

    No, I am not discounting faith at all. I believe it is faith that saves us. However, I do not believe in having a “BLIND FAITH”. Unfortuntely, to be a Mormon, I believe that is what one must have. You have to turn your back on the facts to retain faith in the LDS Church. There is so much evidence out that shows the church is wrong in many areas. I spent 6 years looking into all of this before leaving the church to become a Christian.

    Today, my faith is not blind. It is an intelligent faith that is supported by evidence and facts.

    Darrell

  18. measure76 permalink
    December 11, 2008 5:34 pm

    @Tyler – It’s not my fault that Christian belief is foolish. I do not think that we should pretend that it is not foolish just to be polite.

    @Jessicasheeley – I testify to you that the more you read about evolution, the more sense it will all make. It will make more sense than creation, if you learn enough about it.

  19. December 11, 2008 5:57 pm

    Measure76,

    Ok, so you think evolution is the answer… let’s break it down then… what evolved into the Bacterial Flagellum? Where did it come from. Scientists have decribed it as “the most advanced machine on the face of the earth”…. what existed prior to it that was able to evolve into it?

    This has created problems for TONS of evolutionists. They cannot explain it… Intelligent Design wins out.

    Darrell

  20. measure76 permalink
    December 11, 2008 6:02 pm

    Darrell, I stand by my point that us conversing will lead nowhere fast. But Here’s what wikipedia has to say about the evolution of bacterial Flagellum:

    An approach to the evolutionary origin of the bacterial flagellum is suggested by the fact that a subset of flagellar components can function as a Type III transport system.

    Admittedly, all currently known nonflagellar Type III transport systems are for injecting toxin into eukaryotic cells, and are therefore presumably descended from the flagellum, which is likely older than eukaryotes.[citation needed] For example, the bubonic plague bacterium Yersinia pestis has an organelle assembly very similar to a complex flagellum except that it functions as a needle to inject toxins into host cells.

    However, the Type III transport system still undergirds the hypothesis that the flagellum did not have to come about all at once, as a subset of components has a selectable function. That all known nonflagellar Type III transport systems are disease mechanisms is not shocking, because the Type III secretion system was only discovered in 1994 and scientific study of eubacteria is significantly biased towards disease-causing organisms. This provides another case of co-option, where a motility organelle has evolved into a “complex weapon for close combat.”

  21. measure76 permalink
    December 11, 2008 6:06 pm

    I should also point out that ID doesn’t solve the problem.

    ID merely says “We don’t know how it happened, so GOD DID IT!”

    Well, unfortunately, that doesn’t explain how God did it, or why God is there to do it in the first place. Where did the designer come from?

  22. December 11, 2008 6:45 pm

    Measure 76,

    Did you watch Expelled? All Dawkins does is push the problem back another few trillion years by suggesting that we were seeded on this planet. The origin of life is a huge problem for evolutionists and they do not have an answer. Aliens seeding the planet is less foolish than a belief in God and the Bible?

  23. December 11, 2008 6:56 pm

    Measure76,

    I love that explanation… basically the parts evolved separately and somehow came together to form it. Yeah Right!! That would be like a computers parts being formed separately and then somehow magically being put together in working fashion. Good luck with that happening. No, I will stick with ID.

    It takes more faith to be an atheist than it does to be a Christian. (good book by the way)

    Darrell

  24. measure76 permalink
    December 11, 2008 7:26 pm

    @Jessica:

    ID doesn’t help your probabilites one bit. It makes life even MORE improbable by requiring a designer that is insaneley improbable to exist, to come around, and create everything.

  25. December 11, 2008 7:30 pm

    “a designer that is insaneley improbable to exist”

    Please prove it is improbable.

    Darrell

  26. measure76 permalink
    December 11, 2008 7:39 pm

    @Darrell. With evolution you think everything requires magic, so you reject it.

    With ID, you think everything requires magic, so you embrace it?

  27. measure76 permalink
    December 11, 2008 7:41 pm

    @Darrell

    The designer must be more improbable than the bacterial flagellum, which you have referenced, or he would not be able to create it.

  28. December 12, 2008 12:52 am

    Measure 76,

    I can think of something that is vastly improbable. A Jewish captive in Babylon makes a very specific Messianic prophecy around 538 BC providing the exact date the Messiah would come (see Daniel 9:25). The prophecy is fulfilled on the exact day it was predicted (April 6, AD 32) when Jesus rode into Jerusalem on a donkey (see Robert Anderson’s book Daniel in the Critic’s Den: A Defense of the Historicity of the Book of Daniel, pp. 124-134). The NT authors do not mention this fulfillment of OT prophecy. It is discovered by scholars using history, calendars, and the Bible to crunch the numbers.

    There are a couple of options for skeptics –

    1) Either the OT section was added later (which is not probable given that the Jews are keepers of the OT records and do not allow any tampering, especially someone trying to prove that Jesus fulfilled Messianic prophecies)

    or

    2) The NT authors made up the facts they documented about Jesus (also, highly improbable, as there were witnesses alive at the time the gospels were written. Further, if the NT authors did make up the events/facts of Jesus’ life, why would they not point out that this event was fulfilled on the exact day it was predicted? This departs from their normative method of pointing out all the Messianic prophecies that Jesus fulfilled. Doesn’t it strike you as more than mere coincidence that the NT writings appear right around the time that it was predicted that the Messiah would come (and these prophecies are fulfilled in such specific detail)? The prophecies were obviously not written after the NT events – we have the Dead Sea Scrolls as evidence the OT prophecies were written prior to their fulfillment in the NT. Only option is to say the NT writers made it all up. This is a problem with Daniel 9 because they do not mention the fulfillment of this prophecy and yet it was fulfilled…on the EXACT DAY

  29. Tyler permalink
    December 12, 2008 2:33 am

    I have been gone all day and unable to respond to Darrell’s last post. Instead of going back to it I will just say to both Darrell and Jessica that using the research and publications of your comrades is an extremely ineffective way to sway someone to your side. Christian apologetics will fall short in almost all instances when trying to convince atheists or people of other faiths to believe what they believe. The reason for that is extremely simple: objectivity is virtually nonexistent. Facts can be distorted, slanted, manipulated, twisted, and reshaped to agree with the premises of the ‘researcher.’ In any academic undertaking (and that is exactly what you are claiming to do– scientifically prove that the Bible is true), you need to be able to study from sources contrary to the ideas that you currently hold. Otherwise you are simply feeding your brain what it wants to hear.
    Also, Mormons don’t ‘question’ the Bible. We believe it, study it, adhere to it, and love it. We simply acknowledge that it is not ALL that god wants us to know, and that it has been passed through hands other than God’s.

    Remember Jesus’ words to Thomas in John 20:29-
    “Thomas, because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed.”

    God never required scientific proof of his existence. If you actually believe that you can rely on a simple evidential basis for a diving being, then I believe that you are missing the point.

    And just because there are only “40 versus in question,” doesn’t meant that the historical accuracy of the events is not. Can you prove with archeological evidence or otherwise that Moses, Abraham, Lot, Isaiah, etc? Even Josephus, who you mentioned, only refers to Jesus twice: once as the Christ (a document that has been widely speculated as unauthentic), and once as the brother of James. In other words you can’t prove New Testament texts to be 99.5% accurate either if you are significantly basing it on his writings.

  30. December 12, 2008 3:53 am

    Tyler,

    What you are basically saying is that you can’t prove anything at all because objectivity is non-existent! Wow!!! You have opened your “escape hatch” and stepped out of the the conversation! So, since you can be sure of anything I guess there is no way to know if I am actually typing on the computer right now. Heck, I can’t be sure it is raining outside or not. It might be my non-objective eyes lieing to me. Seriously, that is such a sad way of avoiding having to face the truth.

    Truth is truth and we can be sure of things… God gave us a brain for a reason. Stop jumping out of the conversation simply because you don’t like the facts.

    Yes, it can and has been shown that the New Testament is 99.5% accurate. You might not want to believe that… you can choose to believe whatever you want, of course… but it is the truth. Do some research and you will discover this. In addition, do some studying on the history of the text your church clings to… the BOM. You will find numerous changes in it THAT CAN BE DOCUMENTED. Why would your church ADD VERSES INTO THE BOM long after it was published? Why would they REMOVE ENTIRE VERSES? Why would they change words and add words in?

    See, what is funny is WE CAN PROVE ALL OF THIS… yet your church insists that the Bible has errors and the BOM is the most correct book on the face of the earth. Sorry, the facts don’t line up with what your church says.

    Unfortunately, contrary to what you say, the Mormon church does question the reliability of the Bible. If you would like I can provide numerous quotes from your leadership that prove this. JS even attempted to provide a New Translation of the Bible to correct the supposed “problems” in the Bible. Look at your LDS quad… you will find exerpts of his translation in it. I own the entire New Translation.

    As for addressing your point of studying sources contrary to ones own opinion. I completely agree with you. I have done so… as I mentioned I was LDS for years and went through the process of studying both sides (as well as others) and have come to the conclusion that the LDS church is false and Jesus Christ is who He says he was. My question to you would be, have YOU done so?

    Tyler, I encourage you not to give up so easily. Truth can be found. You do not have to turn off your brain simply because your church’s teachings don’t line up with the facts. Don’t rely on the LDS church to spoon feed you. Find the FACTS out for yourself.

    I will be praying for you Tyler.

    Darrell

  31. December 12, 2008 4:25 am

    Tyler, you said “you need to be able to study from sources contrary to the ideas that you currently hold. Otherwise you are simply feeding your brain what it wants to hear”

    Have you studied sources contrary to the ideas that you currently hold? Such as the historical information in this post? The Bible tells us to be prepared to give an answer to anyone who asks us for a reason for the hope that is within us (I Peter 3:15) which is why I was responding on this thread to some allegations that my faith is based on foolishness. I provided some objective evidences and reasons (there are many, many more and I have some of them in my posts dedicated to ex-mormons here)

    I agree with you, though, that ultimately faith is not based on objective evidence alone. If it were, it could not be called faith. Faith is the “substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen” (Hebrews 11:1) and “without faith it is impossible to please Him” (Hebrews 11:6).

    I haven’t received very many answers/objective evidence from LDS, though, regarding the historical facts cited in this post. The only response I’ve gotten so far is “I have a testimony.” We all have a testimony, but we have different testimonies. It’s not very constructive to the conversation to rely on personal testimonies alone when they are so diametrically opposed. Feelings and personal experiences are too subjective and can come from God, Satan, or our own hearts.

  32. Tyler permalink
    December 12, 2008 6:20 am

    Darrell,
    “Questioning the Bible,” as you first put it, and acknowledging its fallibility are two different things. Trust me, I have studied and seriously considered all different angles of religion, including atheism. I can assure you that I know and have known for decades more about the LDS doctrine and history than you ever will understand. I can cite hundreds of sources (anti, pro, neutral) that I have read from Brodie to Bushman and Bagley to Prince. Nothing any of you could possibly bring up will in any way be new to me. I have considered it a vital part of my spiritual growth to know and understand the doctrines, teachings, and history of the church to which I belong. Contrary to what you seem to believe, I am not a simpleton with blind faith who hasn’t considered other options. I am only where I am today because of the spiritual journey that has led me here.

    Your existential sarcasm is simply taking my words out of context. I am saying that just because a historical document says that Moses parted the Red Sea doesn’t mean that he did. Other historical literature says that Prometheus created fire, or that Muhammad conversed with Gabriel. Can you honestly not see my point? Thankfully, I believe the bible. But I don’t believe it just because a book says he did. I believe it because I have faith in the fact that God wanted the Bible to be in my life, and so he preserved the most important parts of it for that purpose.

    You were verging on pretty condescending comments in your last post. I’m not interested in degrading your beliefs. If this is your intention, we should end the conversation now.

  33. Susan permalink
    December 12, 2008 7:35 am

    “I believe it because I have faith in the fact that God wanted the Bible to be in my life, and so he preserved the most important parts of it for that purpose.”

    And Biblical Christians trust (have faith) that God preserved all its parts….which were all important.

    Interesting conversations going on here…I’ve been out of the loop for awhile 🙂

  34. December 12, 2008 6:53 pm

    Tyler,

    Thank you for your comments. If my comments came across as condescending I apologize. I can assure you that was not the intention. One of the disdvantages of communicating in writing is that you cannot hear the tone or influx in one’s voice. That can make all the difference.

    My comments were in direct response to the way you appeared to be characterizing the ability to know truth. You appeared to be saying that truth is undecernable from an emperical perspective… because facts can be twisted and distorted. While I agree with you that people can take information and twist it to their own advantage (politics is a perfect example of this) I DO BELIEVE that truth is knowable. God gave us a mind and intends for us to use it. I believe the truth that the LDS Church is false is very knowable when one looks at the facts. Unfortunately, the church has so many members deceived into believing that any arguement that speaks poorly of the church (so called “anti” stuff) is lies. Nothing could be further from the truth. My experience was that it was not until I read the so called “anti material” that I came to know many real facts about the church’s history.

    To say that you know MORE about the LDS Church than I will ever know is quite a bold assertion seeing as you do not know me. I spent years in the church and have researched it’s teachings and history rather thoroughly. Because of this I have come to the conclusion that one has to turn his back on the facts to retain faith in the LDS church.

    You said…

    “I am saying that just because a historical document says that Moses parted the Red Sea doesn’t mean that he did”…. and then said that the Korean says “Muhammad conversed with Gabriel.”

    You see you have hit my point right there. We have proof that the Bible is a historical document. While we cannot PROVE that Moses parted the Red Sea or that Christ raised Lazarus from the dead, we can prove:

    1) That what the Bible says is what was originally written down

    and, even more importantly,

    2) That the Bible is a real historical document

    In otherwords, we know that Jesus was a real person in history. We know that Paul, Matthew, Caesar, Luke, etc. all existed. We know that Palestine, Jerusalem, The Red Sea, etc are all REAL places. We have PROOF for the historicity of the Bible. In addition, there are several lines of reasoning that I will talk about in a future post on my blog that support belief for the events in the Bible. In otherwords, there are logical lines of reasoning that can lead one to conclude the Christ DID rise from the dead, ressurrect Lazarus, etc.

    However, for the BOM and the Korean WE HAVE NOTHING to show their historicity. Where is Zarahemla? Show me anything, outside of the BOM that talks about Alma, the Nephites, the Lamanites, Reformed Eqyptian, etc, etc, etc.

    In reality quite the opposite is true. From a historical perspective there are SEVERAL concerns involving the BOM. There is ample evidence to show that Reformed Egyptian never existed, that the American Indians, contrary to mormon leadership’s past statements, are NOT of Hebrew descent.

    So, given this, why does the LDS Church claim that the BOM is the most correct book on the face of the earth and speak so poorly of the Bible? There is no evidential support for doing this.

    Now, you keep claiming that the LDS Church does not speak poorly of the Bible. Here are just a few quotes from your leaders to show that what I assert is accurate…

    1) LDS Apostle Orson Pratt also wrote: If it be admitted that the apostles and evangelists did write the books of the New Testament, that does not prove of itself that they were divinely inspired at the time they wrote…. Add all this imperfection to the uncertainty of the translation, and who, IN HIS RIGHT MIND could for one moment suppose the Bible in its present form to be a perfect guide? Who knows that even one verse of the Bible has escaped pollution, so as to convey the same sense now that it did in the original? (Divine Authority of the Book of Mormon, pp. 45, 47; read all of this pamphlet for a detailed attack upon the Bible).

    2) LDS Apostle Mark E. Peterson said, “Many insertions were made, some of them ’slanted’ for selfish purposes, while at times deliberate falsifications and fabrications were perpetrated” (As Translated Correctly, p. 4).

    3) Joseph Smith himself declared, “Ignorant translators, careless transcribers, or designing and corrupt priests have committed many errors” (T. of P.J.S., p. 327)

    4) Apostle Orson Pratt also claimed, “The Bible has been robbed of its plainness; many sacred books having been lost, others rejected by the Romish Church, and what few we have left, were copied and re-copied so many times, that it is admitted that almost every verse has been corrupted and mutilated to that degree that scarcely any two of them read alike” (The Seer, p. 213).

    5) LDS Apostle Bruce R. McConkie: “The Church uses the King James Version of the Bible, but acceptance of the Bible is coupled with a reservation that it is true only insofar as it is translated correctly (Eighth Article of Faith). The other three (The B.of M., D.& C., and P. of G.P.), having been revealed in modern times in English, are accepted without qualification” (Mormon Doctrine p. 764).

    Thank you for your time.

    Darrell

  35. Tyler permalink
    December 12, 2008 7:27 pm

    Welcome, Susan. It would appear from your comment that you are interested in respectful dialogue.

    I wish to express just how much I love the Bible. The New Testament has always been a fundamental and foundational source for my belief that Jesus is the Savior of the world. I put no other religious text before it (including the Book of Mormon). Attempting to describe the powerful response I have as I study it would be fruitless. All I can say is that with the combination of sincere Bible study and prayer, I have come to a deep understanding of the love of God.

    The Old Testament has a similar effect, although I must admit that I gravitate more naturally to the Gospels and Pauline writings. I can say with certainty, however that Song of Salomon, for example has little if any significance in the christian canon. Darrell has mentioned 40 verses that are in question among christian scholars. Are these verses part of the Bible that God preserved?

    Do you believe that all parts of the Bible are equally important?

  36. Tyler permalink
    December 12, 2008 8:36 pm

    This conversation has evolved (to use an ugly word) from a discussion on how religious groups arrive at truth to how absurd the LDS followers really are for believing in their church. I am unsatisfied with your answers to my questions. No one is questioning that there is a collection of books called the Bible that contain historical accounts and cultural lore. Of course the Bible can be viewed as a historical document. And while the (most of the) places (and some, but not all events) can be identified, many of the characters cannot (see my previous comment for a small part of that long list).

    I said:
    “I am saying that just because a historical document says that Moses parted the Red Sea doesn’t mean that he did”…. and then said that the Korean says “Muhammad conversed with Gabriel.”

    To which you said:

    “You see you have hit my point right there. We have proof that the Bible is a historical document. While we cannot PROVE that Moses parted the Red Sea or that Christ raised Lazarus from the dead, we can prove:

    1) That what the Bible says is what was originally written down

    and, even more importantly,

    2) That the Bible is a real historical document”

    First, you again are not addressing my point. No matter how you look at it, there is a leap that must be taken in order to believe in any divine being. You must say, “I personally have not seen this being. The sources I have which write of Him are my pathway to understand him. Thus my belief, while powerful and solid, is based on second (or third or fourth…)-hand narratives.” You cannot believe in Jesus’ existence in the same way that you believe in your wife’s existence. It sounds clear-cut and simple when you boil the discussion down to: Christians believe in books that are proven to be true, Mormons do not. Thus, Mormons are wrong. That is a massive oversimplification.

    Second, you didn’t address Muhammad. We can prove that he lived in Mecca (something we can’t do for Moses), and that he proclaimed himself prophet. Just because he is historically verifiable doesn’t mean that his teachings are true. Do you see what I am getting at?

    Now, as for the statements of former (or current church leadership), there is an important point to be addressed. You in the Christian world have the luxury of believing solely in a document with a final entry dating nearly 2000 years ago. It was a different historical age, with norms that can be dismissed as culturally acceptable for their time. Bible authors didn’t have educated masses ready to write down their every word to keep detailed historical records. So what we have in the Bible is a relatively condensed and brief narrative.

    Not so for the LDS church. Our leaders don’t have that luxury. Every word they say, be it in official church conferences, or in casual conversation with friends and family, gets recorded and scrutinized by supporters and detractors. But one thing is important to remember: When a prophet or apostle (you only quoted one Prophet) speaks, it is not considered absolutely authoritative unless it becomes canonized (for this to happen it must be confirmed by all apostles and prophets). Alma 40:20 is a good example of this. Here the prophet Alma is speaking to his son Corianton:
    “Now, my son, I do not say that their resurrection cometh at the resurrection of Christ; but behold, I GIVE IT AS MY OPINION, that the souls and bodies are reunited, of the righteous, at the resurrection of Christ.”
    In other words, church leaders are entitled to opinions that may or may not be authoritative. God never claimed that he reveals ALL his mysteries to his servants. Bruce R. McConkie was rebuked harshly by David O. McKay (the Prophet) for publishing ‘Mormon Doctrine.’ It was subsequently edited and reissued. But even that first edition, and virtually every edition of every publication by every church leader begins with this proviso:

    “This work is not an official publication of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. The views expressed herein are the responsibility of the author and do not necessarily represent the position of the Church.”

    Modern Christian leaders don’t have to worry about that. There is no official church organization, and thus there is no easy jabs to be taken at Christian leaders. If a Christian leader makes an unpopular or incorrect statement, there is no specific church that is targeted and ‘disproved’ because of his statements.

    That being said, I don’t necessarily feel that the quotations you listed are speaking poorly of the Bible. They are more or less acknowledging that it is not infallible. Orson Pratt’s second quote is the most extreme of the 5 and I may say comfortably and confidently that he spoke for himself and not for the church, and certainly not for God- and that I disagree with him. In his fiery case for the restoration, I believe he overstepped the bounds of accuracy.

  37. Susan permalink
    December 12, 2008 10:53 pm

    Tyler,

    I do believe that all parts of the Bible are equally important, as they all contribute in revealing the many facets of God’s nature, His relationship with us, and His redemptive plan. The beauty of how perfectly it all fits together never ceases to amaze me. There is such a depth to God’s wisdom and to His attention to every tiny detail in how He has worked throughout history. As I study His Holy and perfect Word, He peels back the layers and opens my mind to new things that I never saw before…and they always agree with the Truth He has already revealed…they just show me more depth.

    The Song of Solomon shows how beautiful and exciting a relationship can be between a man and a woman…which is a relationship that God designed for us to experience through the covenant of marriage. Some say there are hints of Christ’s relationship to the church in there as well…but I haven’t done a great deal of study regarding that. Certainly the relationship between Christ and the Church is described as that of a bridegroom and his bride in the New Testament…so I can see how that would apply.

    Last Fall I did an in-depth study on the tabernacle….amazing and beautiful! I never thought I would grow so much from studying some of those books of the Bible that at a first glance seem very confusing and disconnected from our modern days.

    My God and His Word is not at risk of becoming corrupt by fallible men, because He is Sovereign above all things. Preserving His Word and His people throughout all generations is not a challenge for Him. I believe Him when He says that I can know the Truth, and that the Truth will set me free. I have been set free through the sacrifice of my perfect Savior…taking the complete punishment for all my sins. I have been clothed in His righteousness..which is the only way that I could stand in the presence of a Holy God. I have been given the indescribable gift of Eternal Life. I will dwell with Him for all Eternity because I am trusting completely in the Gospel that He has perfectly revealed in the pages of the Bible…by the power of the Holy Spirit. Thanks be to God 🙂

    Satan’s deception always begins with getting us to question the reliability/truthfulness of God’s Word…”Did God really say…” (Genesis 3:1)

    The various books that Darrell referenced in his comments are a wonderful place to start if you are interested in a more scholarly study of why we have this level of trust in the preservation of the Bible.

    Hope this is helpful to you or someone else out there in cyberland!

  38. Tyler permalink
    December 12, 2008 11:15 pm

    Susan,
    Thank you for your beautiful testimony of Christ and His word. I agree with you on all accounts, except the idea that the Bible is infallible.
    However, I simply can’t trust the words of Christian apologetics who have zero objectivity when doing their research. I love CS Lewis because he emphasizes teachings. In my research for the LDS church, I have always included all sources, as I mentioned above. I read from everyone, so as so truly understand the truth.

  39. Tyler permalink
    December 12, 2008 11:40 pm

    Also Darrell,
    I meant that I can understand the LDS church because I study works both for and against it. I assume that you have primarily studied that are “anti” as you disparagingly stated. Like it or not, “anti-mormonism” is alive and well. It is not a simple game of the good guys prevailing with light over darkness as I assume you see it. It is a systematic, aggressive, fiery machine that seeks not only to disprove the LDS faith, but in many instances to denigrate its members and make them seem like fools for believing.

  40. December 13, 2008 2:35 am

    Tyler, You said “When a prophet or apostle…speaks, it is not considered absolutely authoritative unless it becomes canonized (for this to happen it must be confirmed by all apostles and prophets).”

    Would you say, then, that President Cannon was just speaking for himself when he said:

    “The Lord has revealed unto us that which He wants us to do, and though we do not receive written revelations (the men who have held the keys have not always felt led to write revelations as the Prophet Joseph did), the servants of the Lord do receive revelations, and they are as binding upon the people as though they were printed and published throughout all the Stakes of Zion. The oracles of God are here, and He speaks through His servant whom He has chosen to hold the keys. He gives revelations to others also concerning many matters, but it is reserved for one man, and one man alone at a time, to give revelations to the Church. We have been blessed as a people with an abundance of revelation. Some have deceived themselves with the idea that because revelations have not been written and published, therefore there has been a lessening of power in the Church of Christ. This is a very great mistake, as we will find out sooner or later. This Church has been continually led by the spirit of revelation. The spirit of revelation has been here in our conference. The addresses that have been delivered have been made under the inspiration of the Holy Ghost, and they are the word of God unto this people, binding upon them, and they will be judged by these words that we have heard. If we do not listen to these instructions and counsels and abide by the word of God as it is given to us from time to time, we shall be held to a strict accountability.”

    (from Conference Report, 64, as cited on http://blog.mrm.org/2008/10/a-few-teachings-from-the-october-1900-lds-general-conference/)

    Also, do you believe General Conference teachings are still binding for LDS people as they were in President Cannon’s day? Or can LDS more or less pick and choose for themselves which teachings are coming from God and which are coming from the prophet himself?

  41. December 13, 2008 4:37 am

    Tyler,

    To answer your question, no I have not primarily studied the so called “anti” resources. I have looked at all sides quite thoroughly. To tell you a little more about myself, I was member of the LDS Church for 15 years. During that time I served as a Stake Missionary, Ward Mission Leader, Elder’s Quorum President, 2nd Counselor in the Bishopric and lastly as a member of the Stake High Council. While an active member I studied LDS resources very actively. I understand LDS doctrine thoroughly. When I started having issues with the church I fled to Farms and Fair. I have spent ample time studying their argruements and resources. Quite frankly I was scared about what I was discovering and was hoping that they could help answer my questions and issues. After looking at all sides though I could not buy into their arguements. I found them to be rther elementary at times… for example, the “war deer hypothesis”.

    It was a painful experience coming out of the church. Unwrapping my mind from the tangled web of Mormon doctrine was painful. Now that I am through it I can honestly say that my family and I are more happy (joyful to more exact) than we have ever been. I am grateful for the resources that people provided and for their willingness to speak the truth about the history of the LDS Church. Many times speaking this truth while having the most vile accusations hurled at them.

    However, most of all I can say that I am grateful to my Savior. I am grateful that He called me out of the LDS church to Him. For, where it not for Him, I will still have the scales on my eyes and would be unable to see Him and the grace He freely gives!!

    I have gained a testimony of the Bible and Jesus Christ. I love my Savior and am grateful that He has preserved His Word for us in this day. I have a testimony that the Bible is God’s word, it is accurate and can be trusted. Through studying it one can gain the information needed to be saved, by grace through faith alone in Jesus Christ.

    I am grateful to my Savior and will praise Him the rest of the days of my life.

    Darrell

  42. Tyler permalink
    December 13, 2008 6:23 am

    Darrell,
    That is great that you and your family are happy. I saw the ‘about me’ link on your website and you do have a beautiful family.

    The interesting thing about your story is that it is not unique. You are one of many Mormons who have found a different (and what they esteem to be better) sort of fulfillment in other faiths. For every Mormon who follows your path, there are others who find within Mormon Christianity the same joy that you have found out of it. If you knew my family you would see that we have an immense joy and love for our Savior and that our love for Him is probably very similar to your love for Him.

    I think a common pattern with many members of the LDS church who leave is this: first- they live with what they later come to believe is ‘blind happiness,’ not questioning the church (this is especially common- something to the effect of “I was a member for ___ years and I NEVER questioned the church… I was good and faithful until I read ____ and started down the path that led to my liberation…” these people are almost always the most aggressive opponents of the church) nor believing that some of the ‘anti’ stuff might have a factual base. Second, they slowly begin to question certain things. And third they angrily storm off either to atheism or a more acceptable form of Christianity. I am not saying this pattern applied to you, it may or may not. But I can say that I am thankful that for the entire time that I have been a member of the church, I have known and understood some basic premises that have helped me stay put.

    First, an understanding that God is perfect, especially in his love and mercy towards me.

    Second, that Jesus is my personal Savior and that he is the only true source of peace in this life.

    Third, that everyone else is subject to the mistakes of human nature, that no person besides Christ himself is infallible- including God’s anointed servants. I don’t hold Joseph Smith to a higher standard than Saul or David or Peter or Thomas. I love the good that has come from what I have concluded is the Restoration of the Church and Gospel of Jesus Christ, while at the same time recognizing that Joseph and Brigham and Bruce and Ezra and Thomas S. Monson are in no way perfect. But today’s group of Apostles and Prophets (just as always) will not lead the disciples of Christ astray. I realize with eyes wide open (and have always known) that modern day prophets were never superheroes. But that is one reason I love them. Have you read Bushman? ‘Rough Stone Rolling’ was not published by the church but is considered by all to be the authoritative work on Joseph Smith. It gives the unvarnished, complete story of the Prophet. At the end, many people are upset to learn of Joseph’s shortcomings, but I have always appreciated the fact that while he was as imperfect as I am, the Lord was able to bring to pass what I believe is a “marvelous work and a wonder.”

    These and other principles have guided my spiritual progression and play a vital role in my happiness today. I don’t have to accept lies or false facts in order to believe what I believe (as you mentioned previously, and might I add, ever so humbly).

    I don’t know which church members you know, but trust me we are not all blind fools. Most of us know and understand what we believe are very happy in our faith.

    And Jessica, I will address your comment soon, I don’t have time right now.

  43. Susan permalink
    December 13, 2008 12:15 pm

    “However, I simply can’t trust the words of Christian apologetics who have zero objectivity when doing their research.”

    Tyler,

    I wouldn’t expect you to blindly trust anyone’s writings/teachings on God’s Word….I certainly don’t. I am constantly immersing myself in His infallible Word, so that I can be sure fallible people are not leading me astray. Just like the noble Berean’s, who didn’t take Paul at his word but studied the Infallible Scriptures they already had, that had been preserved, to see if what he was saying was in accord with what God had already revealed to them (and they found that it was). ~Acts 17:11~

    The Bible was written by the power of the Holy Spirit, and those who have the indwelling of that Spirit must depend completely on His discernment/wisdom…which is what we are to be asking God for when we don’t understand things within His Word ~James 1:5~ God does use His people, also empowered by this indwelling Spirit, to guide us and direct us in our study and understanding…but we MUST ALWAYS be students of the Word, to be sure that what we are hearing or reading doesn’t contradict the Truth.

    The apostle Paul knew that the Words he was writing/dictating were from the mouth of God. He actually made a point of saying when he was speaking from his own perspective (fallible) and when it was from God (infallible).
    ~1 Corinthians 7:10,12~

    What it all boils down to is this….

    Have we received God’s provision for us, His righteousness that He freely gives through His Son as expressed clearly in the pages of the Bible, or, have we believed in a distortion of that Truth…which in effect is believing in a lie, and chosen to forfeit that provision of righteousness…seeking to develop our own plan of salvation that is more palpable or “believable” from our human perspective.

    I agree that being united with Christ gives a person a fullness of joy and peace, but our emotional experiences don’t qualify what we believe as being true. Satan seeks to provide a counterfeit for everything….and he can cause people to feel “good” things. Our ultimate measure of Truthfulness is God’s Holy Word, not how happy or joyful we feel.

    “The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?” Jeremiah 17:9

    When we stand before our Maker, will we be clothed in the righteousness of Christ and be received into His Kingdom, or will we be clothed in Satan’s provision…filthy rags, and be separated from Him for all eternity? What we put our trust in will determine our fate…not our feelings.

  44. Tyler permalink
    December 13, 2008 5:17 pm

    Susan,
    Not that I necessarily agree with the box you have placed me (and all LDS) in, but how do you justify faith in the Bible? Specifically, how are you sure that it is God’s word? Do you rely on the voluminous apologetic sources that Darrell has cited in order to empirically accept the truthfulness of it?
    I think you are both trying to oversimplify this. You are trying to define the discussion as a) Mormons rely on warm fuzzies in order to believe in God, b) Christians have solid, factual, evidential proof in order to believe in God, so c) Mormons are wrong and Christians are right.

    This, as I said, is a gross oversimplification. It is true that within the LDS church there is an emphasis on coming to knowledge through prayer and the power of the Holy Ghost (James 1:5-6, John 14:26, John 15:26, John 5:6, Moroni 10:3-5). This is a logical step and seems perfectly natural since God knows that we are unable to come to that knowledge empirically. To think that one can gain a surety of God’s existence through archeological, historical, or scientific means is simply not true. Nothing on earth can prove God’s existence. The basic model for all research is the scientific method: systematic observation, measurement, and experiment, and the formulation, testing, and modification of hypotheses. This is how the information era has brought us nearly all of the information we now know. But the Bible fails this test because there is not enough evidence to prove or disprove it using this or any method.

    So what I am saying is that you can study apologetics and history and evidence but that will only give you a perfunctory belief that all that you have studied indeed comes from that great divine being you believe it. There is a logical leap, as I explained before, that must be made. At some point you need to acknowledge that you cannot see Jesus and thus you cannot know with complete certainty through heuristic means.

    So, Susan and Darrell, I ask you again: Upon what do you base your faith in God? Evidence and proof? Logic? Because if that is all, it seems to me that it is not sufficient.

    “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, And lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He shall direct your paths”

    Relying heavily on earthly evidence to support a belief in heavenly things has the appearance of “leaning to your own understanding.” We should avoid ‘trusting in the arm of the flesh,’ over relying on what God has promised (in the aforementioned verses) to reveal.

    (By the way, the burning in the bosom stuff comes straight out of Luke 24:32, and so should not be wholly discounted)

  45. Susan permalink
    December 14, 2008 11:29 am

    Hi Tyler,

    Ultimately, my faith in God’s Word comes from God. I realize that seems like “oversimplifying”, but I really wouldn’t want to try to complicate something that is, in fact, simple. I trusted in it wholeheartedly before I read any of the apologetics regarding it’s history, textual criticism, archaology, etc., etc. The power and wisdom of my God is unimaginable, so I don’t have any difficulty believing that He is capable of preserving His Word throughout all generations.

    My constant prayer to God is that I will always remain in His Truth…no matter how I feel, what my preferences are, or what difficulty it may bring into this temporal life. I am always asking that He not allow me to believe in false teaching, whether it’s coming from outside the Body of Christ, or if it is coming from a misinterpretation of Scripture from the inside. I want to be immersed in the mind of Christ, so that nothing will sway me from trusting Him and being obedient to Him alone.

    The apologetics are encouraging, and I believe that God uses those writings in some people’s lives to help them on their journey to Him, or to strengthen their faith. But the ultimate source of faith in God’s Truth is God.

    I have a feeling that answer probably doesn’t help…and I am assuming from other comments I’ve read that there are plenty of people out there reading this thinking, “What a naive idiot”. But that’s ok. It’s ironic that in an attempt to sling insults, those people are actually fufilling the prophetic Words of Jesus and the apostles (that what we believe will appear “foolish” to them).

    I trust completely in the preservation of God’s Word, and I am continually reminded as I study and meditate on it, that it provides a protective shield around me from false teachings. The Spirit teaches me through those Holy Words, and it brings the world around me into focus. I don’t have to keep searching for the answers to life, or be tossed about on the sea of cultural opinion…it’s all in there. And it isn’t stagnant, it’s living and active, God is outside of time, and His Words are relevant to all generations…

    “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness,so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.” 2 Timothy 3:16-17

    The scientific “findings”, the headlines, the newscasts, the endless religions, the ways of the world…they can all be intricately explained and understood within the pages of God’s divine Words in the Bible. It’s almost comical in some respects (if it weren’t so sad), when I sit back and watch things unravel and listen to people attempt to “make sense” of it all.

    Thank you for your comments and questions, Tyler. I really am grateful for the opportunity to engage in these discussions.

    I’d love to hear from other Biblical Christians out there….why do you trust in the Bible as the infallible, inerrant, completely preserved Word of God?

  46. Tyler permalink
    December 14, 2008 7:26 pm

    Susan,
    Once again, it would appear to me that your belief in God is based upon a similar mindset to mine: that apologetic research serves to confirm what we already believe and that the primary basis for real faith is found in an inner conviction realized not through history, textual criticism, archeology, or logical conclusions, but THROUGH A PROCESS OF MEASURABLE FULFILLMENT IN ONE’S SPIRITUAL JOURNEY.

    If I am reading you correctly, it would appear that in this respect (if in no other), we have more in common than you and Darrell. He appears to be basing his faith on empirical evidence, as he has argued vehemently in this thread.

    Now, either Darrell really believes that God can be incontrovertibly and irrefutably proven, and that Jesus can be accepted as the Savior through scientific means, OR he was attempting to prove the LDS church wrong. My guess is that in a Pauline attempt to show that what he once believed was wrong, he oversimplified the argument. Darrell, I am interested in your take on my assumptions. If I am wrong, please correct me.

  47. December 15, 2008 12:12 am

    Hi Jessica,

    Great blog! The problem with trying to share these historical facts with Mormons is that you will get a response very similar to the comment preceding mine…

    They all state that no matter what the evidence says, they have a testimony. Therefore if you had actual video evidence of Joseph Smith raping and killing a girl, they would all still believe he was a prophet because they’ve been brainwashed to believe that the spirit and those special feelings are more powerful and convincing than any fact or evidence ever will be.

    And then when you try to share the real truth with them, they all accuse you of being evil, possessed, angry, and deceived.

    It’s a huge cult. It has millions of people in mental bondage.

  48. December 15, 2008 2:58 am

    Tyler,

    I will attempt to clarify my position as it appears I have not communicated it correctly. I apologize for the confusion I may have created. It is NOT my position that one can empirically prove that Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead, that Moses parted the Red Sea, etc. I do believe there are logical arguements that support these events but that is better left for another discussion. As I mentioned, I will be doing a post on this issue down the road on my blog.

    My position is simply this… relying solely on spiritual confirmation can lead one to a wrong conclusion. I believe God expects and wants us to use our brain (logic and evidence) AS WELL AS spiritual confirmation to lead us to him. We are told in Galations Chapter 1 that even ANGELS will attempt to mislead us. We are told in 1 Corinthians who the god of this world is… satan. Satan and his followers can and do disguise themselves and will mislead people into believing that they are following truth WHEN THE ARE NOT. We are in a battle NOT OF WORLDLY LEADERS… but a SPIRITUAL BATTLE FOR THE HEARTS AND SOULS OF MEN. Satan will do whatever he can to deceive us. IMO, that is one of the reasons for the attacks on the Bible. Satan wants people to believe it is corrupted so that he can confuse and mislead them. That is why I am so passionate about defending God’s word.

    As I mentioned in an earlier comment on this blog, using solely spiritual confirmations for truth can and does lead people to VERY DIFFERENT CONCLUSIONS. I mentioned a Muslim friend, a Protestant friend and a Mormon friend of mine who have all said that GOD HAS TOLD THEM IN THEIR HEARTS THAT THEIR FAITHS ARE TRUE. They all claim to have received spiritual confirmation. My question is this… how do you determine which person’s spiritual confirmation is true? They CANNOT ALL BE TRUE. There is no way that a Muslim’s confirmation that Islam is true and a Protestant’s confirmation that Christianity is true can BOTH be correct and from that same spirit. Think about it… Islam teaches that Christ was a prophet and Christianity teaches that Christ is God. So there is no way that the SAME SPIRIT will tell them both that their religions are TRUE. The spirit would have to be lieing to at least one of them. The same can be said for Mormonism and Christianity. THERE IS NO WAY THEY BOTH CAN BE RIGHT. Christianity teaches that Christ is GOD and Mormonism teaches that Christ was a spriritually born being (created) and that He is one of MANY Gods. They are NOT both right. Either one of them is true and the other two are false (confirmations from a FALSE spirit) or all three are false. There are NO OTHER OPTIONS.

    So, how does one determine which one is true? You cannot rely on feelings alone to do this. One must use his brain and reason it out. We are told by Christ that we can KNOW the truth and it will set us free.

    IMO, the only logical choice is Christianity. It is the ONLY religion that is supported by evidence in addition to spiritual confirmation. As I have demonstrated, we can trust in the accuracy of the Bible and we have evidence for it’s historicity. Mormonism has too many issues with it to inumerate in one post. However, the paramount one is that there is no eveidence to support any of the claims in the BOM. In fact, there is ample evidence to show that the BOM is false. The same can be said for Islam and the Korean.

    To put it simply, my opinion is that we can approach God with our brain AND our hearts. God does not expect us to have a BLIND FAITH and ignore the facts. Don’t get me wrong, you can only go SO FAR with logic and evidence. God will not let us go ALL THE WAY with it… however, it can give you a basis to rest your faith on. It allows one to say that instead of having a BLIND FAITH they can have an INTELLIGENT FAITH.

    I hope that helps you understand my position more.

    God bless!!

    Darrell

  49. Tyler permalink
    December 15, 2008 8:21 am

    Mormon411: I don’t think you even read the comment preceding yours. What are you even referring to? And once again you (like virtually every non-LDS on this thread) has painted me and all LDS with the same brush. Your inability to realize that within every organization exists a diversity of opinion, obedience level, and understanding is extremely off-putting.

    Darrell,
    Thank you for clarifying your point. Everything you wrote concerning your method for determining truth is in agreement with what I believe. Once again, I think you have oversimplified the argument, however, to this: Mormons believe anything and everything that gives them warm tingly feelings. This is categorically untrue. If you were a member for as long as you say you were, then you know that we are constantly admonished to ‘search, ponder, and pray’ (can you hear the primary song?) and to gain real knowledge of the scriptures. We are encouraged always to study and learn and to be edified by the word of God. There is no emphasis of Book of Mormon over Bible in this study, and so I can’t see how your stance can be true. I have read the New Testament more times than I have read the Book of Mormon.

    However, I will admit (happily) that God provides a way for us to know His truth. The end result of first ‘study(ing) it out in your mind’ is a supplication to God to know that it is true (James 1:5-6, John 14:26, John 15:26, John 5:6, Moroni 10:3-5). What do these scriptures mean, if not that we should pray to God to know truth and that he will answer us by the power of the Holy Ghost? How can you explain these scriptures otherwise? Of course we need to search for answers with our minds, but how can you say that that we can be led astray by the convictions of our hearts but not the persuasions and power of our minds? It is just as possible that the angel of Galatians 1 could be likened unto our own understanding as it could to the ‘feelings’ or convictions of our heart. I seek for both, but in the end, the conviction I have borne out of the calming and consuming influence of the Holy Ghost is what keeps me grounded where I am. If I had to rely heavily on my understanding and intelligence to come to truth, I would most certainly be agnostic. Thankfully, I have enough empirical evidence, coupled with a divine witness from the Holy Ghost that I am in the truth.

    To your recurring point that the LDS church is clearly false. You said:

    “IMO, the only logical choice is Christianity. It is the ONLY religion that is supported by evidence in addition to spiritual confirmation. As I have demonstrated, we can trust in the accuracy of the Bible and we have evidence for it’s historicity. Mormonism has too many issues with it to inumerate in one post. However, the paramount one is that there is no eveidence to support any of the claims in the BOM. In fact, there is ample evidence to show that the BOM is false.”

    For the sake of argument, let’s say that you are right and that there is no evidential proof to support the BOM, and that in order to believe it, one must accept it on faith alone.
    Even if this were undeniably true, all that does is put us in the same boat as you and all other Biblical Christians who believe in a creation myth that cannot be empirically proven. No amount of evidence will ever bring you closer to knowing through evidential means that God created the earth 6,000 years ago in 7 days, and that he created Adam and then Eve, from one of Adam’s ribs. None of this, nor any of Genesis for that matter, can be proven any more than the Book of Mormon. But this creation story is simply something that every Christian, Jew, Muslim, and Mormon believes purely on faith.
    So under that assumption, all I am doing is believing in another document in a long list of Judaeo-Christian texts that cannot be proven to exist or be true.
    More practically, I have a tough time believing in a God that creates children of varying intelligence and expects them all to be able to come to an educated understanding through apologetic study of who he is. What is the poor uneducated man from Bolivia to believe if not the influence of the Holy Ghost as evidenced by obedience to true principles? I lived in Chile for two years and know hundreds of people who are incapable of reading or writing, but who follow Christ because His influence yields fruit in their lives. Unless you believe in predestination I can’t see how you can reconcile this point. Bottom line is this: ‘INTELLIGENT FAITH’ is unattainable to some and God would be inequitable to require it for all (and what he does unto one, he does unto all… after all, God is not a respecter of persons).

  50. December 16, 2008 3:03 am

    Tyler,

    It is not my position that one MUST have an INTELLIGENT faith to be saved. It is my position that, as The Bible teaches, one must have faith and faith only to be saved. However, that faith must be in the CORRECT thing. Can I have faith in the moon to save me from my sin? My faith in the moon might make me feel good… afterall it is beautiful to look at and brings joy to my heart. Oh well… sorry!

    As I have pointed out and you have failed to address, one’s feelings can lead to a WRONG position. I feel that God has told me that my faith in the right thing. You feel God has told you your faith is in the right thing. My Muslim friend feels God has told him his faith is in the right thing. At least 2 of us are wrong.

    Darrell

  51. Tyler permalink
    December 16, 2008 5:04 am

    Right. All I’m saying is that your basis for believing that you are right is no better, in any way, shape, or form than mine.

    It is absolutely true that one’s feelings can lead someone to believe in the wrong thing. Of course that is true. But if I believe in the Bible, then I believe that God will answer my prayers and lead me to His path by the power of the Holy Ghost. How can you explain these scriptures–James 1:5-6, John 14:26, John 15:26, John 5:6? I assume you believe them. How then can the Holy Ghost lead and direct, if not by using peace, love, joy, or happiness to do so. In what way will the Holy Ghost, spoken of in these scriptures be made manifest? If you believe that you have been led to the truth then surely you believe that the subject of these verses aided you in your journey. How so? PLEASE ANSWER THIS QUESTION.

    It would be a strange thing for me to have a strong desire to believe in a church that is ridiculed and mocked by you and your colleagues (the other millions). A church who’s founder believed in, taught, and practiced a lifestyle that is 100% in opposition to what is accepted as normal and healthy. A church that requires me to abstain from things that I would otherwise partake of gleefully. A church that receives thousands of my dollars every year. A church that asked me to give up two full years, at an age when I could have been enjoying myself in other endeavors or furthering my education in order to live in the frigid Chilean south and teach these concepts that are so hard to swallow, in a language I didn’t know or understand. A church that asks me to trust in imperfect people for guidance in these times.
    What about the LDS church do you think is so palatable and attractive that it could make me disregard these negatives and follow the simple emotions of my heart? Without the fulfilling, peaceful, powerful conviction of the Holy Ghost, I would not be a Mormon.

    I took forever to decide to marry my wife, because I was worried that my own desires would overwhelm the counsel of the Lord. I deliberated, studied, pondered, prayed, and and eventually felt a firm conviction that it was right. My faith in the church was developed in a similar, albeit much more in depth and long-term fashion.

    I reiterate my point: Christianity has no more factual basis than Mormonism. Can you argue completely and efficiently to the contrary? We both believe in things that cannot be proved. This is why an attempt to prove Christianity true or Mormonism false will ALWAYS and FOREVER lead to an interpretive conclusion. This is not a clear-cut court-case.

    So we do the best we can with the information available, and then try the goodness of the word of God. We trust that He loves us enough to keep us in His truth if we sincerely seek it.

  52. Tyler permalink
    December 16, 2008 5:28 am

    By the way, the first paragraph of your last comment condemns billions of people to hell. All of the Jews, Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, Catholics, Protestants, etc, are without hope. 51% of this world is going to hell, according to what you appear to believe. That is roughly 3,367,134,329 people living today, not including the billions that have passed.

    These are the (estimated) deists of the world that are going to hell because they rejected, or as is much more common, NEVER HAD THE OPPORTUNITY TO ACCEPT OR REJECT, the true Gospel of Jesus Christ. Is your God just?

  53. Tyler permalink
    December 16, 2008 7:55 am

    Correction: Those numbers apply to all non-Christian sects (Catholicism and Protestantism would be included in the 33% that believe in Christ). Thus, the percentage of damned would be significantly greater. Billions upon billions of God’s own children.

  54. December 17, 2008 3:30 am

    Tyler,

    “It is absolutely true that one’s feelings can lead someone to believe in the wrong thing. Of course that is true.”

    I am glad that we agree on this fact. I think this is a given and is a very important point to consider when evaluating what you believe. For, if I rely soley on my feelings I can be misled. What is really interesting about this is that the Bible even warns about this. It makes the point of telling us…

    1) Our hearts can deceive us – Jermiah 17:9

    2) Angels will come and try and deceive us – Galations 1

    3) Other people will come and try and deceive us
    – many verses tell us to “beware of false prophets”

    Satan can disguise himself and can deceive you by “giving you good feelings”, giving you supposed “answers to prayer” and “spiritual confirmations”. Let me give a real life example of this.

    I have a family member who has a friend who is Jehovah’s Witness. She had not been involved in her church for a LONG time…. several years in fact. She reached a point where she had a crisis in her life and was looking for something that she desperately needed to find. It was locked in a safe that she did not have the combination to as it was not her safe. She REALLY needed to get into it and had been trying to open it with no luck. She broke down in prayer and asked “god” to help her. She promised that if “god” would answer her prayer and get her into the safe that she would become active again in the JW church. She told him that she would give her life to the church. Guess what happened…. the safe came open. Quite obviously, she took this as a “spiritual confirmation” that her church is true and she has since followed through on her promise and has given her life to the JW Church.

    Now, the question is, who answered her prayer? Was it God? Would God answer a prayer that would make someone give their life to a FALSE religion? Or, does this answer to prayer mean that the JW faith is “the one true church on the face of the earth”? With what I know about the JW religion I would have to say NO it is not. It was not God who answered her prayer. Her prayer was being answered by a FALSE god. Now, the problem is she has relied on a “spiritual confirmation” to determine truth and as a result she has given her life back over to a false religion that will lead her farther away from the one true God who manifested Himself to us in the person of Jesus Christ.

    For further information about how satan works through false religions I would highly recommend picking up Rabi Maharaj’s wonderful book Death of A Guru. Rabi came to Christ out of the Hindu religion and he talks about how satan works through false religions. It is actually kind of a scary book because he demonstrates the real power that satan has to influence people through magic, “miralces” and “spiritual confirmations”. He briefly mentions Mormonism but mostly focuses on his experiences in Hinduism.

    So, the question we are left with is this… since members of almost every religion can claim that they have received “spiritual confirmations” that their church is true, how do we determine which one is true? My answer to this is simple… I believe that one should search their religion out. Study the Bible (and other supposed scripture of your faith), learn it, live it and then next SEE IF IT HOLDS UP TO SCRUTINY. As Christ said, “you will KNOW the truth and the truth will set you free”. So, study it to see if it makes sense, stands up to reason, history and FACT. One should not be scared of facts. God is all about TRUTH and he would not expect one to shelve a fact in order to retain faith in Him. However, a false god would expect this!! For a false god is all about keeping one AWAY from truth.

    On a sidenote, this is one of the reasons that I have always despised the teaching in the LDS church to stay away from “anti-mormon” material. Most of the stuff that is talked about in “anti-mormon” material is TRUE. So why should a member be scared of it? If it is TRUE than you should study it… if the church is true than it should NEVER be scared of it’s members learning the TRUTH.

    So study, compare, scrutinize, see if your faith holds up to FACTS, HISTORY, and TRUTH.

    This leads us to the next point you made…

    “I reiterate my point: Christianity has no more factual basis than Mormonism.”

    Obviously I will disagree with this and I am willing to discuss this. I will assert that Christianity has a MUCH MORE factual basis than Mormonism.

    So, would you like to discuss this?

    If so, here is my challenge… Your church says that the keystone of your religion is the Book Of Mormon. The keystone of my religion is Christ and I believe that His word is contained in the Holy Bible. Therefore, let’s compare the keystones of our relgions to see which one has a more factual basis. Let’s have an on-line debate/discussion… The Bible versus The Book of Mormon.

    You can make your case for the factual historicity of The Book Of Mormon and I will make my case for the factual historicity of The Bible. Let’s get the facts out and see if your claim that Christianity has no more factual basis than Mormonism is accurate.

    What do you say?

    Darrell

  55. Tyler permalink
    December 17, 2008 7:04 am

    Darrell,
    You didn’t address my last comments, just as you have done at other times in this thread (I even put my question in BOLD to make sure you wouldn’t forget to answer it, and you did). If you can’t address these fundamental issues I really can’t see any point in having an argument about doctrine or history. The entire first half of your last comment is unnecessary, because (as you acknowledged) I agree that feelings can be misleading. So obviously you see that I accept that fact, but you think that I am still letting my feelings lead me astray. I’m not sure if you read my comments, but that is simply not the case.

    In regards to my argument that Christianity has no more factual base than Mormonism. The mere fact that we both believe in second hand divine manifestations puts us on equal footing. What else can you say? That the Bible was actually written, so it can be proven to be true? And even if this were the case, I agree that the Bible is true. So we’re in the same boat. But don’t try to use science selectively, believing in it when it raises questions about Lamanite DNA but disregarding it when it doesn’t corroborate the literal interpretation of the Bible’s creation story. You Christians are great at picking and choosing which parts of academia to believe in and which to label heresy.

    “On a sidenote, this is one of the reasons that I have always despised the teaching in the LDS church to stay away from “anti-mormon” material. Most of the stuff that is talked about in “anti-mormon” material is TRUE. So why should a member be scared of it? If it is TRUE than you should study it… if the church is true than it should NEVER be scared of it’s members learning the TRUTH.”
    The direction I have always received was not to ‘stay away from “anti-mormon” material.’ It was to be careful to understand the source. If a teenage son of yours came home with Richard Dawkins literature, would you not tell him to read with caution? No, I’m sure you would go so far as to discourage him from reading it. Yet Dawkins would say, “I despise that you wouldn’t want your son to know the truth. If your church is true then you should NEVER be scared for your son learning the TRUTH.” And for the record, there is plenty of Anti-Mormon (you can apply the ‘truth’ euphemism here but it is what it is) material that is biased, undocumented, unsubstantiated, and false. Church leaders have simply reminded its members that not everything they read is true.

    To the debate- thank you for the offer. I’m sure you will say that I don’t have confidence in my church if I don’t participate in your “online debate/discussion,” but both of us know that it won’t get us anywhere. I have participated in countless discussions that have yielded nothing. We are both set in our ways. We have BOTH studied the same things that are against the LDS church, and I have studied greatly the things that are in favor of the church. All we will do is end up thinking the other one is arrogant and wrong, while still believing in what we already believe.

    The problem here is this: I think that you are probably a great guy with a great family who sincerely follows Jesus Christ and is most likely assured a spot in God’s kingdom. On the other hand, you think that I am a fool for believing what I believe and that I must be ignorant or dishonest with myself to believe it. Oh, and that I’m going to burn in hell for eternity. This has been a common theme with my evangelical friends and has made sincere dialogue difficult.

    Again, what kind of a God would sentence billions upon billions of His children to a fiery abyss just because either they never had the chance to know Him, or because they interpreted the scriptures and Spirit differently? How can you reconcile this belief with logic? If this God is real, I want nothing to do with him.

    Now, if you care to address these and the Holy Ghost (see my previous comments) questions, I am very interested in continuing this discussion and would be more interested in the online debate you want to have. Otherwise, I think this might be a good place to leave things. If you believe in the Bible, these questions shouldn’t be difficult for you to answer.

    Thanks!

  56. December 17, 2008 7:11 pm

    The fact that Jerusalem was a “real place” doesn’t prove the Bible any more than the fact that Joseph Smith was a “real person” proves he was a prophet.

    There is really only one reason that we know much about the Bible.

    Climate.

    Dry arid desert environments are ideal for preserving records and archeological evidence – like the Dead Sea Scrolls, or the stuff found in Egypt (one of our prime sources for ancient Christian documents). Even stonework, metal work, and other artifacts are preserved best in desert climates.

    If the Book of Mormon took place in either Mesoamerica or on the Eastern seaboard of the US (the two most popular theories based on analysis of the Book of Mormon text), then such evidence would be much more scarce, and possibly even non-existent.

    I just read an article about a massive city that archaeologists have discovered in the middle of a South American rain forest. Massive earthworks, and other remnants indicating a city that existed about the same time as Medieval Europe and rivals in size and complexity even the largest of European cities from that time.

    And nobody knew about it until about six months ago.

    Humid tropical climates absolutely destroy ancient records. They rust away metal artifacts, and they even eat away and bury stonework. Any Central or South American archaeologist could tell you this.

    The Book of Mormon just happened to take place in a place where preservation of archeological evidence is very rare.

    Not to mention that the Book of Mormon itself concludes in a genocidal war and destruction of an entire culture. Much of the religious artifacts and other stuff was probably destroyed by the victors. Pretty typical story for ancient history.

    What a lot of Evangelicals don’t get is the sort of historical preservation we get for the Bible is really sort of a fluke, an abnormality. Most of the rest of the world doesn’t benefit from that sort of archeological preservation.

    Heck, we know from recorded history that the nomadic Huns and their vast herds of horses inhabited Bulgaria way back when, but there’s not a single horse skeleton or other shred of archeological evidence to prove it.

    Archeological verification is rare, it’s a lucky find, a freak.

    It’s not the norm.

  57. December 20, 2008 4:26 pm

    Seth and Tyler,

    Sorry have not responded earlier. This week has been crazy at work and I have not spent much time on the internet. I have made a couple of short comments but have not had time for any lengthy response. Anyway, it is Sat. and I have more time to respond today.

    Tyler,

    I have gone back through your posts and I am assuming you are saying that I have not answered your question pertaining to how I feel I have been led to the truth by God. I apologize as I really thought I had addressed this question. Let me see if I can go into a little more detail to explain it clearer. I have been led by God to know His truth in many ways. He has moved in my life through circumstances and events. He has used people to bring me and my family to Him. He has opened my eyes as I have studied. He has given me peace during times of trial and difficulty. Etc, etc, etc.

    Let me share an example of how God worked in my family’s life. When I first started questioning the truth of the LDS Church I was really unsure about what was true. During this time my wife was a staunch believer in the LDS Church and, quite honestly, she was not happy with my questions AT ALL. I had tried to share with her some of my concerns but she wanted none of it. I did not know what to do! I was having trouble with my “testimony” and I did not want to make the wrong decision. If the church was true I wanted to stay in it. However, if the Church was a lie I wanted my family and I out. I really wanted to make the right decision. I spent my time studying the Bible, studying the history of the church from ALL sources and studying evidence for Mormonism and Christianity. I also spent a lot of time in coversation with God asking Him to intervene in my life. I wanted Him to take me on the path that He wanted me on. I came to the conclusion that if it was true, I needed God to restore my faith in it. However, if it was a lie I needed God to get my family and I out… I could not do any of this myself. It was ALL going to be up to God. I told Him… “God this is yours. There is no way I can get my family and I out of this mess. If the LDS Church is true, please restore my faith in it. I will stay. However, if it is Your will that we leave… if it is not true, I need You to handle this and get us out. I cannot do this on my own. God I give You this problem.”

    Without me making this story too long, suffice it to say that what happened after that was amazing. God brought several people into our lives who had NO IDEA we were having issues with the Church. They were Christians who we became friends with over the course of several years. Again, these people thought we were very strong Mormons. They had NO IDEA what was going on under the surface. They got involved in my wife’s life and really touched her heart. She began to see something in their lives that she felt was lacking in the LDS Church. She did not discuss ANY of this with me and I had NO IDEA that she had begun to question the truthfullness of the LDS Church. She got involved in a Bible study that a Christian friend of her’s was having and really began to see the Gospel of Jesus Christ for what it REALLY is. She became touched by the Grace of God that she had never learned about as a lifelong Mormon. Yes, she had heard the word grace in the LDS Church but she had no idea what it REALLY meant. One day she came to me and told me that she did not think the church was true. I WAS AMAZED. She had come to this conclusion ON HER OWN WITH GOD. I was questioning the church and having conversations with God about it and God was working in her life AT THE SAME TIME. It was amazing.

    This is one example of the way I have seen God work in my life and lead me to truth. This is a testimony builder for me… seeing God answer my prayers through my wife and others who had NO IDEA what they were really doing. Come to find out that many of these people had been praying for years for my family and I. They had been praying for God to work in our lives to show us the lies of Mormonism and the truth of Jesus Christ. He did!

    The thing I love about this is, unlike Mormonism, the answer I have received can be confirmed by and backed up by the historicity of the Bible. I can hold the Bible in my hand, study it’s history and see how God has brought it to me throughout the ages. I can KNOW that it is a real document that God has preserved accurately for me. There is nothing else like it in the world. In otherwords, my answer can be backed up logically AS WELL AS spiritually.

    Seth,

    You said…

    “There is really only one reason that we know much about the Bible. Climate.”

    That is really a cop out in my opinion. In addition, that conclusion really falls flat on it’s face because THEY HAVE FOUND SEVERAL ARTIFACTS AND CITIES in Mesoamerica that date to BOM times. Unfortunately, the items found do nothing but show that the writings in the BOM DO NOT MATCH UP WITH REAL LIFE IN BOM TIMES.

    They have found no writings in “Reformed Egyptian” and no evidence of any Jewish culture. Supposedly the Nephites were practicing Jews… were is the evidence of ANY OF THIS in what has been found. If, as you say, the climate destroyed all the evidence then why HAVE THEY FOUND ANYTHING THAT DATES TO BOM TIMES? Was the evidence to support the BOM selectively destroyed while the evidence to discredit it somehow saved? This makes no logical sense. When they first started the archelogical research in Mesoamerica around 1955 they actually expected to find evidence to support the BOM within 10 years. Almost 55 years later and they have nothing. Not to mention all the anachronisms… metal, horses, elephants, sheep, goats, swine, steel, iron, silk, etc.

    What is even more interesting is that prophets from your church have, in the past, actually said that the Hill Cumorah spoken of in the BOM is the very Hill Cumorah in upstate NY. So why are they searching in Mesoamerica anyway? Were the prophets wrong? Was God wrong? The LDS church OWNS THE LAND in upstate NY were the Hill Cumorah is. Why have they not allowed archeologists to come in and find the 1 million + bodies that supposedly died in the war there? Surely even the climate has not destroyed the evidence for all of those bodies! There are church archeologists who have actually ASKED FOR PERMISSION TO DO THIS but the church won’t allow it. Why? IMO, because they are scared that they will not find anything and create even more problems for themselves surrounding the lack of historical evidence to support the BOM.

    All of this discussion is really just in response to Tyler’s statement that “Christianity has no more factual basis than Mormonism.” I am sorry but this is an utterly unsupported statement.

    1) The Keystone of Mormonism is the Book Of Mormon and THERE IS NO EVIDENCE FOR THE BOOK OF MORMON’s HISTORICITY. In fact, there is ample evidence to show that the BOM is nothing more than fiction. There is even a movement within the LDS Church to just admit that it is nothing more than “inspired” fiction.

    2) The Keystone of Christianity is the Jesus Christ taught in the Bible. There IS a mountain of evidence for the historicity of the Bible. We can hold it in our hand and say that it is a real document, written about real people and real events. Can we prove EVERYTHING IN IT? Of course not!! However, we have found a moutain of evidence to support it and are continuing to find even more each year.

    Chrisianity does have more of a factual basis than Mormonism…. and it is not because of the climate of mesoamerica. It is because Christianity is true and Mormonism is false.

    Darrell

  58. December 20, 2008 4:33 pm

    Sorry, the above post was mine. I am not sure why it showed up as anonymous. Jessica, can you fix that?

    Darrell

  59. December 20, 2008 6:09 pm

    Yep! Should be fixed now. 🙂

  60. December 21, 2008 3:48 am

    Darrel, your reading comprehension skills seem a little lacking here.

    Re-read my post and get back to me. Then tell whether I ever stated that climate would eliminate ALL evidence of a culture.

    Is that what I said Darrel? Is it?

    Now, another fun little exercise. Where does the text of the Bible come from. What sort of writings were preserved from which we got our Bible. Where do we get the most ancient texts verifying the antiquity of the current NIV?

    Yup. Papyrus.

    Now, answer a pretty basic question here.

    Does writing on papyrus and animal skins last in a tropical climate?

    Mull it over a bit and get back to me.

  61. December 21, 2008 4:02 am

    “Does writing on papyrus and animal skins last in a tropical climate?”

    The BOM says they didn’t write on Papyrus… they wrote on Gold Plates. Find the Gold Plates with Reformed Egyptian on it. In addition, there would be a lot more left to prove the Jewish culture of the BOM than Paprus… steel would be nice.

    “Then tell whether I ever stated that climate would eliminate ALL evidence of a culture.”

    No, you just insinuated that the evidence to support the BOM was somehow the only evidence eliminated. Not sure how that is possible.

    “Does writing on papyrus and animal skins last in a tropical climate?”

    Back to a point I made in my earlier post… what about the Hill Cumorah in upstate NY which the leaders of your church have SAID is the Hill Cumorah of the BOM??? What about digging there… it is not a tropical climate. Why don’t they search and find the 1+ million bodies that are supposedly there?

    Darrell

  62. December 21, 2008 6:16 am

    Yep, gold. Which the text itself admits was a rather rare way of doing things. Moroni himself comments on how time consuming it was to write on plates and how the time constraints required the use of the much more condensed and abbreviated Reformed Egyptian – which was otherwise rarely used in Nephite society.

    Obviously, such a method was not in common use and most writings from Nephite society would have been from much easier (and therefore, more biodegradable) methods.

    Not to say that other plates weren’t used.

    But any student of Central American history knows that Cortez, Coronado, and the other conquistadors raided the indigenous civilizations, killed people, and looted religious artifacts. Most of the gold of the Aztecs and Inca was melted down into gold bars and shipped off to Spain. Any time they came across something they recognized as religious, they destroyed it as a “foul heathen artifact.” I’d be rather surprised if anything like the gold plates would have survived that episode of history.

    And the Olmec and Maya civilizations happen to correspond rather well in time period and geographic location to the Jaredite and Nephite societies respectively.

    Finally,

    “No, you just insinuated that the evidence to support the BOM was somehow the only evidence eliminated.”

    Not at all. Any Mesoamerican scholar can tell you that the archeological record for Central and South America is woefully less than what we have for the Middle East. American archaeologists are always remarking how relatively little evidence of the ancient cultures here was preserved.

    Any scholar of Maya and Aztec cultures will freely admit that we know next to nothing of their writing and culture – although what little has been discovered has proven compatible with the language patterns present in the Book of Mormon. “It came to pass” for instance, appears to have been a common Maya phrase.

    What I’m saying is that the comparison between a record coming from the Middle East and a record coming from Central America is silly. They are apples and oranges.

  63. December 21, 2008 8:10 pm

    Seth,

    Thank you for your response. I simply do not agree with your theory. A few points…

    1) As I mentioned twice above,I do not understand the desire to search in mesoamerica anyway. Prophets from your church have said that Hill Cumorah is in upstate NY… why not look there? Why is the church so scared about seraching the LAND IT OWNS and ITS OWN PROPHETS HAVE SAID IS THE VERY HILL SPOKEN ABOUT IN THE BOM!!

    2) Another thing that is puzzlying about looking in mesoamerica is that the climate spoken about in the BOM does not fit mesoamerica. Given the fact that the climate in mesoamerica is really only one thing, hot, it does not match the BOM climate which talks about different seasons, frozen water and snow!!

    3) Again… archeologists HAVE found many artifacts that date to BOM times. Unfortunately for the LDS church, the items found do nothing but cast doubt on the historicity of the BOM. Archeologists, Mormon and Non-Mormon alike, virtually all take the same position.

    “What I would say to you is there is no archeological proof of the Book of Mormon. You can look all you want. And there’s been a lot of speculation about it. There’ve been books written by Mormon scholars saying that “this event took place here” or “this event took place here.” But that’s entirely speculative. There is absolutely no archeological evidence that you can tie directly to events that took place.” Dr. David Johnson, Mormon and Professor of Anthropology, BYU.

    Or how about another Mormon…

    “[It appears that the Book of Mormon] had no place in the New World whatsoever . . . [It] just doesn’t seem to fit anything . . . in anthropology [or] history . . . . It seems misplaced.” Dr. Ray Metheny, Professor of Anthropology, BYU.

    I just cannot buy into the fact that only the artifacts that lend credibility to the BOM were destroyed. That seems like a rather elementary theory to me… kind of like the war-deer hypothesis.

    Darrell

  64. December 21, 2008 10:13 pm

    “Prophets from your church have said that Hill Cumorah is in upstate NY.”

    Citations please, and a good reason why I should believe them.

    (incidentally, I do not rule out upstate New York either – an entire system of earthworks indicating a large ancient city can be found in Ohio actually. So big cities existed in that neighborhood too)

    “BOM climate which talks about different seasons, frozen water and snow!!”

    Where?

    “I just cannot buy into the fact that only the artifacts that lend credibility to the BOM were destroyed. That seems like a rather elementary theory to me… kind of like the war-deer hypothesis.”

    This proves nothing except that you went into the inquiry with your mind made up to begin with. I think I agree with Hugh Nibley on this one: “when a man demands proof, you can be pretty sure that proof is the last thing on earth that he wants.” You approach this theory from the mindset of one determined to see it refuted. You are not about to be shown up. So it should surprise no one that you find it silly.

    Incidentally, the idea of conquering cultures destroying existing cultural artifacts is hardly novel. The great library of Alexandria only escaped destruction by having its lower levels buried in sand.The VAST MAJORITY of the learning, records, and culture of the human race has been wiped out without a trace.

    As I said earlier, archeological artifacts and evidence are exceedingly rare. They are the exception, not the rule.

    You engage in a childish fantasy in thinking that if a people or a culture or a religion existed, that they must surely have left hard evidence of their existence. This is a common view among uneducated America. But real archeologists know just how much knowledge about the world has been lost, even if everyone else ignorantly (and arrogantly) believes that we have all the information at our fingertips.

    For instance, we have almost no remaining samples of Maya or Aztec books. A few samples have been preserved at places like Mexico City’s National Museum of Anthropology. But they are rare. Super rare – for the simple reason that the Spaniards burned almost every native book they could get their hands on (due to concerns of blasphemy and Satanic influence). There were a lot of paper books back then. But almost all were destroyed by the Spaniards and their Jesuit traveling companions.

    Seriously, cultural annihilation is not an unusual occurrence in world history. I’m amazed that I have to argue such a basic fact of anthropology and history with you.

  65. December 22, 2008 3:24 am

    “Seriously, cultural annihilation is not an unusual occurrence in world history.”

    See, that is the thing… you are not talking about cultural annihilation… the cultures in Mesoamerica HAVE BEEN FOUND!!! They have found several cultures and cities that date to the BOM times. In fact, there are companies in Utah making a fortune out of offering tours to these sites and claiming that they PROVE THE BOM TRUE!! Book of Mormon Tours have been making fortune off of niave people for years!! Don’t try to make this out to be something that it is not. The cultures have been found. The problem for you is not that they have not been found. The problem is they have been found and they DO NOT match up to BOM culture.

    Incidentally, your attempt at playing the “just because we haven’t found it doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist card” is a pretty weak play. One could just as easily use that to try to prove the Easter Bunny exists… afterall, just because we haven’t found him doesn’t mean he doesn’t exist.

    I don’t think we are going to be able to get anymore mileage out of this conversation. You will never convince me that the BOM has any archeological basis. And I will likely never convince you that it is a fraud. So, going back to how all this got started, contrary to Tyler’s assertion, Christianity does have more of a factual basis than Mormonism. The Bible is a real historical document about real people and real places… many of which can be proven to have existed. On the other hand, to quote a mormon archeologist, “What I would say to you is there is no archeological proof of the Book of Mormon.”

    Darrell

  66. December 22, 2008 6:02 am

    Real people?

    Which people?

    Prove the Garden of Eden to me.

    Prove Noah’s flood.

    Prove the Exodus.

    Prove Joshua conquered Canaan.

    Prove to me that the Old Testament wasn’t entirely written by exiled Jewish priests during the Babylonian period.

    Prove to me that Jesus walked on water and fed 1000 and that his followers weren’t just making it up.

    You can’t prove any of it.

    Which is what makes this whole conversation silly to begin with.

    So Jerusalem happens to be a real place?

    Congratulations.

    Maybe if I book a flight next year and look at it, I’ll suddenly believe in the true Jesus.

    But you’ll have to keep me away from the historic Nauvoo, or all your hard work may be for nothing.

  67. December 22, 2008 6:07 am

    And really, think about what you are saying.

    Are you seriously claiming that every time God speaks to humanity, he had better provide you with detailed archeological evidence before you’ll listen to what He says?

    You are no different Darrell, than the atheist I argued with a couple months ago who claimed he would believe in God the moment God did something flashy like teleport the Golden Gate Bridge or something to “prove” He was there. Not one bit of substantive difference between the two of you.

    Both of you are trying to coerce God into playing by your own feeble rules, or you won’t believe.

    They spoke truly when they said faith is dead among this generation.

  68. Tyler permalink
    December 22, 2008 7:53 am

    Hey I have been out of town for the past few days. Looks like I missed a lovely conversation. I won’t be able to reinsert myself into every point made, but I will quickly refer to Darrells post. If any of you made a pointed comment that I didn’t address, please remind me.

    Darrell,
    With all due respect, your story is not nearly as uncommon as you may think. I met many (MANY) Catholics, Pentecostals, Mormons, etc, who have nearly the same story.

    “My sister prayed to ‘La Virgen’, and her daughter was healed of her brain tumor. This came just as she was talking with some Jehovah’s Witnesses who were trying to convert her. She now prays to the Virgin Mary every night. She knows she is in the truth now.”

    “I had lived all my life as a drunk when I felt I needed to find God. In my deepest misery, I looked up and saw a church. I walked inside and that was the day that God spoke to me. I spoke in tongues and the Lord brought me out of that depressed state. I know that I am in the truth now.”

    “My wife and I had asked the Pastors of various churches for about a year where our dead daughter was. None of them had answers. We felt that we could be able to see her again, but no one could confirm that. Suddenly, a pair of American missionaries knocked on my door. They came into our lives and taught us about the wonderful Restoration of the Gospel. I know I am in the truth now.”

    “My wife met a baptist through her work. I met one through a mutual friend. Independent of each other, my wife and I found God, AT THE SAME TIME. God wanted us to find Him, and we did. We know we are in the truth now.”

    Its a wonderful story, but not vindication of a belief in a certain faith. Every religion has its fair share of miraculous conversions. You move directly from that point to this:

    “The thing I love about this is, unlike Mormonism, the answer I have received can be confirmed by and backed up by the historicity of the Bible. I can hold the Bible in my hand, study it’s history and see how God has brought it to me throughout the ages. I can KNOW that it is a real document that God has preserved accurately for me. There is nothing else like it in the world. In otherwords, my answer can be backed up logically AS WELL AS spiritually.”

    Which is an absurd point to make. Just because a document has been proven to have been written in the correct time-frame, historical context, or geographic location doesn’t mean that it is true. You say you can ‘KNOW that it is a real document that God has preserved accurately for’ you. Which attaches an unsubstantiated claim upon an accepted historical fact (that because the book exists and was written, God did it and it is true). Can you see where this logic falls flat?

    If you want to say you like the Bible better, or that you feel better in your current faith, or that you feel that God wants you where you are now, that’s just great. But don’t pull out that stuff about the Bible being demonstrated to be OF DIVINE ORIGIN. Ironically, in your belief that you are being logical, you are actually being irrational.

    And thus we come to the conclusion that at a certain point the believing Christian must acknowledge that the solid Bible historicity does not equate to Jesus Christ’s divinity. And any believing Mormon must come to the same conclusion.

    Argue about different theological questions and doubts and controversies but please, just pretend like we are all competent thinkers here and that there are reasons besides evidence to believe in God.

    Quite frankly, if I had to base my faith on your strictly logical foundation (I know you claim a spiritual basis as well, but I am yet to see any valid explanation of that), I would be agnostic.

    Hebrew 11:1- “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.”

  69. December 22, 2008 11:58 am

    Seth,

    “You can’t prove any of it.”

    You obviously did not read my post closely… I said… “MANY of which can be proven to have existed.”

    There are extrabiblical documents which do show MANY of the people, events and places talked about in the Bible are real and factual. I never said we can prove ALL of them. But, yes, we can prove many of them.

    On the other hand, prove to me ANY of the people, events or places talked about in the BOM. Please, show me evidence for Zarahemla, Nehpi, Laman, Lemuel, Sam (an American Name!!!!!), etc, etc, etc.

    Again, we won’t get any more mileage out of this. The Bible is a real historical document. The BOM is not.

    Tyler,

    “With all due respect, your story is not nearly as uncommon as you may think. I met many (MANY) Catholics, Pentecostals, Mormons, etc, who have nearly the same story.”

    You have just made my point. Thank you. That is exactly what I said at the very beginning of this post. So, again, the question that started all of this… How do you know who’s answer is true? THEY CANNOT ALL BE TRUE AS EACH RELIGION TEACHES VERY DIFFERNT THINGS. Is your’s from God? Is mine? Is the Muslim’s?

    You might belittle my choice but my answer lines up with what the Bible teaches. The Bible has been proven to be a real historical document and I believe it to be the divinely inspired Word of God. It has stood the test of time.

    Mormonism’s teachings do not line up with it, Islam’s teachings do not line up with it, etc. IMO, both of these religions follow cleverly designed fables (which believe it or not are warned about in a few places in the Bible!!). Mormonism’s claims cannot be backed up historically.

    So, what do you base your choice of Mormonism on? As we have discussed thoroughly, there is NO evidence for Mormonism outside of a spiritual confirmation. You have admitted that your spiritual confirmation IS NOT UNIQUE? Therefore, it cannot be trusted.

    Darrell

  70. January 5, 2009 8:50 pm

    The Illiad and the Odyssey is a “real historical document” with “real historical places and characters.”

    So does that mean I should be worshiping Zeus?

    You just… don’t… get it.

  71. katielangston permalink
    February 23, 2009 6:36 am

    This is THE MOST frustrating discussion I have ever read. Both sides talking past each other, neither willing to give an inch. But it sucked me in. Like a trainwreck. Just couldn’t look away.

    That is all.

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