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Book of Mormon Analysis – Part 1

May 25, 2009

During the last Book of Mormon thread I realized I couldn’t interact very well with the LDS points cited from internal evidence due to my own lack of in-depth study of the book.  While I haven’t wanted to do a detailed analysis (because I don’t believe it’s inspired and I would rather be studying the scriptures), I now sense the Lord leading me to study it and blog my observations for the purpose of “casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God” (2 Cor. 10:5).  I am beginning a systematic study and have just concluded the first book of Nephi.  My purpose here is to document my own personal observations and to provide more reasoning from internal evidence for why I personally reject its claim to be inspired.  I realize LDS may disagree with my conclusions, but I look forward to continuing to discuss our disagreements in a respectful manner.  I hope that my LDS readers will also recognize that I have been hearing you in previous threads as you have asked me to engage your canon.  That’s what I am now trying to do.

1 Nephi – Observations

Themes:

Personal revelation is a consistent, prevailing theme of this book.  Nephi’s father, Lehi, was a “visionary man” who had dreams and saw visions.  Because he believed all the words of his father and desired to see the things his father saw (11:5-6), Nephi was granted visions and dreams from the Spirit as well.  His brothers (Laman, Lemuel, and Sam) were unbelieving and hardened.  They were often stirred up to anger against Nephi and Lehi.  Implicit in his brothers’ rebellion is an indictment against all who would reject the visions and revelations of self-proclaimed prophets.  Strong, controlling measures are taken with those who do not conform.  For example, when his brothers grow angry with Nephi and try to throw him into the sea he declares that God will smite anyone who lays a hand on him (17:48).  He is then directed by the Lord to stretch out his hand over his brothers for God to “shock” them (17:53).  Nephi stretches out his hand and the text says God “did shake them” and the brothers then believe that the Lord is with Nephi.

Interwoven throughout this book is the prevailing theme of the great abominable church – that great whore of all the earth that has “kept back” plain and precious truths of the gospel which will be restored in the latter days.  With all the imagery of Rev. 17, this church is described as the mother of harlots and abominations, whose founder is the devil, who gathers together multitudes upon the face of all the earth, among all the nations of the Gentiles, to fight against the Lamb of God (14:10-13).  It is prophesied that God’s wrath will be poured out upon this great and abominable church and then God will fulfill his promises with his covenant people.

Doctrines:

There are several doctrinal concerns I had with this book.

1)  Individual personal revelation is tied to feelings (1 Nephi 17:45, 55).  There is no warning of other spirits or instruction to “test the spirits, whether they are of God” (I John 4:1).

2)  The Holy Spirit tells an individual to kill someone (1 Nephi 4:10-18).  While I realize that God instructed the nation of Israel to destroy wicked nations, there is no example in scripture that I can think of where the Holy Spirit tells an individual to kill another individual.  Also, Nephi has no legal authority to kill Laban.  I just find this story creepy on many levels and there are some scary implications of this view of personal revelation.

3)  The Bible is described as missing many plain and precious truths of the gospel (1 Nephi 13:20-35, 14:23).  In order for the Book of Mormon to be necessary, an incomplete Bible is required.  Otherwise why would we need the Book of Mormon?  But the Book of Mormon only describes an alleged problem. So far in my reading, I cannot see that it offers up any plain and precious truths to improve upon my understanding of the Bible’s gospel!  Jesus promised that those who received Him would have everlasting life in heaven.  He promised that He would preserve His words (Matt. 24:35) and that this gospel would be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations and then the end would come (Matt. 24:14).  The Bible is not missing any truths necessary for salvation. The Bible says that God’s divine power has given unto us “all things that pertain unto life and godliness” (I Peter 1:3).

4)  Churches that do not embrace the latter-day gospel are described as part of that great and abominable church of the devil that perverts the right ways of the Lord (1 Nephi 14:10-17).  Nephi prophecies that this church will eventually be destroyed (22:13-14).  In the Bible, Jesus promised that the Church He founded would continue to be built and would never be overcome by the devil (Matt. 16:18).  The Bible teaches that there is only one Holy Spirit who baptizes all believers into the Church – the body of Christ – at their moment of conversion (I Cor. 12:13, Eph. 1:13-14).  Jesus also promised that whenever two or three are gathered in His name He will be in their midst (Matt. 18:20).  Though various types of churches are described in Revelation 2-3, Jesus walks among all of these churches (Rev. 2:1).  There is no indication in Biblical prophecy of a total apostasy of Christ’s Church followed by a latter day restoration.  There is no evidence in history for a total apostasy.  Rather than missing any truths, there is evidence that many churches have added things.  A person can return to the simplicity of the gospel by returning to the ancient writings of scripture and the simplicity of the gospel that is found in the person and work of Jesus Christ.

Oddities:

Literary Style – And it came to pass as I started studying 1 Nephi that I soon noticed a repetition of a certain phrase.  And it came to pass that as I started underlining this phrase that I was exceedingly amazed.  I counted 190 uses of this phrase –  “and it came to pass” (along with its variations “it came to pass” and “for it came to pass”) in this short little book!  There are only 22 chapters and the 2 chapters quoted from Isaiah only contain 1 use of this phrase (20:5). So if you don’t count the two chapters from Isaiah that leaves 20 chapters.   189 / 20 = 9.45 times per chapter on average!  Wow!  I’ve never read a book of the Bible that contained this much repetition of a phrase!  It makes for choppy, repetitive reading and is very dissimilar to the smooth, rich text of inspired scripture I am so familiar with.  IMO, the richest, smoothest sections of 1 Nephi are chapters 20-21 which are quoted from the inspired book of Isaiah (Isaiah 48-49).  I LOVE Isaiah!  It’s one of my favorite OT books.

Sam – Nephi’s brother doesn’t have a Hebrew name.  This name kept leaping out at me as it seemed so out of place in the context being described.  Wikipedia has the following explanation for the origins of this name:

Among LDS linguists[who?], the leading (unofficial) theory of the origin of the name “Sam” is that it is most likely a Hebrew dialectual form of “Shem[citation needed]. The attributed dialect in this case would either be from the dialect of Lehi’s tribe Manasseh, or from the prevalentEphrathite culture of his family[citation needed], if indeed the dialects of these two tribes were different at all. Some[who?] consider the name “Sam” to be of Arabic origin[citation needed] (BoM Arabic سامSām)[original research?]. [1]

Fiery flying serpents (17:41) – Wow.  I never heard the flying part before.   (Maybe that’s one of the parts that is missing from the Bible??) While I don’t think this would impact my view of the gospel, it would definitely add some flair to this Old Testament story!  (Numbers 21:6-8, Deut. 8:15)

Compass (16:10, 18:12)– Did they even have compasses in 600 BC??

Steel (16:18) – How about steel?

Geography/Archeology –  I’ve often heard LDS explain the lack of archeological corroboration as being due to the status of New World Archeological research.  But what about Old World geography and archeology?  These studies have been going for a long time now and have corroborated many details in the Biblical accounts.  What about these places called Shazer (16:13), Nahom (16:34), Bountiful (17:5), and the sea Irreantum (17:5)?  The details were so vague – it was really hard to tell where Nephi and company were and where they were going.  From a quick Google search and a scan of FARMS research I can see that a lot of Mormon apologetic work has gone into substantiating these places, but I’m curious – can anyone direct me to any non-Mormon sources that substantiate these places?

Messianic Prophecies (10:7-11) – Lehi’s Messianic prophecies are more detailed than any of the OT prophecies combined!  They seemed to be coming right out of the NT accounts.

The Church and Israel (13:20-35, 14:23, 22:13)– why are there references to “the church” in 600 BC before the mystery of the church was even revealed?  The Old Testament never makes reference to the church.  Paul explains that the church was a mystery hidden from past ages (Eph. 3:3-12).  The concept of the church fulfilling God’s promises to literal Israel was typical of 19th century reformed theology, but not spoken about by the Hebrew prophets of old.

Methought Thou Durst Sufficeth – It’s odd to me that a book allegedly translated in the 19th century would be written in 16th century language.  There were some words and phrases I would have liked to look up in a lexicon, but of course, there is no lexicon for the Book of Mormon.

Genealogies – There are no genealogies either.  I wanted to do a study on how Nephi was a descendant of Joseph, but unfortunately Nephi appears very unlike his Hebrew cousins in the Old Testament who thrived on detailing their genealogical records.  Nephi explained why he did not write his genealogy (6:1-6).  He said it was written on the records of his father and he desired, instead, the room to write of the things of God.  Further, he stated that he would command his seed not to write their genealogies on the plates either.  Sorry, but the thought that came to my mind was “Now that’s convenient!”  No way to trace these people to anything anywhere in any historical or Biblical record.  As for his father’s records – Lehi prophesied that “these plates of brass should go forth unto all nations, kindreds, tongues, and people who were of his seed.  Wherefore, he said that these plates of brass should never perish; neither should they be dimmed any more by time” (5:18-19).  So, my question is:  where are these plates of brass with Lehi’s genealogical records that were never to be dimmed by time?

Skin Color (13:15) – Nephi compares the “exceedingly fair and beautiful” white skin of the Gentiles to his own people, the Hebrews.  However, prior to the dispersion, the Hebrews would not have been very fair and white.  Also, contrary to the racism of the 19th century, God has never equated “fair and beautiful” with white skin.  In the most graphic love story in the Bible, the ravishing beauty described is a black woman (Song of Solomon 1:5).

*  *  *  *  *

Okay, this concludes my observations for now.  I also wanted to share a very interesting observation I found in the blogosphere:

1 Nephi 2:7 Lehi and Nephi Break Levitical Code and Establish Themselves as False Prophets

This blogger makes a very strong point about how Lehi and Nephi broke the Levitical code in making sacrifices in 1 Nephi 2:7 and 7:22.  As he points out, “No pious Jew during the reign of Zedekiah would ever have done this. It was expressly forbidden in Leviticus” (Leviticus 17:1-9).   I don’t see that any LDS have responded to this blogger’s very strong points.  Leviticus 17:1-9 is very clear in establishing one place for the offering of sacrifices and commanding that anyone offering sacrifices and burnt offerings outside the tabernacle was to be cut off from among the Israelites.  I’m very curious to hear the LDS response to this.

1.  Retrieved from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sam_(Book_of_Mormon) on May 24, 2009.

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233 Comments leave one →
  1. David permalink
    May 25, 2009 4:04 am

    I have a few thoughts on your analysis and commentary, but I think that the most relevant one centers on the fact that the Book of Mormon is given as “Another Testimony of Jesus Christ.” It might be more helpful if your analysis and commentary centered on how well it meets that criteria. Does it indeed testify of Jesus Christ in 1 Nephi and does that testament differ from or add to that of the Old Testament?

    There may be apparent inconsistencies in the Book of Mormon, but there are likewise similar inconsistencies in the Bible and other scripture. The measure of scripture is not how it correlates with our current knowledge of history, geography or other such disciplines, but rather how it functions in leading us to God, and specifically for Christian scripture how it brings us to Jesus Christ.

  2. May 25, 2009 5:10 am

    Actually, there are examples in ancient Arab writings of describing themselves as “fair” and other darker races as “dark.” Obviously the Arabs where not fair in an absolute sense. But these things all seem to be relative when racial ideas are put forward.

    My own take-away from Nephi’s racial observations are that Nephi probably followed the Mosaic injunction against marrying non-Jews, and Laman’s people likely did not and intermarried with the existing indigenous population.

    When Nephi saw their kid’s skin changing, he took it as a sign of God cursing them. But it was largely a product of Nephi’s own racial prejudices, and nothing more. There was a curse, but giving it a racial flair was probably Nephi’s own work. This racial theme fades away in the rest of the Book of Mormon. Probably due to the reality that by the book of Mosiah, both Nephites and Lamanites have so intermixed with the surrounding populations, that BOTH groups are indistinguishable from each other by skin color.

    Steel did actually exist in the bronze age. Samples were found in King Tut’s tomb (a ceremonial dagger). Steel production was not widespread during Nephi’s time. But it wasn’t non-existent either. Besides, the word steel as used in both the Book of Mormon AND the Bible probably just means a hard substance. So the existence of steel in bronze-age contexts need not destroy faith in either the Book of Mormon OR the Bible.

    As for Nephi and Lehi breaking the Levitical Code, you’re blogger assumes a uniformity of practice and belief in 600 BC Judaism that simply wasn’t there. It was actually a rather diverse religious tradition.

    Of course, when you only use the Bible as your text and don’t bother to read any of the other historical material on the period, it’s easy to make these kind of mistakes.

    “I can see that a lot of Mormon apologetic work has gone into substantiating these places, but I’m curious – can anyone direct me to any non-Mormon sources that substantiate these places?”

    Of course not. Non-Mormon scholars DON’T CARE. So why would they conduct studies to verify the account? And thus far, Evangelical scholarship on the subject has been laughably inadequate. Most Evangelical criticisms content themselves to regurgitating the same old criticisms that were put out against the book in the late 1800s. Evangelical scholarship on the Book of Mormon has been a joke and a dead end for over a century. But the Mormon scholars have largely moved-on. We have made a pretty strong case for Nahom and Bountiful being exactly where 1 Nephi says they were.

    As for language quirks, you always have to view the Book of Mormon as a linguistic combination of the language of Nephi, Mormon, Ether, Moroni, and Joseph Smith. Joseph Smith is always going to be present in the text, no matter how faithful the translation.

    It would help your study of the Book of Mormon, if you would drop your Evangelical inerrancy paradigm when reading it. Mormonism has no doctrine of inerrancy (thank goodness). So reading the book with expectations of inerrancy is going to result in some rather circular reasoning on your part.

    I’d also recommend closing out the Mormon Research Ministry website on your computer screen before reading the book. It’s kind of obvious you’re pulling your talking points off of either MRM or a similar Evangelical counter-cult resource.

    Drop your preconceptions and just sit back and enjoy the ride. You can always invoke all your Evangelical theological baggage once you’re done.

  3. May 25, 2009 5:26 am

    Hi David,
    Thank you for your respectful comment. I will consider your suggestions in future analysis.

    Seth!

    I’d also recommend closing out the Mormon Research Ministry website on your computer screen before reading the book. It’s kind of obvious you’re pulling your talking points off of either MRM or a similar Evangelical counter-cult resource.

    What?!

    Thanks for the compliment, but this was just me and the book of mormon with my highlighter and a pen. I consider MRM a very reputable ministry, though, and I’m flattered that you think I was pulling my talking points from there, but it just isn’t true. These are my own observations (albeit no doubt influenced from stuff I’ve read previously). There are a couple of additional insights that I gleaned from discussing my observations with a couple of close friends, but that is it. I did not troll MRM or any other site for these observations.

    Thanks for coming to say hi. I always enjoy hearing from you!

  4. May 25, 2009 5:34 am

    I guess I just get grumpy responding to the same points everywhere. I’ll accept that the critiques were your own work (supplemented by possible past reading). It seems likely enough.

    I’d recommend enjoying the theological message of the Book of Mormon. I’ve heard more than one Evangelical scholar remark that, in and of itself, the Book of Mormon is a rather unobjectionable book from an Evangelical standpoint. Enjoy the doctrine in there it might even give you a few new insights on the Bible that you might not find entirely objectionable.

  5. May 25, 2009 5:41 am

    does that testament differ from or add to that of the Old Testament?

    The old and new Testament (WILL) was sealed by the blood of Jesus Christ. Who’s blood is going to seal “Another Testimony of Jesus Christ.”

  6. May 25, 2009 5:43 am

    Jesus Christ’s blood of course.

  7. May 25, 2009 6:03 am

    That means he has to be crucified again to seal another testament (Will). The will of the new testament, was the birth and death of christ.How many will’s do you have.

  8. May 25, 2009 6:07 am

    I’ve heard more than one Evangelical scholar remark that, in and of itself, the Book of Mormon is a rather unobjectionable book from an Evangelical standpoint. Enjoy the doctrine in there it might even give you a few new insights on the Bible that you might not find entirely objectionable.

    I’ve heard some similar things, Seth, so I’m curious to see what I will think myself after doing this more in-depth study. As you can see in my post, though, I’ve already found 4 doctrinal concerns that I consider fairly major in the first book. I can’t picture myself sitting back and “enjoying the theological message” of the book, though. I pray and ask God for protection before I read. I also ask Him to give me insights into the problems with the book so I can document these for others. Since I don’t believe it’s inspired I won’t be accepting any “new insights on the Bible” from anything I read in the Book of Mormon. Thanks for your recommendations though! 🙂

  9. May 25, 2009 6:39 am

    Jessica,

    Your attitude basically means that even if God did want to reach you with new insight, you would not allow him to.

    That is regrettable. But I cannot force your mind open if you don’t wish to be.

    jm, of course he wouldn’t have to die again.

    When the Nephite prophet Abinadi prophesied of Christ’s life and crucifixion, he wasn’t talking about a crucifixion somewhere else. He was talking about the one that happened in Jerusalem. So the death at Jerusalem sealed TWO records simultaneously (and maybe more for all we know).

    I think you’re trying to set up a classic Jesus vs. Joseph argument here.

    Too bad the argument is contrived and silly in all variations I’ve heard of it.

    So I’m not biting today. Sorry.

    Jesus died for the Book of Mormon. And he did it in Jerusalem.

  10. May 25, 2009 12:29 pm

    jm,
    I would totally buy into your logic if Christ was crucified after Paul’s ministry. At present, the point you are making is just irrelevant. You is a silly.

    Jessica,
    If you want this project to reveal a Book of Mormon that Mormons will recognize and acknowledge as anything other than a caricature, look for Jesus in the book. That you read the entire Book of 1st Nephi and only came up with steel or horses or whatever indicates that you are reading with a preconceived notion of the book. You aren’t reading the Book of Mormon; you are reading the anti-Mormon Book of Mormon already prepared in your head by years of study. It’s also fairly clear that you aren’t interested in reading the Book of Mormon in this sense. It’s too bad.

    I’d be curious, for instance, of what you make of the extended discussion of faith in 1st Nephi 17 or the integration of Lehi’s dream in chapter 8 with the apocalyptic vision of Nephi in chapters 11-15. Jack Welch theorizes that the message of all of 1st Nephi is contained in the final verse of chapter 1. What do you think of that?

  11. spamlds permalink
    May 25, 2009 1:14 pm

    Jessica said:

    “I’ve heard some similar things, Seth, so I’m curious to see what I will think myself after doing this more in-depth study. As you can see in my post, though, I’ve already found 4 doctrinal concerns that I consider fairly major in the first book. I can’t picture myself sitting back and “enjoying the theological message” of the book, though. I pray and ask God for protection before I read. I also ask Him to give me insights into the problems with the book so I can document these for others. Since I don’t believe it’s inspired I won’t be accepting any “new insights on the Bible” from anything I read in the Book of Mormon. ”

    I certainly encourage your efforts to read the Book of Mormon. I would also encourage you to examine your motives. Are you trying to prove the Book of Mormon false? If so, you are setting out on a mission that will simply frustrate you and hinder your faith. If you are trying to find out that it is true, you’ve set off on the wrong track.

    Your thoughts reveal a serious flaw here. The Book of Mormon, like the Bible, is proven by faith. God has promised to reveal that the Book of Mormon is scripture if one will:

    1) Read it
    2) Remember that God has been merciful to us
    3) Ask God with a sincere heart, real intent, having faith in Christ

    If a person never reads it, and just asks his pastor about it, he won’t get a fair unbiased answer and he won’t get a witness from God of the book’s veracity.

    If an atheist reads it, studies the history, archaeology, etc., but never asks of God, he will never receive the answer.

    If a Christian reads it with faith in Christ, yet his heart is not sincere and he has no real intent to abide by the answer that God would give him, the answer will not come.

    I once shared the Book of Mormon with a nice Baptist lady. She was naturally skeptical, so I encouraged her to pray about it and explained the conditions which are laid out in Moroni 10:4-5.

    When we met again, she returned the book, telling me that God told her that it wasn’t true. I considered that, since God HAS told me that the book is true, that something must be amiss. I asked her if she would mind answering a couple of questions about her prayer and the “answer” she received.

    During our conversation, she admitted that she had skimmed through a few pages of the book. She hadn’t actually read it. She didn’t manifest a sincere heart or real intent. Then, when she prayed, she asked this of God: “Please tell me that the Book of Mormon isn’t true.”

    I asked her. Did God answer? She said, “No. He didn’t.”

    That lack of response, in her case was the answer. God cannot lie. He cannot tell someone that the Book of Mormon is false. She received a negative answer. If she had asked God to show her that the Book of Mormon is true, the positive answer is much easier to sense and perceive. If she had truly had a sincere heart, real intent, and manifested faith in Christ, she would have received the same answer as I.

    In a separate incident, I once taught the restored gospel to a man who had memorized the entire Bible from Genesis to Revelation. He was one of the most amazing people I ever met. Though he was much, much more intelligent than I, he found that the Book of Mormon was true–not by his vast intellect and evidence–but because he asked of God with sincerity, faith, real intent.

    I wish you the best in the study of the Book of Mormon. But if you want a sure witness, there is a better way than the manner which you’ve started.

    James 1:5-6 works. Is your current belief in Jesus based solely in evidence or do you not have faith? Give it a try.

  12. May 25, 2009 6:41 pm

    Hi SpamLDS,

    Thanks for your comments. I see you also wrote a blog post about me! I will also post this comment over there for your readers.

    Before I respond to your concerns, however, I would like to point out that you addressed none of my objections to the Book of Mormon – objections that I discovered by praying to my Father, the one true God of heaven and earth, and asking Him for insights as I read this book. I address my prayers to my Father in heaven, not the god of the Book of Mormon. I do not believe they are one and the same and that’s why I also pray for protection when I read. I believe my Father has revealed to me the problems I have detailed in this post. Instead of addressing any of my objections, however, you turned the tables and asked me questions regarding my motives for studying the book.

    The Lord knows my heart – that it is full of sincerity and real faith. I love Jesus, my Savior, with my whole heart and have dedicated my life to His service. I received Him as my Lord and Savior at a young age and have grown in my relationship with my Father since that time. What I didn’t mention in this post, but I have in other posts – I have previously prayed to my Father in heaven about the Book of Mormon and I believe He has manifested the truth of the Book of Mormon unto me – the truth that it is not inspired by Him – the one true God I worship and adore.

    My Father has instructed me to test the spirits to see whether they are of Him. I do not toss my Father’s commandments aside when I test the Book of Mormon. I don’t switch my standard from the one my Father has given me to the one the Book of Mormon/Joseph Smith has given. I don’t submit myself to the Moroni test because if the Book of Mormon is not of God, neither is the Moroni test. This is circular reasoning. I submit myself to God, my Father in heaven, through my Lord Jesus Christ. I am very open to any new revelation that my Father wants to give me, but I am not open to revelations from any other source. I have already researched the source for the Book of Mormon and, out of obedience to my Father’s commandments, I do not accept revelations from that source (Deut. 18:9-14).

    Actually, ironically, I don’t think the Baptist woman you described was in error to pray as she did. She appeared to be quite literally following the Moroni prescription! More literally, perhaps, than most Mormons. The verse instructs one to “ask God, the Eternal Father, in the name of Christ, if these things are NOT TRUE.”

    Now I have a question for you. If the Book of Mormon is not inspired by God, how would you know? If you submitted to the Moroni test, assuming a priori that the Moroni test was inspired of God and you received a revelation based on your submission to that test, how would you know whether or not you had received a revelation from the true God of heaven and earth? The Bible does warn of deceptive spirits, does it not? So, how would you know whether or not you had submitted to a deceptive spirit?

  13. May 25, 2009 6:53 pm

    Jessica, you may have a lot of sincerity, but it apparently stops when you crack open a Book of Mormon.

    Even if God wanted to tell you it was true, there is no way he would be able to with the attitude you’re bringing to the text.

  14. May 25, 2009 7:17 pm

    Seth,

    Does God want me to disobey his commandment in Deut. 18:9-14?

    Knowing what I know about the translation process of the Book of Mormon would require me to disobey God’s commandment in order to test the book per the Moroni conditions.

  15. May 25, 2009 7:44 pm

    “1) Individual personal revelation is tied to feelings (1 Nephi 17:45, 55). There is no warning of other spirits or instruction to “test the spirits, whether they are of God” (I John 4:1).”

    So let me get this straight – any time the Book of Mormon has a passage that emphasizes ONE aspect of the Gospel, but does not in the same passage emphasize every other aspect you consider important, you are going to declare it false? You don’t make these kind of demands of the Bible. What do you do with the Book of James in the in the New Testament. He talks about righteous works, but doesn’t have Paul’s emphasis on grace-alone.

    So by your own litmus test, you must reject the book of James as a false book. Right? After all, James didn’t cover EVERY base in the passages. So “obviously” it’s a dangerous book by your own standards.

    And for your information, the Book of Mormon DOES talk about testing the spirits. It’s called Alma chapter 32.

    Come on Jessica! Even Rob Bowman didn’t have the issues with the Book of Mormon you are manufacturing out of thin air.

  16. May 25, 2009 7:48 pm

    “The Holy Spirit tells an individual to kill someone (1 Nephi 4:10-18). While I realize that God instructed the nation of Israel to destroy wicked nations, there is no example in scripture that I can think of where the Holy Spirit tells an individual to kill another individual.”

    So… Holy Spirit orders genocide – Jessica says A-OK.

    But Holy Spirit orders the death of a guy who just tried to kill you and your brothers – Jessica says no way!

    Right….

  17. May 25, 2009 9:38 pm

    Jessica,
    I’m happy to hear that you’re trying to become more familiar with the Book of Mormon. A word of caution though, is that it is very apparent that your intent isn’t learning, but rather disproving, And there is a difference between critical reading and trying to build an attack. When you approach the text as something you attack, you automatically change (and in my opnion- lower) your ability to critically evaluate it.

    To put it crudely, if we had enough information to have a court of law decide the merits of the case, you would be excluded from the jury because of your bias. I’m not saying you have to remove your bias, but I am saying that you’re not an impartial observer, trying to extract the meaning of the book, which is why you have failed so miserably, and that’s what John C and Seth R are pointing out (not quite as bluntly-I’m german gened, I’m blunt…).

  18. May 25, 2009 11:02 pm

    Jessica,
    I commed you for taking the time to study the BofM. Good luck staying awake. 🙂 No sincerely, I think it’s commendable and actually I really do think that those who plan on reaching the LDS should read the BofM and be familiar with it’s stories and teachings.

    I find the BofM much less offensive than the D&C and PofGP. ( those 2 books are something else! ) Although do keep in mind changes have been made thru the years to the BofM , including the passage about the being “white and delightsome” ( equating skin color to personal favor from god ) to “pure and delightsome”. A major change I would argue. The currrent “pure and delightsome” is pc. 🙂

    God bless,
    gloria

  19. May 25, 2009 11:04 pm

    I find it ironic that there are LDS readers stating that Jessica is not sincere in her desire to read the book of mormon. ( meaning she really doesn’t want to be converted to the religion of Joseph Smith) Hmmm…. I would ask the same question back about the Bible. Do you LDS ever read the Bible compeltely with the intent to find truth, and to be convinced that Jesus alone saves? I know for a fact, my husband reads the Bible, but not with a sincerity to know that it is God’s word in it’s purity. Most times he picks it apart.

    gloria

  20. May 25, 2009 11:08 pm

    To LDS readers,

    What say you to readers who have prayed about the BofM and asked God and been told it indeed a work of fiction and not of God.

    I was always perplexed by those folks when I was on my LDS mission. I ran into a few people, who truly did ask and were given a frank NO answer from God. Never knew how to deal with those people. We would usually end up discontinuing the discussions, dropping in from time to time, and showing kindness, but not continuing to teach.

    Any thoughts?
    Gloria

  21. May 25, 2009 11:09 pm

    Hey PC,

    I readily admit I come to the Book of Mormon with a bias. I have an a priori commitment to the God of heaven and His Son Jesus Christ. I also have a strong belief in spiritual realities connected with my Biblical studies as well as spiritual experiences/background and I am careful to be obedient to the scriptures’ warnings when it comes to testing spiritual claims. I follow the James 4:7 method (submit to God and resist the devil). By the way, I am also of german blood which probably contributes to my bluntness. I like blunt people – as long as they aren’t making personal attacks and as long as they can back up their grandiose claims (i.e. you have failed so miserably) with some hard data. 🙂

  22. May 25, 2009 11:13 pm

    Hey Seth,

    I noticed you did not answer my question – Does God want me to disobey His commandment and be open to something that was birthed through means that I know he has expressly forbidden?

    Re: Alma 32: These methods are not Biblical. Alma 32:35 says, “Whatsoever is light, is good, because it is discernible.” This is along the same lines as Moroni 7:13. The Bible says some things will appear light and good, but they are not of Christ. For example, 2 Cor. 11:13-15 says Satan can transform himself into an angel of light and that false apostles can deceptively appear as the apostles of Christ. Also, Jesus warned that people would be deceived in the last days and would think they were doing wonderful works in Jesus’ name, but He will say to them – “I never knew you” (Matt. 7:21-23). These people will truly believe they are following Jesus and they will be doing things that appear good and right, but the Bible says they are deceived and do not really know Christ.

    Alma 32:28-34 is also not a Biblical method for testing truth. Just because something enlarges my soul or enlightens my understanding – “yea, is delicious to me” – that doesn’t mean it’s of God or that it’s true. Because I’m a fallen creature, things that are “delicious to me” might be of the flesh, the world, or the devil. The Bible says the doctrines of God will be hard to understand and people will wrestle with them (2 Peter 3:16). They will not “tickle the ears” like the teachings of men (2 Tim. 4:3-4). Proverbs 14:12 says, “There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death. God’s ways are not our ways (Isa. 55:8). Something that seems good or light to us might not be of God. Alma 32 is teaching subjective, unbiblical tests for determining truth.

  23. May 25, 2009 11:17 pm

    Hi, seth. You challenge jessica to read the book of mormon with a desire to know that it’s God’s word with sincerity — will you take the same challenge for the Bible to know that it is God’s word, pure and preserved? Would you pray then and ask God if Jesus truly is the ONLY thing you need to receive eternal life and inherit the kingdom of God? That goes for other LDS readers too, will you consider praying about the message of the cross and of the risen Lord? With sincerity of heart to know if Jesus truly is the ONLY way?

    I love the passage in James about seeking wisdom. It says to ask of God… God will answer. I prayed to know if Jesus is the way to eternal life, and the ONLY way and I was answered in the affirmative!

    I have every confidence in what God’s answer would be to Jessica in regards to the validity of the bofm. Jessica, I have no doubt that if you prayed God would answer. Christians go right ahead and test the BofM, and find out for yourselves what God thinks of it.

    Kind regards,
    gloria

  24. May 25, 2009 11:24 pm

    Dudes,
    Jessica is saying that from the outset she believes that Satan is the source of the Book of Mormon and that Mormons who believe in it are dupes of Satan. She is not an honest partner in this conversation. In asking her to actually give the Book of Mormon a chance, we are, apparently, asking her to sacrifice a child on a black mass or something.

    I make it a policy that when I am accused of being a devil worshiper, I stop participating in the conversation. So, have a good life, Jessica. I hope God leads you to a place where you have more charity for people with whom you disagree.

  25. May 25, 2009 11:27 pm

    Gloria,

    Thanks for all your nice comments and for your prayers. I really appreciate you. I actually have prayed about the Book of Mormon as I stated in an earlier comment and God has manifested to me that it is not of Him. However, I don’t think Christians should necessarily “open” themselves up to the spirit of the Book of Mormon. I’m not sure what you think about this, but I’ve discerned something weird about the Moroni test. It’s not really directing a person to pray sincerely to the God of heaven to see whether or NOT the book is true. The text seems to be teaching that it is true and you will get the confirmation of that if you are sincere enough. That’s the issue I have with the Moroni test. It’s lying and deceptive.

  26. May 25, 2009 11:31 pm

    John C,

    Where did I ever accuse anyone of being a devil worshiper?

    The Book of Mormon says I’m part of the church founded by the devil. That doesn’t mean I don’t love Mormons. It also doesn’t offend me or make me want to stop talking to Mormons.

    For the record, I believe people can be deceived about all sorts of things and still be saved. I don’t have a simplistic view of supernatural stuff. I think people in my church are deceived about stuff, I’m sure I’m deceived about stuff. I believe deception and deceiving spirits are very real and that people need to wake up and stop being passive about spiritual stuff.

  27. May 25, 2009 11:39 pm

    And another thing – this works both ways, John. The Book of Mormon doesn’t leave open the option that we’re both right about it. So one of us is deceived. I don’t have a problem acknowledging that and continuing the discussion. I’m not sure what I said that was so bizarre or out of line for these discussions. LDS were saying my attitude would prevent me from hearing from God. Isn’t this making an accusation that I’m the one that’s deceived?

  28. spamlds permalink
    May 25, 2009 11:49 pm

    Hi Jessica,

    Thanks for joining S.P.A.M. We will do our best to answer your sincere questions. It’s the sincerity that I question, however.

    The Book of Mormon will be to you whatever you make of it. If you think you already have the truth and that Mormons are cultists, then you will find whatever you will to substantiate that view. That’s not open-minded. Neither does that approach bring revelation.

    Let me present this to you in way that you will understand. If you were a Jew who lived in the time of the New Testament and you heard the preaching of Paul or Peter what proof would accept as proof for the resurrection?

    What evidence could the apostles provide that would cause you to accept the unbelievable tale that a man was crucified and rose from the dead? What archaeological evidence proves that Jesus was resurrected? None. If you turned to the scriptures and asked a Pharisee for answers, what would he have told you?: More than likely he would say, as they said of Jesus, “out of Galilee ariseth no prophet.” (See John 7:52) The rabbis and the chief priests would argue USING THE SCRIPTURES that Jesus was a fraud and an impostor. False witnesses would bear testimony that the disciples stole the body away from the tomb by night when the Roman guards slept on duty.

    So where could you find truth about the testimony of Paul and Peter, because other than those eyewitnesses, there isn’t any “proof” such as you request for the Book of Mormon. Accepting the resurrection of Jesus required faith and that faith was confirmed by the outpouring of the Holy Ghost and spiritual gifts.

    Likewise, the Book of Mormon, for this generation poses the same challenge as the resurrection did for the Jews concerning the resurrection. What proof is there? There is some, but proof and evidence are not faith. Faith is the “substance of things hoped for, the EVIDENCE OF THINGS NOT SEEN.”

    There were eleven witnesses who saw the plates that Joseph Smith translated. It’s ironic that this is the same number of witnesses that bore testimony that Jesus was resurrected.

    The resurrection was the stumbling block for Jews, proving who has faith and who lacked it. The Book of Mormon performs that mission today. Like those who had faith in the resurrection in Biblical times, acceptance of the Book of Mormon by faith brings personal revelation and an outpouring of the gifts of the Holy Ghost.

    The fruits of the Spirit among us is the proof that God’s Spirit is with us. If you reject that, then there’s really nothing else that will prove it to you.

  29. May 25, 2009 11:59 pm

    Hi SpamLDS,

    I don’t have any questions right now, but thanks for being willing to answer them. I joined your site because that was the only way I could post a comment in response to the blog post you wrote about me.

  30. May 26, 2009 12:00 am

    Jessica,
    I feel like I try and understand the viewpoints of others.
    I feel like I try and ascribe good motives to their actions.
    I feel like I try and read all of the data and DEAL with all of the data instead of misconstruing, miscontextualizing, and misunderstanding them.

    Earlier today, Jessica, your post inspired me to write out what I have learned from 1. Nephi. I haven’t done it yet, but I will, and I’ll post a link to it here, and I’ll invite you and anyone else to come over and compare what people learn out of 1. Nephi. I think many people, unaquainted with the Book of Mormon, after reading both synposes, would think we read two different books.

    Failing miserably. It is good to ask for evidence. I will provide it. I’ll make the assertion now though, that if you were in Chemistry, you wouldn’t last long as a Chemist using the same methods you’ve used against the Book of Mormon.

  31. May 26, 2009 12:01 am

    Interesting post, Jessica.

    On one hand, I really see what Seth and others are saying about you reading the book with a “closed mind.” That is, if there is truth to be discerned from the book, you really won’t be able to discover it based on the approach you’re taking.

    On the other hand, I also see and respect what you’re saying about not wanting to be deceived by something when you feel sincerely that God has already answered that question for you. It would be kind of like tempting God.

    Your comment to Gloria is, I think, the heart of the matter:

    However, I don’t think Christians should necessarily “open” themselves up to the spirit of the Book of Mormon.

    Is there value in opening yourself up to spiritual truth in places outside the Bible? Can’t religious traditions outside of Evangelical Christianity teach truth? Could you find truth in the Koran, for example? Can God help a person find the truth and discard the rest–can’t you ask Him for help finding the good AND the bad in the Book of Mormon as opposed to just assuming it’s all bad?

    I’m not trying to make a point here, just genuinely curious. (I’m sure you know me well enough by now to know that, but I wanted to make sure your other readers understand the spirit in which my comment is made.)

    Oh, and John. I never got that Jessica was accusing us of devil worshiping, just that we’re deceived. I think it’s fair to say most Mormons would say the same about her, so I think it’s all good.

  32. spamlds permalink
    May 26, 2009 12:21 am

    “…never got that Jessica was accusing us of devil worshiping, just that we’re deceived. I think it’s fair to say most Mormons would say the same about her, so I think it’s all good.”

    This is just untrue. Joseph Smith said, “Have the Presbyterians any truth? Yes. Have the Baptists, Methodists, etc., any truth? Yes. They all have a little truth mixed with error. We should gather all the good and true principles in the world and treasure them up, or we shall not come out true “Mormons.”

    I make a point to distinguish between rank-and-file believers in Jesus and what I refer to as “sectarian Christians.” The sectarians are those who are the defenders of the creeds of men. They twist the Bible into something else to match those creeds and dismiss the parts that don’t fit it as “metaphors” or ignore them altogether.

    Latter-day Saints don’t believe that non-Mormons will go to hell or anything of the sort. God will reward us according to our works, which are directly impacted by our level of understanding of truth and the amount of spiritual truth we are willing to receive. I never heard of God sending someone to hell for believing too much truth, but the scriptures do mention that unbelief has a significant “downside.”

    However, to those religious partisans who wrest the Bible to their own destruction to match their particular creeds, the word of the Lord in our time is “that all their creeds were an abomination in his sight; that those professors were all corrupt; that: “they draw near to me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me, they teach for doctrines the commandments of men, having a form of godliness, but they deny the power thereof.”

    The difference is that the creeds prevent men from finding the true and living God. The rank-and-file Christians who follow these corrupt professors in ignorance are not accountable for the errors they’ve been taught. However, those who promote the false creeds of men and fight against God’s kingdom are under condemnation.

    What is the sign that they are under condemnation? The Holy Ghost does not bear witness of their works. Their followers don’t enjoy gifts of the Spirit and the fruits of the Spirit of God are not manifest among them. Those gifts are poured out in direct relation to the amount of spiritual light one accepts, believes, and lives.

    There are many non-Mormons who receive a portion of these gifts, because their faith in specific true principles, such as repentance, faith in Christ, doing good works, service, charity, etc. They have a simple faith that is not based in those creeds. Inasmuch as they forsake their errors and embrace the fullness of truth, the fullness of God’s blessings will be upon those individuals.

  33. May 26, 2009 12:31 am

    You’ve misinterpreted the Moroni 10 test Jessica.

    Read the whole chapter rather than the Mormon scripture mastery scripture missionaries are taught to quote. It asks you to read the entire book and study it, then compare it with what you know of God’s dealings with his children. Only THEN do you get the witness.

    You don’t just smack yourself in the forehead a couple times with the book and then ask God “is it true?” You might get results that way (some have), but it seems unlikely.

    “I noticed you did not answer my question – Does God want me to disobey His commandment and be open to something that was birthed through means that I know he has expressly forbidden?”

    I didn’t answer the question because it’s a silly and self-serving question. I reject all the premises that your question is founded on, so what’s the point in answering it?

    Gloria, the change to “pure and delightsome” in the Book of Mormon is actually closer to Joseph’s original translation than 1970s version of the Book of Mormon in this particular passage. So when the Church changed the phrase, it was actually just changing the passage back to what Joseph originally wrote.

    Just like any good Evangelical would do if they felt they had found a Bible text closer to the original Greek than what we have now.

  34. May 26, 2009 12:44 am

    Jessica,

    As I mentioned I love the passage in James — I believe that is a much better reference for seeking “truth” than the quote by Smith in Moroni.

    “If any one lacks wisdom — they should ask of God”

    .
    No where does it say that if one asks of God one will receive a “burning in the bosom” or some other physical manifestation. In fact there is no biblical passage that even remotely tells us that we should seek after a “physical” manifestation and equate that as “truth”. ( btw, I get a burning in the bosom all the time, from listening to great music, to seeing God’s creation, to hearing a good sermon, etc. – that doesn’t equate truth, that is purely an emotional response)

    When I was LDS I sincerely wanted to know “how” to receive eternal life, I wanted to know what God wanted me to do… stay LDS or not.
    I truly sought “wisdom”. But how does one gain wisdom from God?

    The book of Proverbs tells us that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of Knowledge. In order to *know* God’s truth, we must first fear Him, reverence Him. We can’t fear someone we do not know.
    We really do need to know “who” God is before we can receive knowledge and wisdom from above.
    As I read the Bible, when I was LDS I began to understand “who” God truly is. Not what I had been taught, but what God’s word says about “who” He is. This was so important — because once I *knew* who God was and is, I could then begin to fear Him.. and respect Him and reverence Him. Not just as a “god” who was once a man, but as the one true and only GOD.

    I really believe that was absolutely critical for coming out of mormonism. Because once I understood “who” He was, I could fear Him, and once I could fear HIM ( reverence) I could then receive the wisdom I was so despereately seeking, and with that wisdom I could receive the answer from God that not only was the BoM a work of fiction and that Mr. Joseph Smith was a deceived individual.

    A person can not get an answer from God, without knowing Him. We can not gain wisdom to make choices without God’s help. We may have worldly wisdom, but not God’s wisdom, which is infinately of greater worth.. ( the bible says it’s more precious than rubies!)

    Until I knew “who” God was I could not properly fear Him, and without fear of the Lord, I could not gain knowledge and wisdom from above.

    Once I knew who God truly was– thru reading the Bible with sincerity to know and understand …. fear then came, and then the wisdom I was seeking…..

    Then the answer……..that JESUS IS THE WAY THE TRUTH and the LIFE and that it is thru the WORK of Christ and His blood that I am cleansed and receive eternal life. 1 John 1:7

    So I am not concerend about Christians praying about the BofM, as long as they have a strong biblical foundation on “who” God is and have a proper fear and reverence. If a Christian does know God and fears Him, the answer to the question of the authenticity of the BofM will be fairly strait forward.

    As always I continue to keep you in my prayers,
    gloria

  35. spamlds permalink
    May 26, 2009 12:54 am

    Let me dispute what Gloria wrote here:

    “No where does it say that if one asks of God one will receive a “burning in the bosom” or some other physical manifestation. In fact there is no biblical passage that even remotely tells us that we should seek after a “physical” manifestation and equate that as “truth”. ( btw, I get a burning in the bosom all the time, from listening to great music, to seeing God’s creation, to hearing a good sermon, etc. – that doesn’t equate truth, that is purely an emotional response)”

    If you will turn to Luke chapter 24, when Jesus appeared to the disciples who were on the road to Emmaus, before he permitted them to recognize him, he taught them from the scriptures. He taught them why it was necessary for him to suffer and die. Then when he broke bread with them, they recognized him and said:

    “Did not our heart burn within us, while he talked with us by the way, and while he opened to us the scriptures?”

    That is the manifestation of the Spirit that we refer to the “burning in the bosom.” It is a real thing. It comes from the Spirit of God. The disciples on the road to Emmaus felt it when Jesus taught them truth from the scriptures. You will feel it when you read the Book of Mormon, so long as you’re not in a mood to prove God wrong.

  36. May 26, 2009 1:14 am

    For the record, spam.
    Gloria isn’t the first ex-Mormon to post here…

  37. May 26, 2009 1:30 am

    Oh come on Jack. spamlds has been very positive and helpful in the discussion so far. He was starting to make me regret biting his head off on another forum a couple months ago.

    But for the record, gloria isn’t your typical product of the Recovering from Mormonism message board. She’s a bit nicer than that crowd.

    gloria, as I’ve told you before, I’ve never once had a “burning in the bosom” about anything. Nor does Moroni 10 require such an experience. However, such experiences are legitimate as the example mentioned from the Road to Emmeus clearly demonstrates.

    gloria, I’ve actually been engaging in a reading of the Bible. And it has been nice to see the God that Joseph Smith testified of revealed in its pages.

  38. May 26, 2009 1:43 am

    Sorry, had to edit and delete a couple comments.

    SpamLDS, you had a comment go into spam and I’m not retrieving it. Please see my comment policy. Personal attacks are not allowed.

  39. May 26, 2009 1:47 am

    Hi, spamLDS…

    You must be new to this site, as I am most definately not the first former mormon to visit here . There are a number of born again Christians who were once LDS that post here. 🙂
    As for the passage from Luke — I am well aware of that passage – but a burning heart does not equate truth. That passage does not say that “a burning heart tells one what is truth”. Do you have any more passages from the Bible you would like to use instead?

    God truth is so simple to be understood. But only the God who saves can truly open your eyes to it. I will be praying for you.

    Seth, thanks for your kind remarks about me. I always enjoy hearing what you have to say and I am pleased that you are engaging in a study of the Bible. I believe the Bible contains the words of life — may our Precious Lord illuminate your mind and heart.

    Kind regards to you both,
    gloria

  40. May 26, 2009 1:51 am

    Seth,
    You mentioned you have never had a burning in the bosom about anything…. then may I ask you , how as a LDS do you equate what is truth and what is not?

    Kind regards,
    gloria

    ps. I for one have burning in the bosom often, and the chills and goosebumps and all that kind of stuff….physical responsed to an emotional experience. It’s actually common with women in particular. 🙂

  41. May 26, 2009 2:06 am

    Study of scripture and application of Gospel principles in my own life gloria. And that’s about it.

    Jessica, feel free to edit the portion of my comment responding to the “personal” stuff.

  42. May 26, 2009 2:06 am

    This is just untrue. Joseph Smith said, “Have the Presbyterians any truth? Yes. Have the Baptists, Methodists, etc., any truth? Yes. They all have a little truth mixed with error. We should gather all the good and true principles in the world and treasure them up, or we shall not come out true “Mormons.”

    Spam, okay, but why did I spend 18 months of my life telling Christians they needed to get baptized Mormon? Because, while we believe they have some truth (never said we didn’t), we believe they are lacking, mistaken–deceived–in other areas.

    You can’t claim to have the Truth-with-a-capital-T without saying that other people don’t have it, which means they’re in error.

    You don’t have to be obnoxious about it, but that’s the nature of interfaith dialogue. So if I’m gonna tell others they’re wrong, I guess I better be willing to listen when they tell me I’m wrong.

    The difference is that the creeds prevent men from finding the true and living God. ….Those who promote the false creeds of men and fight against God’s kingdom are under condemnation. … What is the sign that they are under condemnation? The Holy Ghost does not bear witness of their works. Their followers don’t enjoy gifts of the Spirit and the fruits of the Spirit of God are not manifest among them. Those gifts are poured out in direct relation to the amount of spiritual light one accepts, believes, and lives.

    Ugh. Dude.

    Do you really think that no one but Mormons has access to the Holy Spirit? Seriously? I’m just wondering…have you known any devout non-Mormons, because I can absolutely, positively, completely and totally testify that I’ve seen the Spirit work miracles in the lives of people from all walks of life and faith traditions.;

    Sorry, had to edit and delete a couple comments.

    Bummer. Now I wish I knew what they were. I love a little drama. 😉

  43. May 26, 2009 2:14 am

    Seth ~ He was starting to make me regret biting his head off on another forum a couple months ago.

    You go Seth.

    To clarify on my deleted comment, it’s comments like this by spamLDS (in addition to the now-deleted comment I cited earlier) that I find to be extremely prejudiced. All Christians who believe in creeds are Holy-Ghost-depraved sinners who don’t enjoy spiritual gifts? Please. That’s most of the non-LDS Christian world, and anyone who has spent a spit’s worth of time getting to know us knows that we enjoy the Spirit’s blessings to great degrees. Who died and made spamLDS the keeper of the spiritual gift vending machine?

    And in case I’m not making myself clear: even I, the Bloggernacle’s favorite evangelical Christian (apparently), have some creeds I really, really like. So if spam’s comments are true, I guess there isn’t hope for any of us outside of Mormonism but to convert or consign ourselves to walking in darkness.

    You guys are always cheering when I stomp on prejudiced anti-Mormon evangelical short-bus riders who treat Mormons like dirt. Well, I don’t take it from your camp, either. I’m an equal-opportunity face-pwner.

    I see Katie’s all over this as well. Good on you, Katie.

  44. faithoffathers permalink
    May 26, 2009 4:40 pm

    Jessica,

    I commend your effort to read the Book of Mormon. Most critics do not go that far, and I respect what you are doing.

    I do agree with those who have posted that it seems a purely intellectual search for faults with the book. And I agree that such a pursuit will not result in an objective assessment or spiritual conirmation (I doubt that is what you seek). But still, I respect what you are doing.

    Your objections to the book have been addressed amply by others. For example, the name Nephi and Sam are thought to be Egyptian in origin, not Hebrew. There is evidence for those names in Egypt in that time period. This would be very consistent with Lehi having an education in both the “learning of the Jews, and the language of the Egyptians.” Jerusalem and Egypt were very interconnected economically during that period. It is also known that the wealthy and well positioned young men from Jerusalem were sometimes sent to Egypt for their education. What seem like anachronisms to some actually turn out to be interesting evidences for the book- it is almost impossible for Joseph Smith to have known such things in 1830.

    Similarly, the other objections can be addressed.

    But I want to comment on your statement about why the BOM is necessary or rather unnecessary from your perspective. In a day and world where, in many respects, the atheist and godless views are gaining momentum and adherents, and in a time when the validity of the Bible and its claims (especially of the divinity of Christ) are dismissed even by supposed Christian leaders, can you see the value of God providing the world with an additional witness of that priceless record, the Bible? Imagine an archeologist discovering an ancient record dating back to 34 A.D. in some very remote region of the world that claimed a God named Jesus Christ had visited a people after being resurrected and showed them His wounds and taught His gospel, which was just like the teachings of the Bible.

    Can you see what a huge find that would be? And how that would “prove” or add great credibility to the Bible?

    God prepared the Book of Mormon for just such a time of doubt which He knew would precede the second coming of Christ.

    But He prepared the BOM is a way such that it would come about through miraculous means. This is no coincidence. Archeology doesn’t convert the soul or produce faith. In fact, Christ said “an adulterous generation seeketh a sign.” He ended up giving the ultimate sign, but only those who were humble seekers really saw the sign. Same with the BOM.

    I know that you will reject this perspective. But the BOM does corroborate the claims of the Bible in a big way. You may say you don’t need it, but the world does- that is for sure.

    In addition, the BOM does actually clarify a great deal- such as the spirit world, pre-mortal existence, the roles of justice and mercy/grace and faith (a topic oh so common among us), the reality of the universal resurrection, the second coming. It also adds a large body of valuable, prophetic insights into the last days- after all, it was prepared for this time.

    I enjoy the threads on the BOM, because it is truly the heart of our discussion in my opinion.

    Thanks. Have a great day!

    fof

    It has brought so much into my life.

  45. May 26, 2009 5:12 pm

    I freely admit on my blog that the first time I read the Book of Mormon was just to look for errors in it. The second time I read it, I tried pretty hard to be sincere. This is what I wrote:

    On January 12, 2000, I recorded in my journal that I had promised Aaron I would read the Book of Mormon again. So I did. This time I read it as sincerely as I could. I highlighted and marked it up all over the place. I didn’t look for errors in it or things that might contradict the Bible, I just tried to listen to what it had to say, and I noted that it was almost entirely in harmony with the Bible. I also read through it much faster this time, finishing it in less than two months.

    Did I pray about it? Certainly. Sorry to say, God did not tell me it was true. He didn’t come down out of the sky and tell me it was false, either. I don’t see why He ever would, given that there is so much truth in it. I do wonder if some Mormons aren’t confusing their testimony of the church with the Spirit’s testimony to the amount of truthfulness in the Book of Mormon.

    I actually like the Book of Mormon, and even if I’m arguing with LDS people, I tend to avoid attacks on that book. Suffer it to say that I regard it as faith-promoting, poetic, 19th century fiction. I think it can teach people a lot even if I think almost all of the people in it never existed. However, the logic that a testimony of the Book of Mormon = a testimony of the Brighamite LDS church is something I have never understood.

    Those are my own feelings on it, FWIW.

  46. May 26, 2009 7:45 pm

    However, the logic that a testimony of the Book of Mormon = a testimony of the Brighamite LDS church is something I have never understood.

    This is an interesting point, Jack. You have to take several logical leaps to get from Book of Mormon = good to Book of Mormon = mainstream LDS church is God’s church.

    I’m not saying you can’t/won’t get there, but I am saying it’s much more complex than we usually present it.

    First of all, you have to unpack what you mean by a testimony of the Book of Mormon? That it contains God’s truth? That it is a real historical record and Joseph translated it–and that the translation is accurate? All of the above?

    Even granting that the book is what Joseph said it is, and most of us Mormons would agree that it is, that doesn’t preclude the possibility that Joseph is a fallen prophet, or that the wrong man succeeded him after his death.

    (Please note that I’m not advocating any of these positions, simply acknowledging Jack’s point that a testimony of the Book of Mormon automatically leading to a testimony of the Brighamite church is more complex than sometimes we make it.)

  47. May 26, 2009 9:11 pm

    Jack,
    You are not the only person who sincerely read and prayed and received an answer from God stating that the BofM is a work of fiction and not a work of God. I asked LDS readers yesterday how do they explain that.. when I was serving an LDS mission, I ran into some who had similar experiences.
    What say the LDS readers here?

    Kind of interested to hear what thoughts may be shared,
    gloria

  48. Christian permalink
    May 26, 2009 11:33 pm

    Regarding doctrinal concern #2: Well, we know that Moses killed an Egyptian (Exodus 2: 11,12), and Stephen referred to it later (Acts 7: 23-25). God appearing to Moses is a direct result of Moses fleeing Egypt because of the killing. If Moses was prepared by God to be the Lord’s mouthpiece, this was an important part of the preparation. Other examples of the Lord’s intervention are found here: Deut. 3: 3, 1 Sam. 15: 3 (3-33), Num. 25: 17. And don’t forget the Lord asking Abraham to sacrifice Isaac. Even though Abraham didn’t have to follow through, the Lord asked him to kill his own son, and if Abraham would have not obeyed, he would have been in trouble.

  49. Christian permalink
    May 26, 2009 11:36 pm

    p.s. to doctrinal concern #2: You write that you find “this story creepy on many levels and there are some scary implications of this view of personal revelation.” How about the revelation to sacrifice and kill your own son? Do you find God telling Abraham to do just that not as creepy? How do you reconcile the one but not the other? Just wondering.

  50. Christian permalink
    May 26, 2009 11:58 pm

    Jessica, most of the oddities you point out are fairly easy to substantiate if you want to open yourself up to that. I think it would be much easier to find oddities in the Bible, particularly in the Old Testament. The difference for you seems to be that you TRUST the one source and DISTRUST the other. Therefore, the two are not reconcilable. But feel free to read up on people who are non-believers and DISTRUST the Bible and see where their “systematic study” of the Bible leads them. TRUST is important and as long as you don’t have that you will not judge wisely.

  51. May 27, 2009 12:01 am

    Hi Christian, Thanks for your comments and for your courteous tone. I really appreciate it!

    I love the story of Abraham being willing to offer up his own son. Abraham’s faith was severely tested and God provided a substitute so that he didn’t have to kill his own son, but Abraham was completely obedient and surrendered to God’s will even though he didn’t understand how it would all work out. Yet He believed God would keep His promises. The story is a parallel and foreshadowing of the atonement – God offering His only Son to die as our substitute. I love that story!

    I just didn’t see any significant parallels in the 1 Nephi account I described. It just stood out to me as really odd and creepy. I don’t know how else to describe it. Maybe it was because I had been reading recently in I Samuel where David was being pursued relentlessly by King Saul who kept trying to kill David. David had several chances to kill Saul – he was right within his reach, but David refused saying he would not lay a hand on God’s anointed. I was so touched by David’s heart and was pondering the fact that the Bible describes David as a man after God’s own heart. Even though he sinned later – in the case of Uriah, the Bible describes this as sin and David repents. So I had just recently been pondering that when I read this account of Nephi and it just struck me as so different. Anyway, you are definitely right that I believe in one source and not the other. And I admit that affects my viewpoint.

  52. May 27, 2009 12:08 am

    Katie, you asked “Is there value in opening yourself up to spiritual truth in places outside the Bible? Can’t religious traditions outside of Evangelical Christianity teach truth? Could you find truth in the Koran, for example? Can God help a person find the truth and discard the rest–can’t you ask Him for help finding the good AND the bad in the Book of Mormon as opposed to just assuming it’s all bad?”

    Great questions and here’s where I’m at on this currently: I definitely believe we can find spiritual truth outside the Bible. Creation, for example, reveals things about the nature of God (Rom. 1:19-20). Great people of faith who have spent hours in prayer, lives on the mission field or in other ministry, who have lived holy lives above reproach, and whose minds have been saturated with the words of God often have profound insights and spiritual truths to impart that have impacted my life deeply. People like A.W. Tozer, Andrew Murray, Corrie Ten Boom, Watchman Nee, Hudson Taylor, George Mueller, and Amy Carmichael come to mind. But there are some people I don’t respect or trust to impart spiritual truths to me. I believe I can learn some interesting things about life in the 19th century, though, by reading the Book of Mormon with a critical eye. I’m sure I will agree with many doctrinal things – from what I’ve already read and studied in the book I know I agree with many things. The doctrines on the nature of God, for example, are much closer to the Bible’s revelation than what we find in the D&C or PofGP for example. Which is why Jack makes such a great point. Revelation that the BoM is true does not equal revelation that the current doctrines of the LDS church are true.

  53. Christian permalink
    May 27, 2009 1:04 am

    It came to pass…

    Sorry, Jessica, the Bible (King James Version) contains the phrase “it came to pass” 261 times, whereas the Book of Mormon contains it a total of 170 times. The Old Testament alone uses the phrase 224 times.

    So much for your mocking observation (“And it came to pass as I started studying 1 Nephi that I soon noticed a repetition of a certain phrase. And it came to pass that as I started underlining this phrase that I was exceedingly amazed. I’ve never read a book of the Bible that contained this much repetition of a phrase! It makes for choppy, repetitive reading and is very dissimilar to the smooth, rich text of inspired scripture I am so familiar with.”)

    Not exactly right. See for example the book of Genesis contains the phrase over 50 times, Kings about 80 times, Samuel 60 times, and Luke in the New Testament has it almost 30 times. If you take Genesis, Kings, and Samuel, you’ll find the phrase more often than in the entire Book of Mormon. It is true that the phrase is used quite frequently in 1 Nephi, but as a whole the phrase “it came to pass,” and related forms generally indicates a transition in subject or time.

  54. May 27, 2009 1:51 am

    I also remember reading something where they analyzed one of the stelas of the ancient Mayans and found a phrase similar in meaning to “it came to pass” absolutely littered throughout the glyphic text. Apparently the ancient Mayans were fans of the phrase too.

    Just found it mildly interesting.

  55. May 27, 2009 2:21 am

    I watched a special about the Mayans on the History Channel last night.

    Apparently, the Mayan calendar predicts that the world will come to an end on December 21, 2012.

    Sos y’all know.

  56. May 27, 2009 2:57 am

    Christian,

    You can’t use the search feature on LDS.com for “it came to pass.” I tried that the other day after I had done my count by hand. LDS.com search only brings up 170 times total in the whole Book of Mormon. I’m not sure why.

    Instead, try underlining the phrase in 1 Nephi and counting it for yourself. You will see that it is a minimum of 190 times (at least!) Unless I have a different edition of the Book of Mormon than the one that is on LDS.com… I have one copywritten in 1981.

  57. May 27, 2009 3:00 am

    Look at 1 Nephi 16 specifically. Almost every single paragraph starts with “and it came to pass.”

  58. May 27, 2009 3:01 am

    Apparently, the Mayan calendar predicts that the world will come to an end on December 21, 2012.

    I think I’ve seen that same special, Katie! It’s very interesting!

  59. May 27, 2009 3:15 am

    Christian,

    I just went back and counted again by hand and got 192! That is so many times that it’s hard to get an accurate count. As you pointed out, the OT only contains this phrase about 224 times (again, LDS.com is wrong – my SwordSearcher program says its 387). Anyway, it is a common OT phrase, but it’s just not that repetitive. Thus the reason I noticed a significant difference in literary style between the two.

  60. faithoffathers permalink
    May 27, 2009 3:24 am

    Katie,

    You said:

    “Even granting that the book is what Joseph said it is, and most of us Mormons would agree that it is, that doesn’t preclude the possibility that Joseph is a fallen prophet, or that the wrong man succeeded him after his death.”

    I disagree. There are prophecies in the Book of Mormon about both Joseph Smith and the Church organized through Him. It says Joseph would be a prophet called of God. That the work he would do would be “great.” It says that Joseph would restore much of what was lost. It says he would have 3, followed by “additional” witnesses. It actually gives him direction in the text as to translating the plates. It also says he will be “marred.” This alludes to martyrdom. (The bible also uses this word to describe Christ’s death).

    So if the BOM is true, Joseph dies a martyr. This doesn’t leave much room for him being a fallen prophet.

    It also says the church would spread throughout the world, but that its numbers would be few, comparitively speaking. It alludes to temples around the world (my reading). It speaks of additional works of scripture that would follow the BOM. It speaks of the gentiles of America who have accepted the restored gospel joining with the descendents of Lehi in preparing the kingdom for Christ’s return. While it doesn’t say the church by name or give dates, etc., it is quite clear in its claims about the modern church. Its claims are totally inconsistent with any of the off-shoot groups.

    As far as the phrase “and it came to pass”- have you read anything on this? Again, turns out to validate the historicity of the BOM.

    Ancient languages had no punctuation. Writers developed symbols to note the ending and beginning of new ideas or concepts. (punctuation was added to the BOM by a non-LDS after it was translated). Turns out, there is an equivalent to “and it came to pass” in the Mayan language- well documented.

    Also- take a look at the Anthon transcript. There is a simple symbol that occurs at the same frequency as “and it came to pass” in the BOM. It is a simple dot, something that one would think could easily and reasonably be the equivalent of “and it came to pass” in the text. By the way, the transcript contains a clear chiastic structure of its reformed Egyptian symbols. I suppose Joseph really, really liked chiasmus and even hid it in the symbols he transcribed in this transcript (although he never mentioned any of the chiasmus in the BOM).

    I too watched the documentary on the Maya- interesting!

    fof

  61. May 27, 2009 3:27 am

    A computer search of the entire standard works (with the string in quotes) yield 1588 hits.
    58 times in the PoGP.
    5 times in the D&C
    1123 times in the Book of Mormon
    402times in the Bible

    The phrase is more frequent in the Book of Mormon than the Bible. I don’t see any reason to ASSume that means it’s uninspired. Of course, when you start out with that ASSumption, you only prove you’re good at building a circular argument. Circular arguments are less reliable than my feelings, so forgive me for not exchanging my spiritual experiences for your fallible circular arguments.

  62. May 27, 2009 3:34 am

    Hi FoF,

    Turns out, there is an equivalent to “and it came to pass” in the Mayan language- well documented.

    Can you please direct me to this research/documentation?

    Thanks

  63. May 27, 2009 3:34 am

    Because I’m a nerd, I would also like to point out the statistical fact known as counting error.
    It’s found in quantum mechanical systems, photon counting, counting raindrops, and the rates of those processes and is described by poisson statistics.
    It’s also the reason why we can only prove, statistically, that only 98% of people die, or that for a certain number of men, the test says they’re pregnant.

  64. May 27, 2009 3:35 am

    Jessica,
    You could also ask Seth R. for that, as he actually asserted this before FoOF.

  65. May 27, 2009 3:37 am

    Oh sorry. I have a hard time keeping up sometimes. Hi Seth, you can also back up your assertions sometime when you get a chance. 🙂

  66. May 27, 2009 3:44 am

    For the record, there were 185 string hits for first Nephi.
    I havde no idea how you counted 192 when a computer search only yields 185. Does not bode well.

    12 hits in 2nd Nephi.
    43 hits in Jacob
    3 in Enos
    4 in Jarom
    8 in Omni
    3 in Words of Mormon
    113 in Mosiah
    312 in Alma

    And I got bored. In the 2 months that Joseph had to “invent” the complex book of Mormon, he remembered to vary his frequency of using a tying phrase such as “and it came to pass.”? That requires more faith than believing Joseph was given the translation by the gift and power of God.

  67. May 27, 2009 3:46 am

    Did you use “and it came to pass” for your string hit?

    I was also counting “now it came to pass” and “for it came to pass” and just plain old “it came to pass” 🙂

  68. May 27, 2009 3:50 am

    Well, proportionally speaking, the Words of Mormon has it the least. Enos, Jarom, and Omni are only a few pages each so that would make sense they would have less.

  69. May 27, 2009 4:04 am

    Not to belabor this point, but I just counted the occurrences of “it came to pass” in the book of Enos and there are actually 6. Out of 27 verses, that is 1 out of every 4 1/2 verses contains this phrase. I just find this fascinating.

  70. spamlds permalink
    May 27, 2009 4:25 am

    =====================================================================
    1) Individual personal revelation is tied to feelings (1 Nephi 17:45, 55). There is no warning of other spirits or instruction to “test the spirits, whether they are of God” (I John 4:1).
    =====================================================================

    By what did the apostles “test the spirits” in ancient times? The New Testament hadn’t been written yet. The canon of the old Testament would not be finalized until around 90 A.D. at the council of Jamnia. So how could anyone in the time of Jesus and the apostles “test the spirits to see whether they are of God? They did so by the Holy Ghost and the gifts of discernment that are given to the true priesthood of God. This is an important fact: Nobody in the Bible every had the Bible we have today. The Pharisees tried Jesus by their scriptures and condemned him to die for the sin of blasphemy. Scripture can be twisted by wicked men. The power of the Holy Ghost is only operative in the lives of the righteous.

    See the following articles:

    http://spamlds.ning.com/profiles/blogs/2015866:BlogPost:371
    http://spamlds.ning.com/xn/detail/2015866:BlogPost:1852

    ===========================================================================
    2) The Holy Spirit tells an individual to kill someone (1 Nephi 4:10-18). While I realize that God instructed the nation of Israel to destroy wicked nations, there is no example in scripture that I can think of where the Holy Spirit tells an individual to kill another individual. Also, Nephi has no legal authority to kill Laban. I just find this story creepy on many levels and there are some scary implications of this view of personal revelation.
    ============================================================================

    “Creepy” is an intentionally prejudicial word that is “tied to feelings.” It’s not very obective, is it after all? The question here is, has God ever commanded someone to kill another person or group of people? The answer is YES. Please see 1 Samuel 15:2-3 cited below wherein the Lord commanded Saul, through the prophet Samuel:

    “2 Thus saith the Lord of hosts, I remember that which Amalek did to Israel, how he laid wait for him in the way, when he came up from Egypt.
    3 Now go and smite Amalek, and utterly destroy all that they have, and spare them not; but slay both man and woman, infant and suckling, ox and sheep, camel and ass.”

    The Bible’s God commanded Saul to kill men, women, and even infants. That’s “creepy” but it’s your Bible.

    Joshua 9:24 relates that the people of the land of Canaan feared Joshua and the Israelites because “the Lord thy God commanded his servant Moses to give you all the land, and to destroy all the inhabitants of the land from before you.”

    Isn’t that creepy that God would actually command Joshua to commit genocide. Nephi only killed one man and only after Laban had stolen the treasure he brought to purchase the brass plates and tried to slay him and his brothers.

    =============================================================================
    3) The Bible is described as missing many plain and precious truths of the gospel (1 Nephi 13:20-35, 14:23). In order for the Book of Mormon to be necessary, an incomplete Bible is required. Otherwise why would we need the Book of Mormon? But the Book of Mormon only describes an alleged problem. So far in my reading, I cannot see that it offers up any plain and precious truths to improve upon my understanding of the Bible’s gospel! Jesus promised that those who received Him would have everlasting life in heaven. He promised that He would preserve His words (Matt. 24:35) and that this gospel would be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations and then the end would come (Matt. 24:14). The Bible is not missing any truths necessary for salvation. The Bible says that God’s divine power has given unto us “all things that pertain unto life and godliness” (I Peter 1:3).
    =============================================================================

    This is a classic “shotgun attack” which combines many questions into one single one, making a concise answer difficult. The shotgun attack is intended to instill doubt. It only takes a few minutes to spit out a half-dozen questions, but it can take significantly longer to answer them.

    First, missing scripture. The Bible itself mentions 17 books that are missing. See this article:

    http://spamlds.ning.com/xn/detail/2015866:BlogPost:1382

    For example, the Book of the Wars of the Lord or the Book of the Acts of Solomon. Christian apologists say that the information in these books was not needed because it was duplicated in the current cannon. How can his be when the Bible tells us to go read these texts for more information? Examples:

    1 Kgs. 11: 41
    41 ¶ And the rest of the acts of Solomon, and all that he did, and his wisdom, are they not written in the book of the acts of Solomon?

    2 Chr. 9: 29
    29 ¶ Now the rest of the acts of Solomon, first and last, are they not written in the book of Nathan the prophet, and in the prophecy of Ahijah the Shilonite, and in the visions of Iddo the seer against Jeroboam the son of Nebat?

    What Jew or Christian today has ever had the words of Nathan the prophet, Ahijah the Shilonite, or Iddo the seer? Since the Bible refers us to them, can we say the Bible is not missing something?

    Likewise, Jude quotes a passage from the ancient Book of Enoch (see Jude 1:14). That passage is contained in the Ethiopic Book of Enoch, which is still regarded as scripture by the Ethiopian Christian Church, one of Christianity’s most ancient branches. Apparently, since Jude quotes from it, ancient Christians regarded it as scripture. If so, why is it missing from today’s Bibles?

    Catholics, Orthodox, Protestants, the Syrian, and the Alexandrian churches all have different books in their Bibles. The Catholics include the Apocrypha, but Protestants don’t. Others recognize the Shepherd of Hermas or the Apocalypse of Peter and other “disputed texts.”

    It is obvious to anyone who has actually studied the Bible that it is missing these works and that there is disunity among Christian churches even today on what is the official canon of scripture.

    The Book of Mormon informs us that this is the result of man’s intentional tampering with the scriptures. Much was altered and removed which Nephi calls “plain and precious” truths. Since sectarian Christians had devised a God who could no longer speak, they endowed the “Bible” with inerrancy and supplanted the Living Word of God with the written word. It is a form of idolatry to give the Bible the qualities that belong to only God himself.

    What truths is the Bible missing that are necessary for salvation? Let’s pick one. The Bible is the source of disunity among Christian sects regarding baptism. Catholics say that proper baptism is essential to salvation. To them, the Bible tells them that salvation cannot come without proper baptism. Some Protestants (like Presbyterians and Lutherans) say that infant baptism or pedobaptism is necessary to wash away “original sin” (a concept not found anywhere in the Bible). They recognize baptism by sprinkling, pouring, and immersion. Baptists and other Calvinists reject pedobaptism and call it a perversion of the Bible. To a Baptist, baptism can only be by total immersion, but they don’t believe that it is essential to salvation.

    Nowhere in the Bible is clear instruction given on how to baptize, what age one should be baptized, and despite the clear words of Jesus, “He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned” (Mark 16:16), churches still teach that it is optional.

    The Bible doesn’t say who can baptize. Bishops, elders, deacons? I had a conversation with lady a year ago who said her church had a huge fight going on, because they had lost their pastor and were looking for a new one. In the interim, some members said that deacons could baptize new converts, but others said that they couldn’t. The Bible didn’t provide any guidance on the subject. Some churches say that laymen can baptize. Some say that only a licensed pastor can do so. Again, the Bible doesn’t give those details.

    I think it is an issue of the first magnitude. If baptism is essential for salvation, then how do the churches determine who is right and who is wrong on the issue?

    Similarly, Christian sects are divided over tithing (is it a commandment or not?), the sabbath day (is it to be observed by Christians or was it fulfilled with the Mosaic Law?) and other important doctrines.

    The Bible is incomplete. It was never intended as an operations manual. That was unnecessary because it was intended to have living revelators: apostles and prophets to make such decisions on doctrine and practice. The rejection of revelation by the Christian church caused this disunity and confusion.

    =============================================================================
    4) Churches that do not embrace the latter-day gospel are described as part of that great and abominable church of the devil that perverts the right ways of the Lord (1 Nephi 14:10-17). Nephi prophecies that this church will eventually be destroyed (22:13-14). In the Bible, Jesus promised that the Church He founded would continue to be built and would never be overcome by the devil (Matt. 16:18). The Bible teaches that there is only one Holy Spirit who baptizes all believers into the Church – the body of Christ – at their moment of conversion (I Cor. 12:13, Eph. 1:13-14). Jesus also promised that whenever two or three are gathered in His name He will be in their midst (Matt. 18:20). Though various types of churches are described in Revelation 2-3, Jesus walks among all of these churches (Rev. 2:1). There is no indication in Biblical prophecy of a total apostasy of Christ’s Church followed by a latter day restoration. There is no evidence in history for a total apostasy. Rather than missing any truths, there is evidence that many churches have added things. A person can return to the simplicity of the gospel by returning to the ancient writings of scripture and the simplicity of the gospel that is found in the person and work of Jesus Christ.
    ==============================================================================

    An apostasy of the Christian Church was predicted by Paul and the other apostles. The article below provides a detailed historical timeline of the order of events of that resulted in the “falling away” that was to take place. This is very detailed, it’s worth a read:

    http://spamlds.ning.com/xn/detail/2015866:BlogPost:6301

    The “great and abominable church” mentioned in the Book of Mormon is also called the “church of the devil” elsewhere in our scriptures. A careful reading of it, you’ll see that it is the same thing as “the woman” that flees into the wilderness in Revelation chapter 12, verses 6 and 14. It is the corrupt, apostate church that persecutes the saints of God. I’m sure you will recall the centuries of darkness called the Dark Ages and the saints who were burned to death for heresy because they possessed one small piece of the Bible on a parchment, or because they attempted to translate the Bible into the English common tongue.
    The existence of Protestant churches is evidence that there was a great and abominable church. It is that church that Protestants sought to overthrow and reform, but they could not restore that which had been lost. They did much good, but even they fell prey to fanaticism and excess. Calvin, for example, was responsible for burning other Protestants at the stake and causing much bloodshed in Switzerland.

    Does the great and abominable church exist today? Yes, it is constituted by any organization that fights against Zion. This includes secular organizations like Communism, organized crime, terrorists, and religious organizations that target the Lord’s people for destruction.

    ============================================================================
    Oddities:

    Literary Style – And it came to pass as I started studying 1 Nephi that I soon noticed a repetition of a certain phrase. And it came to pass that as I started underlining this phrase that I was exceedingly amazed. I counted 190 uses of this phrase – “and it came to pass” (along with its variations “it came to pass” and “for it came to pass”) in this short little book! There are only 22 chapters and the 2 chapters quoted from Isaiah only contain 1 use of this phrase (20:5). So if you don’t count the two chapters from Isaiah that leaves 20 chapters. 189 / 20 = 9.45 times per chapter on average! Wow! I’ve never read a book of the Bible that contained this much repetition of a phrase! It makes for choppy, repetitive reading and is very dissimilar to the smooth, rich text of inspired scripture I am so familiar with. IMO, the richest, smoothest sections of 1 Nephi are chapters 20-21 which are quoted from the inspired book of Isaiah (Isaiah 48-49). I LOVE Isaiah! It’s one of my favorite OT books.
    ============================================================================

    Someone already effectively addressed the use of “it came to pass” and how it is used over 200 times in the Bible. I was a linguist in the Air Force (French and German) during my younger years. I had a friend who was an expert in Arabic and Semitic languages. He informed me that the phrase “and it came to pass” in Arabic consisted of one single character. Some of the “awkward” English passages in the Book of Mormon translate beautifully back into Arabic and Hebrew.

    Another characteristic of inspired scripture is found in the use of chiasmus, an ancient literary device or pattern previously thought to exist only in the Bible. It exists in the Book of Mormon. It is unlikely that Joseph Smith would have ever heard of it because it wasn’t widely known to exist at the time. It is even more unlikely that he would have accidentally inserted into the text. For more on chiasmus, read this:

    http://farms.byu.edu/publications/review/?vol=15&num=1&id=465

    The Isaiah passages ought to be welcomed by Christian sectarians, because they actually support and prove the Bible’s version of Isaiah. Scholarly “higher critics” have claimed for decades that there was more than one individual who wrote Isaiah and that the sections were written centuries apart. They use this to “prove” that Isaiah is a fabrication and not a true book of prophecy.

    The Book of Mormon passages that quote Isaiah come from the two sections that critcs say were written centuries apart. The Book of Mormon proves that this is erroneous,that Isaiah was indeed a real Jewish prophet and that his writings were around to be recorded and quoted by Nephi around 600 B.C. The Book of Mormon proves the Bible to be true!

    Last all, no one considers, when they criticize the archaic language style of the Book of Mormon, the miracle that it was produced by a man with three years of formal education, which as he said, consisted of the rudiments of English and basic mathematics. I have studied unedited source texts of Joseph Smith and, believe me, it is a miracle that he was able to translate this document. It was not done by his own power, but by the power of God.

    I’ve written four books, one of them a novel over 600 pages in length. It took me ten years to write the novel and the amount of effort to proofread, correct, ensure internal consistency, etc. was significant. I have also had to do translations for government intelligence purposes. I know the huge amount of time and effort that involves. Joseph Smith translated the Book of Mormon, nearly 500 pages of printed text, in around 60 days. You may believe what you will, but Joseph didn’t write it himself or plagiarize it. You’re free to believe it or not, but either way, you will account to God for your opinion of it.

    ============================================================================
    Sam – Nephi’s brother doesn’t have a Hebrew name. This name kept leaping out at me as it seemed so out of place in the context being described. Wikipedia has the following explanation for the origins of this name:

    Among LDS linguists[who?], the leading (unofficial) theory of the origin of the name “Sam” is that it is most likely a Hebrew dialectual form of “Shem“[citation needed]. The attributed dialect in this case would either be from the dialect of Lehi’s tribe Manasseh, or from the prevalentEphrathite culture of his family[citation needed], if indeed the dialects of these two tribes were different at all. Some[who?] consider the name “Sam” to be of Arabic origin[citation needed] (BoM Arabic سامSām)[original research?]. [1]
    ============================================================================

    Although I’m not a linguist of ancient languages, I am very familiar with the process of translation, which always poses problems on proper nouns and names. The translator is forced to decide how to render them, either by transliteration or by substitution. Since I know French, I’ll use this as an example. The name of Peter in the French Bible is Pierre. James is rendered as “Jacques.” They used substition in the French version of the Bible. The name of Jesus in Hebrew, “Yeshua” should more appropriately be translated as “Joshua” in English.

    When I was a teenager, I was active in AAU competitive Judo. Somebody got the idea to try to write our names on our “gi” (the judo suit) in Japanese. They tried to use transliteration. I was embarassed when one of the other coaches from Japan tried to read my name “Greg” and the Japanese ideograms or characters sounded like “Gah-ray-gah.” There was no Japanese equivalent for my name.

    For more info on translation challenges, read the article here:

    http://spamlds.ning.com/xn/detail/2015866:BlogPost:5346

    ===========================================================================
    Fiery flying serpents (17:41) – Wow. I never heard the flying part before. (Maybe that’s one of the parts that is missing from the Bible??) While I don’t think this would impact my view of the gospel, it would definitely add some flair to this Old Testament story! (Numbers 21:6-8, Deut. 8:15)
    ===========================================================================

    True, Numbers 21 doesn’t use the word “flying.” Almost every single Bible codex reads differently from another. The scholars who assemble the Bible compiled over 1,500 texts, NONE OF WHICH AGREED EXACTLY, then they edited it for standardization. The difference of a word here and there in the various accounts don’t make the text irrelevant. In fact, Isaiah 29, which speaks prophetically about the coming forth of the Book of Mormon says of people who use such criticisms:

    “20 For the terrible one is brought to nought, and the scorner is consumed, and all that watch for iniquity are cut off:
    21 That make a man an offender for a word, and lay a snare for him that reproveth in bthe gate, and turn aside the just for a thing of nought.”

    On a side note, isn’t it interesting that Moses raised up the emblem of a brass or brazen serpent on a pole to symbolize the Messiah. That’s the lesson of Nephi. Moses used that symbol to symbolize Christ. All Old Testament prophets were witnesses that salvation is in Christ, the law being the “schoolmaster” to bring them to him. Interestingly, the Mesoamerican deity is alternately depicted as a bearded white man or a feathered serpent (flying serpent). Where would the ancient inhabitants of the Americas get such an idea? Coincidence? I think not.

    ============================================================================
    Compass (16:10, 18:12)– Did they even have compasses in 600 BC??
    ============================================================================
    A quick check of Wikipedia tells us:

    “Based on his find of an Olmec hematite artifact in Mesoamerica, radiocarbon dated to 1400-1000 BC, astronomer John Carlson has suggested that the Olmec might have discovered and used the geomagnetic lodestone compass earlier than 1000 BC. If true, this “predates the Chinese discovery of the geomagnetic lodestone compass by more than a millennium”.[4] Carlson speculates that the Olmecs used similar artifacts as a directional device for astrological or geomantic purposes.”

    Nevertheless, the ball or compass used by Lehi to navigate to the New World did not work by means of magnetism. It responded to faith. It was also able to display text from time as instructions. (By the way, couldn’t you have taken a few seconds to Google “when was the compass invented” like I did? Or was it more useful to create doubt and undermine faith to omit that information?)

    For more information on the use if instrumentalities in the Bible, please see the article here:

    http://spamlds.ning.com/xn/detail/2015866:BlogPost:1067

    =========================================================================
    Steel (16:18) – How about steel?
    =========================================================================

    Again, a quick search of an online Bible search engine gives the following results:

    2 Sam. 22: 35
    35 He teacheth my hands to war; so that a bow of steel is broken by mine arms.

    Job 20: 24
    24 He shall flee from the iron weapon, and the bow of steel shall strike him through.

    Ps. 18: 34
    34 He teacheth my hands to war, so that a bow of steel is broken by mine arms.

    Jer. 15: 12
    12 Shall iron break the northern iron and the steel?

    I’m not an expert on ancient metallurgy, but there you have four Bible references to steel? Does that make the Bible untrue?

    =========================================================================
    Geography/Archeology – I’ve often heard LDS explain the lack of archeological corroboration as being due to the status of New World Archeological research. But what about Old World geography and archeology? These studies have been going for a long time now and have corroborated many details in the Biblical accounts. What about these places called Shazer (16:13), Nahom (16:34), Bountiful (17:5), and the sea Irreantum (17:5)? The details were so vague – it was really hard to tell where Nephi and company were and where they were going. From a quick Google search and a scan of FARMS research I can see that a lot of Mormon apologetic work has gone into substantiating these places, but I’m curious – can anyone direct me to any non-Mormon sources that substantiate these places?
    ==========================================================================

    Yes, research on locating these places is ongoing. If you insist on non-Mormon sources to validate our beliefs, would you mind providing me with non-Christian sources that substantiate the testimony that Jesus changed water into wine, that he healed people and raised the dead, and that he himself died and was resurrected? Maybe you can provide independent sources from the scribes, chief priests, Pharisees, and Romans.

    When you can meet that standard of evidence, then you may rightly ask for non-Mormon sources to answer your objections. Remember, fair is fair. If your beliefs can’t meet the same standard of proof you demand of Mormons, your claims must be regarded as dubious also.

    =============================================================================
    Messianic Prophecies (10:7-11) – Lehi’s Messianic prophecies are more detailed than any of the OT prophecies combined! They seemed to be coming right out of the NT accounts.
    =============================================================================

    Jewish scholars and apologists say that Christians do the same thing with Isaiah. Here’s a web site where a Jewish author supports his thesis that ancient Christians have manipulated Isaiah to make it mean what they wanted. I don’t agree with his premise, but it’s the same argument that you use here applied from a Jewish perspective to Christianity. Remember, if your faith doesn’t hold up under the same scrutiny you wish to apply to mine, fairness dictates that your beliefs aren’t any more valid.

    http://www.messiahtruth.com/is714a.html

    Perhaps the Biblical accounts were just as detailed once upon a time, but those things were lost or removed later by the great and abominable church. Certainly Isaiah was incredibly detailed and Matthew constantly quotes him to show how Jesus fulfilled his prophetic statements. They might as well have come right out of the Old Testament, also. But, since the Book of Mormon confirms Isaiah as an authentic, complete text, we can safely assume that Isaiah truly was inspired in great detail.

    ==========================================================================
    The Church and Israel (13:20-35, 14:23, 22:13)– why are there references to “the church” in 600 BC before the mystery of the church was even revealed? The Old Testament never makes reference to the church. Paul explains that the church was a mystery hidden from past ages (Eph. 3:3-12). The concept of the church fulfilling God’s promises to literal Israel was typical of 19th century reformed theology, but not spoken about by the Hebrew prophets of old.
    ==========================================================================

    This quote comes from http://www.lightplanet.com/mormons/response/qa/bom_church.htm

    “As one of many examples, Psalms 89 speaks of praising the Lord “in the congregation of the saints” (v. 5) and says that God is to be feared (respected, revered) “in the assembly of the saints.” Why not call such a congregation or assembly of worshipful believers a church? In fact, the Septuagint does, using the Greek word “ecclesia” which is translated as “church” when it occurs in the King James Version of the New Testament. (By the way, notice how the Bible uses the word “saints” to describe the mortal members of God’s Church?)”

    One of the things the Book of Mormon teaches is that there was a “church of anticipation” (my own term) among Old Testament saints. There were bodies of Jews who organized themselves in to “churches” in anticipation of the coming Messiah. The Nephites in the Book of Mormon are one such body. Another was the people in Qumran who wrote the Dead Sea Scrolls. As early as a century and a half before the coming of Jesus, these Jews were organized into “churches.” Here’s an quote from a non-Mormon source at: http://www.geocities.com/engvaj/Scrolls.html

    “Some of the parallels shared with Christianity are interesting, they had a sacred meal of bread and new wine, community of property, they were expecting a fiery judgment and the coming of the Messiah(s). They also called themselves by the same names “the way” and we know that the early Christians called themselves “the sect of the way”. the word “church” appears in the scrolls and their leaders were bishops and they called themselves “sons of light,” as in the New Testament.”

    =========================================================================
    Methought Thou Durst Sufficeth – It’s odd to me that a book allegedly translated in the 19th century would be written in 16th century language. There were some words and phrases I would have liked to look up in a lexicon, but of course, there is no lexicon for the Book of Mormon.
    =========================================================================
    I already covered this topic above, this is a “repeat” objection.

    =========================================================================
    Genealogies – There are no genealogies either. I wanted to do a study on how Nephi was a descendant of Joseph, but unfortunately Nephi appears very unlike his Hebrew cousins in the Old Testament who thrived on detailing their genealogical records. Nephi explained why he did not write his genealogy (6:1-6). He said it was written on the records of his father and he desired, instead, the room to write of the things of God. Further, he stated that he would command his seed not to write their genealogies on the plates either. Sorry, but the thought that came to my mind was “Now that’s convenient!” No way to trace these people to anything anywhere in any historical or Biblical record. As for his father’s records – Lehi prophesied that “these plates of brass should go forth unto all nations, kindreds, tongues, and people who were of his seed. Wherefore, he said that these plates of brass should never perish; neither should they be dimmed any more by time” (5:18-19). So, my question is: where are these plates of brass with Lehi’s genealogical records that were never to be dimmed by time?
    ==========================================================================

    A similar argument is used by atheists against the Bible. They point to the fact that Moses name has never been found in any of the records of ancient Egypt. They were a record-keeping people and their records have been preserved in many formats: stone, papyrii, etc. There is nothing in their records that tells of a prince of Egypt doing miracles and leading an army of hundreds of thousands of slaves out of their nation. Their records don’t contain anything about plagues of hail, blood, frogs, lice, or the death of their firstborns. Wouldn’t you think such a tragedy would me memorialized? There is no mention of miracles or their army being swallowed up in the Red Sea.

    Convenient that a people who kept such detailed records should have no mention of this Bible account. Hmmmm? Once again, you’re going to need to subject the Bible to the same degree of scrutiny as you do the Book of Mormon. God intends for you to have faith, not proof. The Book of Mormon is a test. If you don’t have sufficient faith to pull down a personal revelation from God about it, you don’t have sufficient faith to be saved in God’s kingdom.

    =======================================================================
    Skin Color (13:15) – Nephi compares the “exceedingly fair and beautiful” white skin of the Gentiles to his own people, the Hebrews. However, prior to the dispersion, the Hebrews would not have been very fair and white. Also, contrary to the racism of the 19th century, God has never equated “fair and beautiful” with white skin. In the most graphic love story in the Bible, the ravishing beauty described is a black woman (Song of Solomon 1:5).
    ========================================================================

    Some anti-Mormon critics try to make Mormons appear racist, by this passage. This is a common mistake wherein one imposes modern assumptions on race and gender to an ancient people. Nephi and his people might well be considered “racist” by modern people, just as modern people consider white slaveholders in the south in the 19th century to have been racist. Likewise, modern readers of the Bible will conclude that Paul and early Christians were misogynistic because they told women to be silent in church and that it was a sin for them to usurp authority over men.

    Here’s my article about this logical fallacy that anti-Mormons attempt to exploit:

    http://spamlds.ning.com/xn/detail/2015866:BlogPost:11462

    And thus, after a bit of effort, I have reached the end of Jessica’s objections to the first part of the Book of Mormon. Like I said, it takes just a couple of minutes to ask the questions. True answers take time and effort.

    I hope each of you will follow the links to the articles I’ve already written on these subjects. Jessica, I have rebutted your premises one by one. Would you like to go for “round two,” or do you lack ready “cut and paste” resources for the rest of the Book of Mormon.

  71. May 27, 2009 5:27 am

    I think these word count games are really beside the point, but anyway…

    “It came to pass” may actually be a rather frequent term in Mayan hieroglyphic writings and it occurs with high frequency in writing samples that have been discovered. The Maya term, “iual ut” literally means “and then it came to pass.” And the term, “utiy” means “it had come to pass.” A good example of this is Stela 3 at Piedras Negras uses the term 4 times in 51 glyphs You can find this in Yale professor of anthropology Michael D. Coe’s book “Breaking the Maya Code” pages 240-241 and 266-267.

  72. May 27, 2009 5:47 am

    Spam, I went to your website and it said you were dedicated to refuting anti-Mormon claims with knowledge and humor. Well, you’ve got the knowledge part down pat, no one’s denying that…but I’m still waiting for the punchline? 😉

    Have a great one,
    Katie

  73. May 27, 2009 7:37 am

    1830 Book of Mormon in 1 nephi (it came to pass 199 times).

  74. May 27, 2009 11:28 am

    Katie,

    Please consider joining us at http://www.spamlds.org and you’ll find over 400 informative articles and blog posts, some of which are fun. I’ve found that poking fun at anti-Mormons is more effective than getting indignant. Of course, if you happen to be anti-Mormon (and I’m not saying that you are) you might not find them funny.

  75. GERMIT permalink
    May 27, 2009 1:02 pm

    spamlds: “effective” at what exactly ? Just curious as to your goal.

    GERMIT

  76. GERMIT permalink
    May 27, 2009 1:32 pm

    Just a blurb from the SPAM blog:

    From a quick Google search and a scan of FARMS research I can see that a lot of Mormon apologetic work has gone into substantiating these places, but I’m curious – can anyone direct me to any non-Mormon sources that substantiate these places?
    ====================
    Yes, research on locating these places is ongoing. If you insist on non-Mormon sources to validate our beliefs, would you mind providing me with non-Christian sources that substantiate the testimony that Jesus changed water into wine, that he healed people and raised the dead, and that he himself died and was resurrected? Maybe you can provide independent sources from the scribes, chief priests, Pharisees, and Romans.

    and a comment: note the apples and oranges comparison, what asked for are non-LDS sources to validate things related to the common sciences of antiquity: locations (the remnants of large cities), artifacts, the evidences that what is claimed to have existed actually existed.

    Greg West then does the “bait and switch” and compares these kinds of everyday veirfiable (though perhaps not PROVABLE) things with supernatuaral events (which of course will have no possible verification)

    this is the most clumsy of dodges; most of what I’ve seen so far is not necessarily this bad, but the SPAM’ers need some help in answering the tougher questions, of which Jessica’s is actually pretty good: why the void when it comes to non-LDS corroboration ??

  77. May 27, 2009 1:59 pm

    germit,

    Over the life of the Book of Mormon, there have been historical/archeological criticisms of the book from the start. Over it’s close to two-hundred years existence there has been a continual trend of each criticism being refuted by new discoveries in ancient New World studies. I remember watching a presentation where they pointed out that more than half have been debunked so far and still counting.

    The talk of apples and oranges does apply to the Book of Mormon and Bible. The Bible took place in one of the most heavily documented historical regions on earth – the Middle East. A combination of political and climate factors have made this region a wealth of archeological evidence.

    The same cannot be said for the New World. The two continents are basically almost a blank slate. Not only is the climate bad for preserving evidence (even if steel implements and horse bones existed on this continent, they probably would have been destroyed by climate factors in Central America for instance), but the genocidal cultural invasions of Cortez and others wiped out most of the records.

    If, for instance Cortez’ men had seen a book of gold leaves in Montezuma’s treasury similar to the one Joseph Smith reported, they would have ruthlessly had it immediately melted down into ingots for shipment to Spain. In fact, every last scrap of gold or precious metal in the Aztec and Maya civilizations met this fate. As for other records, the Jesuits had them immediately burned or destroyed as “dark pagan documents.”

    Very little survived this invasion. And if you pay attention to the Book of Mormon story – it wasn’t the first time. You’ll recall the Lamanites wiped out the Nephites and Moroni specifically mentions that “they put to death all who will not deny the Christ.”

    It’s a good bet that the Lamanite annihilation of the Nephites was done by more than bloodshed. The Lamanites probably destroyed every last scrap of Nephite religion they could as well (it’s a common story in ancient societies).

    So expecting the same historical/archeological evidence to corroborate the Book of Mormon as the Bible is just unrealistic and silly.

  78. GERMIT permalink
    May 27, 2009 2:09 pm

    Seth: good post, and I’m an amatuer wandering around someone else’s professional playground here. Your points are well taken, but I don’t think entire peoples, cultures, languages, events, just vanish like this so easily. You’ve given good reasons why the job is harder in the middle americas. OK: granted. But from what we know, your book comes up (so far) as mythical. I’m stil working through the material that FOF sited, and the correlations seem not that big a deal (to me). I’ll keep reading.

    The Mayan “connection” still seems really weird to me: there is nothing really Jewish that I can see…how did they change THAT much, THAT quickly (relatively speaking) ??

    like your posts
    GERmIT

  79. GERMIT permalink
    May 27, 2009 2:10 pm

    Seth: another PS: the word REFUTED is strong, like the word PROOF; LDS would like to think that what is admittedly evidence for their side constitutes a “refutation”; needless to say, to an outsider, it doesn’t look so strong. As an example, think perhaps of JS invovlvment in the occult and treasure digging, this was ‘refuted’ for many years…allegedly.

  80. May 27, 2009 2:39 pm

    Germit’s comment: “As an example, think perhaps of JS invovlvment in the occult and treasure digging, this was ‘refuted’ for many years…allegedly.”

    This is an attack on Joseph’s character. Well might we investigate the background of each of you who oppose Mormonism and see if you have any incidents in your life you would have trouble explaining. But no, the site policy here prohibits “personal attacks” which apparently includes citing true information about the educational credentials and public reviews of books one has made. I don’t get why it’s OK to question Joseph Smith’s character when this site guards against examining the character of its participants. A personal attack is a personal attack, whether you live today or 160 years ago.

    Joseph Smith himself gave the explanation of the whole “money digging” story. We would call “money digging” prospecting today. Treasure hunting was common in the US. Josiah Stoal hired Joseph as a laborer to help locate a Spanish Treasure. Eventually Joseph convinced the man that it was a fruitless endeavor.

    Just think of American history of the 19th century. We had a gold rush to California where prospectors (i.e., money diggers) rushed to the land. Also Alaska had its own gold rush. I’ve lived in Alaska and many people today supplement their income panning for gold. It’s a simple thing to register a claim with the state government and take up the profitable hobby oneself.

    I also find it interesting that Christian television programs repeatedly feature sensationalized accounts of people who were drug addicts, prostitutes, and all sorts of dysfunctional individuals who turned their life around simply because they accepted Jesus. They consider these individuals praiseworthy.

    Yet these same people would look at Joseph Smith’s past, looking for dirt to make personal attacks and disregard all the evidence in his behavior after the First Vision that shows he matured into a godly man. That’s more than can be said for the likes of ministers like Jim Bakker, Jimmy Swaggart, and Ted Haggard. Isn’t it hypocritical to declare that God forgives past transgressions and then continue to harp on someone’s shortcomings before their coming to Christ?

    Joseph Smith never claimed to be perfect or infallible. Like all the prophets, he was a man. Like all the prophets, he is opposed by the Adversary of righteousness. I think it’s clear that none of the prophets ever planned on being a prophet when they grew up. Certainly a the 14-year old Joseph didn’t plan on that when he went in to the woods to pray about which Church to join.

    Last of all, let me list another biblical example. If we are to require all prophets to be perfect (even before God calls them into his service) before we will accept their words, then we can dismiss the need to believe in the words of many of them. We can dismiss Moses, because he killed an Egyptian before God called him. We an dismiss Peter, because he was a coward and denied Jesus three times. We can dismiss Paul, who sought out, persecuted, and witnessed the deaths of Christians before Jesus appeared to him.

    Once again, if you apply the standard of “proof” you insist on Mormons to the Bible and biblical personalities, the Bible also comes up short. God calls men and makes them holy. He doesn’t call those who think they are holy. Jesus didn’t call any Pharisees to become apostles.

  81. May 27, 2009 2:49 pm

    To Germit, who wrote:

    “this is the most clumsy of dodges; most of what I’ve seen so far is not necessarily this bad, but the SPAM’ers need some help in answering the tougher questions, of which Jessica’s is actually pretty good: why the void when it comes to non-LDS corroboration ??”

    Then I will expect you to answer my challenge. Jessica insisted on “non-Mormon sources that substantiate these places?” I will expect you to provide me information from non-Christian sources that Jesus walked on water, changed water into wine, healed the sick, raised the dead, and rose from the grave himself. Perhaps you can provide me with the geocoordinates of the stable where Jesus was born or the exact place of the tomb from which he arose on the first Easter (Christian sects are in disagreement to this day over the exact location of those sites).

    Perhaps you will find it among the voluminous Roman records of the period. Perhaps you will find it in the rabbinical writings of the time. Remember, you can’t use a Christian source, because that wouldn’t be “objective.”

    While you’re at it, I’ll expect you to provide witnesses of the tablets on which the 10 commandments were written by the finger of God, so we can do a spectrographic and radiological analysis of them. Can you produce the ark of the covenant, too? Maybe with a bit of manna on the side?

    When can you provide that information to me? I’ll be waiting and watching to see if you can provide those things or “clumsily dodge” the question.

  82. May 27, 2009 3:10 pm

    germit, when I said “refuted,” I had in mind examples like this:

    The Book of Mormon speaks of large stone cities with fortifications and cement roadways.

    Joseph Smith was laughed at for such inclusions in the Book of Mormon.

    Until cement roads and large stone cities with fortifications were actually found, that is.

    And it goes on like this. People will knock the Book of Mormon for one odd thing. Until it’s actually found. Then the critics just move on to the next item in the checklist. And so forth.

    As for Joseph’s mystical practices, I share the view of biographer Richard Bushman that such practices merely acted as schoolmaster for Joseph Smith and made him more receptive to the real thing when it actually happened. As Joseph grew in his prophetic calling, he ultimately moved beyond the mystical. But it served its purpose, in my mind of raising up someone who would actually be open to visions and revelation.

  83. faithoffathers permalink
    May 27, 2009 3:11 pm

    Jessica,

    In addition to the references Seth provided:

    Michael D. Coe and Mark Van Stone, Reading the Maya Glyphs (London: Thames and Hudson, 2001), 33

    Linda Schele, Maya Glyphs: The Verbs (Austin: University of Texas Press, 1982), 22 as quoted in David Fox et al. Words and Phrases on FARMS.1987

    fof

  84. faithoffathers permalink
    May 27, 2009 3:38 pm

    Germit,

    Sorry to butt-in on your conversation with Seth.

    But, your question is perfectly valid. One would hope that in an area where millions of people once lived, even if thousands of years ago, research would unearth evidence of that people’s existence. But the question is not that simple. We know there were civilizations in MesoAmerica at the appropriate time for the BOM that fit fairly well in many ways. To satisfy the critic, the challenge is finding specific evidence to pick out of the cultural haystack that is MesoAmerica that references the BOM without question. This in many ways is an unrealistic expectation considering the formidable hurdles in the multiple languages spoken in the area (some extinct), loss of proper names due to changes in those languages, the loss of cultural and historical records and traditions due to civil war and genocide (well described in the BOM and also seen in the history of MesoAmerica), and other factors.

    I recommend an article by Hamblin at FARMS. (Basic Methodological Problems with the Anti-Mormon Approach to the Geography and Archaeology of the Book of Mormon William J. Hamblin) Those of us who are non-archeologists have a very skewed perspective on what archeology can achieve and the speed at which it does so.

    Seth has a great and valid point of his own- that from the list of historical and archeologic objections to the BOM, one has fallen after another since 1830. This is without doubt the trend. There certainly are still objections which raise valid questions, but a person really should see the direction that new evidences take the whole debate over years and decades rather than a final conclusion based on a single snap-shot in time.

    You will notice on the other thread that the DNA “proof,” single land bridge migration theory, geographic and other big objections were briefly dealt with, but the conversation drifted to ever new objections. There never seems to be any recognition that objections can often be dealt with. As long as objections remain, the debate is at ground zero. Make sense?

    Have a good day!

    fof

  85. GERMIT permalink
    May 27, 2009 4:11 pm

    FoF, Seth, and last (oops, typed “LOST” hehehe….my very very BAD) our new blogger the Spamster;

    first the Spamster: you’ve just hit “rewind” on your post, no, I don’t have cultural or archeaological background for supernatural events….and your point is what, really, ?? That’s never been on the table, for our side, you keep dragging it back…. not sure why. Flog it to death, but it’s still not our horse….or horse-like animal… 🙂

    FoF: I’m not making a case for JS character one way or another (now, at least) just pointing out how this word “refuted” gets thrown around loosely (probably on BOTH sides of the aisle). First is was “Oh, no, JS NEVER did this kind of thing… just lies…” then a more cautious denial, and on and on until we have (FINALLY) a man with historical sense like Bushman saying, “yes, involved, but not in the malevelant way that’s been pushed forward..” And I LIKE Bushman’s honesty and refusal to cover up what’s plain (the facts, not the interpretation). Kudos to him.

    Maybe the DNA thing is my point in reverse: way too much made of the “proof” word in a science that just rarely, if ever gives us that kind of certainty. Yet it gets flogged to death: though it’s to FARM’s advantage to drone on and on about this in order to go lightly over the bigger (in my mind) defecits in your position.

    If you want to lean on the word “proof” in regards to the lines of thought that have “fallen” go ahead and celebrate, but I think when taken TOGETHER, a lot of these points are still quite valid, and have only “fallen” in your imagination. The outside, scientific, world probably considers this whole kettle of fish some kind of weird in-house protestant fight, having little to do with what IS known about the middle american peoples, their cultures, peoples, and histories. I’d be curious to know someone WITHOUT a religious dog in this race, an expert in the field, and their views as to BofM as history.

    Seth: touche for all Mormons reg. cement and stone battlements. If you could piece together more stuff like this, more folks would take your historical claims more seriously.

  86. May 27, 2009 4:28 pm

    “I’d be curious to know someone WITHOUT a religious dog in this race, an expert in the field, and their views as to BofM as history.”

    You might be waiting a long time on that.

    You can get such opinions on, say… Catholic supernatural claims. Catholicism is a big enough cultural and historical deal for scholars of all ideologies and religious or non-religious persuasions to take interest in it.

    So, for instance, you’ll get all sorts of scholars investigating the validity of Virgin Mary sightings.

    But fact is, Mormons just aren’t important enough yet to the broader culture for people to take notice of us. The last two years have been a bit of a firestorm of media attention for us. But I still wouldn’t say we’re at the point where a random sampling of scholars are going to be interested in “wasting their time” testing Book of Mormon issues. We just aren’t a matter of public interest yet and our appeal is still only marginal and likely will remain so for some time.

    So, with the DNA study of Native Americans, the scientists involved didn’t give even the slightest indication they even knew about Book of Mormon theories on Native Americans. Didn’t know, didn’t care. They were just testing genetics in general. But you’ll still get some opponents of Mormonism making grandiose claims that the study was designed to refute Mormonism. Actually the scientists didn’t care about the issue, and the study was never designed in such a way as to refute Mormon claims.

    You just aren’t going to get the same broad scholarly interest in the Book of Mormon as the Bible. That’s just the lay of the land here.

  87. May 27, 2009 4:31 pm

    Spam, I’m an active Mormon, so that would probably rule out the whole anti-Mormon theory. I freely admit that I get frustrated when people are unreasonable in discussions, however–and so far, I don’t know, you’ve kind of rubbed me the wrong way.

    Here’s a great example of why you’re frustrating to me:

    This is an attack on Joseph’s character. Well might we investigate the background of each of you who oppose Mormonism and see if you have any incidents in your life you would have trouble explaining.

    This is not the same thing, Spam. The non-LDS Christians who comment here aren’t claiming to be prophets of God.

    I agree with Seth that his treasure seeking can be explained and put into an appropriate context, but for you to pretend like it’s not even a legitimate issue is insulting to those who posed the question–and to active, faithful LDS who have gone through testimony struggles as a result of learning about these things.

    Also, your bringing up “education credentials” seems way off-base to me. Unless they’re trying to pass themselves off as a doctor or something? Because whatever someone’s educational background, there’s nothing that says a person can’t comment on a blog about their feelings/thoughts/insights on God and even Mormonism. I have a bachelor’s degree in theatre performance. Does that disqualify me from commenting here because it has nothing whatsoever to do with theology or philosophy?

    I guess what it boils down to is you’ve just come across as sort of unkind over the past few days. I know a person’s online persona and offline persona are often very different so I want to give you the benefit of the doubt, but regardless, it makes me kinda sad. 😦

  88. gloria permalink
    May 27, 2009 4:45 pm

    A couple of questions to LDS readers here:

    1. I have posted this one a few times and have yet to have any Mormons take a stab at it. 🙂
    What say you to the sincere folks who investigate the claims of the BofM and pray about it, ( sincerely ) and get a no answer. How do you address them or explain it? I ask because on my mission I ran into some people like this, and I never really knew how to handle these situations. ( MTC doesn’t really equip missionaries for those who sincerley pray and God tells them no)

    2. Are there LDS out there who believe the BofM is more “allegory” than historical? Especially after the DNA results/research project on indegenous people of the Americas disprove the Hewbrew connection. I would think sersious LDS scholars would have a hard time refuting the evidence, and perhaps would move to the camp of seeing the BofM as scripture, but allegorical ( similar to the parables of Jesus).

    Just curious what your thoughts are on this.

    Kind regards,
    gloria

  89. Stephanie permalink
    May 27, 2009 5:00 pm

    Seth and FOF,

    I find your arguments interesting because they don’t really address the post at hand. It is all fine and good to say that Mormons have “refuted” the attacks on the BofM but I don’t know of any non-Mormons who would go so far as to place an entire Jewish culture in the New World–based upon Mayan evidence. Really, this is going a long way. I’m not sure how you interpreted the last discussion, fof, but you never did provide the evidence that you so strongly asserted existed for the Mayan/Jewish connection. Its hard to carry on a conversation when two people both strongly disagree and one side only provides FARMS/FAIR information.

    The reason non-religious scholars use the Bible to corroborate archeology and history is that so much of the Bible has proven itself to be a literal account. I can see Spamlds’ point about demanding evidence for the arc of the covenant, the 10 commandments, etc. However, even non-religious scholars are interested in finding the arc of the covenant and I have seen secular documentaries on the subject in the past. Why? Because it is credible that since so much of the rest of the story is true, the arc should be true as well. Many Egyptians tombs were raided throughout the centuries and great artifacts are missing. However, since we have seen artifacts from other tombs we know that, even if they don’t exist in all the tombs, they must have been there at one time. Not having the Arc of the Covenant or the Ten Commandments certainly doesn’t shake my faith in the Bible. If we didn’t have a Jerusalem, Nazareth, Jewish people, Red Sea, Egypt, Pharaohs, Philistines, etc….that might shake my view of the Bible. Lets major on the majors folks. A Mayan cave mural doesn’t corroborate the entire Book of Mormon story.

  90. GERMIT permalink
    May 27, 2009 5:03 pm

    Seth: nice post, valid points.

    what I’m waiting, looking , for is not so much Joe scientist to say, “Hey….what’s THIS, the BofM is sooo happenin’…. ” what I’m waiting for is the admittedly slow trickle of their findings that seem to lend some credence to YOUR story, whether they are really looking for it or not. I could make some applications to the ID evolution controversy, but that might highjack (sneeeeeky JACK shout-out) the thread…won’t go there (today).

    truth is truth, we should be seeing more and more Mayan this and that which ‘adds up” to what you allege, even if these discoveries are slow in coming.

    back to work, more later,
    PS to Katie: GREAT POST: we need accreditation now to post ??? who’s going to police that (Jack ?? Seth ?? Rick Hurd ????)

    GERMIT

  91. Stephanie permalink
    May 27, 2009 5:24 pm

    Spamlds,

    You said:

    “Joseph Smith never claimed to be perfect or infallible. Like all the prophets, he was a man. Like all the prophets, he is opposed by the Adversary of righteousness. I think it’s clear that none of the prophets ever planned on being a prophet when they grew up. Certainly a the 14-year old Joseph didn’t plan on that when he went in to the woods to pray about which Church to join.”

    Thank you for being honest regarding J.S.’s somewhat questionable childhood interest in treasure hunting and using his seer stone. Your honesty is appreciated, especially when compared the the mainline LDS church’s portrayal of Joseph as a child. Sunlight bursts through the forest and comes down to rest upon the upturned face of saintly teenage Joseph Smith (this is an LDS movie portraying the first vision that I saw once). I have no problem with your theory of an “evolving prophet.” He started out once a little rocky but by the time he became an adult he was a shining star of morality and purity…..this is where I simply must draw the line. Perhaps many would differ with me, for dabbling in the occult is serious business, but I find the crimes of his adulthood equally as heinous. It was not the child Joseph Smith who introduced polygamy into Mormonism, it was the adult Joseph Smith. It was the adult Joseph Smith who decided to take a teenager for a wife behind his own wife’s back. The doctrines that Joseph Smith introduced were so awful that his wife concluded that he hadn’t introduced them at all–she blamed them on Brigham Young. Polygamy in and of itself is an issue of debate–but that was not the crime I was referring to. Its another “P” word that, I think, if actually spelled out would cause spamlds to go into convulsions. So, I will refrain. However, marrying a 14-year-old girl is equally as shocking the 1800s as it is today.

    During the YFZ Ranch controversy a last year my LDS friends were outraged at the comparison that the media might make between the FLDS and the LDS. One friend told me she was ready to jump on the phone to the news networks if they ever once misspoke and used the term “LDS” accidentally when referring to the FLDS. I fail to see how the outrage of today towards teenage marriage in the FLDS church is any different than in the 1800s. Its easy to see how teenagers become child brides. Since all the adult women are soon married off in polygamist communities the teenagers become prospects right after puberty.

    Is this your evolving prophet, spamlds? He didn’t evolve enough for me.

  92. faithoffathers permalink
    May 27, 2009 5:28 pm

    Germit,

    Sorry if I appeared to be celibrating to any degree. Such was not my intent. I recognize the limitations of arguments on both sides of the “aisle” and realize I and those who are much better at the apologist thing are not likely to “prove” the BOM. My intent is to show where the critics arguments are overblown and empty as well as to show the plausability of the BOM claims. I doubt there will be “proof” enough to convince the unbeliever.

    The big concern you have is that few if any non-LDS researchers seem to jump on board with “our” evidence for the BOM. Understand that in order for anybody to start out testing the BOM, they have to be willing to accept the miraculous manner in which it came about. This is a lot to expect of any non-believer. In the minds of a typical “scientist,” that would be dismissed categorically. Therefore, it is a no-brainer from the beginning.

    This is how the BOM research is a little different from the Bible. It is possible for many of the historical elements of the Bible to be true while the spiritual and religious claims be false- it is a relatively continuous history handed down generation to generation. Such is not the case with the BOM. If the historical claims of the BOM are true, then by necessity, the spiritual and religious claims are also true because of the manner in which it came about- my miraculous means. Does that make sense?

    So researchers can work on the history and cultures of the middle east and accept some of the historical claims of the Bible without even believing in God. This is not really possible with the BOM. It is either what it claims- a revelation from God- or totally false. No middle ground. No non-religious archeologists, anthropologist, or other specialist will spend any time even asking the questions.

    So we are left largely on our own to follow the correlations and evidences produced by others and ourselves. Not all the conclusions of believers are supported- that I know. But I believe there is enough legitimate objective data to suggest that the claims of the BOM are in the least plausible, and becoming moreso with time.

    Peace.

    fof

  93. May 27, 2009 5:37 pm

    gloria,

    #2 first.

    Yes, there are actually Mormons out there who view the Book of Mormon as largely allegorical. They might feel like Joseph was channeling the divine through religious “myth-making.” They present this as a perfectly legitimate way to have religious belief. You can find a lot of these kind of views in Sunstone Magazine (check out their website sometime).

    I’m a bit liberal. But I wouldn’t say I’m quite THAT liberal.

    I understand Protestantism has its own brand of such liberalism.

    Now #1…

    I’ve said this before, but I think it is perfectly possible for a person to have God tell them not to join Mormonism. I think God actually wants some people to be somewhere outside of the LDS Church.

    There are a variety of reasons for this.

    Maybe the person is like a Mother Teresa – where her impact for good in the world will be far greater outside Mormonism than in it. Such a person may receive very strong instruction for God to stay right where she is.

    For other people, Mormonism may not be a good spiritual fit at that time. I had a wonderful investigator on my mission in Japan. We were good friends, and she loved having us visit. She had heard all the missionary discussions several times over, but had become one of those “eternal investigators.” People who are realistically not joining up any time soon. I asked her about baptism and she said she wanted to, but wanted to wait until her husband was ready (he had never even so much as met with the missionaries).

    Now, a lot of my fellow missionaries might have gotten impatient, and told her God was more important than her husband, and demanded a decision then and there.

    For myself. I got the distinct impression that she was right to wait for her husband. I’d seen too many “housewife conversions” where the woman joins and the husband never does. Often those lead to some very unhappy home situations with the hostile husband demanding his wife abandon those “kooky religious people” and constantly attacking her faith.

    Did God actually want her to wait?

    I think he very-well might have. I can easily see the patient approach working better on this family. If the whole family converted rather than just the mother… man… that would have been a SO much stronger addition to that little branch I was serving.

    I showed her the video of “How Rare a Possession” where that Italian minister finds a Book of Mormon in the garbage while in America and waits over 50 years before he finally has the opportunity to be baptized. At the end of it, she seemed very touched. I asked her if she understood why I had shown her that video. She quietly nodded her head and said she did.

    I left it at that. We visited her all the way until I finished my mission and went home. Reading scriptures and just chatting. But I never brought up baptism again. She would do it when she was ready. For me, that was that.

    To this day, I feel she made the right choice. I’d seen enough broken homes and new the very real problem our Church faced in Japan due to the lack of faithful men. I wasn’t in a hurry to contribute to that problem.

    gloria, I’ve heard your story and I’ve heard the spiritual problems you labored under in the LDS Church and your journey out of it.

    I believe you are genuinely more happy right where you are. You had some deep spiritual and emotional problems with Mormonism. I am completely willing to believe that God led you out of the LDS Church to where you are today. God’s ways are not always our ways.

    I would even be willing to believe that he doesn’t want you to come back just yet. Perhaps it serves his purposes better that you are right where you are. It’s totally possible.

    But that is not the same thing as saying the LDS Church is not exactly what it claims to be – the true Restored Gospel of Jesus Christ.

    And Jessica, given your beliefs about Mormonism, your perceptions, and all the negativity you associate with the religion, do you really think it would be even possible for God to tell you to sign up?

    It’s possible. I know a guy in my ward growing up who was hostile to the LDS Church, and had what he felt was a pretty clear slap in the face from God telling him to listen to the missionaries. So God might cut through all the static you’ve generated on the issue and give you a clear sign.

    But there’s no guarantee he will. If all you’re doing in prayer is going down on your knees and asking God how you feel about Mormonism as opposed to your current church, even I can predict the answer to that prayer. You’ll hear what you want to hear. You will get an answer from God:

    “yes, Mormonism AS YOU UNDERSTAND IT is actually evil and you should stay away.”

    I’ve found God can be pretty hands-off when he wants to be. If you’ve got misperceptions, misunderstandings, caricatures, and stereotypes about Mormonism built up over the years, it’s quite possible that God is NOT going to cut through all of them for you. He’s not necessarily going to clean your head out for you.

    If you ask for a witness of a religion that you have a distorted and ugly view of – I think you can expect God to give you an answer based on those assumptions.

    “The LDS Church is not where you need to be and the Book of Mormon is not good.”

    God is not always going to do all the work of correcting your own mental errors. It could be that he’s waiting for you to clean-house Jessica and you won’t get a “yes” on Mormonism until you do. You can’t always expect God to bravely fight his way through all the barriers you’ve put in place. Sometimes he leaves us to our errors.

    And really, like gloria, maybe you need to be right where you are. Honestly, I think if you did join the LDS Church thinking the way you think, it would be a complete disaster for you. I can’t tell for sure, because it’s hard to get the full measure of a person online. But I don’t think you are ready for a final answer on this issue. You joining Mormonism right now would not be a good thing, and would probably do more harm than good. I’m not a fan of dunking someone in the baptismal font prematurely, just to see them storm from the building a few months later with even more bitterness and resentment than they started with.

    Jessica, gloria, and others – Everyone one of us is deeply-flawed. Most of us are not right with God in some way or other.

    I very much belief that the Restored Gospel is a final home for both of you. But I am willing to accept that on the Lord’s time, not mine. I am willing to wait for you – and so is your Father.

    But in the meantime, I would ask that you not seek to destroy the faith and happiness of other people.

  94. May 27, 2009 5:40 pm

    Stephanie,

    Joseph’s divining and treasure seeking came AFTER his vision from God, not before.

  95. GERMIT permalink
    May 27, 2009 5:42 pm

    FoF: and welcome back to a fine, fine, Wed. back n forth: you make, roughly, the same point as Spam when you wrote

    Understand that in order for anybody to start out testing the BOM, they have to be willing to accept the miraculous manner in which it came about.

    First of all, I understant that scientists, researchers may not be that interested in the BofM, or the bible for that matter, esp. as sources of divine truth. But in order for someone to find something that even in part agrees with your story does NOT require any particular attitude about the BofM itself. This is purely beside the point, and the point is: did this stuff happen or not ?? Are these ancient peoples REAL or not ?? Did this account really happen, or is it MERELY a nice religious story ?? Now the researchers may not care about these questions, few do, but there research, their evidence SHOULD , over time, square with your story, or at least allow for it as a plausible possibility. Am I making my point understandable , here ?? Not all of us have Geoff’s or Jack’s gift of the printed word.

    I can see where someone with an animus AGAINST the BofM , or against all supernatural tales of any kind (see Richard Dawkins…) might bend their findings, but truth has a way of coming out.

    blessings on you and yours
    GERMIT

  96. May 27, 2009 5:44 pm

    Jessica,
    Just a word of encouragement. Keep up the good work.
    And thanks for the link to my post.
    As for those of you who chastise Jessica for not reading the Book of Mormon sincerely, or with an open mind. I would think that if God wanted me to believe something true he could open my mind, same goes for Jessica. Locked doors are no barrier for God as he proved to Thomas, who did believe after seeing. I really get tired of this attitude that faith should require no proof. And then after that you relocate the whole book of Mormon to MesoAmerica so that you can give at least some scant proof for what you believe. Funny.
    On the other hand there have been people who have read the Bible with closed minds and God opened them. Yet the Book of Mormon gives no rational reason for believing it true. Why would I or Jessica want to ask God if it is true when it is so painfully obvious that it is not true. God warns us against this:2 Thes. 2:9-12 (ESV)
    The coming of the lawless one is by the activity of Satan with all power and false signs and wonders, [10] and with all wicked deception for those who are perishing, because they refused to love the truth and so be saved. [11] Therefore God sends them a strong delusion, so that they may believe what is false, [12] in order that all may be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness.

    Personally I don’t want to ask him for the strong delusion.

  97. May 27, 2009 5:46 pm

    That’s only sometimes true Bror,

    And you seem to be assuming God is a Calvinist who exercises meticulous control over everyone’s mind.

    Not so. He leaves many people in their errors.

  98. GERMIT permalink
    May 27, 2009 5:54 pm

    If the historical claims of the BOM are true, then by necessity, the spiritual and religious claims are also true because of the manner in which it came about- my miraculous means. Does that make sense?

    FoF wrote the above….and IF the BofM was shown to be historically false ?? This gets back to a point GUNDEK made awhile back (maybe here or over at LDS/Evangelical conversations) reg. the “authenticity” hurdle for the BofM. If the book is patently not authentic (historically or in other areas of accuracy) do we really have to spend a lot of time with its spirtual place ??
    This is a crude re-statement of GUNDEK”s point.

  99. GERMIT permalink
    May 27, 2009 6:06 pm

    If we didn’t have a Jerusalem, Nazareth, Jewish people, Red Sea, Egypt, Pharaohs, Philistines, etc….that might shake my view of the Bible. Lets major on the majors folks

    thank you Stephanie…ant this is why I find the claims that the bible and BofM are “roughly equivalent” or “in the same situation” to be laughable. No, they are not….even if someone thoroughly discounted the miraculous (not that I’d recommentd it) and supernatural claims of the book, at least we are talking about REAL people, cultures , events, places…… the BofM has not (yet ) risen to this level of attestation.

  100. May 27, 2009 6:07 pm

    Seth,
    Reread the comment carefully and discerningly. If you knew what Calvinism was you would not throw that banter at it.
    Of course we are agreed that God leaves many people in their errors, even hands them over to them, gives them a strong delusion. We are just disagreed as to who that is.

  101. GERMIT permalink
    May 27, 2009 6:17 pm

    Seth: I liked this:

    I’ve found God can be pretty hands-off when he wants to be. If you’ve got misperceptions, misunderstandings, caricatures, and stereotypes about Mormonism built up over the years, it’s quite possible that God is NOT going to cut through all of them for you. He’s not necessarily going to clean your head out for you.

    yeah….I can really follow that…and the same point that you’ve made can be the headline for a totally different article: something about Seth, who thought he understood the one true restored chuch thing so well…. had some new revelation. I’m not joking here (as I usually do) , but I’m saying flatly, and without covert agenda, that it could just as easily be YOU that needs turning around. And if that’s the case, as you said, it may not be becuase GOD wrote it across the sky in scarlet, etc.

    but you already know this, so it’s not news

    GERMIT

  102. GERMIT permalink
    May 27, 2009 6:24 pm

    Seth: a PS: ANY church that claims to be the ONE TRUE RESTORED church (and there have been many) does not inherently have the kind of latitude toward people’s spiritual choices that I truly believe you have. In other words, your OWN personal view of how people ought to relate to historic , traditional chrisianity vis-a-vis mormonism offers a lattitude that is just not there. Those whom WANT to extend a range of choices to are still choosing something sub-par, inferior, much less than GOD’s best. Between the lines, you and your own church disagree on this.

    At least that’s how it looks to GERMIT

  103. May 27, 2009 6:37 pm

    Hi, seth. I appreciate you taking time to share and respond to my questions I posted, and the genuine kindness that shone thru in your remarks. 🙂

    I just wanted to address a few of your comments you made.

    ” I believe you are genuinely more happy right where you are. You had some deep spiritual and emotional problems with Mormonism. I am completely willing to believe that God led you out of the LDS church to where you are today. God’s ways are not our ways.”

    You are absolutely correct that I am genuinely happier as a Christian than I was as Mormon. The JOY of the Lord is truly my strength ( Neh. 8:10) and there is such a fullness of JOY when one walks hand’n hand with Jesus.

    I pray one day you may experience that same joy, Seth. Sincerely I say that.

    I also want to point out that I left because of Jesus. Sure, there are things I didn’t like….. I couldn’t stand the block meetings, and how you can’t chose what hour to go to church, etc. but I bet there are things you don’t like about the culture of mormonism too…… that’s not a reason though to “leave” a church…….I left because of Jesus. Simply stated I believe it is by His grace I am saved, not after all I can do. That is why I left. I guess I just don’t understand why so many LDS , and I am not saying you are one of them, think people leave because of “issues” ( emotional, spiritual, unrepenentent sin, etc) … why can’t the LDS believe that some former mormons leave simply because of Jesus? I recall a friend of mine, who laughed when I told her I left because Jesus saved me by HIS grace and I didn’t need the Mormon church or any other church for that matter ….. she laughed and said, you don’t really believe that. I told her Yeah, I really really really do……..

    ” jessica, gloria, and others — everyone one of us is deeply flawed, not right with God in some way or another”

    Oh yes ,Seth you are right on the money with that! We are all deeply flawed. I knew that , when I was LDS. I knew just how flawed I was…..and how nothing but the blood of Jesus could wash away my sin. God knew that too, and that is why Jesus died for us — for you and for me — so we could be “right” with God . Thru Jesus, I am “right” with God now. I wasn’t before, but I am now. Yeah, I still screw up … too often if you ask me, but God is just and quick to forgive me, when I confess. 1 John 1:9

    That is why people like Jessica, and mark and others are on the web sharing the good news with the LDS….hoping and praying that they too will become “right” with God one day thru Jesus. I realize sometimes we mess up, our flesh gets in the way, we get frustrated, but I hope you know that the intent of our hearts is to see you, Seth and other LDS won over by King Jesus.

    Man’s way to reach God is religion.

    God’s way to reach man is thru JESUS.

    “But in the meantime I would ask that you not seek to destroy the faith and happiness of other people”.

    Seth, I know you may think or it may appear that people like Jessica or myself or others may be seeking to destroy the faith of the LDS. It’s undestandable you may “feel” that way. Because in reality, the truth we share is deeply different than the Mormon gospel. The message of grace, and salvation thru Christ alone is so radically different than the LDS gospel.

    The Jews were angry at Jesus. They hated him. Their religion was threatened by the message He shared. Jesus practiced a relationship with God the FAther, and then offered that to us. The Jews offered religion……. Jesus offered much more….. He rocked the boat. He went against the status quo. He was radical.

    I see the same thing with the LDS, and other religions too. ( and some being christian denominations!) . As well intentioned as they may be, and I know many if not most are sincere. They offer religion….what Jessica and Mark and others are offering you is living waters! There is no comparison.

    I for one believe that a more effective means of reaching the mormons is by presenting JESUS…… not so much bashing, but presenting the simple truth of Jesus. Yes, sometimes there needs to be a comparison, but it can be done in love.

    Jesus is offering you living waters and the bread of life……….

    How can religion ever meausre up to what Jesus can give?

    I continue as always to pray for you and the LDS,

    gloria

  104. May 27, 2009 6:43 pm

    The pace of this thread is fast and furious. It’s hard for a few defenders to deal with the onslaught of challengers who are full of biased opinions. I’ll just try to respond to a few.

    To Germit: You wrote ” don’t have cultural or archeaological background for supernatural events….and your point is what, really, ?? That’s never been on the table, for our side, you keep dragging it back”

    Why then do you put it on the table on our side then? That’s why I return to it. If there is no evidence of supernatural events on your side, why do you demand proof of things on our side that emerge from the First Vision and the appearance of angels?

    Ultimately, it all comes down to the Sacred Grove. Regardless of Joseph’s character, his family’s social status, whether or not he ever prospected for hire (which isn’t dishonorable, mind you) it all comes down to the First Vision. If that happened, then what followed was of God. If it didn’t, then none of this entire debate matters. It’s a matter of faith, not proof. Faith will decide whether you accept it or reject it. If you don’t have faith and are simply confident that your side is right because some archaeologists and historians

    The only proof of the First Vision comes through personal revelation. Any Latter-day Saint who only believes in “archaeology” does not have a testimony of Jesus Christ and is not ready to meet God.

    Now to, Stephanie who took my reply to indicate that I think that Joseph had a disreputable past, that’s not at all what I said. It is possible to take almost anyone’s past and twist it to be something unrecognizable. Perhaps you have not read the Jewish anti-Christian literature that dates from the first century. They made out Jesus to be a vagabond from a family of low-lifes. His mother got pregnant out of wedlock. To get away from the stigma, the family left and went to Egypt. There, Jesus picked up a few magic tricks from Egyptian sorcerers that he used to deceive people. He gathered some followers among the lower class of people, pointing out that none of the chief priests and scribes had anything to do with him. Eventually, he crossed the line, blasphemed and threatened the peace of the Roman province. After his crucifixion, the guards placed on his tomb fell asleep and the disciples came and ghoulishly stole his body and claimed he was resurrected.

    That’s the story that Jewish religious figures in the first century concocted in their attempt to counteract Christianity. History repeats itself in our day as sectarian priests try to counteract the remarkable growth of the restored gospel by defaming Joseph Smith and those who follow him. If you regard the Jewish anti-Christian literature with incredulity and disdain, now you know how Mormons feel about anti-Mormonism.

    Now, to address Katie Langston’s complaint that I’m not “nice” enough. Katie, you’ve obviously never heard the gospel preached with boldness. I’m sorry if it offends you, but you’re not doing anyone a favor by humoring and giving credence to anti-Mormon arguments. Don’t mistake my boldness in writing with being mean. I serve in a position of authority in a unit of the Church and I am involved in serving my fellowmen and women with great regularity.

    My comment about educational credentials was intended for one individual in the forum and they know who they are. Most anti-Mormon “ministers” like James White, John Ankerberg and Walter Martin, for example, obtain their “degrees” from degree mills. Many of them are “defrocked” ministers of Protestant faiths who set up anti-Mormon ministries to make a living.

    Katie, if you want to get a better feel for me as a person, then you should read more of what I have written elsewhere My books are available online and on my web site. You can also contact me directly and privately via the web site.

    I echo Seth’s explanation on why some people don’t get an answer when they pray about the Book of Mormon. In most cases, it’s because they have some degree of fear in their heart. Fear cancels out faith. Why did the majority of Jews in Jesus’ time reject the gospel, crucify him, and persecute the apostles? Why didn’t they get answers to their prayers? Why didn’t they believe? It’s all a question of faith.

    I taught many people who came to sense in their heart that the Book of Mormon is true, yet they feared what their family or their friends or their coworkers would think. It’s straight out of Matthew chapter 13 (which almost entirely about the restoration of the kingdom of God by the way).

    The sower (missionaries) preach the word (the seed). The seed is always good and it is always the same. The quality of the seed is not in question.

    It falls by the wayside, which are those who have no part nor portion of the Spirit. They love darkness and hate the light. Their hearts are so hardened that it never even begins to take root. They don’t understand the truth because their minds are blinded by sin, prejudice, and hate.

    The seed also falls on stony ground where it starts to take root, then dies. It gets received with joy at first, but there’s this looming commitment that is required. Many people will reject the truth out of fear that his family and friends will spurn him, or that it will affect his career, or other life factors. He never lets the seed take root because the price of the commitment is too high. Riches, education, worldly honors, etc. get in the way.

    Then there are those who embrace it and live it. They bring forth fruit at several levels (celestial, terrestrial, and telestial kingdoms).

    In all of these scenarios, the seed is always the same. The situation we have here is that many of you are trying to say that the seed is bad. Be that as it may, the wheat and the tares will grow side by side until the harvest. We will all know which is which and who is who when that day comes. The Book of Mormon is the “mustard seed” that is the smallest and most insignificant at its start, which is growing up to be a large tree in which the “birds” from every nation are flocking today.

    The angels will soon come and gather the wicked from the righteous, the uncommitted from those who have given all to the Lord, holding nothing back.

  105. May 27, 2009 6:44 pm

    Bror, I thought my response was a little clumsy on that point as well.

    Few points. First, I don’t know if you’re a Calvinist or not.

    If you are, there’s really no point in you or me trying to convert each other, because God is going to do whatever he wants anyway – end of story.

    My post assumed that people have free will (real free will – not that compatibilist stuff Calvinists talk about), God will respect it and not force through what they do not wish to receive.

    germit,

    I don’t think the LDS Church pushes my viewpoint, because it would lead to complacency for too many. In my case, it hasn’t stopped me from very actively defending my faith and advocating for it. But it probably would for a lot of Mormons. From a practical missional standpoint, it makes sense for the Church not to adopt my view or promote it.

    But I would point out that the notion that Gods ways are not our ways and that his timeline might be different as well are not new concepts in my Church.

    stephanie,

    I was thinking of replying to your Gaza-style rocket attack on Joseph’s polygamy, but then I realized that it was irrelevant to the original post and would probably derail the conversation. So don’t expect me to engage much further on this theme in this thread. I won’t be diving much more into the Calvinism issue with Bror either for the same reason.

    A final point on the historicity of the Bible germit.

    The historical verification of Bible events has almost nothing to do with my faith in God and I don’t think it’s a good place to hang your theological hat either. The fact that Jerusalem existed and that Jesus existed doesn’t make Jesus the Son of God any more than the existence of Salt Lake City and Brigham Young make him a prophet.

    If you want to have a pleasant conversation about history, then the verification of Bible locations and events probably matters. But if you want to talk faith claims, the Bible is just as unverified as the Book of Mormon is. None of the Bible’s faith claims have ever been proven.

    I know some are going to point out the witnesses of Jesus resurrection. To which I would reply that Joseph Smith’s claims to getting the Book of Mormon from an angel have just as strong a witness base as Jesus’ ascension into heaven.

    If you’re going to reject one, don’t try to play make-believe with me that the other is on any stronger evidentiary ground.

    And even if Jesus rose from the dead and floated up into the sky – does that prove he’s the Son of God?

    Nope. It doesn’t.

    I’d recommend you rethink putting all your eggs in the empirical evidence basket. That sort of stuff tends to come back to bite you.

  106. May 27, 2009 6:45 pm

    spamlds,

    I think the pace is just fine. As long as you ignore the people who are off-topic.

  107. May 27, 2009 6:52 pm

    SpamLDS,

    Your comments are interesting. Your remarks about ‘why” some folks get a “no” answer to the authenticity of the BofM is to be expected from mainstream mormons. ( they don’t have faith, so God doesn’t answer, etc.) I just don’t buy into that because when I was on my mission there was some pretty sincere folks who really did read with sincerity and they received a flat out no.

    Regards,
    gloria

  108. Stephanie permalink
    May 27, 2009 6:56 pm

    Seth and Spamlds,

    I wasn’t veering the conversation off topic. It was Spam who brought up the issue of J.S.’s history and attacks on his character. I find your argument extremely odd Spam. You state that Jesus’ character was attacked by Jews. Thats fine. That wasn’t what I was saying. I wasn’t judging his actions–I was just stating what they were. He admitted to using the seer stone–thats a fact. He admitted to taking a wife behind his first wife’s back. Thats a fact. He married 14-year-old Helen Mar Kimball. Thats a fact. It is no mis-characterization to assert that J.S. was a polygamist who married teenagers. I can find that in a variety of LDS sources. My LDS ancestors were polygamists (no wonder I turned out so weird!). Now, to state that I think they are awful, ugly people for being polygamists would be a judgment call. I won’t do that. I will just re-assert that your claim was a little off base. Your claim was that J.S. had changed and developed into an honorable prophet. I dispute that based upon the facts above. I’m not sure how you might feel about allowing a 14-year-old daughter of yours marry a 40-something polygamist man, but I dare to say you would take issue with that.

  109. May 27, 2009 6:57 pm

    gloria,

    I think a lot of people jump to the “sin” conclusion about people who leave the Church because a lot of people do leave the Church over sins.

    I think the people who leave over doctrinal issues are statistically over-represented on the internet. In my experience in sitting in on Bishopric meetings and in an Elders Quorum presidency, most people go inactive simply because they lose interest. No cognitive dissonance, no doctrinal showdown, no crisis of faith. They just lose interest in the LDS Church and quietly stop coming. No hard feelings whatever.

    And there are a lot of people who are stripped of LDS membership for sins. My dad knew a guy like this. The guy talked about a bunch of controversial issues in Mormonism like racism and whatever else, but eventually, it came out that while he was in in his mid twenties in college, he had gotten a fifteen year old pregnant and THAT was why he was kicked out. The other controversies were stuff he’d produced later.

    It happens.

    Personally, I think if you are going to play on the internet, you are going to simply take people at face value and respond to what they say, not what you guess about their hidden past.

    So, could you be lying to me gloria and trying to cover up a dark past with doctrinal controversies?

    Anything’s possible. But honestly, I prefer not to think of you, or anyone on the internet that way if I don’t have to. I’d rather view your words as sincere and truthful and engage them on that basis. I’m aware that people can claim whatever they want on the internet – which is why I always remain detached when someone comes in with a horror-story about some LDS bishop.

    But I prefer to take written conversation on the internet at face value and not speculate what might be hidden behind the screen.

    Honestly, what’s the point? And I’m happier thinking well of people anyway.

  110. May 27, 2009 6:58 pm

    Oops…I forgot a question I wanted to reply to also. I think it was gloria who asked:

    “Are there LDS out there who believe the BofM is more “allegory” than historical? Especially after the DNA results/research project on indegenous people of the Americas disprove the Hewbrew connection. I would think sersious LDS scholars would have a hard time refuting the evidence, and perhaps would move to the camp of seeing the BofM as scripture, but allegorical ( similar to the parables of Jesus).

    Yes, like any group of individuals, you will find Mormons who are lukewarm in their beliefs. You’ll find Mormons who think gay marriage should be allowed. You’ll find Mormons who think that women should have the priesthood. You’ll find Mormons who believe in organic evolution.

    God works within each individual as the Holy Ghost purges out the “old leaven” and replaces it with grace. The closer one approaches God in this process, the clearer one’s views become. A greater unity of the faith is experienced among those who submit themselves to the influence of that grace.

    We don’t believe in an instantaneous “born again” moment so much as a personal progression as we repent of sins as the Holy Ghost guides us. The process of being born again begins the moment we come to see that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the kingdom of God. When we see that, as revealed by the Spirit, we begin a path that will bless and help us throughout our entire lives.

    God is merciful and he blesses us to overcome our weaknesses, to become stronger, etc. If we yield to his presence, our false opinions and views tend to fall away over time. Are there people who resist this process? Yes, pride is a hard thing to overcome, but the Lord is patient and kind. He allows us to overcome those things. As we grow in the truth, we come to appreciate the simple truths of the gospel and we tend to drop those things that are unimportant, because we have better perspective of those things in our place.

    It has been my experience that members who argue about whether the Book of Mormon is an allegory or not seem to be those who are the most resistant to this process. They fear turning their lives over to the invitations of the Holy Ghost. They seek to control the outcome of their journey instead of letting God do the driving. It takes faith and some people struggle with that. Likewise, it’s easy for a person in any faith to become dogmatic. There are “Pharisees” among every religion, those who insist upon rules for the sake of having rules.

    Because anti-Mormons tend to focus so much on the “proof” they desire, or because their motives are evil to begin with, they never get to the point where they can see and appreciate the powerful working of the Holy Ghost that goes on in the lives of Latter-day Saints. Our adversaries are too bent on proving some word is erroneous rather than feeling the power of Mormonism, which comes from God.

  111. May 27, 2009 6:59 pm

    OK stephanie,

    So spam started it.

    Fine.

    But I’m still not interested in engaging this subject here (and believe me, I have engaged it elsewhere – plenty of times).

  112. May 27, 2009 7:04 pm

    spamLDS,

    I’m going to make one contribution on your point about “confrontational mission styles” and have done. I hear Evangelicals and others reference Paul and Jesus about being confrontational with false belief systems – something similar to what you’ve said here. I think using such scriptures as examples is a bit wrong-headed. Another blog devoted to responding to “anti-Mormons” did a scriptural analysis on this topic that is much, much better than anything I could come up with. Here’s the link:

    http://promormon.blogspot.com/2009/01/mormon-coffee-closes-discussion-on-free.html

    It responds to a spat at Mormon Coffee, but try to get past that and look at his analysis of New Testament scripture. I thought it was quite good and food for thought.

  113. GERMIT permalink
    May 27, 2009 7:23 pm

    Seth : nice post, you wrote

    you want to have a pleasant conversation about history, then the verification of Bible locations and events probably matters. But if you want to talk faith claims, the Bible is just as unverified as the Book of Mormon is. None of the Bible’s faith claims have ever been proven.

    I’ve said this only a zillion times, but the word “proven” is very strong, and does not belong in the conversation (even though there are many ev.’s who hug it like their very favoritist Barney doll). You and I agree as to the limits of empirical and evideciary support for ANYTHING spiritual: our faith rests in a PERSON, and I know that is as true for you as it is for me.

    But our faith also rests in reality: spiritual reality that goes beyond space , time,and history, but not in spite of it. Both your faith and mine rests in the activity of GOD in our world, in ways that can be , in part , known and appreciated. These two arenas , the spiritual and physical, are not antagonistic, but complimentary. At least that’s how the Jew’s saw it. The greeks had other ideas, and cosmologies. I digress a little: since our respective faiths ARE based in GOD’s actions in history, it DOES matter whether or not these actions happened. PROVEN is one thing, but is there some solid reason to think, to reflect on and decide, that the history of the BofM is just that : HIS STORY ? Or is it all just a “matter of faith” ? BTW, the Spamstser used that gem of a phrase, and this comes across as quite convenient…we don’t have anything to show anyone historically, culturally, archeologically, BUT, believe in JS as the true prphet, and …..what ?? ..your questions just go away ?? Your questions are POOF, unimportant ?? I’m not sure how this works …..

    while I’m on the “spam-channel”: I’m asking for SOME verification, from what we know of the physical world and its artifacts, that what JS said happened did indeed happen. Or at least SOME of it, or PART of it….I’m not going to nitpick it….and I don’t mean the MIRACULOUS events, tho it seems you’ve come up with yet another neat trick: paing the WHOLE thing with the “miracle brush” and then you avoid this problem altogether. Well, it might ALL be miraculous, let’s just allow that: there should still be remnants (as there are PLENTY in the bible’s backyard) showing that cool stuff of some kind happened. With peoples and cultures that look at least (from what we can tell) a litttle like your story…and if we see NONE of this , then why should I believe your story is anything other than what most claim it is: MYTH ??

    YOU seem to be wanting an explanation of a miracle….I just want a few Nephite or Lamanite glass beads…and a bottle of something ……oooops, lapsed, there, for a second.

    I’m not done looking into your blog and writing: you certainly work at it
    GERMIT

  114. GERMIT permalink
    May 27, 2009 7:33 pm

    I liked the link to bob the ‘anti-anti’….who likes The Corrs and the movie “Groundhog Day”, so he can’t be 100% evil…. i look forward to reading his article and giving it the attention it deserves.

  115. May 27, 2009 7:40 pm

    Good Grief – don’t you people have day jobs? 🙂

    Just on a quick lunch break, but had a couple thoughts.

    Gloria, I loved your comment here.

    Seth, if I saw evidence that God was really working in Mormonism and there was an overabundance of the fruits of the Spirit it might cause me to re-evaluate. My relationship with Jesus is so satisfying – He gives me peace and joy in abundance. Religion cannot satisfy me like He does. I just want more of Him and I am in full pursuit of Him, not a religion.

    Spam, thanks for keeping your tone more respectful and refraining from the personal attacks. You have a lot of information to share and I don’t see any reason why you need to resort to ad homeneim attacks when you can present some factual responses. People will be more likely to consider your ideas if they don’t feel attacked.

  116. GERMIT permalink
    May 27, 2009 7:40 pm

    Seth: I’m told Billy Mays Hays (sp??) takes only 4 or 5 new products a year to promo….you should get him to do your “attitude blaster” below, really, I’ll buy the tonic or pill that gets me to HERE:

    But I prefer to take written conversation on the internet at face value and not speculate what might be hidden behind the screen.

    Honestly, what’s the point? And I’m happier thinking well of people anyway.

    Good stuff, apostle-dude
    GERMIT

  117. May 27, 2009 7:45 pm

    What do you want a glass bead for? What’s that going to do for your religious life?

    This proof stuff is interesting and all. But it’s not the foundation of religious belief.

  118. May 27, 2009 7:47 pm

    Seth,
    How hard would it be to click on my name and see that I am a LUTHERAN? Just a thought.
    Second, the fact of the matter is that if the Bible did not verify itself historically, then I would have no reason to entertain its faith claims. The two are in fact very interrelated. Especially given that it all rests on one historical event, the death and resurrection of Christ. If Christ did not rise from the dead, I have no reason to believe anything Christ said or did.
    But because the Book of Mormon gives me no reason to believe it even based on the mundane historical things like a geography that can be shown to correspond with that of the Book of Mormon, then I have no reason to believe it where it talks about faith either.

  119. GERMIT permalink
    May 27, 2009 7:51 pm

    To Spam’s comment here:

    Now, to address Katie Langston’s complaint that I’m not “nice” enough. Katie, you’ve obviously never heard the gospel preached with boldness. I’m sorry if it offends you, but you’re not doing anyone a favor by humoring and giving credence to anti-Mormon arguments.

    I don’t think this is a case of giving credence to arguments as much as it is to PEOPLE. People know when they are talked down to, or treated as “little people”, or unimportant, or just stupid. I guess the art of apologetics is holding your ground, pulling your adversaries “carpet” of false ideas out from under him/her (probably a HIM, eh, JACK ??), and then saying “careful, don’t bump yer melon….” some of us WANT them to bump their melon…into about 10,000 pieces…. while we get pictures and comments.

  120. GERMIT permalink
    May 27, 2009 7:54 pm

    Seth wrote

    This proof stuff is interesting and all. But it’s not the foundation of religious belief.

    I am in 100% agreement here…and ev’s have overplayed the role of all this in religion generally, though it has its place.

    GERMIT

  121. GERMIT permalink
    May 27, 2009 7:58 pm

    Jessica: about the day jobs…..don’t ask too many questions, and you don’t have to know how your tax subsidies are being spent…. 🙂 🙂 tho this might piss off the lds tax payers even more so

    GERMIT

    some of us are just fast workers 🙂

  122. May 27, 2009 8:06 pm

    Bror,

    The Bible doesn’t verify itself historically. It’s not a history or science textbook. It’s a book of faith claims and information about an empirically unverified God.

  123. May 27, 2009 8:08 pm

    And I can think of a lot of good reasons to believe in the Bible even if you don’t think the Exodus ever happened, or the Adam and Eve were just metaphoric fables, or that the Israelites never invaded Canaan, or that Paul wasn’t a real apostle.

    There happens to still be a lot of really good stuff in the Bible even when you take away the “history textbook” stuff.

  124. Brad permalink
    May 27, 2009 8:14 pm

    But there’s no guarantee he will. If all you’re doing in prayer is going down on your knees and asking God how you feel about Mormonism as opposed to your current church, even I can predict the answer to that prayer. You’ll hear what you want to hear. You will get an answer from God:

    “yes, Mormonism AS YOU UNDERSTAND IT is actually evil and you should stay away.”

    That’s part of the point that Christians will make about Mormonism, which is then refuted by Mormons. If all you’re doing in prayer is going down on your knees and asking to have the confirmation that Mormonism really is true, even I can predict that answer. You’ll hear what you want to hear.

    If you seem to think it’s this way for people who DON’T believe Mormonism is true, why do most Mormons NOT believe that the same could happen for someone who DOES think Mormonism is true?

  125. Brad permalink
    May 27, 2009 8:36 pm

    It’s hard for a few defenders to deal with the onslaught of challengers who are full of biased opinions.

    Spamlds, EVERYONE’S opinions are biased, including yours. That’s what makes them personal opinions. Mine are biased against Mormonism, b/c I don’t believe it is true. Yours are biased towards it, b/c you believe it is. We’re ALL full of biased opinions.

    The only proof of the First Vision comes through personal revelation. Any Latter-day Saint who only believes in “archaeology” does not have a testimony of Jesus Christ and is not ready to meet God.

    But you just said there isn’t any “proof”, only “faith.” So which is it – is there proof, or just faith? And to those who say they have “faith”, through personal revelation, that Mormonism is NOT true – what do you say to them? If there’s no proof, then what is your basis for telling them they’re wrong, other than your own biased opinion which stems from your own faith that it’s true?

    I echo Seth’s explanation on why some people don’t get an answer when they pray about the Book of Mormon. In most cases, it’s because they have some degree of fear in their heart. Fear cancels out faith.

    You (and Seth) have set up a totally self-fulfilling argument. “If someone doesn’t believe, it MUST be b/c they fear something, don’t want to believe, aren’t ready, etc…” What you’ve done is tried to remove the possibility that it’s wrong, or the possibility that anyone can even think that it’s wrong. This same scenario could be set up for anything – Protestantism, Catholocism, Islam, Buddhism, etc… I can say “if someone doesn’t believe Christianity it must be fear”, thereby anyone who doesn’t believe in EV Christianity is not only fearful, but incorrect. Would you agree with that? B/c that’s the logic you’re asking us to accept with your statement.

  126. May 27, 2009 8:38 pm

    Bror Erickson wrote:

    “Second, the fact of the matter is that if the Bible did not verify itself historically, then I would have no reason to entertain its faith claims.”

    Very good, Seth. You’ve brought out the million-dollar question here. Brother Erickson really doesn’t have faith at all.

    Let’s look at it this way. What scientific or historical evidence did a Jew in the time of Christ have that would make him convert to Christianity? Let’s say he heard Paul preach. Paul provided good argument from the Torah and the Prophets, which were accepted as scripture, but where’s the proof? Could Paul provide DNA evidence? Could he provide carbon-dated fabrics from the burial clothing?

    How did people believe back then? The scriptures tell us that the Holy Ghost fell upon them and they knew, by that witness that Paul’s words were true. No science, no history. Just the Holy Ghost.

    Now, many of Paul’s hearers argued with him, just like these folks here are doing with us today. They just couldn’t accept it. Some of the ones who were emotionally invested in Judaism saw Paul as a threat. He was stoned once by those who listened to him. Most of the apostles met violent deaths at the hands of people who didn’t believe them. Even Jesus was rejected by most people who heard him. That’s why they crucified him.

    So let’s frame the question in biblical terms. Why were some people willing and able to receive the witness of the Holy Ghost and others rejected it? Jesus himself answered that to the Pharisees in John chapter 8:47.

    “47 He that is of God heareth God’s words: ye therefore hear them not, because ye are not of God.”

    I’ll give everyone here a spiritual “key” to understanding this. If you can figure out why Annas and Caiaphas, who were Pharisees trained in the scriptures, rejected Christ, you’ll know why people today reject the Book of Mormon. It is for the very same reason.

  127. May 27, 2009 8:39 pm

    Seth,
    You write:
    “And I can think of a lot of good reasons to believe in the Bible even if you don’t think the Exodus ever happened, or the Adam and Eve were just metaphoric fables, or that the Israelites never invaded Canaan, or that Paul wasn’t a real apostle.

    There happens to still be a lot of really good stuff in the Bible even when you take away the “history textbook” stuff.”
    And I can think of no reason to believe in the Bible if Jesus was not raised from the dead. (1 Cor. 15) And for that matter, I might not believe at all if you could verify that the Exodus didn’t happen.
    And quite frankly I will stand with Paul and say if Christ wasn’t raised then we are most of all to be pitied. But you see that is because I believe in a thing called the forgiveness of sins. And that rests squarely on the death and resurrection of Christ. The rest of that “really good stuff” you are talking about, that you find in the Bible, tell me what it is, are you sure I couldn’t find it in Aristotle?

  128. GERMIT permalink
    May 27, 2009 8:42 pm

    Seth wrote:

    The Bible doesn’t verify itself historically……Geeze….that’s a big statement there, Sethster…then what is the sense of GOD saying He is the GOD of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob….if the stuff that happened between GOD and these men (and women) may or may not have happened ?? Or maybe this is the case of HISTORICAL faithfulness that’s verified on a personal level…I don’t see this as an “eithor or”, how about a “both….then….” GOD appeals to HIS own track record repeatedly as the grounds for people continuing to trust in HIM….this starts to look wimpy if those deeds are just “allegorical”.

  129. GERMIT permalink
    May 27, 2009 8:52 pm

    SETH you wrote:

    There happens to still be a lot of really good stuff in the Bible even when you take away the “history textbook” stuff.

    yes, agreed, but would it still be the GOSPEL ?? Or something else ??

  130. May 27, 2009 8:57 pm

    SpamLDS,
    “Very good, Seth. You’ve brought out the million-dollar question here. Brother Erickson really doesn’t have faith at all.”
    Really? So you can look into hearts now days? You are the expert on faith? Faith is believing despite rational argumentation to the contrary? Because I don’t see reason to entertain the faith claims of the Bible if the Bible were to be as historically inaccurate as the Book of Mormon shows itself to be I don’t have faith? Really!
    So Thomas didn’t have faith after he saw Jesus in the flesh? The other disciple didn’t have faith because Jesus “Presented himself alive after his suffering by many PROOFS, appearing to them during forty days and speaking about the kingdom of God.” (Acts 1:3) And Peter was wrong for advising his people to “always be prepared to make a DEFENSE (apologia) to anyone who asks you for a REASON for a hope that is in you.” 1 Peter 3: 15. Because yeah the Holy Spirit just fell on these guys and they never saw any thing. Their faith was completely irrational.
    The point is there is rational reason to believe in Christ and his death and resurrection. Christian faith does not bid you check reason at the door. God gives good reason to believe, and the Holy Spirit can use and ofter does a persons reason to bring them to faith.

  131. May 27, 2009 9:02 pm

    Bror, I’ve debated online with a lot of embittered atheists who sound exactly like you, and share the exact same black-and-white thinking about the Bible.

    Geez… if the Exodus could be proven not to happen, you’d really ditch this whole thing? Really?

    I’ve always had this theory that Bible fundamentalism is kissing-cousins with Hitchens-style atheism. And you’re kind of proving a case in point here.

    Note: I never said anything about Jesus in that earlier statement. Jesus is central enough to the belief system that if you take away what HE did, I agree with you and germit – there ain’t much left worth making a fuss over.

  132. May 27, 2009 9:10 pm

    And Brad, I never said that Mormonism was beyond disproof.

    I merely said that if you believe in spiritual witnesses, going into the Word of God resisting tooth and nail to the last is not a very good way to do it.

    Mormonism certainly is subject to being disproven – just like anything else.

    But if you’ll read my posts much, much earlier in this thread, Jessica hasn’t really come close to offering anything like a refutation of Mormonism yet. I’ve yet to come across such a refutation anywhere.

    My experience is that atheist and Evangelical opponents of Mormonism inflate the negative evidence they have, and give it a lot more force and persuasiveness in their minds than it really has.

    So maybe the Book of Mormon can be refuted and disproven.

    I haven’t seen an Evangelical or atheist do it yet.

  133. GERMIT permalink
    May 27, 2009 9:10 pm

    Seth: off topic , but i was over at internetmonk reading “When All the Answers Weren’t In the Lecture” this is maybe 1200 word article and you should check it out regarding scriptural INERRANCY and how that may or may not work out. I will unashamedly say that M. Spenser and I see this very much the same way. His approach to inerrancy is not what you’ll see in most of bloggerworld.

    may your week SEEM like a holiday
    GERMIT

  134. NChristine permalink
    May 27, 2009 9:23 pm

    Hi Spamlds,

    This is what I hear you saying re: Paul. (1) Paul had no scientific/historical proof to adduce as support for his preaching of the gospel (Christ’s death and resurrection), just as the BoM has none. (2) Paul used eyewitness testimony, which is equivalent to the eyewitness testimony of the gold plates (i.e., eleven witnesses). Thus, the witnesses for the two (the Bible and the BoM) are equal. Am I saying this right?

    However, Paul did not ask people to “ask God if these things were true” without providing evidences. He did see eyewitness evidence as testimony. Let me note some significant differences between the witness testimonies of the two:

    — Paul cited not only the eleven apostles as witnesses, but James, himself, and “above five hundred brethren at once” (I Cor. 15). The witnesses to the resurrection vastly outnumbered those seeing the gold plates!

    — Paul invited and even urged investigation by telling his readers that many of the five hundred brethren were mostly still alive (I Cor. 15). He was essentially saying, “This can be verified–go and check it out.”

    — There were multiple resurrection appearances, which happened to different groups at different times and in different settings.

    — Some of the witnesses to the resurrection were hostile witnesses (e.g., Paul or James the broter of Jesus)–not prone to believe.

    Perhaps more importantly, you also referred to a huge difference in the evidence for the message of Paul vs. the message of Joseph Smith. You said,

    Paul provided good argument from the Torah and the Prophets, which were accepted as scripture.

    Yes, I agree with this statement. Paul provided many evidences from the OT to show how Jesus fulfilled multiple prophecies of Messiah. What prophecies from the OT or NT show us that J. S. would be a prophet or that there would be a radical restored church such as the LDS church? No wonder so many people were convinced by Paul — he could point them to the OT scriptures written many centuries before but reading like front-page news — fulfilled in Jesus! Indeed, this is the very test that the Bible gives for knowing if something is true: the Berean test.

    [The Bereans] received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so (Acts. 17:11, emphasis added).

    The eyewitness testimony to the BoM cannot at all compare to that of the gospel of Christ preached by Paul. Even more, any prophetic testimony that would antipate the BoM (prior testimony from the OT or NT) is entirely lacking.

  135. GERMIT permalink
    May 27, 2009 9:26 pm

    Gloria wrote:

    I for one believe that a more effective means of reaching the mormons is by presenting JESUS…… not so much bashing, but presenting the simple truth of Jesus. Yes, sometimes there needs to be a comparison, but it can be done in love.

    this is so true , it hurts my eyes….wish I could do the sun-glass thinggy !!

    GERMIT

  136. May 27, 2009 9:27 pm

    Seth,
    I share my black and white thinking about the Bible, not with atheists, but with the Bible. 1 Cor. 15:14-19 (ESV)
    And if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain. [15] We are even found to be misrepresenting God, because we testified about God that he raised Christ, whom he did not raise if it is true that the dead are not raised. [16] For if the dead are not raised, not even Christ has been raised. [17] And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins. [18] Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. [19] If in this life only we have hoped in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied.

    It is precisely my faith in the Bible that says prove it wrong and I’ll ditch it. What would you have me keep? The Ten Commandments? Why would I keep the sabbath day holy (that is go to church and listen to a sermon on a fairy tale I didn’t believe in) if Christ wasn’t raised from the dead.
    That said I am not a fundamentalist. I’m a Lutheran.

  137. May 27, 2009 9:29 pm

    Germit,
    I do appreciate your sense of humor. 🙂

    God bless,
    gloria

  138. Anonymous permalink
    May 27, 2009 9:44 pm

    Germit,

    You asked what it would mean if the BOM was proven to be historically false. Has anyone come even close to this? The answer is no. It is essentially impossible to prove a negative. Again, I ask people to look at the trend in objections being shown to be unfounded whether it be civilized societies in the Americas, writing on gold plates, sea crossings, etc. You say- show us the evidence. I can offer some fairly compelling correlations and huge coincidences in geography, archeology, etc. What evidence is there that the BOM is false? So far, when people have provided such evidences against the BOM (in general, not just here), it has only been a matter of time before those objections fall. Name some that haven’t (not just absence of proof).

    I find that people recycle the arguments (on both sides). The DNA proof is no proof at all against the book, yet people have already begun mentioning that again here as some huge obstacle for the BOM.

    I think bias is very difficult to overcome. If a persons first exposure to the BOM is what we would consider anti-BOM, it is hard to ever see beyond that. First impressions last. I thank God I discovered the book on my own without having to wipe the blur of arguments from my eyes.

    fof

  139. May 27, 2009 9:47 pm

    Bror, I already said the part about Jesus probably can’t be disproven and still leave you with much worth getting excited about.

    But the Exodus account? I mean, you’ve taken Jesus – the example most important and fundamental to the entire Bible for Christians and basically said that that gold-standard has to apply to all the other Bible details.

    I reject this. I don’t think it matters two straws to the Christian faith whether the book of Job is a real-life account or a Jewish fable. The message is powerful either way. Neither do I think that disproving the Exodus needs to destroy one’s faith either.

  140. May 27, 2009 11:33 pm

    Seth,
    Well you see the thing is Jesus quotes the Old Testament as being true. Jesus being God and all that, dying coming back from the dead, makes me fairly disposed to believing him. So I don’t hedge my bets on that stuff. Either it is true and Jesus was telling the truth, or it isn’t true and he was a liar, etc.
    I believe these things because I believe Jesus.
    And that “part about Jesus” well not only is it that it can’t be disproven, there are some pretty compelling reasons to believe it. I have yet to find any compelling reason to believe the Book of Mormon, though I have found quite a few quite compelling reasons not to.

  141. May 27, 2009 11:52 pm

    The biggest part of the Book of Mormon message to me is that it opens up a God who is not geographically or textually limited.

    I have a hard time believing that God would only confine himself to a tiny Mediterranean country and leave entire continents in complete darkness. The Book of Mormon – especially in Jacob chapter 5 – dispells this limited local deity and expounds his plan to use Israel as the catalyst for making himself known to the entire world.

    Not just after Christ’s arrival – but far before then.

    It also sends the message that the God I worship is not the God of a book. His reality and message to us cannot be contained in one book. That is what the Book of Mormon means to me. And it won’t be the last. There will be new books of scripture revealed from the other corners of the world. We’re far from done.

  142. May 28, 2009 12:07 am

    [this comment is replying to the one following it – Stephanie asked me to delete her post so she could re-post as her links were messed up – Jessica]

    Sigh…

    Fine.

    Any BMI studies done today would not illuminate much about the 1800s, since female biology has completely changed due to different diet, lifestyle and environmental factors.

    For the record, I consider polygamy to actually be one of Joseph’s selling points. The sexually repressed prudishness of modern America tends to obscure this. But history will vindicate the idea in the end.

    And actually, despite your assertion, young brides were much more socially acceptable in that time period than they are today when we usually don’t consider them “proper” marriage material until they have a freaking PhD.

    Girls in that time period were also different. So different that it’s going to be hard for you to really understand them. A girl at age 15 in 1800s frontier America could handle livestock, tend children competently and run an entire farm homestead by herself.

    Their fifteen year olds were better equipped for marriage and motherhood than most of our hapless 25 year olds today.

    Also, it was simply a harsh time. Your concern about BMI and stuff kind of pales before the grim realities of child mortality and the other countless ways in which our ancestors suffered. Back then – you got pneumonia – even as an adult – you were probably dead. Step on a nail while working in the yard, it could probably kill you. About two thirds of all children died before reaching the teens.

    Different time, different attitudes.

    I’d just love to see the personal details of Moses’ home life. Or Paul’s.

    Convenient for Evangelicals that we don’t have any of that.

    Christopher Hitchens would have a field day.

  143. Stephanie permalink
    May 28, 2009 12:07 am

    Warning to Seth,

    I apologize if my “Gaza-style rocket” remarks sounded strong. The history of polygamy in the Mormon church is a fascinating area of study for me. I can totally understand if you are burned out on the topic…just ignore what I have to say in this post because its not directed for you.

    Spamlds,

    You haven’t responded to either Seth’s correction of your timing of J.S.’s divining and treasure seeking coming AFTER the first vision or to my question about the appropriateness of J.S.’s marriage to a 14-year-old. There is a lot of historical/sociological information regarding the decline in the age of menarche in girls. I find this trend fascinating. The decline has been noted throughout the last 150-200 years or so. Perhaps people think of the somewhat womanly seeming 14-year-olds that we see today as being the standard throughout history. However, the average age of menarche in the U.S. has declined to about 12 years old. This trend is expected to continue in the future (a scary thought!). Some effort has been made to link it to the increase in BMI, better nutrition, oral contraceptives, smoking and possibly related to other factors. Whatever the case, there has been a steady downward trend in age for menarche. I found a few studies online that you may want to examine if you are also interested. One cites the mean age of menarche in the 1840s (J.S. married Helen Mar Kimball in 1843) as age 15. A
    Norwegian study shows essentially the same thing.

    I bring this up to point out that J.S.’s credibility is definitely at stake. Why should I believe a person to be a prophet of God if I believe he married a possibly pre-pubescent girl? Sorry I can’t let it go Spamlds, this issue really bothers me greatly. This isn’t the same as skeptics attacking Jesus. These are details that the Mormon church accepts. Why doesn’t anyone want to talk about these issues? Does the morality of the person who translated the Book of Mormon not matter to the LDS? Perhaps you have an explanation for this other than comparing it to the Jews slandering Jesus. That’s comparing apples to oranges. We are not talking about slander here. We are talking about facts.

  144. Stephanie permalink
    May 28, 2009 12:13 am

    Seth,

    Thank you for responding! 🙂 I wouldn’t have minded if you had ignored the subject completely!

    The issue is not emotional maturity. I agree 100% that 15-year-olds of the 1840s were much, much more mature than 15-year-olds today. One only needs to read first hand pioneer accounts to realize that they were strong workers. I was talking about PHYSICAL maturity. As in going through puberty. To me that is kind of a pre-requisite of marriage. Lets remember, she was 14–average age of menarche was a little over 15.

  145. germit permalink
    May 28, 2009 1:20 am

    FoF; strong post, per usual.

    please forgive me if I ever used the phrase “proven wrong” or “proven false” because , as I’ve said repeatedly, the word “prove” or “proof” is just way too certain in these areas. Strongly improbable, yes. Incredibly unlikely, perhaps. Let me digest some of the references you’ve given and I’ll give you a GERMIT’s fave five (or more) of items that I’d consider your biggest obstacles. Deal ?? Very unlikely that anything looking like DNA will be part of this, but Christene’s points about the lack of anything Jewish about the Mayans will probably make a showing. The “not proving a negative” point is overdone , in my opinion. I like GUNDEK’s: the absence of data, WHERE DATA IS EXPECTED, is data. Maybe that goes against ‘pure science’, but I don’t give a rip.

    Your points about bias are , of course, probably a non sequiter. Yes, we are head strong, hard to bend beings, eh ??

    peace on you and yours
    GERMIT

  146. germit permalink
    May 28, 2009 1:24 am

    Seth: your “limited continent” thing has large gaps…. the size of continents. I mean, you’ve added, what, two continents ?? Doesn’t this (so far) leave out a half dozen or more continents ?? Yes, maybe GOD is not done yet, but you could hold THAT position with the ‘one continent’ christianity thing.

  147. germit permalink
    May 28, 2009 1:27 am

    Stephanie: I love your posts; the poor paluka who ever cheats on you better go into the witness protection program and have major frequent flier miles. I admire the standard you have for men, women, and marriage.

    GERMIT

  148. Stephanie permalink
    May 28, 2009 1:29 am

    Seth,

    Please let me respond to your post….

    “For the record, I consider polygamy to actually be one of Joseph’s selling points. The sexually repressed prudishness of modern America tends to obscure this. But history will vindicate the idea in the end.”

    This may be a good point if the issue were open marriage. But the issue is polygamy—where one man marries multiple women. This leaves an imbalance of unmarried men in the society—I’m sure they would be glad to hear from you that polygamy promotes sexual freedom. Further, some of these poor men actually had the insult of having their wives re-assigned to Joseph Smith or Brigham Young. Apparently polygamy prevents sexual repression for the privileged few while the rest suffer.

    “And actually, despite your assertion, young brides were much more socially acceptable in that time period than they are today when we usually don’t consider them “proper” marriage material until they have a freaking PhD.”

    Perfectly true. On this website, Wives of Joseph Smith , an LDS woman who has attempted to compile the history of J.S.’s wives. Please note the graph linked to above. The average age of first marriage in the 1840s for women appears to be about 21, compared to about 25 for today. Having done family research myself I can tell that, while my ancestors married somewhat younger than current standards, they still were adults.

    “Their fifteen year olds were better equipped for marriage and motherhood than most of our hapless 25 year olds today.”

    It is not possible to bear children unless you have made it through puberty. The statistics show that the average age of menarche among girls during the 1840s was about 15 to 15.5. This would mean, even if a girl were to get pregnant right away, she could not have children until she was 16. Growth plates in girls close approximately 1 year after menarche. The rapidly growing and gangly 11-year-olds of today could look very much like the 14-year-olds of the 1840s.

    “I’d just love to see the personal details of Moses’ home life. Or Paul’s.
    Convenient for Evangelicals that we don’t have any of that.”

    Yes, in fact we do have details about both of their home lives. We know that, at least for a time, Paul was unmarried. Interestingly, Paul has much to say on the issue of marriage. First Corinthians 7 is dedicated to the topic. “Nevertheless, to avoid fornication, let ever man have his own wife, and let every woman have her own husband” (v. 2). He goes on later in the passage to encourage the unmarried to remain single if they are strong enough to do so. Since this was Paul’s doctrine I find it hard to believe his personal life would be any different. We see that Joseph Smith’s personal decisions followed his doctrine, why should Paul be any different?

  149. May 28, 2009 2:00 am

    NChristine,

    Thank you for getting the point where others failed to. Yes, I’m saying that the testimony of the Holy Ghost is what converted people then as now–not scientific, archaeological, or other proofs. Yes, Paul showed people proofs from the scriptures. He used logic. He used theology, yet most of the people who heard him rejected those things and didn’t believe in Jesus and the doctrine of the resurrection.

    What DID convert people is the Holy Spirit. That is transformational. It changed them from within. They were willing to die for the truth and many of them gave their lives for it. People don’t become martyrs for the sake of archaeological evidence.

    The proof of the Book of Mormon comes through the Holy Ghost. Nevertheless, we have even MORE documentary evidence than what is available from the Bible. We have testimonies of eyewitnesses who saw Joseph Smith heal hundreds of people on the banks of the Mississippi River. We have the diaries of thousands of members who saw the manifestation when Brigham Young was transfigured into Joseph Smith when he spoke about who should guide the Church after Joseph’s death. We have eyewitness accounts of the miracles of the seagulls and the miracles of the quails. These events were witnessed by people who were Joseph’s contemporaries and recorded in their diaries, journals, etc.

    Today, thousands of Mormon priesthood holders lay hands on the sick and they recover. I personally have witnessed this on several occasions. A bishop with whom I served laid hands on two children with encephalitis whose parents were told by the doctors that they had only days or hours to live and they recovered.

    I can personally testify of the ministering of angels, the gift of tongues, as well as the gift of discernment on occasions.

    All the things you cite are ready to be read, researched, and studied if our critics would simply open their minds. Every LDS congregation will have individuals who can personally testify of these things. Like the saints of the former days, the saints of the Latter-days are living these things today. We don’t need historical “proofs” when the Savior himself has appeared to some of us. We don’t need historical records of eyewitnesses when we ARE eyewitnesses.

    Oh, I wish I could shout it with a megaphone. The things that took place among the ancient saints are happening today among the modern saints. Some of of us have seen Jesus. Some of us have seen angels. Almost all of us have received various manifestations of the Holy Ghost.

    The ironic thing is that there are all these sectarian Christians standing around pointing in their Bibles saying, “That can’t happen.” Well, they’re wrong. It can and it does. We are the same Church that you read about in the New Testament. We are the eyewitnesses. Our apostles are real apostles. They are witnesses of the resurrection of Jesus Christ, just like Peter, Paul, James, and John.

    That’s why we’re the true Church and a living Church. You guys can rail and ask for the proof all you want, but it’s real, it’s here, and its now. If you want to partake of those blessings and receive this marvelous light, it’s free for the taking. If you want to argue and say it can’t happen, then I wish you all the best and then press on.

    I know for myself that these things are real. I’ve experienced them. I am an eyewitness of many of these things myself. Agrippa thought Paul was probably crazy. You can say the same things about me. But I know what I know in the same way that Paul knew it. There’s nothing like knowing it first-hand.

  150. May 28, 2009 2:52 am

    Umm… germit…

    Did you miss that part where I said other scripture would be forthcoming from other corners of the world?

    Mormon doctrine does not hold that the Book of Mormon will be the last book of scripture to be revealed.

  151. May 28, 2009 3:10 am

    Stephanie,

    I think the phenomenon of “lost boys” is purely a modern one. I does not seem to have existed in 1800s Utah. This is because guys tended to marry two or three years younger than they were. Since the population was always growing at a fast clip, this meant there was always a plentiful “supply” of brides in the younger generation. Call it a matrimonial pyramid scheme if you like.

    I need to get off this topic, but I’ll try and put a few final thoughts here:

    I’m a fan of facing the worst case scenario and trying to address the possibility that things are the worst that our critics can come up with.

    Which is why I’ve been engaging you on the assumption that Joseph actually slept with all the women he married.

    But it needs to be noted right now that the evidence that he actually did so is far from clear. In fact, a lot of the evidence suggests a lot of these marriages were never consummated, but were rather “dynastic marriages” – a way to bind prominent Mormon families together without any sex necessarily involved. Helen Mar Kimball (age 14) seems to be one of these.

    I won’t pretend I’ve got airtight evidence on this. You’ll believe what you want to believe on this issue. But I’m far from convinced that it was “all about the sex.”

    And the word polygamy means BOTH multiple wives and multiple husbands.

    Polygyny is one man with more than one wife. Obviously, this was practiced.

    Polyandry is one woman with more than one husband. Joseph also practiced this.

    Even section 132 of the Doctrine and Covenants leaves the door open for both polygyny and polyandry if you pay close attention to the text.

    Both kinds of marriages are currently performed for men and women who are dead in the temple (i.e. men are sealed to more than one wife AND women are sealed to more than one man).

    For my part, I think Joseph truly was commanded to take multiple wives.

    However, I think the Lord left a lot of the implementation to Joseph himself. And I think Joseph kind of made a hash of it in many respects. It was a tough situation to be in and each of us has to ask ourselves:

    “If God told me to take on multiple spouses – how would I do? Would I handle it well, or would I hurt people in the process?”

    I can answer the question for myself. There is no doubt in my mind that I would hurt people’s feelings and not handle it very well or skillfully at all.

  152. NChristine permalink
    May 28, 2009 3:21 am

    Hi Spamlds,

    Thank you for your polite response. I had made the point that Paul actually encouraged and invited factual investigation by his reference to living witnesses of the resurrection. You seemed to be saying that while Paul mentioned this, it was really not evidence but a manifestation of the Holy Spirit that converted people. Correct me if I misunderstand. While I agree that no one can come to Christ unless convicted by the Holy Spirit, I wonder at your distinction between facts and the Holy Spirit. The Spirit is the “Spirit of truth” (John 16:12), so He is not divorced from truth! Facts will be in unity with the Spirit.

    Also, I had agreed with you that Paul used the Old Testament scriptures to verify that Jesus was really of God — that He was the prophesied Messiah. In fact, while you seemed to claim that it was only (or mostly) a manifestation of the Spirit that produced conversions, note how heavy Paul’s approach was with the Word of God:

    And Paul, as his manner was, went in unto them, and three sabbath days reasoned with them out of the scriptures, opening and alleging, that Christ must needs have suffered, and risen again from the dead; and that this Jesus, whom I preach unto you, is Christ (Acts 17:2-3).

    How did Paul prove Jesus’ Messiahship? By using the Old Testament scriptures! He used what was already known to be Scripture to prove what was new — to prove that it was not off-based but rather in fulfillment of the scriptures that had already been written. Look how much he had to work with — three days’ worth of reasoning from the multitudes of Messianic prophecies! J. S. also had scriptures that had already been written by his time. What prophecies in the Old Testament or the New Testament could a Mormon reason from to prove that what is “new” (the BoM, etc.) is not off-based?

    Finally, the apostles did indeed point to miracles of the Holy Spirit that attested to their apostleship and the Word of God. However, throughout the New Testament we are also warned of miracles by false prophets. Consider these verses:

    Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity (Matthew 7:22-23).

    And then shall that Wicked be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of his mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of his coming: Even him, whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders, and with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved (II Thess. 2:8-10).

    Miracles in and of themselves do not necessarily prove the Holy Spirit. The message must also be in perfect accord with the Word of God. That is why the Bereans were “noble” (Acts 17:11) — they “searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so.”

  153. Stephanie permalink
    May 28, 2009 3:51 am

    To respond to your comments:

    “I think the phenomenon of “lost boys” is purely a modern one. I does not seem to have existed in 1800s Utah.”

    I’m not totally sure how that is possible. Any examination of the history of the west shows that the ratio of men to women was always disproportionate. The expression was “Go west young man.” Not “Go west single and available young woman.” Furthermore, if there were so many available adult women, why did J.S. have to resort to marrying teenagers?

    “However, I think the Lord left a lot of the implementation to Joseph himself. And I think Joseph kind of made a hash of it in many respects. It was a tough situation to be in and each of us has to ask ourselves: “If God told me to take on multiple spouses – how would I do? Would I handle it well, or would I hurt people in the process?”

    That is not the right question to ask. God never tempts believers to sin. “But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed” (James 1:14). I’m not going to have to make an awful decision about whether or not to commit adultery if God asks me—I know God is not going to ask me to do that. God had already provided clear direction to the New Testament believers to elect leaders that were the “husband of one wife” (1 Tim. 3:2).

    “But it needs to be noted right now that the evidence that he actually did so is far from clear. In fact, a lot of the evidence suggests a lot of these marriages were never consummated, but were rather “dynastic marriages” – a way to bind prominent Mormon families together without any sex necessarily involved. Helen Mar Kimball (age 14) seems to be one of these.”

    Try to imagine that 40-something man was on trial today for marrying a 14-year-old. Imagine the scene in the courtroom when he denies having sex with his wife. Can you picture it? Would you believe him? Your theory is a fine one but remains a theory only unless you can prove that J.S. denied sleeping with her. Of course he wouldn’t deny sleeping with his wife. The POINT of plural marriage was “raising up seed” (D&C 132:63; Jacob 2:30). How do you raise up seed without consummating the marriage? Perhaps J.S. had a strict “no sex before age 18” policy that we aren’t aware of. But surely such an important commitment should have been made public. Why do we hold Joseph Smith to a lower standard of righteousness than anyone else? Elizabeth Smart’s abductor was rightly vilified by the media, and he took just one teenager!

    Really, the whole discussion of Helen Mar Kimball is somewhat beside the point anyway. Perhaps she was an exception to the average at the time. Perhaps she was a fully physically developed teenager who was capable of bearing children. What of the other child brides? Nancy Winchester was 14. Flora Ann Woodworth was 16. He married three 17-year-olds. J.S.’s second wife Fanny Alger was 16. The point I’m trying to make is that the whole foundation of Mormonism rests on Joseph Smith. If he is reliable then perhaps Mormonism is credible. If not then I have no reason to research the doctrinal claims. Jesus promised we would “know them by their fruits” (Matt. 7:16). Be honest, is that good fruit?

    Thanks, I enjoy talking with you! 🙂

    Stephanie

  154. May 28, 2009 4:08 am

    Hey Spam,

    A couple of thoughts in response to your very long rebuttal –

    On the topic of no genealogies in the BOM: You brought up the fact that there are no Egyptian records that mention Moses. To me this seems like an entirely separate point. This would be a better comparison with how well the Bible and BOM match up with archeology. We know that not everything in the Bible has been substantiated in archeology. However, the point I was making about the genealogies is that there aren’t any in the BOM. This is so different from the Bible which is full of them. It was just a significant difference that stood out to me and prevented me from being able to trace the Nephites to the historical, genealogical records in scripture.

    I’m well aware of the argument about chiasmus in the BOM. It’s not very compelling to me since there is also chiasmus in the D&C (which is not supposed to be based on ancient manuscripts).

    On the references to steel in the KJV: We know from looking in a lexicon that the Hebrew word for steel is copper or bronze so this poses no problem for my view. I suppose the same could be said for the root word of the BOM steel, however there is no lexicon for me to look up the word. It seems more likely to me that Joseph Smith used the word because it was in the KJV without realizing that there was no steel in 600 BC. Is it too much, given the claim that the BOM is “the most correct book on earth,” that I expect a little more correctness when it comes to these kinds of things? 🙂

    Have a good night!

  155. May 28, 2009 5:01 am

    “the Hebrew word for steel is copper or bronze so this poses no problem for my view. I suppose the same could be said for the root word of the BOM steel, however there is no lexicon for me to look up the word.”

    Exactly. So you’d be best to drop this particular criticism since it doesn’t really get you anywhere unless you are talking to people who are already convinced the whole thing is a fake.

    Tell me Jessica. Should I be worshipping Zeus because there’s archeological corroboration for the Illiad?

  156. May 28, 2009 7:51 am

    spamlds

    The only proof of the First Vision comes through personal revelation.

    As far as proof goes. I’m going to believe what is written in that persons on handwriting. Joseph wrote when he was 26 years old, in his on diary. That only Jesus appeared and he was 16. This dose not sound like the official version the church uses. Which version do you believe?

  157. GERMIT permalink
    May 28, 2009 1:10 pm

    Seth: you wrote

    Tell me Jessica. Should I be worshipping Zeus because there’s archeological corroboration for the Illiad?

    I dont’ think you quite get our point: yes, there are many works of fiction that have historical and cultural substance. That doesn’t make them divine works of revelation, it just means someone did their homework. But if a work that presents itself as historical is in fact NOT, then…. When combined with other “flags”, does it deserve to be considered as from GOD ?

  158. GERMIT permalink
    May 28, 2009 1:19 pm

    Seth wrote:

    Did you miss that part where I said other scripture would be forthcoming from other corners of the world?

    No, I caught that, my point is that you really aren’t that much further along to have added one or two continents….you are content, it seems, to wait in getting news of what GOD has done, or will do, for the other continents. This could have been your position even if HE had only come, physically, to the mediterranean. Not that different , to me, but to each his own, I suppose…

  159. GERMIT permalink
    May 28, 2009 1:35 pm

    The Spamster wrote:

    Today, thousands of Mormon priesthood holders lay hands on the sick and they recover

    that may be….what is ALSO true is that janitor ladies and truckers, with NO official church title or position (except for perhaps, priesthood of all believers) have ALSO laid hands on people and seen any number of manifestations of the HOLY SPIRIT. And I’ve been privileged to see some of these.

    Sounds like GOD doesn’t take many days off.
    GERMIT

  160. GERMIT permalink
    May 28, 2009 1:42 pm

    Spamster: reread your last post and let me congratulate you for not being a dispensationalist….that’s kind of dead end theology, we might both agree on that. But I could take your post, change just a few words reg. your PARTICULAR church, and your comments would make perfect sense to many thousands of people that I know personlly. My point is that there is nothing particularly Mormon about your points: I can agree that GOD is doing all that stuff today, and does, thru the power of the HOLY SPIRIT… and then what ??

  161. faithoffathers permalink
    May 28, 2009 1:44 pm

    Regarding geneologies in the BOM:

    There are geneologies in the BOM. Look at Ether. There are also incomplete geneologies of many of the writers.

    Nephi states the reason for not giving the geneologies in what turned out to be the Book of Mormon. He desired the room for speaking of Christ. He made two sets of plates- one for the more temporal record of the kings, wars, etc. and another set of plates for the spiritual things of his people. He references the brass plates (obtained from Laban) as containing a geneology of Laban, who was related to Lehi in some distant way.

    So, they had the geneologies of basically Lehi (Laban) back to Joseph on the brass plates. Nephi was commanded by the Lord to make the large plates of Nephi and small plates of Nephi for specific purposes. I don’t really see the issue with those plates not containing the geneologies. Do all the books of the Bible contain geneologies?

    It is clear from the record that they did keep geneologies. How else could Mormon say “I am a pure descendent of Nephi?” Or Ammoron be a descendant of Zoram, etc. etc. It is very clear they kept geneologies.

    P.S. I hope we can still discuss evidences for and against the BOM. We are all so tangent prone I know.

    fof

  162. May 28, 2009 2:42 pm

    “Nephi states the reason for not giving the geneologies in what turned out to be the Book of Mormon. He desired the room for speaking of Christ. He made two sets of plates- one for the more temporal record of the kings, wars, etc. and another set of plates for the spiritual things of his people. He references the brass plates (obtained from Laban) as containing a geneology of Laban, who was related to Lehi in some distant way.”
    Fof,
    To stay off topic here. One thing that keeps puzzling me about the BOM is not just that it was supposedly translated from Golden Plates that no one has found, but why people were writing whole on metallic plates in the first place. It is very unusual and impractical not to mention improbable. Could you enlighten me as to why they were doing this?

  163. faithoffathers permalink
    May 28, 2009 3:53 pm

    Bror,

    Good question.

    “Now behold, it came to pass that I, Jacob, having ministered much unto my people in word, (and I cannot write but a little of my words, because of the difficulty of engraving our words upon plates) and we know that the things which we write upon plates must remain; But whatsoever things we write upon anything save it be upon plates must perish and vanish away; but we can write a few words upon plates, which will give our children, and also our beloved brethren, a small degree of knowledge concerning us, or concerning their fathers.” Jacob 4:1-3

    The answer Jacob provides is really pretty simple- engravings on metal last longer than engravings on anything else. There are many examples of ancient engravings on metal plates being found in the old world and new. You are correct that it would seem difficult (you say impractical). I suppose it depends on the purpose of the record. If you are sending a short note to a friend- yep, I would rather text or call. But if you want the text to last thousands of years, then it makes sense. All of the writers in the BOM understood that the record would be saved by God for the last days as a message to the Lamanite descendants of Lehi.

    You use the words “writing whole on metallic plates.” An important point is that “Reformed Egyptian” is a form of Egyptian shorthand- a mix of Egyptian and possibly Hebrew. It was used to save space. It was a very efficient way of communicating in as little space and with as few characters as possible. There are actually other variations of Egyptian shorthand from the general time period employing both Egyptian and other languages. I can get references for you (I am working).

    Mormon said:

    “And now, behold, we have written this record according to our knowledge, in the characters which are called among us the reformed Egyptian, being handed down and altered by us, according to our manner of speech. And if our plates had been sufficiently large we should have written in Hebrew; but the Hebrew hath been altered by us also; and if we could have written in Hebrew, behold, ye would have had no imperfection in our record.”

    These are actually very interesting concepts. 1. Combining Egyptian with another language in a shorthand, modified language for efficiency. (Another twist which Joseph Smith would not likely be aware of in his day.) 2. The idea that languages are modified over time and generations.

    And I wouldn’t expect anybody to find the plates made by Mormon. Joseph said they were returned to Moroni when he had completed translating that portion of the plates which he was commanded and which became the BOM (roughly 1/3 of the plates). In other words, there was the sealed portion which contains prophecies and other sacred records which the BOM says will be revealed sometime in the future.

    P.S. excuse my tangent comment- I was thinking this was the other thread on BOM evidences.

    fof

  164. May 28, 2009 3:59 pm

    The practice of writing on thin metallic plates is not unique to Joseph Smith’s account. Metal plate books have been discovered in other ancient world locations as well. It’s time-consuming. But it’s a simple way of keeping a record for posterity. A simple enough idea that it should surprise no one that ancient people did it.

  165. NChristine permalink
    May 28, 2009 4:08 pm

    Hi Seth,

    You said, I have a hard time believing that God would only confine himself to a tiny Mediterranean country and leave entire continents in complete darkness.

    You know, I fully agree that it is theoretically possible that God could have sent messengers to the ancient Americas either before or after Christ. If He thought it important to raise up an Abraham among the ancient Canaanites, a Daniel in Babylon, an Esther in Medo-Persia, a Joseph or Moses in Egypt, and Christian converts among Caesar’s household, it seems theoretically plausible that He would do so for other ancient civilizations. Of course this seems unlikely to be able to be proven, but it is certainly possible. However, this is not what is being asserted. Rather, the BoM maintains that whole civilizations of the ancient Americas were direct descendants of pre-exilic, West Semitic, Palestinian Jews! Now that is a different issue!

  166. GERMIT permalink
    May 28, 2009 4:09 pm

    . OK , you’re saying that this is “shorthand” ??

    And it came to pass that they did gather together all the people, upon all the face of the land, who had not been slain, save it was Ether. And it came to pass that Ether did behold all the doings of the people; and he beheld that the people who were for Coriantumr, were gathered together to the army of Coriantumr; and the people who were for Shiz, were gathered together to the army of Shiz; wherefore they were for the space of four years gathering together the people, that they might get all who were upon the face of the land, and that they might receive all the strength which it was possible that they could receive. And it came to pass that when they were all gathered together, every one to the army which he would, with their wives and their children; both men, women, and children being armed with weapons of war, having shields, and breast-plates, and head-plates, and being clothed after the manner of war, they did march forth one against another, to battle; and they fought all that day, and conquered not. And it came to pass that when it was night they were weary, and retired to their camps; and after they had retired to their camps, they took up a howling and a lamentation for the loss of the slain of their people; and so great were their cries, their howlings and lamentations, that it did rend the air exceedingly. And it came to pass that on the morrow they did go again to battle, and great and terrible was that day; nevertheless they conquered not, and when the night came again, they did rend the air with their cries, and their howlings, and their mournings, for the loss of the slain of their people.

    Mark Twain said that the BofM is “tiresome” and “dreary” but not at all “malicious”. I think the LAST adjective that would occur to anyone (from the outside) is “shorthand”.

    GERMIT

  167. May 28, 2009 4:35 pm

    Fof,
    “But if you want the text to last thousands of years, then it makes sense.”
    Yet we have the text of the Old Testament and the New Testament, which God obviously wanted to last thousands of years, and they have. But the golden plates? Where are they? No where. As nonexistent as they have always been. Reformed Egyptian, what else have you found in America written in reformed Egyptian? or anything looking remotely like Egyptian?
    And writing in two different languages is new? No one ever thought of that before? Except anyone who has ever bothered to learn more than one language. Ever heard of Daniel?

  168. GERMIT permalink
    May 28, 2009 4:44 pm

    OK one (maybe last) quote from Mark Twain “Roughin It”

    “And it came to pass” was his pet. If he had left that out, his Bible would have been only a pamphlet.

    looks like Mr. Twain and Jessica share a brain…..

    GERMIT

  169. May 28, 2009 4:46 pm

    Seth,
    Who are you to judge God and his ways? If God wanted to confine himself to a small Mediterranean country He could very well do so. The truth is that is a caricature at best of what happened in the Old Testament. But he focused on the children of Abraham to bring about his plan of salvation for all peoples, and that is apparent even in the covenant he makes with Abraham.
    However this doesn’t play out well in your theory about the Book of Mormon, because Christ apearing in North America was not to other nations, but supposed children of Abraham. And now I am to believe that he appeared to exiles like this in Africa, Australia, South America, all those little islands, and so forth because not only did some self willing exiles leave and go to North America, but others went to these other places too?
    If Jesus was doing all that, why did he tell the Disciples to go make disciples of all nations… jesus eveidently thought he would beet them to the punch.

  170. May 28, 2009 4:54 pm

    “Rather, the BoM maintains that whole civilizations of the ancient Americas were direct descendants of pre-exilic, West Semitic, Palestinian Jews! Now that is a different issue!”

    That’s overstating what the Book of Mormon is actually claiming Christine.

    First off, we have no idea what genetic background Lehi’s group had – other than they were Israelites. Even then you have problems since we don’t know what kind of Israelites they actually were.

    Culturally, we have no idea what they were like because, contrary to the stereotypes of Bible fundamentalists, pre-exilic Judaism was not monolithic either theologically or in culture. So while you can expect overall cultural patterns to hold for Lehi’s group, you can’t really nail down specifics.

    The argument that Lehi’s group settled in the Americas and then grew a population in complete isolation is an argument from silence based on the actual Book of Mormon text. The book neither affirms nor denies the existence of other indigenous people when Lehi and company arrived. In fact, it seems highly likely that Lehi’s group intermingled eventually with other groups.

    Thus the genetic makeup would have been highly diluted such that we would not expect to see “Jewish DNA” (if anyone even knows what that would have looked like) in Native American populations today.

    There are actually a lot of commonalities between Meso-American cultures and Israelite cultures. Volumes has been written on this and can be found over a FAIR (which you will probably dismiss, since Mormons are apparently incapable of legitimate scholarship).

    Combine this with the lack of data we have on Meso-America that I’ve already mentioned, and Evangelicals really just don’t have any basis for saying an Isrealite infusion of culture and religion is more or less likely than not.

  171. May 28, 2009 5:17 pm

    BROR,
    It’s always fun watching Evangelicals walk right into traps.
    I let someone else point out how you walked right in, but it gave me a good laugh.
    -PC

  172. faithoffathers permalink
    May 28, 2009 5:20 pm

    Bror,

    You said “And writing in two different languages is new? No one ever thought of that before?”

    It is not that simple. Combining Egyptian with another semitic language in a form of shorthand is what the BOM claims and what has been verified multiple times in the real world.

    The problem is that we don’t know what the Reformed Egyptian of Mormon’s day looks like, other than the Anthon Transcript. I do not think the Nephite society as a whole used the form of the languge used by the prophets and scribes in keeping their records. But the short answer is that yes, there have been similarities seen between Egyptian and some MesoAmerican characters of the period. Can expound a little more later when I am at home in my cave.

    Germit- the BOM text does seem tedious at times. But this doesn’t necessarily mean it wasn’t written in a form of shorhand. I just read a testimony recently from a linguist who specializes in semitic languages who was given an assignment translating the BOM into one of those languages- don’t remember which one (sorry). Anyway, this non-mormon linguist became convinced of the ancient origin of the text primarily because of passages that seemed so tedious, mechanical, and repetitive such as the one you posted. He saw clear similarities to the laborious mechanics of the text and elements of semitic languages. He concluded that a 19th century person would never compose something like that. He joined the church after translating the BOM.

    Question- why the following correlation? The more a person has studied the Book of Mormon the more complexity they find in the text. The less a person has studied the text, the more simple and boring they find it. Does it cast a spell upon those who read it? Or is there something else? Claims like those from Twain demonstrate he simply had little exposure to it beyond a brief reading and invested little in studying it. While I do not know exactly the degree to which Twain studied the book, I doubt I am off on saying that.

    There are literally countless internal evidences that the casual reader will never see.

    fof

  173. May 28, 2009 5:23 pm

    I wouldn’t call it “fun” psychochemiker.

    Bror,

    Read Jacob chapter 5 sometime. I think it’s chapter 5 – the one with the olive vineyard. That lays out the master-plan. I consider it one of the most central chapters of the entire Book of Mormon. It will explain where the Book of Mormon and the Bible fit in the big picture and how God plans to use the House of Israel to bless the lives of all nations and peoples.

  174. GERMIT permalink
    May 28, 2009 5:41 pm

    Seth R : three comments, these go out to anyone, really, but your back and forth has sparked this:

    1) good to remember WHERE THE ARGUMENT STARTS: it does NOT start with ev’s showing the world at large anything about the BofM. It starts with the LDS claim of old world ancestry for large amounts of people in meso-america (or I guess upstate NY, depending on which LDS you’re talking with) My point is: the ball is really in the MORMON court to prove the positive: does the BofM stack up as history ?? It seems the closest that the LDS posters have come to is , shrug, “we just don’t know…”

    2) similar to #!, the point that seems to get hammered into the ground is that all the ev.’s have is an “argument of silence”; this gets restated in more ways than Washington has to spend a tax dollar; OK: I get that …..but how about the POSITIVE evidence for your theory ??

    3) Seth claims that

    There are actually a lot of commonalities between Meso-American cultures and Israelite cultures. Volumes has been written on this and can be found over a FAIR (which you will probably dismiss, since Mormons are apparently incapable of legitimate scholarship).

    ” …a lot of commonalities….” well, we’ll see; but of the ‘volumes’ that have been written of these commonalities, what , if anything, has caught the attention of those outside of FAIR and FARMS who make a living at this ??

    back to FoF’;s comment about bias: his statement rings quite true, but true on both sides…for those convinced, a priori, that the BofM must be true , are not likely to be disuaded by any counter argument.

  175. GERMIT permalink
    May 28, 2009 5:55 pm

    FoF; just to be clear, are you saying that the BofM is, or is not a shorthand of something ?? Is it BOTH a shorthand AND “laborious” and “tedious” at the same time ?? what am I missing here ??

    you had written:
    He saw clear similarities to the laborious mechanics of the text and elements of semitic languages.

    thanks,
    GERMIT

  176. May 28, 2009 5:58 pm

    Psychemiker,
    I am not an evangelical.
    Second still fail to see the “trap” I walked into.
    Seth,
    Fine ignore the question. I read 5 chapters of the blasted book a day, I’m sure I’ll get there sometime.
    FoF,
    The problem is that we don’t know what the Reformed Egyptian of Mormon’s day looks like, other than the Anthon Transcript. I do not think the Nephite society as a whole used the form of the languge used by the prophets and scribes in keeping their records. But the short answer is that yes, there have been similarities seen between Egyptian and some MesoAmerican characters of the period. Can expound a little more later when I am at home in my cave.
    Yep I suppose as long as we don’t have the golden plates we will be able to assume that anything we find resembling writing in America is what Joseph Smith was referring to as Reformed Egyptian.And we won’t have anything to disprove it, because those Golden plates that were supposed to last thousaands of years as a testimony, vanished in mid air.
    Where as those other documents written on papyrus, and vellum are still there for us to compare.

  177. May 28, 2009 5:59 pm

    ” It’s always fun wathching evangelicals walk right into traps. I let someone else point out how you walked right in, but it gives me a good laugh” — PC

    PC,

    With all due respect, I don’t see how #1 laying out traps is fruitful. I think the Pharasees engaged in those a bit with Jesus, didn’t they? Asking questions of Him to only “trap” Him. Jesus of course was so much bigger than that and never once fell for it. I don’t believe misleading questions with the intent to “trap” others is right, and it’s not right for Christians to do so or Mormons or anyone else. It’s playing “dirty” and it just ain’t right.

    #2 Getting a good laugh out of someone else’s folly is definately not fruitful either, PC.

    If we are going to engage in conversation folks, let’s play clean. I tell my kids the following : If you are going to “fight” — play fairly… no name calling, no attacking personally and definately no tricking.

    I would say that goes for both sides here.

    Just my .O2,

    gloria

  178. GERMIT permalink
    May 28, 2009 5:59 pm

    One “typo” : the “who makes a living at this” is NOT a reference to FAIR or FARMS guys, who are probably largely volunteer…..I meant those OUTSIDE of FAIR or FARMS….don’t want to disparage large amounts of volunteer work as unto the LORD…..

    sorry for the confusion.
    GERMIT

  179. May 28, 2009 6:12 pm

    Another thing to consider is how alien the culture of the Nephites really is to 1800s frontier America.

    It was once pointed out to me how coldly indifferent the Book of Mormon seems to be toward women. Even the Bible – as patriarchal and misogynistic as it is accused of being – has stories about women. Women actually figure prominently in the Bible narrative – sometimes even taking the lead role with entire books named after them.

    The Book of Mormon offers a stark contrast to the Biblical pattern. Women are almost never mentioned in the book – except in the same breath as personal property. You get mention of Sariah and the daughters of Ishmael in 1 Nephi, but this comes from Nephi who was still closely connected with the same culture that produced the Old Testament. Likewise Jacob’s sermon that mentions treating wives well.

    But as you get into the Book of Mormon, the account takes a different tone and women almost never figure into the account as anything other than property like crops and flocks. The only warm accounts of women throughout the rest of the book involve LAMANITE women (such as King Lamoni’s wife in the book of Mosiah) or the admiration with which a group of Lamanite warriors speak of their mothers. Apparently the Lamanites were more warm to their women than the Nephites were. Mormon, the primary author of the Book of Mormon seems to have only grudgingly included women when he was forced to. The rest of the time, they are pretty-much ignored.

    This cold indifference toward the female gender couldn’t be more different than the culture Joseph Smith was raised in. Early 1800s America was hopelessly sentimental and gushy about women. Although feminists today would not appreciate how women were placed on a pedestal and objectified, you can’t say that 1800s culture didn’t care about women or ignored them. Read the letters of Civil War soldiers to their wives sometime. they’re are positively syrupy. Gooey, gushing, adoring, lovey-dovey sentimentalism absolutely drips off the page in a way that’s almost embarrassing to modern readers. Joseph’s letters to his wife Emma are very much like this.

    And you look at 1800s literature as well. Everything back then was a romance. Everything was done for the love of a woman. Women were always the central point of almost any popular novel written in that time period. It’s just the way 1800s males thought.

    I just don’t see Joseph – very much a product of his time – producing something so alien as the Book of Mormon.

    However, the Book of Mormon does fit rather well with cultural attitudes of the Aztec and Maya cultures. The cold indifference toward women as chattels very much fits with that culture.

    Not saying the Book of Mormon definitely happened in Central America (I’ve heard good theories to the contrary), but I’m just saying there’s a definite culture in the Book of Mormon – and it ain’t Joseph’s.

  180. May 28, 2009 6:46 pm

    “Not saying the Book of Mormon definitely happened in Central America (I’ve heard good theories to the contrary), but I’m just saying there’s a definite culture in the Book of Mormon – and it ain’t Joseph’s.”

    I guess there are few things here. What evidence do you have concerning the treatment of women in the Maya Culture in the days before Christ, or during Christ’s time?
    Second why always the Maya? Joseph Smith prophesied that Zelph was known from the Eastern Shore to the Rocky Mountains. And of course, the golden plates were found in New York. I would still like to see them.

  181. May 28, 2009 6:53 pm

    I checked my mail this morning and there were nearly 40 replies from this thread alone in my mailbox. That’s way more than I can respond to effectively. One of the reasons I set up my own web site was to answer those questions at my own pace. I don’t issue this invitation to steal Jessica’s traffic, but most of your questions are addressed at length on the S.P.A.M. web site.

    I will probably use this thread as the inspiration to deal with more of these subject in depth in the weeks to come. I probably won’t be posting here for a while, so I’ll try to wrap up with my personal testimony and witness.

    Most of what you guys are looking for would simply be answered by reading the Book of Mormon with an open mind. Unfortunately, many of you have been so steeped in anti-Mormon literature and web sites that you are no longer willingly to consider possibilities that don’t meet your own paradigm.

    As one person here emphasized that everyone acts from a personal bias, let me clarify one thing about all my reasonings. I started out life in a Presbyterian family. I later attended Baptist and Methodist churches.

    When I was 11 years-old, scared to death by the threat of impending damnation and hell from the preaching of a Baptist minister, I responded to an altar call and said the “Sinners’ Prayer” with the man. I didn’t want to go to hell and burn. (You guys talk about the “burning in the bosom” being an emotional experience–isn’t every altar call intended to capitalize on fear? Isn’t being “born again” an emotional experience?) Thus by any Protestant/Calvinist definition, today I should be considered saved because I made that confession of faith at age 11.

    I found in each of these denominations teachings that didn’t square with the Bible or with God’s fairness and justice. I studied Catholicism and also found many more errors. (The Protestants were right to protest!)

    The teachings of these creedal religions caused me to reflect that it was entirely possible that all religions were man-made and that Christianity was not the path to know the Eternal. I studied eastern religions and found much there that was meritorious and valuable, yet I could not find the path through them to come to a personal knowledge of God.

    The result was that I became agnostic and very nearly atheist at one time. To me, all religions were man’s inventions and most of them exist either to control people or to make money. Governments rely on religion for moral justification of its authority and religion relies on the implied threat of government authority to induce conformity. That became my opinion in those days.

    Nowhere, among any of the religions I studied ever said that God still spoke. Every religion taught that their guy was always the “last prophet.” I frequently read the Book of the Acts of the Apostles, because there, in black and white we see a living, breathing Church that was still “connected to the home office” so to speak. I remember thinking, why are there no prophets or apostles today?

    In time, I found the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. After my experience with all the other churches, I approached it with a great deal of skepticism. My mind was open, but I was wary. I nevertheless had three critical elements in place. Long before I had ever met a Mormon or knew anything of them, I understood that, if he would reveal his truth to me (I called it Truth with a capital “T”), that it would be the most important thing anyone could ever know. Thus, if he were to show me his truth, I promised him that I would follow it with all my heart no matter where it would lead.

    I had what God expects of each of you: desire to know, a humble heart, and a willingness to commit to truth no matter where it leads.

    To my amazement, I found that the Holy Ghost powerfully confirmed the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon. I knew by the Spirit of God that it was true long before I ever finished reading it. Obviously, I read the whole thing, but I had the witness of the Spirit way before I finished it. I knew by a direct, personal revelation from the Holy Ghost that Joseph Smith was a prophet.

    Most importantly, I had to come to terms with Jesus Christ. I had not believed in him for many years. My education led me to regard him as a moral teacher or a religious innovator, but I certainly did not believe he was divine. Now pay attention here, because this is important:

    When I came to know by God’s Spirit that Joseph Smith truly did see him, it put me in a predicament. Because now, I had personal evidence, independent of anyone or anything, that Jesus Christ was the Son of God. God the Father told Joseph, pointing to Jesus–“This is my beloved Son…”

    I came to know Jesus Christ because of the testimony of Joseph Smith.

    The witness of the reality of Jesus Christ was way different than my “Sinner’s Prayer” experience. People told me after the fact that I wasn’t supposed to “feel” different, just to trust that I’d be saved. The witness that came to me because of the Book of Mormon and Joseph Smith was overwhelming, powerful, and personal.

    Suddenly, I knew Jesus Christ. I knew that he was real, that all the Bible stories about him were real. I knew from that moment forward that the Bible was true, too! I knew that he willingly died to take away my sins. I felt the weight of those sins and it was awful. I realized, as my spirit stood “naked” before him, that I was unworthy, sinful, and ungrateful. I poured out my heart to him, wanting the peace he had to offer. To my undying gratitude, he forgave my sins and gave me peace. That peace came when I made the covenant to follow him forever in the ordinance of baptism. The Holy Ghost came into my life and the gifts have been too numerous to begin to mention.

    The companionship of the Holy Ghost as a daily presence in my life is perhaps the greatest gift that comes from this experience. If you’re not “feeling something” and just going along with it, you don’t have the Holy Ghost. You don’t have a remission of your sins. You haven’t really been “born again.” Yes it’s emotional because joy is an emotion. Love is an emotion. And once you have the Holy Ghost, the answers to all these endless questions are just there for you.

    Because of the path I took to get here, I am blessed to be able to see and understand the gospel from many viewpoints. You may feel I am biased because I am a proponent of the LDS system of belief, but it is not a one-sided or narrow view. I have been where many of you are. I have seen this from the bottom and the top, the back and the front, and the left and the right. I know with no shadow of doubt that it is true.

    Is there truth in other religions? Yes. Do they have all truth? No. Does Mormonism have all truth? No, but it has the open line to the “home office” still. I know there are living apostles and prophets today. As God prepares his kingdom for the return of Jesus, revelations will come. He will not leave us unprepared. “As it was in the days of Noah,” Jesus said, “so shall it be in the coming of the Son of Man.”

    The world will continue to fight against Zion until the world is judged and burned for its wickedness. The wheat will never stand alone from the tares until Jesus returns. The Pharisees fought against Jesus and the apostles. They had scriptures and an orthodoxy–old wine that wouldn’t fit in the new bottles. The primitive church was rejected, the true believers were martyred, and the creeds of men became the uninspired solutions to controveries. The ancient church taught that the heavens were closed and that God would not speak. Angels, miracles, and all those things were consigned to the past.

    Well, if you’re a believer in the Book of Acts, then I just want to tell you that the Church you read about there has been restored and exists today. Critics will do what they will and those with closed minds will always find something else to attack. Even Jesus was not without fault in their eyes. They criticized him for healing people on the sabbath and said he did miracles by the devil’s power. There will always be those who will fight against the true Church, no matter where or when it exists.

    If you want to know the truth, dump the anti-Mormon literature and the anti-Mormon web sites. Prepare yourself to follow God no matter where he will lead you and then read the Book of Mormon with a prayer in your heart (not to be protected from it) but to know God’s will for you. He will speak to your heart in an unmistakable way. You will know it is God. You will be able to tell the difference. If you can’t trust God to not let you be misled, how is that faith? I don’t need to teach you how to do that part. You’ll know. “My sheep hear my voice,” he said.

    You will be tested and tried. Satan doesn’t want you to follow God. He is content to get you to miss the mark with counterfeit doctrines that teach you that God won’t answer, can’t answer, or that you don’t merit an answer.

    It’s funny. In one way, anti-Mormonism was one of the great confirmations to me that I had made the right decision. All through my life, when I left one denomination to seek truth in another, there was never any opposition. When I left Christianity to explore Buddhism and Hinduism, there was not any opposition. None at all.

    When I began to investigate Mormonism, all hell literally broke loose. Neighbors who never gave me the time of day suddenly became “concerned” because they saw LDS elders at the house. They told my parents I was joining a cult. People put anti-Mormon pamphlets in our mailbox and on my car windshield. One thing after another arose to hedge up the way. It’s like Satan never knew I existed until I got ready to join the true Church of Christ.

    I recognized this of course. Some of you might say that God was trying to stop me from making a terrible mistake, but I would answer that, when I left Christianity behind to study eastern religion and do transcendental meditation, there was no such opposition.

    Satan will always focus his energies and the energies of his followers to attack those individual to whom he gives the keys of the kingdom. He knows that those keys, when they are among men, have power to overturn his kingdom. The opposition faced by the Church and its members in the world, and in forums like this, comes from Satan. If the LDS Church didn’t have those keys, we would face no opposition.

    At the last day, we will all stand before God and be judged according to our works. Those who have fought against God’s kingdom will feel very ashamed. I am sure of the promise of Jesus wherein he said, “My sheep hear my voice.” I am confident that no anti-Mormon efforts will keep those who are being called by the voice of the Good Shepherd from finding safety, peace, and happiness in his fold.

    God lives. Jesus is his beloved Son and our Savior. His Church is on the earth today and it is guided by living apostles and prophets. Joseph Smith was one of those. The Book of Mormon is the key to the revelation of this knowledge. Farewell for now!

  182. May 28, 2009 7:05 pm

    “And of course, the golden plates were found in New York. I would still like to see them.”

    And a fat lot of good it would do you or anyone else. I don’t worship God because he can be proven. I worship him because he is worth worshiping.

    There are several geographic theories out there – some more accepted than others. Central America is probably the most popular. It runs into problems with certain assumptions Joseph had about where the locations were. But that’s only a problem if you consider prophets infallible in everything they assert (regardless of the context). As to how the plates arrived in upstate New York – pretty simple answer. Moroni carried them there. They weren’t too heavy to be moved and were the sort of thing you could travel with. Moroni was on the run for his own safety and an outcast. Roman legions marching in formation covered and average of 30 miles per day. And Moroni buried the plates years after the destruction of the Nephites. He could have easily covered that much ground.

    Other LDS scholars have a theory that actually places the geography in upstate New York. Haven’t read too much of it.

    A new theory places it in southern Peru and Northern Chile under the assertion that much of South America was actually covered in water around 600 BC. Haven’t read much about that one either.

    A really fringe theory places the events in Malaysia.

    But the Central American model is probably most popular.

  183. GERMIT permalink
    May 28, 2009 7:17 pm

    Spamster: thanks for the brief time here; I did read a few things from your blog, which I found cranky and not that respectful. You could throw “arrogant” in there as well. I know this sounds harsh, and maybe IS harsh, but I’d rather blog this to your face, not to just call you names (not that helpful) but to let you know how your approach comes across to at least ONE outsider. I think it was Jessica herself who commented that she could not find the HUMOR part to your blog….I love to laugh, and will laugh at myself, when it’s warranted….ask SETH or just mention GERMIT and cupcakes in the same sentence….. if you’d like to direct me to something constructive that ‘s also funny, I’m all ears.

    More later
    GERMIT

  184. May 28, 2009 7:45 pm

    SpamLDS,

    I read thru your journey to mormonism. I appreciate you taking time to share with us.

    You mentioned that no where in all the religions you researched said that God still speaks.

    I would have to say, that God most definately still speaks today! He spoke to me just this morning during our time together. He speaks thru His living Word, the Bible. He speaks thru the Holy Spirit. ( who is God) He speaks, and lives and communicates today with His children.

    I have not walked in your shoes, so I can not judge your heart. Praise God, He is the one who knows our hearts. But I just had to share, that this Christian does have a living relationship with the Lord.

    Many search for God thru religions, and never actually meet the person of Jesus.

    I will be praying for you, that God would draw you to Him in the most beautiful of ways,
    gloria

  185. GERMIT permalink
    May 28, 2009 8:32 pm

    After reading more of S.P.A.M…..I will limit myself to saying “GREAT JOB Jessica” in dealing with the whole education thing; you really represented the SAVIOR well. If I say more, the moderation hammer will find me…..

    GERMIT

  186. NChristine permalink
    May 28, 2009 8:48 pm

    Hi Seth and FoF,

    I am still not understanding the whole genetic argument and how it allows for Jews in the Americas. I am no geneticist, so feel free to correct my reasoning or data if you think it is faulty, but please provide all source data if you do so. 🙂 You (Seth) said,

    First off, we have no idea what genetic background Lehi’s group had – other than they were Israelites. Even then you have problems since we don’t know what kind of Israelites they actually were.

    Sure, liberal scholars believe in a mish-mash of religious practice during the pre-exilic period, but that doesn’t have to do with genetics. Sure, liberal scholars don’t buy the whole biblical account of Israel’s origins, but that doesn’t mean that we “don’t know what kind of Israelites they were.” What does “what kind” mean? Even liberal scholars classify pre-exilic Israelites as West Semitic, don’t they?

    A genetic study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences notes this:

    The results support the hypothesis that the paternal gene pools of Jewish communities from Europe, North Africa, and the Middle East descended from a common Middle Eastern ancestral population…(emphasis added).

    So Jews are Middle Eastern, and that Middle Eastern ancestry was not just a collage of many peoples. Okay — so what kind of “Middle Eastern ancestral population” are we talking about? The study linked above found distinct commonalities with Palestinian and Syrian populations. Anyone can peruse the many related articles on Wikipedia and see similar studies and conclusions. Jews have Middle Eastern roots.

    FoF referred numerous times (on the Role of the Mind thread) to an Emory University study that, to him, left the door a tiny crack open for Jewish genes in the New World. However, when I went back and read your quotation of the study’s author, FoF, it seemed to me that you interpreted the results differently than he did. Your conclusion was this: To the researchers surprise, this haplogroup X [the 2% or 3% oddity] was only found in groups of people living in Europe and Asia Minor (middle East), including Italian, Finns, and ISRAELIS. However, according to your quotation, the study’s author said, “To date, haplogroup X has not been identified in Asia, raising the possibility that some Native American founders were of Caucasian ancestry” (emphasis mine). Of course, as you yourself noted, FoF, many Israelis of today are genetically related to Europeans, so that makes sense that the author would conclude the “haplogroup X” might be Caucasian. Any descendants of the BoM characters, however, would have been from pre-Diaspora (read: non-Caucasian) ancestry.

    I certainly am no geneticist or expert on DNA, but it seems there has been some confusion between Causasians and Jews. While many Jews of today have Caucasian ancestry, I find no evidence that this was the case in 600 BC. Does anyone else? I think it is hard to avoid this Jew-Caucasian confusion when the BoM itself talks about Jews with white skin, and when arguments to substantiate the BoM often use the out-of-print, much-referred-to, unsubstantiated He Walked the Americas, which talks about a white-bearded prophet with gray-green eyes.

    Aren’t these Caucasian-New World links completely irrelavent to proving a Jewish-New World link? One would first have to demonstrate some 600 BC Jewish-Caucasian link, wouldn’t they?

  187. May 28, 2009 8:56 pm

    The DNA argument is a separate one from the cultural remnant argument.

    I think we are mixing up the two.

    On culture:

    Yes, there was a variety of religious and cultural practice among Israelis pre-exile. We don’t know which part Lehi’s group came from, so it’s hard to be too specific on what sort of cultural remnants we would even be looking for in the New World.

    On DNA:

    DNA gets mixed up and changes over time. And if you do not buy into the Mormon folklore view of Lehi’s group providing the sole ancestry for the entire continent, then it stands to reason that the genetics were mixed. So we’re not completely sure what we’re looking for to begin with.

    Secondly, it’s quite possible that the DNA signature that would link to the Middle East was completely swallowed up and erased by the much larger indigenous population. Likely, actually.

    And don’t forget that the population pre-dating Lehi’s arrival mentioned in the record – the Jaredites – were actually Asian in origin.

  188. NChristine permalink
    May 28, 2009 9:07 pm

    Yes, Seth — but doesn’t it sound as though we do not even have a “loophole” or “doorway” for even a tiny bit of genetic evidence for Middle Eastern Semites? Per FoF’s argument (the Emory U. study), the study’s author himself concluded that the non-Asian ancestry (very trace) was probably Caucasian. If he (the study’s author) is right, that leaves Middle Eastern Semites out of the equation.

    Is it actually possible for a DNA signature to be “completely swallowed up and erased”? Anyone know? That doesn’t seem right.

  189. NChristine permalink
    May 28, 2009 9:09 pm

    One more thing — even if you hold to a “nonhemispheric model” (I can’t recall what you exactly called the theory), don’t you still have to accept whole civilizations that are descendants of Jews?

  190. GERMIT permalink
    May 28, 2009 9:09 pm

    Seth: I guess I dont’ understand this comment:

    We don’t know which part Lehi’s group came from, so it’s hard to be too specific on what sort of cultural remnants we would even be looking for in the New World.

    well, fortunately the BofM ITSELF is pretty specific about all kinds of things, all kinds of activities, many kinds of behaviors, battles, and on and on…. forget about pre-exilic this and that for a sec, and recognize: why not look for what the book itself has been talking about ?? the COMPARISON piece can come later, and maybe that is much more of a problem….is that what you meant ??

  191. May 28, 2009 9:28 pm

    Christine,

    The primary way of tracking DNA is through mitochondrial DNA or “mtDNA.”

    This is only passed from mother to daughter.

    So, who are the women in Lehi’s group?

    There’s his wife Saria – mother to Nephi and his brothers. No sisters mentioned. So there’s a possible dead-end genetically right there. Assuming she did have daughters, what if only one of… say… three had daughters of her own? And then what if those daughters had none…

    You see, there are just innumerable points along the population pyramid that a dead-end could happen. Any time a family has no daughters basically.

    The other women mentioned are Ishmael’s daughters. We are told Ishmael was from the tribe of Manasseh, but his wife is never mentioned. We don’t know what she was. So you’ve got a possible bigger pool of mtDNA going here. But it still runs into the same problems.

    There’s also a patrilineal tracing mechanism that runs into the same problems in reverse.

    This is compounded when a small group of Israelites gets absorbed into a much more numerous surrounding indigenous population. There’s just countless places where dead ends could have occurred.

    Then you factor in that about 60% of the indigenous population was wiped out by smallpox and other European diseases soon after contact with European explorers, and…

    You’re looking for a needle in a haystack at this point.

    Final point. There hasn’t been a single major DNA study conducted on Native Americans that ever claimed it had ruled out all possible genetic infusions on the continent – no matter how small.

  192. faithoffathers permalink
    May 28, 2009 9:51 pm

    Germit,

    You may not accept anything I have offered on this or the other threads as “proof” of the BOM. My guess is that nobody on the other side is accepting any of what is proposed as evidence or proof as there have been so few responses outside of ChristineN and a few by Jessica. In my opinion, much has been offered in striking correlations and coincidences- things that approach being considered “proof” to some degree. I, for one, think the argument on our side is way stronger than merely shrugging our shoulders and saying “we just don’t know.”

    In addition to showing that the DNA evidence in no way disproves anything about the BOM (accept I suppose the hemispheric model), I have tried to offer the following to think about:

    1. The BOM geography matches that of MesoAmerica very well as far as the bodies of water, elevations, rivers as well as the presence of gold, copper, and silver in abundance- the only place in the hemisphere where those three metals coexist in any significant amount. Those bodies of waters are separated by distances that match those described in the BOM. Highlands in the south and lowlands in the north. The main river flowing northward, which is unusual for North America. The wilderness on the eastern coast of the area described in the BOM matches well the eastern coast of Guatemala. The narrow pass from east coast to west coast also matches the path along the Cuchumantanes Mountains and the Sierra de las Minas located on the border between Mexico and Guatemala running from the Atlantic to the Pacific. There is in Vera Cruz Mexico near Yucatan a very large hill/mountain near Palanque- ancient legends claim great battles were fought on the hill. The hill is surrounded by 23 obviously man-made large mounds eminating outward as if for fortifications. They are now covered with plant coverage, etc. but are easily recognized. The last Nephite army was led by 23 captains who each led 10,000 men. Etc. Etc. Robert Pate has documented that some of the Maya in that very area call their land and one of their towns Xarhamallah (and yes, he is a mormon). Sure, none of this is proof, but the area fits the BOM geography extremely well.

    2. Statements from Joseph Smith claiming that Zarahemla and the BOM events took place in Southern Mexico and Guatemala have been provided.

    3. Statements from famous and well-accepted anthropologists and researchers showing a shift in thought regarding the single migration theory have been provided. It is becoming more and more accepted that there were likely several trans-oceanic migrations to the Americas. For decades it was assumed such was impossible.

    4. The BOM claims that two civilizations lived in the Americas and overlapped in the area they inhabited. The first arrived around 2000-2200 B.C. The second arrived around 585 B.C. We now know the Olmec, Mayan, Zapotec, and other civilizations existed in the area in the general time frame. The BOM claims that the two civilizations were highly structured, with written heiroglyphic languages, organized warrior classes, Kings/Priests, temples, advanced architecture, knowledge of science, astronomy, and level roads. This was completely contrary to the widely accepted understanding of the “natives” of America in 1830. The BOM civilizations underwent sudden collapses resulting from drought, civil war, and disease/pestilences. Such is thought to be the case of the MesoAmerican civilizations.

    4. Ancient MesoAmerican gold plates with engravings as well as many examples of stone boxes for valuables were referenced.

    5. Legends and records from the area claim the following: A. Their people came from across the sea on boats B. Those migrants were originally “fair-skinned” and split into two groups- those who went north were industrious and organized, those to the south were more indolent and primative. C. The earlier arrivals claimed to have originated from the tower of babel (consistent with the Jaredites). D. The Mayans claimed to have come from Abraham and Jacob (Nephites influence?).

    6. 55 groups in the Central and South America as well as islands off the coast have legends that a white-bearded God appeared anciently and promised to return. Cortez benefitted greatly from this legend and belief as it enabled him to wipe out the locals.

    7. The rewritten Popol Vuh tells the story of a group of Maya who discovered the hieroglyphic original Popol Vuh during a journey from the highands to the lowlands by the sea. This matches very well with the story of the people of Limhi in the BOM who were sent to find Zarahemla, but found instead the Plates of Ether. The Popol Vuh contained the creation story and many tales that parallel Biblical history.

    There is much more, but this is a summary of what has been offered on recent threads here with the response of basically “is that all you got? Where’s the proof?”

    This may not proove the BOM, but it ain’t chopped liver either!

    I believe the greatest proof of the BOM is the text itself. The linguistic evidences are very significant and really have not been discussed here.

    Germit- honest question- just on the basis of geography and archeology, can you see how we feel the BOM is plausible and even believable? The linguistic and textual questions should also be considered, and I welcome that.

    I believe what I believe. Germit believes what Germit believes. Hopefully, we live accordingly. What is the more dangerous or more common error- being too willing to believe, or not willing enough? Which error is most often made in man’s history? Every new dispensation or revelation from God faces the same unbelief on the part of man. I recognize that this in itself is not cause to buy into the Book of Mormon. Just a little context for the debate.

    What would it take to prove to Germit that the BOM is true? If such a proof were discovered, how much credit could you be given for believing the religious claims of the BOM? At that point, would it be faith on your part?

    If the BOM is proven without doubt to be true, where is faith? Such evidence would remove the faith among believers would it not? Due to the miraculous nature of the books coming about, we would know without doubt that 1. God lives. 2. Jesus Christ is the Messiah 3. God speaks through prophets. 4. There is life after death. etc. etc.

    Does Germit think God works that way?

    Keep the faith!

    fof

  193. germit permalink
    May 28, 2009 11:59 pm

    FoF: well written, both from the content and tone…what you have routinely given me: a high standard. Thanks. Let me digest your list (and earlier posts and SOME of the references) and reply point for point. As to “what it would take”, rest assured that tho I enjoy and learn from this kind of study, I readily admit that , as Solomon said, the writing of books is endless (or was it “reading” ?…hmmm) at any rate, the rational pursuits are gifts, but only some of what God has given us, we can and do agree with that. You’ve certainly put yours to work !!

    Back in a day or two,
    peace and hope on you and yours
    GERMIT

  194. May 29, 2009 12:05 am

    GERMIT said, “I think it was Jessica herself who commented that she could not find the HUMOR part to your blog….I love to laugh, and will laugh at myself, when it’s warranted….ask SETH or just mention GERMIT and cupcakes in the same sentence…..

    Actually, that was Katie. Personally, I’ve found a lot of humor on the SPAM site. But then Katie probably has a higher standard for humor than I do. She’s the real comedian with all her cupcake jokes. 🙂

  195. germit permalink
    May 29, 2009 12:30 am

    I was conveniently forgettingKatie so that I wouldn’t have to remember EVIL PINK CONFECTION !!!

    I did like the british skits with the monty python crew.

  196. Stephanie permalink
    May 29, 2009 12:53 am

    SpamLDS,

    I’m sorry to see you go. I had hoped to have more conversations with you in the future. I was anticipating a response from you regarding your statements on the credibility of Joseph Smith and my strongly opposite feelings. Perhaps in the future if you have time you could provide me with an answer or allow me to understand it from your perspective.

    Thank you for sharing your testimony. I second the response from Gloria. My relationship with Jesus is active and alive. I speak with Him throughout the day. I rely on Him for comfort and strength. He is my Rock. I don’t have a “knowledge” relationship with Him only, I’ve turned my life over to Him. Perhaps in our discussions you may have come to the conclusion that Evangelicals believe that faith is based upon an academic knowledge. Partially this is true. “Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God” (Rom. 10:17). Yet, the Scripture also says, “blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed” (Jn 20:29). A relationship with Christ requires knowledge of the gospel–a person must KNOW what they are believing in for their salvation. It also requires faith–trusting in Christ’s work alone. Throughout the Old and New Testament examples are given of great men and women of faith (Heb. 11). In each instance they weren’t given all the facts, details, reasons, and statistics, but they were given enough information to make a decision. That is what Christ has given us. We don’t know all the details–there are many facts we can’t be sure of. We must weigh the simple evidences before us. Will you follow the simple gospel of the New Testament writers or will you follow the (very different) gospel of Joseph Smith? As I’ve strongly hinted at above, Spamlds, I don’t believe Joseph Smith has proven himself to be a righteous man, so I cannot accept his gospel.

    I hope you will consider continuing to follow this blog, even if you are unable to post. I’ve enjoyed having you here. 🙂

  197. May 29, 2009 1:19 am

    Stephanie,
    I appreciate your remarks and second them whole heartedly.

    God bless,
    gloria

  198. May 29, 2009 3:18 am

    Hi FoF,

    I’m just now getting back to your comment from WAY earlier in the thread which I will post here to jog everyone’s memory:

    I want to comment on your statement about why the BOM is necessary or rather unnecessary from your perspective. In a day and world where, in many respects, the atheist and godless views are gaining momentum and adherents, and in a time when the validity of the Bible and its claims (especially of the divinity of Christ) are dismissed even by supposed Christian leaders, can you see the value of God providing the world with an additional witness of that priceless record, the Bible? Imagine an archeologist discovering an ancient record dating back to 34 A.D. in some very remote region of the world that claimed a God named Jesus Christ had visited a people after being resurrected and showed them His wounds and taught His gospel, which was just like the teachings of the Bible…Can you see what a huge find that would be? And how that would “prove” or add great credibility to the Bible?

    God prepared the Book of Mormon for just such a time of doubt which He knew would precede the second coming of Christ…I know that you will reject this perspective. But the BOM does corroborate the claims of the Bible in a big way. You may say you don’t need it, but the world does- that is for sure.

    I guess this is where we truly see things from an opposite perspective. Rather than helping the problem of atheism, I feel like the Book of Mormon has done tremendous damage to the faith of countless people so that they fear to ever believe anything ever again that they cannot prove by empirical evidence. I believe the Book of Mormon is primarily responsible for many atheists in the world today.

    …at least this is how it appears to JESSICA [I’m waxing GERMITISH] 🙂

  199. May 29, 2009 3:32 am

    fof,

    Just so you know, a recent DNA study was done claiming to cast serious doubt on the multiple migration model for New World population.

    It would probably be a mistake to conclude from such a study however that even small genetic events are ruled out. Lehi and company landing in the New World hardly qualifies as a “migration” in my mind.

    And there’s the rub. The events of 1 and 2 Nephi are just too small in scale to register at the macro level that genetic population studies deal in.

  200. faithoffathers permalink
    May 29, 2009 3:36 am

    Jessica,

    Do you have anything to back up your suggestion that the Book of Mormon has resulted in a net loss of believers, and that it has ultimately landed more people in the athiest pool than believers in Christ- is this what you are saying?

    Sorry, but your statement is waaaayyy out there and totally unsupported. Judging by the most relevent and obvious end-points or markers, the BOM has resulted in millions of people coming unto Christ and following Him. This is actually measurable to some degree.

    Your statement is totally false. No question.

    But even if the book resulted in people turning away from Christ, that would not invalidate my point. There is a need in the world for the witness of Christ- there are in the world today unique, ungodly and even anti-God influences never before seen. Makes sense to provide additional witnesses of Christ and the reality of God.

    Just because you want the BOM to be some sinister, devilish thing does not make it true. No other book teaches of Christ more repetively, effectively, or convincingly than the BOM. Your logic is the same type of logic used by people who say it is actually a sin to try to be righteous and obedient. Good is bad, and bad is good.

    fof

  201. May 29, 2009 3:40 am

    Jessica,

    You say it’s the Book of Mormon that causes people to demand empirical proof for the Bible?

    Are you kidding me?

    Re-read this thread.

    Who are the people obsessed with “hard-evidence” here?

    Oh yeah – right… that would be the Protestant participants.

    If anything, it seems like an obsession with evidence comes from conservative Christianity rather than Mormonism.

    Having dealt with critics of our faith from both the Evangelical and atheist camp, I can tell you – there’s not a lot of difference in thought pattern between the atheists and the Bible fundamentalists. They tend to make a lot of the same assumptions. Both are obsessed with hard evidence for spiritual things. And both have very rigid, judgmental and black-and-white thinking about God and religion.

    The take-home point I’ve gotten from years of debate with both camps is that a Bible fundamentalist is just an atheist who hasn’t been hit by the “fact train” yet.

  202. May 29, 2009 3:59 am

    I don’t have any data to back up a “net loss” of believers and that wasn’t my point. I said “I believe the Book of Mormon is primarily responsible for many atheists in the world today.” I know this because many of them are in the blogosphere and others I know from my personal life.

    It’s interesting. From your perspective it appears that you see the BOM as resulting in a net increase in believers in Christ. See, from my perspective, the BOM pulls people away from orthodoxy into heresy. So what appears as a total overall net increase to you appears as a parasitical leeching to me. See, from my perspective, if Mormonism didn’t exist, most of the Mormons I know would be (or would have become) born again Christians.

  203. May 29, 2009 4:11 am

    You say it’s the Book of Mormon that causes people to demand empirical proof for the Bible?

    Not for everyone. But for ex-mormon atheists, yes. I think their loss of faith in the BOM has a lot to do with why they can’t/won’t believe the faith claims of the Bible. Historical Christianity has always required faith. For 2000 years Christ’s words have been preached – “whosoever believes…”

    I’m sure it seems like we place our faith in empirical evidence, Seth, when we are trying to reason with LDS. Reasoning with LDS involves questioning the existing paradigm which we believe is not true. So of course we are going to compare the evidences for our claims with the evidences for yours to try to reason with you as to why yours are not true. It’s either that or we can have a back-and-forth about how we know because God personally told us each something completely different. 🙂

  204. May 29, 2009 4:23 am

    Funny, because it’s always been my experience online that CARM and Mormon Research Ministries tend to create more atheists than converts to Evangelical Christianity. Just check out the Recovering from Mormonism message boards sometime. Lot more atheists over there than Evangelicals.

    Once you’ve been convinced that the Book of Mormon and Joseph Smith are false, it’s really not that hard to take the destructive tools and thought patterns and apply them to Jesus and the Bible. You suck all the wonder and magic from the world and all you are left with is a cold ruthless demand for fact.

    And in the end, Jesus isn’t going to deliver on the fact-front any better than Joseph Smith does.

    I imagine agnosticism is probably where I’d end up, if anyone managed to de-convert me from Mormonism.

    Not there yet thankfully. I find a lot of atheists (my own atheist friends excluded) to be excessively bitter, whiney, and unable to look at anything without seeing stench and rot. Not a pleasant prospect.

    At least agnosticism has the benefit of not being quite so obnoxious.

  205. May 29, 2009 4:25 am

    But then again, maybe a lot of Evangelical ministries don’t really care where de-converted Mormons end up.

    I’ve heard at least one or two counter-cult Evangelicals express the statement – “better an atheist than a Mormon.”

    Sorry, but there’s just something downright Satanic about statements like that.

  206. May 29, 2009 4:31 am

    I imagine agnosticism is probably where I’d end up, if anyone managed to de-convert me from Mormonism.

    See? It’s statements like this that worry me. It makes me feel like LDS don’t have any reasons to believe the Bible is true so if they de-convert from Mormonism they will be agnostic or atheist. I believe this is a DIRECT RESULT of the BOM and the LDS church undermining faith in the Bible. What was here first? The Bible. What was to come later? False prophets to steer people away from the Truth.

  207. May 29, 2009 4:34 am

    And in the end, Jesus isn’t going to deliver on the fact-front any better than Joseph Smith does.

    Wow. Somehow I missed this comment. Wow. Is this really your view, Seth?

  208. NChristine permalink
    May 29, 2009 4:52 am

    Hey Seth,

    That’s a horrible statement — not yours, but the one you cited about “better an atheist.” You know, your comments about atheism, agnoticism, and fact-seeking made me think of another thought-provoking conversation I believe you and Germit were having earlier (re: biblical inerrancy). In pondering that topic after reading those comments, I wanted to say something but didn’t say it then. Your comments now make me want to say it.

    I think I can honestly say that I believe in biblical inerrancy not just because of biblical statements pointing to that idea, but also because of the facts themselves — the ones you say turn people to atheists. (In what precise form I would define biblical inerrancy I am not sure I could completely delineate for you without a lot of thought and study, so just suspend judgment and hear me out for a minute.) 🙂 It’s just that I am honestly a skeptic by nature, I think. If I had been one of the twelve disciples, I rather think I would have been more like Thomas than Peter. It is very easy for me to be doubtful of things, and I am not necessarily satisfied with evidence that doesn’t seem credible. So…this is what I have discovered in my many years of being a Christian. Whenever I am confronted with a doubt — with some allegation of biblical error, for example — I hit the research deck. I pray first for wisdom and that my Savior would lead me to the truth, but then I go looking for the truth. Proverbs tells us that we will get wisdom if we “seek her as silver.” As you well know, often scholarly consensus is unrelated to facts, but truth is not divorced from facts.

    My personal experience has been that every single time I have a question like this, a search for the truth via actual fact-finding research results in a clearing up of the matter for me. Occasionally I discover enough is not known yet (e.g., some archaeological matters). Usually, however, I discover actual facts I had not know before which actually support the Bible rather than my doubts. You will say, I am sure, that I am biased toward accepting whatever I find as fact if it supports the Bible. I am sure this is partly true…but it is partly not true. I know myself well enough to know that I am a natural skeptic — as probably many or most of us are. The kind of facts to be found from this kind of pursuit are the high-quality, intellectually satisfying kind. 🙂

    I would just ask you to consider serious hit-the-deck research before you assume that biblical credibility is of the same caliber as BoM credibility. It has so strengthened my faith to be confronted over and over again with doubts (there’s a lot of Bible there, so a lot of facts one could doubt!) only to discover confirmation over and over again of its veracity. This is the kind of thing that you just won’t and can’t believe for someone else…if you’re anything like me. I would just challenge you to do the serious investigation for yourself. Don’t just stop at level one (taking the “scholarly consensus” as fact) or level two (looking at the party line stated individually by one-think scholars), but look for verifiable facts. Those, I assert, do not make a fool of the Bible.

  209. germit permalink
    May 29, 2009 6:36 am

    Seth; revisit Jessica’s comments about why we would spend so much time on “facts” and evidence. what other options do we have, really ?? If it’s ‘personal testimony’ time, then we have a very short conversation talking about how GOD told us opposite things …. In this respect, what you READ on this blog or others is really disproportional and skewed, unavoidably. Much of our lives are based on themes more “other than rational” or “beyond the rational” , but since we don’t share where these take us (to a worship expression that is not the one true restored church), these are not usually discussed. We end up looking like “fact freaks” and maybe some of us are, but I think this is more an impression created by our situation as on line apologists.

    Sad to hear about anyone being happy that someone is an atheist. That is nothing to be celebrated, but I do see Jessica’s stance and comments as having a lot of merit: in order to bolster the BofM and JS credibility, I do see a lot of lds energy in making the bible look as wimpy as possible. I know that sounds snarky, but that’s been my impression. Then for those who drop kick the BofM, they end up with NEITHER….I don’t see blaming CARM or MRM as on target, but again, choosing atheism is NOT a step forward, in my book.

    I’m with NChristine on her comments: JESUS does deliver on the fact front, and when the facts are less than what we thot they’d be, we get JESUS HIMSELF, which sometimes is even better….know that sounds mushy, but some answers just will have to wait

    GERMIT

  210. germit permalink
    May 29, 2009 6:43 am

    FoF: if in fact the BofM is false, then quite probably good, as you’ve known it IS bad….etc…..and maybe the biggest lies are front loaded with LOTS of truth.

  211. May 29, 2009 6:52 am

    Christine,

    Your experience in researching the Bible pretty-much mirrors mine with the Book of Mormon. The only difference is the assumptions we are starting from.

    Jessica, I absolutely meant it. Jesus and the Bible are no more THEOLOGICALLY secure than Joseph Smith and the Book of Mormon are. Having been there first doesn’t give you guys a free hall pass. You can talk all you want about your over-hyped historical facts. Not a single one of those facts requires me to find a real God in the Bible.

    Keep in mind that I believe in the Bible quite strongly. Remarkable book and a powerful God in there.

    But I’m not naive enough to think “proven him” from the text alone. Maybe you guys think you’ve got a textual Tower of Babel that is going to finally force God to logically prove himself for all to see. Not content to wait for God to return in glory and cause every knee to bow and tongue to confess, you seem to think you’ve somehow gotten a step ahead in the game and can force God to unmask himself today through a simple magic combination of historical facts and simple iron-clad logical proofs. Like you found the hidden cheat code on the game of life or something.

    God has declared that we will only find him through that leap of faith. Maybe you feel you are somehow exempt from this requirement and have the secret ingredients to skip the “faith” part of the equation.

    If so, I frankly think you’re full of it. Because your “facts” aren’t even half as compelling as you seem to think they are.

    I’m not going to get any further into this topic because I don’t see the point of tearing down a book I happen to believe in just to make an argumentative point. I don’t think anyone here is foolish for believing in the Bible. But I do think your claims to a historically proven faith are foolish. Foolish and dangerous.

    A Bible fundamentalist is just an atheist who hasn’t been hit with the right set of “facts” yet.

  212. May 29, 2009 7:01 am

    Guys, just to clarify, I didn’t really look through Spam’s site, so it could be funny. My “where’s the punchline?” comment had more to do with his posts on here, the first few of which were kinda icky to me. The last few were much more reasonable.

    Germit, still laughing about the cupcake, bro. 😉

    Finally, I will say this relative to the question I posed earlier to you, Jessica, about finding truth in the BOM. I look at Spam’s final testimony up there, and it’s hard not to be moved by the depth of his conviction and his dedication to Christ. It just seems to me like, whoever He is, God is big enough to reach people wherever they are.

  213. May 29, 2009 7:03 am

    germit, there are plenty of places to find faith. Historical fact is but one place among many. And it’s not even the most important ingredient.

    Mormonism may look like it’s tearing down the Bible to people who’ve unnaturally elevated the Bible itself almost to worship status.

    But in the end, I feel that Mormonism puts the Bible in a theologically much more sustainable place. It creates a faith that is ultimately more sustainable, and more useful to the believer. The Bible will be vindicated at the end of the day. And it will be largely due to the Book of Mormon.

    The most valuable service the Book of Mormon provides to the believer is to show that a mere text is not “God.” God cannot be contained by ANY book – even the Bible. The Book of Mormon is proof of this reality. It shows that God has much to say to other people and he will not be confined and bound by our own silly little exegetical games.

  214. germit permalink
    May 29, 2009 7:06 am

    “historically proven” is saying a lot, SETH, but I don’t think you approach these books as allegory either, do you ?? If I read you correctly, you do approach at least most of the events written in the bible as having really happened, is that your take ??

  215. germit permalink
    May 29, 2009 7:15 am

    Seth: you wrote “there are many places to find faith…” AMEN to that…remember my give and take with ECHO over at MarkCares ?? and a lotof fun that was…. this was one of my sub themes to him…we do GOD a disservice when we take “faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of GOD” and then stuff GOD and faith into that box…. that’s a twisting of that verse IMO;

    I would agree that ev.’s are still wrestling with the role of scripture, and theology while keeping the PERSON of Jesus pre-eminent. reminds me of what St.Francis said once “preach the gospel at all times….use words if necessary…” but that HAIRCUT…..sheeesh

  216. NChristine permalink
    May 29, 2009 3:11 pm

    Hi FoF,

    I have appreciated your calm demeanor and polite approach. Thank you. Also, I appreciate the fact that you are attempting to deal with the issue of authenticating facts. However, I have been concerned about a couple of things, and I wanted to briefly explain why. Please consider these thoughts and give me a fair hearing. 🙂

    You have been challenging people to interact with the claims you have set forth regarding the historicity of the BoM, but I personally do not think you have made it easy for people to do so. Here is what I mean: I have been attempting in the last couple of days to examine some of the evidence you set forth in your various comments in the last couple of weeks or so. I appreciated the fact that you did provide some references for your sources, but for the most part I have had a very difficult time tracking down your information. Sometimes you provided just a page number and author without any other data, other times there were statements or claims with no reference at all. Sometimes the source was out of print or very old. Sometimes it seemed as though you must have been pulling your sources second-hand from someone else’s article. There are other times I found sources I was rather surprised you used – that seemed to lack authority and even be questionable – but from reading your use of the source I would never have known that until laborious work of my own! While people may have different ideas of what constitutes a credible source (and thus if I disagree I will have to make my case), it should be your responsibility to provide enough information that others can find your sources—or at least be able to verify their existence and credibility (in the case of the occasional difficult-to-obtain-but-quality resource). You may feel that I am asking things that are above and beyond what is expected of a commenter on a blog. Probably true. 🙂 However, I think that the number and length of your comments and claims already go above and beyond what is expected. 🙂 Also, when you challenge people to interact with your claims, they need to be able to access your data for their own evaluation. Because you are making the important kind of claims you are, both courtesy to your readers and academic integrity require full citations and accessibility of your sources for examination by all. On a forum such as this, that should include links whenever possible.

    On one more note of concern (with another request): You have wanted people to respond to your data, but I have been concerned that you seem to be partially or completely ignoring the facts others bring up that would seem to weigh in on some of the generalizations that you make. For example, I have thrice noted my concerns about the questionable nature of the Mesoamerican claims of Jewish/Babylonian ancestry (in your point #5 above). In all three comments, I provided evidence complete with linked, authoritative sources. (Please see the two most important comments here and here.) To the third argument (the second link above), you have not responded at all, and to the first two, only in a cursory manner. (Maybe you didn’t see the most recent comment? It is on the Role of the Mind thread.) Yet you continue to forge ahead and repeatedly assert that Mesoamericans claim Babylonian and Israelite ancestry. Similarly, you have also not responded to my concern re: your apparent suggestions of Caucasian Jews and a Caucasian Jesus. (Please see my comment above on this thread.) Ignoring factual data that pertains to your arguments does not seem forthright — in particular when you challenge others not to ignore yours.

    There are numerous other of your comments to which I would like to respond and have dialogue. However, it sort of feels pointless to invest the time if whatever is said will just be ignored. 🙂

    As I said, I truly appreciate your kind and calm tone. But I surely would appreciate you increasing your specificity on the source references you are posting as well as on your interaction with the data of others. I know this is a blog and not a research paper, but when you claim some really important things without providing reproducible research or interacting with the research of others that affects your statements, it does not do justice to the importance of the topic.

    Thanks for a fair hearing. 🙂

    NChristine

  217. faithoffathers permalink
    May 29, 2009 3:21 pm

    People choose to believe what they believe. Atheists choose not to believe in God. That doesn’t mean there is no rationale behind their beliefs or unbelief. They simply choose their conclusions.

    And all of us here choose our conclusions.

    I am convinced that no amount of evidence, correlation, archeology, etc. will change the minds of people who choose not to give the BOM a chance. God did not intend for the book to be proven that way. The Bible either.

    My intention in posting what I think are evidences or compelling correlations and coincidences is to answer the so often claim by BOM critics that there is proof that the book is false. Or that there is nothing in the real world to suggest the book is true. The responses from the other side do not surprise me- alway jumping to the next perceived weakness of the book or the next “proof” against it. The carnal mind is never satisfied (not that any of us self-appointed apologists are not carnal).

    I believe for those here and places like this, our rationale or “evidences” will not excuse our belief or lack thereof. If the book is true, all of us here have every opportunity to either give it a chance or neglect it. Alma said it well when he said, “Behold, the scriptures are before you; if ye will wrest them it shall be to your own destruction.” Alma 13:20

    I must agree with Seth in his observation of the similarities in rationale behind the atheist and anti-BOM arguments. It is the propensity to be consumed with the carnal mind- insisting God reveal truth on our terms.

    No matter how good or bad our intentions, we cannot change the terms God Himself has placed on the Book of Mormon or anything else. We can go to great lengths to convince others and ourselves that our intentions are pure- we really want to know if the book is true. But God knows the heart. If we cut corners, not submitting to the pattern of revelation the book has always claimed and promised, it is to our own detriment- no one elses.

    Honestly consider how you would want a completely uninformed person to discover the Bible. Would you want them to consider the atheists arguments first in order to get a broad view of the book? Or would you consider those arguments poison? Would you not want that person to find a peaceful place where they could be alone and read the text alone and thoughfully and sincerely pray?

    Tradition is the lazy man’s revelation.

    fof

  218. May 29, 2009 4:28 pm

    fof,

    “Tradition is the lazy man’s revelation” may be a snappy punchline and I won’t pretend I didn’t enjoy it.

    But I would humbly suggest that it’s overstating things a bit.

    Mormonism has it’s own authoritative tradition after all.

  219. GERMIT permalink
    May 29, 2009 4:41 pm

    FoF: you , briefly lost your mind, and wrote

    I must agree with Seth in his observation of the similarities in rationale behind the atheist and anti-BOM arguments. It is the propensity to be consumed with the carnal mind- insisting God reveal truth on our terms

    Friend, this may apply to some here (no one really comes to my mind) but IMO, generally, it absolutely does not, and it surprises me to hear you say it. I can’t think of a person posting here who does not understand, and accept, the limits to rational exercises of all kinds, and who does not put the supernatural first. Then why not talk about THAT ?? Well, sure , and it will sound like this:

    FoF: GOD told me that the BofM is true , and JS was HIS prophet to usher in the restoration of HIS truth.

    GERMIT: GOD told me that the BofM is a bigger whopper than anything you’d find at BK, and JS is…..well, let’s not go there for now.

    how many different ways are there to say this..?? SO: do we stop talking, or find SOMETHING worth talking about ? We do not discount either the importance of, or even pre-eminence of , the spiritual and supernatural, but a blog like this tends to direct itself to matters of establishing what is true, and the above conversation just doesn’t get us very far. Granted, you can be of the opinion that posting 200 comments on cultural and archaeological factoids doesn’t move us along either…..but I think it’s better than nothing. My opinion.

    Appreciate your work
    GERmIT

    NChristine: that’s a GREAT reminder to ALL of us, really, and I’ve been sloppy to give clear references myself….nice to be reminded to respect others time, and make it easier to track stuff down.

  220. GERMIT permalink
    May 29, 2009 4:47 pm

    I don’t know if anyone ever said it, so you can attribute this to GERMIT , if you want to

    TRADITION , when used correctly, can be a great sageguard against a privatized and selfsish form of “me-and-Jesusism”

    I readily see that tradition has its limits and liabilities.

    GERMIT

  221. faithoffathers permalink
    May 29, 2009 6:42 pm

    Germit,

    You said “We do not discount either the importance of, or even pre-eminence of , the spiritual and supernatural.”

    I suggest that we agree on your statement when it comes to the Bible, but critics of the BOM here and elsewhere do not usually carry over that standard to the BOM. Make sense? The spiritual (and I don’t mean the claims that the book has evil spirits) is not typically the pre-eminent factor when religious critics evaluate the BOM. In my opinion, there is a double standard among evangelicals in evaluating the Bible vs. the BOM.

    Jessica,

    Sorry- I posted my previous comment before seeing yours.

    Regarding the causian Jesus idea- I did in fact address that much earlier. I said in essence- oops my bad, it is a relative matter. He was light skinned relative to large groups of darker skinned people in the Americas. Sorry again- I don’t know how to reference previous comments with the little blue highlighted word thing.

    I too have responded to your argument that the Maya and other natives claim to have descended from 1. Babylon and 2. Abraham and Jacob. These claims came from the MesoAmerican tribes with certainty. The question is whether their claims were influenced by the Spanish Catholics. This has long been the assumption. That assumption does not entirely settle the question as to whether those claims came from that Catholic influence. That might be true, but what conclusive evidence is there for that assumption? Two things would suggest maybe that influence was not as big as previously thought: 1. Why would Catholics teach the natives doctrines that more resemble LDS doctrines rather than their own- some (not even close to all) of the Mayan religious concepts are in fact similar to LDS doctrines. 2. The discovery of the recent panel in Guatemala we both read about- while the panel did not speak specifically about Abraham and Babylon, it did validate some of the Mayan beliefs that had previously been attributed to the Catholic influence.

    Are we together thus far mine friend?

    fof

  222. GERMIT permalink
    May 29, 2009 7:05 pm

    FoF; hmmmm, let me try this: how necessary is it for you and I to spend any large amount of time and effort with the bhagavad gita ?? let’s assume that we won’t be doing lengthy evangelism in a Hindu nation any time soon. So we COULD read it, I suppose, but no big deal, right ?? It’s a well known , and revered (by millions) book, but…. as far as WE are concerned, GOD has said, “gong….thank you for playing…”

    this is the christian de facto setting with the BofM, which could be because we

    1)are victims of “the lazy man’s revelation” (heard that somewhere 🙂 )

    2) heard GOD actually tell us the BofM was no big deal

    IF it’s #2, then of course our “spiritual conversation” will be very short; if it’s #1 then we have to be won over and come to our senses.

    Is this helpful ??
    GERMIT

  223. GERMIT permalink
    May 29, 2009 9:26 pm

    katie wrote ( a long time ago)

    Do you really think that no one but Mormons has access to the Holy Spirit? Seriously? I’m just wondering…have you known any devout non-Mormons, because I can absolutely, positively, completely and totally testify that I’ve seen the Spirit work miracles in the lives of people from all walks of life and faith traditions.;

    and I might get my “anti” card revoked for saying it, but maybe some of what the lds do is directly a product of the Holy Spirit as well….. better go wash my hands or something……

    GERMIT

  224. faithoffathers permalink
    May 29, 2009 11:11 pm

    Germit,

    Has God communicated to you that the Book of Mormon is false/evil/no big deal?

    If He has, has it been through the evidences put forth by opponents of the book? Or some other way?

    I understand your point about the lack of urgency in reading Hindu scripture, etc. The difference I see is that the BOM claims to be an instrument and word of the God you worship, Jesus Christ. Of course we can’t blindly accept every claim made by people supposedly representing Christ. But the BOM is not some clumsy tract leading people into the jungle to jump off cliffs or pamphlet handed out by bald guys wearing sheets at airports (no offense).

    You may disagree with that.

    fof

  225. germit permalink
    May 30, 2009 2:43 am

    FoF; very good questions…per usual. I take back “no big deal”. I don’t think that could be an option given its claims. It’s either a companion to the bible or something else.

    Maybe it’s from living in a “Leap of Faith” generation, I’m not the quickest person to say “GOD said”, but yes, I’ll go with GOD said the book is false. I hold that assessment in some kind of suspension. I’m fairly certain of it, but I’m also a fallible, fallen human being. I’m not the best listener I’ve ever met, so there is the possibility that I’m wrong. But I’m not losing sleep over it either. I wouldn’t put in the effort here and at other web sites if I didn’t have a strong assurance that the BofM is not what it claims to be. I hope this is making sense.

    Perhaps my upbringing as a Roman Catholic poisoned me. That’s another ONE TRUE CHURCH that has a history of not getting along with Protestants, and fairly, vica versa. I am very wary of any church that makes a claim like this, and one INSTITUTION that says “we are the deal”. As Katie has noted, and I underlined with a repeat, my eyes and ears and experience tell me that , wonder of wonders, the Holy Spirit has been busy LOTS of places, and HE doesn’t always stop at my local house of worship first, or even most often (necessarily). Jesus does have ONE FOLD, but that is a group of HIS kids, HIS flock, HIS bride…. they will come from many institutions, and some of them from the LDS group, I’m beginning to think. Honestly, I’d say “in spite of” the LDS group, in some ways.

    I’m guessing, and this is absolutely a guess, that Seth has seen and recognizes the working of the Holy Spirit, even the blessing of the HOLY Spirit, in other groups; how else could he be OK with GOD leading them to another group ?? Again, just a guess.

    One of Jesus’ biggest prayers was for unity in HIS church; I realize fully what HE paid that this unity might be realized. HE still longs for that and ultimately will have it. I’m hoping that somehow , some way, your blogging and mine will help HIM get what HE wants. What else is there ??

    GERMIT

  226. faithoffathers permalink
    May 30, 2009 3:02 am

    Germit,

    Thanks for the thoughtful response. You have a calming tone about you, and I appreciate that.

    I too believe without doubt that God influences people from all walks of life, in and out of churches. I think we will all be surprised at the pearly gates at how differently God views us. We divide ourselves up any chance we get. I don’t think He does that. I doubt He sees us as Mormons, or Catholics, Protestants, Hindus, etc. Rather Kids- Germit, fof, Bill, Sue, etc.

    The most important comment I can make regarding the Book of Mormon, I believe, is that it has so completely changed my life. It has convinced me of the reality of Jesus Christ and my need to love and follow Him. A wise man once said that how a person treats other people is the greatest indicator of how converted he is to Christ. I believe that. I do not always live up to that. But the Book of Mormon has changed not only the way I see God, but the people around me.

    I relate to the blind man healed by Christ- taken before the Pharisees and interrogated as to the nature of his healing. He simply said in essence, all I know is that whereas I was blind, now I see. All of this in my life started from reading the BOM as independently of other people and influences as I think possible.

    Thanks,

    fof

  227. germit permalink
    May 30, 2009 3:17 am

    Now THIS is interesting…I was commenting on those EXACT scriptures just a few hours ago to my wife in reference to GLORIA, who will not back down from a “spirited exchange” with SETH and BLAKE over at Heart Issues…..maybe we are more united than I suspected 🙂 I’d say we share a brain, but I don’t want you to feel cheated….

    reading John Clark and other stuff this weekend, as I get a chance
    the spring rains of GOD upon you and yours
    GERMIT

  228. psychochemiker permalink
    May 31, 2009 12:15 am

    Jessica,
    I mentioned earlier that the tone of the conversations, or even the manner of presentations can preclude an honest and meaningful exchange of ideas. I’ve elaborated in why I believe this is true here, and seek your response or insights on this.

  229. psychochemiker permalink
    May 31, 2009 9:05 pm

    Hi jessica,
    I’ve just finished my post on LDS beliefs of “original sin.” I haven’t included much biblical data, because I wanted us to be able to discuss that under your blog post.

  230. faithoffathers permalink
    June 2, 2009 9:04 pm

    Jessica,

    How goes the reading of the Book of Mormon?

    fof

  231. June 2, 2009 11:24 pm

    Hey fof,

    Not real great actually… I’ve been super busy this past week and when I’ve made time for reading it’s been either my Bible, my new book The End of Reason: A Response to the New Atheists by Ravi Zacharias, a couple other books, and the blogosphere. I need to get back at it though. Also need to write that post on original sin and a couple other post ideas I have in the hopper. I’m doing a study with a friend tonight on the book Trusting God by Jerry Bridges. It’s just been crazy busy lately and I made extra time to pray last night instead of blog. Trying to balance everything can sometimes be a real challenge. I’m sure we would all agree. I hope to get a post up soon…. Thanks for checking in on me 🙂

  232. faithoffathers permalink
    June 10, 2009 7:38 pm

    Fiiiizzzzzzz.

    Sorry. This really does demonstrate my earlier point.

    Few critics have read the Book of Mormon cover to cover, let alone made a serious study of it.

    Peace.

    fof

  233. June 11, 2009 4:03 am

    Just so’s you know, fof. I did hear you the first time on this…. Remember that post I did that focused mainly on the external evidences for why I don’t believe the BOM is inspired? You challenged me that there were internal evidences to be weighed. I then began a more in-depth study to look at the internal evidences and I did write a post (this one) on the first book that I studied. But I have other topics I wish to talk about besides the BOM. I know it is central for Mormons, but for a non-Mormon it doesn’t make sense that it’s central to Mormonism. I don’t equate the teachings of the BOM with the modern day LDS church. Anyway, I have Vacation Bible School this week which is keeping me extra busy. Hope you can be patient with me. I know you love to discuss evidences for the BOM.

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