Discussions of Mormons and Mormon life, Book of Mormon issues and evidences, and other Latter-day Saint (LDS) topics.

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Apologies - Comments Problem Fixed

When I tried to turn anonymous comments back on a couple days ago after a comments abuse problem had been amicably resolved (in my opinion, anyway), it appears that I actually turned comments off ("blog members only"), the opposite of my intentions. Not sure how that happened. Sorry! Anyone can make comments now.

15 comments:

Jericho said...

Thanks, Jeff. Question: Could you specify where in the Bible it states that prophets made false prophecies?

Bookslinger said...

Jericho,
See my comment to the July 10th post. The first example that comes to mind is Moses' promises to the children of Israel, while they were still in Egypt, that he would take them to Canaan. That promise to the adults was not fulfilled. Reason: they rebelled.

Looking back, we may say "Well, but he took their children" and say it was fulfilled. But from the point of view of those who were adults when they left Egypt, the promise was _not_ fulfilled, Moses promised to take _all_, not just the kids.

Also, Moses said nothing up front about having to wait in the Sinai desert for 40 years. Since God knows thing beforehand, could someone say that God and Moses "tricked" the Israelites? Were they "set up"?

Why didn't Moses tell everyone exactly how long he would be in the mountain so they would be patient? Why didn't he say "Don't make any golden calves while I'm gone" ? But God did not tell Moses in advance that the people were going to rebel.

Why didn't God have Moses do things to prevent their rebellion? Probably because God doesn't enforce obedience a priori. He gives people the chance to obey or not, and then he applies the consequences of their choice. Some of us (me included) can be rather slow learners, and we only obey _after_ we see what the negative consequences of disobedience are.

A key point is that the Israelites (the adults) _could have_ received the promise/blessing of going into the Promised Land, but it was their own disobedience (or at least the rebellion of a significant number) that cut them off from the promise, and the blessing was delayed.

God gives his children the opportunity to choose obedience or rebellion. Only if we continue in following God do we receive the promises. Those who rebel against God have no claim on the promises. It was true when Moses led the Israelites out of Egypt, and it was true for the Latter-day saints in Missouri.

The unfulfilled promises of what was "supposed" to happen in Missouri is analogous with what was "supposed" to happen in Sinai. They could have had the blessing, but they blew it.

The disobedience and outright apostasy of many in Missouri negated the fulfilling of the prophecies there, just as the disobedience and apostasy of the Israelites (golden calf, fornication, etc) in Sinai negated the prophecy of Moses.

Other examples were Samuel annointing Saul to be king. As a result of his disobedience, Saul's descendants were barred from being king, and the next king (David) was not his descendant. Hence Saul lost the promises made to him and his dynasty.

David also lost some promises God made to him when he transgressed with Uriah's wife. David still continued to receive many blessings after that, but not all that were promised.

Soloman lost some promises God made to him when he transgressed by marrying foreigners, thereby allowing idolatry to creep into Israel. Soloman's dynasty lost 10 of the 12 tribes when the kingdom was rent, which was a result of Soloman not raising his kids right, which was a result of marrying outsiders.

Isaiah made all sorts of promises of blessings to Israel, and they were all conditional on forsaking idolatry and turning fully to the Lord. Israel (more specifically Judah) still had time in the days of Isaiah to turn to the Lord, but they didn't. Isaiah basically said "If you don't repent, this is what is going to happen."

When Jeremiah came along, it then too late, and Jeremiah basically said: "Okay, you blew it, now this is what's going to happen" and he repeated what Isaiah said would happen if they didn't repent.

I think many if not most of the prophetical promises made to individuals in the O.T. come with conditions. And if those conditions are not met, the promise is void. And if the conditions are not explicitly stated, they are at least implied, the main one being "if you continue faithful."

So should we blame Joseph Smith for the delay of the fulfilling of his pronouncements concerning temples in Missouri because he didn't put "if everyone continues faithful" at the end of every sentence?

Jericho said...

The problems with the examples you site and the difference between these examples and failed Smith prophecies is that the Biblical prophecies are quite different. When Moses said he would take them to Canaan he did not prophecy as such. He aid he would. He did not state that God told him he would. A promise or a blessing is different than, say, Joseph Smith prophesing that his sone would be King of Israel. See the difference?

Bookslinger said...

Apparently I'm getting a different read from Exodus than you are.

The _only_ reason Moses told the Israelites he was taking them to Canaan was specifically because God ordered him to say so and to do so. Moses said nothing unto the Israelites in the name of the Lord that was not authorized by the Lord.

And the Lord, "the great I AM", _specifically_ told Moses to tell them who sent him and by whose authority he was acting under. IE. Tell them "'I am' hath sent me unto you." Ex. 3:14.

Exodus 6:8, the Lord is speaking, and this is a continuation of what Moses is to tell the children of Israel: "And I will bring you in unto the land, concerning which I did swear to give it to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob; and I will give it you for an heritage: I am the Lord."

Moses was _commanded_, of the Lord, to say those words words unto the people, starting in verse 6 "Wherefore say unto the children of Israel..."

So there in verse 8, the Lord is speaking in the first person, and Moses has been commanded to repeat those words. Sounds like prophecy to me.

Now when a prophet is talking to the people, in his capacity as prophet, and under direct orders from the Lord, and tells them what the Lord is going to do, I call that a prophecy.

And apparently, so did you when you applied it to what Joseph Smith said was going to happen in Missouri.

I think the parallel is very obvious. The Israelites polluted themselves in the desert while Moses was on the mount, and lost the promise to go into Canaan, just as some of the saints in Missouri polluted themselves and lost the privilege of building the land of Zion in their lifetimes.

Bookslinger said...

Introduction (about me):

I became a fan of Jeff Lindsay after reading his Cracked Planet (jefflindsay.com) web site.

I'm a middle-aged overweight computer nerd. I joined the church in the early 80's (when I was in my 20's), and two years later went on a mission.

I had a "difficult" mission, to put it nicely, and to be kind to myself.

I loved the people among whom I served, but couldn't stand some of the missionaries with whom I served. I had some great companions, but there was always at least one "problem missionary" in every apartment who made life hell. (Typically there were 2 or 3 sets of missionaries per apartment.)

It was very frustating to have one of those "burned in" testimonies that the Book of Mormon and the church were true, but at the same time to be constantly offended by people in the church, even though the "offenders" were in the minority.

A year after the mission I went inactive, and four years after that I requested to have my name removed from church membership records.

In 2002 the Lord started to make it painfully clear what the eternal consequences of willful disobedience would be, and DC Section 19, specifically verse 20, started to come into play. I had already lost the Holy Ghost, but then the second definition of "his spirit", the Light of Christ, started to be withdrawn. I probably tasted a little of what Martin Harris tasted, and I decided that repentance would be the easier way out.

In other words, the Lord kicked my butt back to church.

While researching the church on the web, I've come across a few ex-member web sites, and the apologetic web sites. I can identify with some of what the apostates say. I've been there and done that.

I understand how those who grow up in the church without a testimony can fall away.

And I understand how those who join the church based on faith (an "I believe" testimony as opposed to an "I know" or a "burned in" type of testimony) can fall away.

In the interest of full-disclosure I'll state that I have not been re-baptized yet. But I've been as active as an ex-mo can be, and have been blessed beyond what I deserve.

There's more to the story, but I've wasted too much time online today anyway.

Jericho said...

God said to Moses he would lead His people to the promised land. He did this. Therefore it is a prophesy that came true.Cite me an example of when a biblical prophet made a God-given prediction that did not come true.

Mike Parker said...

Here are a few:

Jonah prophesied the destruction of Nineveh without conditions (Jonah 3:4), but the people of Nineveh repented and the Lord rescinded his promised destruction (3:10).

Isaiah prophesied the death of Hezekiah, but after hearing the pleading of the king, the Lord revoked the prophecy and allowed Hezekiah to live longer (Isaiah 38:1-8).

Jeremiah prophesied that King Zedekiah would "not die by the sword, but...in peace" (Jeremiah 34:4-5). Ultimately Zedekiah's eyes were put out and he was taken captive to Babylon (39:7).

Mormanity said...

Books of Mormon in Indy, thanks so much for sharing your perspectives. I am bothered by what you have been through. Tragic. However, your painful experiences and your present journey back have many lessons to teach us, and I hope you will continue sharing your perspectives.

One point we can learn from Books of Mormon in Indy is this: missionaries need to never forget the feelings of their companions. How can we claim to be serving Christ if we don't seek the gift of charity in our relationships with those closest to us? Even those who are really trying hard to be kind, faithful missionaries can ignorantly step all over their companions, especially those who might not be as strong in the faith or as fluent in the language or as happy away from home.

I made life painful for one of my companions, a jock that had almost nothing in common with me. As a new senior companion, I felt it was my duty to keep us very busy and working hard and focused on the work, but I didn't see that I was wearing him out and leaving him feeling oppressed and lonely by me being so "intellectual" and business like. It wasn't until he opened up and shared his negative emotions one night as he reached the limits of his patience that I could step back and realize how wrong I had been. I thought I was helping but I was only hurting him.

I had made many wrong assumptions. For one thing, I had assumed that as a jock, he'd be in much better shape than me, and so I was always pedaling hard and fast in the lead - perhaps with some subtle pride - as we rode many miles through the hills of Switzerland - but my biking muscles were in much better shape and he was literally getting worn down by our daily pace.

More importantly, I was treating him as if he were a student to be trained and molded in my image and not a brother with many differences to be appreciated and respected. After we hashed it out one night, we were both able to adjust our styles to be more considerate of the other, and things worked out pretty well. I'm so glad he spoke up. That was a great learning experience that prepared me for an even more challenging "jock" companion I would get a little later - one that ruffled every feather I had and almost drove me crazy, violating all my unwritten rules of life. Thanks to a lot of prayer and the guidance of my incredible mission president, Douglas Bischof, I understood that I would need to give him a lot of space and respect his unique approach and be willing to ignore the letter of the law sometimes. By seeking to work on a foundation of charity, what could have been a nuclear explosion (matter and anti-matter forced together) became a healthy, high-energy synergy. I soon loved working with this companion (most of the time) and learned many lessons about life. He became perhaps the most beloved and one of the most successful missionaries in the mission, and I was glad to have worked with him. But if I had been my normal insensitive and overzealous self, I could easily have driven him out of the mission field, I suppose.

Thank God for kind and inspired leaders who help us see beyond our narrow field of view and urge us to be better than we are.

Missionaries, don't forget your companion. Don't be cruel, don't play stupid jokes, don't be petty. Treat your companion as a servant of God with feelings, fears, and needs. Go the extra mile to help and serve him or her, and then you can be more effective in serving others.

Mormanity said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Bookslinger said...

Jericho,
To every Israelite over the age of 20 who left Egypt, the prophecy/promise was NOT fulfilled. The *adults* were the ones that Moses was talking to. If you don't get that from the Exodus account, then we have a either a semantic disagreement or a reading problem.

From *our* viewpoint, looking at the children and adults as a whole, one can say that the promise was kept "partially" or "after a fashion". But to the hundreds of thousands (700,000 adults or 700,000 men, I forget) who died in the desert during the 40 year sojourn, it certainly was not fulfilled to them who received the promise from the mouth of Moses.

Bookslinger said...

Jeff,

It did my heart good to hear in October 2002 that "the bar is being raised" but it came 20 years too late for me.

A frustrating thing, was that the requirements Elder Ballard enumerated were *exactly the same* requirements that Elder Monson said that missionaries "must have" when he spoke in 1983.

The only difference I heard was "and now we mean it."

That was another sticking point with me, that the stated standards of missionary service were not enforced back then. I felt I had been lied to, and that the church misrepresented missionary work. To be frank, I spent 18 years thinking "Monson lied."

I was finally able to resolve it by accepting that the apostles have to give us the LORD's standards, as the Lord wants them obeyed. Apostles teach the rules, not the exceptions. And it's the missionaries themselves, and their bishops, who are/were responsible if individual missionaries didn't live up to the promises they made when sending in their applications and accepting their calls.

Mormanity said...

Oh and Jericho, hello again!

The Bible does not come out and say that true prophets made false prophecies, but there are many prophecies that certainly require careful or even very generous interpretations. My point is that the same standards used to condemn Joseph Smith could easily condemn authentic Biblical prophets. This is a point that is well made in an article by John Tvedtness at http://www.fairlds.org/apol/bible/bible07.html (also http://tinyurl.com/bcw6v).

But most of the alleged problems don't count as genuine prophecies - certainly not the kind that Latter-day Saints need to defend or worry about.

For example, who said Joseph prophecied that his son would be King of Israel? Is it in an authenticated or preferably canonized source? What did Joseph actually say? And if he did say anything resembling the purported statement, what did he really mean? One could say that we are all called to be priests and kings in Zion/Israel, if we abide by the Lord's covenants.

Many of the alleged false prophecies are based on hearsay or statements that were not intended as divine prophecy. If we deal with canonized statements, a much different picture of Joseph emerges, though critics can still pick at various statements if they are looking for excuses rather than understanding. That same approach will reject many authentic Biblical prophets.

As one minor point, look at the many statements Moses made about the Law of Moses, with all its sacrifices and rules and so forth. There is no hint that this was to be temporary. Indeed, the scriptures he wrote state that those practices would be had for all time and all generations. yet they were abandoned by the Christians, and many aspects have been abandoned by the Jews as well. One can say claim that he was a false prophet, but those seeking understanding can talk with Jewish or Christian scholars to learn what was behind the changes and behind the text that Moses wrote. One can learn, for example, that phrases like "for all generations" or "forever" are not meant absolutely. If we ask what was really meant when the scriptures were given, and add a touch of faith or generosity, there is little problem. But you can always find a reason to reject God's prophets and God himself - very little effort is required.

Mormanity said...

Book of Mormon Indy, you raise an excellent point. Sometimes Church leaders think they are helping by bending the rules to get a missionary out, thinking that if they can just get that young man on a mission, all will be well. In some cases, it is. But relaxing standards can do a terrible disservice not just to future companions, members, and investigators, but to the missionary himself. If we teach a young man that he can get away with sin without (apparent) consequences, we encourage disaster. And we teach those who know the young man that we don't really care about Gospel standards.

Having served as a Bishop, let me state that I fully understand the intense pressure the Bishops can be under to overlook transgression or to be "generous" and "forgiving" in applying the standards of the Church. Some people seem to think that the ultimate goal is to go on a mission or go to the temple, when the ultimate goal is really to follow Jesus Christ and prepare to enter into God's presence. Cheating our way into a temple marriage or onto a mission is hardly the best foot to put forward for entering into the presence of the Lord.

Bookslinger said...

Jeff,

More on my story. I can't entirely blame my problems on the problem elders or those "less than valiant." Once I lost the Spirit from being in a constant state of being offended, I turned bitter and became a problem elder myself. I was so bent out of shape over what others were/were not doing, that I neglected to weed my own garden.

One item of contention led to an elder spiking my food with drugs (Rohypnol, the date rape drug), which knocked me out for 24 hours, and all 5 elders in the apartment, including my companion, refused to call an ambulance or take me to the hospital. It wasn't until years later that I found out Rohypnol was a "date rape drug", and wondered "how did a supposely temple-worthy Mormon teenager know about that?"

In the mission country, no prescription was needed in order to buy any medicine sold at drug stores, so it was available to anyone who knew to ask for it by name.

The result of that was that I learned to never trust someone just because they are a member of the church. I couldn't even trust the mission president at that point, and probably should have bought my own ticket home then. From my point of view, it was an out-of-control mission. I decided to not report the incident to the president, but felt sure that it did get back to him. I didn't report it because I didn't trust him, but I also knew that if I started to talk about it, I'd go off the deep end, threatening law suits if he didn't send that elder home, etc. If I gave the president an ultimatum to send one of us home, he'd have just said "bye."

I contemplated gutting the other elder with a knife and strangling him with his own intestines, and decided it wouldn't be shedding innocent blood. But I also decided I didn't want to spend time in an Ecuadorian jail while I tried to prove it was self-defense. I just decided to "let the Lord handle it" and prayed that that elder would pay (SUFFER!) for it.

But that was a major point of my down-hill slide. Once I started hating missionaries, not trusting the mission president, resenting Monson for what he said, I was a goner. The Atonement lost it's effect in me because I wouldn't let the Atonement pay for the other missionaries' transgressions.

I tried to stay active after I got back, but I sort of knew that I wouldn't stay in the church. So I kept sliding downhill, with the Spirit withdrawing more and more. I became overly sensitive to the small ordinary every-day offenses. Every little thing wrong that others did was magnified because I stopped repenting of my own sins (mote and beam thing). Until one Sunday I woke up and decided I didn't want to be around "those people" any more.

And I completely justified everything in my mind. All my problems were the fault of the other elders, of the mission president, of Elder Monson misrepresenting missionary requirements, of morbidly obese single women who hounded me when I got back. There's an excuse for leaving the church: too many crazy fat women!

But I honestly wouldn't have applied for a mission had I known the true nature of the average missionary, or of the bottom 1/4th of missionaries. I never associated with those kinds of people (frivolous, arrogant, selfish, snotty punks and hypocrites) before I joined the church, and I resented having to live with them for 2 years, when Monson made it sound like those kinds of people would never be called on a mission.

In 1999, after a visit to my parents, I saw a negative trait in my father, and realized I had that same trait. Then it dawned on me "why everyone hated me." I inherited or picked up some personality and emotional problems from my father. I had turned into him, after swearing I wasn't going to grow up to be like him.

In a way, it was liberating because having realized what my emotional/psych problems were I knew that they could then be worked on, but by then I didn't want to change.

By 2002, I sank to the point where Section 19 kicked in, especially verse 20. And when that happened, it finally dawned on me that my transgressions were greater than those who transgressed against me, and that I had lost my excuses.

When the Lord withdraws "his spirit", meaning the Light of Christ, that's when the buffetings of Satan come into play. That is, literally, Hell. What a wake-up call. I had forgotten the section number, but the verses came vividly to mind.

It took several months after attending church before I figured out how to forgive others, but I knew that I had to.

Then as I processed forgiving others in my mind and accepted the Atonement as payment for all the past offenses and things that caused me flashbacks, from the Rohypnol elder to an unrighteously dominating Branch President bully in the MTC, a marvelous thing occurred.

As I forgave each person who offended me, I stopped having flashbacks on that event. I started getting calmer, and even my friends noticed the difference.

A key in all this was the "burned in" testimony, my anchor, my pearl of great price. I somehow knew there had to be a gospel solution to it all, and that God couldn't have set me up to fail.

And that's the missing key in the lives of a lot of apostates. They either never had a testimony, or they want to keep on blaming others for their own problems.

Sorry this got kind of long.

Mormanity said...

Wow, this is a story that LDS folks need to ponder, Incredible lessons. Thanks so much for posting this. I think I'll highlight it in my next post, if that's OK (let me know if you object and I'll delete the new post).