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

Friday, December 05, 2014

More to LDS Garments Than Meets the Eye

A few days ago I discussed the new video from the Church discussing basics of the LDS garment. Today I'd like to mention some interesting connections it has to ancient religion. Our critics assume that Joseph Smith just plagiarized the concept of the Temple from pieces of Free Masonry mingled with scripture or other influences from Joseph's environment. There is no question that there are some common elements with Masonry, as I discuss on my LDSFAQ page on temples and Masonry. But for those wondering if the Temple is a modern invention, there I raise several issues there that point to  ancient roots for key aspects of the Temple.

One issue that I am adding to my previous comments on the Temple is the antiquity of the LDS concept of temple garments, including the use of some simple marks on the garments to remind us of covenants to follow God. For those interested in better understanding the ancient nature of the LDS temple and its practices, there are some outstanding and thought-provoking resources you may wish to consider.

I suggest beginning with Blake Ostler's article "Clothed Upon" in BYU Studies, 1982. Brother Ostler explains the numerous connections between the endowment and sacred garments in the ancient world. There is a reasonable case to be made that the LDS temple and LDS temple garments can be viewed as a restoration of ancient concepts that are not easily explained as elements from Joseph's environment. There are some intriguing surprises in that article for LDS people familiar with the Temple.

After reading Ostler, take a look at a later article from John W. Welch and Claire Foley, "Gammadia on Early Jewish and Christian Garments," BYU Studies, vol. 36:3 (1996–97). There you will find more interesting connections with the ancient world of Christianity and Judaism. Of course, some symbols of note such as the compass and square go back long before modern Masonry and can even be seen in the ancient Egyptian document we have in the Book of Abraham, known as Facsimile 2.

Many minor details in the LDS temple and in temple clothing can change with time, but core elements are unchanged and speak not of modern copying but very ancient roots, in ways that can enhance our respect for the temple. There is more to it (and to temple garments) than meets the eye.

98 comments:

Orbiting Kolob said...

Jeff, the two articles you linked are mildly interesting, but they don't provide any support that I can see for the antiquity of LDS beliefs and practices.

I was born and raised Jewish, right through Hebrew School and Bar Mitzvah and beyond, and I see nothing remotely Jewish about LDS notions of priesthood, temple, etc. Nephite culture and theology is that of 19th-century frontier Christianity; it has no resemblance to the First Temple Judaism in which Nephi was supposedly reared. And Mormon temples have not even the remotest resemblance to the Jewish temples, in terms of appearance, ritual, or function. Ditto for the ancient Israelite priesthood and the LDS priesthood.

Plenty of bona fide scholars have written genuine histories tracing Jewish beliefs and practices from ancient times through the present. The relation of contemporary forms of Judaism to their ancient antecedents is well understood and extensively documented; it's a matter of history accessible to Jewish and non-Jewish scholars alike.

One certainly cannot say the same about Mormon beliefs and practices, whose relation to the ancient world is a matter of faith, not of of any evidence that is even remotely persuasive to non-LDS scholars.

For an example of how an authentically ancient tradition can demonstrate its ancientness, you might want to read (as just one of many good histories) Jacob Neusner's A Short History of Judaism.

Then you might want to ask why it is that no similar book has ever been written about Mormonism.

champatsch said...

+OK. You blithely make assertions about things that are notoriously hard to prove one way or another. Your scorn is misplaced when you write that "Nephite culture and theology is that of 19c frontier Christianity". I'm no expert on that, but surely evidence can be asserted either way, and it will be difficult to conclusively support your assertion. In contrast, I can conclusively support the inaccessibility to J. Smith of syntax and lexis in the BofM.

Nephi's killing of Laban is rooted in notions clearly found in the book of Exodus. I've heard a 60-year-old Jewish convert to Mormonism declare more than once in a Mormon sacrament meeting that Mormonism is the completion of Judaism. He's faced heavy intolerance from his father repeatedly with aplomb.

Also, if a "bona fide" scholar supports the BofM in one way or another, then to you they are no longer legitimate. Your approach is in itself illegitimate.

Anonymous said...

I am not at all as well-read on these kinds of topics as I should be, but I have done a little. However, I have read the New Testament. A lot. And I am confused as to why Mormons want to trace their religious genealogy back into the Old Testament world. I am confused as to why Mormons like Nibley get so excited when they find similarities between ancient Egyptian ritualistic practice and contemporary Mormonism. That should be a warning sign, in my opinion, that something is amiss. Sure, maybe Mormonism and ancient Eygptian ritual have a common ancestor. But even if they do, who or what exactly is that ancestor? The writings of Paul in the New Testament more than suggest that Christ represents a complete and total break with the old ways. The Book of Mormon claims that secret signs and passwords have their origin in Satan. Polygamy didn't start with Abraham, but with a descendent of Cain, according to the Bible.

But even if this is true that Mormonism is the original ancient religion, and as such, has rituals and signs and passwords and garments - if this is true, shouldn't Mormonism stop trying to make nice with the Protestant world, which has thoroughly and totally rejected all of this stuff over the centuries? Isn't Mormonism actually closer spiritual kin to Kabalah, Rosicrucianism, Freemasonry, Hermeticism, and other occult traditions?

Anonymous said...

Ancient Prophets did have many wives and concubines.

In the Bible God condemns divorce (along with other immoral actions) but yet mainstream Christianity has a very high divorce rate. Yeah, people complain about Mormons, but mainstream Christianity does not practice what it preaches either.

The compass and square are found in many ancient cultures. Some ancient people before the time of Christ knew about Christ.

Anonymous said...

I am surprised you again touch on Masonry. Yes Joseph did take from Masonry. One only has to go through the Masonic rite to see that.
I am very surprised that you do not mention that masons were very likely in the crowd that killed Joseph. The one thing joseph did that was highly offensive to Masonry was his Polyandry. Chasing and marrying the wives of living Masons is loudly and strictly prohibited.
I would love to see you spend your time on Joseph breaking sacred vows to Masonry regarding Polyandry..
BTW, what would LDS men do if there was a knock on the door and it was Joseph picking up your 14 year old daughter for a church dance?
I note that in the church essay they mention one of his wives was "almost fifteen". That is very juvenile writing. It's like a kid sayin dad, I'm almost sixteen can I borrow the car. Transparency would dictate that the Church would be forthright and say the girl was fourteen. But they can't do it.
Many of us have been driven from the church by rabid and nasty leadership. Our sins have been far less than Joseph's.
I do not make insults. I am being transparent.

Zerabp said...

Orbiting Kolob, if you think the articles fail to make the connection between ancient Israel and early Christianity, that tells me far more about you than said articles. Both contain extensive bibliographies to back the assertions made in each. This tells me that your are intellectually dishonest and that is without even reading the rest of your comment.

Jeff thank you for the post, I found it very informative and even inspiring. Keep up the good work. The fact you get so many critics posting here tells me you're doing something right.

Your apologia, and sources linking to others apologia, helped remove a lot of stumbling blocks from me when I was a teenager and was first confronted with the difficulties regarding the historicity of the Book of Mormon. Your work has and will continue to have a special place in my life. So thanks again for both then and now.

Anonymous said...

I always appreciate your comments, Orbiting Kolob. It's so sad when faithful Mormons resort to attacking a commenter who reacts critically.
I think some Mormons do too much to associate their temple rites with a history that does not exist before the Masons made it up. The real truth of the matter is that more and more Mormons feel bewildered and downright bored by the temple ritual, especially women. Why not discuss how to make the temple make sense to people today, rather than try to justify it with a nonexistent historicity? Why not discuss the shadow of polygamy that still rests upon the temple ritual?
As for the beheading Laban comment, are you aware of its roots in masonic folklore? Look up the "sword being used to behead a sleeping enemy" story. Joseph was a real wiz at remixing preexisting culture. The only problem is he claimed it came from god's lips to his ears, and not from his imagination and resourcefulness.

Pierce said...

"The real truth of the matter is that more and more Mormons feel bewildered and downright bored by the temple ritual, especially women."

In the past year, I have done a lot more research and pondering on the garden narrative and how the story, as presented in the temple, relates to me. And I can tell you that I have had some amazing insights that I think about almost every day. It has affected the way that I view my marriage--that I am nothing without my spouse in the eternities. "Bewildered?" Sounds like you're describing a first-timer.

A Mormon will get what they put into their temple experience, just like a religious person will get what they put into their own religious experience in general. If what you're saying is true (I'm sure that you're actually just generalizing based off of an assumption), then the problem may be that we are bored because we expect to be entertained. The temple experience is not a social network, nor is the film directed by Michael Bay. It's not about being entertained. It's about mediation, pondering, feeling, cosmology, engagement, and instruction. When you're not in the right frame of mind that night, or at that time in your life, then it will be boring.

"Why not discuss the shadow of polygamy that still rests upon the temple ritual?"
What are you talking about here?

thekidsaresleeping said...

Pierce,

Polygamy is an unavoidable condition of exaltation. If one must be sealed eternally in marriage to be exalted, then this means an equal number of men and women will need to be exalted in order to avoid polygamous relationships in the after-life. This is the logical conclusion one must draw if one accepts the doctrine of exaltation as it is understood today. The temple is where one meets the requirements of exaltation through saving ordinances. This is just one example of how the shadow of polygamy continues in the church today. Also, the truthfulness of the church is entirely dependent on the handling of polygamy. One may say that all one needs to have a testimony of the church is to believe Joseph Smith was a prophet, but there are other Mormon sects that believe this, too. These sects broke away from Mormonism after the martyrdom and abandoned polygamy. So, one may say that one then needs a testimony of Brigham Young, but fundamentalist Mormons sects today still have a testimony of Brigham Young, and apparently they are false. So, to distinguish ourselves from them, we must then say that one needs a testimony in the Manifesto of 1890. It all comes down to that. As members of the Salt Lake branch of Mormonism, all truth claims come down to the Manifesto of 1890. Polygamy is never going away. It can't. The SL Mormons can never say that polygamy was wrong when it was practiced. They need it to have been from God. And they need it now not to be approved by God. If polygamy was wrong then, they are wrong now. If it is right now, they are wrong now. They require it to be both right then and wrong now. Otherwise, there is another branch of Mormonism out there that can lay claim to being the church Joseph restored.

Pierce said...

I see your points and don't really dispute them. However, I don't really see how polygamy casts a shadow on the temple ritual itself, which is what was stated and how I understood it. I take it now that you don't actually mean that polygamy is part of the ceremony, correct? Because I have never seen that.

"Polygamy is an unavoidable condition of exaltation.
This is a hyper-inflated statement to me. Here's why: It is an unavoidable condition of exaltation for whom? Everyone? It is impossible to make that assumption or to talk numbers in this scenario. I think the answer to that question is "no."
Your logic is sound, and I think plenty of people believe that and have believed that. Righteous women may very well outnumber men. But how many, and what this theory means to the individual is not something that concerns me as a Latter-Day Saint. Polygamous sealings are not happening now, nor are they foreshadowed in the temple in any way.

What you have is a theory, and implying that opening this dialogue up as a way to enrich our temple experience doesn't make sense.

"These sects broke away from Mormonism after the martyrdom and abandoned polygamy."
This is an interesting thought, but personally, I think the LDS church distinguishes itself in many ways aside from polygamy. Its size, legacy, integrity, missionary efforts, reach, production, organization, community and cultural impact, temple building, and many other factors indicate that this church is the snowball that started in 1830. Add to that the majority of the saints, apostles, and church records that followed the SLC church, and that many branches have fizzled out or disavowed the unique teachings of JS (i.e.Community of Christ).

To me, the truthfulness of the church in comparison to others doesn't have anything to do with polygamy, but by its fruits. I think this one has much more fruit.

thekidsaresleeping said...

Pierce,....fair enough. Thanks for the conversation.

Pierce said...

I appreciated it too. Thank you

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

A reminder to commenters: posts on specific topics like the LDS temple are not a license for off-topic rants on other topics. I appreciate that you may have a list of big things you don't like about the LDS faith and its leaders past or present, but not every post here is a suitable place for your views, and those views may occasionally be deleted. Sorry if that further offends you.

Mormography said...

Pierce -

"Polygamous sealings are not happening now"?

Oaks and Nelson(?) are usual examples of even LDS leaders engaging in recent ploygamous sealings. Was there a press release announcing a discontination of this practice?

Anonymous said...

I used to care if the temple rituals were ancient. I don't care any more but I cherish them none the less. I don't care how the covenants are presented, what matters to me is that I made the covenants. I find comfort in God allowing me to make covenants with Him. I find nothing wrong with wearing sacred clothing as a reminder of those covenants. We should focus on the antiquity of the covenants and not if the presentation of the covenants were ancient. Even if the covenants are not ancient, I still wouldn't care, after all, the fullness of the gospel has been revealed in our day and not in any other previous day.

Steve

Pierce said...

Morm,
A man in the church cannot be married to 2 living women in the church, which is what I'm talking about right now. Polygamy in any fashion is not required nor is it mentioned in the temple ceremony, which is avast anonymous seemed to have asserted

Pierce said...

*what anonymous seemed to have asserted

flying fig said...

It seems interesting to me that you will use apocrypha and other dubious writings to support the antiquity of the LDS concept of temple garments when the Bible will not.
My question is, when will the Quran, The Vedas, or the Jehovah's Witnesses NWT be a supporting text?
How do you determine what's authoritative when it comes to LDS theology? Does it matter?


flying fig said...

BTW, the above comment was directed to Mormanity

Mormography said...

Pier,

Your comment was actually directed at thekidsaresleeping who may or may not have been anonymous. What thekidsaresleeping and anonymous seemed to assert was the Brigham Young promoted and later propagated doctrine that plygamy is a requirement for exaltion. An assetion you clearly seemed to understand when you replied with the "tedious, monotonous" retorts of that was just a theory, not offical doctrine. Again you have reduced another Church forefather's teachings to "hyper-inflated statement"s and theories.

As thekidsaresleeping clearly decribe in the response, the marriage exaltion revelations were revealed together w polygamy and were promoted, propagated together, hence the shadow. In addition to the foundational reasons thekidsaresleeping explained, it is in fact still practiced in theory. I am not aware of anyone here or anywhere else suggesting the marriage ceremony between two people explicitly describing polygamy or a third human party to the marriage.

Pierce said...

What are you going on about? Did you even fully read the conversation? Thekidsaresleeping was coming from a logical angle by talking about how an equal number of men and women need to be exalted. I didn't brush it off as unofficial doctrine. What kids said was a theory, as kids was approaching this from a logical standpoint, and as polygamy is not required for my personal exaltation, according to the current temple ceremony and teachings of current church leaders. That seemed to make sense to the person I was speaking to.
I would appreciate you keeping your insults to yourself as you make better attempts to grasp a conversation between other people. If you want to join the conversation and take the 'Brigham Young taught so and so angle,' just state your case honestly and cordially.

Pierce said...

This post isn't about polygamy, so perhaps this side conversation should end.

Mormography said...

Funny. Declaring "hyper-inflated statement" is of course not at all the same as brushing something off as unoffical doctrine. Then there is the usual insults, while requesting you not be insulted. kindaof like violently protesting imaginary violence. Your decision to cease and desist is a long time coming especially considering your behavior caused Mormanity to have to close a comment section recently. You are beginning to learn respect for someone you supposedly admire.

Anonymous said...

For the record, I'm the anonymous that was deleted, and I'm not thekidsaresleeping. Also, I made no attacks on any current or past leaders, and I'm not offended, so please don't assign feelings to me, Jeff. I'm perfectly fine with Mormons believing what they believe, but the selective ignorance can stand a little sunlight once in a while.

Jeff Lindsay said...

Sorry. Regarding the deleted comment, I overreacted on the fly. Saw an email come in showing a comment about the creepiness of polygamy - I certainly don't like that concept at all, by the way - and thought, "Why do people think any post on any topic is an excuse to rant about polygamy?" Delete. But this overlooked the fact that polygamy had already been raised on this post and my deletion wasn't really fair. I really don't like deleting comments. Probably should have left it, or actually, should have acted earlier to keep the discussion along lines I felt were on-topic.

Jeff Lindsay said...

I don't accept the Koran as holy writ, and question the doctrinal validity of content in "the apocrypha and other dubious writings," but all of them can be useful as windows to the past to understand the views, practices, and symbols of ancient groups, depending on the provenance and estimated dating of the documents.

In determining whether something in the temple or other modern revelations such as the Book of Mormon or Book of Abraham has ancient roots or not, the modern biblical canon is not the only window to the past, nor the only meaningful window to ancient Judaism and Christianity.

Some of the documents that LDS folks find meaningful were actually once accepted as holy writ by early Christians, the Pastor of Hermas being one example. If a document is ancient and deals with Christian or Jewish thought, why not learn from it, even if it has some oddities and fluff?

Jeff Lindsay said...

Fig, I question the doctrinal validity of content in "the apocrypha and other dubious writings" and don't accept the Koran as holy writ, however majestic and inspired (I'm open to that possibility for some aspects of the book), but all of these documents can be useful as windows to the past to understand the views, practices, lore, and symbols of ancient groups, depending on the provenance and estimated dating of the documents.

In determining whether something in the temple or other modern revelations such as the Book of Mormon or Book of Abraham has ancient roots or not, the modern biblical canon is not the only window to the past, nor the only meaningful window to ancient Judaism and Christianity.

Some of the documents that LDS folks find meaningful were actually once accepted as holy writ by early Christians, the Pastor of Hermas being one example. If a document is ancient and deals with Christian or Jewish thought, why not learn from it, even if it has some oddities and fluff?

Jeff Lindsay said...

Orbiting said, "I see nothing remotely Jewish about LDS notions of priesthood, temple, etc. Nephite culture and theology is that of 19th-century frontier Christianity; it has no resemblance to the First Temple Judaism in which Nephi was supposedly reared."

Margaret Barker, a scholar reconstructing the nature of First Temple Judaism, seems to have some other thoughts on the matter. Have you heard what she has to say about the Book of Mormon and First Temple Judaism, for example? Would be interested in your thoughtful response to her work. She seems a bit excited about the ancient content she recognizes in the opening pages of that profound ancient text. Also curious what you might have to say about the covenant formulary from the ancient Near East and how it relates to both the Temple and the Book of Mormon.

I don't think you've responded to the substance of Ostler's article, either. Welcome further thoughts.

Anonymous said...

The Post was about Masonry, and critical of Masonry. A basic teaching in Masonry is regarding being with the wife of another Mason. It is taught in Masonry to object very LOUDLY to such a practice and to end it. Therefore Joseph's married to other Masons wives, Polyandry, and polygamy, is part of the Masonry puzzle.

Therefore the post is about polygamy.

flying fig said...

"If a document is ancient and deals with Christian or Jewish thought, why not learn from it, even if it has some oddities and fluff?"

"Even if"?? Because the "oddities and fluff" soon become belief and practice.
The LDS movement began with the claim that it would settle once and for all the confusion of doctrinal differences among Christians, but the further I dig into this religion, with its mysterious practices tied to Gnosticism, masonry and apocryphal texts, the more confusion I observe. I understand the first century apostles' warning of "other gospels"

Pierce said...

Flying Fig,

D&C 91 has been in our canon for a long time. In it, the Lord says that the Apocrypha can be beneficial even if it contains "many things...that are not true" (v. 2)

That being our position, I think you'd be hard pressed to find oddities and fluff from the Apocrypha that have become belief and practice in the LDS church.

"the more confusion I observe"
My observations of your posts leads me to think that you have a tendency to create more confusion than there is (last post, for example). I don't mean that to be offensive, but I don't really see a willingness to understand as much as I see a willingness to find or create problems.

flying fig said...

"Apocrypha can be beneficial even if it contains "many things...that are not true"

That statement alone is astonishing!
Exactly how do you differentiate between the beneficial and the many untruths? You knowingly derive support for an LDS practise from dubious text that is to a degree "not true" and accuse me of creating confusion??
Exactly what am I not understanding? Because I question possible untrue apocryphal writings as evidence of garment antiquity you accuse me of being unwilling to understand? I'm not trying to be offensive, but Would it make things easier for you if I just turned my brain off?

Pierce said...

You mean to tell me that you truly don't comprehend that statement? Do you only find value in ancient texts that have passed some criteria that proves that everything contained in it is 100% true and accurate?

I don't know any LDS who are baffled by D&C 91 or who don't understand that an ancient text can be beneficial even if it's not 100% accurate.

But this isn't even a unique LDS view. Most rational people or students of history find ancient texts beneficial to understanding culture, practices, events, etc. I've read Homer and found great insights into Greek culture. Doesn't mean that everything he wrote was accurate, or that it has to be.

But to answer your question about how to differentiate, read section 91. It's quite short

flying fig said...

"Verily, I say unto you, that it is not needful that the Apocrypha should be translated.
4 Therefore, whoso readeth it, let him understand, for the Spirit manifesteth truth;
5 And whoso is enlightened by the Spirit shall obtain benefit therefrom;
6 And whoso receiveth not by the Spirit, cannot be benefited. Therefore it is not needful that it should be translated. Amen."

How can you tell me that passage doesn't promote more confusion?? It leaves all apocryphal writings open to ANY personal interpretation! Anyone can claim to have received it by the spirit and therefore benefit from it however they see fit!

"Do you only find value in ancient texts that have passed some criteria that proves that everything contained in it is 100% true and accurate?"

When it comes to understanding God and my relationship to Him, Yes! Don't you?

"Most rational people or students of history find ancient texts beneficial to understanding culture, practices, events, etc"

Your right in that regard, but that is NOT what this passage is saying! This passage is not even rational! It doesn't even encourage a rational translation of the apocryphal writings but instead a personal, spiritual understanding that can mean ANYTHING! how does this not lead to more confusion?? It's this kind of open, personal interpretation that leads people into any act in the name of God no matter how off base or dangerous! How can you defend that as rational?

flying fig said...

"But to answer your question about how to differentiate, read section 91. It's quite short"

Correct me if I'm wrong, and I'm not being facetious, according to D&C 91 through the Spirit we can differentiate between what's true and not true about Apocrypha without actually translating it. That's what you're saying?

Pierce said...

"Correct me if I'm wrong..."
I do think you are confused about Section 91. The question that Joseph posed was whether or not he needed to provide a JST (Joseph Smith Translation) for the Apocrypha, and the answer was that he did not need to. It had already been translated into English for many years. The scripture suggests that you can read the Apocrypha (in whatever language you speak), and through the Spirit learn some beneficial things.

"Anyone can claim to have received it by the spirit and therefore benefit from it however they see fit!"
I'm going to assume that the above will clarify this. Otherwise, the idea of reading a book (even a work of fiction) and benefiting/learning from it is not outrageous in any way.

"When it comes to understanding God and my relationship to Him, Yes! Don't you?"
Oh boy, here we go. I take it you have a fundamentalist Christian approach to the Bible and believe that it is inerrant, God-breathed, etc. the same way that Muslims view the Qu'ran. The answer for me is "no," I don't view the Bible as something that is 100% inerrant, translated correctly, transmitted, complete, and interpreted correctly. And I view LDS scripture that way too, but with a little less skepticism since it is newer.


Anonymous said...

Good thing that earlier, off topic comment was deleted, because this conversation has not at all gone off the rails. *eyeroll*

flying fig said...

"The scripture suggests that you can read the Apocrypha (in whatever language you speak), and through the Spirit learn some beneficial things"

You didn't answer my question.
Does the Spirit show you the difference between the true and the false parts of Apocrypha?

"I don't view the Bible as something that is 100% inerrant, translated correctly, transmitted, complete, and interpreted correctly"

I believe there are scribal mistakes, minor errors often in names or numbers in the biblical manuscripts that do not affect the basic message of the Bible and I will take the years of work of countless Bible scholars and thousands of actual ancient corroborating manuscripts to determine the reliability of the Bible over the "Joseph Smith Translation" any day.

flying fig said...

"I don't view the Bible as something that is 100% inerrant, translated correctly, transmitted, complete, and interpreted correctly. And I view LDS scripture that way too, but with a little less skepticism since it is newer"

I agree it's newer, in fact there isn't anything ancient about it

Pierce said...

This will be the last I post in this vein.

Something tells me that you have not actually read any critical works of the Bible or studied its composition on an academic level or you would not be making the claims you are making. No matter.
You and I both believe in Christ. The only reason that you believe the Bible is perfect but the Apocrypha is untrustworthy is because it was decided for you when people got together and decided what went in and what didn't. And many Bibles include parts of the Apocrypha by default, so it really just depends on how you want to look at it.
I take it that you rely on the Holy Spirit to guide you in your studying and praying, and God is the one who makes truth known to you, and that is why you believe in the Bible. That's what section 91 is quite similar to John 14:26

You didn't answer my question.
Does the Spirit show you the difference between the true and the false parts of Apocrypha?

Personally I don't spend much time in the apocrypha. Got enough of the canon to read. But if I were going to study it, I would compare it to the teachings of the Restoration and of other historical accounts, and let the Spirit teach me what it will (which is what I do with the Bible and modern apostles in general).


flying fig said...

"Something tells me that you have not actually read any critical works of the Bible or studied its composition on an academic level or you would not be making the claims you are making"

So because my view of the Bible may differ from yours, you make this condescending assumption? I can easily say the exact same thing about your belief in the BOM, can't I? But I guess you're not encouraged to read anything critical about it, are you?

Apocryphal writings are excluded from biblical canon because critical thought of authorship and dating reveal their lack of authenticity. It's the same critical thinking that excludes the BOM and the book of Abraham.

bearyb said...

"I believe there are scribal mistakes, minor errors often in names or numbers in the biblical manuscripts that do not affect the basic message of the Bible and I will take the years of work of countless Bible scholars and thousands of actual ancient corroborating manuscripts to determine the reliability of the Bible over the 'Joseph Smith Translation' any day."

Here is one small little example of the clarification offered by latter-day scriptures. In Isaiah 2:9 (KJV) it says "And the mean man boweth down, and the great man humbleth himself: therefore forgive them not."

Huh? First of all, why would such men act in the ways described, and if they did, why shouldn't they be forgiven?

2 Nephi 2:9 (which we can compare to Isaiah 2) says "And the mean man boweth not down, and the great man humbleth himself not, therefore, forgive him not."

Doesn't the BOM entry at least make more sense, and isn't it less confusing and more compatible with generally well-known biblical doctrine?

bearyb said...

"The LDS movement began with the claim that it would settle once and for all the confusion of doctrinal differences among Christians."

I know of no such claim. It certainly recognizes the confusion that has and will continue throughout the earth among the many sects. But from the beginning it was known that, for example, Joseph's name would be had for good and ill among the nations of the world. If people can't even agree on whether to revere or despise him, what chance does the Church have to settle doctrinal confusion "once and for all?"

I will say though, that among believing LDS members, there is less such confusion and more unity of faith throughout the world than in any other given congregation.

flying fig said...

"Doesn't the BOM entry at least make more sense, and isn't it less confusing and more compatible with generally well-known biblical doctrine?"

Actually, it doesn't. Reading Isaiah 2:8-9 in context, men of various rank are bowing down to idols (v8) and a request is made to punish them for doing so as found in Rev18:6
Reversing the words in 2Nephi 2:9 has completely altered the meaning. There is a call for punishment for NOT bowing down to idols??

"I know of no such claim"

It's a common belief that the primary reason for the LDS church was to straighten out confusion among Christian sects.

"So great were the confusion and strife among the different denominations, that it was impossible for a person young as I was to come to any certain conclusion who was right and who was wrong (Joseph Smith-History 1:8, 10).
In response to prayer, "The Savior
told Joseph not to join any of the churches, for they “were all wrong” and “all their creeds were an abomination.”
"As God had done with...other prophets, He called Joseph Smith to be a prophet through whom the fullness of the gospel was restored to the earth." (Preach My Gospel)

On the contrary, all the Latter Day Saints have done is added yet another offshoot of Christianity, changing the definition and nature of God, Jesus, and the means to salvation. Claiming authority to do so just as Catholics, Islam, Jehovah's Witnesses and so many others have done.





thekidsaresleeping said...

Flying Fig...I like you. Joseph Smith's "translation" of the Bible is full of all sorts of problems like this. For instance, in Hebrews, Paul quotes the same passage of the Old Testament three times. Joseph Smith changes this quotation in three different ways in his re-working of Hebrews. And in the Old Testament where the original text appears, he left it alone! The JST is chock-full of problems like this. In the Book of Mormon, certain KJV are quoted verbatim. However, when Smith creates his JST, these same passages are then changed. The KJV and BoM agree, but the JST is different. What happened? Why didn't he get it right when he translated the BoM?

bearyb said...

flying fig,

I'm not sure where you are getting that verse 9 in Isaiah 2 has anything to do with verse 8. It seems to me that verse 11 lends more to its correct interpretation.

.......


"It's a common belief that the primary reason for the LDS church was to straighten out confusion among Christian sects."

I'm understanding you to say by this that the Church has/had intended some sort of active or planned "retraining" of other sects. I don't agree. I think the organizing of the Church had very little to do with any of the other sects, and from the beginning has left them to themselves.

Usually the restored gospel is shared with individuals and families, not entire sects.

I do agree with the first part of your claim, that the Church was restored to help straighten out confusion, even though your opinion is that it has only added to it. I can't tell you though how many times I have heard people exclaim that the restored gospel has made more sense to them than any other religious creed they have ever heard of or studied.

bearyb said...

thekidsaresleeping,

I am actually more amazed at the similarities and cohesion of doctrine found between the Bible and the BOM than I am perplexed by their differences. But that is because I believe the BOM is what it claims to be.

The Book of Mormon has withstood innumerable attempts to discredit it, and the passing of time has allowed more evidences to be gathered supporting its authenticity. It cannot be easily dismissed by the serious scholar, and to those who seek its intended message for the right reason it is indispensable.

It is your prerogative to make light of it if you like, and I truly hope you find happiness and satisfaction in your pursuits.

thekidsaresleeping said...

bearyb,

I was talking about the differences between JST and the Bible/BoM. Not the differences between the Bible and BoM.

But, as for the similarities between the KJV Bible and the Book of Mormon, there is a most obvious reason for this. Joseph Smith read the Bible. He knew the doctrine. Just because the Book of Mormon supports the Bible doesn't mean that it is therefore exactly what it claims to be.

In some cases, the Book of Mormon elaborates on doctrinal concepts further than does the Bible. The concept of the "infinite atonement" for instance. The expression "infinite atonement" is not found in the Bible at all. Was this something only the Nephites contemplated? Hardly. It turns out that the expression "infinite atonement" shows up in early 19th Century writings about Unitarians and Universalists. Joseph Smith's grandfather was a Universalist. His father played around with it for a little while, too.

The concept of "infinite atonement" was a doctrinal point of contention that appears to have been debated quite often back then. In 1815, there was a book published in Boston (first published in England in 1812) called American Unitarianism, Or A Brief History of the Progress and Present State of the Unitarian Churches in America. In it, it talks about how Unitarians are given a bad rap and are accused of not believing in the atonement. It says that it is true that Unitarians do not use the expression "infinite atonement" but they still believe in the atonement.

In Boston, in 1828, a treatise was published titled Letters to Reverend William Channing. In this treatise, the distinction between Unitarianism and Universalism is illustrated by showing that Universalists accept the idea of "infinite atonement" whereas Unitarians do not. What does all this mean? To me it means that the concept of an "infinite atonement" was being discussed by religionists in New England around the time that Joseph Smith was growing up. I have also found other sources dating at 1842 and 1860. The "infinite atonement" was definitely a hot topic in the United States in the 19th Century.

And do you remember Alma's wonderful treatise about the state of the soul between death and resurrection? This has been another topic of debate among Christians. And the Lutherans, for one, actually believe the same things Alma has written, and they use the Bible to support this belief. Joseph Smith didn't come up with any original ideas here.

Who can forget the wonderful discourse on faith in Ether, right? It's a "who's-who" list of great faithful Book of Mormon characters. Well, read Hebrews 11, and you find out where Joseph Smith got the inspiration to make such a list.

The Bible and Book of Mormon teach a very similar doctrine. In fact, the Book of Mormon is your basic traditional Christianity. This is not at all evidence of its authenticity. It is evidence that it was the product of a young man who was steeped in traditional Christianity. All the hallmarks of Mormonism that we know today that separate Mormonism from the rest of the Christian world are only found in Mormon writings after the publication of the Book of Mormon.

bearyb said...

flying fig,

I need to clarify my earlier statement about Isaiah 2.

In light of what verse 8 says I can see where at least the first part of verse 9 could be thought to pertain to it, meaning the "bowing down" before idols (although it still escapes me why a "mean man" would do such a thing). But the humbling of ones self does not seem to fit with the mentioning of idols, since being humble has very little to do with bowing - before idols or anyone or anything else. Or at least there is much more to it than simply bowing down, hence its separate treatment.


This is why verse 9 as it appears in Isaiah seems confusing, and why the additions of the word "not" in its translation from the BOM clarifies and unifies the entire passage, for me at least.

bearyb said...

"All the hallmarks of Mormonism that we know today that separate Mormonism from the rest of the Christian world are only found in Mormon writings after the publication of the Book of Mormon."

Really? Even things like modern -day visions and visitations of heavenly messengers, a "stick of Joseph" to put together with their "stick of Judah" (as prophesied in Ezekiel), the proper mode of baptism, the understanding of the blasphemy of baptizing infants, the necessity and importance of faith and our own efforts regarding our salvation, the understanding that we are here that we might "have joy," our understanding of the roles and accomplishments of Adam and Eve, the knowledge of the necessity of "opposition in all things," the importance of the reliance of man on continuing revelation... and much, much more.

I can't think of a single other Christian sect that includes all, or even many, of these things which were brought about either before or during the translation of the Book of Mormon, and all of which certainly sets us apart from the rest of the Christian world.

flying fig said...

bearyb,

The mean man - That is, the man in humble life, the poor, the low in rank. This is all that the Hebrew word here - אדם 'âdâm - implies. The distinction between the two words here used - אדם 'âdâm as denoting a man of humble rank, and אישׁ 'ı̂ysh as denoting one of elevated rank - is one that constantly occurs in the Scriptures. Our word "mean" conveys an idea of moral baseness and degradation, which is not implied in the Hebrew.
Boweth down - That is, before idols.

And the great man - The men in elevated rank in life. The expressions together mean the same as "all ranks of people." It was a common or universal thing. No rank was exempt from the prevailing idolatry.

"since being humble has very little to do with bowing"

I disagree, bowing down has everything to do with making yourself humble. So the BOM addition "not" bowing down and "not" being humbled destroys the meaning of the original text


bearyb said...

Other things that could be mentioned that sets "Mormonism" apart, and which were revealed or made known before or with the translation of the Book of Mormon: The knowledge of true nature of the Godhead, the knowledge of the nature of translated beings, the reality of God's "Plan of Happiness" or "Plan of Salvation" including details about the resurrection of all, the nature of bodies of spirit, the conditions that exist in the world of post-mortal spirits, the supreme importance of agency, the proper mode of administering the sacrament, etc... PLUS a whole host of additional prophets and other individuals from which to learn by their examples, triumphs, and failures.

bearyb said...

"The Bible and Book of Mormon teach a very similar doctrine... This is not at all evidence of its authenticity. It is evidence that it was the product of a young man who was steeped in traditional Christianity."

If similarity of doctrine cannot be an evidence of its authenticity, would completely different doctrine work better for you?

If, as the BoM claims, it is another testament of Jesus Christ, wouldn't you expect similar precepts and doctrines in both it and the Bible?

The similarity between biblical Isaiah and the verses quoted in the BoM are explained as having come from the same source - the writings of Isaiah. How about the similarity in the "Sermon on the Mount" accounts? Same source - Jesus Christ.

I would expect Joseph to have used phrasing he was familiar with when translating - into common English - concepts he was familiar with.

While these similarities may not be very convincing as grounds for authentication (and are not, incidentally, what I was referring to when mentioning evidences being gathered that do support it), they likewise are not problematic for me.

But there is so much more to the BoM than can be explained as merely having been "the product of a young man who was steeped in traditional Christianity." Surely in all your apparent research on the subject you must have found at least a few things that suggest otherwise.

thekidsaresleeping said...

Bearyb,

Joseph Smith's understanding of the nature of God evolved over the years. The first time he wrote down the account of the First Vision was in 1832, and he claimed only to have seen the Lord. The Lectures on Faith call God a personage of Spirit, not a personage of flesh. Abinadi refers to God and Christ in a most distinctly "Trinitarian" way. In 1836, Joseph Smith pens the now-familiar account of the First Vision, with both God and Christ appearing, and in 1837, the 2nd Edition of the Book of Mormon is changed in several passages to reflect this new understanding.

But when I originally wrote about how the Book of Mormon doesn't reflect the unique aspects of Mormonism, I had in mind the fact that the Book of Mormon never once talks about eternal families, temple work (apart from the Law of Moses temples), or Three Degrees of Glory. The Book of Mormon maintains the Biblical Heaven/Hell model.

It doesn't talk about Priesthood after Christ visits. Christ only gives authority and power. This is all that Joseph Smith calls it until 1831. Then he begins talking about Priesthood by calling it by that name.

We can go back and forth like this for a long time. I don't see much benefit, because you believe it and I don't. And having once been a believer in it, I know that I won't change anyone's mind, because no one else could change mine, no matter what they threw at me. And that is okay. But trust me...the deeper one reads and studies, even just reading and studying the Book of Mormon, one begins to realize that the tidy narratives and explanations do not hold up.

Read 3 Nephi 11: 32-41 very carefully, and ask yourself, "As a Mormon in the 21st century today, is this what I am taught to believe?" Christ says basically, "This is my doctrine: do this and this and this, and you will inherit the kingdom of God. And anything more or less than this comes of evil."

Hear that? ...anything more or less than what he says in these verses is evil.

Read it... Be honest with yourself. You know Mormons need to do a lot more than what Christ says here to inherit God's kingdom.

thekidsaresleeping said...

"If similarity of doctrine cannot be an evidence of its authenticity, would completely different doctrine work better for you? If, as the BoM claims, it is another testament of Jesus Christ, wouldn't you expect similar precepts and doctrines in both it and the Bible?"

Again, similarity of doctrine doesn't make the Book of Mormon authentic. If it is what it claims, yes I expect similar doctrine, but if it isn't what it claims, the similiarities between the Bible and Book of Mormon are easily explained away as the former being used as the model for the latter.

Darren said...

Thekidsaresleeping;

John A. Tvednes wrote a very good article touching on the variant Joseph Smith accounts of the First Vision. You may find his ibsights interesting. I sure did.

http://www.mormoninterpreter.com/variants-in-the-stories-of-the-first-vision-of-joseph-smith-and-the-apostle-paul/

Darren said...

Orbiting Kolob;

There are many connections in Mormonism and acient Judaic temple theology. Jeff Lindsey already mentioned Margret Barker's works. Her worka has helped open my mind to the inclusion if angels in The First Temple worship. It struck an accord with me as the LDS temple explictly declares the presence of angels in its own worship inwhat is commonly known as an endowement session. Then, as I prepared a Gospel Doctrine lesson for Sunday School as a substitute the lesson happened to include Jesus Christ's visitation to the americas. Knowing He visited the Nephites at the temple I wondered about angels. It quickly dawned on me that if one reads the entire account of Christ's visitation, as one would originally before chapters were introduced to the Book of Mormon there is a point where there is God (Jesus Christ), angels, and mortals as witnesses at the Nephite temple. There is also a cloud repeesenting a veil where those (Christ's disciples) were inside the cloud with God (Christ) and those outside the cloud could not see.

This is all very LDS temple related in its narrative. After being called to teach said Gospel Doctrine class as a permenant teacher, my approach to preparing my lessons has been based largley upon my asking myself, "what temple language and relationships may we fibd in the scriptures?" This year our focus is on the Old Testament. My view of that set if holy writ has exploded in knowledge of temple connections. In cases where God, angels, and mortals cinetogether, the enemies of Israel are vanquished. Likewise, the fairhful LDS temple goer learns how living temple covenants allows him ir her to overcone the world. Lime Hericho, Goliath, or unvading armies, no power on earth can stop the works of God or one's eternal progress towards God. The LDS temple goer learns of this blessing in the temple. In the LDS temples, Gid, angels, and mortals who stand as witnesses come together as one bidy to worship the obe true God of Israel, namely Jedus Christ. More soecifically, in the worship of God and the Lamb with Christ as the central figure in that worship. Margaret Barker, oarticularly in her writings if the annoiting of Israeli kings, demonstrates how the presence of Jehovah (God / Jesus Christ) are invoked among the mortals who stand as witnesses.

Willism Hamblin wrote a brilliant piece theologically connecting chosen mortals (prophets) who enter into God's presence and receive God's "sod" which is Hebrew for "secrets" with that of LDS trmple theology. I Highly recommend your reading it.

http://www.mormoninterpreter.com/the-sod-of-yhwh-and-the-endowment/

bearyb said...

thekidsaresleeping,

Obviously there is much more than those things I mentioned that set the LDS Church apart from the rest of Christianity. I purposefully omitted things that came to light after your prescribed window of time.

As far as the talk of priesthood by that name, it appears 7 times as such in the Book of Alma. I didn't count how many times it may have simply been referred to as the "power of God."

There is no reason to get defensive. I have no illusions that anything I say will convince anyone of anything to any degree of importance. I figure this is a place to exchange ideas and discuss different points of view - nothing more, and nothing less. Any real convincing will have to be something we pursue on our own.

Concerning the verses in 3 Nephi 11, I have read them - several times. This is not the only place where Christ has been reported to have said similar things. Since it was not yet the Dispensation of the Fullness of Times, I'm sure what was said then was sufficient for the Lord's purposes.

Wouldn't you provide different responses to a given question depending on your audience? Or simply provide different levels of information depending on who you were teaching?

And you are probably aware that we do not claim to have all gospel knowledge in our possession even now - that we believe that God will "yet reveal many great and important things pertaining to the Kingdom of God."

Orbiting Kolob said...

Sorry, folks. I've read up on Margaret Barker, and I stand by my statement that "Nephite culture and theology is that of 19th-century frontier Christianity; it has no resemblance to the First Temple Judaism in which Nephi was supposedly reared."

Some of you have responded that Barker shows connections between First Temple Judaism and the early Christian Church. But so what? The early Christian church is not at all the same thing as Joseph Smith's fictional Nephite culture, nor for that matter is it the LDS Church. (Why do people here make such irrelevant claims?)

For the umpteenth time, I ask you: Why are there exactly ZERO non-Mormon scholars who believe in the antiquity of the Book of Mormon?

Why do you suppose that is?

When it comes to the history and archaeology of the Bible, there's a LOT of agreement among scholars of all faith and no faith. They might not agree on the historicity of Adam and Eve or the divinity of Christ, but by gum they agree on the location of Egypt and Jerusalem and the Euphrates River.

Because, you know, those things really exist.

When it comes to the Book of Mormon, there's ZERO such universal agreement. Heck, when I read around in the fantasy world of Mormon apologetics, I find I can't even place the story within 5,000 miles.

Is the Hill Cumorah really Hill Cumorah? Where is Zarahemla?

Imagine for a second an alternate reality, in which scholars argued over whether Jerusalem was in Palestine, or in Egypt, or maybe in Iran (or was it Morocco?). Imagine a world in which this question couldn't be settled for lack of archaeological evidence.

That alternate reality is the reality of the Book of Mormon and LDS apologetics.

For the "most correct book on earth" it seems more than a little sketchy.

Pierce said...

Thekidsaresleeping,

Just a clarification of our doctrine: 3 Nephi still completely meshes with Joseph Smith's doctrine of the afterlife, as well as our current doctrine on it. To enter the kingdom of heaven (let's identify this as the Celestial Kingdom), a person needs to be baptized, receive the Holy Ghost, and live by the covenant they have made--no more, no less.
In order to be an exalted man or woman, which is the highest degree within the CK, a person proceeds with further covenants made in the temple.

In short, only baptism is necessary to enter in the CK, which is where God resides. But I echo another comment in that our dispensation has been blessed with greater knowledge.

Anonymous said...

Hi Flying Fig,

ha-adam refers to human, humanity or mankind. Ish refers to man. There is no distinction that adam refers to a humble man nor ish refers to an elevated man. Since we are now being pedantic, do you know what the original 700 BC Aramaic had to say?

Steve

bearyb said...

"Why are there exactly ZERO non-Mormon scholars who believe in the antiquity of the Book of Mormon?"

It couldn't be that because once they do believe it, they are converted to the Church and are hence no longer "non-Mormon," could it? :)

bearyb said...

Besides, to claim "ZERO"... really? Out of all the non-Mormon scholars, how many have you actually posed the question to? ALL of them? Ok, so maybe you've just read ALL publications by all of them and thereby arrived at your conclusion. Do all non-Mormon scholars publish everything they believe or think? What about the ones that don't publish (or have yet to publish)?

All, none, always, and never are difficult words to back up.

thekidsaresleeping said...

"It couldn't be that because once they do believe it, they are converted to the Church and are hence no longer "non-Mormon," could it?"

Okay, then show us a Mormon scholar who believed the authenticity of the Book of Mormon as a non-Mormon.

There are so many comments here that I'd like to address, but I just don't have the time.

Pierce, you say 3 Nephi reflects current Church teachings about salvation, not exaltation. Fine. But why do not the Nephites, a supposedly advanced Christian culture, ever say anything about exaltation then? And why doesn't Joseph Smith say anything about it either before or during the publication of the Book of Mormon? See, this is my problem. The Book of Mormon reflects a doctrine that parallels Joseph Smith's understanding at the time, not the doctrine that would eventually come into the Church. If it is really the ancient spiritual record of a group of people who saw Christ, I would expect it to be far more doctrinally ground-breaking than it is, especially considering it is supposed to be the book that restores the lost "plain and precious" truths. I would expect its doctrine to more closely match current LDS doctrine, but it more closely matches traditional Christian doctrine.

D&C 76 is doctrinally groundbreaking. D&C 84 is groundbreaking. But both of these are after the publication of the Book of Mormon.

The Book of Mormon says nothing about eternal families, either....

Bearyb, you say that Priesthood is talked about in the Book of Mormon. Yes, but the only time it is called "priesthood" is in reference to Old Testament practices. After Christ comes to the Nephites, the word Priesthood is never used outside the context of Old Testament practices. Never.

What is certain, however, is that 19th Century ideas are found in the Book of Mormon and the Pearl of Great Price. The Church admits it. In the recent essay about Race and the Priesthood, the Church officially disavows theories advanced in the 19th century about dark skin being a sign of divine disfavor or a curse. However, these theories are enshrined in scripture ONLY in the Book of Mormon and the Pearl of Great Price. Not the Bible.

bearyb said...

Orbiting Kolob,

I have to ask you, what has the historicity of location to with doctrinal truth? I agree that it would enhance claims, but at most they would only be "evidences."

If you could pick any location or object of your choosing, complete with an unequivocal and universally recognized trail of historical authenticity beyond reproach, which place or object do you think would have the most impact in convincing someone - anyone - of the truthfulness of the divinity, mission, and message of Jesus Christ?

Pierce said...

kids,

Your question is something we all kind of wonder about. I'm not sure what your religious views are, but what you are describing seems to be how it's always been in the religious world. What was there before Moses? Or, if Jesus was a Jew who believed in the law, why wasn't Christianity taught to the Jews the way it was taught after Christ? How come Christianity's concept of "heaven" as the afterlife is not really the afterlife described in the Bible (sheol)?

You are describing an expectation that everything comes at once, and I don't see that as ever being the case. Perhaps exaltation wasn't taught to the Nephites. Perhaps it wasn't made evident to JS until after key doctrines of the church were restored, accepted, and underway.

To the unbeliever, it would be valid to say that it was something that Joseph made up later. To the believer, it is valid to say that things are revealed over time, and perhaps previous generations didn't know, or we don't have good records of them knowing. Maybe our knowledge is inferior compared to people 1000 years from now. It really just depends on what camp you've chosen. Both make sense to me.

Also, I think the restoration is still underway and there are countless things that the Lord could reveal. Concerning the afterlife, I'd say we still know a minuscule amount.

bearyb said...

"The only time it is called "priesthood" is in reference to Old Testament practices."

At the end of chapter 4 of Alma it is very clear that it was had among the people at that time, and was not just a matter of historical reference.

What is the hangup on the word "priesthood" anyway? I'm not sure what point you're trying to make.

Mormography said...

It did not take long into the Ostler piece to run into bizarre stretches.

“The Latin induere, meaning ‘to clothe,’ and inducer, ‘to lead or initiate,’ are the roots for our English word endowment. All connote temple ordinances” WOW, connote temple ordinances, a few sentences more I find “In some accounts, one must be married in the Holy of Holies of the temple in order to obtain the highest of three degrees of glory.” A bold claim, so I went to the footnote. The claim is based on a commentary of a dubious third century Coptic Gnostic Gospel of Philip. The commentary does not mention temple or three degrees of glory. In fact, the original text uses Holy of Holies and Bridal Chamber interchangeable with no clear academic agreement of what that means.

Human behavior is fascinating. Ostler magically makes, one account ”some accounts”, Bridal Chamber becomes ”the temple”, marriage in the afterlife becomes the highest of three degrees glory. The whole piece by Ostler goes on like this.

Even without such bizarre stretches one can find a belief thousand years old or more similar to a current belief. There were Sadducees that did not believe in the resurrection and Pharisees that did. There were ancient people who believe in marriage in heaven and ancient people who did not. I am sure the Jehovah Witnesses can map soul sleeping concept back to any number of x century Coptic, Greek, or Jewish texts. This is the well documented flaw with only proving something right. Popper observed this lack of falsifiability with Marx and Freud. Without the principle of falsifiability everything is essential true.

Alas this has been pointed out to Mormanity endlessly. He knows it is true, but just does not care. Worshipping other gods is his rejection criterion, but declares everyone worships the same God, ergo no rejection criteria. The only rejection criterion he has produced is reserved for the Strangites. Though the Strangites worship the same God, the Voree plates may have been of a different metal than the BoM plates, ergo they are rejected. WOW. Though he lacks the instability of his cronies, like his cronies any sort of rational dialogue is impossible.

Mormography said...

Mormanity says, ”If a document is ancient and deals with Christian or Jewish thought, why not learn from it” A Mormon recounted to me once regarding a question posed by a Mormon Scholar of Islam to the Mormon students of his elective Islam class: Why waste your time on this class if you have the restored gospel? The Mormon students struggled to respond, with responses centering on the restorationist concepts. The Mormon Scholar then handed out a statement from the Mormon leadership indicating that Mohammed like other great religious leaders was enlightened, but not inspired, that is Mohammed was not a restorationist as claimed. Aside –enlightened charlatan (not inspired as claimed) is that an oxymoron? According to the story no clear answer came to the question.

The answer of course is when Mormanity says “why not learn from it” he is euphemistically saying prove Mormons right, after all what else is there to “learn”. However, his technique of proving Mormons right essentially proves everyone right. I applaud his pluralism.

thekidsaresleeping said...

The reason I make a fuss over the word Priesthood is because I was taught growing up that Joseph Smith received the Aaronic and Melchizedek Priesthoods in 1829. Yet, he never uses those words in relation to the power and authority he claimed to hold until 1831 and 1832. No one talks about the visitations of John the Baptist and Peter/James/John until 1834/1835. Revelations in the Book of Commandments were re-written to reflect this new language before publication as the Doctrine and Covenants in 1835. So, while it may seem to be nitpicky to make a fuss over the word "priesthood" I think it is quite a valid argument that that inconsistency between the narrative we find in "Our Heritage" and the actual historical record creates a cloud of suspicion around the claims of the Church.

thekidsaresleeping said...

"I think the restoration is still underway..."

Ah, yes....The Uchtdorf Principle. The ongoing Restoration.

If the Restoration is not an event, but a process that is unfolding into some unforeseeable moment in the distant future, how can you have a testimony of it?

I can understand having a testimony that Joseph Smith restorED the church, but I can't see having a testimony that Joseph Smith started restoring it, and it will continue to be restored until the end of the world.

With such a Restoration, the only thing you need to believe in is this: Those who are responsible for administering the ongoing Restoration are right and always will be right. No gospel principle is necessarily set in stone. Everything is subject to change as the need presents itself. Thus, Brigham Young can preach Adam-God, and it can be rejected later. Blacks can be denied temple ordinances, but receive them later. Nothing is static or predictable.

In fact, the principle of change is the only certain principle of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

The testimony of Truth, then, is transformed from a testimony of Christ and his Gospel into a testimony of 15 men. And there we see the object of Mormon devotion.

Orbiting Kolob said...

bearyb: It couldn't be that because once they do believe it, they are converted to the Church and are hence no longer "non-Mormon," could it?

No, it couldn't be that, because there aren't any non-Mormon scholars who have been converted by evidence of the book's authenticity.

bearyb: All, none, always, and never are difficult words to back up.

Not in this case. If there were a single instance of an article in a secular, peer-reviewed journal demonstrating the historicity of the Book of Mormon, the Church would learn of it and trumpet it to the world. Yet oddly enough the trumpets are mute.

bearyb: what has the historicity of location to [do] with doctrinal truth?

Isn't the historicity of the Book of Mormon a question of doctrinal truth? Well, maybe yes, maybe no. As we're told in the Articles of Faith, "we also believe the Book of Mormon to be the word of God." But what does that mean? There's plenty of wiggle room. It could mean that the BoM is an inspired vision, not meant to be understood historically or literally, but rather as a narrative expression of doctrinal truths as Joseph Smith understood them (in the same way that the story of the tortoise and the hare expresses the idea that slow and steady wins the race).

If this is what you're claiming, then you and I are in agreement on the question of historicity.

In any event, I want you to understand the general lameness of your responses.

I ask for solid evidence, and instead of giving me solid evidence you ask whether I've read every last word on the topic or talked to every single scholar on the planet. Why are you being so evasive? Why not just name the scholar or cite the article? Because you can't.

I ask for evidence, and instead of providing some you just say, "Well, there could be some evidence out there, but you haven't looked hard enough."

Let me turn the tables for a moment by giving you a claim that you find dubious: There are talking teddy bears on Jupiter! I know this for a fact, and I invite you to believe it, too. What's that, you say? You want me to provide evidence that there are talking teddy bears on Jupiter? But bearyb, don't you understand logic? There could be evidence, and it's not up to me to provide it; it's up to you to prove conclusively that there's no evidence. Until you do that, my belief is justified!

That in a nutshell is the "logic" of Mormon apologetics.

All you've got is your testimony, your own subjective personal feeling on the matter, and I'm sorry, but while I acknowledge the sincerity of your feelings I don't find it very persuasive, no more than I do the sincerity of the Hindu or the Muslim or the Scientologist.

flying fig said...

"the principle of change is the only certain principle of the Gospel of Jesus Christ...No gospel principle is necessarily set in stone. Everything is subject to change as the need presents itself"

Thus making Galatians 1:8 irrelevant.

8. But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed.

Pierce said...

Kids,

Uchdorf may have said something to make it catchy, but it's been a part of our beliefs since the beginning:
“We believe all that God has revealed, all that He does now reveal, and we believe that He will yet reveal many great and important things pertaining to the Kingdom of God.”
So how can I have a testimony of the restoration? Because I believe in what God has already revealed.

"Those who are responsible for administering the ongoing Restoration are right and always will be right."
LDS view this in different ways. Some accept everything uttered by church authorities as some part of the restoration, while others feel that certain conditions need to be met to be a part of that. Your examples remind me of the New Testament church sorting itself out with its doctrine, such as the differing views of Paul and Barnabas. Or, one day the Gentiles should be circumcised, the next they are not. Paul says slaves should be obedient to their masters, today we think that's abhorrent. Etc etc etc. They had the principles of the Gospel, but were often left to their own devices on distributing it.

"The testimony of Truth, then, is transformed from a testimony of Christ and his Gospel into a testimony of 15 men. And there we see the object of Mormon devotion.
This is a curious statement. You talk like you are indeed a Christian, so I'll approach it from that angle. All religion has been distributed by men. You may gain a testimony of what they have said, but you did not come by Christ's gospel in a vacuum. The Bible does not contain a Book of Jesus. To believe in any Christian claims, a person at some point will rely on the testimony of men--be they Mathew, Mark, Paul, the pope, the questionable authors of the Old Testament, any of the reformers, or Pastor Bob. Mormons are not unique in this way. But we are honest and open about where our interpretation and authority comes from.

bearyb said...

Orbiting Kolob,

My statement about the reason there are no non-mormon scholars was offered a little tongue-in-cheek (no one saw the little smiley on the end?). Although if there were any that were "convinced" by evidence, why would they not also be converted - logically speaking, right?

Yes, acceptance of the Book of Mormon as true also includes acceptance of its historicity.

But, because of the stated purpose of the Book - on its title page among other places within it - testing its historical authenticity before (or as a condition of) accepting its doctrinal truths is not the proper way to proceed. I get that many (nay, most) do not accept this, and that is ok. Believe it or not, that is also covered by prophecy.

While I would not be surprised to learn that there are NO secular articles demonstrating the historicity of the ENTIRE Book of Mormon, I would be surprised to find NONE that do not at least acknowledge SOME of the interesting things that have been found, particularly concerning the early part of the journeyings of Lehi and his family as they left Jerusalem.

Regarding your example of talking teddy bears on Jupiter, why did you assume (correctly) that I would find that claim to be dubious? Probably because there is widespread knowledge that the conditions that must exist there, based on scientific experiments, would make such a thing doubtful.

Where are there such experiments against the BoM? Can you provide "hard evidence" that it is false?

One of the reasons I believe in the Book of Mormon is because I believe in the Bible. Among other things, I believe in the prophecies it (the Bible) contains concerning the latter days. If those are not being fulfilled through the restoration of the gospel as we claim it is, then when or where will they be? It just seems to fit, better than any other alternative I have ever known.

And, once again, my feelings or statements about ANY of this stuff aren't meant to persuade you or anyone else, nor do I ever think they could. So, no harm, no foul.

thekidsaresleeping said...

Bearby

"One of the reasons I believe in the Book of Mormon is because I believe in the Bible. Among other things, I believe in the prophecies it (the Bible) contains concerning the latter days. If those are not being fulfilled through the restoration of the gospel as we claim it is, then when or where will they be? It just seems to fit, better than any other alternative I have ever known."

Have you checked out the other alternatives?

The Book of Mormon was the last thing to fall for me as I began to accept traditional Christianity. I was 39 years old. Born and raised, RM, eternal marriage, three baptized daughters, Elder's Quorum President. Yes...I was a Mormon through and through. But it was leaving me empty. Each Sunday, I enjoyed the camaraderie and the discussions in Sunday School, but spiritually, I was dead. I realized that after 38 years, I didn't even know who Christ was! I was a RM. I never had a drop of alcohol. No major sexual indiscretions in my life at all. I did everything right, and I didn't know Christ.

As I transitioned out of Mormonism, I held onto the Book of Mormon for a while. The doctrine doesn't pose any serious threat to Biblical Christianity, except for a few isolated passages here and there.

However, when I began to look into matters, I found serious problems with that book. A few I figured out myself. Like the fact that the concept of the "infinite atonement" which doesn't appear in the Bible appears in the writings of 19th Century Unitarians and Universalists. What is the chance that the Nephites were discussing a concept not discussed by the Jews or even early Christians, but which would be debated again in the 19th Century by a very specific group of people with whom Joseph Smith had familial connections?

This is just one of many. So many. If you are willing to accept the support for the books authenticity, you also need to seriously investigate the vast amount of evidence against it. If it is really true, it should stand up to scrutiny.

It is common in Mormon culture to think that the rest of the Christian world is somewhat confused about certain mysterious passages in the Bible, such as the "sticks" prophecy of Ezekiel or the "mountain of the Lord's house" in Isaiah. Mormons pride themselves on being the only ones who really know what these mean, but this is ridiculous! The Jews have been teaching and studying these passages for centuries! Is it really possible that they've just thrown their hands up, saying, "Gee....we just don't know what these passages mean!"

Look into the alternative interpretations. Sticks are not scrolls. The mountain of the Lord's house isn't a temple. The dispensation of the fulness of times didn't start in 1820. The Bible isn't confusing to the rest of the Christian world. They aren't just being stubborn, not being willing to accept the Mormon interpretation. They have a case to make.

I went looking for Christ and I found him. I am at peace now. When I found him, I was shocked, because I found him independent of any church at all.

Christ is not the Church. If tomorrow the General Authorities were to announce that the Church isn't what it claims to be, would your testimony of Christ survive? If not, you've allowed an organization to intercede between you and the Savior. And you do not know him.

Mormography said...

Pie - It sounds like you are strongly agreeing with thekidsaresleeping while pretending a "curious statement" has been made. When you state "But we are honest" you imply some other entities are being less than honest about where interpretation and authority comes from. Who is being less than honest?

Thekidsaresleeping hardly makes a curious statement, but rather appears to be articulating the obsevation that modern Mormon thought now believes less and less in restoration and more in exclusive Christian authority reassigned exclusively to Mormon leadership regardless of its vascillating nature, something you appear to agree with.

flying fig said...



to thekidsaresleeping, Well said.

What Jesus taught is a matter of the heart. Not a building, religious hierarchy or man-made set of rules.
He said it best: "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. On these two commandments hang ALL the law and the prophets"
(Matthew 22:37-40)

That's it. Love for God and love for your fellow man. Not an easy thing to do, but the simplest concept that cuts right through all of man's religious inventions

Pierce said...

Morm,

What is curious is that Kids thinks his/her statement only applies to Mormons. Kids believes that believing in modern apostles makes them the object of our devotion. But you cannot make that statement and ignore the idea that any knowledge about Christ has been filtered by men past and present.

Here is an explanation about my comment on honesty:
When it comes to interpretation of scripture (and thus defining one's beliefs), many Christians either don't know, don't care, or disregard where their interpretation came from and why it is more valid than other ones. How many Protestant churches explore their own histories, recognize births of certain doctrines (especially post-biblical), identify their church leaders and express an understanding in their claim to any type of authority? Who began teaching that the Bible is one perfect God-breathed book, or the doctrine of the trinity, etc.? When did divinity school become the standard for authority to start or preside over a church? Those kinds of things are not officially taught, agreed on, or put up by those churches for scrutiny. We are honest in that we explain that our doctrine, interpretation, and authority came from Joseph Smith, who was a prophet, and his by successors. This gives our members and investigators something to evaluate more fully. It also paints a big target on us that others willfully ignore.

"Thekidsaresleeping hardly makes a curious statement, but rather appears to be articulating the obsevation that modern Mormon thought now believes less and less in restoration and more in exclusive Christian authority reassigned exclusively to Mormon leadership regardless of its vascillating nature, something you appear to agree with."
Once again, I think you are inserting your own thoughts into what someone is saying. I don't see anything about modern Mormons believing less and less in restoration. In any case, I think that observation is incorrect, given what Kids pointed out as the "Uchdorf Principle," which is the idea that restoration is ongoing--which is a current teaching by one of the newer apostles. In fact, I find your opinion that we believe less in restoration and more in exclusive authority completely flip flopped and outdated. More and more, LDS bloggers, scholars, speakers, and even apostles are embracing a more universal approach to the gospel. Perhaps you've heard "bring what you have and we will add to it." In my opinion, Terryl Givens is a good place to start if you want to see where current Mormon thought is starting to trend.



Mormography said...

Pie - Once again, I think you ate inserting your own thoughts into what someone else is saying. Thekidsaresleeping does not appear to say the Mormons are the only ones nor does he appear to say belief in apostles in and of its self make them the object of devotion.

With regards to honesty you are truly deluded. Your claims against other religions are vastly exagerated (that is being kind) while completely ignoring your recent discussions with commenters regarding the ever changing world of Mormonism and constant dishonest mantra of that was never offical doctrine.

Alas this is the testimony you offer of your religion. It has nutured a false sense of superiority in the thinking that your stuff smells different.

bearyb said...

thekidsaresleeping,

I assume since you claim to know Christ, and because of what said in your response, you still retain the Bible as an authoritative work on the life and teachings of Jesus Christ. It surprises me, then, that you eschew all organized religions. Unless you simply ignore Christ's biblical teachings on why and how He organized the primitive church, how can you reconcile your current beliefs or practices with that sacred record?

Now, to be honest, I HAVE heard some of the brethren carefully make the unmistakeable point that the Church is not the gospel, and the gospel is not the Church. We definitely need to be concerned not only with knowing the gospel, but with living it. There are many who confuse "church activity" with "living the gospel."

Just curious - From where did the 19th Century Unitarians and Universalists get the concept of an "infinite atonement?"

It is curious that you bring up the notion that since the Jews have been studying certain passages for centuries they must have a thorough understanding of them. Do your beliefs about Christ differ from theirs? Why, or why not?

And I am very aware that there are alternative interpretations of many scriptures. Why else would we have so many different faiths claiming the Bible as the basis for their beliefs?

bearyb said...

flying fig,

When you quote Matthew 22, just which prophets do you think are being referred to in verse 40?

bearyb said...

"However, when I began to look into matters, I found serious problems with that book...
...So many. If you are willing to accept the support for the books authenticity, you also need to seriously investigate the vast amount of evidence against it. If it is really true, it should stand up to scrutiny."


I guess I'm just not aware of tons of evidence against the Book of Mormon. I've certainly read a lot of postings about things that have been put forward along those lines, but very few that "stood up to scrutiny," as you put it. In fact, nothing serious comes to mind.

In our house we have a decent-size flat screen TV. It was damaged by accident once when wind came through an open door and knocked it over. At the time it belonged to our son-in-law, who was going to give it to his sister. When he saw the crack in the glass that resulted from the accident, without hesitation he decided to throw it away because he didn't want it nor did he think he sister would. The crack is hardly noticeable, and is mostly outside the area of viewing anyway. It functions perfectly. But all he could see was that HUGE crack!

Are there mistakes in the Book of Mormon? Of course. The very prophets who originally contributed to it agonized that they were not gifted in writing, and acknowledged that because of space limitations they could not use the language they might have to convey their thoughts more perfectly. They claim they did not write "an hundredth part" of what could have been written. They were told that they must not write certain things, and they were sometimes confronted with information that words could not even describe. They also wrote of other records which contained more historical information that what we were eventually given (wow, if we only had THAT, huh?), and that only after extensive abridgment.

Even so, Joseph declared it to be "the most correct" book. What did he mean by that? Was he speaking about the grammar, the history, the genealogy, the geography, the names, or the doctrine?

thekidsaresleeping said...

"In my opinion, Terryl Givens is a good place to start if you want to see where current Mormon thought is starting to trend."

Really? And this is okay with you, that current Mormon thought is trending toward the teachings of a scholar/academic, and not toward those who are supposed to have the authority to direct Mormon thought?

flying fig said...

"When you quote Matthew 22, just which prophets do you think are being referred to in verse 40?"

Well, since Christ was speaking of commandments and Law, it's safe to say he's referring to the OT prophets. But in the end it doesn't really matter, His point is clear, everything can be summed up into those two commandments. Though not an easy task, it's incredibly clear in it's simplicity. Do those two things and everything else will flow. Will we then serve from our heart? Help one another?Hopefully.
Christ wants our hearts, not our religious works

bearyb said...

I completely agree that Christ wants our hearts. "A broken heart, and a contrite spirit" is how we understand it.

And while I agree that those two commandments are a perfect summation of everything, obviously they weren't all He had to say to us. If they were everything, the Bible would be short indeed.

Piece said...

Kids, didn't you just call it the Uchdorf principle? Also, Mormon leaders don't have a monopoly on Mormon thought.

Mormography said...

WOW. To quote Pierce "We are honest in that we explain that our doctrine, interpretation, and authority came from Joseph Smith, who was a prophet, and his by successors"

Of course Mormon Thought is suddenly separate now from Mormon "doctrine, interpretation, and authority" and suddenly Givens and Mormanity are gurus. What superior honesty.

Pierce said...

Yeah, imagine that: a church is made up of individuals. You really don't comprehend that individuals can sustain leaders yet still believe that those leaders don't have a monopoly on all of their thoughts and worship?
Not much I need to say then.





Pierce said...

(Queue snarky rebuttal even though that makes complete sense to normal people)

Mormography said...

Cool ... you are both the definition of above normal honesty and normal people all wrap up in one individual. I have always dreamt of being smart enough to be called snarky ... may be if I apply myself. .....

bearyb said...

At this URL

http://maxwellinstitute.byu.edu/ask-the-scholar-sorenson-3

you can find an interesting response by John L. Sorenson to a question about the interest that non-lds scholars may/may not have in his work on the Book of Mormon.

Just search "non-lds" on that page to find it.

Cheers.

Alvin said...

Because of my dayjob, I can’t really check all the references used by apologists, and apparently neither can anyone else, including Mormanity. Brother Ostler’s paper “Clothed Upon” was written in 1982, before it became easy to find some of his sources on the internet. I spot checked this claim from the third paragraph: “In some accounts, one must be married in the Holy of Holies of the temple in order to obtain the highest of three degrees of glory.”

The reference he gives for this claim is the Gnostic Gospel of Philip. There’s a translation on the web by Wesley Isenberg. There’s no mention in the document of “three degrees of glory.” It most definitely does not say that people must be married in the Holy of Holies in order to obtain the highest. It does compare the Holy of Holies in the temple at Jerusalem (no longer extant at the time the gospel was written) to the “bridal chamber.” The bridal chamber is a place where marriages are consummated, not where the ceremony takes place, in case there’s any confusion. The meaning of the “bridal chamber” in gnostic Christianity is a subject of debate among scholars, but there is absolutely nothing in the Gospel of Philip to back up Ostler’s claim. If you’re looking for an example of how misleading apologetics can be, this is a great one, and Mormanity uncritically propagates it to defend the faith.

Jeff Lindsay said...

Alvin, Ostler's footnote 6 cites Segelberg and 2 sentences from Philip:

6. Eric Segelberg, "The Coptic Gospel according to Philip and Its Sacramental System," Numen 7 (1960): 198-199; "The Holy of Holy Ones Is the Bridal Chamber" (Gospel of Philip 117.24-5). "The Woman is united to her husband in the Bridal Chamber" (Gospel of Philip 119.17-29). Cf. Gospel of Philip. 4-8 and 124.6ff.

The Gospel of Philip definitely states that the Holy of Holies/Holy of the Holy Ones is the bridal chamber, and that the woman is united to her husband there. It also states that marriage is one of several sacraments, apparently the most important one. So it's possible to see it as teaching that a form of temple marriage, an essential sacrament, is needed to obtain the highest blessings of the kingdom of heaven. What is less clear is the issue of 3 heavens or 3 degrees of glory. I think Ostler reads that into the three rooms of the temple in Philip, which are patterns of the heavens, but that may be relying more on other Christian documents than Philip, and may be importing too much LDS lingo in his telegraphic statement. I'll get into these details more fully in a new post. But do see a related non-LDS discussion of Philip, http://www.dspace.rice.edu/bitstream/handle/1911/72208/The%20True%20Mysteries.pdf?sequence=1. There is actually a lot of content in there that resonates with LDS concepts.

But I would agree that Ostler could have either provided additional references to support the 3 heavens concepts, or could have been more clear in that sentence, or might have been better to say something like "receive the full blessings of the Kingdom of Heaven" rather than refer to the highest degree of glory.

Sadly, LDS writers and even bloggers do make mistakes and don't always check every reference. I guess this is indeed a classic case of "how misleading apologetics can be." Sorry about that. But the good news is that there is a good deal of support for what Ostler said after all, even if his footnote was not as complete as I would have liked.

Alvin said...

If by "temple marriage" you mean one in which the marriage ceremony is performed in the temple, it is not possible to see the Gospel of Philip as teaching that for several reasons. First, the gospel is obviously speaking metaphorically when it says the Holy of Holies is the bridal chamber. If however you want to claim that it's speaking literally, that won't help your case because, as has already been explained, the literal meaning of bridal chamber is not a place where a marriage ceremony takes place; it's a place where the marriage is consummated, and you really don't want to make that claim. Second, just before comparing the Holy of Holies to the bridal chamber, the gospel says that only the high priest entered the Holy of Holies, thereby refuting the possibility that females could be married there. Third, the gospel simply doesn't say that people were married in the Holy of Holies, and the burden of proof rests on whoever asserts that it does. So Ostler's statement contains two falsehoods.

Jeff Lindsay said...

Alvin, as I understand it, when the Gospel of Philip was written, perhaps in the 4th century, the temple was long gone. But sacred rituals and teachings rooted in the temple continued among some parts of Judaism and Christianity. Temple imagery in the Gospel of Philip should not be taken as a literal description of what happened in the non-existent temple. It might be better to take it as a collection of doctrines in one branch of Christianity rooted in temple lore and mysticism. Perhaps the sacraments were done in that day in imitation of the temple, or rooms temporarily adapted to represent the temple. Some of Philip's discussion is clearly symbolic. The later discussion of the bridal-chamber should not be taken as a literal description of intimate relations occurring in the temple. But literal or symbolic, there is no escaping that the Gospel of Philip treats marriage as the highest sacrament and one that is linked to the Holy of Holies. And the three chambers of the temple, in imitation of the heavens, can, as one scholar out it, represent three degrees of holiness. The highest is associated with marriage, an essential ordinance in the Gospel of Philip for those who wish to enter the presence of the Father. Ostler's statement is not nearly as groundless as you assert. For further details, see the new post I just did getting into those issues more fully.

Jeff Lindsay said...

Another good resource to consider, now that we are talking about ancient Christianity and ties to the Temple, is the 1999 presentation by John A. Tvedtnes at the FAIRMormon Conference.