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

Thursday, July 07, 2005

Knowledge in Part, Prophecies in Part: The Terror of Uncertainty vs. the Comfort of the Spirit of God

Some people think that if God did speak to true prophets, He would take over their brains and make them know everything perfectly. Where does this caricature of prophethood come from? Certainly not from any understanding of the Bible, where prophets are fallible and mortal. Showing that a prophet was mortal or that a prophecy was incomplete or subject to alternate interpretations hardly provides grounds for outright dismissal of the prophetic message. The critics demand certainty - they demand a prophet and a Church that would not let any bad things happen, that would ensure that every member called to every position was perfectly worthy or not called at all, that could give sound predictions for daily trades on the stock market, that could pick the box of Cheerios with the winning coupon inside, and that could make the Weather Channel obsolete ("Log on to LDS.org/weather - 100% accuracy with prophetic weather predictions up to 5 years in advance - for registered tithe payers only"). But their disappointment in the lack of comforting certainty must not be translated into a rejection of the Gospel.

Life is uncertain, knowledge is partial and incomplete, and it's frightening. But we must not run from this fear. Rather, we should look forward to the perfection and joy that awaits, recognizing that this is a temporary time of trials laced with uncertainty and imperfection. Hear the wise words of Paul in I Cor. 13:8-12:
Charity never faileth: but whether there be prophecies, they shall fail; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away.

For we know in part, and we prophesy in part.

But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away. . . .

For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.
Even the greatest of prophets and apostles prophesied and knew things only in part - it was incomplete, seen through a glass darkly. Those who expect error-free Bishops and godlike prophets, showing off their omniscience with daily miracles, are looking for excuses to reject the imperfect but divinely called mortal assistants God has appointed. There are a dozen reasons why I could reject Abraham or Moses or Peter or Paul - but to reject His servants is to display our own blindness and lack of faith.

But it is not blind faith that God demands. He has not left us without grounds for abiding faith. The Book of Mormon, for example, is a powerful witness of the divinity of Christ and the reality of the Restoration. Want to see if the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has any merit? Read the Book of Mormon - put it to the test. That's one of the key steps that we challenge people to take on their own. It's why I am a member of this Church. As we encounter the word of God in the Bible and the Book of Mormon, we can know, through the power of the Holy Ghost - the Comforter - that Jesus Christ lives, that He is real, and that His work moves forth on the earth. The comfort and assurance that the Spirit brings to our minds and hearts as we seek God compensates for the terror of an uncertain world in which we only know in part at this time. Faith and patience are needed for now - but it's worth it.

Now for those of you who want to ask all sorts of questions to attack our faith, this is not the forum. But I do provide a means for that in my LDSFAQ section at JeffLindsay.com, where I take e-mail and answer many common questions. Send me your questions by e-mail, and with a little faith and patience, you may get an answer. But if you're just out to attack, don't waste our time. Start you own blog and share your thoughts there - it's free!

33 comments:

Anonymous said...

Hi Jeff. thanks for your site. can you recommend any "neutral" books about church history? My friend is reading the book of mormon right now, but she is adamant that she just wants to learn and she doesn't want to convert. She is very skeptical about things. I try to help but i dont know what to really say except assauge some of the questions she has such as perceived racism by nephites against the dark-skinned Lamanites. she is very liberal, but has wonderful morals and does not drink or break the law of chastity at all. she dresses modestly. she just has stopped being religious ever since she started to fight against sexism, racism, and homophobia. she is reading the book of mormon neutrally, but i dont know how to get her to pray about it or what i should even say to her if anything. she is interested in church history, but doesn't want to read anything "by the church." she wants a 3rd person source. can you help?? thank you, i appreciate what you do SO much.

Mormanity said...

Though the authors are LDS, one book that has garnered respect outside the Church is The Mormon Experience: A History of the Latter-Day Saints by historians Leonard J. Arrington and Davis Bitton.

For non-LDS sources, one respected scholarly author is Jan Shipps. One possible book to consider from her might be Mormonism: The Story of a New Religious Tradition.

You can also read reviews of many other books, some helpful and some not, at FARMS in their FARMS Review section.

Mormanity said...

In reading the Book of Mormon, it does seem that the Nephites had a pretty negative view of their enemies. Nibley suggested that the "skin of darkness" terminology was a metaphor for spiritual darkness and not necessarily a genetic difference, but it is also quite likely that the dominant Nephi line was different than the Lamanites, who appear to have mingled much more with local peoples that may have been quite different genetically and culturally.

Looking at the charged description of the Lamanites that Enos gives (Enos 1:20), we can almost see the thick, dark lenses of his cultural goggles, magnifying the faults of that people: "And I bear record that the people of Nephi did seek diligently to restore the Lamanites unto the true faith in God. But our labors were vain; their hatred was fixed, and they were led by their evil nature that they became wild, and ferocious, and a bloodthirsty people, full of idolatry and filthiness; feeding upon beasts of prey; dwelling in tents, and wandering about in the wilderness with a short skin girdle about their loins and their heads shaven; and their skill was in the bow, and in the cimeter, and the ax. And many of them did eat nothing save it was raw meat; and they were continually seeking to destroy us."

Sure, Enos may have picked up some racist attitudes in his upbringing. After all, these were mortal enemies he was describing. It wasn't until later people like Zeniff actually got out and saw the Lamanites close up that some Nephites saw the good in the Lamanites. And then we have the marvelous ministry of Ammon and the sons of Mosiah, who found thousands of Lamanites who became their brothers and sisters, and proved more spiritual by far than the Nephites.

In reading the Book of Mormon, we need to understand the various individual perspectives of the writers, and recognize that they may be writing with some cultural baggage. Understanding this helps add new depth to the text - and further clarifies the fact that multiple authors were involved, not just one lone farmboy trying to swipe bits and pieces of text from Solomon Spaulding or others.

stillsmallvoice said...

I don't get it. How can the church leaders claim to be prophets in direct communication with God if those communications aren't correct. How is one to know what to believe then?

David said...

There is a difference between 'incomplete' and 'incorrect'. Jeff never claimed the revelations were incorrect.

stillsmallvoice said...

I don't understand what you mean, David. You italicized 'revelations'. Is there a difference between prophecies and revelations? And what is the difference that you are pointing out between incomplete and incorrect?

Mormanity said...

3rd party snip

Mormanity said...

3rd party snip

Jericho Brown said...

I'll call a truce under one condition: You spend one day, just one day, answering my questions and debating me on these topics and I promise to never come to your site again.

David said...

Stillsmall:

You said, "How can the church leaders claim to be prophets in direct communication with God if those communications aren't correct."

The blog entry said nothing about, nor admitted to, incorrect revelations/prophecies.

What was discussed is the fact that Prophets aren't required to know everything. When they give prohetic council, it will not be wrong, but it may not give individuals as much information as they may like.

Sometimes, when not acting in their prophetic office, individuals have speculated on what revealed information has meant, only to be corrected later through proper revelation.

When a Prophet speaks in the name of the Lord, in his prophetic role, the information, although mayne not as detailed and all-encompassing as we may like, will always be accurate.

Just because you don't understand it doesn't mean it isn't true.

stillsmallvoice said...

So are you saying that Mormons prophecies have been infallible and have never proven to be wrong?

ruthiechan said...

"As we encounter the word of God in the Bible and the Book of Mormon, we can know, through the power of the Holy Ghost - the Comforter - that Jesus Christ lives, that He is real, and that His work moves forth on the earth. The comfort and assurance that the Spirit brings to our minds and hearts as we seek God compensates for the terror of an uncertain world in which we only know in part at this time. Faith and patience are needed for now - but it's worth it."

This is exactly what I needed to hear today. I was beginning to give in to fear. . . Thank you Jeff.

David said...

"So are you saying that Mormons prophecies have been infallible and have never proven to be wrong?"

Prophecies given by the authorized President of the Church, in the name of the Lord, have not been incorrect.

They may have made some predictions and decisions that have been shown to be in error (as Jeff's entry discusses), but no proper Official Prophecy has been incorrect.

stillsmallvoice said...

What about these:

In 1835 Joseph Smith prophesied that Orson Hyde would go to Jerusalem and prepare the way for the regathering of the Jewish people. Hyde never went to Jerusalem.

In like manner, in 1837 Smith prophesied that the president of the Church's Council of Twelve Apostles, a man named Thomas Marsh, would go forth "unto the ends of the earth" to preach to both Jews and Gentiles. Less than two years later, Marsh was excommunicated!

In 1841 Smith declared that a fellow named George Miller was a man "without guile" who could be trusted, and that no man should "despise my servant George, for he shall honor me." Seven years later, George Miller was excommunicated.

stillsmallvoice said...

And these:

Prophecy #1 - Temple to be built in Independence, Missouri. In September of 1832 Joseph Smith prophesied that the New Jerusalem and a new temple would be built in Zion, Missouri, a site near Independence. He further stated that his generation would not all pass away until these events took place. The temple was never built in Smith's lifetime or within the generation of his contemporaries. The Mormons were driven out of Missouri in 1839. The site where the temple was to be built is not even owned today by the Mormon Church.

Prophecy #2 - The End of all nations. In December 1832 Smith prophesied that South Carolina would rebel against the federal government, resulting in a war that would spread worldwide and would result in the "full end of all nations." Nothing needs to be said about the failure of this bizarre prophecy.

Prophecy #3 - The Return of the Lord. In 1835, as the prophecies of William Miller were growing in popularity, Joseph Smith stated that "the return of the Lord is nigh - even fifty-six years should wind up the scene." The 56 years passed in 1891. In a diary entry dated April 6, 1843, Smith repeated this prophecy, stating the Lord would return when "I am 85 years old, 48 years hence, or about 1890." (16) Smith was killed when he was 39 years old.

Prophecy #4 - The Liberty jail prophecies. In March of 1839 Smith issued a whole package of prophecies from his jail cell in Liberty, Missouri. (17) Among other things, he predicted that his enemies would be destroyed "by the sword," that his friends would never charge him with transgressions, and that God was about to change the times and seasons. None of these prophecies came true. The enemies of the Mormons were not destroyed, God did not change the times and seasons, and Smith's friends did turn on him with serious charges that ultimately led to his arrest and death.

Prophecy #5 - The United States Government to be overthrown. In May of 1843 Smith prophesied that if the United States government did not redress the wrongs suffered by the Mormons in Missouri, the government would be "utterly overthrown and wasted." (18) The federal government rejected the Mormon petitions and their "wrongs" were not redressed, yet the U.S. government continued to exist.

Prophecy #6 - His son to succeed him. In April 1844 Smith prophesied that his son would succeed him and would become "president and king of Israel." (19) The child was named David. Needless to say, he never became "president and king of Israel." Nor did he succeed his father. He died in 1904 at the age of 60, after spending the last 27 years of his life in an insane asylum.

Mormanity said...

Snips

Mormanity said...

Mr. J., that's probably something I would actually enjoy doing - if it were civil and all that - but I don't have the time to spend a day debating anybody - I barely have the time to delete inappropriate comments.

Look, there are some things about you - if I interpret correctly - that I like: political savvy (do I detect a tinge of Libertarian attitudes? - if so, that's cool), persistence, demand for facts, and the ability to write well when you want to. But I think you misunderstand the reason for my blog. It's my little piece of turf - silly as it may be - to share things that I want to talk about. It's more like the front yard of a home than it is a public square. If people wander in and misbehave, I shoo them off the yard.

And please try to understand, from my deluded Morman perspective, that repeatedly insulting my faith, making threats, and violating other of my policies is misbehavior.

Today I had the thought that if we had met in a cafe and started talking, we might have had an enjoyable conversation, and when it came to religion, we could slug it out civilly and agree to disagree. But now I'm questioning my sanity in even replying here, when the riled part of me says just delete his comments and get more helpers to keep on deleting them 24 hours a day. But what a waste for both of us.

Let me admit for all the world that there are tough questions I cannot yet answer, not just about Joseph Smith, but about God, life, the Bible, Jesus, the Creation, and so forth. However, I think I've addressed many of the above questions on the so-called errors in Joseph Smith's prophecies on my LDSFAQ pages (see, for example, http://www.jefflindsay.com/LDSFAQ/FQ_prophets.shtml and http://www.jefflindsay.com/LDSFAQ/FQ_prophecies.shtml). But these will not convince you - one can always raise arguments on any point of religion. So if it helps, let me just say that you win since I cannot respond to every argument and am unwilling to engage in a debate-a-thon. Does that help?

The people that come to my site have usually seen lots of anti-Mormon stuff - who can avoid it on the Internet these days? This is not the place to post more of it. I'll let the above comments stand - at least for today - but I'm not here to be your sounding board. You think we're crazy. That's OK - it's your right to think that. But I hope you can just shake your head in disbelief and walk away. It would be appreciated.

Ryan Franklin said...

I love your blog Jeff, keep up the good work!

Jericho Brown said...

I appreciate your addressing me in that manner, Mr. Lindsay. And I will concede that I was a prick when I first came to this site. The reasons are pretty simple, I guess: I have read up on many many tenets of Mormonism, its history, what-have-you, and the thing that baffles me the most is that it seems that pretty much everyone that was raised Mormon consistently looks the other way whenever facts are brought to their attention that might possibly shed a different light on the religion which they have revered for their entire lives. They give it the benefit of the doubt no matter what. And for some reason this drives me !crazy. Because I cannot stand the thought of people willingly staying in bondage to others who intentionally misled and continue to mislead them.

So my question is this: Why? Why is the religion always given the benefit of the doubt? Why is it that what seems so logical and obvious to people like me, people who have not been indoctrinated by the LDS church, is so far from obvious to you and other followers of the church? I just can't understand the chasm-wide discrepency in brain rationale.

Matt Witten said...

JB. I'm not a life long Mormon, In fact I joined the Church 7 years ago. My Wife is a life long member. When She was 13 she prayed and asked God if the Church was true, just like I did when I was 21. She and I believe we received answers to prayer. Whatever mormon history has or does not have in it does not and will never negate those answers to prayer that we've had. We are Happy with our lives, we choose to be this way, so we are not shackled by anyone, and we have hope for a better world by our involvement in the church. What have i loft since becomeing amember of the Church. I've lost some friends who think I'm an idiot because I think different than them. I've lost my alchoholism. I've lost pre-marital sex. What have I gained. I've gained a wife who loves me and who I love. I've gained freedom. I've gained purpose in my life. What's so wrong with that?

As for the first poster, I'd recommend Terryl Givens' Books. Both "By the Hand of Mormon" and "The LAtter-day Saint expereince in America" are excellent.

And as for Jeff, Thanks for mormanity and cracked planet. I've read from your site since I joined the church and it has made a difference. keep it up

David said...

"WWhy is it that what seems so logical and obvious to people like me, people who have not been indoctrinated by the LDS church, is so far from obvious to you and other followers of the church? I just can't understand the chasm-wide discrepency in brain rationale."

I joined the church a little over a year ago after being a staunch Anti-Mormon for about 2 years.

Then, the more I tried to prove the Church wrong, I kept finding reasonable explanations, and as I began actually reading the Stand Works, the more I realized how much the anti-literature often completely mischaracterized and even completely lied in trying to 'explain' Church doctrine (my favorite example is in a book published for the teen market for 'cult awareness' called 'Why So Many Gods' that stated, "Mormons deny the virgin birth. They teach that Jesus was born from Mary and Joseph having SEX!" - something which is ridiculously untrue.

Anyway, very long story short, the more I studied the actual scriptures of the Church, the more I began to feel that it was, in fact, true. I didn't want it to be at that point.

But there it was - the more I tried to prove it wrong, the more the veracity of it would reveal itself to me, whether it be through historical texts (I read ancienct 1st and 2nd Century Christian texts to blast away the premise that the Restored Church was at all similar to the earliest Christians - this backfired), I re-read the Bible believing it would repudiate LDS claims with every page (it confirmed them), and I did much, much more.

In the end, it all came down to reading the Book of Mormon with an open heart, willing to possibly look at it for what it claimed to be...

...and it made all the difference.

I was raised in a pentecostal Church - my father is a minister in that Church, and is not happy at all with my decision. I consider myself intelligent. I was 22 years old when I finally made the decision to be baptised, and I have probably read more anti-mormon material than you have.

I have had the truth of it confirmed to me spiritually first, and intellectually second. The two now work together hand-in-hand in strengthening my faith.

Also - I studied and investigated the Church on my own. I didn't talk to any missionaries until I had already decided to be Baptised.

So insult my brain rationale if you will, but I know what I know, and I've experienced what I've experienced, and nothing you say can take that away from me.

Stephen said...

In the end, it all came down to reading the Book of Mormon with an open heart, willing to possibly look at it for what it claimed to be...

...and it made all the difference.


Nicely said. We can either listen to the Spirit of God or not ...

Jericho Brown said...

OK, here's the problem I have with what you guys just wrote, and which was nicely highlighted by Stephen. "In the end it came down to reading the Book of Mormon with an open heart etc." As I'm sure you know, this is the same thing the missionaries say when they are hit with hard questions regarding your religion. You can say, "Well, what about the fact that many of Jospeh Smith's and Brigham Young's prophecies were, in fact, wrong" or "What of the fact that Smith himself had plural wives and said that that was one of the most sacred doctrines of the Mormon church, and yet the church today--the mainstream church--has distanced itself from that?" and the reply would always be (I've been proseletyzed multiple times by Mormon missionaries, so I can say with certainty that they always fall back on this): "ll we can say is that if you read the Book of Mormon and open your heart to it, you will know that it is the truth." And that doesn't wash. This goes back to my earlier point that you guys are taking the idea of faith way to far. Faith is a concept that can only go so far, especially in the face evidence that disproves what the faithful have been proclaiming as truth. In other words, I can say all day long that I believe the sky to be red, that my parents always told me it was red and therefore I know it is red, but the reality is always going to be that the sky is NOT red. Maybe during a sunset, but you see my point. So again, we come to the same issue. How can you ignore evidence after evidence that says that the church is a sham? You can't write off the whole argument by saying it is a matter of faith. Faith cannot survive evidence that shows otherwise. At least, it shouldn't.

Matt: I think it is great that you have found happiness through your involvement in the church. That it has helped you deal with issues that beforehand you didn't have the capability of dealing with. But is it really a true salvation if what you believe in is false? Or is it merely, as Marx once said, an opiate, that has decieved you. I guess this opens the bigger question of, Is it better to find happiness in slavery than to see the truth and stay unhappy? And make no mistake about it, it IS slavery if the limitations you are putting on yourself--regarding alcohol, sex, attendance at church--are based on beliefs that were concocted by people who claimed to have a much closer connection to God than they actually do/did.

David: You didn't even address the fact that you said that true prophets never made false prophecies and right there in front of you are ten or 15 made by Joseph Smith himself that definitely did not come true. But on to my point to you: You say that you researched it and the Mormon explanations for seeming indiscrepencies were "reasonable". I would counter that by allowing the church to back-peddle and explain away those inconsistencies, you have done what so many others have done who are part of religious cults. You allowed them to pull the veil over your eyes, to EXPLAIN away what to any rational person is a deal-breaker. True faith, true religion, should need no extra explaining. It is either in the text or it is not. There should not have to be added addendums to explain this part more fully so as to cancel out this earlier inconsistent part. So an anti-Mormon text said things that the Mormon church does not support--this doesn't mean that there aren't plenty of things that the Mormon church to this day espouses that haven't been proven completely felonious. And if pushed on this issue I will list many of them right here.

Mormanity said...

Jericho, step back and think about the amazing chasm between liberals and conservatives. Both are convinced that the other is crazy and cannot understand how the other can cling to their ridiculous views when it is so obvious that they are wrong. How can Republicans support Bush when it so obvious that the war in Iraq is based on lies and atrocities? How can Democrats keep pushing for the same failed socialist policies that have caused the very problems they claim to be solving? How can anyone be so idiotic as to not see things my way?

The issue is not just facts, but frames of reference - the worldview or paradigm set that guides how we interpret facts, what facts matter, and what principles matter.

To one that has looked forward to the coming of the Messiah and then saw Jesus preaching with the power of the Spirit, then saw Him walking on water, healing the sick, and standing alive after the Resurrection, there can be no doubt that He was divine. For one with that perspective, scholars can argue all day using the Talmud and the Torah to prove that Jesus could not have been the Messiah, and one could line up dozens of witnesses to attest that He was a liar, a fraud, a charlatan, and a drunk, and one could have credible witnesses testifying the Resurrection was based on crooks who hid the body. And none of that would matter. To those who only knew the arguments and witnesses against the Messiah, the testimony of a few crackpots who claimed to have seen Him alive would be pure foolishness in light of the evidence againt him. Can you appreciate how distant the two worldviews would be?

In the Restored Gospel of Jesus Christ, people generally do not join or stay in the Church on the basis of who can win a debate. There is a spiritual dimension - the reality of God, the power of revelation, the witness of the Spirit - that must be there. Sure, I think I can make a pretty strong cause that the Book of Mormon could not possibly have been forged by Joseph Smith - the Arabian Peninsula evidence alone rules out the possibility that someone could have made it up in 1830, in my most objective opinion - but that does not change my behavior, it does not make me filled with love for the Savior and want to repent and follow Him, no matter what the price. An intellectual conversion alone is not enough - we must know in our minds and in our hearts that Jesus lives and that we must follow Him.

So let me start with the most basic question, Jericho. Do you believe in God? Or is it possible, in your worldview, that there might be a God who is our Heavenly Father and loves us? And if so, do you believe it possible that Jesus Christ was divine, the son of God and Messiah for the world?

If not, we need to start there. Jumping into the pros and cons of polygamy or the implications of statements made by Brigham Young or Bruce R. McConkie would be a waste of time because we would be arguing about maps drawn for different continents that would only move further apart as we argued, if you get my drift.

Oh, and thanks for the civil tone. I suspected that the nastiness wasn't the real you! Glad to be past that!! And I'm sorry for some possible overreaction on my part as well.

ruthiechan said...

I believe that some of Joseph Smith's revelations were personal, and personal revelations are based upon the actions of the person and of the people around them.

Some of the prophecies sited sound funny to me. As in, not quite in context or correctly stated.

Many of them though were personal revelations to either Joseph or whomever he was refering to and therefore subject to not coming true by the personal choices of the individual.

Remember Samson and Delilah. That story is a perfect example of choices by Samson and those around him destroying what might have been.

You can read the scriptures online at lds.org. Click on scriptures on the lefthand menu. I mention it so you can read Samson's story and the D&C where most revelations within are from Joseph Smith.

Jericho Brown said...

You’re right, Jeff, frames of reference DO play a big part in how people perceive the world. I acknowledge this. But at the same time, and I think you’d agree with me here, there are Ultimate Truths. And if you believe in an Ultimate Truth, in truth not being relative, then there has to be some point when, all things considered, you make a decision, based on fact, as to whether or not the things you believe are in fact True. As for your comparison of Republicans and Democrats, I would argue that whereas you could say that Democratic policies have not worked, that statement is subject to argument based on point of view and who is seeing what as failed or successful. By contrast, (and I know that you and pretty much ALL Mormons are Republican), it is either True or untrue that the war in Iraq was begun based on arguments that ultimately proved untrue. There is no in between.

In regard to religion: My background really should have no basis to this discussion, but since you asked I’ll tell you. I do believe in God. I base this belief on one thing: I just can’t imagine that this world, this universe just….appeared out of nowhere. I read somewhere that scientists have concluded that for this planet to come into being with the life that exists on it with some higher form of help would be the equivelent of a tornado coming through a junkyard and the end-result being a fully functional 747 jet. For this reason I find atheism to be just as ridiculous as Mormonism. The rabid O’Hair-type atheists spend their lives trying to prove to everyone that there is no such thing as God and the rationale they use is ridiculous. “Can you see Him or hear Him?” they say. Then he must not exist. So yes, I believe in God.

Your points about people disbelieving in Christianity are well-taken. And I think you have a point. Apart from Judaism, which is the oldest religion in the world, every other religion was pretty much seen as a cult when it first came into fruition. And the reality is that all of them MAY BE CULTS based on as much faulty information as Mormonism is based. But with the LDS we have the advantage of having thousands and thousands of pages of documentation, seeing as it has only been around for a very short time (in the big scheme of things). With Christianity or Islam there is not the advantage of having so much documentation because it happened so long ago and the records were either lost or were never created in the first place. But look, my intention here is not to dissuade people from believing in God, or turning to God to find strength for day-to-day living. My intention is to say, “If you need to have belief in something greater than yourself, fine. But do it on terms that are not rife with questionable issues, many of which are outright lies and distortions.”

Which brings me to Ruthiechan’s defense of the fallacious Smith prophecies: That’s a copout. Writing off failed prophecy as being “personal” is a copout. Either you believe that Joseph Smith was a prophet or he was not. Obviously your entire religion is based on the belief that he was a prophet. Is there a single story of anything Jesus or Paul said being false in any way? Is there a story of any revered mainstream Christian prophet that prophesied things that were proven wrong and then written off by followers as merely “personal” prophecies. No. See, this is what I talk about when I say that you guys are constantly giving the church a free pass. It’s as though your entire life is based on this house of matches and if anything ever happened to disturb that house you scramble around trying to justify it into being sturdy again. I can only suppose the reason for this is that you are afraid of what will happen to you if a very basic tenet of your life is turned upside down. Like finding out your parents aren’t really your parents at all, that you’re adopted or something. I know it’s a scary possibility, but at some point, the rational human mind has to say to itself, OK. Enough is enough. And take a REAL step of faith out into the world without the shield of Mormonism keeping you from REAL TRUTH. God will always protect you. But everybody has to decide whether or not they are going to do it unguarded.

Matt Witten said...

First of, I'm pretty fortunate that what I believe isn't false.

JB you said "it IS slavery if the limitations you are putting on yourself--regarding alcohol, sex, attendance at church--are based on beliefs that were concocted by people who claimed to have a much closer connection to God than they actually do/did." That's a big if. Let's clarify some things here. I don't have any limitations on me. Yes I've lost some things, but all of the above mentioned I'm free to do or not do. I fully understand the consequences of doing or not doing them. It makes good sense to not do te negative things, and It makes excellent sense to me personally to go to church. Two, no one in the church has ever said to me, do this or else. They've always said, pray about it, ask God if it's true, and if he answers you, do it. So the Church first teaches us to question authority and make choices for myself. That doesn't really sound like brain washing to me. Does it to you?
Now let's talk about you. I've been to your blog.(both of them) It looks like you #1, don't like Bush. #2, like girls, and #3 are pretty sure of yourself. I don't want to feed you a bunch of garbage. I guess what I want to know is, Why does it matter to you if I'm Mormon or not? Or are you just doing this to amuse yourself because you're bored?

Jericho Brown said...

Matt, the first thing you say here is that it isn't false. Good job questioning authority. Secondly, if you surround yourself with people who look down on the things we mentioned you are either not going to do them at all or you are going to do them and ostracize yourself from the people you consider yourself close to. That's basic sociology. So to say that you think you have a choice in the matter is frankly crazy. You DON'T have a choice as long as you remian in the church. This is not to say that that I think it's necessarily a bad thing to not drink (coffee or alcohol) or smoke or look at naked girls or have premarital sex. All of those things can obviously do harm to a person's life in one way or another. But my point is that you guys limit yourself, keep yourself from true freedom by believing in something that is false. That's all. As for my blogs and the assumptions you make about me based on what you've seen on them--I dson't see what that has to do with what we are talking about. If you are searching for motive, I can give you this: I am not bored, I am not doing this as a joke. I said it before and I'll say it again, I am here because I want people to free themselves of the self-imposed bondage I see so many of you putting on yourself. Everybody needs to have limitations in their lives, I agree with that 100%. What I don't agree with is religious svengali's making that decision for people who are seeking direction. Everybody wants answers, and I think everybody wants truth. But it is a life-long search. And it is my strong, strong conviction that Mormonism's followers are barking up the proverbial wrong tree. This conviction is based on simple research and discovering what is and what is not. The answers to the LDS are all right there in front of you. And the longer you refuse to see what is right in front of you the longer you live in bondage. There's an old Hank Williams song called "I Saw the Light." Maybe you've heard it. But in it he says "Praise the Lord, I saw the Light." I know that is what Mormons want like anyone else that has a spirituality in them that pushes them to seek the Truth. But just because it is suggested to you to "Look into your heart," and your heart tells you that yes, indeed, what these people say is true, does not make it true. Tens of millions of people have been murdered over those same kinds of convictions. The Lafferty Bros. killed a woman and her baby daughter based on those same convictions. It's called the power of suggestion and is commonplace in cult indoctrination. Look it up.

Mormanity said...

No time right now - but Jericho, please don't I'm a Republican. I'm actually quite unhappy with the Republican party - but that's for another blog.

And I find your recent posts just fine. You're welcome to keep commenting, as you wish. These are healthy points to discuss and they are topical, since I've raised the issue of limitation in prophecies.

Just a quick note before I run: prophets in the Bible were fallible many times. No surprise if we have mortals in our day as well.

Mormanity said...

Oh, and I'm quite happy to see that you have found logical evidence for the reality of God. This is good news.

And I'm almost flattered that Mormonism seems to you to be at the same level of stupidity as atheism - you've put us a few notches higher than I was expecting. Thanks! ;)

I think I see where you are coming from. Your continued comments are welcome now.

Adam said...

"And it is my strong, strong conviction that Mormonism's followers are barking up the proverbial wrong tree. This conviction is based on simple research and discovering what is and what is not."

I also have my convictions, which apparently are based on much more than yours.

Yes, I was born into the Church, but in largely non-Mormon area. My friends were members of the different faiths. I began to study, very profoundly, my church's beliefs when I was about 15. This also meant I ended up running into a lot of anti-mormon literature at this early age. We too, have read what you have read , and (as it has already been mentioned) perhaps even more than you have. I even had times when I questioned what I believed.

You can say all that you want about the Church, it's leaders, practices, beliefs, etc. I've heard all these things already, and much more. And yes, there are very reasonable explanations for these things. But when I have had a very personal and extremely spritual experience, there is nothing you can do or say to refute that. When my experience with the Lord has brought me to tears and produced in me an effect that I could never explain in words, you have no right to tell me what I believe is false. I received my answer straight from the Lord, and you have absolutely no evidence that I didn't. I'm positive that if you could feel what I felt, you too would not care about the critisms.

I can understand your point of view. I've been there, believe me. But now that I've seen how the Church and its teachings have created a better life for me and for a number of others, it's become more than just a game of fact-piling. I acknowledge the critisms (which, in many cases, are well-supported), but once I recieve an answer from the Lord, everything comes into light. Everything makes sense. To paraphrase Latter-Day scripture, I know in my mind AND in my heart that these things are true. They make sense. But the fact that they just "make sense" is pale in comparison when I stop and think about what kind of person I have become because of the Lord and His church. And that's evidence that I can't convey to you. Only the Spirit can.

My favorite scripture, John 9:24-25, puts it a lot better than I can:

24 Then again called they the man that was blind, and said unto him, Give God the praise: we know that this man is a sinner.

25 He answered and said, Whether he be a sinner or no, I know not: one thing I know, that, whereas I was blind, now I see.



I don't care what other people say. The only thing that matters to me is what I've felt in my own heart, and no one can take that away from me.

Mike Parker said...

Jericho Brown: I know that you and pretty much ALL Mormons are Republican.

FWIW, I'm a Mormon. And I'm not a Republican.

David said...

"David: You didn't even address the fact that you said that true prophets never made false prophecies and right there in front of you are ten or 15 made by Joseph Smith himself that definitely did not come true."

Two notes: first of all, they were posted without a) direct quotes, and b) without references. I will not attempt to refute claims that don't have either.

Second, some of the Prophecies referred to I am very aware of, and believe the characterization and description of them were either misleading, or imcomplete. I am very familiar with the Prophecy on War, and do not believe you interpereted it properly.

In a few of the others, Conditions are not taken into consideration. Prophecy is almost always conditional, based on the worthiness or lack thereof of individuals who would participate (an example would be the destruction of Ninevah as prophesied in the book of Jonah - when they repented, and God chose not to destroy the city, Jonah was a bit frustrated. It wasn't a false prophecy, but Ninveah at the point didn't meet the requirements for the prophecy to be fulfilled - a lack of repentance.)

---

"But on to my point to you: You say that you researched it and the Mormon explanations for seeming indiscrepencies were "reasonable". I would counter that by allowing the church to back-peddle and explain away those inconsistencies, you have done what so many others have done who are part of religious cults. You allowed them to pull the veil over your eyes, to EXPLAIN away what to any rational person is a deal-breaker."

No. There is a difference between stating interpretation of events, and stating facts. Most of the anti-Mormon literature declare interpretation and conclusions of events rather than faithfully reporting things themselves. So most of the time, the 'explaining away' is more accurately described as 'presenting all the facts'. If I were to only listen to the anti statements as 'Gospel Truth', then I would be allowing them to pull the veil over my eyes. I investigated both sides, and in most cases, the pro-LDS view seemed a lot more plaudible, and fit with other things that I knew.

----

"True faith, true religion, should need no extra explaining. It is either in the text or it is not. There should not have to be added addendums to explain this part more fully so as to cancel out this earlier inconsistent part."

I agree. But this is what the Anti try to do. Their reports and claims end up being far more inconsistent and blatantly misleading than anything I've ever read in the LDS canon of scripture.

--

"So an anti-Mormon text said things that the Mormon church does not support--this doesn't mean that there aren't plenty of things that the Mormon church to this day espouses that haven't been proven completely felonious. And if pushed on this issue I will list many of them right here."

That you've personally experienced, or will be pulling from a book/website?