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

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Caricatures of the LDS Testimony - and a Friendly Reminder from Paul

During two years in the fabulous the Zürich Switzerland mission, I had the privilege of working with a huge variety of people. I counted 52 different nationalities of people that we taught in that international melting pot. We taught people from all social ranks, and while the poor and humble were the easiest to teach, we found the highly educated and wealthy to be far more receptive and warm to us than I would have imagined. The Swiss are a friendly people - though I'll admit this was back before American became a hiss and a byword among many nations that once respected this nation.

We had relatively little success among the intellectuals that we met, but I greatly value the opportunities we had to talk. They gave us plenty to think about, and we certainly tried to make it mutual, young and naive as we were.

I remember one intellectual being very upset with us. In nearly perfect English, he chastised us for thinking we had testimonies. He explained that he was familiar with our faith and had attended our meetings while he was in the US, and was amazed at how little children in fast and testimony meetings would go up and parrot words their parents gave them, as if that was a testimony. He became angry and said that we had been brainwashed and couldn't think for ourselves. His unkind critique stuck with me and influenced the way I instructed my ward about testimony meetings back when I was serving as a bishop. While some young children can have sincere testimonies about some aspects of the Gospel, I want people to express testimonies from their hearts and not to simply parrot the words of others. Personally, I had a genuine strong but fledgling testimony of God and the power of prayer at age 6, though I don't think I publicly expressed it until I was a teenager, and my testimony of the Book of Mormon did not really begin until I earnestly sought to determine its divinity or fraudulence at age 14.

There was some merit to his criticism, but much of it was a caricature of the LDS testimony, especially the testimonies of those who have sincerely sought to know for themselves of the reality of Jesus Christ as our Savior, the truthfulness of the message of the Restored Gospel of Jesus Christ, etc. In spite of the appearance of some children just parroting other people's words in some units, the typical faithful Latter-day Saint has done a lot of soul-searching, studying, and prayer, just as the Book of Mormon teaches us (e.g., the story of Enos and his quest for a testimony, the many references to long study, prayer, and fasting to obtain personal knowledge, and the promise of Moroni 10:3-4 to those who study, ponder, and pray to know of the truth of the Book of Mormon). The LDS testimony is based upon a combination of mental effort such as studying and pondering, coupled with spiritual effort through prayer and listening to the Spirit, in a quest to receive revelation from the Spirit of God to our own spirit to help us understand the things of God.

Unfortunately, the critics of our faith make a mockery of this thing that we call our testimony. This personal, private experience with revelation from God is ridiculed as a mindless reliance on "feelings" alone, perhaps mistaking a touch of heartburn or warm humid air for the revelation from God. In the anti-Mormon caricature of the LDS testimony, logic, evidence, and facts have no bearing on our belief, just warm feelings we get during meetings with suspiciously poor air conditioning (preferably just after partaking of the sacrament featuring Uncle Garcia's Jalapeño Bread - "producing spiritual experiences since 1965").

Some of our critics bemoan our benighted state of ignorance, insisting that our so-called testimonies represent mindless blindness, unlike the evidence-based belief system of Evangelical Christianity. Here at Mormanity a number of critics have told us how foolish it is to pray to know the truth, which is a sure path for deception. Instead, real Christians simply have to look at the clear evidence God has given us and accept the facts - no need to pray and seek subjective "revelation" since God has already revealed plain facts in black and white. It gets very interesting when you press for details and ask which facts, and how to interpret them, and why there are so many different teachings if all truth is so clearcut. The so-called evidence for things like the truthfulness of Genesis become an occasional ancient document mentioning some ancient city also mentioned in the Bible, or some find possibly affirming that there was a king named David. The evidence for things like the Atonement and Resurrection of Jesus Christ and the miracles he performed become little more than assertions of a much copied and edited document that is long removed from the time of those events, with absolutely no original New Testament manuscript known for any part of the New Testament. I believe in the Bible, but to say that no faith is needed to accept Jesus as the Christ because of the irrefutable evidence is ludicrous - and anti-Biblical.

There are witnesses for Christ, as there are witnesses for the Book of Mormon, which itself is a witness of Christ. God has not left us without witnesses and evidence, but the impact of these is greatest after faith is exerted.

There are evidences for the Bible and for the Book of Mormon, as there are for the role of Joseph Smith as prophet. Conversion involves the brain, but not the brain alone. The role of faith and revelation through the Spirit must not be overlooked. It is essential. I am offended by the anti-Mormon caricature of the LDS testimony as based upon feelings alone. It is heart and mind turning toward the Lord, studying, pondering, seeking, and then receiving revelation and enlightenment to the heart and to the mind. A testimony of Jesus Christ is not the result of intellectually overwhelming evidence based on tangible data - the witness of "flesh and blood" - but on the revelation from God through the Spirit to our spirits.

This may all sound like heresy to some who think that the LDS concept of personal revelation is an affront to the plain, evidence-based, logical truth that they think they have. But these concepts are purely biblical and purely Christian.

Consider Revelation 19:10, which teaches that "the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy." A testimony of Christ requires revelation - the essence of prophecy. It's not just the logical result of looking at the hard data. Data rarely changes the heart of man and turns a sinner into a penitent Saint. The influence of the Spirit is needed to do this. Likewise, Christ explained to Peter that Peter's witness of Christ was not based on logic and data ("flesh and blood"), but had been revealed to Him by the Spirit:
He saith unto them, But whom say ye that I am?

And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.

And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven. (Matthew 16:15-17)
As for the basic concept of the LDS testimony, based on revelation from God to the spirit within us, I conclude with the witness of Paul in I Corinthians 2:4-11 (New KJV):
4 And my speech and my preaching were not with persuasive words of human wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, 5 that your faith should not be in the wisdom of men but in the power of God.

6 However, we speak wisdom among those who are mature, yet not the wisdom of this age, nor of the rulers of this age, who are coming to nothing. 7 But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, the hidden wisdom which God ordained before the ages for our glory, 8 which none of the rulers of this age knew; for had they known, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.

9 But as it is written:
Eye has not seen, nor ear heard,
Nor have entered into the heart of man
The things which God has prepared for those who love Him.


10 But God has revealed them to us through His Spirit. For the Spirit searches all things, yes, the deep things of God. 11 For what man knows the things of a man except the spirit of the man which is in him? Even so no one knows the things of God except the Spirit of God. 12 Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might know the things that have been freely given to us by God.

13 These things we also speak, not in words which man's wisdom teaches but which the Holy Spirit teaches, comparing spiritual things with spiritual. 14 But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.
Don't expect the evidence - as impressive as it can be to those who have the eye of faith - to convert the natural man, the man who insists on evidence and logic and proof. Faith is needed, and prayer is truly helpful, as James teaches (James 1:5). The goal, of course, is to receive personal revelation through the Spirit to help us know and understand the truth of God that is hidden from the wisdom of men. We call that a testimony. It's a valid biblical concept, in spite of the hostile caricatures of our our critics, and in spite of the weaknesses of some LDS testimonies and testimony sharing.

129 comments:

Darion Alexander said...

I have in the past expressed my opinion on testimonies and such and the harsh realism that some testimonies are just fluff or recited words or stories. And yes I may have offended a few, but I agree that a testimony is something from the heart, from the unseen hand, of evidence not seen but real.

I too had a testimony from a very early age of the divinity of Christ and it wasn't until later that testimony increased due to prayerful study of the Bible and later the Book of Mormon. I could see how so many falsly believed in a God, that I deem the schizophrenic God, not a Father in Heaven with a Son who He sent to teach us, to atone for our sins, to die on the cross and the resurrect for us and it bothered me. It bothered me to see people follow blindly such...crafts...and yet the secret, the key to why my testimony grew came from Christ's own teachings, to seek, to ask, to knock and HE, not some other person, not some faithful evangelist or prophet, would lead me to all truth. I may have my sarcasm and I may have my moments on this blog, but I know Christ lives and He does choose His servants to lead us. But it is for us to find that testimony, to search for those answers that bind or minds and hearts, it is us that must seek first before we can find. For some of us, it just isn't our time to find that testimony and for others, it is. Good post Jeff.

Hans said...

Great post Jeff, the critique of receiving truth by the Spirit has been floating around lately.

I think your post also underscores a point that Elder Oaks made this last conference and Elder Ballard in April 2004, along with numerous FP messages to our wards and branches. It is that our testimony meetings need to focus more on what we know and how we came to that knowledge and less on how our last vacation to Powell was. This will allow the true investigator to feel the Spirit when it testifies (much to the chagrin of some of our critics) whereas a thanki-mony simply is simply a public display of acknowledgment.

Anonymous said...

Great post. I don't buy this "feelings are for idiots and mormons" flavor-of-the-month criticism either.

I can't remember who coined the term "theological suicide bomb," but I like the way it drives at the real problem with such unstudied statements: A comprehensive lack of self-awareness.

Velska said...

I am a convert since 1979. I really started my investigation of the gospel because I felt something I had never felt before and I understood something very clearly that I had never even thought about before. That started me on a path of pondering and prayer. Before I thought that the Christ thing was a myth that's just perpetuated because it earned money to some people.

I found early on the quoted passage in Matthew that says: "And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven". That is how it is with me. I actually know that Christ atoned for my sins and lives today. Somehow simple, somehow inexplicable.

But the "evidence-based faith of Evangelical Christians" did crack me up a bit. One of my arguments against believing in the Bible before my conversion was that the document is so messed up and contradictory in some points. The inerrantist views of Evangelicals is totally opposite. And I have asked some, who claim that the Bible is word-perfect, which Bible it is; I have seen many Bibles that have the same verses differently or simply omitted some.

In the end, it is understandable that those with most to lose by seeing the truth prevail should attack it most fiercely. We just have to weather the storm and do our best to help those with sincere desire to understand and find the truth.

As for testimony meetings, I have always tried to come up with something original, but it is hard. Nevertheless, I belong to those who think that little children shouldn't "bear their testimony" before they at least know how to say more than "I love mommy and daddy" without being prompted by the parent. It doesn't go down with me well, either, when people give travelogues or call others to repentance. Actually, I believe these have been a concern for the GA's.

David said...

Jeff Lindsay said: "I believe in the Bible, but to say that no faith is needed to accept Jesus as the Christ because of the irrefutable evidence is ludicrous -and anti-Biblical."

Th phrase "irrefutable evidence" was used in the article by D. Keith Mano that I mentioned in another thread. What Mano basically said is that the description in Mark 8 coupled with Oliver Sack's research on post-blind syndrome is "irrefutable evidence" that a miracle occured at Bethsaida (Jesus healed a blind man).

That said, it still takes faith for a person to believe in Christ as his personal savior.

David Buckna

"Ya either got faith or ya got unbelief and there ain't no neutral ground."-- Bob Dylan [Precious Angel]

Mormanity said...

Thanks, David - when I wrote that sentence I was mostly thinking of the critic who has been insisting that the clear evidence leaves everyone without excuse. I find that puzzling. The amount of understanding and knowledge available to humans varies widely. From infants to cunning politicians, there is a wide range of access to the knowledge and information that might leave one with varying levels of excuse for not accepting Christ or whatever particular set of doctrinally correct views our critic feels are essential for salvation.

Mormanity said...

David, I would like to point out that the internal evidence of Mark 8 falls very much into the category of evidence for plausibility, but is hardly irrefutable evidence on its own. Yes, it is plausible, but does it prove anything? If we assume that the event really happened and are trying to decide if it was staged with a fakir or an authentic miracle, yes, it is less likely that a staged miracle would use the two-step approach. But if one begins with the hypothesis that the book of Mark is a fabrication written to prop up an emerging religion, and that the event described never happened in the first place, then one could say that the story is simply evidence that the writer of this fiction was clever in adding a realistic touch or two.

But David, don't you think that one could easily argue that the story is actually evidence of fraud? If Christ is all-powerful, why did it take Him two steps to fix the vision of that man (or, a cynic could say, "two tries to get it right")?

Yes, a fraud trying to demonstrate that Christ was all-powerful might naturally make the miracle happen immediately in one step. But the author could have been working from a different paradigm, or could have been deliberately adding some human touches.

It's a fascinating little snippet of scripture, but to call it "irrefutable evidence" suggests a failure to consider other possibilities. If that ranks as irrefutable evidence, then the Book of Mormon is irrefutably proven a thousand times over, and faith is no longer needed.

Zera Pulsipher said...

Excellent Post Jeff,

I've always had a problem with people who have tried to criticize others sincere testimonies in the past even those of people from other faiths. I actually enjoy the testimonies of young children and while they may not no how to conceptualize or put into words what they feel without their parents help they are the ones that drag their parents up there driven by what I believe to be the spirit to do so. Also I have rarely seen where the parent who probably needed to bear there's as well didn't. While I despise travelogues or sermons during testimony meeting becoming a parent has taught just how precious the young children's testimonies are. I truly enjoyed this post and your testimony which is borne throughout. Thank you.

Bookslinger said...

All:
Applying the same principle to ourselves, let's not caricature other denominations or paint with too broad a brush.

Other denominations and christian movements (or broad categories of them) aren't as well-defined or centrally-defined as the LDS organization.

The words "evangelical" and "pentecostal" are used or claimed by many individual churches or loose associations without any central authority who says who can use those terms or what they mean.

The LDS church's most vociferous critics claim to be evangelicals, and that has likely led many LDS-defenders, or "anti-anti-mormons", on the blogosphere to wrongly assume that all evangelicals are anti-Mormon, or that all evangelicals fall into the spiritual mistakes of that their anti-Mormon brethren make.

How do I put this nicely? Not all evangelicals are as big of jerks as the anti-mormon faction of their movement. Not all evangelicals fall into the domineering "because it's so obvious, you fool" attitude of some anti-mormon evangelicals.

Not all evangelicals preach against believing your feelings. Not all evangelicals (actually very few) deny personal revelation and personal guidance from the Holy Spirit.

Evangelicals and pentecostals are neighbors along the religious spectrum, and there is plenty of overlap between those two groups.

I've read and heard plenty of evangelical and pentecostal preaching of "listening to the Spirit" and "walking in the Spirit". I once visited a friend's church, and their preacher's sunday school lesson was about 98% in line with our Gospel Principles manual in terms of listening to and following the Spirit!

Pentecostals are big on personal revelation and prophecy, and so are the evangelicals who are near them on the spectrum.

Here's a story, on an evangelical web site, by a lady evangelical preacher Beth Moore, about an incidence of personal revelation and guidance at an airport. That story is so "Mormon"! I can easily imagine hearing that story told at a Mormon conference or fireside.

Here's a story about the conversion (to the LDS faith) of an evangelical type preacher, The Good Bishop Walker.

I sincerely believe that most evangelicals and pentecostals really do believe in personal revelation, that is, the flow of information from God to man through the Holy Spirit.

What we've been seeing on this blog in the past few months are the aberrations of a few control-freaks. "Unrighteous dominion" raises its ugly head in all churches and religions.

Recent anti's here are _not_ representative of the evangelical or pentecostal movements as a whole. I think they do a disservice to their cause because they draw attention away from the many overlapping beliefs that LDS have with evangelical/pentecostals.

I bet the adversary wants to stir up contention and misunderstanding between the LDS and evangelicals/pentecotals. Because if evangelicals/penetcostals investigated the LDS claims, and actually used their faith, abilities, and spiritual gifts to discern whether what we say is true, then they'd find out it that it is.

Hence, whenever there is a domineering control-freak leader among them, they call in professional anti-mormons to misdirect and herd their followers away from checking us out.

Here's another way that some people get trapped into not investigating:

When you start to get your life in line with God's plan, He blesses you, no matter what church you're in. He has to. When you obey his laws, the blessings and outpourings of spirit naturally flow.

When you start to believe, you're blessed. When you repent, you're blessed. When you make efforts to keep the Lord's commandments, you're blessed. No matter what religion you're in, you're going to see and experience a change, and receive the benefits thereof, if you start to follow true principles.

But those blessings sometimes fill peoples' cup to the brim. They have no room for additional blessings. Or perhaps for some, they just can't imagine greater blessings. They've received such an outpouring from a God who loves them, they can't conceive of doing more for God, or receiving more blessings from God.

Can we blame them for loving and having loyalty to their churches and preachers/ministers who brought them to the knowledge of God and taught them how to receive more blessings than they could imagine?

I certainly don't. I still have good feelings towards the various churches and preachers who prepared me along my path and taught me how important it was to listen for the Spirit, and that prayer was a two-way street. They taught me that God was still a God of miracles, of revelation, of power.

So when someone finally told me that God called a new prophet, and had him miraculously translate some old book written in gold, I thought "Yeah, technically, God could do that."

And when he told me that God had formed an "official" church to prepare for the second coming, I thought "That would be really important to know if it's true. And if it's true, I bet God would have a way that you could find out if it's true, because God is big on revelation."

In my book, sincere evangelicals and pentecostals are half-way on their way to being Mormon.

What we've seen from the critics here is not true evangelicalism.

Anonymous said...

I am inclined to agree with your Swiss friend that children are thoroughly convinced of a "testimony" long before they are capable of having one. This happens at a time when they are completely dependent on their parents and aware that, by offending them, they could lose their protection.

As a result of this early programming all of the rigorous intellectual and spiritual work adolescents and adults do to justify the belief system can be reduced to returning to the state of satisfying stasis they achieved by ensuring their parents' love by repeating a testimony.

This isn't to say it isn't sincerely felt and believed and that it can't be confirmed by judicious use of evidence. But the ability to use it to refute equally compelling evidence -- some of FARMS work is convoluted and thin by any account -- lends credence to a view of testimony as self-generated.

Adult converts, of course, haven't undergone this early programming. I suspect what accomplishes the same motivation for them is the welcoming and sheltering group.

Naturally, none of this denies the good that can be accomplished by an individual's surrendering his own needs to a group need or adopting worthy values and using a group to hold himself to them. And all of this, I would warrant enforces the testimony, but it is, again, something else, something ultimately self-serving, rather than a transcendent Truth.

Bookslinger said...

Anon at 9:11 AM, August 06, 2008.

Care to choose a handle? If you don't wish to chose a handle, here's one for you: Anon080608. Just so we can keep track of the chain of discussion and who says what.

Also, what is your standpoint? Are you speaking from the standpoint of an agnostic, atheist, Jew, Muslim, Catholic, or other non-LDS-strain of Christian?

Mormons are far from being the sole proponents of personal and spiritual revelatory experiences.

Your assertions seem to run counter to any believer of any faith that has sought and received spiritual answers or experiences. So I would tend to assume that you're an agnostic or atheist. But I wanted to make sure.

My experience as an adult convert also runs counter to your adult convert supposition. I had only one contact/conversation with a Mormon, and it wasn't until 7 years later that I investigated the LDS church. And even then, I didn't investigate until I felt it was probably an answer to a prayer.

I started to read the Book of Mormon after one "fireside", but before any missionary lessons. I didn't go to their church building or their Sunday meetings, just a few members and missionaries at someone's home for that one fireside.

I knew before the first night of reading was over, that the Book of Mormon was true.

I'm grateful that you think that people like me are sincere. And I realize I'll never convince you, indeed I don't want to convince you, that "God told me it's true."

But there are a couple of premises one has to overcome before one get's their own answer:

1. One has to believe that it's _possible_ that God exists.

2. One has to believe that _if_ God exists, then it's _possible_ that he answers prayers through personal and spiritual revelatory experiences.

A person who rules out either or both of those possibilities, rules out geting the answer for themself.

David said...

Mormanity said: "But David, don't you think that one could easily argue that the story is actually evidence of fraud? If Christ is all-powerful, why did it take Him two steps to fix the vision of that man (or, a cynic could say, "two tries to get it right")?

Yes, a fraud trying to demonstrate that Christ was all-powerful might naturally make the miracle happen immediately in one step. But the author could have been working from a different paradigm, or could have been deliberately adding some human touches."
-----------------------------------
I can't say it any better than D. Keith Mano already has--a faker, (or a first-century writer who made the entire story up) not knowing about post-blind syndrome, would have reported that Jesus had given him perfect vision.

http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m1282/is_n8_v49/ai_19336556/print

As far as I can judge, this is irrefutable evidence that a miracle did occur at Bethsaida. Back in 30 A.D. the blind did not often receive sight: there were few, if any, eye surgeons and seldom a decent miracle-worker. No shill in the crowd could have faked it all by pretending to be blind -- because only someone recently given his sight would see "men as trees, walking," would see the Cubist jumble that Virgil told Oliver Sacks about. A faker, not knowing about post-blind syndrome, would have reported that Jesus had given him perfect vision.

The most astonishing aspect of this miracle is its double nature: you get not one cure but two. Often even devout Christians downplay the wonder-working Jesus -- lest they seem naive or over-credulous in a scientific age. We are somewhat embarrassed by New Testament miracles, as if God were cheating in the competition for our belief. We rationalize as an atheist might: "So what if Jesus cured people who were halt and blind? He was a charismatic faith healer. Some of his clientele, no doubt, had come down with stress-induced psychosomatic conditions. Jesus healed them through positive thought or Essene hypnosis, whatever. Rasputin did the same: nothing supernatural about it."

That explanation might still hold for Part One of the Bethsaida event. So let us suppose a man like Virgil, blind since childhood because of traumatic shock. Let us also suppose that Jesus, Messiah-as-therapist, came along and healed Virgil in a non-miraculous way. That does not (and cannot) explain Part Two. Whether Virgil's blindness was physical or psychosomatic, still his brain would have been deprived of the visual exercise and constant drill essential to clear three-dimensional sight. Only by a miracle could Jesus provide that necessary crash course in visual recognition. Charismatic therapists may be able to unblock sight --but they cannot infuse a human brain with that lifetime of visual experience necessary for normal sight.
---

David Buckna

daveja vu said...

I've always thought that the intellectuals mock testimonies because they can't refute someone's own personal feelings and experiences with logic. Therefore they get frustrated and nasty and conduct ad hominem attacks.

I'm also in the camp of people uncomfortable with little children regurgitating words whispered in their ears by parents and calling it a testimony.

Mormanity said...

Great comments, Bookslinger. I agree. My reference to "evidence-based Evangelical Christianity" was tongue-in-cheek with respect to the particular views of some critics. The large body of "responsible Evangelical Christianity" holds many views compatible with ours and would probably have more to say about the need for faith and the guidance of the Spirit than the impact of evidence and logic alone.

Bookslinger said...

I actually kind of like Keith Mano's reasoning about the Lord's miracle of restoring that man's sight in a two step process. It seems similar to someone else's "evidence of plausibility" discourses that I'm aware of. :-)

BTW, there's a girl in our ward who recently turned 8 and was baptized. Twice in the past year she's gotten up, apparently on her own, to bear her testimony in Fast and Testimony meeting. Both times she read her testimony from a piece of paper that she took with her. I thought that was excellent. She knew what she wanted to say, but hadn't grown into saying it extemporaneously yet.

lehislibrary said...

Great post Jeff. I wrote about another aspect of this topic today on my blog. Is a personal spiritual experience a basis for belief?
http://lehislibrary.wordpress.com/

Patty Butts said...

I though you might find this interesting.

Catholic Priest Teaches Book of Mormon


Brett Hansen grew up Catholic but received his first Book of Mormon when he was twenty-five while moonlighting at a conveyance store in Las Vegas. His day job was teaching. The book was a gift from his boss. “Conversion is a life long process, but this was a beginning” Brett says.
“My boss was the executive secretary in a stake presidency and I was impressed with the way he lived his life. He had eight daughters and finally had the son he had hoped for, but the baby was born with Down’s syndrome. Still, my boss handled that news so graciously. It had an impact on me.”
Brett read the Book of Mormon and believed it was true. It was another witness for Christ, but Brett had been raised Catholic and this was the path his family expected him to follow. He joined a Catholic religious order and began studying to become a Priest. He was immersed in the Theology and doctrine of that church.
He was sent to teach at Springfield, Illinois…not far from the LDS Church History sites of Nauvoo and Carthage. About the same time he took his vows and became a Catholic Priest. His assignment was to teach music at a boy’s high school. The priests and the brothers all lived above the school.
Brett said, “As I was teaching these boys, I kept asking myself how can I best serve the Lord?”
The next year he taught an 11th grade class on The New Testament. “I still had my Book of Mormon and started using some of the scriptures in the book to supplement the New Testament class. Of course, this got back to my superiors and I was called on the carpet a few times. I knew the Book of Mormon was true and I taught that it was another witness for Christ.”
“All of this was causing me problems. I had concerns about baptism. Why did we have to baptize for Adam’s original sin? Why was the Savior baptized by immersion?
What about Prophets and apostles? In Matthew 16:19, the Savior had talked to Peter about the binding power of the priesthood. “And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shall loose on earth shalt be loosed in heaven.” Why didn’t we believe this doctrine?”
“Then came one of the toughest, most agonizing decisions of my life. I decided to leave the order. I moved to Colorado. I joined an LDS Book of the Month Club and began reading LDS Church History, theology, history, and doctrine. I believed the Church was true and the Book of Mormon was a witness for Christ.
“But, I really missed teaching so I prayed and told God if you can find me a teaching job in Utah, I‘ll join the church. Shortly after I sent my resume out, I had three job offers in Utah. One of them was in Price, Utah. Now, I didn’t know anything about Price, and if I had I wouldn’t have gone there. I like living in the city, not the small town country life.
When I arrived in Price I looked up a Stake President’s name in the phone book and wrote him letter saying, ‘I want to be baptized into your Church.”
“Within a week missionaries were at my door with the ward mission leader. As they were teaching me I felt this dark cloud coming over me and I felt like I was going to suffocate. It was a terrifying feeling, but as they continued to teach, the feeling left and a calm peaceful feeling replaced the darkness. Two or three weeks later I was baptized. It was one of those touching events that left me speechless.”
“As a bachelor in a small town I had all kinds of offers from matchmakers who wanted to line me up with single women. I told them I wasn’t interested in dating. Then one of my band students asked me to date her mother. I did. She had six children. I fell in love with her and within a year we were married.”
“In two years I had gone from being a Catholic Priest to a married Mormon father with six children who ranged from kindergarten to high school.”
“I know the Church is true, that we have a prophet on the earth, and that God prepared me to find the truth not only from the Book of Mormon, but from living prophets and apostles.


As told to Patty Butts

MarkS said...

Both the mormanity entry and ensuing discussion have been wonderful, giving me a great opportunity to reconsider my own testimony.

In our own ward, where I was recently in the bishopric, we worked to teach people some basics about testimonies and testimony meeting. Like, perhaps children shouldn't bear their testimony in testimony mtg until they can do it without assistance. That testimonies should be centered on Christ. That testimonies should be a profession of faith, not a presentation of gospel doctrine in the way a sacrament talk or sunday school lesson would be.

And yet, within those principles, I could never agree to a notion that a testimony had to contain a formulaic content with a specific beginning, middle, and end to be a valid testimony. We each come to the pulpit with such different backgrounds, different capabilities and ways of expression, that I feel to show bearers of testimonies as much compassion as possible.

Perhaps the telling of an event that led to a spiritual experience takes too long to get to the spirit. Perhaps the expression of love and gratitude forgets to center on Christ. Perhaps the admission of difficulties doesn't seem strong and faith-promoting enough. Yet I still feel to welcome them as honest expressions, woven into the broader context of the entire testimony meeting.

OK, the woman in my South Carolina ward that used testimony meeting to catalogue the latest mistakes of her aged husband went too far. But most don't, and I believe patience with the imperfections of others bears its own fruit.

Mark Steele

Anonymous said...

Jeff, said:


"He explained that he was familiar with our faith and had attended our meetings while he was in the US, and was amazed at how little children in fast and testimony meetings would go up and parrot words their parents gave them, as if that was a testimony. He became angry and said that we had been brainwashed and couldn't think for ourselves. His unkind critique stuck with me and influenced the way I instructed my ward about testimony meetings back when I was serving as a bishop. While some young children can have sincere testimonies about some aspects of the Gospel, I want people to express testimonies from their hearts and not to simply parrot the words of others."

First off I want to express my respect for the many hours you and others have given in your callings because as a convert I have not fully lived up to my promise to do all I could in the church but I know of the great sacrifice you have made so my criticism is just from a view of an inexperienced convert.

The greatest experience in the church is that I have never had a bad experience in a testimony meeting. I have been blessed by God to have the Spirit poured out regardless of what took place. Regardless of the travel logs, stupid clumsy members, or child brain washing and I have always wondered why so many members are embarrassed because of this meeting. This element in the church of the lay people and not the High Holy Priesthood expressing their full commitment to God to offering up their very children as a testimony and very lives to Him is why I love the restored gospel.

My question would be does this include songs like "I am a child of God", or "Jesus loves me yes I know"? for children that do not have any way of knowing if this is true? Or does this include all the gospel lessons taught as a facts of faith without a testimony such as a the stories of the scriptures?

As a convert having lived a very rough life of many regrets I could only hope that all parents would have the courage to take their children forward and instill all the protections from the world they can until Christ comes and invites them to bring their children before Him to be blessed.

I am now just an old ex-convert and have had to learned not to let what nonmembers say influence me in doing what I know is right. I saw many BOC missionaries that did not gain a testimony until they got on their mission so I guess the brain washing of having the parent go over their testimonies did not work very well unless it was to get them on a mission so they could gain a testimony. I have also learned to tell nonmembers not to worry to much about what we are doing to repent as Christ has commanded.

Anonymous said...

As far as little children being brainwashed by parents telling them that they have a testimony is a bit silly. All religion is a form of brainwashing and Mormons have a lot bigger problems than being concerned about what people think about them or if coaching little children about a testimony they don't have is doing them harm.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for your post Jeff.

In last month's Ensign there's a message by Elder Kenneth Johnson in which he quotes Elder Oaks on testimony and conversion. I like his simple explanation:

I once heard Elder Dallin H. Oaks of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles observe, “Testimony is to know and to feel, conversion is to do and to become.”

Tracy said...

Enjoyed this post Jeff.
After several years in the church and still not overcoming his addtitions, my father slowly started going more and more inactive. Eventually, he started reading anti-material and went completely inactive, even becoming a little hostile.
I met my husband at a singles dance. He wasn't a member at the time, but was investigating. When he decided to join the church my father questioned him and asked him why. My husband said because he'd studied the gospel for almost a year, seriously searching, not joining on whim but really studying, and when he finally prayed about it he knew in his heart it was true.
My father said "Your heart is a muscle. It doesn't know things or feel things."
Well, my Dad had just remarried a year before. So my husband asked him if he loved his wife.
He said yes. My husband said, "If I were you, I wouldn't tell your wife that you only love her with your mind and not your heart, since your heart doesn't feel things."
My dad didn't bug him about it after that.
-Just for information's sake the Church Handbook of Instructions section on Fast and Testimony meeting encourages the sharing of brief, heartfelt testimonies and spiritual experiences that strengthened them.
It also suggests that little children bear their testimonies in primary and family home evening, etc then, when they are able to bear their own testimony without parental assistance, then sharing it in Sacrament meeting is encouraged.

David said...

A theology student from an evangelical college read this post from Jeff and emailed me his comments:

***
[Lindsay fails to make a distinction between evidence for historical events or persons - vs. "evidence" (which is impossible) for the *theological
meaning* of said events or persons. The latter will *always* require faith - but if a book tells us accounts that contradict known history, then there is simply no good reason to follow on to the next stage of faith in that book's theology, either.]
***
-----------------------------------

David Buckna

Joe said...

Joseph Smith said: (something to this effect) "A man is saved by knowledge, and cannot be saved any sooner than he gets knowledge."

But Jesus said, "Whosoever BELIEVES in me will be saved."

With Jesus it is just that simple. You are saved by the blood of Christ, through faith on him as the Son of God. This makes Joseph Smith, who comes along saying, "Whoa, there's more to it than that. I have a whole bunch more to add, and if you don't get all my stuff, you might be saved from hell, but you won't be exalted by just believing in Jesus."

And the Mormon "testimony" has always been about a lot more than Jesus. In fact, it is really far more about Joseph Smith, and the Church. That is why Mormons look at people who "merely believe in Jesus" as though they are blind and uneducated.

For some reason, to Jesus it was enough to believe in him, without all the additional trappings of ceremonies, structures and forms.

If you truly believe in Jesus, you follow him. Salvation today is the same thing as salvation in the First Century - a matter of one's heart-to-heart relationship with Christ, based on BELIEVING in HIM. In the true Gospel of Christ, FAITH IN CHRIST is the beginning and the end of salvation. It is salvation. When you believe in Jesus, you love him, and he loves you, and you are saved. That is the meaning of "saved by grace". 'Grace' implying an unearned gift of undeserved kindness. You cannot "earn" God's love or approval. God's love and approval is only won by the Holy blood of Jesus. Your challenge is to "believe" in Jesus, and in so doing to be filled with the Spirit of God, by undeserved grace, whose presence in your heart then works out perfection in your soul.

So, instead of getting saved by good works, you get good works by being saved. And this is why Paul wrote "it is the gift of God, lest any man should boast."
.
.
Can you see the difference between this personal relationship based on BELIEF, as prescribed by Jesus, vs. the elaborate system in which faith in Christ becomes only an inadequate component in and of itself, and salvation becomes based, in effect, on a "testimony" of the works of Joseph Smith.

gb said...

Joe,

JESUS said, "And this is life eternal, that they might KNOW thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent."

Apparently Jesus thinks that acquiring knowledge is important to obtaining eternal life.

Sounds like Joseph Smith was agreeing with Jesus.

Also, why do you take the (misunderstood) words of Paul over the words of Jesus?

JESUS SAID (Matt. 16: 27) For the Son of man shall come in the glory of his Father with his angels; and then he shall REWARD every man according to his WORKS.

PAUL SAID (1 Cor. 3: 14)If any man’s WORK abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a REWARD.

JESUS SAID (Rev. 22: 12)And, behold, I come quickly; and my REWARD is with me, to give every man according as his WORK shall be.

JESUS TAUGHT;(Matt 25)31 ¶ When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory:
32 And before him shall be gathered all nations: and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats:
33 And he shall set the sheep on his aright hand, but the goats on the left.
34 Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world:
35 For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in:
36 Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me.
37 Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink?
38 When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee?
39 Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee?
40 And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have adone it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.
41 Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels:
42 For I was an hungred, and ye gave me no meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me no drink:
43 I was a stranger, and ye took me not in: naked, and ye clothed me not: sick, and in prison, and ye visited me not.
44 Then shall they also answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, or athirst, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not minister unto thee?
45 Then shall he answer them, saying, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to me.
46 And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal.

Doesn't sound like faith ALONE to me.

Oh wait, those are only the words of JESUS!

We all know that "true" Christians take the words of Paul over the words of JESUS. (sarcasm/off)

mssaint said...

Joe said: Can you see the difference between this personal relationship based on BELIEF, as prescribed by Jesus, vs. the elaborate system in which faith in Christ becomes only an inadequate component in and of itself, and salvation becomes based, in effect, on a "testimony" of the works of Joseph Smith.
----------
On one occasion the Prophet Joseph Smith was asked the question, "What are the fundamental principles of your religion?" The Prophet's answer to the question was: "the fundamental principles of our religion are the testimony of the Apostles and the Prophets, concerning Jesus Christ, that He died, was buried, and rose again the third day, and ascended into heaven; and all other things which pertain to our religion are only appendages to it ..." (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p. 121).

Doesn't sound to me like faith in Christ is an inadequate component of "Mormonism."

-MS Saint

Darion Alexander said...

Joe said: the same kind of thing I have heard before.

So Joe, then I don't have to follow any prescribed principals, Christian sects or even make covenants with God through His Son Jesus Christ. Because as you put it, we just need to believe. And since I believe in Christ, I am saved.

Or are you telling me that I am not saved....then how did you come by this knowledge? Was it a book that told you or was it God Himself? Hold on a sec, then if I am not saved...where in the Gehenna will I go? Hell, Sheol, Gehenna itself? Dang it, now what do I do? If all I need to do is believe, then why even follow the Bible?? I mean, I don't need to because I am saved, because I believe. Yeah, that's it. Thank you Joe for that revelation.

Patty Butts said...

Greg Hansen gave this interview to me for a book I have written (not yet published), so you may use it, but I prefer that it not be published in another publication such as a magazine or book.
Kindest regards,
Patty Butts

Tracy Keeney said...

Joe said "Can you see the difference between this personal relationship based on BELIEF, as prescribed by Jesus, vs. the elaborate system in which faith in Christ becomes only an inadequate component in and of itself, and salvation becomes based, in effect, on a "testimony" of the works of Joseph Smith.

This is a false argument. We don't believe that our salvation is based, in effect on a testimony of Joseph Smith OR his works. Even without the Book of Mormon, we STILL believe that our salvation comes through the grace of Christ. THAT truth exists without the Book of Mormon and without Joseph Smith.
The BOM and Joseph Smith give MORE testimony and another witness TO that truth.
Were your argument true, then we could turn around and say the same thing about you.
"Can you see the difference between this personal relationship based on BELIEF, as prescribed by Jesus, vs. the elaborate system in which faith in Christ becomes only an inadequate component in and of itself, and salvation becomes based, in effect, on a "testimony" of the works Matthew, Luke, John, Paul, John the Revelator, etc"

quandmeme said...

Thanks for the discussion (thought the hyperbolic answers to Joe were out of place for this Blog).

Mormanity, I like those passages from Paul a lot. He is best example of a convert (see a vision, still have to get baptized; know the truth, still have to have the laying on of hands to lead the church) and this case, he reasoned with the Jews and the Greeks, but he himself wasn't converted with reason or knowledge of the scriptures.

He was a choice vessel, but God had to touch him. God has to touch us too, can't get there on our own steam. Sometimes it seems that those who reject a supernatural conversion are trying to save themselves through their own works rather than letting God be their savior.

Anonymous said...

[B]ut if a book tells us accounts that contradict known history, then there is simply no good reason to follow on to the next stage of faith in that book's theology, either.

Then we can dismiss the Bible for contradicting known history within the first few chapters.

The leap of faith from precipice of the "known" and "provable" occurs far sooner for you than you would like to acknowledge, friend.

Joe said...

GB:
Yes, Jesus did say eternal life is based on knowing. But not on knowing doctrines, or passwords, or ceremonies. But on knowing God. It is a matter of a relationship. A relationship of belief, and trust, and love. Not of academics.
Joseph Smith's genius was in not refuting Jesus, but in creating the illusion that he was serving Jesus, even while he was actually adding layers of unnecessary (and untrue) doctrines and forms, and a cosmology completely altered and foreign to the simplicity of the teachings of Jesus and the apostles.
.
Jesus did indeed teach that God does and will reward us according to our works. But salvation is first foundational to all else. Salvation simply means to be saved from destruction of the soul, and so to live forever, i.e., to have eternal life. This salvation of eternal life is based on knowing God, i.e, belief in Jesus. Hence, Jesus plainly said, if you believe in him, you have already passed over from death and into eternal life.
A lot of circular discussion on the matter of belief in Jesus could be spared if we would bear in mind that the quality of belief being real and sincere is strictly implicit. Insincere belief is not real belief, and threrfore is of no efficacy. Hence "faith, without works is dead, being alone".
.
Jesus gave himself a sacrifice. We believe in him, and so are saved by his blood, without any merit on our part. Thus the worse sinner immediately becomes an heir of salvation the moment he sees his own corruption and believes in Jesus as Lord and Savior. Then, if his belief is sincere, he will forsake his former ways, and will follow Jesus, and do the works of Jesus. He might do this to either lesser or greater degree, and will ultimately be rewarded accordingly. But his salvation came immediately and entirely by faith, and not by works. Rather, living faith produces works, and not vice versa. Where works are not manifest, it is because there is no living faith, or in other words, already no eternal life.
See, a bad tree cannot bring forth good fruit. A good tree brings forth good fruit as a matter of course. But none of us are a good tree on our own merit. For there are none good, but only God. We only become a good tree when imbued with the Spirit of God. When a person is saved by faith, the Spirit and virtue of God enters him or her. That Spirit wants to be manifested in the persons heart, thoughts, words and deeds. If the faith is real, the virtue flows, and the salvation of Christ that is now living within that person will work its way out from within them. The flow of virtue is from within to the outer world. This is the meaning of "working out your salvation". If you believe in Jesus, the living water, the virtue, the Spirit of God is within you, and you know him, even as you are known, and God, who is Eternal Life, lives in you. Jesus is the beginning and the end, the Alpha and Omega of salvation.

Bookslinger said...

Mormons have their anti's trying to convert them from the errors of Mormonism.

Where are the anti-Hindus and anti-Muslims?

I'm curious about this. Are there professed Christians out there making great efforts to prove Hindus and Muslims wrong and to convert them as there are professed Christians making great efforts to prove Mormons wrong and convert them?

Are there anti-Hindu and anti-Muslim web sites out there?

I did a google search on "hinduism" and the first anti-Hindu (which also happened to be pro-christian) site came up 17th. There were NO sponsored ads against Hinduism.

I did a google search on "mormonism" and the first anti-mormon site came up 4th. And there were 2 sponsored anti-mormon ads.

Googling "Islam" shows the first pro-christian/anti-Islamic site at #13, but their web site is down. The next anti-Islamic entry is a video at #19. There were NO sponsored ads against Islam showing.

The web page at:
http://www.adherents.com/Religions_By_Adherents.html
shows 1.5 billion Muslims, and 900 million Hindus in the world.

There are about 13 million Mormons world-wide.

Yet the Mormons get all this attention (and contention) from professed Christians, in a measure that is very disproportionate to our numbers.

Why?

Bookslinger said...

Joe, a parallel can be made here.

A Catholic could denounce your protestant views as "heretical" using the same logic that you're denouncing LDS views as "heretical" (I admit that's my word, not yours).

For every manner in which you claim Joseph Smith went wrong (from your viewpoint), a parallel claim could be made that the fathers and founders (Luther, Wesley, et. al) of Protestantism and Evangelicalism and of the various movement and denominations therein, also went wrong in the Catholic view.

It's like Apple claiming that Microsoft copied and bastardized Windows(tm) from them, when in fact, Apple copied and bastardized the concept from Xerox's Star system.

For a Protestant to call a Mormon heretical (again, I admit that's my word choice that seems to summarize the anti-Mormon position put forth here recently) must be laughable in the eyes of Catholic apologists.

Not one of the reformers (Luther, et al.) that I know of claimed divine authority in protesting and breaking away from the Catholic church. All the reformers used human reasoning and human passions to break away from the Catholic church and start new churches.

Only Joseph Smith (the only one that I am aware of since Mohammed) started a new major movement the same way that prophets of old did, by saying "God told me to."

(Okay, so you could come up with some "minor" movements led by self-proclaimed prophets.)

Compared to Catholics and Jews, Protestants and Evangelicals, as much as I love them, don't really have logic or authority on their side to condemn Mormonism.

We could argue the various debate points till the cows come home, but the whole crux boils down to whether Joseph Smith was a prophet and whether the Book of Mormon is divine scripture as is the Bible.

Bookslinger said...

Joe and David:

I realize that nothing said on this blog or any blog is going to convert you away from your current beliefs.

And indeed, I'm sure that no LDS here wants to take anything away from you that is good or true, but merely hopes that some day you add more (additional) truths to the storehouse of truth currently existing in your mind and heart.

If you really want to minister to Mormons and help Mormons "see their error", then you need to know where we come from. And to do that, you need to know for yourselves what's in the Book of Mormon.

I realize it may be hard for someone who dearly loves the Bible to stomach something like the Book of Mormon, because it can seem like blasphemy to have "more" or "additional" scriptures.

But think of how the early Jewish converts to Christianity had to overcome the _seeming_ "blasphemy" of Jesus and the apostles, because Jesus and the apostles preached things that ran counter to their 1,000+ year tradition of the Law of Moses and the Prophets. (When in fact, Jesus and the apostles were not preaching counter to the Law of Moses or the Prophets, but rather to the incorrect traditions and interpretations built up around the Law of Moses and the Prophets.)

Likewise, we put forth that the Book of Mormon and the teachings of Joseph Smith don't run counter to the "higher law" of Christ as found in the New Testament, but rather only run counter to the 1900+ years of traditions built up around the New Testament.

And another parallel is that Mormons "protest" against the false traditions (not all traditions, but just the false ones) that built up within Protestantism, sort of like how the reformers "protested" against the false traditions that built up within the Catholic church.

We sort of did to you what you did to the Catholics, and you point the finger and accuse us much as Catholics pointed the finger and accused ya'll.

If you can, read the Book of Mromon to prove it and us wrong.

And even if you can't stomach reading it, please get a copy to keep in your house for the future day that you might need it, even if it is to prove it wrong.

Because some day, it is very likely that your pastor/minister, or your church, or your church's theologians are going to reach the end of their rope or the bottom of their bucket and won't have an answer for an issue that is burning within your soul.

In that day, I invite you to turn to the Book of Mormon and search for an answer.

Joe said...

Dear Bookslinger:

The 'one true faith', and one true religion, is faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. For there is one Lord, one faith, one baptism, and if you believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, you shall be saved.

This is the teaching in the New Testament, for the "testimony of Jesus" is the spirit of prophecy. Jesus taught, "I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life. He that believes in me will be saved."

The only heretics are those who do not believe in Jesus in this way.

If I do believe in Jesus in this way, it does not make me a Catholic, nor a Protestant, nor a Mormon, nor an "evangelical", nor a fundamentalist, nor anything except a believer in Jesus, and a member of the household of faith, to whom Jesus said: "The kingdom of heaven is within you."
.
My only desires beyond this is to simply follow the will of God, and to have fellowship with the company of believers, who together comprise the "body of Christ". We are then the living stones, forming the living temple of God, wherein the Spirit of God dwells. For he said, "God does not dwell in a temple made by hands."

And likewise, the "kindgom of heaven withing you" is a "kingdom NOT of this world".
.

David said...

Anonymous said:

"Then we can dismiss the Bible for contradicting known history within the first few chapters."

Please give some examples of where the Bible has contradicted known history.


David Buckna

Bookslinger said...

Joe,

That is certainly a legitimate belief and standpoint that you articulated. I wish to take nothing away from (reduce or negate) that belief.

My heart-felt assertion is that at some point in the future, and it may be many years, the belief you articulated in your last comment (7:39pm) won't be sufficient for you, and your soul will yearn for some undefined "more."

It may concern a particular issue, or it may just be a part of your soul or heart that is left unfilled.

And I acknowledge that you may already feel completely "filled" and totally spiritually satisfied at _this_ point in time. Your cup may be running over already and have no room for more. And in that case, "Mormonism" has absolutely nothing to offer you.

When or if that future point in time comes for you, when you do sense a need for "more," or have room for that unknown "more," I hope you'll forgive our awkward attempts at explanations on this thread, and take a peek inside the Book of Mormon, and see if there is "more" of Jesus, "more" of God, "more" of the Holy Ghost, in there.

I loved and consumed the Bible long before I read the Book of Mormon. I've read the whole Bible several times. I have yet to fully understand or fully consume the Bible. But while continuing to hold and read and consume the Bible, I've added the Book of Mormon to my plate.

How delicious it is. Try it sometime. Mangia!

quandmeme said...

whew, that was quite the threadjack. I appreciated what I will characterize as Joe's testimony of Christ. That statement of belief is sacred IMO. When I read it, I fit it into my own schema, and its probably not fair. I ask did he get that just from believing others? I don't think he is just parroting a preacher or a book he read. I don't think he obtained it through experiential observation. I don't think he reasoned it out from elementary philosophical principles one premise or one element at a time. I wonder where you think it came from Joe, because in my schema, it comes when the holy spirit speaks to the heart/mind/soul. I think the original post says that the knowledge from God is more precious than man's knowledge (authority, observation, logic/proofs) that we have to be convinced Christ's sacrifice by divine power.

If we all accept that, shouldn't the discussion about recognizing the holy spirit and not about what God told Joseph Smith to do.

Don't get sidetracked on the details here, because it is a deliberately extreme example, but when Abraham was told to sacrifice Isaac, that was "unbiblical" (against the prior teachings) but it was still divine. Maybe the vision to go see Cornelius is more palatable, "don't judge the divine through human or traditional lens." So maybe the test isn't whether men can fit the revelation into their own models, but whether they can come to an individual basis for recognizing God's revelation.

So let's go back to Joe's testimony. How did he get to know God unless it was thru the holy spirit? It seems to me that anything less, is just a series of kids at the microphone parroting what they don't _believe_ for themselves.

Curtis said...

Really liked this post, and I think exploring the roots of a testimony is something we need to talk more about. A quote I heard once that has stuck in my mind came during a debate where this very thing was discussed. A member of another faith told a member of our church that you can't trust your feelings, and you shouldn't rely on prayer, and Satan can appear as an angel of light, etc. The member's response was, "the moment you give Satan more power to answer your prayers than God is the moment we have all lost all hope."

It's so true! Not many of us have visually seen God, so if we don't have it revealed to us, how do we know anything? No matter how you cut it, by design, the answer to any spiritual truth must come by revelation.

quandmeme said...

Bookslinger,

Now I'm going to contribute to the threadjack, oops. Just to post separately regarding the anti-hindu/muslim/mormon point. It's a pet topic of mine that mormons take special pride in persecution to claim the blessed are ye when men shall revile you for so persecuted they the prophets. Hindus _are_ fiercely persecuted; Muslims are persecuted, they've got nukes just to settle it! I know you're talking about christian anti-Muslim groups but my point is its about power and turf.

The scientologists get plenty of push back as a persecuted bunch, so do the FLDS. Persecution is not necessarily a badge of honor IMO. HD DVD vs BluRay, Yankess vs Mets, Palestine vs Israel. That's simply how humans form identities. Playstation fanboys don't get upset about people who like MAC cosmetics, because that's not in the same identity sphere.

We spend millions a year proselytizing, that is threatening. People who disagree, don't want their friends and family to buy into it, the more resources we spend investing in "their" psychological turf, the more "they" will spend and expend to confront it.

Sorry, like I said its a pet topic of mine, Sorry all.

Anonymous said...

Please give some examples of where the Bible has contradicted known history.

6 days of creation, spontaneous creation of plant and animal life, Adam and Eve, Garden of Eden....

That's just the beginning. A detailed discussion of whether Abraham is a literal historical figure, or whether there is any evidence of the Israelite captivity in Egypt or of the Exodus would hijack the thread.

These things are completely contradictory or absent to "known" history as established by scientific and historical evidence, yet you believe them anyway. I presume that your friend does as well. Yet your friend holds the Book of Mormon to a different standard, dismissing its theological claims because of alleged contradictions with the historical record. I find that reasoning disingenuous.

gb said...

Joe,
Thank you for the tone of your response.

J: Yes, Jesus did say eternal life is based on knowing. But not on knowing doctrines, or passwords, or ceremonies. But on knowing God.

GB: How can you truly know God without knowing His doctrines and submitting to His ordinances? I submit that you can’t. Jesus also said (John 7:16-17) “My doctrine is not mine, but his that sent me. If any man will DO his will, he shall KNOW of the doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of myself.

J: It is a matter of a relationship. A relationship of belief, and trust, and love. Not of academics.

GB: Can you really believe, trust, and love him without DOING/OBEYING His commandments? You seem to think that you can believe “IN” Jesus without believing ALL of what Jesus taught. It is quite clear that Jesus (and the Apostles) taught that there was a lot more to receiving eternal life than just a profession of belief.

J: Jesus did indeed teach that God does and will reward us according to our works. But salvation is first foundational to all else. Salvation simply means to be saved from destruction of the soul, and so to live forever, i.e., to have eternal life. This salvation of eternal life is based on knowing God, i.e, belief in Jesus. Hence, Jesus plainly said, if you believe in him, you have already passed over from death and into eternal life.

GB: We define eternal life differently than immortality. Due to the resurrection of Christ ALL mankind will be resurrected and thus become immortal. All will have their spirit reunited with their body inseparable connected. Thus all will be SAVED from physical death and live forever, just as Jesus is living forever. I think the Bible is clear on this point.

All will be SAVED from death, but all will not return to live in the presence of God the Father. To do this one must be obedient to the laws and ordinances of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Jesus and the Apostles taught that;
1) you must have faith in Jesus Christ,
2) repent from you sins,
3) be baptized by one having authority,
4) receive the gift of the Holy Ghost by the laying on of hands by one having authority.

J: A lot of circular discussion on the matter of belief in Jesus could be spared if we would bear in mind that the quality of belief being real and sincere is strictly implicit. Insincere belief is not real belief, and threrfore is of no efficacy. Hence "faith, without works is dead, being alone".

GB: On this we can agree.

J: Jesus gave himself a sacrifice. We believe in him, and so are saved by his blood, . . .

GB: I can agree with that.

J: . . . without any merit on our part.

GB: The problem I have with this part is it gives the impression that we have no part in our own salvation. Whereas I seems obvious to me that Jesus and the Apostles clearly taught otherwise.

I understand that this “without any merit” concept comes from what I call the misunderstanding of a few of the words of Paul (A few sentences from Gal, Eph and Rom.) It neglects the rest of the teachings of Paul and all of the teachings of Jesus and the rest of the Apostles.

If I were you I would be concerned about this. It would also concern me that Peter (the chief Apostle) said of the writings of Paul (2 Pet. 3: 16) "As also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things; in which are some things hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest, as they do also the other scriptures, unto their own destruction."

Now if the writings of Paul are “hard to be understood” it stands to reason that they are EASY to MISUNDERSTAND. So why do people take a few of his words over the words of Jesus and the rest of the Apostles?

You make the case that salvation comes first and that good works come after salvation. However it is obvious that salvation comes after death not before. It is true that a future event can be spoken of as something that has already occurred, but that doesn’t change the fact that it is a future event.

If you were to say that CONVERSION comes first and then the good works, then we would agree with you 100%.

Joe, lest you misunderstand, We do not ask you to give up ANY of the truth that you currently have. We invite you to come and let us ADD to it.

Cheers!

Anonymous said...

Dave, I think you may have left 1 Corinthians 2 1-5 unaccounted for in your friendly reminder.

1 And I, brethren, when I came to you, did not come with excellence of speech or of wisdom declaring to you the testimony of God.

2 For I determined not to know anything among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified.

3 I was with you in weakness, in fear, and in much trembling.

4 And my speech and my preaching were not with persuasive words of human wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power,

5 that your faith should not be in the wisdom of men but in the power of God.

That Paul, he sure loved to preach Jesus Christ crucified didn't he?

Marni Hall said...

I think the children's "parroted" testimonies are far less the words of their parents, and far more the same words they've heard other children say. Not knowing enough about expressing their own feelings, they spout off the words they've heard from other children.

As a mother, I've let me children know that if that's all they are going to say, then that's not really their testimony, it is the testimony of someone else. They aren't allowed to go up during testimony unless they are going to share their own feelings and their own testimony.

We use family home evening as a time for them to practice sharing their personal testimony. Every child takes a turn giving the lesson, even if they choose a story from the Friend for mom or dad to read for them, and when it is done we ask them if they would like to bear their testimony about what we talked about.

Aaron said...

I think our little children can and do have their own testimonies of the gospel. They know and recognize the spirit. My 4 year old prays that we can be more like Jesus. When asked how he can be more like Jesus by my non-member father. He just said "Being Gooder". I think he recognizes the spirit, but just doesn't know how to express himself.

Bookslinger said...

Marni, I think the "parrotted testimonies" comment is in regards to parents who whisper to their children what to say at the very moment that the child is at the microphone.

If a child gets up to the microphone on their own volition, without mom or dad there, and can give an extemporaneous testimony, then I think they should be allowed to do so, just as any adult. The Lord is not a respecter of persons.
And guidelines still apply: try to avoid thank-imonies, etc.

A girl (who just turned 8) in our ward taught me something new. She wrote her testimony and read it at the microphone. She went up on her own and spoke/read it on her own. Knowing her and her family, I don't think anyone else wrote it for her, and I don't think her parents directed her to go up. I think that's okay too. I don't remember any rules/guidelines that say that testimonies have to be extemporaneous or ad-libbed.

Just an interesting F&T tidbit: I was visiting another ward in another state one day, it was F&T meeting, and a 30-ish woman read her "exit letter" from the microphone, and walked out of the building.

David said...

Earlier I wrote:

Please give some examples of where the Bible has contradicted known history.

anonymous responded:

"6 days of creation, spontaneous creation of plant and animal life, Adam and Eve, Garden of Eden....

That's just the beginning. A detailed discussion of whether Abraham is a literal historical figure, or whether there is any evidence of the Israelite captivity in Egypt or of the Exodus would hijack the thread."
-----------------------------------
According to Ethel Nelson, analysis of the early Chinese character forms indicates
that the ancient Chinese worshipped the same Creator-God as the Hebrews:

http://www.icr.org/article/273/

See also:

http://www.custance.org/Library/Volume1/index.html

NOAH'S THREE SONS:
HUMAN HISTORY IN THREE DIMENSIONS
by Arthur C. Custance
---
http://www.equip.org/atf/cf/%7B9C4EE03A-F988-4091-84BD-F8E70A3B0215%7D/DA111.pdf

or

http://www.equip.org/site/c.muI1LaMNJrE/b.2710547/k.AECB/DA111.htm

[snip]

Abraham a Myth? Early critics in the 1800s denied the existence of Abrahams hometown, Ur of the Chaldees (Gen. 11:31). This continued until Sir Leonard Woolleys systematic excavations from l92234 uncovered the immense ziggurat or temple tower at Ur near the mouth of the Euphrates in Mesopotamia. The name Abraham appears in Mesopotamian records, and the various nationalities the patriarch encountered, as recorded in Genesis, are entirely consistent with the peoples known at that time and place. Other details in the biblical account regarding Abraham, such as the treaties he made with neighboring rulers and even the price of slaves, mesh well with what is
known elsewhere in the history of the ancient Near East.4
---
Boyd's Handbook of Practical Apologetics
http://books.google.ca/books?id=XJdW4GCwX-UC

and click on: "Preview this book"
Then scroll down to page 142.
---
http://www.bible-archaeology.info/adam.htm
---
http://www.gnmagazine.org/issues/gn06/archaeologygenesis.htm

[snip]

Is this account [Genesis 3: 1-6]only a myth? Many critics thought so. Yet archaeology has unearthed,
not in biblical Israel, but in the site of the most ancient civilization known, Sumer, a seal depicting this very sequence of events described in the book of
Genesis. This find, known as the Temptation Seal, is in the British Museum. It dates to the third millennium before Christ, some 5,000 years ago. This artifact shows a man and a woman viewing a tree, and behind the woman is a serpent. The man and woman are both reaching for fruit of the tree....

Another Sumerian seal, dated ca. 3500 B.C. and now housed in the museum of the University of Pennsylvania, shows events that took place after the man and woman ate the forbidden fruit. This seal depicts the naked figures of a male and a female, bowed in humiliation, being driven out, followed by a serpent. This seal also describes the story of the expulsion from the Garden of Eden:". . . Therefore the LORD God sent him [Adam] out of the garden of Eden to till the ground from which he was taken" (Genesis 3:23).

It is difficult to explain what the three figures, engraved on a seal dating from the beginnings of human antiquity, are doing if the artifact is not another depiction of the Genesis account.
---

David Buckna

quandmeme said...

David, ya gotta be patient with the like of us law types. I don't to criminal law, so I'm not talking about beyond reasonable doubt, but more like preponderance of the evidence or clear and convincing evidence.

Ancient carvings of ancient events is evidence to people like me of consistent belief, not underlying truth. I am no more persuaded about Abraham _because_ of archeology or Adam _because_ of a sculpture or Nephi _because_ of archeology.

I'm not interested that Buddha historically existed, or proof that Muhammed's teachings were followed in the 1000 ADs. Cooberation isn't enough, I need proof that what they testified of does or does not have the power to save. The only way I _know_ they don't, and the only way I _know_ Paul, or Abraham, really communed with God, is thru the holy spirit.

Maedoc said...

Buck,

There are plenty of objects that depict plenty of stories that people believed thousands of years ago. So you have showed that people may have believed in the story of Adam and Eve in the past. This is far from proving it _actually_ happened, especially when scientific evidence "shows" that those events most likely did not happen. I'm sure scientist hold more stock in fossils than in what people long ago said. If we found a document that depicted the earth being flat, does that make the world any more flat?

You're never going to be able to prove divine events beyond the shadow of a doubt, and I'm sure that's by design. That is why faith is such an important component.

Matt. 16:17
"And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Bar-jona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven."

Mormanity said...

David, I believe in the Bible, and believe that early man had revealed truth that was lost and restored multiple times over the centuries, and so I would not be surprised in some elements of divine truth were expressed in early Chinese culture. But the efforts that some Christian missionaries have made to contrive Biblical meanings from Chinese characters may be rather questionable and have been rebutted elsewhere.

I agree that there is evidence consistent with some aspects of the Biblical record, but consistency and plausibility does not offer proof per se. There are boatloads of similar evidences offering consistency and plausibility in favor of the Book of Mormon, but they likewise generally require the perspective of faith first to have any real impact. They can sometimes refute some attacks on particular details, but don't think that there is anything the "proves" Genesis or resolves the many challenges that critics can make from the text.

But thanks for the links in any case.

Mormanity said...

I will not, however, that this post is not the place for discussions on the accuracy of Genesis. Let's get back to the topic of the LDS testimony.

Anonymous said...

Buckna,


"Please give some examples of where the Bible has contradicted known history."


Most of it.
Your bible will not pass peer-review. If you do not believe me go get your PhD. and publish it as history and see how far you get. Not in the theology department but the department of natural history.



To all my former mormons friends:

As far a parents coaching their children in testimony meeting. I don't really care what non-members, G.A.s or bishops say. Having home taught parents that were inactive and one parent would do their best to get the kids to church and involved as much as they could despite of the resistance of other members of the family, alcoholics, dead beat parents, abusive parents and family members, I think you members should just run some more of God children out the back door with your silly attitudes. Pull your heads out of the self righteous clouds and get back to reality. Every good thought of Christ you can put into these little children's brain to help them resist the attitude of the arrogant Swiss or anyone else is of God. I think the Mormons need to consider if it is not time to repent.

No disrespect.

Mormanity said...

To the last commenter, that seems like a bit too much disrespect to qualify for "no disrespect."

In spite of being pathetically silly and self-righteous, we do frequently consider whether it is time to repent. 7:15 a.m. right now - yep, it's time again. If you know the Mormons, you know repentance is almost always the timely thing to do.

Anonymous said...

I will not, however, that this post is not the place for discussions on the accuracy of Genesis. Let's get back to the topic of the LDS testimony.

Sorry 'bout the threadjack. I should have added that the Bible's historicity controversies do not detract from my testimony of it, which is based on a spiritual witness, not the debates of academics.

Mormanity said...

David, about that Sumerian seal and the serpent: have you considered that this may mean that Genesis was borrowed from old Middle Eastern traditions? Even if the meaning of the Sumerian seal has anything to do with Genesis, what does that prove? Common elements in myths pervade the world - they are ancient. So maybe Genesis and pagan Sumerian legends have common roots - what does that prove? We already know that Genesis has ancient roots.

Mormanity said...

Oops! I violated my own request to get back to the topic. Um, let's see, who has a testimony of Sumerian religion?

David said...

anonymous said:

"Your bible will not pass peer-review. If you do not believe me go get your PhD. and publish it as history and see how far you get. Not in the theology department but the department of natural history."

Two individuals I referenced earlier are Dr. Paul L. Maier and Arthur C. Custance.

Maier is currently The Russell H. Seibert Professor of Ancient History at Western Michigan University and received his Doctor of Philosophy degree summa cum laude in 1957.

http://www.tobiascom.com/dr-paul-maier/about/biography-30.html

[snip]

A specialist in correlating data from the ancient world with the New Testament, Dr. Maier next authored a best-selling trilogy of books on the life of Jesus and
earliest Christianity, now included in one volume: In the Fullness of Time –A Historian Looks at Christmas, Easter and the Early Church (Kregel, 1998).
...
An authority on the first-century Jewish historian, Flavius Josephus, Maier translated from Greek a new full-color edition of his writings, entitled Josephus –
The Essential Works (Kregel, 1995). A similar book followed in 1999: Eusebius – The Church History (Kregel), a new translation and commentary on the first Christian historian.
---
Arthur C. Custance had two Ph.D.s: one in Anthropology, the other in Education:

http://www.custance.org/insight.html

[snip]

http://www.custance.org/library_menu.html#vol1

The Doorway Papers series

Volume 1
NOAH'S THREE SONS

Volume 2
GENESIS AND EARLY MAN

Volume 3
MAN IN ADAM AND IN CHRIST

Volume 4
EVOLUTION OR CREATION?

Volume 5
THE VIRGIN BIRTH AND THE INCARNATION

Volume 6
TIME AND ETERNITY

Volume 7
HIDDEN THINGS OF GOD'S REVELATION

Volume 8
SCIENCE AND FAITH

Volume 9
THE FLOOD: LOCAL OR GLOBAL?

Then there's A.E. Wilder-Smith, who had three doctorates:

http://emporium.turnpike.net/C/cs/smith.htm
---
http://emporium.turnpike.net/C/cs/col.htm
---
http://emporium.turnpike.net/C/cs/ns.htm
---
http://emporium.turnpike.net/C/cs/sa.htm
---
http://emporium.turnpike.net/C/cs/time.htm
---
http://www.idresearch.org/wiki/A.E._Wilder-Smith

Dr. Arthur Ernest Wilder-Smith (1915 - 1995), more commonly known as A. E. Wilder-Smith, was a chemist, NATO three-star general, and a pioneering figure in the movement to develop alternatives to evolutionary theory.

He studied Natural Sciences at Oxford, England, and recieved his Ph.D. in physical organic chemistry at University of Reading, England in 1941. Later he recieved a Dr.es.Sc. in pharmacological sciences from Eidgenossische Technische Hochschule in Zürich, and a D.Sc. in pharmacological sciences from the University of Geneva in 1964.

Wilder-Smith is author and co-author of over 70 scientific publications and more than 30 books.

Dr. Wilder-Smith was an effective debater against evolutionists. Wilder-Smith's 1986 Oxford debate with Richard Dawkins has been covered up and miss-reported due to the unexpected 150:198 vote.
===

David Buckna

Anonymous said...

Buckna,

As usual you use theologians to defend the Bible. This is why your Bible is used as a history book in high school and college history class in all schools around the world. The following is not found in any Bible or Book of Mormon that I know of but I still have a testimony and faith that these books are true.

Excavations by the Antiquities Authority have shown that prehistoric man lived in the area of Kibbutz Ramat Rachel in Jerusalem. Skeletons discovered during routine Authority oversight of a kibbutz building project are believed to date to the mid-Paleolithic period, 50,000-200,000 years ago.
Those involved in the excavations were excited by the discovery of such an early site in Jerusalem since the city, despite its abundance of antiquities from various periods, has only two other known sites from this period, one on Emek Refaim Street and the other in the area of Mt. Scopus.

London, May 27 (ANI): The discovery of a cave inhabited by hunter-gatherers between 20,000 and 40,000 years ago in Israel, is likely to reveal a wealth of information about the way of life of the early man in the eastern Mediterranean.

Numerous human burials dated to approximately the same time were found in this nearby cave. Fourteen skeletons were uncovered, including three complete ones; they were defined as an archaic type of Homo sapiens, closely related to modern humans in physical appearance. It is believed that this human, with delicate facial features, a protruding chin and straight forehead, was fully developed around 100,000 years ago. The finds from these graves also show evidence of cult and rituals related to death and the spiritual realm.

Because Buckna and some LDS members at time frame their testimonies around facts or proof. Most Christians and LDS I have met have testimonies biased on some moving spiritual experience or just faith that God is in charge regardless of the facts. I like them have obtained my testimony from the spirit studying and trying to follow the commandments. The findings of scientists are interesting but would not hold me to keeping the commandments very long if I did not know by the Holy Spirit that the gospel is true. I have many more fun things I could be doing with my time.

I wonder if the parents had the kids state "I have faith that the gospel is true and that the LDS church is true and has a living prophet", they would be in the clear? I am not sure what the administrative policy is for faith verse a testimony of personal experience.

Bookslinger said...

David,

Your use of scholarly works concerning archaeology and history to show plausibility of the Biblical record is very good.

In fact, that's what Jeff has done for years with scholarly works dealing with archaeology and history to show plausibility of the Book of Mormon. That's pretty much what a large portion of his LDS-FAQ and his blog are about: demonstrating plausibility.

However, maybe you're also doing what other non-LDS Christians have accused Jeff of wrongfully doing: putting forth evidence of plausibility as some kind of "proof."

Jeff quite often has stated on this blog and on his LDS-FAQ (http://www.jefflindsay.com/BMEvidences.shtml) that he doesn't intend such evidences of plausibility to be accepted as "proof" of anything, but merely to create "room for faith", and that seekers should still seek spiritual confirmation.

What are you saying about all this scholarly evidence you are putting forth? Are you saying it "proves" the Bible, or are you saying it is "evidence of plausibility" for the Bible. If the latter, then I whole-heartedly agree with you. If the former, then you're committing the same logical offense which other non-LDS Christians have accused Jeff of (which logical offense he didn't really commit.)

David said...

anonymous said:
"Buckna,

As usual you use theologians to defend the Bible."

Excuse me? Did you actually read what I posted? Are any of the doctorates of Maier, Custance and Wilder-Smith in the field of theology?

Then there is Dr. Kurt Wise, a creationist who has a Ph.D. in Invertebrate Paleontology from Harvard University, an M.A. Geology from Harvard University, and a B.A. Geology from the University of Chicago. During his studies at Harvard, evolutionist Stephen Jay Gould was his advisor.

http://creationwiki.org/Kurt_Wise

http://www.bryan.edu/3475.html


David Buckna

Cupid said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

Buckna, said,


"Then there is Dr. Kurt Wise, a creationist..."

Give me those that are not creationists but are against the Bible or the Book of Mormon but must agree with the archeology proof that they are history then you have real proof. There are some but not many.

David said...

Mormanity said:
"David, about that Sumerian seal and the serpent: have you considered that this may mean that Genesis was borrowed from old Middle Eastern traditions? Even if the meaning of the Sumerian seal has anything to do with Genesis, what does that prove? Common elements in myths pervade the world - they are ancient. So maybe Genesis and pagan Sumerian legends have common roots - what does that prove? We already know that Genesis has ancient roots."

Because I have a high view of the Bible, I agree with author Frank Lorey's statement that "the Genesis account was kept pure and accurate throughout the centuries by the providence of God until it was finally compiled, edited, and written down by Moses."

http://www.icr.org/article/414/

The Flood of Noah and the Flood of Gilgamesh

[snip]

[From the early days of the comparative study of these two flood accounts, it has been generally agreed that there is an obvious relationship. The widespread nature of flood traditions throughout the entire human race is excellent evidence for the existence of a great flood from a legal/historical point of view.20 Dating of the oldest fragments of the Gilgamesh account originally indicated that it was older than the assumed dating of Genesis.21 However, the probability exists that the Biblical account had been preserved either as an oral tradition, or in written form handed down from Noah, through the patriarchs and eventually to Moses, thereby making it actually older than the Sumerian accounts which were restatements (with alterations) to the original.

A popular theory, proposed by liberal "scholars," said that the Hebrews "borrowed" from the Babylonians, but no conclusive proof has ever been offered.22 The differences, including religious, ethical, and sheer quantity of details, make it unlikely that the Biblical account was dependent on any extant source from the Sumerian traditions. This still does not stop these liberal and secular scholars from advocating such a theory. The most accepted theory among evangelicals is that both have one common source, predating all the Sumerian forms.23 The divine inspiration of the Bible would demand that the Genesis account is the correct version. Indeed the Hebrews were known for handing down their records and tradition.24 The Book of Genesis is viewed for the most part as an historical work, even by many liberal scholars, while the Epic of Gilgamesh is viewed as mythological. The One-source Theory must, therefore, lead back to the historical event of the Flood and Noah's Ark.25 To those who believe in the inspiration and infallibility of the Bible, it should not be a surprise that God would preserve the true account of the Flood in the traditions of His people. The Genesis account was kept pure and accurate throughout the centuries by the providence of God until it was finally compiled, edited, and written down by Moses.26 The Epic of Gilgamesh, then, contains the corrupted account as preserved and embellished by peoples who did not follow the God of the Hebrews.]

===

David Buckna

David said...

Bookslinger said:

"David,

Your use of scholarly works concerning archaeology and history to show plausibility of the Biblical record is very good.

In fact, that's what Jeff has done for years with scholarly works dealing with archaeology and history to show plausibility of the Book of Mormon. That's pretty much what a large portion of his LDS-FAQ and his blog are about: demonstrating plausibility."
-----------------------------------
But there's a HUGE difference between something plausible/reasonable/having the appearance of truth, and something PROVEN to be true--a historical fact. For example, the Ebla tablets confirm not only that the five cities of the plain existed [Sodom, Gomorrah, Admah, Zeboiim, and Zoar--mentioned in Genesis 14] but that they were trading partners of the kingdom of Ebla. Even an atheist who knows about the Ebla tablets can't deny that these cities actually existed.

Contrast that with the Book of Mormon. There are dozens of supposedly "New World" cities mentioned within its pages (eg. Teancum, Zarahemla) but not one has been confirmed to have existed from any archaeological artifact--a stone inscription, a seal, a tablet, engraving, etc. The same goes with any "New World" people mentioned in the Book of Mormon (eg. Coriantumr, Pachus, etc.) Even an atheist who knows about the "Pilate Stone" can't deny that there was a man named Pontius Pilate who was the prefect of Judea during the first century A.D.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pilate_Stone

Dr. Paul L. Maier, Professor of Ancient History at Western Michigan University has said: "I think the most difficult job in the entire world would be that of a Mormon apologist. Such a one must try to defend beliefs for which there is no evidence--archaeological, historical, geographical, or scientific--from external sources to corroborate what is claimed within the Book of Mormon on any matters not derivative from the Old Testament."

So when you learn of any evidence
for the Book of Mormon from external sources, let me know.

David Buckna

Anonymous said...

Buckna, said,


"So when you learn of any evidence
for the Book of Mormon from external sources, let me know."

You show me one atheistic scientist that claims the bible to be true and I will show you external evidence that the Book of Mormon is true. By the same faith that Christians know the bible is true I know that the Book of Mormon is true. Further, the Holy Spirit that testifies that Jesus Christ is the son of God also confirmed that the Book of Mormon is true. He is the external source evidence you need not some Dr. Paul L. Maier with all his degrees. Be careful putting your trust in the arm of flesh.

Bookslinger said...

David,

1) And does the archaeological evidence for the existence of the 5 cities of the plain turn any atheists/agnostics into God-believers or Moses-believers or Jesus-believers?

2) Does such evidence cause any athestis/agnostics to believe the supernatural claims of the Bible?

Answers: 1) No, and 2) no.

So we're all back at square one.

If archaeologists did dig up a sign in Central America that said, in both Hebrew and Reformed Egyptian, "Welcome to Zarahemla", you still wouldn't believe in the Book of Mormon.

Why should someone believe in the supernatural claims of the Bible? (I do, by the way.) Why should someone believe in an omnipotent Creater just because the Bible has a correspondence to some archaeological evidence of a few cities? Why should someone believe the religious/spiritual teachings of Moses and Jesus based on archaeological evidence?

That's the whole point of the plausibility-versus-proof. There is no physical evidence or physical proof that causes non-believers to believe in supernatural religious concepts.

Your placement of archealogical evidence on a pedestal does very little for the Bible. At worst, it implies that those who lived after its contemporary knowledge was lost and before archaelogical evidence was found, had no justification for their faith.

Using archaeological evidence to bolster faith is a very sandy foundation. It makes our relationship with God dependent on the knowledge and interpretive abilities of men.

Also, while keeping this in the "evidence of _plausibility_" your dismissal of support for the Book of Mormon is disingenuous.

There is plenty of archaeological evidence that cities existed in the western hemisphere during the Book of Mormon time frame 600 BC to 400 AD.

There is also evidence that some of the cities of that time frame were fortified, according to the Book of Mormon descriptiosns, with earthen bulwarks and wooden pallisades.

There is evidence that the ancient americans had obsidian-edged swords that could cut off limbs, and the early spaniards described such weapons as swords.

There is statuary of horses from Book of Mormon times, even though no horse bones have been found from Book of Mormon times. (No horse bones have been found in Asia in the bondaries of the Mongol empire that date to the Mongol period, either. Even though it is widely known that the Mongols rode lots of horses.)

So your assertion that there is no shred of evidence is false.

But anyway, it's not why we ask people to read, ponder, and pray about the Bible or the Book of Mormon. No one believes in the supernatural solely based on evidence of the natural.

Oh, and barley. Don't forget barley. That's one of my favorite "evidences of plausibility".

You do know about how the discovery of ancient barley in an archaeological dig supports the Book of Mormon, right? (The BoM mentions barley, but barley was known to have _not_ existed among the american natives ever since Europeans arrived. Joseph Smith could not have know about the ancient americans cultivating barley, because everyone knew it wasn't found here when Europeans arrived.)

But, Mormon missionaries don't preach barley. No one is asked to believe in the Book of Mormon because of barley. No Mormons said "AHA! They found BARLEY! You HAVE to believe us now!"

(However, just for the record, they _did_ find barley.)

Likewise, the tablets of Ebla don't prove that God rained fire and brimstone down on Sodom and Gomorrah any more than the discovery of barley proves Joseph Smith got the Book of Mormon from gold plates.

Bookslinger said...

But just to belabor the point, many people did dismiss the Book of Mormon and refused to read/ponder/pray about it because it said some ancient Americans cultivated barley, "when everyone knew" that the Indians didn't have barley.

So that's the purpose of apologetics and such "evidences of plausibility", to help remove stumbling blocks that might prevent someone from spiritually investigating the Bible or Book of Mormon.

The other parallel here is a warning about mocking. There were people who mocked the Book of Mormon about its reference to barley, who had to eat their words when barley was discovered in archaeological digs dating to Book of Mormon times.

There were people who mocked the Book of Mormon for its seemingly silly "faux Jewish" names. Then ancient documents in the near-east were discovered that showed that the "silly" names from the Book of Mormon were indeed used by ancient Jews.

Some say that that discovery, that some "silly" Book of Mormon names were indeed Jewish is the biggest slam-dunk of all. Because those names were totally unknown to _everybody_, there was absolutely no way Joseph Smith could have known about them without supernatural means.

But again, no one is asked to believe the supernatural/spiritual things of the Book of Mormon because some Book of Mormon names were finally proved to have existed in ancient documents discovered in the near-east.

Granted, people who already believe in the Book of Mormon may take a little comfort in this discovery of ancient Jewish names. Just as we, and all who believe in the Bible, take comfort that the Ebla tablets confirm the existence of some cities mentioned in Genesis. But such things are not the basis of our faith, and we don't ask people to convert based on it. Just as you wouldn't want a Buddhist to convert to Christianity just based on the Ebla tablets.

David said...

Bookslinger said:

"There is plenty of archaeological evidence that cities existed in the western hemisphere during the Book of Mormon time frame 600 BC to 400 AD."

Yes, cities existed during this time frame, even earlier eg. Mayan civilization. But _not one_ of the many "New World" cities mentioned in the Book of Mormon has ever been proven to have existed from any archaeological artifact.

Bookslinger said:

"Likewise, the tablets of Ebla don't prove that God rained fire and brimstone down on Sodom and Gomorrah any more than the discovery of barley proves Joseph Smith got the Book of Mormon from gold plates."

I agree that the Ebla tablets don't prove God rained fire and brimstone down on Sodom and Gomorrah, but the tablets _do_ prove that all five cities of the plain [Sodom, Gomorrah, Admah, Zeboiim, and Zoar] EXISTED.


David Buckna

erelis said...


Yes, cities existed during this time frame, even earlier eg. Mayan civilization. But _not one_ of the many "New World" cities mentioned in the Book of Mormon has ever been proven to have existed from any archaeological artifact.


No, it would be more accurate to say that no New World cities have been proven to correspond with cities in the Book of Mormon. I think we know where the cities are, we just don't know what they are.

I agree that the Ebla tablets don't prove God rained fire and brimstone down on Sodom and Gomorrah, but the tablets _do_ prove that all five cities of the plain [Sodom, Gomorrah, Admah, Zeboiim, and Zoar] EXISTED.

Yes, but again, what does that evidence? Let's say I make up a story about God wiping out certain cities to show how God punishes the wicked. What better way of doing this than picking a couple of cities, existing and known to my audience, that were violently destroyed? Change a few details on the how/why/when, and POOF! you have a story.

Take The Odyssey as another example. We know Ithaca existed. We know Troy existed. Does that mean that our wily red-headed hero Odysseus is an historical figure? Does that mean that the gods who toyed with him for 10 years existed? Why shouldn't I worship them instead of that predictably dull fire-and-brimstone deity the Jews came up with?

I just can't figure out what it is you're trying to prove by throwing out archeological evidence. At some point you have to make the same leap of faith that I do that the stories you believe in are actually true.

Anonymous said...

"I just can't figure out what it is you're trying to prove by throwing out archeological evidence."


He is trying to prove that the Book of Mormon does not have any archeological evidence to his liking and that it is not necessary to pray about the Bible to determin if it it true even though Christ said he would send the Holy Spirit to teach us the truth of God.

David said...

erelis said:

"I just can't figure out what it is you're trying to prove by throwing out archeological evidence. At some point you have to make the same leap of faith that I do that the stories you believe in are actually true."

I believe all the stories in the Bible are actually true. I have a high view of the Bible. I believe the Bible to be the word of God. I believe in the inspiration and infallibility of the Bible.

Do you:

* believe all the stories in the Bible are actually true?
* have a high view of the Bible?
* believe the Bible to be the word of God?
* believe in the inspiration and infallibility of the Bible?

The reason I ask is....if you are a Mormon, then I assume you agree with all your Articles of Faith, one of which states: "We believe the Bible to be the word of God as far as it is translated correctly" (Pearl of Great Price).

The phrase "as far as it is translated correctly" implies that the Bible is corrupted in some way, contains errors, etc.

Do you believe the Bible to contain any errors? If so, what errors?

That "Article of Faith" is contrary to what the Bible teaches:

"All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works" (2 Tim. 3:16-17).

David Buckna

Anonymous said...

So you think the Bible is perfect and you need no faith.

Anonymous said...

"All scripture..." define scripture... Dead Sea Scrolls?

Anonymous said...

The story about "whom without sin cast the first stone" has been added so some say. There are many well reported errors in the Bible but I am sure you can read about them if you wanted to. Just gain a testimony of the Bible and the Book of Mormon by praying then all of these proof become unimportant.

erelis said...

I believe all the stories in the Bible are actually true. I have a high view of the Bible. I believe the Bible to be the word of God. I believe in the inspiration and infallibility of the Bible.

All of these are assertions of faith, not of evidence, compelling me again to ask why you insist on using archeology as some sort of proof that the Bible is true.

The phrase "as far as it is translated correctly" implies that the Bible is corrupted in some way, contains errors, etc.

Pick up a good textual criticism book. You can start with the different chronologies and events in the Gospels. You can go to the section on the Comma Johanneum. You can proceed to story of the woman taken in adultury, a story missing from the earliest manuscript fragments of the Bible. You can then educate yourself about the debate over the Hymn to the Word that opens the Gospel of John. You can cap it all off with a chapter on why there are so many different versions of the Bible, including some that eliminate or add entire books to the canon, begging one to ask "What exactly is scripture?"

Yes, let's apply your insistence on evidence and proof to what scholars are saying concerning the Bible.

That "Article of Faith" is contrary to what the Bible teaches:

"All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works" (2 Tim. 3:16-17).


I see nothing in that scripture that requires me to believe in the infallibility of the Bible. All scripture may be inspired of God, but fallible man has a way of screwing things up.

Nor do I have any problem reconciling my faith in the Bible with my belief that it is not perfect.

Bookslinger said...

David, according to Paul (1st Corinthians), women should not speak in church, and need to keep their head/hair covered. Is that standard practice in your church today? If not, who authorized the change, and by what authority did he counterdict Paul's very clear instruction?

Was there one angel at the empty tomb, or two? The Bible contradicts itself on that point.

Should the Apocrypha be included in the Bible? Is that part infallible? And who gets to say (who has the authority to say) whether the Apocrypha is infallible or not?

There are several versions (2 main versions) of the Greek texts that differ very slightly. Which one is the infallible one?

Modern scholars say that the King James translators got some things wrong in translation, and their new translations (the most famous now being the N.I.V.) have corrections.

Which do you believe is the infallible translation (or the "best" translation) the KJV or the NIV?

And if you say KJV, why is that infallible when almost all the modern scholars admit a few translation errors are in it? (I think the jackals, owls or ostriches things in the O.T. is one that is commonly acknowledged as an incorrect translation.)

Most Mormons are quick to admit some errors in the Book of Mormon. Oliver Cowdery made some errors in taking dictation from Joseph. Oliver also made some errors when he made the printer's copy. The typesetter, John Gilbert, who worked for the printer Grandin, also made some typesetting errors.

Joseph was the prophet. Oliver and Gilbert were not.

Don't get me wrong. I love the Bible. I read the whole New Testament through every 4 years. And I read the Old Testament almost all the way through every 4 years too. And I also read the Book of Mormon all the way through every 4 years.

David said...

erelis said:

"I see nothing in that scripture that requires me to believe in the infallibility of the Bible. All scripture may be inspired of God, but fallible man has a way of screwing things up.

Nor do I have any problem reconciling my faith in the Bible with my belief that it is not perfect."

What I find so amusing is that Mormons believe Joseph Smith when he says the Book of Mormon is "the most correct of any book on earth" even though there's no evidence from external sources to corroborate what is claimed within its pages!

For example, the Book of Mormon claims lost Israelite tribes voyaged to the New World.

What outside ancient EVIDENCE (not "plausibility" arguments)has shown this to be true?

And all the while, you (and other Mormons apparently) reject the infallibility of the Bible, even though hundreds, if not thouands, of archaeological discoveries have directly corroborated places, people, and events in the Bible, and have demonstrated time and time again that it is historically reliable. This pales in comparison to the "plausibility" arguments Mormons use in their attempt to demonstrate the "correctness" of the Book of Mormon.
---
Is the Bible reliable?

http://lifestrategies.thingseternal.com/whatdoesthebiblesayabout/reliable.html

[snip]

One of the leading concerns in viewing the Bible as a reliable source is in its transmission. How can we be sure that the sources we rely upon are authentic? This is answered by determining the quality of the manuscripts.

To analyze this, a comparison is in order. One of history’s treasured possessions is Caesar’s recounting of the Gallic Wars, which he penned during the first century. Without his account, we would know barely anything of these important conflicts.

However, the actual papyri Caesar recorded his history on are no longer in existence. The earliest copies one might examine are from A.D. 900—950. In fact, there are only 10 complete copies and fragments available for inspection. Even so, these documents are taught as historical fact.

The Bible, on the other hand, has many manuscripts to rely upon. Burnett H. Streeter has assured, "The degree of security that . . . the text has been handed down to us in a reliable form is prima facie, very high."

There are in existence more than 14,000 Old Testament manuscripts–some dating back as far as 400 B.C.! As for the New Testament, there are over 5,300 manuscripts in existence, with nearly 800 of them written before 1000 A.D.!

F. F. Bruce sums up the case by saying, "Scholars are satisfied that they possess substantially the true text of the principal Greek and Roman writers whose works have come down to us, of Sophocles, of Thucydides, of Cicero, of Virgil; yet our knowledge of their writings depends on a mere handful of manuscripts, whereas the manuscripts of the New Testament are counted by hundreds, and even thousands."

See also:

http://www.carm.org/questions_bible.htm

which has links to articles such as:

What is the canon of Scripture?

Can we trust the New Testament as a historical document?

Wasn't the New Testament written hundreds of years after Christ?

Hasn't the Bible been rewritten so many times it can't be trusted?

etc.

David Buckna

Bookslinger said...

"What I find so amusing is that Mormons believe Joseph Smith when he says the Book of Mormon is "the most correct of any book on earth" even though there's no evidence from external sources to corroborate what is claimed within its pages!"

That just isn't true. There is plenty of evidence, you just keep refusing to accept that evidence.

The discovery of ancient Jewish names that appeared in the Book of Mormon over 100 years before they were discovered anywhere else on Earth, is just one piece of evidence corroborating the BoM. (Prior to that discovery, Mormons were mocked for those seemingly faux-Jewish names.)

The discovery of barley in an archaeological site dating to BOm times is evidence. Prior to that discovery, Mormons were mocked for believing ancient americans cultivated barley.

Discovery of places in the Arabian peninsula that match up with 1st Nephi is evidence.

What outside ancient EVIDENCE (not "plausibility" arguments)has shown this to be true?

Here is where you show that you are the one not paying attention, and
you are the one not reading with comprehension. All physical Biblical or Book of Mormon evidence IS about plausibility, whether it's for the Bible or the Book of Mormon.

Proving that the 5 cities existed does not prove the Bible is of divine origen. (Which we believe in, by the way.)

There is no "slam dunk" proof of the Bible as divine, and there is no (and likely will be no) "slam dunk" proof of the divinity of Book of Mormon.

Anyway, the Ebla tablets can only establish plausibility that Moses was real, not proof.

Your insistence of "evidence for PROOF" doesn't work for the Bible any more than it works for the Book of Mormon. So all you, or we, are going to get is "evidence for PLAUSIBILITY" as long as we stay focused on physical evidence, and not spiritual.

Plausibility is the most that you or we can hope for in the realm of physical evidences.

If your evidences for the Bible are so great, then they would have converted all righteous atheists or agnostics who happen to be archeaologists or scientists or intellectuals.

That's why we turn to spritual evidences in our search for confirming the truth or falsehood of the Bible or the Book of Mormon.

How many times do you want to go around on this? Are you tired yet?

By the way, have you tried using your "evidences of the Bible" to convert any Hindus, Muslims, Buddhists, atheists, or agnostics?

Those Hindus are pretty smart people, at least the one's I've met. If your evidence is slam-dunk proof, I'm sure they're smart enough to believe it.

David, we already have the Bible. We believe the Bible. We love the Bible. We follow the Bible. We teach and preach the Bible.

We just disagree with your man-made post-300 AD interpretations of the Bible. Our beliefs about the Bible are more in line with pre-300 AD beliefs of the early Christian fathers.

I was once where you are now, only believing in the Bible. Now I know more. I still have all that I used to believe about the Bible, and I've added plenty to that foundation.

I invite you to investigate to see what you can add to your beliefs about the Bible.

erelis said...

Buckna,

You continue to evade the points I have made by returning to your old chestnuts.

What I find so amusing is that Mormons believe Joseph Smith when he says the Book of Mormon is "the most correct of any book on earth" even though there's no evidence from external sources to corroborate what is claimed within its pages!

Once again, you insist on a premise that to be correct requires external proof. Show me then a shred of evidence proving the atonement and resurrection of Christ, which is the fundamental issue, not whether ancient tablets corroborate the existence of cities mentioned in the Bible.

For example, the Book of Mormon claims lost Israelite tribes voyaged to the New World.

What outside ancient EVIDENCE (not "plausibility" arguments)has shown this to be true?


What's the point? On this thread and others, people have repeatedly pointed you to articles by scholars in their fields that discuss the evidences for the Book of Mormon. You have casually dismissed them all by simply saying that you have browsed FARMS, yet you offer not the slightest hint of having read them, nor have you engaged their arguments. Instead you continue your pattern of cutting and pasting other peoples' arguments. However, I will do what you will not, and actually engage the argument offered.

The comparison to Caesar's Commentarii de Bello Gallico (written in the 1st Century BC - errors in basic facts will quickly kill your source's credibility) is comparing apples to oranges. Caesar's work was highly disseminated from the beginning as a political propaganda tool (just as every political candidate now publishes an autobiography to kick off their campaigns). It is a single work penned by a single author. It quickly found its way into the Roman histories.

Not so for the Bible, penned by numerous authors over centuries in the case of the OT and decades in the case of the NT, and eventually put together in a collective work. That alone makes the comparison unequal. The Bible is a fundamentally more complex series of writings in terms of both its content and its history.

This is shown in the very evidence that your source uses to support the Bible - many manuscripts. While Caesar's history has just a handful of fragments, historians are fairly certain of what the original said because of its extensive quotations by Roman historians of the period. The scarcity of manuscript fragments is not a large concern.

On the other hand, there are many thousands of fragments of Biblical manuscripts and they simply are not harmonious in what they say, contrary to the fundamentalist view. One scholar has stated that there are more variations between textual fragments than there are verses in the NT. That's not encouraging.

Comparisons between the two fail because they are not alike, except in the superficial fact that they are both very, very old.

In my earlier response, I listed a handful of issues that have arisen as a result of textual criticism of the Bible, particularly the New Testament. You completely ignored them to take a predictable and gratuitous swipe at the Book of Mormon. Engage the argument offered rather than referring to the usual checklist of things to dish out to Mormons.

The comparison to great classical works, which we have preserved with scant basis, is again inept. Literary scholars would sell their mothers to get additional manuscripts, but they cannot. We must proceed with what we have, and we do so absolutely aware that the classical works we have may differ from the originals that Aeschylus, Virgil, and their peers penned. There may be variations from the originals, but we do not know what they might be, therefore we accept these works as we have them.

But in the case of the Bible, we do have many textual variants. Even ignoring the persistent problem with the late dates of even the earliest texts, we still face the issue of variations between the texts. What your source suggests should be a plus in affirmation of the Bible is actually a drawback. Scholars have spent entire careers piecing together these texts, arguing over which variants are the most correct, and trying to determine (as best as we can) what the form of the earliest biblical manuscripts was. We still don't know what the earliest texts looked like, and I doubt that we ever will unless a find of early Christian texts on par with the Dead Sea Scrolls is discovered.

In summary, your argument implicitly rests on the assumption that quantity lends weight to your argument. I not only think you have failed to demonstrate that, but that quantity runs against your argument.

If we do not have the original work of Thucydides, that's fine. We just have to live with that. But not having the original texts of the Bible is a bit more problematic when salvation is on the line. That's why God has continued to call men as prophets and continues to bless us with the gift of the Spirit, to help us in discerning truth from error.

David said...

Bookslinger said:

"David, according to Paul (1st Corinthians), women should not speak in church, and need to keep their head/hair covered. Is that standard practice in your church today? If not, who authorized the change, and by what authority did he counterdict Paul's very clear instruction?"

http://www.apologeticspress.org/articles/2694

Female Leadership and the Church
by Dave Miller, Ph.D.

[snip]

Granted, 1 Corinthians chapters eleven and fourteen address a unique situation. After all, spiritual gifts no longer are available to the church (1 Corinthians 13:8-11; see Miller, 2003), and veils, in Western society, no longer represent a cultural symbol of female submission. Nevertheless, both passages demonstrate the clear application of the transcultural principle (female subordination in worship) to a specific cultural circumstance. The underlying submission principle remains intact as an inbuilt constituent element of the created order.
---
"Was there one angel at the empty tomb, or two? The Bible contradicts itself on that point."

It does?

There were three angels--one angel outside the tomb and two angels inside the tomb:

http://www.carm.org/diff/Mark16_5.htm
--------------------------------
"Should the Apocrypha be included in the Bible? Is that part infallible? And who gets to say (who has the authority to say) whether the Apocrypha is infallible or not?"

1) No. 2) No. 3) Who gets to say? Paul said the Jews were entrusted with the oracles of God. They are the ones who understood what inspired scriptures were, and they never accepted the Apocrypha.

The Apocrypha: is it scripture?
http://www.carm.org/catholic/apocrypha.htm
---
"There are several versions (2 main versions) of the Greek texts that differ very slightly. Which one is the infallible one?"

Are you referring to the Greek translation of the Old Testament (the Septuagint)or the Greek texts of the New Testament?

http://www.bible-researcher.com/links03.html

"Which do you believe is the infallible translation (or the "best" translation) the KJV or the NIV?"

I use a variety of Bible translations, plus refer to Strong's exhaustive concordance and various Bible dictionaries, when researching a particular verse of scripture.

See also:

http://www.carm.org/diff/Bible_contradictions.htm
---
http://www.apologeticsindex.org/b08.html
---
http://www.apologeticsindex.org/b08aa.html


David Buckna

David said...

Bookslinger said:

"Joseph was the prophet. Oliver and Gilbert were not."

Do you (and other Mormons) believe Joseph Smith ever prophesied something that did not come to pass? If so, what?


David Buckna

Anonymous said...

no!

Anonymous said...

"I use a variety of Bible translations, plus refer to Strong's exhaustive concordance and various Bible dictionaries, when researching a particular verse of scripture."


So you just pick and choose what you to make up your truth. Sound science to me.

Bookslinger said...

Do you (and other Mormons) believe Joseph Smith ever prophesied something that did not come to pass? If so, what?

David, not only is that tired old accusation, you throwing it out here is a tired old tactic.

Please save it for another thread.

Bookslinger said...

For example, the Book of Mormon claims lost Israelite tribes voyaged to the New World.

No, it doesn't. If you think it does, then you have not read the Book of Mormon, but are merely repeating tired, old and uneducated "anti" accusations.

David, I admire you for expressing faith in Christ, his ancient prophets and apostles, and the Bible.

But you lost points by repeating something that is patently false, and obviously lifted from an anti-mormon playbook.

By the way, if you want to have a good laugh at some Mormons, go check out the outrageous things that some so-called "feminist" Mormon women are saying over at http://www.feministmormonhousewives.org/

God bless ya, my Christian Brother Buckna.

Bookslinger said...

http://www.apologeticspress.org/articles/2694

Female Leadership and the Church
by Dave Miller, Ph.D.

[snip]

Granted, 1 Corinthians chapters eleven and fourteen address a unique situation. After all, spiritual gifts no longer are available to the church (1 Corinthians 13:8-11; see Miller, 2003), and veils, in Western society, no longer represent a cultural symbol of female submission. Nevertheless, both passages demonstrate the clear application of the transcultural principle (female subordination in worship) to a specific cultural circumstance. The underlying submission principle remains intact as an inbuilt constituent element of the created order.


Brother David,

That still doesn't answer the question. Do women SPEAK (ie, give a sermon, or teach sunday school, or participate in sunday school discussions) in YOUR church (meaning YOUR congregation).

Your cut-and-paste quote doesn't address what I asked.

Bookslinger said...

Was there one angel at the empty tomb, or two? The Bible contradicts itself on that point."

It does?

There were three angels--one angel outside the tomb and two angels inside the tomb:


Sorry. None of the gospels say three. One says two, and one says one. Period. Which is right?

Bookslinger said...

Who gets to say? Paul said the Jews were entrusted with the oracles of God. They are the ones who understood what inspired scriptures were, and they never accepted the Apocrypha.

Uh, Brother David, If we listen to the Jews and give them authority over what we consider to be scripture, they'd throw out Jesus and the whole New Testament. Um, actually I think they did throw out Jesus... with much prejudice.

Bookslinger said...

"There are several versions (2 main versions) of the Greek texts that differ very slightly. Which one is the infallible one?"

Are you referring to the Greek translation of the Old Testament (the Septuagint)or the Greek texts of the New Testament?


Sorry that I wasn't clear. I was referring to the two main greek texts of the New Testament.

Bookslinger said...

"Which do you believe is the infallible translation (or the "best" translation) the KJV or the NIV?"

I use a variety of Bible translations, plus refer to Strong's exhaustive concordance and various Bible dictionaries, when researching a particular verse of scripture.


Again, Brother David, that doesn't quite address my question.

If the bible is infallible, specifically if the New Testament is infallible, which of the 2 main Greek New Testament texts is the infallible one? Or, as someone pointed out, there are thousands of NT fragments, and most differ slightly. Which ones (of the fragments) are infallible and which ones are not?

Like you, I also use several translations. I use a parallel bible plus some other translations. In total, I use the KJV, NIV, NLT, NASB, RSV, AMP, the 1960's Jerusalem Bible (I forget the exact year, and I'm too lazy to go upstairs and look.)

But when certain Christians (and God bless them, of course) call the New Testament "infalible", are they referring to any one specific translation, or are they referring to the compilation of translations taken together as a whole to be infallible?

And when we have to refer to several translations of a given verse to get the true meaning, we're admitting that one or more of those translations is fallible for that verse.

So in essence, people like you and me, who use several translations, are implicitly (implying that is) saying that no one modern translation is infallible across all verses. Version "A" must then be infallible for certain verses, but for other verses, Version "B" is infallible.

Then I say this: such an observation then supports the LDS position, that "We believe the Bible to be the word of God as far as it is translated correctly."

And if you use several translations, apparently it would seem that you do to.

Bookslinger said...

Oh, and if it takes several modern translations, taken collectively, to come up with an "infallible" Bible, then we're admitting the KJV was fallible.

In other words, we'd be admitting that people who lived prior to the abundance of modern scholarly translations didn't have access to an infallible Bible.

Oh those poor Christians who lived from 300 AD until the KJV (or the next English translation). They didn't have an infallible Bible to rely on. Were they saved? How can you be saved if you don't believe in an infallible Bible? How can you have any pudding if you don't eat your meat? Or as Jewel said "Who will save your soul, after all the lies that you told?" (I don't direct that to you, Brother David, it just fit into the my flow of consciousness.)

Anonymous said...

"Neanderthals and anatomically modern humans likely did not interbreed, according to a new DNA study."


I can't find that one in my bible can you help me please Buckna?

Bookslinger said...

Does anyone know where I can find references to Joseph Smith's statements that lend credence to the "earth is a recyled planet, used in previous creations" theory?

He was reported to have said something about the Earth being composed of material (fragments?) used in one (or maybe more) previous planets.

This might explain the calculated age of the earth (approx 4 billion years) and the fossil record (millions of years to a billion or so) and how the creation/fall of Adam seems so recent in comparison.

In Genesis 1:1, perhaps God took a prexisting planet (or parts of a planet, or parts of several planets) and "erased" it or "wiped it out" to a certain degree, and started over with a new creation for Adam and Eve and their posterity. In other words, maybe the Lord created (or "organized" as the original Hebrew says) this planet by using recycled materials, and the fossils are carry-overs.

Are Mormons and Jews the only ones who point out that the word translated as "created" in Genesis 1:1 is better translated from Hebrew with the word "organized"?

Do other christian religions besides LDS make a distinction in that word?

David said...

Earlier I wrote:

For example, the Book of Mormon claims lost Israelite tribes voyaged to the New World.

Bookslinger responded:

"No, it doesn't. If you think it does, then you have not read the Book of Mormon, but are merely repeating tired, old and uneducated "anti" accusations."

Huh? For example, what about

1 Nephi, Chapter 18:

http://scriptures.lds.org/en/1_ne/18

22 And it came to pass that I, Nephi, did guide the ship, that we sailed again towards the promised land.
23 And it came to pass that after we had sailed for the space of many days *we did arrive at the promised land; and we went forth upon the land, and did pitch our tents; and we did call it the promised land.
-----------------------------------
If the "promised land" doesn't refer to somewhere in the New World/the Americas, then to what land does it refer?

http://en.fairmormon.org/Book_of_Mormon_geography:New_World

[snip]

1 Nephi takes place in the Old World, but the remainder of the Book of Mormon is located in the "promised land" of the New World, the Americas.
---
David Buckna

gb said...

David,

Did the "lost Israelite tribes" live in the land of Jerusalem around 600 BC?

That is where Lehi and company lived and left around 600 BC to "voyage" to the new world.

Bookslinger said...

Brother David: Lehi and his group were not one or more of the "lost tribes of Israel".

erelis said...

Mr. Buckna,

The issue Bookslinger raised is not whether Nephi and kin journeyed to the New World, but that you called them a "lost tribe of Israel", which they are not.

I don't want to speak for Bookslinger, but the fact that you phrase it this way raises two issues from my perspective:

First, if you want to find answers to your questions, it is important to observe some accuracy in the way you phrase things. This is even more important when your goal is to find a "gotcha" moment. The distinction between a "lost tribe" and a small group of Israelites is important, especially when the subject is evidence of the BOM.

Second, a clear reading of the Book of Mormon never says anything about "lost tribes of Israel" running around the Americas. Nonetheless, it is common among our detractors to set up this strawman as a way of showing the Book of Mormon in an absurd light. The fact that you use it is yet another indication that you are working from a set script of talking points that we have seen over and over again.

Nothing you say is new or original. When confronted with explanations or counterpoints that don't conform with your script, you ignore the discussion to lob out another grenade on a completely unrelated topic. It's getting old. Can you show us what you think instead of relying on the same old chestnuts someone else has handed to you? Are you looking to score theological points by running through the tired old arguments, or can you begin to engage Mormons on their own level by trying to understand the source of their faith?

David said...

erelis said:
"Mr. Buckna,

The issue Bookslinger raised is not whether Nephi and kin journeyed to the New World, but that you called them a "lost tribe of Israel", which they are not."

Then why does LA Times religion reporter William Lobdell write:

http://articles.latimes.com/2006/feb/16/local/me-mormon16

Bedrock of a Faith Is Jolted
By William Lobdell
February 16, 2006 in print edition A-1

From the time he was a child in Peru, the Mormon Church instilled in Jose A. Loayza the conviction that he and millions of other Native Americans were descended from a lost tribe of Israel that reached the New World more than 2,000 years ago.

[snip]
--------------------------------
And wikipedia has it wrong as well? If so, why doesn't a Mormon log in to wikipedia and make the necessary change?

It says:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Book_of_Mormon

[snip]

The following teachings are considered especially important in the Book of Mormon:

Jesus spoke to the Jews in Jerusalem of “other sheep” who would hear his voice,[44] which the Book of Mormon claims meant that the Nephites and other remnants of the lost tribes of Israel throughout the world were to be visited by Jesus after his resurrection.[45]

[snip]
---------------------------------
How would this wikipedia passage read if you were to make it accurate?
----------------------------------
And laying aside the "lost
tribe/tribes" description for the moment, I'd still like to know:

What _outside_ ancient EVIDENCE (not "plausibility" arguments)is there that Nephi and kin journeyed to the New World?


David Buckna

J. said...

David, I get the impression that you simply refuse to read and consider numerous points raised in favor of the Book of Mormon, including extensive evidence supporting the authenticity of Nephi's account of his journey in Arabia toward on his way to the New World. It's a bit like talking to record player that keeps skipping back to the same worn phrase. That's my take when you once again chant: "What _outside_ ancient EVIDENCE (not "plausibility" arguments)is there that Nephi and kin journeyed to the New World?"

David, you need to be a little more specific to help us avoid wasting time here. I think you really mean this: What miraculous outside evidence can you provide that requires no thinking, no study, no interpretation, and certainly no faith, but is so clearcut and so compelling that even the most hardened anti-Mormon will instantly convert, to PROVE that a Jewish man named Nephi set foot in the Americas around 600 BC? And that excludes, of course, any evidence from the Arabian Peninsula and any evidence for the reality of the gold plates and any evidence for the authenticity of the ancient text Nephi wrote and frankly any so-called evidence that you may already have which obviously is not proof enough or else I would have already converted (if I had read it, that is)?"

Thank goodness you're not a Christian minister teaching your congregation to apply such a standard to the Bible or they'd all lose faith. Aren't you saddened by the blindness of mind when people take the same attitude about evidence for the Resurrection of Jesus Christ? We've discussed this before, if you can recall, and found that evidence for plausibility was might fine in your view then - why is it irrelevant now? Aren't you falling into the camp of those who say, "Show me a miracle and then I'll believe"? Or rather, "Show me miraculous proof a and even if you do, I'll explain why it doesn't count and ask for something better?"

erelis said...

Mr Buckna -

Exactly how do you expect me to let the LA Times and Wikipedia define the specifics of my faith??? "Gee, the LA Times says that the Nephites and Lamanites are a lost tribe of Israel, it must be true!"

Good grief. Is that the best you can do?

erelis said...

Mr Buckna -

I should also add that while you continue making mountains of molehills on peripheral issues (sorry, I'm still chuckling at the apparent binding authority Wikipedia has on my beliefs), you are completely ignoring substantive issues contained in many of the 101 prior posts. Can you address any of them head on?

gb said...

David Buckna,

The LA Times and Wikipedia?

Now you've gone and done it.

You have totally destroyed what little credibility you had.

Bookslinger said...

Brother David,

To be even more specific, Lehi and his family, though members of the tribe of Joseph/Mannasah, were never "lost". And they never constituted the whole tribe. They were just a family group, and can't qualify as "a lost tribe of Israel" and definitely not in the plural as in "lost tribes of Israel".

Mormons never claim that one or more of the "lost tribes of Israel" came to the Americas. Neither in the singular nor in the plural.

Instead of being conquered and carried off with the other Josephites (who are normally broken down into two tribes of Mannasah and Ephraim) and the other 8 tribes (10 tribes in total) in the Northern Kingdom of Israel, Lehi and his immediate ancestors were living in the Southern Kingdom of Judah.

And, the conquering of the Northern Kingdom of Israel (by Assyria) happened about 100 years or more prior to the time Lehi left Jerusalem. Lehi was never a part of the group that got "lost". He was related to them by blood, but never associated with them during his lifetime. They were carried off and lost before he was even born.

You also seem to conflate other references in the Book of Mormon to "The Lost Tribes" with the Lehites.

Yes, the Book of Mormon does reference the Lost Tribes of Israel. But a careful reading of the Book of Mormon shows that the phrase "lost tribes of Israel" is other people, and is not referring to Nephites and Lamanites (the descendents of Lehi and his group).

Referring to Lehi's group and his descendents as a "lost tribe of Israel" or "of the lost tribes of Israel" is factually incorrect. And it is generally only used by those who haven't read the Book of Mormon, or at least don't understand what it says in the matter.

If you'll read 1st Nephi and 2nd Nephi carefully, all the way through, you should be able to see what we're talking about.

I'm disappointed too that you used the LA Times and Wikipedia instead of going by what the Book of Mormon actually says. You kind of lost some cred there.

Hey, are you in the midwest by chance? I'm in Indianapolis. If you're nearby, wanna have dinner some time?

erelis said...

Bookslinger,

Your conciliatory thoughts and tone have chastened and humbled me. Thanks.

David said...

erelis said:

"I see nothing in that scripture that requires me to believe in the infallibility of the Bible. All scripture may be inspired of God, but fallible man has a way of screwing things up."

Then does the same principle apply equally to the Book of Mormon--that Joseph Smith, being a member of "fallible man[kind]," would have been inclined to screw up whatever "divine inspiration" he may have theoretically received?
Yes or no?

David Buckna

Anonymous said...

From the title page of the Book of Mormon:

"And now, if there are faults they are the mistakes of men; wherefore, condemn not the things of God, that ye may be found spotless at the judgment-seat of Christ"

The Book of Mormon makes no claims to infallibility. For that matter, neither does the Bible.

Anonymous said...

Ladies and gentlemen, I don't think Mr. Buckna is interested in dialog, just barbs. He's not paying attention to answers because he's not interested in answers. I suggest we are wasting our time in taking him seriously. And David, as you've been told several times, you should just get your own blog.

David said...

anonymous said:

"The Book of Mormon makes no claims to infallibility. For that matter, neither does the Bible."

If the Book of Mormon makes no claims to infallibility, then what basis exists for putting faith in any of Mormonism's doctrinal claims? After all, your eternity is banking on this, is it not? Isn't this an important basic question to settle, the question of
reliability? Secondly, isn't it possible for God to override human
penchant for error in order to produce at least *one* series of writings that, in its original manuscripts, were error-free? Can God do this?

If yes, then aren't there good reasons to take the Bible as God's word, and, if so, take it as prior to and authoritative over the Book of Mormon? Even if we grant, theoretically, that something like
the Book of Mormon could be sent down from God - wouldn't it have to match up with previously
set-down Scripture (the Bible)? And if it does not, then wouldn't that be grounds for rejecting it?

Dave Miller writes in his article:

http://www.apologeticspress.org/articles/1966

[snip]

Paul boldly claimed, “All scripture is given by inspiration of God” (2 Timothy 3:16). The Greek term underlying the word “inspiration” means “God-breathed” (Vincent, 1900, 4:317). Paul was affirming that Scripture, primarily the Old Testament, is the product of the breath of God. God actually breathed out the Scriptures. The Bible is God’s Word—not man’s—though He used man to produce them. Three verses later (4:2), Paul declared, “Therefore...preach the word...” Why? Because it is God’s Word. Just as surely as God’s breath brought the Universe into existence (Psalm 33:6), so the Bible is the result of God’s out-breathing.
....
The unbiased individual can easily see that the Bible claims for itself the status of “inspiration,” having been breathed out by God Himself. That inspiration entailed such superintendence by God that even the words came under His influence. Thus the Bible is “verbally inspired.” This conclusion does not imply that the writers merely took “dictation.” Rather, the Bible indicates that God adapted His inspiring activity to the individual temperament, vocabulary, educational level, and stylistic idiosyncrasies of each writer. The Bible is “infallible” in that it is incapable of deceiving or misleading, and is therefore completely trustworthy and reliable. “Plenary” inspiration means that inspiration extends to all of its parts. Thus the Bible is fully inspired.

[snip]
----------------------------------
Manuscript Support for the Bible's Reliability
http://www.ronrhodes.org/Manuscript.html

David Buckna

gb said...

DB: If the Book of Mormon makes no claims to infallibility, then what basis exists for putting faith in any of Mormonism's doctrinal claims?

GB: Easy, the same Spirit that testifies of the truthfulness of The Book of Mormon, testifies of the truthfulness of the Bible. It is the witness from the Spirit of Truth that "causes" faith.

DB: After all, your eternity is banking on this, is it not?

GB: Ah, Not according to you belief. You believe (if I am not mistaken) that all I have to do it believe in the Jesus of the Bible and I will be saved. Been there, done that, saved (by your definition).

So by being a good Mormon I am also a good Christian (by your definition). Therefore I am covering both bases, so to speak.

DB: Isn't this an important basic question to settle, the question of
reliability?

GB: True that!!! And what can be more reliable that the Holy Spirit of Truth?

DB: Secondly, isn't it possible for God to override human
penchant for error in order to produce at least *one* series of writings that, in its original manuscripts, were error-free? Can God do this?

GB: Why do you think He needs to? Are you saying that God takes away our agency? Does He force all the transcribers and translators of the Bible texts to get it right? Even if they don't want to?

IF so, why are there so many differences withing the current texts? Why are the translation different?

DB: If yes, . . .

GB: But obviously it is no. So what then?

DB: Even if we grant, theoretically, that something like
the Book of Mormon could be sent down from God - wouldn't it have to match up with previously
set-down Scripture (the Bible)?

GB: Yes, but only as the Bible is translated correctly. Which BTW the BOM does. Thank you very much.

DB: And if it does not, . . .

GB But it does, so now what?

gb said...

Actually the Greek word is "theopneustos".

"Theo" meaning God and "pneustos" a variant of the word "pneuma" or spirit (as in 1 Cor 2:11) and it literally means spirited.

The word breathed in John 20:22 is translated from the Greek word "emphusaO" literally meaning 'He-IN-INFLATES'.

If you look at different English versions of the Bible you find;

American Standard Version = "inspired of God"

Darby Translation = "divinely inspired"

Douay-Rheims 1899 American Edition = "inspired of God"

Holman Christian Standard Bible = "inspired by God"

King James Version = "inspiration of God"

New American Standard Bible = "inspired by God"

New Century Version = "inspired by God"

New King James Version = "inspiration of God"

New Living Translation = "inspired by God"

Wycliffe New Testament = "inspired of God"

Contemporary English Version = "God's Word"

21st Century King James Version = "inspiration of God"

Are all of those translations “infallible”?

gb said...

Oh and lest we forget.

New World Translation = "inspired of God"

Anonymous said...

So, I should accept that the Bible is the infallible word of God because the Bible says so?

Even if I were to agree with Dave Miller's premise that it does say so, that's about as circular as reasoning can get to any "unbiased individual".

But Miller's point opens up more questions than it answers. Exactly what scripture is Paul referring to? The Gospels hadn't even been written yet, and the NT would take centuries to become finalized. Did he intend for his own letters to become scripture? Would he consider his writings to be "God-breathed"?

What works should we consider "God-breathed"? Is the Apocrypha "God-breathed"? Why or why not? The Nag Hammadi Texts? What about the Septuagint? The Ethiopian Orthodox Bible? In light of these variations of accepted scriptural canon, how can we know what is "God-breathed" and what is not?

What about those texts in the canon whose authorship is contested even by early Christian scholars, such as Hebrews? What about the Shepherd of Hermas and other texts considered scripture by Early Church Fathers?

Of course, we don't like the messiness that a detailed study of the history of the Bible exposes, not to mention the fact that we don't like having to really parse through the myriad of translation issues, so we sweep all of this under an extra-biblical rug called "infallibility".

Bookslinger said...

Brother David,

Did we satisfactorily answer the "lost tribes of Israel" issue for you?

Anonymous said...

Brother David is just trying to score points with his fellow Christians that he showed 'us here'
Mormons what for!

David said...

Bookslinger said:

"Brother David,

Did we satisfactorily answer the "lost tribes of Israel" issue for you?"

Partly. I would still like to know
a) what change you would make to this entry in wikipedia and b) if anyone here is going to log in and make the change.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Book_of_Mormon

[snip]

The following teachings are considered especially important in the Book of Mormon:

Jesus spoke to the Jews in Jerusalem of “other sheep” who would hear his voice,[44] which the Book of Mormon claims meant that the Nephites and other remnants of the lost tribes of Israel throughout the world were to be visited by Jesus after his resurrection.[45]

---

David Buckna
PS I would also like to know why very few Mormons who post on this blog either post as anonymous, or just use a nickname.

P. Rockwell said...

PS I would also like to know why very few Mormons who post on this blog either post as anonymous, or just use a nickname.

Did you mean to ask why few Mormons here don't use "anonymous" or a nickname?

It's a reflection on our penchant for secrecy and subterfuge. We don't want to be known to the world for what we say and do. Plausible deniability must be maintained. You've no doubt heard how Mormons like secrecy and will lie to others to maintain our secrets? Milk before meat? It's kind of like that.

Worrying about privacy and internet security online is absolutely not a factor in covering up our hearts of darkness!

Love and kisses,

-The Danites

Bookslinger said...

Brother David,

I don't really much care whether Wikipedia gets the technical details of the Book of Mormon correct.

If I were to log in at wikipedia, I might be stepping on someone else's authority in the LDS church who might already be tasked with such oversight.

In other words, I'll let someone "official" from the chuch do it. Perhaps the church's PR/news department. It's not the job of anyone on this blog (that I know of) to tell people at church headquarters what to do.

Besides, I'd bet that the LDS PR department has higher priority issues to deal with.

Back to a previous question I asked, that you might have missed:

What's the status of women speaking in your particular church, in the congregation that you attend? Do they give talks (or sermons) at the main meeting on Sunday? Do they teach any Sunday School classes? Do they teach any non-Sunday Bible classes?

In the LDS church, the answer would be a) yes, b) yes, c) yes.

You pointed me to an article by some other apologist, but I was wondering how it worked in your particular congregation.

David said...

Correction... I meant to type:

I would also like to know why the vast majority of Mormons who post on this blog either post as anonymous, or just use a nickname.


David Buckna

David said...

anonymous said:

"So, I should accept that the Bible is the infallible word of God because the Bible says so?"

Yes.

"But Miller's point opens up more questions than it answers. Exactly what scripture is Paul referring to? The Gospels hadn't even been written yet, and the NT would take centuries to become finalized. Did he intend for his own letters to become scripture? Would he consider his writings to be "God-breathed"?"
===
I guess you didn't read this part from Dave Miller's article:

http://www.apologeticspress.org/articles/1966

[snip]

This same Peter, in 2 Peter 3:15-16, referred to “our beloved brother Paul” as having “written to you.” He then noted: “as also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things, in which are some things hard to understand, which those who are untaught and unstable twist to their own destruction, as they do also the rest of the Scriptures.” Peter made clear three salient points: (1) Paul wrote epistles; (2) those epistles are classified with “the other Scriptures,” which means that Paul’s letters are Scripture every bit as much as the Old Testament and other New Testament writings; and (3) these writings are divinely authoritative, since to twist them is to invite “destruction”—an obvious reference to God’s disfavor and the spiritual/eternal harm that results from disobeying God’s words—not man’s words.....

After Jesus quoted from a psalm and called it “law,” He added, “and the Scripture cannot be broken” (vs. 35). Notice that He was equating “law” with “Scripture”—using the terms as synonyms. When He declared that “law,”or “Scripture,” “cannot be broken,” He was making the point that it is impossible for Scripture to be annulled, for its authority to be denied, or its truth to be withstood. Jesus considered every part of Scripture, even its most casual phrases, to be the authoritative Word of God.
---
anonymous said:
"What works should we consider "God-breathed"? Is the Apocrypha "God-breathed"? Why or why not?"

I answered that question in an earlier comment.

anonymous wrote:

"The Nag Hammadi Texts? What about the Septuagint? The Ethiopian Orthodox Bible? In light of these variations of accepted scriptural canon, how can we know what is "God-breathed" and what is not?"

See:

Manuscript Support for the Bible's Reliability
http://www.ronrhodes.org/Manuscript.html


anonymous said:
"What about those texts in the canon whose authorship is contested even by early Christian scholars, such as Hebrews? What about the Shepherd of Hermas and other texts considered scripture by Early Church Fathers?"

See:

http://www.carm.org/bible.htm


David Buckna

Maedoc said...

"I would also like to know why the vast majority of Mormons who post on this blog either post as anonymous, or just use a nickname."

I think the vast majority of people all over the internet post with anonymous monikers, and there is no reason to try to connect it with Mormons in general.

Honestly, what does it matter if we write our name or not? No matter what name I write, you would never know if it is my actual name. For distinction purposes, nicknames seem to work just fine. =)

Anonymous said...

Thank you for taking the time to respond to my questions regarding the basis of scripture. However, I disagree with the answers you have given.

"So, I should accept that the Bible is the infallible word of God because the Bible says so?"

Yes.


But why? It's classical circular reasoning. And why can't I make the same claim about the Book of Mormon (or for that matter, the Koran or the Vedas)? And why do you demand external evidence to prove that the Book of Mormon is true, but don't hold the Bible to the same evidentiary standard?

This same Peter, in 2 Peter 3:15-16, referred to “our beloved brother Paul” as having “written to you.” He then noted: “as also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things, in which are some things hard to understand, which those who are untaught and unstable twist to their own destruction, as they do also the rest of the Scriptures.” Peter made clear three salient points: (1) Paul wrote epistles;

Undeniably so.

(2) those epistles are classified with “the other Scriptures,” which means that Paul’s letters are Scripture every bit as much as the Old Testament and other New Testament writings; and

That's not so clear cut. The author of 2 Peter (more on that below) obviously considers the epistles to be scripture. That's not the same as Paul believing the same. Moreover, Miller is flat out wrong to state that the author considered the Paul's epistles to be scripture to the same degree as "other New Testament writings" for the obvious reason that there was no such thing as the NT when 2 Peter was written.

(3) these writings are divinely authoritative, since to twist them is to invite “destruction”—an obvious reference to God’s disfavor and the spiritual/eternal harm that results from disobeying God’s words—not man’s words.....

But again, why are these writings divinely authoritative? Miller goes off on the punishments for twisting authoritative scripture, but my underlying question is why consider this scripture in the first place? Miller seemingly uses the "fact" that it is scripture as evidence that it is scripture that we should be concerned about. Circular!

There's also a circular reasoning problem that arises because of the authorship of 2 Peter. Scholar's overwhelmingly believe that 2 Peter is pseudonymous, or written by someone else under the name of Peter. One of the evidences for this is in the very scripture cited above - it references the Pauline Epistles, but scholars are convinced that the 2 Paul was written after 67 AD, when Peter was executed. That leaves us with the circular situation of affirming a work as scripture because another scripture (of uncertain origin) calls it scripture.

Anonymous said...

anonymous said:
"What works should we consider "God-breathed"? Is the Apocrypha "God-breathed"? Why or why not?"

I answered that question in an earlier comment.


No, you didn't explain WHY you don't consider it scripture.

"The Nag Hammadi Texts? What about the Septuagint? The Ethiopian Orthodox Bible? In light of these variations of accepted scriptural canon, how can we know what is "God-breathed" and what is not?"

See:

Manuscript Support for the Bible's Reliability
http://www.ronrhodes.org/Manuscript.html


That article goes into a vanilla explanation for why we should trust the reliability of the Bible as we have it. It does not discuss texts excluded entirely by the Bible (Nag Hammadi texts, considered scripture by many early Christians), nor does it discuss versions of the Biblical canon containing texts that aren't found in the Western Christian canon (Septuagint/Ethiopian bibles). How should we treat these additional texts, especially the latter? They may not be in your Bible, but they're in someone else's.

anonymous said:
"What about those texts in the canon whose authorship is contested even by early Christian scholars, such as Hebrews? What about the Shepherd of Hermas and other texts considered scripture by Early Church Fathers?"

See:

http://www.carm.org/bible.htm


CARM dismisses texts such as the Shepherd of Hermas as scripture because they were never included in the Bible. Well, of course not. Early Christians who accepted the text as scripture didn't have the Bible. Circular reasoning. You can debate about why it was not included in the Bible, but consider how you would explain to a 3rd century Christian that it is not scripture.

CARM had no articles that I could see regarding suspected pseudonymous works such as Hebrews, and why we should treat them as scripture when their authorship is questioned.

gb said...

"So, I should accept that the Bible is the infallible word of God because the Bible says so?"

The problem I have with that question (although by asking it you expose a very important point) is that it is assuming that the Bible declares itself to be infallible. Could someone point out chapter and verse that where this declaration is located.

Anonymous said...

The problem I have with that question (although by asking it you expose a very important point) is that it is assuming that the Bible declares itself to be infallible. Could someone point out chapter and verse that where this declaration is located.

That thought crossed my mind and I absolutely concede the point, but to sound awfully snobby, I'm bored by the answers to that question that I've see in the past and will likely receive in the future. I'd like to ignore that problem with inerrancy and focus on the circular reasoning aspect.

gb said...

Anonymous 2:40 PM,

I was actually expecting David to provide the chapter and verse, because he seems to be the only one here who really thinks that the Bible claims itself to be "infallible".

Cheers!!

gb,

aka, vincent, matt the rug rag, van gohts, gunlock bill, fred, ralph, anatoly, fitzwater and macky.

Bookslinger said...

Brother David,

Why do you trust Dave Miller, Ron Rhodes and the other Christian apologists you've quoted?

Isn't relying on them for answers in matters that deal with salvation sort of like having faith on them?

Do you have a spiritual witness of the correctness of Mr. Miller and Mr. Rhodes along the lines of how Mormons claim to have a spiritual witness about the prophetic calling of Joseph Smith?

Or are you using human reasoning (men's wisdom) in deciding who to believe for your understanding of the harder Bible verses.

Do people who belong to most Christian denominations have faith in Miller's and Rhodes' answers? How do we know their answers/explanations are authoritative? Are their answers binding on all Christians? And if so, why?

Anonymous said...

What church or religion does Buckna follow? The church of the internet? It is hard to tell what point he is trying to make other than to show how the bible is incorrect.

Bookslinger said...

I think that over the years, most converts to the LDS church in the United States have come from other churches.

They may not be "active" in those other churches at the point in time when they investigate the LDS church. But those other churches had previously given them the background about God, the Bible, Adam and Eve, Moses, prophets, prayer, Jesus, the Atonement, the Resurrection, etc., and laid a foundation upon which the LDS missionaries can build.

Think how much harder, or how much more time and teaching it takes for missionaries to start with someone who has no Christian background whatsoever, and has no concept of the Judeo-Christan God, no Jesus, no Atonement, no resurrection, no prayer. That's a lot of ground to cover, that we normally take for granted when we talk with or teach most people in the US.

Even atheists and agnostics pick up much of those concepts and biblical history through just cultural contact with people who do believe in those concepts. That's not to say that the atheists and agnostics believe it, but just that they have a general understanding of what most Christians do believe.

I can say that participation in other churches taught me some basics so that when I met the LDS missionaries, I already knew how to use prayer to test what they were saying. I already had a mental framework of God/creation/Jesus/Atonement/resurrection in which to "fit" their teachings.

In other words, there is plenty of overlap between non-LDS christians and LDS beliefs.

We should tout that overlap out of diplomacy and brotherly kindness. But also to help people consider and investigate those additional things that the restored gospel offers that go above and beyond "standard" or commonly accepted or "mainstream" Christendom.

We need to remind ourselves that not only Brother Buckna is a potential investigator, but also the myriad other people who are reading and lurking, but not commenting.