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

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Those Implausible Plates: With Apologies, I'm Giving In

Aug. 16 update: A more complete version of this post, with some additional finds and information, is now on my main website at http://www.jefflindsay.com/bme25.shtml, where it is one of several short and dry essays, "Book of Mormon Nuggets," supporting my Book of Mormon Evidences page.


“If you don’t respond to my list of objections within 30 days, I will assume that you have no answer and will tell everyone that you implicitly agree – and that you are a Mormon liar.” I get these kind of barbs occasionally from our critics. I see this as spiritual spam whose purpose is to waste my time and trick me into falling for some trap – especially the trap of thinking that somebody really cares about my response. Delete. Move on. That’s my normal procedure for dealing with these uncivil spamsters.

Last month I received one of these with a slightly different and more ominous flavor. Sent by a noted critic of other Christians, it began with the normal pleasantries: a list of arguments and quotes, an accusation that I was a liar and/or stupid, and a demand that I respond within 30 days or be exposed for what I am. But this was more than just spiritual spam – there was also an ominous threat involving someone else, making this more of a ransom note from a spiritual terrorist than just another immature and hostile spammer. That message came in a follow-up note sent a few minutes after the first: “I've shared my emails to you with an exiting Mormon woman to show her that you can't and won't refute my charges. She'll be checking your web site in a month, too. Presumably she'll use this in helping her Mormon friends see the light, as well.” Ah, so now, if I failed to comply with the demands in the ransom note and turn over many hours of my time as a ransom payment, one or more souls will perish – spiritual decapitations, if you will. Or perhaps a sentence of years of hard labor in spiritual captivity. This was ugly, and I struggled with what to do.

“You don’t negotiate with terrorists. You never give in to their demands. If you do, it will just encourage them and make things worse.” That’s so easy to say, and it makes a lot of sense – until someone you care about is the one being held hostage. I don’t know who the “exiting Mormon and her friends” are that Mr. S. has taken into captivity, but my heart goes out to them. I want them to know I care. I want them to know that sometimes there are answers to questions, and that sometimes the arguments they are fed may be distortions or otherwise unfair. If I knew where they were being held, perhaps I’d get some of my Marine friends to rush in and rescue them with a helpful home teaching visit. But all I can personally do is choose to respond to the random note or ignore it. Forgive me, fellow LDS defenders, if I am only making things worse, but I am buckling on this one. Giving in. Paying the ransom demanded, and hoping that the captive souls might find a way to escape and come back.

What follows is the first message from our noble Christian critic, with the full name replaced by “Mr S.” After reading my LDSFAQ web page, "My Turn: Infrequently Asked Questions for Critics of LDS Religion," Mr. S. was infuriated that I would say that the idea of ancient Americans keeping a sacred record on metal plates was a ridiculous concept in 1830 when the Book of Mormon came out. Of course, there were scholars who knew that some ancient peoples had written on metal of various kinds, and there were educated people who knew that there were great civilizations in the ancient Americas that including written records. I did not say that nobody could have known that the ancient inhabitants of Mesoamerica kept written records, nor did I say that nobody knew of ancient writing on metal. My statement about the golden plates being "too funny for words" in 1830 was a reference to the response he received. Mr. S. misunderstands that. Sorry if I wasn't precise enough, but I hope this post will clear things up. So let's begin with his gentle note:
Dear Mr. Lindsay,

You state:
When the Book of Mormon was published in 1830, the idea of ancient people in this continent keeping a written record was hilarious, and the idea of them or anybody else writing on metal plates was simply bizarre - "too funny for words," as Hugh Nibley puts it. It was ridiculed many times, and still is by some critics. http://www.jefflindsay.com/myturn.shtml
This is hilarious! But not for the reasons you state. You can cite all of the Mormon "apologists" you like (Paul Cheesman made this idiotic and insupportable claim for years), but someday you're just going to have to look at sources written BEFORE the Book of Mormon was published. When you do, you'll find that--

Jahn's BIBLICAL ARCHAEOLOGY published in English in 1823 (Andover, MA) states that "Those books [of the ancient Jews], which were inscribed on tablets of wood, lead, brass, or ivory, were connected together by rings at the back . . ."

Now you know: a scholarly work on archaeology before 1830 claimed the Jews wrote on metal plates AND bound them with rings at the back. Curiously, Joseph Smith knew about this book--he mentions it in the TIMES AND SEASONS (Sept. 1, 1842) to vindicate the Book of Mormon. Tellingly, Joseph (as editor) leaves out the fact that that Jahn's book was published seven years prior to the Book of Mormon. (In case the terms confuse you, the T & S points out that "Tablets, tables, and plates are all of the same import . . .")

In ANTIQUITIES OF THE JEWS (Philadelphia, 1823) William Brown, D. D. wrote "It is generally thought that engraving on brass and lead, and on rock or tablets of stone, was the form in which the public laws were written . . ."

Did you catch that? "IT IS GENERALLY THOUGHT." How could it be "Too funny for words" if it was something "generally thought" by antiquarians in 1823?

In AN INTRODUCTION TO THE STUDY OF BIBLIOGRAPHY (Vol. I, London, 1814), Thomas Hartwell Horne devotes pages 33 - 35 to lead and brass as writing materials of the ancients.

And let's not forget the Apocrypha and Bible. I Macabees 8:22 mentions an epistle written on "tables of brass." The Bible states that "ancient writings were inscribed on gold (Exodus 28:36; 39:30)." That last quote is from p. 48 of Paul Chessman's ANCIENT WRITING ON METAL PLATES. Curiously, he too claims Joseph couldn't have known about ancient writing on metal plates.

Here's an UNSUBSTANTIATED claim from the THE NATURAL AND ABORIGINAL HISTORY OF TENNESSEE (1823) by Judge John Haywood:

“two or three plates of brass, with characters inscribed upon them resembling letters” found in West Virginia, and a circular piece of brass with letter-like characters found in North Carolina (328-30).
Haywood later concludes "since we can trace this art into Egypt prior to the exodus . . . there seems to be incontrovertible evidence that the inscriptions in America were made by people of the Old world." (372)

Who were these people who thought in 1830 that the ancients writing on metal plates was "too funny for words"? It wasn't Jahn or Brown or Horne or Haywood or ANYONE familiar with the Bible and the Apocrypha (which all Bibles included at that time--even Joseph's).

As to your ridiculous notion that the idea in 1830 that any ancient Americans kept a written record was considered "hilarious" let's look at a book about American archaeology published ten years before the Book of Mormon called ARCHAEOLOGIA AMERICANA published by the American Antiquarian Society--which is still in existence in Worcester, MA.

In it, Baron von Humboldt quotes Montezuma as saying to Cortez: "We know from our books . . . that myself, and those who inhabit this country, are not natives, but strangers, who came a great distance." Where did Montezuma of the Aztecs get this information? From BOOKS written by earlier Aztecs.

Humboldt didn't find that hilarious. Or Cortez. Or Montezuma. Or the American Antiquarian Society. Can you tell me who did?

I'll close with a quote from Joseph Smith's hometown newspaper the WAYNE SENTINAL of June 1, 1827 (printed on the same press as the Book of Mormon)--nothing indicates the editor found this article, "Decyphering Hieroglyphics," hilarious: The article claimed a Professor Seyffarth of Leipzig had found:

“. . . a Mexican manuscript in hieroglyphics, from which he infers that the Mexicans and the Egyptians had intercourse with each other from the remotest antiquity, and that they had the same system of mythology.”

(Hmm. Ancient American Indian writing based on Egyptian. Could this be where Joseph got the idea for reformed Egyptian, reading the local newspaper?)

I suspect you knew much of the above already. If so, you're just another Mormon liar. If not, then, like Hugh Nibley, you don't do very thorough research--you just repeat other Mormons without bothering to check. However, I'll keep an eye on your web site. If your hilarious (and pathetic) claims remains up a month from now, I'll know it's the former.

Oh, I'd appreciate your citing instances that the idea that the ancients wrote on metal plates or that ancient Americans had a writing system "was ridiculed many times, and still is by some critics." I don't want citations that ridicule Joseph Smith's claims regarding the book of Mormon--that's not what you said. I want to see just one writer ridiculing these ideas UNRELATED to Joseph Smith. You see, one can scoff at Joseph's claims of a golden book and Nephite authors and still accept the ancient Hebrews wrote on metal plates and that ancient Americans had a writing system. I'd especially be interested in any modern scholars who doubt Jahn and Humboldt.

Very sincerely,
"Mr. S." (full name withheld)

Mr. S. makes some valid points. There were people before 1830 who had seen Mesoamerica and knew that they had writing. However, this was definitely not generally known in Joseph’s environment before about 1842, when members of the Church saw the impressive and widely publicized work of John Lloyd Stephens, Incidents of Travel in Central America, Chiapas and Yucatan (New York, 1841, which had been published in Europe in 1839). This book was, for most of the English-speaking world, their first real exposure to the startling nature of ancient Mesoamerican civilization. Church members were excited by this new evidence, supporting previously ridiculed notions that now made sense. The Saints' newspaper, the Times and Seasons, published long excerpts from the book. An 1848 editorial comment exults about the significance of Stephens’ work:
Stephens’s late discoveries in Central America of Egyptian hieroglyphics, great numbers of which he has given in his drawings, and published in his able book of that curious region, and the still later discovery of many thousands of mummies in the caverns of Mexico, similar to those of Ancient Egypt, are evidences so pointed, that Ancient America must have been peopled from the highly civilized nations of Asia, that the learned are at last convinced of the fact. The unlearned, however, have got the start of the learned in this instance, for they found it out about nineteen years ago through the medium of the Book of Mormon. The Latter-Day Saints Millennial Star. Volume X, p. 343.
Apostle Orson Pratt, writing later in 1849, responded to a criticism of his excitement over the work of Stephens. A anonymous merchant pointed out that Humboldt and others had written of similar things long before. Pratt, like LDS apologists today, recognized that there was prior knowledge in this area: “Now no one will dispute the fact that the existence of antique remains in different parts of America was known long before Mr. Smith was born. But every well-informed person knows that the most of the discoveries made by Catherwood and Stephens were original – that the most of the forty-four cities described by [Stephens] had not been described by previous travelers.” “Reply to a Pamphlet Printed in Glasgow, Entitled, “Remarks on Mormonism,” part 3. Millennial Star, Vol. 11, No. 8, 15 April 1849, pp. 115-116. There is no evidence that Joseph Smith had seen von Humboldt's writings or Ethan Smith’s work, View of the Hebrews, that cited some of von Humboldt, and if he did and were fabricating his text, he clearly failed to take advantage of the numerous details that could have been used to strengthen the case for plausibility (see my note, “The Book of Mormon and the Writings of Alexander von Humboldt”). For the typical American, it was Stephens, not Humboldt or others before 1830, who opened up the vision of Mesoamerica as a place where great ancient civilizations once existed. Stephens' biographer gave us an important insight into the impact of Stephens’ work:
The acceptance of an "Indian civilization" demanded, to an American living in 1839 [when the first edition of Stephens appeared in England], an entire reorientation, for to him, an Indian was one of those barbaric, tepee dwellers against whom wars were constantly waged.... Nor did one ever think of calling the other [e.g., Mesoamerican] indigenous inhabitants of the continent "civilized." In the universally accepted opinion [of that day], they were like their North American counterparts -- savages." (Victor Wolfgang Von Hagen, Maya Explorer: The Life of John Lloyd Stephens, Norman, Oklahoma: University of Oklahoma Press, 1948, p. 75, as cited by John L. Sorenson, "How Could Joseph Smith Write So Accurately about Ancient American Civilization?")
As Mr. S. observes, there also were people who had written about some of the ancients writing on metal. But this knowledge, had by some scholars, was not widely known by any means and is very unlikely to have been known by Joseph Smith or his associates. There is no evidence, for example, that Joseph Smith had access to the Jahn’s book, which does not appear to have been available in the nearby Manchester Library. Do we have any critics in the 1830s pointing to von Humboldt or Jahn as sources that Joseph must have used to add plausibility to props in his story? Do we find them noting that ancient writing of scripture on metal plates per se was a plausible notion Smith had derived from earlier sources? No, we find them guffawing at every turn. From what I’ve seen, among the many reactions of early critics to the story of gold plates, we find shock, dismay, outrage, sarcasm, righteous indignation, scorn, mocking, and related rejections. What I have not seen is the least acknowledgment of plausibility in the external physical trappings of the Book of Mormon story. For example. we do not find learned critics admitting that ancient peoples in the New World could have written sacred texts on metal plates and buried their record in stone boxes as Joseph described, particularly if they had ties to the Old World where such practices were well known. We do not find critics dismissing Joseph’s story as an obvious build on established knowledge about ancient writing on metal plates.

Again, what Mr. S. fails to recognize is that neither I nor Nibley are arguing that nobody knew about ancient writing on metal. Neither do we argue that Joseph Smith could not possibly have known that writing on metal was known in the ancient world. We argue that this was not common knowledge, and that the basic concepts were rejected and ridiculed, along with everything about the Book of Mormon – a book that has become less ridiculous with time. Remember, Stephens’ biographer wrote that prior to publication of Stephens’ work in 1839 cause “an entire reorientation” in the minds of Americans, who viewed the native inhabitants of the continent as mere savages.

After 1839, as educated people became more aware of the extensive civilization of ancient Mesoamerica, there was still little recognition outside the Church that such findings might shed favorable light on the Book of Mormon. Critics still condemned it as utterly implausible. An intriguing exception in the reaction of journalists outside the Church to the Book of Mormon comes from The New Yorker, edited by Horace Greeley. On Dec. 12, 1840, there was an article in which a writer under the name of Josephine, believed to be the daughter of General Charles Sanford, a New York lawyer and military figure (according to Donald Q. Cannon, “In the Press: Early Newspaper Reports on the Initial Publication of the Book of Mormon,” Journal of Book of Mormon Studies, Vol. 16, No. 1, 2007, pp. 4-15, see footnote 51). This was later reprinted in the Iowa Territorial Gazette, Feb. 3, 1841. After a fair-minded description of the Book of Mormon, Josephine refers to recent discoveries about Mesoamerica, apparently referencing the work of Stephens:
If on comparison it appears that these characters are similar to those recently discovered on those ruins in Central America, which have attracted so much attention lately, and which are decidedly of Egyptian architecture, it will make a very strong point for Smith. It will tend to prove that the plates are genuine, even if it does not establish the truth of his inspiration, or the fidelity of his translation. . . .
Josephine and The New Yorker do not seem to be aware that knowledge of ancient hieroglyphic-like writing in ancient Mesoamerican civilizations was common knowledge before publication of the Book of Mormon, and seem to view the knowledge brought by Stephens’ works as something that is novel.

If the stout criticism of Mr. S. adequately describes the basic knowledge readily accessible to young Joseph Smith about Mesoamerica and the record keeping practices of the ancients, we might expect an educated Josephine to have written about the obvious plagiarism of prior sources.

As for the idea of ancient Hebrews writing on metal plates, critics now insist that there were plenty of sources that Joseph could have drawn upon for the idea. While a mention of “tables” or tablets” of metal need not conjure up the notion of a book on thin metal leaves, there certainly are references in the Bible and elsewhere to words recorded on metal. However, this seems to have done little to reduce the general hostility to the notion of a record like the Book of Mormon, which still seems to have been “too funny for words,” in spite of the various sources cited by Mr. S. Do we find early critics recognizing the relevance of those sources and thereby finding an attempt by Smith to conjure up an air of plausibility in the alleged physical record itself? I would appreciate any citations for such, but I have found none. In searching for early critical reactions to the gold plates, using Google Books, I found nothing that would allow for any degree of plausibility in the account. Most critics guffaw and speak of blasphemy and spiritual error, but a few do address the props themselves.

The learned Reverend M. T. Lamb in “The Golden Bible, or, The Book of Mormon: Is It From God?” (New York: Ward and Drummond, 1887), p. 11, comes to this forceful conclusion:
But after a very careful study of the book, a conscientious and painstaking examination of all the evidence he has been able to gather both for and against it, the author of these pages has been forced to reject every one of the above claims. He is compelled to believe that no such people as are described in the Book of Mormon ever lived upon this continent; that no such records were ever engraved upon golden plates, or any other plates, in the early ages; that no such men as Mormon or Moroni or any other of the prophets or kings or wise men mentioned in the book, ever existed in this country; that Jesus Christ never appeared upon this continent in person, or had a people here before its discovery by Columbus. In short, that no such civilization, Christian or otherwise, as is described in the Book of Mormon had an existence upon either North or South America.
No such records were ever engraved upon plates of gold or other metals. He doesn’t seem to be hinting that the basic idea of records on metal plates was well known and plausible, albeit a pious fraud in Joseph’s case. No, the very concept of such props is absolutely rejected – almost as if it were too funny for words.

Stuart Martin, writing in 1920, says that no one pointed out to young Joseph that gold would corrode if left buried so long, ridiculing the concept of preserving a text on buried gold plates. (Mystery of Mormonism, printed by Kessinger Publishing, 2003, p. 27).

In 1857, the critic John Hyde, Jr. specifically argued that the idea of ancient Hebrews writing on metal plates was implausible. In Mormonism: Its Leaders and Designs (New York: W.P. Fetridge, 1857, pp. 217-218), we read this:
The plates. We must remember that it is a Hebrew youth, who “has lived at Jerusalem all his days,” until he leaves for “the wilderness.” . . . The writing materials then in use, and it was only very few who could use them, would be those such a youth would be familiar with. Now the Jews did not use plates of brass at that time. Their writing materials were
1. Tablets smeared with wax.
2. Linen rubbed with a kind of gum.
3. Tanned leather and vellum.
4. Parchment (invented by Attalus of Pergamos).
5. Papyrus. (M. Sturat, O. Test. Can.)

All the writings of the Jews long anterior and subsequent to Zedekiah were in rolls. (Isa., xxxiv. 4; Jer. xxxvi. 25; Ezek., iii 9, 10l Ps. xl. 7; Zech. v. 1, etc., etc.) These rolls were chiefly parchment and papyrus. . . . The use of this material superseded the stones filled with lead (Job), Hesiods leaden tables, Solon’s wooden planks, the wax tables, so clumsy and easily erased. This material rolled up could be bound with flax and sealed. . . . The Jews used this material. The Egyptians, whose language Nephi gives his father, used this material. Contradiction and inconsistency are stamped on any other assertion. This is another strong proof of imposture.
Jabs about the plates continue:
The genealogies were kept by public registrars and were written in Hebrew on rolls of papyrus and parchment, not on plates, nor in the Egyptian language. They were very extensive, embracing all members of the family, and were sacredly preserved. . . . This mass of names, embracing from Joseph, son of Jacob, down to Lehi, even though they had been, as pretended, engraved on brass plates, would have formed an immense volume and a great weight. (p. 219)

To have told one of those old Levites, specifically punctilious and even superstitious, that some one had copied their law in the language of the Egyptians (idolaters and enemies) in the first place, and had it durably engraved on brass, when they were handling so delicately these papyrus rolls, would have called it an infamous imposture. Every wise man will imitate the skepticism of that Levite. (p. 220)

All this vast mass of matter, it is pretended, was on these singular brass plates: the Pentateuch, history, prophecies, and of course the Psalms, for was not David a prophet? Add to all this the genealogies of their families ever since Abraham! One man could never have carried it all. (p. 221-222)
Michael Ash also cites LaRoy Sunderland'a pamphlet, Mormonism Exposed and Refuted (Piercy & Reed Printers, New York, 1838), for these two quotes:
The book of Mormon purports to have been originally engraved on brass plates.... How could brass be written on? (p. 44)

This book speaks... of the Jewish Scriptures, having been kept by Jews on plates of brass, six hundred years before Christ. The Jews never kept any of their records on plates of brass. (p. 46)
As for the general claim that LDS apologists have been claiming that no one could have known of ancient writing on metal plates in Joseph Smith’s day, see "An Apologist for the Critics: Brent Lee Metcalfe's Assumptions and Methodologies - A Review of 'Apologetic and Critical Assumptions about Book of Mormon Historicity' by Brent Lee Metcalfe" by William J. Hamblin, FARMS Review of Books, Volume 6, Issue 1, 1994, pp. 434-523. In the section, “The Question of Negative Proof,” Hamblin takes Metcalfe to task for stating, as Mr. S. does, that “Apologists have asserted that Smith and contemporaries could not have known that some ancient peoples engraved on metallic plates.” This is a distortion of what Nibley and many others have stated, and Hamblin provides their quotes to illustrate that. Cheesman could have been more clear and precise, certainly, but the righteous indignation of Mr. S. may not be fully justified.

So where do we stand? We Latter-day Saints need to be more clear, perhaps, that there was information about ancient writing on metal that Joseph Smith could have known about. And it's theoretically possible he could have been on the cutting edge of knowledge about Mesoamerica before he encountered Stephens' work. But in spite of the diverse tidbits of knowledge in various arcane sources before 1830, there is still no dispute that Joseph's story of ancient gold plates was ridiculed and most certainly WAS NOT recognized as having any hint of plausibility. The props as well as the story were dismissed as outrageous. Several references above, found by searching through Google Books with some important leads from Hamblin's article, "An Apologist for the Critics: Brent Lee Metcalfe's Assumptions and Methodologies," provide evidence of learned people dismissing the idea of ancient Hebrews or others having kept such records. (Update: Michael Ash has some of the same finds and additional useful sources in his article, "Metal Plates & Stone Boxes.")

I hope that Mr. S. will gratefully receive this little ransom payment and release his captives, or at least give them a fair-minded retraction of some of the hostile claims he has been feeding them. If not, I hope that some he has influenced might see this and recognize that there might be another side to the stories they have heard.

84 comments:

Morgan Deane said...

Great post. The tactics sounded very familiar. And I would add that if you tell them you know they are being terrorists or kidnappers, they will huff and puff and claim that its all your fault for being thin skinned or for causing it. Or that the thousands of Christians that die from angry mobs disallow you from citing their hatred.

I also liked how you pointed out the fact that critics like to have it both ways. 1830 critics call it was wild made up nonsense that could have never happened, while 2009 critics say it was so obvious that he just plagarized it.

Thanks for posting. Hopefully they won't take any more hostages.

Eric Nielson said...

Very well done.

I doubt this will do anything for Mr. S., but it may be useful to someone else. Thanks for piecing this together.

Ben said...

Good work, Jeff!

Steve Smoot said...

It seems obvious that Mr. S is cribbing his arguments from Brent Metcafle, since Metcalfe cited those exact same references in his critique of the Book of Mormon in Dialogue in the mid 90's.

However, as Hamblin pointed out in his response, the issue is more than just whether or not people had this knowledge prior to 1830. Besides Metcalfe's mangling of some of those sources, Hamblin also pointed out that there must be evidence that Joseph Smith himself was familiar with those sources. In order for this to happen, we must have a young and unlettered Joseph stealing off into the night to read these books secretly, not allowing anyone to know he is doing such, memorizing these sources and coming back to synthesize them into the Book of Mormon.

Hence, we have what Hamblin called the "Idiot-Savant Theory" for Joseph Smith. To wit: Joseph Smith is smart enough and so well read that he is cribbing from obscure biblical commentaries and books on ancient history (both Near Eastern and Mesoamerican) to get things like plates of metal and chiasmus right, but he is so dumb that he blows it with things like steel and horses.

Good times. Speculation is fun, but not overly productive.

bwebster said...

When I see some of these citations of obscure works and findings that Joseph Smith could have allegedly had access to, read, understood, and drawn from, I'm reminded of a quip made by either Kent Brown or Wilford Griggs when I was a BYU undergrad some 30+ years ago. Whichever it was said that he had long wanted to write a paper called, "Joseph Smith in the British Museum: The Lost Years".

Bookslinger said...

The end result of Mr. S's efforts is to show that the Book of Mormon's "meta-story" is very plausible after all.

Even today, most people don't know that there is much evidence accepted by non-LDS archealogists that the ancients used to write on metal plates, that Hebrews used to write some things in Egyptian, that there is a New World/Old World connection, etc.

I find manipulators such as Mr. S very distasteful. Their threats, "if you don't do such-and-such, then I'll..." are either juvenile or wicked.

But in the end, it is as Brigham Young said: "Every time you kick ‘Mormonism’ you kick it upstairs; you never kick it downstairs. The Lord Almighty so orders it." (Discourses of Brigham Young, sel. John A. Widtsoe, Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1941, p. 351.)

In a way, I feel sorry for Mr. S. The anguish of soul he's going to have (either at some point in the spirit world, or at the final judgement day) when he realizes that what he railed about and threatened about was all true, is going to crush him.

Mormography said...

It appears Mr. S does not prioritize his points of disagreement very well.

If a Scientologist Apologist stated, "When Dianetics was first written it was ridiculed. However, today there are many that believe it has psychological benefits." My response would be a big SO WHAT. Such a statement would be way at the bottom of my points of issue.

Mormography said...

Mormons often paint Joseph Smith as an illiterate, average intelligence, farm boy. This, despite the fact he was reading the bible all by himself at young age, paid Jewish professor Joshua Seixas to educate himself and the faithful, gave lectures to the school of the prophets, was about to attempt translation of the Kinderhook plates via natural means, etc. What surprising discovery was made this year? Joseph Smith attended High School and took a science class from McLellin?

ksl link

Before people start biting back, I am not claiming he was a know it all Einstein, but that there is sufficient evidence to argue he was as smart as Mormanity and Romney and somewhat read.

ricke said...

Good work, as always. Thanks, Jeff.

Anonymous said...

Mormography, Joseph Smith was illiterate (having little or no education) when he translated the Book of Mormon. You are the only one I have heard to claim that he had average intelligence.

quandmeme said...

I notice the restraint with which you wrote that. I would have been tempted to address ways to evaluate whether this whole line of dicussion really proves much. I think I would have been irresistably drawn to point out the _general_ tactics skeptics use to attack claims and show how Mr. S trips himself with them. Yes, a very focused piece. I guess if anyone is serious about those points they have your whole corpus to turn to.

On my behalf then, I will throw my 2 bits to your antagonist: I am not swayed by the centuries' attack on the historiosity of the Bible either. I have supernatural witness of God's loving dealings with his children throughout sacred records; if you believe the Bible, I suspect you do too.

Papa D said...

Excellent post, Jeff - not that it will do a bit of good to those who don't care a but about it.

Steve Smoot said...

Mormography -

The only problem is that all of that happened AFTER the publication of the Book of Mormon.

This is boy who, according to his mother, hadn't read the Bible before the translation and was the least inclined towards books amongst the Smith family. This is boy who, according to his wife, didn't know Jerusalem had walls. And yet this same young man knew the complexities of the ancient Near Eastern and Mesoamerican worlds, was clever enough to include authentic Hebrew and Egyptian names in his record, was smart enough to include countless Hebraisms in the text, and was intelligent enough to know pre-Islamic Arabian geography well enough to have the details in the Book of Mormon be confirmed by modern archaeological excavations.

That is one impressive 25 year old farm boy.

With Indignation said...

You are so tied in to believing, that you can not see the wood for the trees.

I personally have no problem with you believing the way that you do and I have never taken part in any of your 'anti' perceived propaganda as a 'typical regular Christian'.

However until you understand the possibility that your great translater was open enough to be duped and deceived by the evil realms of that 'angel of light' - satan and his motley bunch. He did not have to be intelligent. He did not need any pre-knowledge of history or geography. He just needed to be a human tool and follow as instructed. Don't you think that satan knows everything that you name as 'evidences' ?

You claim to be the witness for the gospel of Jesus Christ, but doesn't satan also believe that too yet he still remains unconverted and named as evil?

I think that more tolerance and understanding of Christianity is needed on your part before throwing the baby out with the bathwater. Not all Christians fit your moulded 'anti' stereotype.

www.spamlds.org said...

Brother Lindsay,

Great job. Just keep in mind, the reason they attack you and hold the spiritual "hostages" is that you're so effective in refuting them.

Don't feel bad when you can't respond to all the questions, because they'll never stop. They don't care about the answers. All of us are in God's hand. He'll take care of all of us according to his own wisdom. He'll help those who want help and leave those who fight against Zion to their own devices.

Keep on doing the Lord's work!

Zera Pulsipher said...

@With Indignation

I think you need to read more of Jeff's/Mormanity's work he in no way teaches or believes that even the majority of Christians outside our faith believe the way the person who wrote this email does. Not only that but he doesn't even lump all critics of the church into the "Anti-Mormon)category. This post was addressed to a specific person for specific reason, so there is no need for your indignation.

As for your other points you ask some good questions could He have been misled by an angel of the devil?

Obviously he could have been so how do you tell without assuming he was. The bible tells us multiple ways to judge. One is simply by their fruits ye shall know them so you look at his fruits are they good? Did they uplift and lead others to Christ?

Most who would view this question unbiased whether they believe or not would have to answer in the affirmative. The second way to tell is if it leads someone closer to Christ it is good if not it is of the Devil.

So I'll ask you to perform this test for yourself, read the Book of Mormon and see if it brings you closer to Christ if you do that you will surely know for yourself one way or the other.

Clean Cut said...

Excellent post. Thanks for putting in the time.

Mormography said...

Steve Smoot,

If you will notice I was not referring to the Book of Mormon, but the general picture painted of Joseph Smith and his intellectual capacity. Your rebuttal is what is known as a straw man argument.

However, your straw man runs into problems immediately. One of the items I listed did indeed happen before the dictation of the Book of Mormon. The LDS Church claims Joseph Smith was reading what?, the bible?, when he read James 1:5 and subsequently had the first vision sometime before the Book of Mormon. You cannot have it both ways. Either he was illiterate or he was literate enough to read the Bible well enough to have certain verses strike him as profound.
Most critics would not disagree with your assessment that Joseph Smith was impressive. However, most critics do not claim that he was so impressive that what he did was implausible.

I am such a novice on Hebrew, Egyptian, Near Eastern, or Mesoamerican worlds to even known what it is you are referring to. I am not aware of experts in these areas indicating that the Book of Mormon is what it purports to be. I am sure there are plenty of websites that address the items you appear to referencing. For example, Chiasmus is dealt with here

In general what you are doing is known as eisegesis linked here

I have addressed some of your arguments before, here.

Steve Smoot said...

Mormography -

A few thoughts.

"The LDS Church claims Joseph Smith was reading what?, the bible?, when he read James 1:5 and subsequently had the first vision sometime before the Book of Mormon."

I should have qualified my statements, as Lucy Mack Smith indicates that he had not as of yet read the entire Bible, as it seemed to me you were insinuating. If you weren't then I stand corrected.

However, I am still wondering how simply being able to read the Bible is somehow indicative of one's ability to produce a book like the Book of Mormon. I read the Bible, but I couldn't dream of pulling off what Joseph Smith did in my wildest fantasies.

"Either he was illiterate or he was literate enough to read the Bible well enough to have certain verses strike him as profound."

I am not claiming that he was illiterate, but that just being able to read the Bible isn't nearly enough to prove that Joseph Smith was the intellectual giant you are trying to paint him as. Further, does one have to be educated to think things from the Bible are profound? I certainly don't think so.

However, it is refreshing to see critics moving away from "Joe Smith the ignoramus" in the words of Abner Cole to Joseph Smith the super scholar. Professor Smith keeps getting smarter and smarter every year.

"I am not aware of experts in these areas indicating that the Book of Mormon is what it purports to be."

Then you need to quickly familiarize yourself with the pertinent literature. Start by glancing at the works of the Neal A. Maxwell Institute for Religious Scholarship, most notably the Journal of Book of Mormon Studies, the FARMS Review and the various publications on the subject in the form of books and lectures. As you will quickly discover, the authors of these works published by the Maxwell Institute are, for the most part, highly qualified experts in the fields of Ancient Near Eastern and Mesoamerican studies.

" I am sure there are plenty of websites that address the items you appear to referencing. For example, Chiasmus is dealt with here"

Yes, I am familiar with these sources. However I am also familiar with the rejoinders to these criticisms. Take, for example, the response to Sandra Tanner by Boyd F. Edwards and W. Farrell Edwards in BYU Studies 43/2 (2004): "Does Chiasmus Appear in the
Book of Mormon by Chance?"

Thus, it is not simply enough to say that so-and-so has "dealt" with such-and-such and think that that solves the problem. It is one thing to "deal" or "address" a subject or controversy and an entirely different thing to effectively rebut or refute said subject or controversy. While pointing out a response, review, critique, etc. is important for furthering the discussion, such an item in and of itself proves nothing. The individual arguments therein must be assessed and weighed with the evidence and facts.

Thaddeus said...

Isn't it ironic that Mr. S quotes extensively from sources used to corroborate the use of metal plates as a legitimate record-keeping method while brother Lindsay's quotes are mostly from critics of Mormons? Just funny, I guess.

I want to know if the hostages made it out alive!

Captive of the Antis said...

Help! I'm a hostage of Mr. S. He's been reading Fawn Brodie to me. Feels like I'm on a bad drug trip. Now he's reading Sandra Tanner - and he does WEIRD things with his voice and eyebrows every time she has something underlined or in bold. AARGH - now a whole sentence has both!!

Thanks goodness I listened to Boyd K. Packer and memorized a lot of hymns to play in my mind. That's all that gets me through this. Help!

Mormography said...

Steve Smoot,

The straw men are tiring me. I never claimed simply being able to read the bible was indicative to produce Book of Mormon. What I did do was point out that there is sufficient evidence to indicate that J.S. was smart and somewhat read. You and I may not be able to pull off something like the Book of Mormon, but the world is full of people that can. I have never personally met anyone that can sing like Whitney Houston, but I know there are plenty of people that can.

As far as, “Thus, it is not simply enough to say that so-and-so has "dealt" with such-and-such and think that that solves the problem.” Right back at you. You are the one bring up Hebrew names and the like as if there is no debate and controversy on the issue.

Thanks for the article. Try providing a link next time it took me a while to get it and all I got was an html version. I have perused and will delve into when I have some time to waste. As far as can tell a bunch of P = box box proves the author right.

I cut and paste here something I explained to Mormanity a while ago: linked here
“I can say that the whole word prints in the BoM issue reeks of the Bible Code debates. My own informal survey of bible code documentaries suggests that most statisticians do not believe there are codes hidden in the bible. I have not found a single Mormon that believes in them despite the fact there are peer reviewed/published statistical studies indicating there are codes hidden in the bible.”

I will look into some of the Mormon Apologist sites you have listed in the future. The only one I am familiar with is FARMS and from what I have seen I am not impressed. It would be more interesting if you had listed some independent experts, (but I suppose you will say that is impossible). In the social sciences there is some much noise you can find expert to say anything you want. The question in the social sciences is what does the body of the science say.
You have ignored the points that I made here, so they must have been good points.

Timothy Berman said...

Was it not some time ago that the Critics (and some still do) claim there could not exist any language known as "Reformed Egyptian", but now in a new attack against Joseph Smith and the Book of Mormon authenticity, they are now substantiating that there is such a known language?

It sounds like the critics are the ones that want it both ways.

Anonymous said...

I wonder if Mr. S is Aaron Shafovaloff.

Mormanity said...

No, he's not Aaron. First name begins with a consonant, if anything.

Mormography, try to stay on topic. Don't expect people to see and respond to comments you make in 2009 to a 2005 post. Some comments trickle in, but the fact that the world isn't rushing to search for your comments on ancient posts hardly means that Steve Smoot or anyone else must agree. That's the classic "silence = consent" fallacy that makes some antis so unpleasant, in case you didn't read what I wrote in this post.

And Mr. Indignation, my goodness! Yes, I've considered such possibilities and found them simply crazy. Read the Book of Mormon and you'll find the world's most Christ-centric document that brings people to God through faith in Christ. Yeah, I know, some folks tell us that believing in Jesus - the very key to salvation - just doesn't count for Mormons because somehow it's a different Jesus. Why? Because we might miss some of their trick questions about the metaphysical nature of the Godhead on the great theology and philosophy quiz that they think yo have to ace to make it into heaven. "Ha - you got the consubstantiality question wrong - eternal flames for you, Mr. Lindsay!" But that's so hard to take seriously, and so contrary to the real Jesus of the Bible - and the Book of Mormon.

It is the same Jesus, the same God, the same truths, affirmed and taught in both books as two independent witnesses to bring man unto Christ.

You might as well speculate that the Gospel of John is a Satanic trap while Mark is from God. If you've read both, you'll recognize that there are some differences and questions, but they support each other and have the same purpose.

The Book of Mormon is a powerful witness of Christ. After nearly two centuries of the wise and educated folk of the world mocking us for believing such a baseless and Satanic fable, now that evidence is steadily coming forth to show that it just may be plausible after all, you're going to switch gears and say that this just proves it's from Satan after all? Once again, looks like we're damned, no matter what we do. Somehow I get the feeling that your test is rigged. Beware, for with what judgment ye judge . . .

With Indignation said...

I have read some of the BOM and TBH, I did not 'feel' anything and it left me empty and disappointed that the literature was nothing more than a roughshod attempt at diversity tactics away from those wonderful words found in the Bible.

Fictitious authors or real authors? The gods of the middle American civilisations that are well known to be based on the elements of nature, sun, moon fertility etc. The Bible highlights the identity for the prince of this earth in John 12:31, John 14:30, John 16:11. He is the one behind the luciferian teachings of pantheism, gnosticism, and all of the other ism's that exist in the world today and ultimately accept him knowingly or unwittingly and their foundational leader and sole acceptance of their following and ‘worship’ systems.

Not one of them is based on any foundational Christian truth based solely on love. They all lead to oppression and death.

Why else would the angel have told JS that if he showed these magical plates to anyone that he would die? Did God keep any secret previously from His people? Were not the stone tablets displayed in full view of the whole of the congregation of Israel twice at Mount Sinai after being written by the finger of God? Wasn't the Ark of the Covenant marched at the head of the camp once they were mobile in their travels?

The actions of this angel and the spurious declarations of subsequent 'witnesses, plus the need to look for 'evidences' to support such well woven fables, undoubtedly leads me to question unreservedly why God would work differently with the BOM than He did with any of the examples found in the OT or the NT. Answer God wouldn’t, but a great deceiver would!

The BOM is based on history and facts which are unfounded and many as yet undiscovered and are likely to remain undiscovered because they are total fiction. In truth maybe there will be some truths that may be found, yet this is how the devil works, mixing truth with error.

The only time that mankind has been told by God to hold back certain information is when the timing is not right and could cause more harm than good due to lack of understanding. But death was not a threat if this advice went unheeded! Mostly these requests were due to prophecies in visions given or when Jesus was transfigured and humanity met in the locality of the Godhead. So warnings were given to protect and predict future events, so as not to disturb the present or to be out of context with the past.

With Indignation said...

The BOM really delves into the past and relies on belief more than fact. The Bible alone contains way more proven facts and is far more reliable an account for belief, faith and witness. Check out the Hittite nation. Ridiculed for years in secular circles as a Biblical fable. Then what happens – the ruins of this great civilisation are found. Yet another fact on which to base faith.

So your claim to ‘Read the Book of Mormon and you'll find the world's most Christ-centric document that brings people to God through faith in Christ. falls on deaf ears, because I have experienced it, found it to be empty and devoid of Truth when comparing it to the solid foundational Truths gleaned from the Bible. In correction to your statement, Read the Bible and you'll find the world's most Jesus Christ centred document that brings people to God through faith in Christ.. That is why it is still the world’s best seller!

Consubstantiality? Seeing as I didn’t think that any of my comments were judgments, only personal observations, I will gladly leave this whole judgment question in the hands of my Saviour Jesus Christ. No damnation, no eternal flames from me Mr. Lindsay – I don’t understand that just because I disagree with you why you think I would want you to be damned? On the contrary! But Jesus alone is the one who saves. Not by any understanding of the metaphysical nature of the Godhead! ‘By their fruits …’ is not the only measure by which Truth can be determined. Obedience to God through Jesus Christ, Biblical teachings, prayer, fasting and acceptance of the Holy Spirit can also help and these too are also not limiting factors. God works in many ways, far more than your or I will ever know – but through secret plates and questionable civilisations in the Americas that claim to have met with Jesus – that really is out there with the rest of science - fiction (not the UFO / star trek type either, but evolution and origin of the species). It seems strange to me how the origin of species and the BOM came about in very close proximity, timewise, and on totally different continents but yet have caused the same diversions away from Biblical truth!

Anonymous said...

Man, both sides of this pointless discussion are nuts!

Who cares if Joseph Smith wrote the Book of Mormon? It's a book that's as much nonsense as the Bible is.

Evangelical Christians and Mormons fight like cats and dogs but in the end they are two sides of the same crazy, nutty religious coin.

Instead of wasting your lives arguing about which version of god is correct, might I suggest that you learn to enjoy good craft beer?

Stephen said...

Whichever it was said that he had long wanted to write a paper called, "Joseph Smith in the British Museum: The Lost Years".

I've also wanted to do "Joseph Smith, travel with the pre-Hassidim" and some other papers as well ;)

Zera Pulsipher said...

Jeff I apologize for giving mister indignation any time or effort, i thought they were just and individual who mistook your post I see now that I was wrong. Moments like these remind me why I leave the apologetics to others.

@Mister Indignation
If you don't want to be lumped in with "anti-mormons" try not being one it might help your credibility (the keyword here is might).

It's so funny how you put the Book of Mormon down yet again avoid the key question can and will it lead people to Christ. What's funny is one of my friends has a problem with the Book of Mormon as he thinks it sounds too much like the Bible (his Mom left the church because of adultery and is now the very definition of anti). Yet even he had to admit that it does bring him closer to Christ.

It's a sad state of affairs when people try to deny something the teaches and preaches the words of the savior and expounds the Gospel message so thoroughly.

I just want to warn you now on behalf of the Lord Jesus Christ that you are fighting against his kingdom.

It's just seems counterproductive to do so if you are truly a Christian like you claim. Ahh well by their fruits ye shall know them.

Joseph brought forth good fruit this cannot be denied you can say he brought forth evil fruit as well, but then there is the sticky buisiness of what is evil and what isn't, and why it is or isn't. In the long run though he led people to Christ and improved many lives thus good fruit.

The Book of Mormon brings forth good fruit to those who remotely try to appreciate it. And it's teachings if lived do the same whether you live them because they are in the book or not again good fruit.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (the organization mind you not necessarily all the people in it) brings for good fruit.

All of these not only bring forth Good Fruit but have the stated and effectual purpose of leading people to Christ, this means that according to the very Bible you venerate, our (LDS) beliefs and teachings aren't of the devil and indeed come from God, our Heavenly Father. Yet you fight it, yes very counter productive indeed.

RichD said...

Hi Indignation,

found it to be empty and devoid of Truth when comparing it to the solid foundational Truths gleaned from the Bible.

Is there a chance you could be specific in giving an example of this claim? That is compairing truths from the Book of Mormon to the Bible and and showing the Bof M to be devoid of truth.

RichD said...

It's ironic that I am in this very same discussion in another blog about the bible having such solid evidence and the Book of Mormon not having a shred of evidence. This was a great post Jeff

Bookslinger said...

Where are the original copies of the books and letters of the Bible?

All we got are copies of copies of copies, etc, and not all are consistent with each other. Sheesh. Which to believe?

Looks to me like the God of the Bible has hidden the original Bible just as completely as the original golden plates are hidden. In both cases, we have to take the words of fallible humans that what we have today is an accurate copy and translation of the original.

And what about the chain of custody of the documents? How do know for sure things weren't changed around? I want names, dates, and places.

And why should we trust the nameless biblical copyists of antiquity any more than those 11 Mormon dudes who _say_ they saw the "golden plates"?

And which version of New Testament Christianity should we believe? 1st and 2nd century version where the Father and Son have separate physical bodies, or the 4th century version where Father, Son and Holy Spirit are sort of an all-in-one we-don't-really-know kind of entity with three different manifestations?

What church today doesn't let women speak in church? 1 Cor 14:34. THAT'S a church I want to see!

And, Mr. Indignant, I don't really like your definition of "faith based on fact." Because it sounds like you need archealogists as the foundation for your faith.

So do your church's missionaries and sunday school teachers teach archealogy first, as a foundation for faith?

Imagine this: Three pairs of missionaries go to an African (Indian, Chinese, whatever) village that has never had Christian missionaries before. One pair of missionaris is Catholic, one pair is Evangelical, and one pair is Mormon.

How are the villagers supposed to know which missionaries are "right", or which ones to follow? How do the villagers tell which ones are telling the truth? Or the most truth or the "best" truth, however you want to define it.

How was the gospel preached in 36 A.D.? How were Jews and pagans taught and ministered to in 40 AD? Science? History? Archealogy? What scientific or archealogical "facts" were taught first as a basis for faith?

As for me and my house, "gimme that ol' time religion", circa 1st Century AD. Well, without that part about feeding Christians to the lions, etc.

Bookslinger said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Bookslinger said...

"...might I suggest that you learn to enjoy good craft beer?"

Been there, done that, currently repenting. A dark sweet Bock that a friend brewed was my favorite.

But I get your point... arguing over religion is enough to drive one to drink.

I keep my distance from various forms of potent potables, just to be safe. But generally, it's not a big temptation for me.

Now gourmet coffee, that's a big temptation. I've gone into a Starbuck's occasionally when it was the only option for buying a newspaper, or getting a juice drink. Or to the coffee bar at a bookstore, or Einstein Brothers Bagels, to get something to nosh on. And, I have to admit, I've lusted in my heart for the drink made from that South American bean.

Juan Valdez, get thee behind me! And your donkey, too!

GB said...

It is rather obvious that Mormography is suffering from Mormanity envy.

Jealousy doesn't look good on you.

Georgia said...

Reading enough comments makes me want to post as well : )

First off I don't decide who goes to heaven and who doesn't and I don't feel that JS makes that decision as well.

Will mormons and non-mormons be in heaven and more specifically the 'same level' of heaven? If they love Jesus and follow him then I say yes. I had to put the wording 'same level' because mormons love to talk about degrees of heaven and how people can be higher than others.

Can their be falsehoods on all sides? Yes. Bookslinger makes a good point about what version of the New Testament is the right version and I have concerns about Hebrews and Paul giving various accounts of his vision in Acts. Am I concerned about Polygamy and how JS convinced these women to marry him and the promises of their rewards and more importantly their families awards? Yes. Reading daires of his plural wives is concerning.

In the end Christians (yes mormons are christians and I know that will drive some people crazy) need to make the best decisions possible and love Jesus. Don't focus on a prophet no matter how great or terrible you think he was.

Thanks,
A former mormon that found too many issues to stay a TBM.

Mormography said...

Mormanity,

There you go again, yet another straw man. I never claimed “silence = consent”. What I DID imply is that Steve Smoot rushed to address some of my points, but did not rush to address some of the others. The implication is that those points where not low hanging fruits for him – they must have been stronger points.

My original comment was very on topic. Was JS smart and read enough to have been aware ancient peoples wrote on metal? I argue the plausibility is high. It is Steve Smoot who took it on a tangent. He had embarked on a SIMILAR line of reasoning before which I had previous addressed, so instead of rehashing I just linked to. Your failure to ask Steve Smoot to stay on topic indicates your willingness to apply a double standard, which, so as to stay on topic here, I will provide further demonstrations of later. If you were allowed to call only one of us out for not staying on topic, he should have been the one.

Mormography said...

It is rather obvious that GB is threatened by Mormography.

Fear does not look good on you.

Anonymous said...

I have limited experience with anti's, who wear away their lives trying to get Mormons away from their beliefs. I recall a woman emailing my 15-year-old daughter with a list of 20 questions proving that Mormonism was false. My daughter and I discussed them, and wrote a response that dealt with most of the issues.

The woman wrote back, ignoring our answers, but giving us 20 new questions. Hmmmm. It was time to drop the false relationship, as it was obvious she was interested in diatribe, not dialogue.

And Georgia, you write with such reasonableness, yet you cannot seem to fathom how relegating us believers to an acronym--TBM--is utterly condescending and insulting. The antithesis of reasonableness.

Mark Steele

daveja vu said...

I tend to find anti's almost invariably toxic and unpleasant people. I have no problem with people who respectfully disagree with my faith, but I do have issues with those who actively try to turn me (or others) away from what has sustained my family & I for many years, or insult me & my faith because I won't listen to their crackpot rantings. If not downright diabolical and wicked, such people are miserably misguided, and I won't waste my time lowering myself to the level of someone that can't show even a modicum of respect for others that think different from them.

Mormanity said...

Daveja vu: I tend to find anti's almost invariably toxic and unpleasant people.

I might agree IF you define antis as critics who consistently use toxic and unpleasant tactics. But there are plenty of critics with honest disagreements that don't merit such a label. They can be opposed, even strongly so, and still be tolerant, respectful, and perhaps even kind - even Christian.

Bookslinger said...

Anonymous @ 1:47 AM, August 14, 2009:

Although Georgia borrowed the "TBM" term, she didn't use it in the derrogatory manner in which the bitter ex-member antis use it. The tone of her comment was rather nice, and I'd say _very_ nice for an ex-member.

I know what you're talking about, because I've read some of the RFM board where they use the term in a derrogatory condescending manner.

Please cut her some slack on that, and judge the comment as a whole, and not just on the use of the word.

Even though I haven't been re-baptized yet, I would proudly wear the TBM label. I "totally believe", and I'm there every Sunday I'm able to be.

If you want to rag, rag on Mormography for his deceptive tactics.

John Jackson said...

Thanks, Mr. S, for the information you bring on the topic. As you are only "Mr. S," I know nothing more about you, but find your email respectful enough. You present a good case for the use of such plates being known to some scholars.

Thanks to Jeff, also, for making a great case for many people (notably those who mock the book) not believing writings would be kept in such a fashion.

We are left with this: Whether Joseph Smith knew ancient records could be kept in such a manner is speculation -- and, whether he didn't know it is also speculation.

But it is not speculation that plates -- including plates of gold -- were, indeed, used to inscribe writings on. So, the Book of Mormon got that right.

This is hardly enough to prove the Book of Mormon, but the evidence remaining in the pan when you've sifted out the speculation does favor those who believe in the book.

daveja vu said...

Just to clarify: When I speak of "anti's" I'm referring to those that mock and insult us, and actively try to pry people away from the Church, or turn people against it. That in no way includes people who honestly but respectfully disagree. I've noticed there are a handful of commentators here that actively express their disagreements, but in a respectful, questioning manner. People like that I have no problem with and can actually engage in constructive discussion where both sides may learn something. I only wish that more would follow that example.

Georgia said...

Bookslinger is right, I certainly don't mean any offense by TBM. So if it offends anyone then I am sorry. I felt I was a TBM at one time myself.

I encourage everyone to recognize the difference between an anti and a 'former Mormon that has specific issues.'

Of course many make that distinction and I thankyou for that.

In my opinion jeff shouldn't have replied to this anti but he had to do what he felt was right. Just like I feel I have to provide my opinion when I disagree on a certain mormon topic. I would love to have some quality conversations on topics that I have never or rarely seen on this site or jeff other site.

Mormanity said...

Georgia, no offense was taken here. I took your comment as a very kind and thoughtful expression - really appreciated it.

Patrick said...

Arguing History

In February 2006 I got excited about participating in religious discussion on the internet. Up to that point I had never posted comments on the internet. I was interested in participating in discussions with others not of my faith. I thought I would be participating in mature discussion of comparison and constrast of Christian faith. What I found instead was apologetics. Let's say I was naive.

I found apologetics to be a partisan activity that was more interested in determining a winner and a loser. Sometimes the winner was determined by the fact that more people were shouting "Yeah for my team." then were shouting for the other team. Apologetics had little to do with discussing Christ.

Can apologetics be used to get at the heart of the matter? Can arguing history really drill down to the truth? If the answer to that question is yes, then why is the historicity of Christ still a major point of contention for non Christians. If we can't come to an overwhelming consensus about Christ what's the use in arguing history. Will arguing history really settle the question between Christian and non-Christian?

Patrick said...

Arguing History Continued:

We're two groups talking past each other. For the believing Christian the heart of the matter is the doctrine. The positive influence of this doctrine is what matters. The believer has moved beyond the history. The believer says that the doctrine is correct because it gives his life meaning, and he sees beauty in the belief. Because the doctrine is correct he knows Christ is his Savior. Because he knows Christ is his Savior he believes the history of the Bible. As a matter of fact, for the majority of Christians the examining of history was never a part of the arrival at faith.

To the non Christian this process appears to be circular reasoning. Why? The belief can't be confirmed external to the believer. To the non-Christian the Christians statements of faith appear to be nothing more than a statement of preference. The statement, "I like brunettes because they're prettier." has as much weight as "I believe in Christ because he's the Savior."

What makes the Christian statement of faith more than a simple preference is the principle of spiritual witness.

"...Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven." Matt. 16:17

The Apostles knew Jesus was the Son of God, not because they were staring him in the face, but because God told them in their hearts that he was.

Emphasizing even more the importance of spiritual witness is 1 Corinthians 12:3 "...no man can say that Jesus is Lord, but by the Holy Ghost."

The Christian statement of faith is more than a preference because the Christian made his conclusions based on a process external to him. God, a being external to the believer, told him what is true!

History is a foundation of sand. If your testimony of Christ is heavily dependant on history then watch out when the rains come. Don't tell me the history of Christ is settled. To do so is to ignore the continuing debate between beleiving and non-beleiving academics.

History has always been a point of contention. Even while Christ was on earth there were those who allowed there understanding of history to keep them from accepting him as their Savior. In John 7:37-43 we learn that an incorrect history being told at the time kept people from believing in Christ's divinity. The incorrect history taught that Christ was from Galilee and therefore he could not be the Messiah because ancient scripture taught that the Messiah will come from Bethlehem. "History" caused a "division among the people" (v. 43). People wouldn't believe in Christ because he wasn't from the right town.

Among Christians a testimony based on anything other than spiritual witness is ripe for the taking.

So now you want to argue the historicity of Joseph Smith. Be careful! Don’t risk not accepting the Book of Mormon, this additional witness of Christ, just because your history tells you Joseph Smith is from the wrong town. When it comes to spiritual investigation you should rely principally on the principle of spiritual witness. Apologetics is entertaining but it’s no way to gain a testimony.

Patrick

Georgia said...

Patrick raises a quality point.

The presence of the spirit and the 'small quiet voice' that says if mormonism is right should trump any evidence for or against.

If Mormonism is true I hope the holy spirit will tell me on day. For those of you with the quick response of 'pray and read the book of Mormon... I've done that.

Until the spirit convinces me otherwise I will have specific objections to Mormonism.

Anonymous said...

Bookslinger,

There you go again. Slinging around accusations such as deceptive tactics, without any explaination or prove. To have any credibility you need to explain.

Bookslinger said...

I've already explained on other threads.

I think Mormography would have a teensy bit more credibility if he (you) would just stick with one handle and eschew the anonymous comments.

Mormography said...

Bookslinger,

As far as I can tell I was logged in when I posted. If you known how to update a post that was wrongfully posted as anonymous please let me know.

Please link to the supposed threads where you explain. I having a hard time finding them.

Mike said...

And so it would seem that our inquisitor, Mr. S, is taking the benefit of his superior access to resources of historical documents for granted - as though people at the time period under scrutiny had an internet upon which they could gleefully surf - searching for a way to hobble together a string of facts into a verbal cannon with which to roar upon unsuspecting website visitors. Thank you for marshaling your troops together under a more reasonable flag.

Glenn Thigpen said...

I would like to add my own very well done to Jeff's blog. I hope that it does not turn out to be an exercise in futility. I doubt vry much that anyone's mindset was altered by the points that Jeff made. I am already a believer in the Book of Mormon. It would require a "slam dunk", i.e. proof positive that there is no God (and you cannot prove a negative can you) to cause me to disbelieve in the Book of Mormon. The evidence against it is more of an attempt to prove a negative or arguments over semantics (what is a sword, steel, river etc.) than any type of actual evidence. From what I have seen during the course of more years than I wish to admit to, has been one of forth coming evidence mostly being more favorable to the Book of Mormon story than against it. The Valley of Lemuel/Nahom/Bountiful trio is just one of those more favorable series of discoveries.
Such does not faze the critics. Their minds are already made up for the most aprt and they are not willing, for the most part, to accept the implications of the newer discoveries.
Of course, the critics will accuse the believers of refusing to accept the mountain of evidence against the book of Mormon.
Has anyone ever done a scientific calculation of the odds against or for Joseph Smith, or any other person of his day being able to produce the Book of Mormon?
But even that would not change anything. The human mind just does not do very well with astronomical figures. What does one in a billion mean to you? Nothing really. You know logically that it is not very good odds. Yet, people play the lottery every day. A few win, but the majority go home poorer for having played.

Glenn

Mormography said...

Glenn,

Your same line or reasoning can be applied to any number of other situations. There are several examples that it is possible to do what JS did without being inspired, (Nostradamus, Ellen White/Jehova Witness, etc). The most prominent example would be Mohammed and the Quran. Neither Mohammed nor the Quran are considered to be/have been divinely inspired by the LDS Church. Therefore, you are ultimately right in that it is by faith alone that anyone believes in any religion.

'Those implausible plates' where taken away by an angel. Why? So that people would live by faith. It has been my experience Mormons struggle to understand this. Mormons often say they know their religion is the one true church. You cannot have it both ways. Either you live by faith or a sure knowledge, but not both. The plates were taken away so that people would live by faith, yet here are Mormons upsetting this faith requirement by finding evidence and proof of the Book of Mormon. It would seem to me in order to facilitate God’s faith requirements Mormons should be discouraging apologetics and encouraging the critics.

Glenn Thigpen said...

Mormography,
I disagree that the writings of Nostradamus, Ellen White, or the Qu'ran are comparable to the Book of Mormon. Please think this through carefully and I think that you will see my point there.
I do not think anyone should use the availability of empirical evidence as a means bolstering faith. If that was my bedrock, it would have been broken in bits long ago as some of the Morman Urban Legends I had been taught by my parents have been exploded.
If a spiritual truth is not discerned by spiritual means, it is destined sooner or later to be doubted based only on the basis of physical phenomena.
I believe in the Book of Mormon and the LDS Church, not because of what any man has told me, but what I have learned through the Spirit. There are those who may denigrate such experiences, but they are not me and have not gone through the things that I have.
That is not to say that I do not enjoy the coming forth of new discoveries about the church and of the Book of Mormon especially. But that is not on which I place my trust.

Glenn

jayleenb said...

"If you want to rag, rag on Mormography for his deceptive tactics."

Bookslinger - You got it. I find so many of the true antis always willing to pose as 'innocents with questions' and very shortly their fangs come out.

I also find it HIGHLY ironic...

Lars said...

re: Bookslinger, 11:57 AM, August 13

Off-topic I suppose, but in point of fact when I was a missionary in Brazil, I spoke with members of some smaller Christian sects that indeed do not let women speak in church. They also greet each other "with a holy kiss" (1 Corinthians 16:20, among others) and disallow women to cut their hair (certain translations of 1 Corinthians 11:6).

Mind you, I'm not trying to denigrate them in any way, they're trying to be Christians the best way they know how, and they are certainly very thorough about it. In any case, it only supports your point further.

Bookslinger said...

Lars, thanks for that tidbit. I was also wondering if the Amish or Menonites followed the no-women-can-speak-at-church rule.

Mormography said...

Jayleenb,

I am having difficulty determining if this aimed at me or not and if you are concurring with Bookslinger’s assessment of deceptive tactics on my part. I don’t believe I have ever posed as an ‘innocent with questions’.

Bookslinger has yet to demonstrate how I have resorted to deceptive tactics. Merely hurling an accusation does not make it true. Ironically, falsely accusing someone of being deceptive is itself a form of deception.

The Misanthropic Mormon said...

It's not so much what the thing was written on, rather the implausibility of finding a complete ancient record that no one else has heard of. In one's own backyard, no less. Written in a language no one else knows. Taken away at some point so now scholars only have the English translation to work with. Just requires too big a leap of faith for me.

And discussing religion isn't a waste of time; it can be thoughtful and educative and interesting. Especially if one has no taste for beer, as a previous poster suggested as an alternative.

The Misanthropic Mormon said...

Oops. I sincerely apologize for going off-topic. I'm new to the world of web discussion and realize my comment has little bearing on the topic on hand.

Darion Alexander said...

Shooooooweee, man is there a great deal of debate on this topic. Someone in here did mention that the Bible had a ton of facts and the Book of Mormon didn't, etc. etc. I think somebody else mentioned that an angel showed Joseph Smith the gold plates and took them away and that's just...well...VERY convenient.
Could someone please show me the way to the Garden of Eden please....or the Burning Bush that Moses talked to. Better yet, can someone please show me one of the twelve stones...that Christ touched with His finger to keep light inside the vessels of the Jaredites. Heck show me one of the vessels too and while you're at it can I get some brimstone from the place where Soddom and Gomorrah were destroyed. Anyone....anyone...okay let's just go for the gumbo here....will the real Jesus Christ please stand up....please stand up?? No...hmmm...very convenient.
There are too many things, stories, etc within both sets of Scripture that can be...well...very inconvenient to the reader who wasn't there and yet, we take the stories for their word because they are "Scripture", I mean have you seen a talking donkey before? But it really comes down to faith and testing that faith through study, fasting and prayer. Isn't that what Christ did? We can go on and on about this, but to what point really? I have to hand it both sides, Jeff has done his homework and so has the opposing side, but it still comes down to faith, study and prayer and both Scriptures teach us that very principle.

Bookslinger said...

Misanthropic Mormon: Can those Christians who claim that the Bible is "sola scriptura" show us the original documents that comprise the books of the Bible. They can't be found either? Gee, how oonveeeeenient.

For every club you use to bash Mormonism, you could also apply it to any religion.

If someone is going to accept that a God can be born in human form to a human mother, and accept that such a God-man can _die_, and accept that the God-man can _resurrect_ as a glorious God again, well, then God can do _anything_, and all other miracles are small potatoes in comparison.

Like Darion said, if you accept the miracles of the Bible, then the miracles in the Book of Mormon, and the miracles surrounding the coming forth of the Book of Mormon, are equally plausible.

People who are invested in a corrupted version of an older dispensation, such as pharisees, or even the priests during Isaiah's or Jeremiah's time, don't want to listen to a new prophet.

Isaiah was denounced as a heretic and implausible by the corrupt priests of his time.

Jeremiah was denounced as a heretic and implausible by the corrupt priests of his time.

Jesus, Peter, James, John were denounced as heretics and implausible by the corrupt priests of their time.

Joseph Smith, same story.

Vanity, vanity, all is vanity. There is nothing new under the sun.

catholic defender said...

Whew! What a heated debate at times. Guess that's why they say to avoid discussions of religion and politics at dinner parties :-)

If I might interject a bit here, from my vantage point, I see the biggest source of contention is the fact that both factions have facts upon which to draw, but often distort those facts for their own purposes. For me, much of the issue with Mormon teachings comes from what I see as inconsistencies in what your church teaches as doctrine. Doesn't mean I'm right.

I tend to agree with the earlier statement that the BOM left me empty. I've read it, or parts of it. Everytime I've done so, I'm left with the impression that I'm reading a poor re-write of the Old Testament. Many of you here do not get that feeling. Great for you.

Bookslinger, you make some very good points. I might point out though, that Mormons are as vested in painting thier faith in a positive light, as anti-mormons are vested in painting mormons in a negative light. That very fact is the reason that you have debates such as the one that's gone on here for 65+ comments. Because both sides have reason to manipulate the facts, both sides often do. Compounding the problem, attempts such as the one Jeff opened this post with, which are designed not for debate, but just to further one's own agenda, whatever that may be. In the end, will any of this really matter to God? Let me pose this question: When all is said and done, and we are dead and buried, is it going to be more important to God that we said our prayers, and lived as Christian a life as possible versus arguing about where we say our prayers and what dogma we found to be scripture?

Sincerely

Catholic Defender

The Misanthropic Mormon said...

Bookslinger, you misunderstand. There are very old copies of the bible. Recently one was found almost intact (I forget the named given to it). These are rare, wonderful occasions - exciting for scholars. There is but one original Book of Mormon and it was taken from the Earth (right?). So scholars don't have anything to work with except the English translation.

There is no end to scholarship on the bible. Where is the non-LDS scholarship on the BOM? Who is subjecting it to the rigors of Higher Criticism? If there is such a book/investigation, let me know. I could never find any.

I'm not asking for original documents (though that would be nice).

I'm questioning the feasibility of one single historical record found by a young New Yorker. Never mind the angel part, or that Jews living 600 BC knew of Christ, I'm just talking probabilities. What is the likelihood? Yes, yes, faith is the answer. Mine has been exhausted by scientific scholarship.

I don't really know how to respond to what you said because it is so far from what I intended. Incidentally, I'm no believer in the bible as far as some divine guidebook or history or anything. It's just an ancient collection of writings. And I don't believe in the supernatural.

bomgolf said...

"There is but one original Book of Mormon and it was taken from the Earth (right?)."

I'm sorry... I may be out to lunch on this one... but where is the original Bible that I can learn about?

"There is no end to scholarship on the bible. Where is the non-LDS scholarship on the BOM?"

Did it ever occur to you that perhaps there are just not that many interested parties? Did you know that research of this nature requires funding (not to mention interest!)?

Bookslinger said...

Misanthropic:

Scholarship doesn't make converts. That's why Mormons send out 19 year olds, not people with advanced degrees. If non-Mormon scholars don't buy into Mormonism, that's just fine. That's not how the church wants to make converts anyway.

Sorry to read that you left Mormonism, but didn't go to a Bible-beleiving church. Is there a non-Christian religion you partake in now, or are you some degree of atheist or agnostic now?

By the way, no matter how old the OT and NT copies are, they're still copies. So there's no logical point in demanding that 3rd parties see the original BoM.

And if you don't believe the Bible, then why play the Bible-versus-BoM game, pointing to the scholarly studies done on the Bible? It doesn't wash, if you don't believe the Bible either.

By opposing Mormonism, and not embracing the Bible, what you're doing is encouraging people to not only leave Mormonism, but to stay away from all forms of Christianity.

I understood your points very well. It's you who are trying to avoid the implications of your arguments (as in points, not arguing.)

By not endorsing any particular form of Christianity in your own life, you're effectively opposing all Christianity.

By trying to remove the faith of a Mormon, and not offering _any_ religion/church to replace it with, you're disrepecting all religions. You might as well be fighting against B'hai, Islam, Buddhims, or Hinduism while you're at it.

Catholid Defender:

You're right. Arguing isn't good in the long run. But, *I* haven't been arguing, I've been "discussing". Those who disagree with me have been "arguing". [Big cheesey Grin]

Well, if the Book of Mormon left you cold, there's not much more that could be asked of you. You read it and gave it a shot. That's more than what most people do. I hope your wife's ward continues to offer you friendship and respect your beliefs.

I admire you too, because here on Jeff's blog you've always been nicer to the LDS than the LDS (and me included) have been to you.

Zera Pulsipher said...

I just have to second Bookslingers sentiment on CD I love reading most of your posts they are well thought out and even while i may disagree with your view of our faith you still always are respectful and thought provoking.

Mormanity said...

Good observation, Bookslinger, regarding Catholic Defender. CD's positive, friendly, and respectful example shows a genuine Christian at work who defends his faith well while asking reasonable questions of ours. Great example for all of us!

Mormanity said...

CD, would you be interested in doing a guest post or two to share things that you think Latter-day Saints married to Catholics or other non-LDS spouses ought to know, or something that non-LDS people ought to know to make their marriages to Mormons be more successful?

You write well, think clearly, and have a lot to share. Care to be featured up front a little more?

To discuss, if you're interested, I'm at jeff at jefflindsay dot com. But fully understand if you'd rather not or just can't afford the time. No need to respond if that's the case - but the offer is there sometime.

Anonymous said...

well CD just wanna say i'm glad your on here, it's nice to have other people who feel all this stuff isn't what's important. it's about doing our best to do God's will. now i'm mormon, but i have a couple catholic friends. i was just curious if you could tell me why the catholic church doesn't count mormon baptisms while it accepts about every other denominations. now i don't mean anything about you personally, but doesn't that seem a little discriminatory? it seems to me that a lot of religions out there are simply out to get the mormons! haha but do you get what i mean? just curious what you knew about it.

catholic defender said...

Good Morning Anonymous of Sept 21,

You asked why the Catholic Church doesn't recognize Mormon baptisms. The answer to that is a bit offensive to mormons, but I'll tell you it. Basically the Catholic Church's official teaching about mormons is that you are members of a cult, and therefore are not a christian denomination. Because in the eyes of the Catholic Church you are not considered Christian, the baptisms you do are not recognized because you don't have the necessary doctrine and authority to be performing baptisms. That is the blunt, unabridged reason. Catholics recognize most other protestant faiths as christian, though that isn't completely true with some of the more radical groups. Jehovah Witnesses would fall into the same category as Mormons from a Catholic perspective.

To give you a better idea, I'm going to draw on some of the anti-mormon info that's out there. There is a thought among the anti's that mormons do not worship the same God and Christ as the rest of Christianity. That's is in fact true, when you look at it from the right perspective. Consider that Catholics are Trinitarians, Mormons are not. We have one God, who is made up of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. They are one in being and purpose. Mormons believe in three separate persons, Heavenly Father, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Ghost. For you, these guys are united in purpose, but they are not one being. From that perspective we do not worship the same God, because your concept of God is very different from mine. The Catholic perspective on your view of God, is that it is polytheistic, which would make you non-christian under Catholic doctrine.

What allows Catholic recognition of many of the Protestant baptisms over Mormon Baptisms, is the recognition of the Holy Trinity, and the idea that even though Protestants don't adhere to all the Catholic Doctrine, they do worship the same God as Catholics. That Trinitarian doctrine is a big point of division between LDS and Catholics, and its unlikely that you will see the Catholic Church begin to recognize your baptisms because of the differences on that one teaching.

I personally have a different view of Mormons than many Catholics because I am married to a Mormon, and have taken the time to learn about my wife's faith. In a great many ways I do not share her beliefs, but because they are her beliefs, and they are important to her, they are important to me. I have interacted with many members of her church, we have become friends with many of them. Because of that experience, I find it hard to believe that Mormons are not Christians. But I do remain Catholic because the Catholic faith holds far more of the truth for me, than does the LDS faith. From my vantage point, Mormons are another set of Protestants, you have some of the truth, but are missing very important elements of the truth. The funny thing about that perspective, is the Mormon point of view about me is likely the complete reverse. Hope this answers your question.

Sincerely

Catholic Defender

crazy BYU student said...

well yeah that about explains it, thanks CD. now i just have one more question regarding this topic. what happens to those who don't have the opportunity to be baptized? i mean cause we both believe you have to be baptized. and i'm sure you know about baptisms for the dead in the mormon church. god is no respecter of persons. he loves us all the same right? so based on your knowledge, what happens to them? and what about little children who die before they are baptized? it just doesn't seem fair to me that they simply didn't get the chance. oh and just curious what you meant by "a poor rewrite of the old testament". thanks.

catholic defender said...

Hi Crazy BYU Student,

You asked a number of questions, so it may take me a bit of room to answer. I'll start with your last question first.

What I mean by a poor rewrite of the old testament, is the feeling I have when I have either read, or heard read the Book of Mormon. That is the impression I am left with. Its a little hard to explain, but the Book of Mormon feels wrong to me. It strikes me as an attempt to gain legitimacy by using jewish sounding names and using similar stories from the Old testament to gain credibility. That's the feeling I have in my heart about the Book of Mormon; it just doesn't feel true to me, and feels like someone attempted to rewrite the old testament to create some new scriptures. I do not mean that to be offensive.

As for babies who are born without being baptized, there is a great deal of misinformation out there on this subject. I am not a scholar on this subject, so I may be incorrect in some aspects here. The general public has the understanding that the Catholic Church teaches that unbaptized children go to some place called limbo. That is incorrect, and as I understand it, the Catholic Church has never officially endorsed this doctrine.

I don't know the exact origin of the teaching on the subject, but it seems to originate around the time Dante's Inferno was published, and that may be where the idea of Limbo originates. Officially the Catholic Church's teaching on unbaptized babies is that God is a kind and mercifulGod and that he will look out for those children, and has a plan for them. No where in the Catholic Catechism have I found information that would lead me to believe that God just leaves these kids hanging. In fact, its strongly suggested that they return to him. Believe it or not, Catholics and Mormons are not that far off on some of this.

Infant baptisms are the current trend. That is not how it has always been. The Catholic Church has at different times, done different things with baptism. There are reasons for this, but I am not well versed in them, so I really can't tell you why the changes.

As for baptism for the dead, I see that as similar, but not the same as purgatory. You go to the temple, and are baptized by proxy for those who did not have the opportunity to accept Christ's gospel while here on earth. Catholics, pray for the souls in purgatory, to allow for them to recieve God's grace and be reunited with him. Its similar,but not the same. For Catholics, purgatory is a place that for those who were generally good people, but still needed to clean up a bit before returning to God, to go. That's simplified, but that's the general idea. Its a difficult concept to get your head around, so you kind of have to take it on faith, not intellect. Hope that answers your questions. I love to talk so, feel free to ask more.

Sincerely

Catholic Defender

crazy BYU student said...

haha so no offense, but like you said, that is something that is hard to get your head around. and it just seems so much simpler the way we do it... but that's just my opinion. ok so a while back you said the catholic church claims that we don't have doctrine and authority that we need to be considered christian. now, correct me if i'm wrong but i believe that the mormons are the only other christian religion to claim to have any authority. so clearly in my mind that can't be why. i can understand the doctrine side of it, but i just think authority should not be part of that argument. see in my mind, there are really only three possibilities. either the jews were right and christ wasn't the messiah, or the catholics are right and you still have the authority, or we are right and that authority was lost and then restored. now out of curiosity, i've heard some stuff about praying to saints... what can you tell me about that? no offense but is that not like polytheism in a way? and what exactly do you guys believe in with regard to heaven and hell? cause it seems like nobody i've asked has the same answer... anyways, sorry for all the questions at once! haha thanks again.

catholic defender said...

Hi Crazy BYU Student,

You kind of answered your own question about authority, but I will clarify. Mormons do claim to have direct authority to act through the restoration of the gospel. Catholics claim to have direct authority to act, because they have unbroken authority given to Peter by Christ, and there was no need to restore the gospel because it was never lost in the first place. Protestants pretty much fall in the middle of that on varying levels. The reason the authority issue comes up in terms of recognizing LDS baptisms, is because Mormons believe they have the authority to properly baptise, and Catholic believe Mormons do not have the authority to baptise. Its like me saying I'm right and you saying you are right. From the Catholic perspective, we're right and Mormons are wrong. From the Mormon perspective, we're right and the Catholics are wrong. Both are absolute, non-negotiable positions when it comes to who has the proper gospel. You won't find that as much with other Protestant Denominations because to varying extents those faiths are watered down versions of Catholocism developed in protest to something the Catholic Church was doing. But what separates those denominations from Mormons, and bring them in closer harmony to Catholics is the Holy Trinity. So it does have something to do with authority, but it has more to do with how God is viewed when it comes to recognizing baptisms.

Sincerely

Catholic Defender

catholic defender said...

Hi Crazy BYU Student,

I had posted this as one answer, but the computer told me I talk too much, hence this second post, and probably a third one in such short order.

You asked about praying to Saints, that is a grossly misunderstood concept. Catholics believe in the Communion of Saints. What that means is that we believe that the deceased Saints are still part of the body of Christ, and are there praying with us and for us. Its a bit hard to explain, but when a Catholic appears to be praying to a Saint, we'll take Saint Jude for an example, they are asking that Saint to pray with them and on behalf of them. Its more like saying to your bishop, I'm having a problem, can you pray with me, and for me, and say a blessing over me. Many saints for Catholics are patrons of special causes, so when you are asking for their prayers, you're asking for them to pray with you and on behalf of you for assistance with that specific concern.

St. Jude is known as the Patron Saint of Hopeless Causes. People of all faiths, not just Catholics are familiar with Jude, because people of all faiths have been known in desparate times to seek his intercession and prayers. There's a story about the actor Danny Thomas seeking Jude's intercession in the early 20th Century because of the desparate times he was in, and having those prayers answered. In that account, St. Jude was asked to pray for and with Mr. Thomas to assist with that cause. So it really isn't praying to the Saints, its asking for help just like you might ask your neighbor, or family member.

I will tell you, if you accuse a Catholic of praying to the saints, you will offend them greatly. It also shows them that you really don't know what you're talking about, and don't care to learn. Its like me saying you pray to Joseph Smith. From an outsiders perspective, that might appear to be true, but it isn't true when you really take the time to learn what's going on. Joseph Smith is highly regarded in your faith, but you do not actually pray to him. The saints for Catholics are held in a very similar high esteem.

Sincerely,

Catholic Defender

catholic defender said...

As for heaven and hell, we believe in heaven, and we believe in hell. Our definition of hell is very different from yours. Your idea of hell, as I understand it, but I may not fully understand, is this concept of "Outer Darkness." Outer Darkness is a place where you are completely cut off from God's love and spirit. Hell, for a Catholic is exactly that, a place of eternal torment. The description given in Dante's Inferno is pretty much consistent with the Catholic's veiwpoint on hell. That description of Hell is also the description given by the Blessed Mother at Fatima in the early 1900's. You can look up that reference on line, but basically Mary appeared several children in Portugal and revealed what the world had to look forward to if we didn't return to Godly ways.

Our understanding of heaven is also very different from yours. You believe in three degrees of glory...Telestial, Terrestrial, and Celestial, with Celestial being the highest degree of Glory. We just believe in Heaven, a place where we are all reunited with God. Its a much simpler definition of Heaven than the LDS have. We essential believe that if we do what Christ asks, love him, and love one another as we would them love us, and try to stay as sin free as possible, then we will return to God through his mercy and grace. The examples of the saints are there to help us along the way.

This idea of Heaven, and all of us returning to God's love if we do what he asks of us to the best of our ability, is why the LDS concept of eternal marraige is lost on a true Catholic; by that I mean a Catholic who truly understands what their faith means. We already believe that we will return to God and be reunited with our families if we as individuals do what God calls us to do and they do what God calls them to do; what need would we have of the LDS doctine on eternal marriage. For that reason a Catholic would have no need of the temple, because God's promise to us goes beyond what happens in such a building. There's more to it than that, and I've spoken about the idea in some other postings I've made. I think there is a general saying among your missionaries that a practising Catholic is the hardest person to convert. That is true, because from the practising Catholic's perspective, we already have all that we need, anything else offered by your missionaries would be considered less than what we already have. I don't mean that offensively, though I think it may sound thay way. Its just that a Catholic practising their faith as it was intended to be practised, is already on the right path, other doctrine would just interfere with that progress. Does that make sense?

Sincerely

Catholic Defender

crazy BYU student said...

yeah ok. well then what makes the other churches out there have the right authority? it still is a bit iffy if you ask me but oh well. oh and i was just curious about the saints thing, i actually heard that from a catholic and i thought it was weird so i thought i'd ask about it. but yeah that makes more sense now. as for the heaven hell thing, well let me explain a bit. see we believe in a spirit paradise and spirit prison, which is where you go between when you die, and the final judgement. it is essentially a partial judgement and is what we compare to your heaven and hell. then, after judgement, the only people who don't make it into a kingdom of glory, are sons of perdition, which you can only obtain through having a perfect knowledge of god and denying it. let me ask you something. if a man commits a crime, and goes to jail for a time, then is let out later, and god judges him according to that crime and sends him to hell forever, doesn't that make man more merciful than god? just a thought...

catholic defender said...

HI Crazy BYU Student,

My answer to your question is this...God doesn't judge the man based upon the crime committed, he judges the man based upon his actions and intent after the crime is committed. God knows that we are going to sin because we are human and subject to human failings. Hence the whole Christ coming and setting up a plan for us to seek repentence. What God is looking for is true remorse, true repentence, truly being sorry. The crime is the sin, and the man gets punished for it by human standards here. The sin from an eternal perspective has to do with repentence and reconciliation. If a man doesn't do both of those, then God's mercy can't come into play, and man separates himself from God as a result of the sin. What lands you in Hell is what you carry in your heart when you commit sin and what follows the commission of the sin, not necessarily the sin itself. That's why it would be very difficult for a murderer to repent and find their way to heaven, not impossible, but extremely hard to do.

Sincerely

Catholic Defender

Mormography said...

Turns out this a pretty much settle debate on Wikipedia. To date the apologist have not been able to demonstrate that such a record keeping system is likely.
"Nevertheless, there is no known extant example of writing on metal plates longer than the eight-page Persian codex

A couple plates plausible sure, an entire recorded keeping system handed down from generation to generation with all the infrastructure and knowledge base required – unlikely. To further demonstrate, even attempted forgeries produced with modern technology immediately encounter severe limitations.

What amazes me is that before Mormanity, I did not think twice. I never really thought of the metal-plates-concept as being problematic. However, Mormanity’s frequenting it has a topic spur me to look into it more. He doth protest too much.

peluang usaha kecil sampingan said...

My answer to your question is this...God doesn't judge the man based upon the crime committed, he judges the man based upon his actions and intent after the crime is committed. God knows that we are going to sin because we are human and subject to human failings. Hence the whole Christ coming and setting up a plan for us to seek repentence. What God is looking for is true remorse, true repentence, truly being sorry. The crime is the sin, and the man gets punished for it by human standards here. The sin from an eternal perspective has to do with repentence and reconciliation.