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

Saturday, November 19, 2005

James Allen Responds to Grant Palmer

James B. Allen has written an interesting review of Grant Palmer's recent attack on the foundations of the Church. The review, "Asked and Answered: A Response to Grant H. Palmer" is available in the latest FARMS Review of Books. Ooops - did I say attack? Grant Palmer isn't out to attack the Church, just to strengthen our faith and advance our understanding by arguing that Joseph Smith was a fraud, the Book of Mormon is fiction, and the miracles of the Restoration never occurred. Say, did any of you fellow Brighton High graduates know him when he was acting in the capacity of a seemingly faithful employee of the Church before he retired?

Another review of Palmer's work is that of Louis Midgley, "Prying into Palmer: Review of An Insider's View of Mormon Origins." Midgley provides much more detail regarding the outrageous claim that Joseph Smith relied upon E.T.A. Hoffmann's fairy tale, The Golden Pot.

Another review I recommend is "Trustworthy History?" by Steven C. Harper. See, for example, his section on the Restoration. Part of Palmer's spin is his claim that Joseph was silent about the ministry of angels until after 1834, when he came up with the idea as a response to anti-Mormon attacks in order to add more divine trappings to his scheme. To reach this conclusion, Palmer must carefully ignore a number of documents in order to favor a couple documents from bitter men written decades later. However, there is a legitimate question: why was Joseph so bold in sharing his revelations, but often much more quiet about his miraculous and sacred experiences such as seeing the Father and the Son, or having the ministry of angels? Since there is plenty of evidence that such things were shared and known by others well before 1834, an explanation much more reasonable than Palmer's is that of RIchard Bushman. Here is the relevant excerpt from Harper (footnotes omitted - see the article for details):
It is well attested that Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery both testified early and often that angels ordained them to the holy priesthood. Why, though, the question remains, did Joseph Smith seem to publicly proclaim his written revelations and safeguard his visions, including details of priesthood restoration?

John Wigger's influential book Taking Heaven by Storm shows how early Methodism gained converts in great numbers by acknowledging popular spiritual experiences and in appealing to the longings of ordinary people. As America and Methodism became more middle class, however, revelatory experiences became suspect. Samuel Goodrich described this process tersely by saying that "orthodoxy was in a considerable degree methodized, and Methodism in due time became orthodoxed."

Informed by this larger history, Richard Bushman argues that perhaps Joseph chose not to trumpet his heavenly visions as he did his printed revelations for fear of being marginalized even more. This view finds support in Joseph's own accounts and other early documents. He reported relating his first vision to an influential minister, following which he was persecuted, "but all this did not destroy the reality of his vision" (Joseph Smith-History 1:24). He explained that he and Cowdery "were forced to keep secret the circumstances of our having been baptized, and having received this priesthood; owing to a spirit of persecution which had already manifested itself in the neighborhood." In particular, they "had been threatened with being mobbed." Martin Harris said at least one Palmyra man threatened Joseph Smith with violence in 1827 for claiming that "angels appear to men in this enlightened age." Bushman, the most informed scholar on Joseph Smith's world, thus offers an explanation alternative to Palmer for Joseph's apparent reticence to speak casually about ministering angels. This reading of the evidence is far more compelling than Palmer's exaggerated hermeneutic of suspicion.

33 comments:

Anonymous said...

You're a bit behind in your reading. Two issues of FARMS Review have come out since the one in which Allen's review appears.

Bookslinger said...

Jeff: This reading of the evidence is far more compelling than Palmer's exaggerated hermeneutic of suspicion.

Thanks for sending me to www.m-w.com

Hermeneutic[s] is one of those buzz-words that is currently getting thrown around in the apologetic community.

According to Mirian Webster, hermeneutic is an adjective meaning "of or related to hermeneutics" which in turn means "the study of the methodological principles of interpretation (as of the Bible)."

Hermeneutics could be said to be the study of interpreting scripture, or the study of studying scripture, but not the interpreting or study of scripture itself. Hermeneutics seems to be one academic level removed.

Anonymous said...

Mormanity, It almost sounds like you are crying.
Like you are just pleading for your visitors to see things the way you do.
The thing is, you don't really need to. Most people here agree with you.
Whine is something we stopped drinking years ago. Get over it.

Walker said...

If Jeff's post is like crying, then I most be an emotional wreck, cuz I really don't see it (normally, the phrase "legitimate question" can't quite seep into the whiner's reportoire of rhetoric).

And actually, as far as consensus goes, there's hardly any among historians. I'll bet if you get Jeff and I (or most others on this blog) talking for more than 5 minutes about a historical topic, assuming that we're both frank, we could find something to disagree on. However, such disagreements normally come to peripheral points rather than core values.

John said...

What is it with 'Anonymous' calling people whiners on this site and in so doing employing the tired pun whine/wine? That's like the third time this month.

"Excellent whine! Poor me another glass!!"

Hilarious.

Anonymous said...

Lets move on from calling each other names. This whine thing was started by someone named Books of Mormon in Indy. He stopped posting a few weeks ago but I can see some anonymous posters have picked up where he left off. Interesting...

John said...

Yeah, well it wasn't so bad the first time around. It's no longer a clever joke to make.

Back to the topic, Palmer seems to see the world through his "skeptic's goggles." No matter the subject (as long as it's mormon-related), it was a fraud.

Bushman is an actual scholar.

PS- Books of Mormon in Indy is now bookslinger. He just changed his name.

Anonymous said...

YES! Please, let's move on and discuss the topic. I see this on other blogs where people will say anything and everything but nothing related to the topic.
John, it wasn't so clever the first time around, and less so now.
Don't mean to whine here. ROLOL

Anonymous said...

Joseph Smith was a fraud. Plain and simple.

It doesn't take a scholar to see this, it just takes a quick sampling from the Book or Mormon itself.

Yea, verily I say unto you, that it came to pass, blah, blah, blah... a poor attempt at Jacobean English. 'Ye' and 'Thou' are repeatedly used in the wrong tense. Why would God command Smith to translate his divine words into such a consfusing dialect? Are German or Spanish translations of the BOM also written in some archaic linguistic form?

Joseph Smith had quite the imagination, and obviously he was quite the salesman. I still find it hard to believe that millions of people willfully believe such a poorly written bunch of plagarized baloney. In my opinion, it is the work of the evil one himself. Look at the oaths and rituals you partake of in the temple ceremonies... straight from Satan.

I pray that one day you will be strong enough to stop blindly following the leaders of the LDS church. Don't accept the answers that your leaders tell you, "You don't have enough faith" or "You are taking it out of context". Question what does not make sense. If your leaders do not have the divine wisdom to answer them, then leave the church.

-Jeffrey Roth

Walker said...

Jeffrey:

Pardon me if the heat behind your post becomes quite unattractive to your prospective Mormon dissenter. The "straight from Satan" part is especially unattractive to the "questioning" mind that you accuse us benighted Mormon fools of lacking.

Also, forgive me for not rolling over when you (ignorantly) smear elements of a faith that (gasp) build my faith in Jesus Christ. Oh, wait...I must be talking about a different Jesus. Just so we're on the same page, I'm talking about the one who taught his disciples rather than accusing them of being a part of a Satanic cult(though he did have some particularly nasty things to say about the Pharisitical leadership :)

"I pray that one day you will be strong enough to stop blindly following the leaders of the LDS church."

Just FYI, you should be more careful about assuming that we are all blind lackeys, especially when you do not know us. If you think that I, as a Mormon, bow before the answers of my priesthood leaders in all intellectual matters, think again. Almost all of my learning in Church matters has been done INDEPENDENT of leaders' influence, yet I have all the more faith in their ability to lead. I do not follow because I am blind; I follow because I can see (and that's not always the nebulous "burning in the bosom" feeling that is unjustly mocked by those who have not experienced it) I know that's difficult for critics to accept. It doesn't bode well for the "oppressive Mormon apparatus" thesis. In fact, my bishop recently asked insight on a historical topic from me to help his daughter. While I'm no church history guru, that instance alone is enough to turn your trickle-down model on its head. What is truly amusing is that you seem to be just hierarchical in your approach, suggesting that our entire knowledge of the Church rests in Church leaders ("if your leaders do not have the divine wisdom...).

As far as the "historical context" claim, have you considered that quotes ARE taken out of context? I've seen it in my own research (which, in case you're wondering, involves primary documents, not Church manuals). Using the same technique, I could convince you that Thomas Paine was a subversive to the American Revolution and that he was really a Tory at heart. If you think context is just a cheap fallback, I would suggest you spend a few minutes researching in an archive.

As to translation issues, translation is not wholly separable from its time and place. Hence, to expect perfect English from Joseph Smith in his translation is unreasonable. It is noteworthy that Joseph referred to the Book of Mormon as being translated into "our own language" (referring to 19th century Americans). Considering Joseph's upbringing with sacred texts (the KJV Bible) and his New England linguistic constructions, the Book of Mormon fits the linguistic characteristics that Joseph claimed for it. If Joseph were a fraud, he would have been so fool as give himself away so easily by admitting that the Book of Mormon matched his own dialect. And incidentally, the Spanish Book of Mormon is indeed translated into Old Spanish (as is the Hmong Book of Mormon too). No matter though. The criticism is based on presentist assumption about what makes a confusing dialect (if 15th century Anglos listened to our English, they would say that we're stark raving lunatics).

Next time, I would urge you to avoid being so rash in caricaturizing millions of people (many of whom are highly educated) as little more than blithering nitwits who live in a 1984-esque world.

Bookslinger said...

Jeff Roth: Why would God command Smith to translate his divine words into such a consfusing dialect?

I don't know that for a fact. It is known that Oliver Cowdery made some transcribing errors when he made the printer's copy. Then the typesetter at the Grandin printing company made some errors, but he also made some deliberate changes for who knows why.

When I read the Book of Mormon, I don't judge it by its "dialect" as you call it.

I try to keep in mind that it is a translation of an ancient language, and not originally written in English.

Moreover, the language in which it was written, supposedly Reformed Egyptian, was not even the primary day-to-day spoken language of the Nephites, which supposedly was more like an altered form of Hebrew.

Thirdly, most of it went through an abridgement process by Mormon after it was written by the original authors: Mosiah, Alma, Helaman, etc.

Therefore Mormon's was the second hand to translate or copy the words, and then Joseph/Oliver was the third.

Then, let's not forget that even some of Mosiah and Alma came from the journals of others, such as Alma the Senior, Ammon and Aaron. In those cases, Mosiah and Alma the Younger were the secondary authors, Mormon, as editor and abridger, the third, and Joseph/Oliver the fourth. We are now several times removed from the original work.

It's starting to sound like our English version of the Bible. The closest we have to the originals are now copies of copies of copies, and there is no definitive English translation. As evidence I point you to the KJV, ERV, ASV, RSV, NRSV, NASB, NIV, TNIV, CEV, TEV, ESV, etc, etc.

Mormon and other authors go to various lengths apologizing for the weakness and errors in their writing. Joseph Smith said it was the "most correct book," but he did not say it was a perfect book.

I also wonder what human errors the Lord allowed in the Book of Mormon. As I understand it, Joseph did not dictate, nor did Oliver write down, any punctuation. The punctuation was put in by Grandin's typesetter based on his best guesses, and it has been changed/corrected over the years by church leaders. I do not know the reason for the Lord not giving directions to Joseph in regards to the punctuation.

Sometimes the Lord allows our weaknesses to stand and be visible to others. I sometimes guess that the reason is to keep us humble, and also to be a stumbling block to those who think that the Lord's servants must be perfect in all things.

If you demand that all English scripture be perfect, then I assume you have trouble with the Bible too. There were errors and obvious omissions in the Hebrew text that the King James translators used. Manuscripts were found that were older than those upon which the KJV was based.

Then English-speaking scholars who knew Hebrew and Greek came to a consensus that there were some problems in the King James Translation, and that led to the English Revised Version of the 1880's, which led to the American Standard Version of 1901, which led to the Revised Standard Version of 1946/1952.

(The above Bible info comes from the preface to the Revised Standard Version, in "The New Layman's Parallel Bible" ISBN 0-310-95025-2, published by Zondervan.)

You can count me among those who don't care what critics of the Book of Mormon say. I received my answer from God in the form of personal powerful revelation. God told me that the Book of Mormon is what it purports to be.

You're entitled to your opinions. And we're all entitled to "share" opinions here, as long as the blog-owner allows us.

I hope you don't mind me sharing my opinion. And my opinion is this: I think I ought to believe what God told me rather than what you say.

Samuel said...

First, the rituals are sacred, not secret. You can, if you are so inclined, find them online. But I am sure you already know that. Glad to know something I hold dear (my temple experience) is so blatantly misused.

Secondly, the Temple ritual is not Masonic. I am a 32nd degree Freemason, so expect me to know a bit whereof I speak.

Anonymous said...

Isn't it curious how Mormons always claim they do their own thinking? And yet, that thinking never leads them to any other conclussion than the ones the church sanctions. I would love to hear someone on this board tell how their own thinking led them to some other truth.
Walker, your example of your Bishop coming to you about some historical question is a joke. Why don't you say something along the lines of, My Bishop asked me to do such and such, I prayed about it and was told that I should not.
Of course, that would never happen would it?
Oh no, you don't follow blindly. It just happens that everything the church teaches you agree with and have had confirmed by the spirit. UH huh.
Oh course, don't forget that in a few years when some doctrine changes, they will ex you for teaching those "eternal" truths".

Walker said...

Jeff-

The reason I didn't say that is because that's not the way it happened. He asked a question, and I cited a well-respected authority on the matter (Richard Bushman--if you take issue with him, you have bigger problems than I can deal with). It was not a commission to be a mercernary for Mormonism, though such a scenario would fit nicely into your model for Mormon oppression. I had total freedom to disagree.

You also have some pretty grand ideas about how well you understand Mormonism (which you obviously don't). You assume that Church governs every facet of our intellectual life--absolutely false. My future career depends on my ability to think independtly (a college professor, probably at a university other than BYU). I know whereof I speak.


Good to hear that your so much more informed on my religion than I am (me rolling my eyes). It's comforting to know that if I ever have a question about one my religious activities, I know where I can turn. After all, the thought I might actually find an answer for myself is absurd. Even more absurd is the possibility that Mormonism might be correct in any regard. “Questioning” minds shouldn’t question the falsehood of Mormonism (more eye rolling). BTW, it was very convenient of drop the Book of Mormon translation issue. Excellent sleight of hand.

While I will not discuss those things which I hold sacred in a public forum, I will say that you betray your lack of knowledge concerning Mormonism if you claim that the temple’s ordinances are unrelated to the Atonement. Not only that, you write off with the flourish of a pen a whole body of scholarship showing positive relationships between the modern temple and ancient Christianity, but you also betray your failure to understand how the early Latter Day Saints understood Masonry. Please, if you are going to make blanket statements, at least make informed ones.

"Those who truly believe in Jesus are saved by his actions, and his actions alone. In believing that Jesus Christ is the Son of Man, and came to wash away our sins, I will do his as he commanded; and I will live a life that closely follows his teachings (see the Sermon on the Mount)."

Interesting. That's what I hear in church on a weekly basis. I’ve said such things in sacrament meeting and on my mission (yes—I served a mission and I would do it again, in spite of the hard days). In fact, that's what I thought the Mormons taught since I was a youngster. The tricks life plays on you sure are funny sometimes.

If you are truly willing to question your faith in the Mormon Church, then you will have no problem examining documentation the likes of which appear on the following website

As entertaining as this dialogue is, I feel no need to report to you as to my spiritual and intellectual development functions. I would urge you to be careful in cajoling folks with “if…then” statements about their faith. This approach does not have a venerable heritage (Luke 4:1-13). You probably feel that these documents are the smoking guns, the skeletons in the closet that the evil Mormons have been hiding all these years. Guess what? If you want issues that potentially problematic, I can come up with better ones than most critics. I’ve learned things that have posed serious questions. And I’ve worked through answers (and no, those answers involved critical inquiry—not just the sheepish obedience you speak of). But that doesn’t change my faith one iota.

In all seriousness, your definition of salvation is Jesus Christ was quite eloquent, something that encapsulates my beliefs (orthodox Mormonism) quite well. You can choose to reject everything I say, if you wish. Just know that we do share a common bond.

Walker said...

My bad--I pulled a "poisoining the water-hole" fallacy! (If you take issue with him, then...)

Ah well, as Jeff says, self-contradiction is the spice of life! lol

Walker said...

Another error (very convenient of you to drop the Book of Mormon...).

I think I sluffed the perfect typing class in the pre-existence.

Anonymous said...

Samuel,
You say the rituals in the Temple are sacred and not secret and that you can find them online?
If they are not secret, why is that mormons complain that they are online. Your own argument suggests that because they are online they are not secret. But, who put them online? Not the church. So, they were secret until someone other than the church put them online.

BTW, your temple experience is not unique as they keep reusing the same names of the deceased over and over again. How many times you need to do the work for one person?

Samuel said...

"You say the rituals in the Temple are sacred and not secret and that you can find them online?"

I misspoke a bit. Yes, they are secret in the sense that they should not be shared with people who have not undergone them; they should be kept private. But using the term secret (at least to me; this is probably influenced by people calling Masonry a secret society and my reactions to that) is to make it seem as if the ceremonies of the temple are something to be ashamed of or that have evil intent. I am sure you did not mean the latter. You can go on the church's website (www.lds.org) and read what goes on there. We do not hide our temples, nor do we undertake the ceremonies under cover of darkness. We do them in the light of day, but the ordinances should be kept private.

"If they are not secret, why is that mormons complain that they are online."

Simply because they are sacred. They are not secret in the sense that they are widely available, though they shouldn't be.

"...as they keep reusing the same names of the deceased over and over again. How many times you need to do the work for one person?"

Um, no offense here, but you are wrong here. When an ordinance is done for a person, that's it. It is updated in the system so that the person is listed as having the work done.

Bookslinger said...

Jeff Roth,

Do you have anything new? Your arguments are all old and hackneyed. They have all been countered, at least to my satisfaction, on every LDS apologetic web site out there.

Do you really think insulting our beliefs and our rites is going to convert us, or even get us to pay more heed to what you say? Is that how preachers in your particular faith or denomination go about witnessing to people? By insulting those who sincerely believe they are doing the Lord's will?

Tell us a little about yourself, kind of like how the apostle Paul gave his background when he preached to people.

How old are you Jeff? (I'm in my late 40's.) What flavor of Christian are you? What's your denomination, if any? What's the church name on the sign outside the church that you regularly attend? How old were you when you were saved? What church did you first go to when you got saved?

I was 14 when I accepted Christ as my personal Savior, and I happened to be standing in the Cathedral of Tomorrow, (Rex Humbard, pastor) in Akron Ohio. There's more to my story, but I'll just say that much for now. Your turn.

Japanguy said...

Why was my post deleted. Did it say something wrong or offensive? I honestly don't understand why it is now gone????
Japanguy

John said...

Jeffery Roth seems to have borrowed Palmer's goggles. He'll probably want those back.

Jeff,

Yes, thank you for pointing out how listening to what "our leaders" tell us is really, really stupid. How dumb and blind I feel! If only I would have known then what I know now. Then, when my bishop asked me to visit a few people in the hospital the other day, or when in our last Sunday School class he came in and encouraged us to study the New Testament with renewed zeal, or when in General Conference we are brainwashed to love our neighbor, love God, serve our fellow man, serve our community, serve our country, forgive others, help the poor, treat our families well, avoid debt, ect., ect.--then I would have seen through their evil manipulations. Where were you 20 years ago!?

John said...

One other thing--

Joseph Smith could have translated the Book of Mormon into jive. You know, "Yo listen up! My homies call me Nephi and my Pop Lehi's real sweet," -type jive. Who cares? The style of language has absolutely nothing to do with the historicity of the book. He chose what he chose.

Obviously him deciding that a style of English he considered a little more elevated and holy (as that was generally the language of his time's Bible) to be appropriate for a book he recieved from God makes the book a sham. Nice logic.

AlexG said...

Jeff Roth:

The more I study the ordinances of the temple, the more convinced I am that they are a restoration of the covenants done in ancient times. There are quite a lot of scriptural references (together with context) that would indicate that ordinances were given in ancient times. And for the part of 'straight from Satan' it is interesting that the eminent figure of the temple worship is Jesus Christ. Does Satan testify that Jesus Christ is the Messiah, the Redeemer of Mankind? If that is true, then the Bible does it as well. Do you consider the Bible as 'satanic'?

Your link to the 20 'truths' about Mormonism just presents the same old and worn arguments. A little more of research, my dear Jeffrey, would give you the full picture, context and companion quotations about the 'truths' presented there.

Why does it bother me that the temple ceremonies are available online? Let me give you an example. This might be crude but, I hope, illustrative. The intimacy of a marriage is something private to the couple. You would not like to publish all the details of the married life, if you were the husband. If a relation between a husband and his wife is sacred, so we view our relation with God. If it was a secret, why would we encourage everyone to attend the temple? Why has it been a topic of General Conference to make temple worship a priority? I hope that you can understand the difference between secret and sacred. Again, they are NOT secret.

Should you have enough faith, as you say you have, to follow Jesus teachings and do what he commands, maybe you will remind that he commanded people that they should receive prophets that he was going to send. The teachings of the temple are very much Christian, they testify of Christ, they enable us to come to Him and be saved. I wonder, if you say that you are a Christian, why don't you examine the teachings and the early Church (before Councils of men). Compare them with the teachings of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, and you will find that they are very similar.

We are encouraged to think for ourselves. Do we use blinders? Hardly. We have the scriptures to appeal. Interestingly enough, when Church Authorities tell us to do something, they present scriptural evidence, both modern and ancient. But it is left to us to accept and do it. Hardly a depiction of a 'cult'. But to say something more, I do not base my testimony on a given authority (bishop, stake president, President of the Church). The divine wisdom comes through he that is divine, meaning, Jesus Christ. I base my testimony upon Him. Men have weaknesses and failings and I do not take them as a proof that the Church is false. Leaders in the Church never have claimed to be perfect nor free from their background. But I sustain the President of the Church as the only man on earth that can recieve revelation from God for the affairs of all mankind. I believe that each individual can receive personal revelation that can affect his sphere of action. Have you sought guidance to the Lord, i.e., prayed, to say that the Book of Mormon is false? I also sustain my bishop as my spiritual leader, even when I do not agree with his position or views.

By the way, in the temples, deceased persons receive only once the ordinance. After that it is recorded. Patrons represent only one person at a given time.

Bookslinger said...

I think we ought to stop wasting our time responding point-by-point to the trolls. The last one is just recycling old accusations that have been answered long ago.

I've let them push my buttons, and my comments haven't been as polite and respectful as they should have been.

I'm going to make a point of being a bit more polite and respectful, but also not letting myself get dragged down into useless debate. Allowing the trolls to define the conversation accomplishes nothing.

There are many people out there, on the net, and in real life, who are sincerely interested in what we have to say. The trolls just steal our time and prevent us from doing useful things.

John said...

bookslinger,

Because there are people out there on the net looking at this page we have to address arguments point-by-point. People will see someone like Mr. Roth come in, make inflammatory rhetorical statements, have their arguments shot down piece by piece, and see them disappear into the night. If we as a forum don't respond, others may see it as inability to respond.

However, your point about allowing them to dictate conversation is sound. Purhaps we should be more hesitant to add our two cents to an argument of this kind. Once the nonsense has been addressed we should just move on. I've been especially guilty of this and will avoid it in the future.

I do agree with you about the tone of our responses. People such as yourself and Walker countered all his arguments effectively before I even saw them in the first place, yet I responded to his disrespect and condescension with some of my own. I'm going to be more careful with my posts.

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

John: Because there are people out there on the net looking at this page we have to address arguments point-by-point. People will see someone like Mr. Roth come in, make inflammatory rhetorical statements, have their arguments shot down piece by piece, and see them disappear into the night. If we as a forum don't respond, others may see it as inability to respond.

That appears logical. But I believe the silent observers who haven't made up their minds about the restored Gospel aren't going to be swayed by whoever has the best logic or argument. Every faith and creed has their proponents who can make their side sound good, and the other guys look bad. I don't think we want people joining the church merely because we score the most debate points.

Then there's that bit about contention. If someone starts out making "you're wrong" kind of statements in an agressive manner, such as Mr. Roth, or in a whiney/manipulative manner, such as CB/Andy, it is highly likely that they are not going to accept the LDS position on anything based on what Mormons say on a blog.

There are plenty of other forums for debate. I think Jeff intends this for polite apologetics. If someone comes in asking "What do you guys believe about such-and-such?" or "What is your response to the claim that...?" I think those are worthy of response.

Although the dialogue between BYU-AE and Dan Peterson degraded a bit, I learned from it. BYU-AE taught me a lot about what others think of faith. Although BYU-AE is obviously high in IQ, and must have a very logical mind for his career, his interpretations of the Book of Mormon, church doctrine and "what God must/mustn't/can/can't do", led him down a path where he must conclude the Book of Mormon to be false. You, he, and I have basically all the same data points of the Book of Mormon, doctrine, church history, etc. Yet he connected them to form a very different picture than we did. He also painted us a picture of what happens when we start to think that we possess sufficient evidence to form a conclusion and that no future evidence will contradict our present interpretations.

Towards those who come in with the old well-worn anti-mormon accusations and do so in a contentious manner, maybe a better response would be referring them to pre-existing web pages at farms.byu.edu, FAIRLDS.org, and JeffLindsay.com.

If we Bible-bash back, then the silent and undecided observers are just going to see us as a contentious lot, trying to argue our way to the top.

John said...

I think acknowledging that their arguments have long been answered and referring them to those answers is a great solution. We defend ourselves, yet avoid contention.

ltbugaf said...

With regard to multiple temple ordinances for the same person:

It is true that, from time to time (I don't really know how frequently), more than one person works on the same genealogical line and causes temple ordinances to be performed for the same individual. For instance, suppose I'm researching my great, great grandmother, who also happens to be your great, great grandfather's sister. You submit her name to a temple and have the work performed. I then check ordinance records, but the ordinances you had performed don't yet show in the records. So I have them performed again. Then the records catch up and both ordinances appear.

So what? Big deal. How can this possibly be a sign that the system is illegitimate?

Although this isn't a serious problem, it is an inefficiency. It's one that President Hinckley has said we're continuing to work on through the use of ever-more sophisticated recordkeeping techniques.

Anonymous said...

As to the reuse of temple names, it happens at times. Sometimes the names are reused. I have heard this from different sources including temple workers. My own parents work in the temple and confirmed that it happens. It seems that the church doesn't always have enough names ready for temple work and so they will reuse names.

Anonymous said...

My parents are also temple workers and have said that names are used more than once if there are not enough names. It happens.
I think someone needs to type slow for Itbugaf cause no one said anything about illegitimate. Don't be so touchy.
Samuel, if you do not know something for certain you should not be so matter a fact about it. Just because you think something is not true, does not make it so. I have heard from others about reusing names in the temple. Unless these temple workers are lying I would tend to believe them over someone who just posts statements on a blog.

ltbugaf said...

Anonymous at 6:56 said, "no one said anything about illegitimate. Don't be so touchy."

I'm referring to the anonymous troll at 5:15 PM, November 22, 2005, who very obviously is trying to paint the temple and its ordinances as being illegitimate.

SteSmo said...

To Anon 10:56 Am, Nov. 22,

"Why would God command Smith to translate his divine words into such a consfusing dialect?"

You should ask Fawn Brodie. She definatly would know...

Steve Smoot