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

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Elder Jeffrey R. Holland Speaks Out on the Book of Mormon and the Failed Attempts of Critics to Explain It Away

If you missed the General Conference talk by Elder Jeffrey R. Holland, one of the Twelve Apostles and the former President of Brigham Young University, you really should see it. He makes an important point about the last hours of Joseph Smith and his brother, Hyrum, as they were in prison and about to be killed. They faced the likelihood of death from a hate-filled mob, stirred up and led by religious zealots. For comfort and strength, they turned to the ancient writings of Moroni in Ether, chapter 12, in the Book of Mormon. Hyrum read some of that text to Joseph, including these verses:
37. And it came to pass that the Lord said unto me: If they have not charity it mattereth not unto thee, thou hast been faithful; wherefore, thy garments shall be made clean. And because thou hast seen thy weakness thou shalt be made strong, even unto the sitting down in the place which I have prepared in the mansions of my Father.

38. And now I, Moroni, bid farewell unto the Gentiles, yea, and also unto my brethren whom I love, until we shall meet before the judgment-seat of Christ, where all men shall know that my garments are not spotted with your blood.


Hyrum dog-eared that page in his Book of Mormon, marking the spot that they had turned to for comfort. Elder Holland held that very copy of the Book of Mormon in his hand as he spoke of this, and then made an excellent point. If this book were a fraud, why would these two men in their final hours turn to it for spiritual comfort? Why would they blaspheme God in their final moments by reading from fake scripture that they had composed to deceive others? Their final moments only add to the magnitude of their witness and the witness of many others that the Book of Mormon is for real, that it is an ancient and divine text, not the clumsy work of an unschooled fraud. Elder Holland goes on to explain that the pathetic attempts by our critics to explain away the Book of Mormon and offer alternate explanations for its origins have failed and failed miserably. The challenge remains unmet and the witnesses for authenticity (including physical and other evidence for plausibility) of that ancient record are greater than ever. It has withstood decades of assaults and, in my opinion, is "truer than ever" as we learn more about it and the ancient world.

Here are Youtube videos of his talk, split into two ten-minute segments. If you're in a hurry, go to the second video, which begins just after he explains how Hyrum while in Carthage jail had read from the book he holds in his hands.

Part One:



Part Two:



Elder Holland's words are powerful, moving, and wise. As Elder Holland's own great grandfather said, "No wicked man could write such a book as this, and no good man would write it--unless it were true and he were commanded of God to do so."

Update, July 2012: Some critics have howled about the horrific, cynical dishonesty of Elder Holland in holding up a book that they think is not the real book. The confusion is understandable since it appears that the Church owns two similar books, one that is the original and one that is a similar edition that had the same page dog-eared like the book that Hyrum had. This was made clear in a Deseret News story on the talk and the book. The vitriol and name calling in this case says much about some of our critics. Such anger, such anxiousness to criticize, such unwillingness to even wonder if it was just a mistake. But the mistake appears to have been an earlier Church news story that showed the copy, not the original that Elder Holland was holding. I think it's fair to grant that Elder Holland asked for the original to be brought to him, and whether it was the original or not, I think it's fair to accept that he was not knowingly lying about the book. The story is true and the point he makes about Hyrum and Joseph turning to it in their final moments still adds to their witness of the Book of Mormon, regardless of which of the two similar books Elder Holland had on the pulpit with him.

61 comments:

Clean Cut said...

Great post. It was a great point, and a wonderful talk. And it's a wonderful book.

Zera Pulsipher said...

Best talk on the Book of Mormon that I have ever heard! Even my daughters sat quietly on our chairs and listened. Hopefully my oldest gleaned all that her six year old mind is able to, and remembers it for a while.

It's sad though to know how necessary this talk was. Keep in mind that this wasn't so much for the critics but the members. This tells me that more and more are doubting the truth of the historicity of The Book of Mormon and, still claiming to be faithful members (wolves are growing in numbers) . The Lord is certainly quickening the time before his coming.

Bruce in Montana said...

Splendid message and presentation. Elder Holland rocks. The BoM has taken on all critics and came through unscathed. We are blessed indeed.

Anonymous said...

I have a question. I am a Christian (not a mormon) but would not consider myself "anti-mormon" or a "critic" or anything like that- I am just curious and trying to understand your religion.

I think the most difficult part in believing that the BOM is true (for me, anyway) is the historical accuracy. How do mormons explain that? Is that another matter of trusting in the "burning bosom"?

(I do hope that my questions are taken sincerely, because they really are.)

Papa D said...

Anon, I've said this elsewhere, but the main difficulty in establishing rock-solid evidence of every individual part of the book is that we simply don't know enough about some of the core issues to do so adequately. For example, there is NO way to know where it occurred, based solely on the book itself. Also, we have NO idea of the DNA of the group - since they were NOT Jewish, and we don't know the maternal lineage at all for the Nephites/Lamanites OR the Jaredites (so DNA issues are completely unresolvable).

However, much of the first book (1 Nephi) is set in the Old World and can be subjected to much more reasonable scrutiny - and it passes with flying colors. There simply is NO way someone in the early 1800's could have written that part of the book as accurately as it is written, and if that part is accurate ("true"), then the rest can't be a fabrication, fraud or merely inspired fiction.

Until someone can disprove the first few dozen pages, the rest has to stand - because we simply don't know enough to refute it.

I think it's instructive that nobody has debunked in a scholarly manner what should be the most easily debunkable portion - that EVERY CRITIC now focuses on the rest of it which can't be "proven" yet one way or the other.

PS. One more point:

Based on my reading and research, I believe that the Jaredites probably were from the Asian steppes, which means that the Book of Mormon probably claims that the earliest recorded settlers of the Americas (and probably the dominant ancestors genealogically) were of north-eastern Asian descent. Seems like the recent research is validating the book in totally unexpected ways, when we focus on what it actually seems to say.

Zera Pulsipher said...

@ Anon I suggest reading Jeff's, this blogs author's, own page on this issues. The url is
http://www.jefflindsay.com/BMEvidences.shtml

And the link itself can be found under his other links section on the main page of the blog.

Bookslinger said...

Zera, I agree. It sounded like Elder Holland was talking directly at some of the 'nacclers.

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

It's interesting that I have the exact opposite view of the BOM. I think it becomes less "true" every year as we learn more about archeology, DNA, textual issues and as more and more of "the most correct book on Earth's" many changes and permutations come to light. I think that one day it won't matter to Mormons, like the Bible, if the BOM is historically accurate, so long as it brings souls to Christ. It seems people are already taking that view of the Book of Abraham.

As for Holland's speech, the only thing authoritative about it was his tone. I think I have some legitimate concerns regarding the BOM, none of which have been satisfactorily answered. In that sense, I crawled away from Mormonism through the BOM, not around it.

Nathan Coffey said...

The Book of Mormon, in my mind, is absolutely the Word of God, and anybody who has once had a testimony of its truthfulness, and then departed from that testimony will one day have to stand before their Maker and answer for their own transgression.

I have read the Book of Mormon many times, I have prayed to know whether or not it was a fabrication. I know that the spiritual experiences I had from those incidences definitely are from God, confirming to me that it is true - and no mortal man can make me think otherwise.

Individuals may depart from the Iron Rod and head off through the mists of darkness towards the tower and join the detractors, but this much I KNOW is true:

"No unhallowed hand can stop the work from progressing; . . . the truth of God will go forth boldly, nobly, and independent, till it has penetrated every continent, visited every clime, swept every country, and sounded in every ear, till the purposes of God shall be accomplished, and the Great Jehovah shall say the work is done."

And that includes the Book of Mormon.

It pains me to know that members of the Church will fall away from the Gospel teachings, but this is nothing new. I know the Book of Mormon is the word of God and I know that no man with no more than a third grade education could have written it in 50-something days.

Yes, Sam, there are evidences of it's authenticity available. If you truly have questions that need to be answered regarding its validity then I'd advise you get on your knees, plead with your Father in Heaven, with real intent, ask Him those specific questions that may be thwarting your belief, and He will answer your prayers. But you need to do it with real intent.

You can also go talk with your Bishop or others members of your ward.

*********************

The church will go on with or without dissenters. The church does not NEED us. We NEED the church.

I'm so grateful to be a member of this church and to know that there are a number of other faithful saints out there, folks like "Zera Pulsipher" and "Clean Cut" and Jeff Lindsay, who have deep testimonies of the truthfulness of this work.

Generation of Idolaters said...

"The church will go on with or without dissenters. The church does not NEED us. We NEED the church."

That is wrong. The church needs us, for without us, there would be no church. But we do not need the church. We need our Savior, Jesus Christ. Putting the church, or the Book of Mormon, or anything else in His place is idolatry. We are all idolaters in need of repentance and the grace of God.

Papa D said...

The Church absolutely needs us, since we ARE "the Church". It might not need every single person, but it is poorer every time it loses someone - even if it is necessary to do so and/or unavoidable.

I'm not advocating watering down doctrine so that no member ever leaves, nor am I advocating a cessation of excommunication, but even when the most bitter anti-Mormon member leaves the Church is poorer for it - better off, perhaps, but poorer.

Papa D said...

Let me put it this way:

God still weeps for the loss of ANY of His children.

Ryan said...

I think that one day it won't matter to Mormons, like the Bible, if the BOM is historically accurate, so long as it brings souls to Christ. It seems people are already taking that view of the Book of Abraham.

Source? Conference talk? Ensign/Liahona article? EFY speaker?

I've only ever heard that sentiment from the kinds of apologetic circles which also preach diluted forms prophetic authority/revelation and such, which makes it highly suspect IMHO.

What I usually encounter in the wild is either a complete lack of an opinion or else a set belief (or disbelief) and an attitude of "Let the scientists and apologists have fun squabbling."

The Damsel In DisDress said...

I felt like I was watching history happen while listening to Elder Holland's talk. I think it will be talked about and remembered for years.

Zera Pulsipher said...

So Sam explain one way that archeology or DNA science have taken away plausibility from the book? DNA science is worthless for proving or disproving it because we do not have a sample of Lehi's tribes DNA hence nothing to compare it to. As for archeology it has become more and more plausible with each and every little discovery in Mesoamerica. Such as the Hundreds of sites they are finding through infrared satellite imaging because the limestone and other things have effected the fauna. none of these are even being excavated yet the fact that they exist shows that the area was much more populated then previously thought and that many more cultures existed and coexisted with each-other then previously thought. But alas ignorance is bliss, and most would much rather fain ignorance the be held accountable to the teachings in the book. Here's a URL

http://www.nasa.gov/centers/marshall/multimedia/photos/2006/photos06-018.html

http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/sciencenow/3401/03.html

What's of note is that they have now only been using this method for a couple of years. While this in and of its self has no bearing on the historicity of the Book of Mormon it shows how little we know and adds plausibility to the settings of mas wars etc described, which were btw almost wholly unknown in Joseph Smith's day.

Anonymous said...

It seems to me that the more the BOM comes under scrutiny, the more if falls down. There are so many issues with the text, and ultimately I truly feel that the way the Lord is represented in the BOM is so incongruous with his earlier depictions, it all falls apart. Not to mention that (after having read through both the website proposed, and other defenders) nothing for the BOM is solid evidence. It all points at "well, maybe it was this" but the evidence against it is sound and resolute from impartial scientists. Ultimately, its defense is as hollow as the text itself. The Bible stands up to archeological scrutiny because it is truly a text from that time. This BOM is sadly not. Not to mention, the BOM has been revised several times (Is it 11 times now?) for a so called "holy text". The Ten Commandments were never revised.

Carey said...

The great scam with critics who call for evidence of elephants, horses, DNA or an ancient ruin that says "Welcome to Zarahemla!" is that producing evidence would not lead to a change or heart.

If an elephant graveyard were discovered tomorrow in America, would you believe the Book of Mormon is true? or pay tithing, live the word of wisdom, serve in callings, do your home teaching, share the gospel?

The answer is, probably not. So lack of evidence is an excuse for lack of faith, but producing evidence would not lead to faith. So really, disbelief has nothing to do with the available of evidence.

So of you don't believe the Book of Mormon is true, that's ok, most people in the world don't. But quit pretending that evidence would lead to faith, because it won't. It only helps people who already have faith.

The Book of Mormon is either true, or its a complete fabrication. it cannot be some sort of "fictional spiritual narrative", that's ridiculous. If it's true, then its the most important resource we have, with the Bible, in helping us draw near unto Christ. At has for me. If it is not true, then it is a complete fabrication, and you must believe that it was made up by a 21 year old farm boy with a 3rd grade education in 60 working days. You must believe that a 14 year old boy made up a story about seeing God and Christ, endured unspeakable persecution for it his entire life, and die at the hands of an angry mob all to prop up his fraud he started as a boy.

catholic defender said...

Good Afternoon,

I thought I'd weigh in here. I'll try to stay away from the anti-lds rhetoric as much as possible. Something that caught my attention was a this statement:

"I think that one day it won't matter to Mormons, like the Bible, if the BOM is historically accurate, so long as it brings souls to Christ. It seems people are already taking that view of the Book of Abraham."

The inherent problem that I see with this position is that the very foundation of LDS theology is based upon the BOM being true and accurate. If it is not an accurate record of Christ appearing to the people of the America's an preaching the restored gospel, then it is a lie, and the very foundation of your church is based upon that lie. Consider that JS told everyone he translated this book with the divine help of God. God does not lie, therefore the book translated has to either be true...or it has to be a complete and utter fabrication. This is the corner JS painted himself into with his own words. Your own theology does not allow you the middle ground that other faiths might have with regard to the bible; its an all or nothing proposition.

With regard to DNA evidence, I would tend to agree that the existence of such evidence might not prove conclusive for folks. What it would do though is give plausibility to the story told. It would give credence.

As most of you know, I do not believe the BOM to be true. So from my vantage point, I come from the position that Lehi and Nephi never existed in the first place, and that JS fabricated the whole thing. To take a position that maybe the historical accuracy of the BOM won't matter so much, seems wishy-washy, and it adds to your detractors. For me the more I read the BOM, and the more I hear your apostles try to defend it, the less plausible it becomes. It just feels wrong to me. I have more to say, but I have to get back to work...I'll try to finish later.

Sincerely

Catholic Defender

Anonymous said...

The DNA argument against the BoM is really just for the ignorant.

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/10/071018145955.htm

Bookslinger said...

CD: I like your point. The "middle way" Mormons who are watering down their belief in the Book of Mormon, don't have a logically tenable position.

In essence, those Mormons who say they don't believe the events in the BoM really happened are compromising with the church's detractors. That's not faith. And I don't think it's a way to stay grounded in the church, because they are letting outsiders and critics influence what they believe.

I'll allow Joseph Smith his human errors, just as Moses and other prophets made errors. But Joseph Smith was either a prophet or a con man. There's little to no room for calling him "sincere, but mistaken."

It's like calling Jesus of Nazareth a "merely good teacher." He called himself the Son of God, so either he was the Son of God, or a liar, or a lunatic.

jayleenb said...

The Book of Mormon is true and it does indeed draw me closer to Jesus Christ. Since my conversion to Christianity, I have loved and studied the Bible. The Book of Mormon has brought me closer to Christ and caused me to love the Bible more than ever.

Living the teachings of this Church strengthens my testimony of Jesus Christ.

Elder Holland's talk was powerful. Every Conference proves these men to be Apostles of God. I am so grateful to be a part of it, no words can express it!

Pops said...

I'm completely baffled by statements that the more we learn about ancient American archeology the less evidence there is for the authenticity of the Book of Mormon. Huh?!? What planet do you have to live on to come up with that? It seems to me you have to be awfully ignorant of archeology to say that.

I also have to laugh at the criticism of the "numerous" revisions the Book of Mormon has gone through - apparently unlike the Bible. Huh?!? The textual revisions to the Book of Mormon are known and extremely well-documented, including the reasons for the changes. Good luck figuring out the changes that have been made to the Bible over the centuries. How do you know the 10 commandments have never changed? Do you have the stone tablets? Dude!

Somebody please tell me where this cr*p comes from. It makes no sense.

Anonymous said...

No one said the Bible hadn't undergone revisions. The difference between the Bible and the BOM is very clear, actually. The Bible never claims to be a direct message from God, it is an compilation of various prophets experiences and revelations. It is a Holy book, but it is not the direct word of the Lord. The BOM is supposedly directly from the Lord and therefore should be perfect and exempt to revisions. If it is imperfect, it is not of the Lord, and therefore the entire LDS foundation falls apart. And no, I dont have the stone tablets, but the LDS church doesn't exactly have the golden plates either. And where does attacking the authenticity of the Ten Commandments get you exactly? Um, newsflash, they're part of the LDS church too. Same as the Bible, don't insult the Holy Word. Its one of those foundations of Christianity things. And they've been passed on for thousands of years the exact same way, I'm going to go ahead and say they're pretty intact. Unlike the BOM, which in its very short life, much like the LDS church, has undergone serious changes. And I'm still aware of the fact that horses were brought here by Spanish settlers and werent around during the BOM. Or that some of the passages in the BOM were based off the KJV. No, a little bit of evidence wouldn't change my belief, but if it is true, it should be provable, and it isnt. Other established Christian churches have more than a "burning in the bosom" to prove at least the history of their faith. Its time the LDS church stepped up, or quit coming to my door.

catholic defender said...

Hi Papa D,

I won't pretend to be well versed in ancient archeology, I'm not; ;what I will say, is much of the cr** comes from the very mouth of JS and the texts of the LDS apologists and supporters. Hung by the tongue is the phrase that comes to mind. By this I mean that JS's own words and teachings are where much the detractors gather evidence to support their arguments. Its inconsistencies that I see in JS's teachings, and in the BOM that cause me pause, and in fact keep me from believing the BOM to be true. The words and doctrines feel wrong, and do not seem consistent with what I know, and have learned about God during my lifetime.

What I see as an inherent problem, from what I've heard, is that the largest proponents of the archeological evidence supporting the accuracy of the BOM, are from LDS Archeologists. These guys are necessarily biased, because they want to find proof to support JS. If one were to look at the evidence objectively, which I doubt anyone truly can because strong feelings about LDS doctrine and faith run in both camps, the evidence does not support the BOM.

The strength of many of the anti-LDS claims, is that they are based in some form of fact. Some of those claims are extremely distorted, but, even the distorted claims have some factual basis at the core drawn upon some LDS claim. For example, the BOM describes these ancient civilizations using steel. But there is no archeological evidence which would support that the ancient Americans knew how to work steel. I used this example, because from what I know about the use of steel, its a highly sophisticated process that would required advanced knowledge. You don't just one day know how to work steel. And, using simple logic and reasoning, there should be some evidence left over from these civilizations which would support that these folks knew how to work steel.

When you consider the timeline that the BOM supposedly has, we're only talking about a period of about 2500 years in the past at the most, and about 1600 years at the least. That isn't a long period of time in the grand scheme of archeology. It would seem, again just based upon logic, that a vast civilization as described in the BOM would have left some trace...some remnants of cities should be present, dead bodies, skeletal remains, something should be there.

Consider that the Mayans and the Aztecs are ancient civilizations. These cultures are more or less extinct or interwoven into the South America populace, but we know about their cultures because they were here when the Spanish settlers came. Their buildings didn't just vanish...as the buildings in the BOM seem to have. What's more those cultures were sophisticated enough to have a written language, yet there's no mention of "christian type" people in any of the ancient writings of the Aztecs or Mayans. Seems logical that there should be, especially if those cultures were occupying the same continents and geographical regions. It just seems that folks want so badly to believe the BOM to be true, that they are willing to overlook simple logic and reasoning to get to that conclusion.

As for translations of the Bible, I think there's an inherent problem in relying upon the KJV. The reason being, the KJV has incorrect translations in it to begin with. The Douay Rhiems Bible was translated directly from the Latin Texts, the KJV was not and it has incorrect translations to begin with. Other translations into english are based on one of these two translations and tend to be watered down to the extent that things are lost in the translation. Its the reliance on the KJV that I think creates some problems for LDS theology. I say that because if the text you're relying on as being the most correct, is in fact not the most correct, then everything you're basing your belief system on, is based on flawed information to start with. That seems problematic to me, but you should believe what ever draws you closer to God.

Sincerely

Catholic Defender

Pops said...

Anonymous @6:55 AM - you don't understand what the Book of Mormon is. It is precisely the same type of record as the Bible. It is a compilation of the writings of ancient prophets who lived in the Americas. Please try again. (The comment I made about the 10 Commandments was a response to an earlier commenter who asserted that the 10 Commandments have never been revised. I say - prove it!)

CD - news flash! Aztecs and Mayans are not South American cultures - you may be thinking Incans. In fact, they are from what is today Mexico and Central America - precisely where Book of Mormon history is thought to have occurred. They themselves, along with the ruins of their mighty cities, are evidence for the Book of Mormon, along with the remnants of the Toltec and Olmec.

Haven't found any steel yet? So what? You should know there is a fundamental difference between not having found something yet and finding something contradictory. You can't disprove the existence of an ancient civilization by failing to find some specific artifact, like the "Welcome to Zarahemla" sign. That's just plain silliness.

Making steel isn't as sophisticated as you make it sound. The Japanese have been making steel swords for over a thousand years that we know of. They did it by hand. It's absurd to say the Book of Mormon people couldn't have done it.

Anonymous said...

In response to changes to the Book of Mormon. There is a text edited by Royal Skousen called "The Book of Mormon: The Earliest Text." Royal Skousen calls himself the editor because he gathered all known sources and filled in missing details by analyzing the known details and making an educated (based off of linguistics) guess as to what the word should have been. Yes, Royal Skousen is a BYU professor. The book is published by Yale University Press. The changes made are linguistically interesting and the changes are not nearly as dramatic as some people would have you believe. For all of you who like like to highlight the changes made to the Book of Mormon, pick up a copy for yourself. The price is ridiculously inexpensive given the amount of time (decades I believe) that went into compiling this book (although the book was not the only outcome of this research, several volumes of work has been published based off of his research.) Around $23 at Amazon.

Pops said...

I have one more for Catholic Defender. You say there should be artifacts of a Christian people.
There is the legend of the bearded white God who would one day return. Here's a cut from an article in The Independent [not a Mormon publication]:

"LEGENDS SAY that a bearded white man, with fair hair and blue eyes, brought super-knowledge to the Maya. He taught them the mysteries of the heavens, the laws of mathematics and astronomy, and the skills of the artisan. He taught them to build their pyramids and palaces of stone. Above all else, he taught them wisdom; that purification would come though sacrifice, and that immortality awaited the souls of the pure.

"They say that when he died he became the morning star, Venus. He walked, in turn, among the Olmec, the Teotihuacanos, the Maya, Toltec and Aztec. They called him Quetzalcoatl, the feathered snake, god of goodness and wisdom.

"Others, too, spoke of the bearded white man. The Incas, in Peru, called him Viracocha, while their neighbours the Aymara called him Hyustus. In Bolivia he was known as the "God of the Wind". To the Polynesians he was known as Kon-Tiki, the Sun-God, Always, when he left, his promise was the same: one day he would return.

"More evidence of the legend of 'Quetzalcoatl' exists in the tomb of the Mayan priest-king Lord Pacal, at Palenque, in Mexico, than anywhere else. We know this from secret pictures encoded into Mayan artefacts, revealed for the first time in 1993, when the code of Maya carving was finally broken. These show Lord Pacal quite clearly, unambiguously, as a feathered snake. They knew, from his teachings, that the sun affected fertility and that the world had been created four times before and that each creation ended in catastrophic destruction, which they blamed on the sun. To them the sun was God.

"No one has ever explained the connection between the sun and this feathered snake, or the man with the beard, until now.

"The decoded pictures tell us he took to the throne at the age of 29, and that he was born following an immaculate conception, more than 1,250 years ago in the jungles of Mexico."

No evidence of Christians. Right. A little distorted by time, especially considering the genocide of the Christians about 1400 years ago, but pretty interesting that this much would survive.

There's also the issue of the Spanish Conquistadores who destroyed every written record they could find. That didn't help much.

Papa D said...

People now are mixing up Pops and Papa D. Just want to make that clear. I am not Pops, and I never post under that name.

Anonymous said...

If the BOM is from the Lord, why would he send the writings of others? Why wouldn't he say, this is the truth, and my true word? Why a compilation? Just asking. You can't have it both ways folks! It just doesn't make a lick of sense to me. Like most of the LDS doctrine. Its just too conflicting with both itself, and tradional Christian theology.

And Mayan tradition, as well as Aztec, was passed down orally as well as in written records. So the spaniards were not have gotten rid of that, would they? If there had been a great group of people living in that area, we would KNOW about it. Not, oh maybe, no, we'd KNOW. And I find it really convenient that none of their culture exists today. They just all killed each other out, did they? Even after the Aztecs conquered the Mayans, Mayans existed. Lets face it. These people didn't exist. There is no evidence that they did. There is plenty that they didn't.

And as far as the 10 commandments go, you're right. Maybe they have been revised. Maybe originally there was "Okay, adulter, but make sure she's your wife first." That would be convenient for Fanny Alger huh? Oh right, D&C says its okay. Too bad Jacob (as in the Bible) says it isnt. And those pesky commandments. But its okay, maybe they were revised that way! Good grief.

Pops said...

Anonymous - you have apparently been given incorrect information about what the Book of Mormon is - there are plenty of sources where you can get the straight scoop. It didn't come directly "from the Lord". Joseph Smith was shown by an angel where the plates were hidden and was given divine assistance to translate the ancient record. It doesn't purport to be anything but that.

If the Lord wanted to, he could just appear to us all and say, "This is the straight scoop." But he doesn't. Ever wonder why not? Perhaps the answer to that question is also the answer to why the Bible and the Book of Mormon are translations of the writings of ancient prophets instead of the direct word of the Lord.

The Book of Mormon doesn't say the Nephites were conquered. They were eliminated, as in genocide. They were hunted down and killed to the last surviving Nephite. Their culture, tradition, and race were intentionally destroyed. Not convenient if one is trying to prove the truth of the Book of Mormon by archeological evidence, but that isn't the point. The point is that there is nothing in the archeological record that is inconsistent with the Book of Mormon. People keep saying things like, "Where are the ruins? Why isn't there any evidence of some big civilization?" Well, it's right there in front of our noses. It's scattered all over Mexico and Guatemala.

Don't go overboard on the 10 Commandments issue. The point was that we don't have the original document (stone tablets) so we can't prove they haven't been altered. They've been translated into English, haven't they? Isn't that an alteration? Take the word "idol" - does it mean precisely the same thing in English as it did in the original? Or is it a best approximation? How can you tell? I can show you an error in my current copy of the Book of Mormon - the wrong font was inadvertently used on one word. Does that make the book false? I think not. It's a typesetting error. These things happen. Don't get so caught up in the trivia.

John Jackson said...

Bless Elder Holland for all that he said. If the modern apostles are called to be testators to Christ and to His gospel and to His Church, then this certainly was a show of the same. It was one of the most emphatic testimonies I have ever heard, whether from member or leader.
I notice Elder Holland said Joseph and Hyrum's going to their graves while quoting from and testifying to the truth of the Book of Mormon is one in the thousand of reasons he has for believing in this gospel. It is not wrong to gain strength from such witnesses. I think of what our Savior had to say about knowing the truth through the Holy Ghost. John 16:13 says the Holy Ghost will GUIDE you into all truth, and I like to think that includes guiding me to hear such things as what Elder Holland spoke of.
Of course, there is also an abundance of things we run into that weaken our testimonies. I think of Elder Holland's reference to Lehi's Dream and of the mists of darkness and I think of the people in the tower laughing with scorn at the Saints. They laugh and scorn because they cannot understand how we would continue to believe in light of the evidence as they know it. And, I think of the iron rod, and how we must hold to it. Conference is part of that iron rod. When we hold to such things, and hear talks such as Elder Holland's, our faith is bolstered. The Holy Ghost can guide us into all truth, guiding us to the evidences (which I consider "treasures of knowledge") and to the burning feeling. How many reasons did Elder Holland say he has for believing? In sweeping terms, he said 1,000. Many of those nuggets of truth we are to find are waiting for us on the pages of the Book of Mormon, just as Ether 12:37-38 is for Elder Holland. The Book of Mormon can be the iron rod, and heaven knows, we all need such an iron rod.
Elder Holland also spoke of the mists of darkness affecting everyone. I hope I am not misconstruing what he said, or adding a meaning that is not there, but I cannot imagine any honest soul not being affected by some of the things that try our testimonies. And, back to Ether 12, I think of Moroni, in verse 36, praying that the Gentiles might have charity. I do not know specifically where he would have them be charitable, but how about with each other as we walk through the mists of darkness?
I testify that the modern-day truths are of God, that the treasures of hidden knowledge the Holy Ghost leads us to are of God, and I thank Elder Holland for pointing me to some of those nuggets.

catholic defender said...

HI Pops,

Okay, for starters, I never claimed to be a historical scholar, so if I forgot the Incans, which I did, so what. There still is no record among any of those peoples of a pseudo christian society living among them.

As for steel, you're right, the Japanese have been making steel for thousands of years. Their culture, as well as the Chinese culture is over 4000 years old. Those guys have been around awhile. It also took the Japanese centuries to master the technique of working with steel. It is not an easy process. You have to know the type of steel you're working with, you need to know that high tensil steel holds an edge but is very brittle, and that low tensil steel is strong, but doesn't sharpen well. You need to learn how to fold the two together to form a nearly indestructible blade with an edge that rarely dulls. This is not something you learn over night; it takes centuries to master this process.

The peoples you're talking about, could not have learned the process of working steel by hand, in the short time frame you're talking about. What's more, those other cultures, the Incans, Aztecs, and Mayans, the folks who were still in existence when the Spanish came, would have had some idea of the process of working steel. They did not as far as I remember my early American History lessons. It was the Spanish who introduced them to steel, usually in the process of converting them.

I'll give you the fact that the BOM says the Nephites were wiped out, and their culture was wiped out. I'll give you that because if God wanted to erradicate a people, and remove all trace of them, he could do that. Sodom and Gamorrah come to mind. However, the BOM does not say that God eradicated these peoples right down the removal of all evidence of their culture. It says that the Nephites were hunted down and destroyed. God didn't smite them off the face of the earth; the enemies of the Nephites hunted them down.

No matter how tenacious those enemies were, they could not have wiped all remnants of the Nephites out of existence. Their own human failings would have prevented that. And the other cultures that were here, would bear some trace of the Nephite civilization. The evidence you point to in Mexico, is evidence of the Mayans and the Aztecs, not the Nephites and Lamanites. The Spanish did everything they could to erradicate the memories of those cultures, but could not do it; how is it, short of divine intervention, the Lamanites were able to do it to the Nephites? I just do see how its possible without God doing so, and your own writings don't support that conclusion.

Papa D... I apologize for the confusion. I misread something somewhere and mistook you for Pops. Didn't mean to.

Sincerely

Catholic Defender

pops said...

So, how many years does it take to learn how to make steel? What if they already knew how to make steel? Recall that Laban's sword, which they brought with them, was made of fine steel.

The Aztecs and the Maya are the descendants of the Lamanites. Somehow I keep failing to make that point.

One of the reasons the Spaniards weren't able to eradicate the Maya and the Aztec cultures is they forgot the part about killing all of them. Doh!

Anonymous said...

Then who are the people before the Mayans and Aztecs the descendants of? Because the people in that region can be traced back long before 2500 years ago.

Pops said...

Okay, take the Olmec civilization. They flourished in Mesoamerica from about 1400 BC to 400 BC. Then they disappeared. That correlates with the Jaredites in the Book of Mormon - also the part about how they were a race of very large people.

A relevant quote from Wikipedia: "It is not known with any clarity what caused the eventual extinction of the Olmec culture. It is known that between 400 and 350 BCE, population in the eastern half of the Olmec heartland dropped precipitously, and the area would remain sparsely inhabited until the 19th century."
According to the Book of Mormon, the Jaredites killed themselves in a war to the last man.

catholic defender said...

Good Morning Pops,

The problem I see with your theory that the Mayans and Aztecs being the Lamanites, is that those culture predate the Lamanites according to the timeline established in your BOM. As for erradicating those cultures, the Spanish did kill them pretty liberally, they just couldn't kill them all.

Even if you assume that Laban's sword was made of fine steel, that doesn't mean that Nephi and his family brought the ability to make steel with them. If I remember the story correctly, the Lord tells Nephi to take Laban's sword from him while Laban is in a drunken stupor. This isn't a sword that Lehi and his family made, its one they in a sense stole from someone else. Its a huge leapt to say that after they took Laban's sword, they somehow broke down the materials the sword was made from and recreated the process of converting iron ore into steel.

Assume the Olmec peoples do correlate with the same timeframe as the Jaredites. That does not mean they were the so called Jaredites. That's at best speculation. The Olmec people don't seem to have led any lifestyle which would tend to be a Judeo-Christian lifestyle.

I really have no desire to keep firing volleys at each other here, but I do want to make a point. The very arguments you're using to support the BOM, are the very arguments that weigh against it. Elder Holland probably gave a great and inspiring talk; I didn't hear it this year, but often do hear conference with my wife. But giving a great talk does not make things true. There's some buzz around the web that Elder Holland didn't even have the actual book he claimed to have. I don't know if that's the case, but consider what it means if that's true. It means he was not being genuine in what he was saying, he was misleading folks. Doesn't that concern you that someone of that magnitude in your church might resort to disingenuous methods to draw in peoples emotional response? It would concern me, because I'd want to know why if this is true, someone has to go through such distortion to support the claim. Just a thought.

Sincerely

Catholic Defender

Pops said...

CD,

You're absolutely right in saying that it's an opinion, not fact, to say that the Olmec were the Jaredites and the Aztec and Maya are descendants of the Lamanites. I'm not pretending to prove the Book of Mormon is true from the archeological evidence. I'm simply pointing out that the statement, "There is no archeological evidence to support the Book of Mormon" is a demonstrably false statement and should be challenged. That is not the same as saying, "The archeological evidence proves the Book of Mormon is true." If you don't understand the distinction, then there is no point in having this conversation.

Regarding Elder Holland's talk - there was a write-up in the local newspaper about how nervous the historians were to let him use the actual book that he used. There was some debate about whether he should wear the white gloves that are normally used when handling such artifacts. It was decided against because it would increase the danger of his dropping the book. Instead, he was advised to ensure that his hands were squeaky-clean whenever they touched the book.

So, the "distortion" most likely isn't a distortion, then, is it? You ask, "What if it's true?" But it's really a disservice to everybody - including yourself - to extrapolate from these kinds of assertions without doing some kind of checking to see if they have any validity or are just made up on the spot by those with an axe to grind. Otherwise, you come out sounding like someone with an axe to grind.

catholic defender said...

Hi Pops,

I don't want to come across as having an axe to grind, I really don't. I don't know if Elder Holland had the real book for his talk or a copy he said was the real book. Doesn't much matter to me either way. What I think does a disservice to your faithful followers, is the fact that the leaders in Salt Lake seem to want to promote the "true faith" so much, that they are willing to overlook important things to do so. Little things can add up to a big problem. There are inconsistencies in the BOM. There have been distortions of the facts by LDS leaders, and there have been distortion of facts by anti-LDS as well. The facts themselves though cause concern, because when considered even in a light favourable to the LDS church, things just don't seem to add up. That should cause one to pause and think, can this be true.

Consider what Elder Holland says about JS and Hyrum going to their graves "quoting from the true gospel." That's more or less what Holland says, the problem though is when you read factual accounts of what happened that day, the facts don't support the statement made by Elder Holland. I'm sure Elder Holland believes this is what happened, I'm sure he wants it to be true, but the facts don't support his opinion or belief. Does that by itself make your church untrue, no. But, it does make your critics stronger, and it makes those of us non-LDS less likely to put our trust in your leaders.

I don't see this as explaining away the BOM. I can explain it away, and you can explain it into existence, and we'll accomplish nothing in the end. But, if you really want to gain converts, I think your leaders, and the information you're promoting have got to be credible. Little things like saying you're using the actual book when you may not be, damage credibility. Anomolies in JS behaviour that are inconsistent with Christ's teachings, by themselves amount to very little, but when put into the context of supporting this church, do create credibility problems. The fact that your leaders are generally willing to ignore, or even explain away those inconsistencies, create a situation where people are less likely to trust your church. I think that you have to be honest in all your dealings, whether they are good or bad. I don't see that happening with your church leaders, and that causes concern.

Sincerely

Catholic Defender

Pops said...

CD,

Thanks for the sentiment - I agree with the point you're making. Honest conversation is a lot more useful than spin.

You do need to get off the "he used the wrong book" bandwagon. The Church in 2007 was given a copy, with the page turned down, that was purported to have been the book in question. They also came into possession (not sure when) of the copy Elder Holland used in his address which includes a statement of provenance written by Joseph F. Smith, son of Hyrum Smith. The Church owns both books. Elder Holland used the one that takes precedence due to the written statement. I fail to see how that amounts to deception.

You're a little off on the bit about when Hyrum read the passage from the Book of Mormon and folded down the corner of the page. That was the morning of the day Joseph and Hyrum were taken to Carthage, not the day they were killed. The day before they were killed, while in the jail, they did some reading from the Book of Mormon, though I don't know that anyone recorded precisely which passages they read.

You say, "but the facts don't support his opinion or belief" - I rather think they do. If you're going to assert otherwise, you really need to back it up with something.

Anonymous said...

For some interesting "evidence" of remnants of Book of Mormon people in pre-Columbian America, I would refer you to "Voices from the Dust: New Insights into Ancient America" by David Calderwood. While he incorrectly states LDS beliefs in a few instances and there is an obvious spin in the book (both from him and from the Spanish Chroniclers), if you look past that, there are some interesting nuggets in the book.

As for the Nephites having sufficient metalworking knowledge to make steel - or what they termed steel, which may not be the same as what we call it - the Book of Mormon text itself indicates that Nephi and probably Lehi had a deep interest in metal and metal workmanship and skills in working different types of metal before they left Jerusalem. According to the book referred to above, there were traces of that knowledge when the conquistadores arrived.

- Dave D.

Anonymous said...

Catholic Defender said "The fact that your leaders are generally willing to ignore, or even explain away those inconsistencies, create a situation where people are less likely to trust your church. I think that you have to be honest in all your dealings, whether they are good or bad."

I gotta admit, coming from a Catholic, that was rich, indeed.

Perhaps CD would like to have a discussion regarding actions Rome and/or various American diocese leaders have taken to cover up, conceal, and/or otherwise defend and protect priests with certain proclivities... or perhaps we could discuss that most holy of men, Pope Alexander VI?

As usual, those who are "concerned" regarding LDS motes, for example as to whether Elder Holland was holding the book he purported to be holding (especially when he in fact was), turn a blind eye to the gaping beams in their own eyes and/or the fundamentally broken "glass" in their own houses.

catholic defender said...

Dear Anonymous of Oct 22 @ 11:50PM,

If you've followed this blog at all, you'd know that I am not blind to my own churches foibles. I'm very much aware of the fact that the Popes along the way have made very bad decisions at times, and that the American Catholic Church has covered up some pretty serious atrocities. And look at the black eye 2000 years of stupidity has given my church. That's exactly the point I'm making. Your church being younger and claiming to have the "truth" really needs to learn from the mistakes of others. Yet your leaders do many of the same stupid things that the pope and other Catholic leaders have done over the centuries.

I really don't care if this was the actual book. But I do want to point out the distortion that I'm saying doesn't support the facts of Elder Holland's statement. As Pops explained Hyrum Smith read the BOM the morning of the day they were taken to Carthage. That's great, it explains a lot, but the problem is that is not how the message was conveyed to your members. To your members the message was that at the time Hyrum and JS were killed, they were reading the BOM and died with the words in their minds. Was it said that way, no, but it didn't need to be said that way to convey that message. All Elder Holland had to do was choose the right combination of words, and that message was spun to your members. But it isn't factual, and therein lies the distortion.

Again, the distortion is very minor, and by itself would be meaningless. But, when you look at the history your church has of making such minor distortions, it causes one to pause. That's the lesson that your elders really should be learning from the leaders of other churches that have gone before them. You can't spin things and still have credibility. Catholics are hopefully finally grasping this concept. I hope that your leaders will do the same in less time than its taken us.

Sincerely

Catholic Defender

Anonymous said...

CD said:

"That's the lesson that your elders really should be learning from the leaders of other churches that have gone before them. You can't spin things and still have credibility."

That's the whole thing you don't understand: It's not spin!

CD said

"Catholics are hopefully finally grasping this concept. I hope that your leaders will do the same in less time than its taken us."

I think you're projecting - putting motives on our leaders that you see in others. Just because groups A, B, C, and D do it doesn't mean that group E does. Your perception is colored by glasses that have been smudged for too long. That's a shame.

What Elder Holland said is true. I wish you could see that, but you sadly can't. You seem like a nice person.

Pops said...

CD,

Here are some quotes from Elder Holland's address:

"When Joseph Smith and his brother Hyrum started for Carthage to face what they knew would be an imminent martyrdom, Hyrum read these words to comfort the heart of his brother..."

...and this...

"...Hyrum turned down the corner of the page from which he had read, marking it as part of the everlasting testimony for which these two brothers were about to die..."

...and this...

"Later, when actually incarcerated in the jail, Joseph the Prophet turned to the guards who held him captive and bore a powerful testimony of the divine authenticity of the Book of Mormon."

It seems pretty clear to me that what he was saying matches the historical record - but then I'm familiar with the history and perhaps you aren't.

I think you may be a victim of the slander and libel that tends to surround the LDS Church - if you hear too much of it, some of it starts to stick. Elder Holland is about as straight-up a person as I have ever observed, though I don't know him personally.

I have a nickel I'm willing to make a bet on - if you could arrange to be in Salt Lake City some time, I'll bet he would be willing to meet with you and discuss your objections to his remarks. He's that kind of guy.

George J. said...

Sam - you said
"It's interesting that I have the exact opposite view of the BOM. I think it becomes less "true" every year as we learn more about archeology, DNA, textual issues and as more and more of "the most correct book on Earth's" many changes and permutations come to light. I think that one day it won't matter to Mormons, like the Bible, if the BOM is historically accurate, so long as it brings souls to Christ."

What I like about what you said is that you are a searcher for truth. And won't rest until you have it. Here are a few questions that may helpt:

1) Is there a God? If you have a belief about this, how do you know it is true?

2) What will happen to you when you die? If you have a belief about this, how do you know it is true?

3) If there is a God, in truth, is it His job to prove himself to us, or our job to prove ourselves to Him?

4) Is an intellectual approach to learning about God sufficient? Is it what Jesus taught?

I'll stop there - with the hope that these questions are helpful in your own search for truth. And may the Lord God bless you mightily on your spiritual journey.

Tony said...

Just saw this adress. I was half smiling and half quivering throughout the whole thing. I feel as though he has left members of this generation without excuse in his testimony of this Latter-day work and the BOM. He seems to have "shaken the blood from off of his garments" as it were. What a powerful testator!

Darion Alexander said...

I noticed that someone mentioned steel not being used or being made with advanced technology, etc etc. Just to point out, steel is made from Fe or Iron and is extracted from the ore via smelting, which according to some sources has been possible since the Bronze Age. It is just an alloy of Iron and Carbon together, which are very easy to find for those who know what to look for. There are various other formulas for different varieties of steel, but that's for another post.
If I am not mistaken....Jeremiah in the Bible even mentions it...where is it....yes, Jeremiah 15 verse 12 "Shall iron break the northern iron and the steel?" He was referring to a country in the north, probably a place called Chalybia...did I spell that correctly? So the art of making steel weapons was around during the time of Lehi and Nephi I have to assume, and it could be a bad assumption, that steel making was around even before Jeremiah's time.

twitterpated said...

You have to actually read the Book of Mormon before you can know it's the word of God. Most people won't do that. But they're more than willing to rip it apart.

Case in point: My mom was a convert to the church who had been praying to find the true church. She finally gave up and was ready to quit when the Mormons came to her door. She told me she had previously thought they were "too far out there," but as soon as they opened their mouths she knew that the message of salvation available to all was just what she was looking for.

Before this, she had too much respect for the Bible to read the Book of Mormon. But once she realized that the gospel message was true, she read the Book of Mormon. My mom said as soon as she read it, she recognized it as scripture. That was it. Her prayers were answered and she knew for herself. She didn't just believe. She knew.

You have to know the voice of the Lord from the Bible to know he's speaking in the Book of Mormon. If you don't, then you need to go back and read the Bible enough to know the Lord -- and don't skip the Old Testament.

A lot of people don't even take the time to find out that Jesus Christ is the Mighty One of Jacob, the Almighty God, the Great Jehovah. He is the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. He is the Everlasting Father, the Lord of Hosts. If you don't even bother to find out who Christ is, then should you be dictating to other people what he has and has not said? Is he who created the mouth speechless?

By the way, if you think Lehi and Nephi don't exist, you ought to ask the Lord about it. He's the one who knows, and he can and does speak for himself. Go to the horse's mouth rather than debate it with mere mortals. And if you don't believe Jesus can answer, then you're the one who has a problem ... with your ears.

CatholicGirl said...

Twitterpated:

Actually, God does have a mouth and this is what he said:

In many and various ways God spoke of old to our fathers by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by a Son."26 Christ, the Son of God made man, is the Father's one, perfect and unsurpassable Word. In him he has said everything; there will be no other word than this one. St. John of the Cross, among others, commented strikingly on Hebrews 1:1-2:


In giving us his Son, his only Word (for he possesses no other), he spoke everything to us at once in this sole Word - and he has no more to say. . . because what he spoke before to the prophets in parts, he has now spoken all at once by giving us the All Who is His Son. Any person questioning God or desiring some vision or revelation would be guilty not only of foolish behavior but also of offending him, by not fixing his eyes entirely upon Christ and by living with the desire for some other novelty.
27


That is what I believe. That is what I pray on. Why is my answer false and yours true? We've already established that we can each pray things into existance. However, secularly, my Church has a proven history and yours doesn't. That is the difference here, so don't insult anyone's prayer. Don't say I'm "not listening". I listen. I just listened and felt the Lord in something else. And for the record, I read enough of the BoM to establish in my own mind its complete and utter lunacy, and refuse to insult my Lord by praying on something that I secularly know as false. It would be like praying on why the sky is green and the sea orange. Its just not worth it.

George J. said...

Dear Catholic Girl,

Here's what Paul says in Hebrews 1:1-2, from the King James Version of the Bible (can we agree the King James version is acceptable as a source? Which Bible did you quote from, anyway?):

"God who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets,
Hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds."

So, it says God the Father has spoken to (Paul and the saints) by His Son (Jesus). It does not say The Father or the Son will not speak again any more words. And if it did, it invalidates every single word in the Bible written after the book of Hebrews, which we both would reject (the Bible is a compilation, and was not written at one sitting by any one author).

PLEASE reconsider your position that God is done talking. It is not correct. If you don't feel you can pray about the Book of Mormon, then try just building your relationship with Him, beyond saying pre-written prayers, by talking with Him. He loves us and is so quick to come to us - when we go to Him in pure humility and sincerity and ask for His help! Your prayer was not answered correctly because you already have an answer you are not willing to reconsider (are you?), even if God should speak to you - and perhaps He already has and you have rejected what He said. When we reject Him the Holy Ghost withdraws from us and we are left to ourselves and our own wisdom. The Book of Mormon is the word of God and if the word of God is lunacy - well you be the judge.

CatholicGirl said...

George J-

Actually, the idea of KJV being an acceptable source is a bit laughable to me. It's not an acceptable edition in my faith, it leaves out books and the translation is not great. I use NRSV, approved by the National Conference of Catholic Bishops.

The quote above is from the Cathechism, the D&C of the Catholic faith. Perhaps I should clarify-

By having his Son sacrifice his life for us, the Father left his last Holy "Word" on his covenant with man. This word cannot and shall not be usurped by a prophet. To state anything that would change the entired nature of the covenant, or the entire aspect of religion, like the BoM does, is heresey and offensive to the Lord. However, just because the whole prophecy and covenant have been revealed, does not mean that it has been fully explained. The Lord does continue to speak with his "Bride on Earth" aka the Catholic Church through personal revelations that are evaluated for merit and spiritual truth. These revelations include such traditions as the Rosary, so obviously we are still listening to God. These revelations make the scriptures relevant and alive in modern times, but do NOT change the foundation of the Church. This is very important. As far as "talking with God", do LDS actually believe that all we do is say the Our Father and have done with it? I believe it was St. Francis of Assisi who spoke on praying all day, every day in a common man's language. Offer every thought up to the Lord. While I cannot claim such a holy ritual, I certainly talk with my Lord outside of preconcieved prayers. I have my answer. You have yours. Let's just say I won't tell you you're wrong if you don't say I am. It's just rude. The differences that will prove the BoM true or false don't lie in anyone's bosom, or "knowing it's true", they lie in science. Which is what we were talking about in the first place. But, having explained my Church's stance on future prophets, you see why I cannot accept the BoM in any way.

George J. said...

Dear Catholic Girl,

Thanks for your reply. I see you are serious about your faith, and as you hope I will respect your faith, so I hope you will respect mine. Can we agree as we discuss the sacred in a Christian context to not use words like "lunacy" and "laughable" in our dialog?

Here are some reflections on your thoughts:

1) "The differences that will prove the BoM true or false don't lie in anyone's bosom, or "knowing it's true", they lie in science."

Science is the knowledge of man. Science cannot prove or disprove God. One of the great problems of our times is that people rely on Science and forget God and His commandments. The way to know God is spiritual and spiritual only. It is by the power of the Holy Ghost that the Prophets speak, and that we may know what is of God. The "burning in the bosom" is indeed one way the Holy Ghost can manifest truth to us, but certainly not the only way. It is by the power of the Holy Ghost that we can "know" the truth.

2) "To state anything that would change the entired nature of the covenant, or the entire aspect of religion, like the BoM does, is heresey and offensive to the Lord"

Here is what the Lord, God says: "And because I have spoken one word ye need not suppose that I cannot speak another; for my work is not yet finished; neither shall it be until the end of man, neither from that time henceforth and forever." -2 Nephi 29:9 (The Lord speaks on this throughout the whole chapter.)

Respectfully yours,

George J. said...

To Catholic Girl (continued):
3. "As far as "talking with God", do LDS actually believe that all we do is say the Our Father and have done with it? I believe it was St. Francis of Assisi who spoke on praying all day, every day in a common man's language. "

In this, Catholic Girl, we are in complete agreement, and I am edified and respectful in this newfound knowledge that you believe it is God's teaching that we are to pray always. This is what the scriptures teach. For one example, the Lord says: "But behold, I say unto you that ye must pray always and not faint; that ye must not perform any thing unto the Lord save in the first place ye shall pray unto the Father in the name of Christ, that he will consecrate thy performance unto thee, that thy performance may be for the welfare of thy soul." -2nd Nephi 32:9; and see also Alma 34:17-27, and then in v. 29 the Lord adds: "Therefore, if ye do not remember to be charitable, ye are as dross, which the refiners do cast out..."

4. "...having explained my Church's stance on future prophets, you see why I cannot accept the BoM in any way."

If I understand correctly, the thought is that any profit or revelation or writing after Christ is false, because after He came and died for us that was the end of revelation and the heavens were sealed. Here's my best understanding of what happened - after Christ was crucified and his apostles dead, except John the beloved who was told he could tarry on earth until the Lord would come again, and who was taken away as the last surviving apostle because of the wickedness of the world at the time, the great apostasy spoken of in the scriptures began. For nearly 2000 years it persisted, and good men and women did what they could to preserve Christianity. However grievous wolves entered in as well, and spiritual darkness overcame the earth. It was not until God the Father and his wonderful Son, Jesus Christ, appeared to the Prophet Joseph Smith and announced the restoration of the Church of Jesus Christ complete with authority from God (always on condition of righteousness only) that the light of the Lord began again to illuminate the earth. We are still at the beginning stages, and there is still much confusion and concern about this. But as the Master himself said "By their fruits shall ye know them." And what are the fruits of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (speaking of the Church as a whole and not of some individual errant members)? Are they Charity? Humility? Faith? Hope? Belief in Christ? I hope so - and if not this church shall be help accountable by God for gross negligence of His holy restoration.

Respectfully yours,

Catholic Girl said...

George J-

I apologize, I did not mean "laughable" in an offensive manner, the KJV mention that always inevitably comes in up in these sort of discussions just always makes me laugh, because it is such a difference, yet so ill-known! I thoroughly apologize for the use of "lunacy".

I am interested in knowing what is thought of St. Peter in the LDS church. To us, he is the man, "the rock" who continued Our Lord's teachings and solidified the Magisterium of the Catholic Churth, that is, it's authority to pass along Scripture- the writings of God given breath by the Holy Spirit. We also have Tradition, which is the Word of God passed on through the Holy Spirit through the apostles. Through these three, Tradition, Scripture, and Magisterium, the Catholic church has kept its authority on the covenant with the Lord. This is just how I believe the succession has gone. The Catholic Church is apostolic, we were founded by the apostles. History itself points to this, and we believe we have carried the Tradition with the help of the Lord.

Other differences that make me so strong in my faith are things such as The Trinity, which to me rings true of Divinity. I know of the Godhead, my best friend is currently an LDS missionary, but my God was never a man of flesh and bone. My God is, was, and forever shall be, world without end. He is Three Men in One because that is how he chooses to reveal himself to men whose language can never encapsulate the richness and divinity of his being. I've never liked the claim of the LDS church that they alone know the nature of God. Only God knows the nature of God, and even we, his chosen people on Earth, only know what he shares with us at his kind discretion.

Another thing I have always found comforting in my faith, that I did find odd in the LDS traditions was the emphasis on family. My faith is a personal matter. For Catholics, we are taught that each and everyone of us is a Church unique to ourselves and our Lord and we are to cherish that personal relationship more than any other relationship in this world. I know that each LDS is encouraged to develop a "testimony" and have personal faith, but the view of God having a "familiar unit" and the imagery of that being the most ideal way to lead one's life instead of it being to be completely and whole-heartedly interestd in developing a relationship with the Lord is a bit odd. Once again, I'm sure it is LDS doctrine that God comes first, and I would never dream of saying otherwise. I'm merely speaking of what is emphasized, which is completely different. Our spiritual leaders our men and women who have led lives completely devoted to only the Lord, which is so comforting to me that it's hard to explain. Yet in LDS, they would be frowned upon for not building a family. This, to me, is just a matter of wrong thinking. I love that our Priests are so studied in theology and prayer. While I will most likely enter into the sacrament of marriage, I always know there are those dedicating their lives to the preservation of Scripture and that ALONE so I may serve the Church in other capacities. Now, you have my beliefs, feel free to counter. But this is just why I feel so strongly about my faith and specifically why I could never leave for LDS or any other faith for that matter, not a direct attack on LDS doctrine. It's really not a matter of not feeling the Spirit. (And I know that that didnt come from you, that argument just makes me so mad!)

catholic defender said...

Hi All,

Catholic Girl, welcome, its good to see another defender out there. I might suggest that you look at the Duoay Rheims Bible, another acceptable Catholic Translation. The one you're using is good, but the DR translation has so much more of the substance of what's been said. Like you, I don't agree that the KJV is the most reliable source.

Darion, I'm the one who made reference to steel. I don't believe that I said that knowledge of working steel was not available at the time of Lehi. What I believe I said was that there's no evidence that the peoples who were here in the Americas had knowledge of working steel. The Japanese clearly knew how to work steel long before anyone else. The Romans knew the process. Its likely that in the timeframe you'r talking about, that knowledge of working steel was available in the Judeo-Christian world. But, that said, there is no indication that Lehi knew the process, and there is clearly no evidence that the knowledge of working steel got here to the Americans during the timeframe you're talking about. That knowledge comes over when the europeans start coming. Its a clear contradiction of the words in the BOM. That does cause concern, and tends to cause credibility problems. Does it mean I'm right, I believe that I am, but I will recognize the possibility that I don't know everything, and could be wrong.

catholic defender said...

Dear Twitterpated,

I think you assume too much when you say "You have to actually read the Book of Mormon before you can know it's the word of God. Most people won't do that. But they're more than willing to rip it apart." You assume that Catholic Girl and I have not read it. Like her, I have read the BOM, with an open mind looking for truth, and praying about it. Such a reading of the BOM has left an impression upon me that the BOM is not true, and is a fabrication.

I understand that you will disagree with me, and may even believe that my reading of the BOM was insincere. I assure you that my reading of it was sincere, with a desire to know, so that I could share the same understanding of God that my wife has. Understand that the easiest path for a person like myself married to a member of your church, would be to simply say I believe, and convert. I do not take that easy path, because I do not believe your faith is the true faith and I will not lie to my wife or God just because it would make life easier. The point is don't just assume that your critic are out to get you by any means necessary. Don't assume that non-LDS are not familiar with the voice of God, we are, even if we don't always listen well, we do know him when he speaks. Some of us really are searching for truth, we are just getting a different truth.

George, its interesting that you choose Francis of Assisi in your example. See Francis is one of those Saints that gives me reason to disbelieve in the LDS faith. Francis was told to restore God's church. He mistook the message to mean he was to rebuild an old broken down church building. What God was telling him was not a literal rebuilding, but was a message to return to a more Christ like path. Catholic teachings were change, based upon revelations given to Francis, and the church was improved because of those revelations. This is an example of God continuing to give revelations to his peoples...not just prophets as your faith would suggest, but to us all. He's with all of us, at all times. That's what I believe.

A last thought, then I'll stop. Christ promised us all the Holy Spirit. Christ promised that his spirit would be with us always. What I find strikingly contradictory in the LDS faith, is that the Holy Spirit is only with you, so long as you are on a righteous path. That's contradictory to me, because in my experience, and in my own church's teachings, the Holy Spirit presence is strongest when we are faltering in our faith and when we are straying from the path, not when we are most rigtheous. God is working on the most, when we need him the most...at the times we are sinning. That's happening because its at those times we really need to feel his loving hand. Something to ponder.

Sincerely

Catholic Defender

George J. said...

Catholic Girl,

Apology accepted, with thanks for your sensitivity, and appreciation for the healthy dialog in this most worthy of topics - The Father and The Son and The Holy Ghost and their doings among the children of men!

So, a few thoughts follow -

1)"I am interested in knowing what is thought of St. Peter in the LDS church."

-Peter was the head apostle of the Church of Jesus Christ, appointed and set apart by the Lord himself. After Jesus died, Peter James and John became the head of the twelve apostles, and head of the Church, standing in place of Christ since He was no longer on the earth. After the last apostle was killed except the one who was allowed to tarry until Jesus comes again - John – (in John 20:21-23, Jesus said to Peter “If I will that he tarry till I come, what is that to thee? Follow thou me...Then went this saying abroad among the brethren, that that disciple should not die, yet Jesus said not unto him, He shall not die; but If I will that he tarry till I come, what is that to thee?”), John was taken away from the Church. The now immortal John is still living on earth, doing as the Lord wills, but not leading the Church...because the great apostasy foretold in the Bible began after Jesus and the Apostles were killed and John was taken away. While good men and women did their best during the dark ages, it wasn't until the Renaissance had flowered and a land founded on the heaven-inspired principles of liberty and religious tolerance was prepared by the Lord that the Priesthood and Church of Jesus Christ were restored through the Prophet Joseph Smith. God the Father and Jesus Christ his beloved son appeared to Joseph in answer to his prayer that day in the spring of 1820, and the rest followed. As the Church was formed, twelve Apostles were once again called of God, and now continue today. (see http://www.lds.org/library/display/0,4945,104-1-3-4,00.html for Joseph's own words describing this, the greatest event in human history since Christ).

2. "...I did find odd in the LDS traditions was the emphasis on family"

"The family is ordained of God. Marriage between man and woman is essential to His eternal plan. Children are entitled to birth within the bonds of matrimony, and to be reared by a father and a mother who honor marital vows with complete fidelity. Happiness in family life is most likely to be achieved when founded upon the teachings of the Lord Jesus Christ."

For a fascinating reading and a brief summary of the Church Of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints' Proclaimation on the Family, see

http://www.lds.org/ldsorg/v/index.jsp?hideNav=1&locale=0&sourceId=5fd30f9856c20110VgnVCM100000176f620a____&vgnextoid=e1fa5f74db46c010VgnVCM1000004d82620aRCRD

Trust me, the Lord comes first, and He has charged all of us to rear our children in righteousness.

Enough for this time. Sure appreciate your forthrightness and respect your obvious integrity.

George J said...

Dear Catholic Defender,

You said “Understand that the easiest path for a person like myself married to a member of your church, would be to simply say I believe, and convert. I do not take that easy path, because I do not believe your faith is the true faith and I will not lie to my wife or God just because it would make life easier.”

Above all, the ethical man MUST follow the dictates of his conscience. Period. While I see my belief in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints as the greatest of the many gifts God has blessed me with, it is clear that all good men and women are not in this life members of this Church. When I consider some of the greatest people and recognize they are not members of any given Church, it reminds me not to judge a person by his Church! Take Mother Theresa for example. If 1/10 of what I have heard about her awesome life is correct, she was a woman of tremendous spiritual power and one of the greatest forces for good anywhere, anytime. In the end I believe that on Judgement Day God will judge us on who we were and what we did with what we had – what He gave us - in this life rather than what Church we were members of or what we professed to believe. The Book of Mormon says “By faith we are saved after all we can do”. This means that members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints – or any other Christian or non-Christian church (Gandhi, for example) are not any better than anyone else, unless they/we live according to what God gives us and will judge us by. There seems to be no recipe to all this, however, each circumstance seems to differ, depending on our God-given mission in life, our personality maybe, our upbringing – God meets us on our own ground, whatever it is.

By the same token, God seems to generally give us what we want, and what He wants. When He sends us a gift of Truth, He and we rejoice when that gift is accepted. And morn if not. As we follow life's path, the many branches can take us almost anywhere. The one way to God is found by passing life's tests, which bring spiritual gifts like humility and love and faith, hope and charity. I'm sure neither you nor I believe in predestination! It is bit by bit, here a little and there a little that we grow close to God, governed by our day to day and even moment to moment choices on how we will live. As we seek Him diligently and faithfully follow Him, His reward includes growth in our knowledge of Him – not intellectual as the world defines the word, but in sure knowledge of Him and the way things really are! Take the man who determines to grow close to God, to please Him, to live life His way, in spite of personal inconveniences, even at the risk of reputation, maybe even at the risk of life itself. Job was such a man, (Job 1:1), and the scriptures are full of many such wonderful examples. No such man will be rejected by God! The Book of Mormon makes this very clear: “except ye have charity ye can in nowise be saved.” Irrespective of what Church we belong to, what ordinances we have received, if we do not live as true followers of the Master, it all does us no good, Temple Ordinances, Baptism, or whatever standing we may have had in our Church, Community, Profession, or anything else. And as we grow in charity and closeness to God, His light and guidance is sufficient for us to continue on the path that leads to Him, even if we can only see 1 step ahead. However the moment we turn away from His guidance and lift ourselves up in Pride, we lose our way. The process is exceedingly delicate and requires exceeding care and dedication on our part. Few if any (Christ excepted) make it the first try – but then there is repentance, on account of the atonement of Christ, which God has commanded us to do and if we do He forgives us and we can continue of our life's path toward Him. He is so nice to us!

(continued next post)

George J said...

Catholic Defender (continued) -

All this by way of saying how much I appreciate you and your seeking God! Keep on the path and He will surely come close to you and your knowledge will grow and grow – same as for me and for any man who will seek God. No man can prove Him or disprove Him – it is by faith and our seeking that we come to know more surely than any scientist what is truth and what is not. May our path take us, devoted and humble, to Him, the Master, and to His Father! God bless us both in our quest.

Respectfully yours

Anonymous said...

After reading the comments left here, I need to really congradulate you all for having a debate that was civilized. That's almost unheard of with regards to religion.

All I'm going to add is a response to Catholic Girl.

Faith, as I have always been taught, means "the belief in something that cannot be seen."

Having belief in God is an example of faith, one cannot scientifically prove His existence nor His nonexistence.

The same thing lies within an LDS's testimony in the regards of the Book of Mormon. If you're looking to disprove the BoM, you're doing it wrong. You are not exercising faith, which is what really all of us being Christian is about. I'm not saying "if you aren't exercising faith in the BoM, you're doing it wrong" but I'm saying, if you haven't read the BoM or haven't prayed about it with real intent, your comments (or the comments of ANY religious critic of the BoM)are invalid.

Blake