Discussions of Book of Mormon issues and evidences, plus other topics related to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Monday, January 19, 2015

The Book of Mormon's Command Performance: The Late War and Other KJV-Style Texts Don't Help

Stanford Carmack's discussion of the unusual grammar in the original Book of Mormon text creates a case that the unusual English of the original Book of Mormon cannot be readily explained if Joseph just created the Book of Mormon himself. The language of the King James Bible is actually quite distinct from the English that Joseph dictated. Carmack's most recent work on the topic, as I previously discussed ("New Twists," 1/08/15; also see my earlier "Joseph Smith's Hick Language," 8/29/14), takes up the use of the verb "command" in the Book of Mormon. The Book of Mormon tends to favor archaic English constructions like "command Jeff THAT he SHOULD do something" instead of the standard modern form with "to" (the infinitive form), as in "command Jeff TO stop writing so poorly." The King James Bible mostly uses the infinitive form, not the other "finite" form, when "command" governs another verb.

A commenter in my last post guessed that we would find similar language in one of the other books that Joseph allegedly plagiarized from. OK, that's a testable hypothesis. So this week I looked at the texts of some of the leading books people have proposed as Joseph's source material to see how they use "command." I was not surprised to see that they provide no support for the Book of Mormon's command performance. Of course, it will take generations to sort through the ever growing and highly imaginative collection of Joseph's vast frontier library that nobody ever saw, Joseph included (though this could make a fun movie of the National Archive variety, complete with a huge underground Masonic temple lined with books), but this week I looked at the most popular recent "smoking guns."

First on the list is Gilbert Hunt's The late war, between the United States and Great Britain, from June 1812, to February 1815 : written in the ancient historical style. For background, see my "Another Fun Statistical Squabble," 11/07/13 and "Curious Parallels," 11/13/13, and especially see Ben McGuire's commanding "The Late War Against the Book of Mormon," Mormon Interpreter, vol. 7, 2013. Said by some critics to be the ultimate smoking gun that proves plagiarism, a delusional conclusion obtained with bogus statistical methods, this text was written in Elizabethan-style English in imitation of King James language. Occasional similarities also derive from its many scenes of war that describe the kind of things that happen in war, as the Book of Mormon does. So if this was Joseph's secret source, now uncovered with the power of Big Data, it's relationship to the unusual language structures of the Book of Mormon might be interesting, eh?

Courtesy of the remarkable online resource, Archive.org, you can see a text file with the full text of The Late War at https://archive.org/stream/latewarbetween_00hunt/latewarbetween_00hunt_djvu.txt. Other formats might be more enjoyable, such as the PDF file or the online reader. In searching, be sure to consider the occasional hyphenated form also (search for "command" as well as "com-").

My exploration shows that Hunt's use of "command" as a verb is dominated by "commanded by" in the sense of leading, as in an army or ship commanded by a captain, similar to its common use as a noun, as in "under the command of" a leader. These cases don't apply to the current discussion. The cases where "command" governs another verb are relatively few for such a long text (over 300 pages), which already is a notable difference to the Book of Mormon, where command is a frequently used verb governing other verbs. Hunt has 10 instances of command governing a verb, by my count, while the Book of Mormon has over 100. Here are the 10 from Hunt, with the finite forms in bold:
2:3 And they commanded them to go forth from their presence, for that purpose, and return again on the third day of the same month.

3:25 Therefore, I command that ye go not out to battle, but every man remain in his own house.

4:16 But they were rejoiced that power was not given unto him to command fire to come down from heaven to consume the friends of the great Sanhedrim.

7:13 William . . . commanded the valiant men of Columbia to bow down before the servants of the king.

12:11 and commanded them to go to the island of the king which is called Bermuda.

25:15 After which the men of Columbia were commanded to go in boats, down to the strong hold of Kingston, in the province of the king.

29:11 Therefore, that your blood may not be spilt in vain, we command that ye give up the strong hold into the hands of the servants of the king, and become captives.

33:6 And he called together his captains of fifties, and his squadrons, and encouraged them, and commanded them to prepare themselves for the fight.

46:3 For the Prince Regent had commanded his servants to go forth into the heart of the land of Columbia, and separate the states of the east from the rest of the country.

51:28 They commanded the vessel called the Yankee to follow after them, towards the ship of the king their master ;
Here 8 of 10 instances use the common infinitive form (command ... TO ...). The other two use command + that + verb. So 20% of Hunt's few uses are in the finite form, similar to what we see in the KJV Bible, according to Carmack, but quite unlike the high level in the Book of Mormon. None of Hunt's finite forms use an auxiliary verb like "should," which is common in the Book of Mormon. Doesn't look like Hunt explains the Book of Mormon's command patterns.

The First Book of Napoleon is another text that allegedly has statistical similarity to the Book of Mormon. Archive.org again offers the full text, a PDF, and an online reader. You will find even less support for the use of "command" in that text. I find zero instance of "command" governing another verb.

The 1822 translation of the Quran is a little more interesting and relevant, but still fails as an explanation for Joseph's unique Book of Mormon language. Archive.org provides a text file, a PDF, and an online reader. Again, some of the important instances of command are hyphenated, so include "com-" in your search if using the text file. When "command" as a verb governs another verbs, 33 times it was in the modern infinitive form and only 8 times in the finite form. That's 19.5%, very similar to the KJV and quite unlike the Book of Mormon.

One related structure in the Quran is related, but does not fit the finite usage of interest here. An example of this form is "it is also commanded us, saying, Observe the stated times of prayer." The verb "command" here does not directly govern a second verb, but introduces a quotation. So I am not counting it as a finite "layered" form equivalent to "command X that X or Y should do something."

Here are the 8 examples of command + finite verb that I found, listed by page number. Again, this is my preliminary count. I welcome comments and further analysis.
45. who also say, Surely God hath commanded us, that we should not give credit to any apostle, until one should come unto us with a sacrifice, which should be consumed by fire.

67. Wherefore we commanded the children of Israel, that he who slayeth a soul, without having slain a soul, or committed wickedness in the earth, shall be as if he had slain all mankind:

68. We have therein commanded them, that they should give life for life, and eye for eye, and nose for nose, and ear for ear, and tooth for tooth ;

100. and command thy people that they live according to the most excellent precepts thereof

144. who hath commanded that ye worship none besides him.

173. Thy Lord hath commanded that ye worship none besides him ;

269. Nay, but the crafty plot which ye devised by night and by day, occasioned our ruin; when ye commanded us that we should not believe in God, and that we should set up other gods as equals unto him.

277. Did I not command you, O sons of Adam, that ye should not worship Satan ; because he was an open enemy unto you?
Five of the eight examples use "shall" or "should" as an auxiliary verb after "that," which may make it more similar to the Book of Mormon in that regard than is the King James Bible. So in terms of the Book of Mormon's command-related language, the 1822 Quran is certainly the best of the recently touted links found by bad Big Data (or Big Bad Data?), but is still not very helpful and, of course, rather implausible.

Just for fun, I also looked at Solomon Spaulding's Manuscript Found (text file at Archive.org), which proved to be a case of relevant command language being not found. There were 9 examples of infinitive forms but none in the finite form when command governed another verb. Yawn.

But wait, what about Shakespeare? Or Sir Walter Scott? Or James Adair and dozens of other authors? Dig in and let me know what you find.

So far, Carmack's thesis stands: the archaic language of the Book of Mormon cannot be readily explained by drawing from the KJV or other books in Joseph's day. I don't really know why that early archaic English is there, but whatever the reason, it is a subtle data-rich indicator of something other than imitation and plagiarism by Joseph Smith. Or do you have a better fraud-friendly explanation?


Anonymous said...

"Stanford", not "Standford".

Anonymous said...

Other than the thesis that 15th Century usage of the verb "command" provides evidence that the Book of Mormon isn't a product of the 19th Century, I don't see what the significance is in this research at all. One solitary verb is isolated from the text, shown to be in a form not in use in KJV English or in Smith's day, and therefore the entire book can't be 19th Century. Never mind that their are most definitely 19th Century concepts within the book, such as the expression "infinite atonement," which isn't in the Bible, but shows up in the writings of 19th Century Unitarians and Universalists. Like the idea that dark skin is a curse, which again isn't in the Bible, but sure is a part of 19th Century Christian teachings. (Which the current LDS Church has now officially disavowed.) The infant baptism debate is another good example. Not in the Bible. But was a hot topic in Protestantism.

But, we can ignore all of this, because the verb "command" is being used in 15th Century way.

Well, now that we know that book isn't from the 19th Century. We have pushed it back as far as the 15th Century. Now we just have a few more centuries to go before we get it into the 1st Century.

Unknown said...

Thank you, Jeff, for identifying yet another 19th-century source in which Joseph Smith might have encountered EModE command syntax without ever having read any EModE texts.

Of course, this syntax is found in the King James Bible itself ("Did not we straitly command you that ye should not teach in this name?"). Why is it so far-fetched to think that Smith encountered this kind of construction in a 19th-century source, and liked the sound of it, and incorporated it into his style? Is that really so much harder to believe than your divine hypothesis?

Smith's prose is also distinct from the KJV's in other ways, like, oh, I dunno, in the frequency of his use of "It came to pass." Whether it's "command that" or "it came to pass," all we have here is evidence that Smith had ready 19th-century access to certain constructions that he used more frequently than his sources did.

Other than demonstrating he had his own distinctive prose style, that proves absolutely nothing. Well, it does suggest he did not plagiarize his contemporary sources, but the plagiarism argument is a silly one anyway (though it does set up an easy straw man for a certain lazy brand of apologetics).

Also, this "command you that" construction appears at least five times in Doctrine and Covenants. Why would that be? Did God find his "little joke" so funny he had to tell it twice?

Or did Smith write D&C, too?

Which is really more plausible?

Stanford Carmack said...

"Infinite atonement" appears in the early 18c and arguably in the 17c:

mercy enough for the greatest, the eldest, the stubbornest transgressor, the infiniteness of Grace with respect to the Spring or Fountain (the Deity of Christ) will answer all our Objections. What is our finite guilt before it? (How comes this guilt to be finite now? When we are so often told, that the demerit of every sin is infinite, as being committed against an infinite God, and requiring an infinite satisfaction for its Atonement) Shew me the Sinner, that can spread his iniquity to the dimensions (if I may so say) of this Grace.

God had revealed himself to be such a God long before, yet still upon the Account of that Propitiation and Atonement which in infinite Wisdom and Grace he had provided.

But in the Redemption we have by Christ, we may behold with open face as in a glass, all those things which we expect our Religion should do for us? For therein we find an Atonement infinitely sufficient to expiate the offences of the most guilty, and to satisfie the doubts of the most scrupulous, to silence all the clamours of an accusing Conscience

Google Books:
1729 Letters on various occasions, in prose and verse, by the author of ... By Elisabeth Rowe, 23.
"Am I the only distinguish'd Sinner excluded from the Benefit of that infinite Atonement?"

Stanford Carmack said...

Infant baptism:

Thirdly, that all their disputes against Infants Baptism, because they cannot manifest faith and repentance, are but the same quarrels which might haue been picked of old against Infants Circumcision.

The idea that these concepts were not discussed earlier is ludicrous. We cannot argue that they were strictly limited to Smith's era and cultural milieu.

This phrasal, cultural evidence is weak. Syntactic evidence is strong because it is largely subconscious and because it changed and so knowledge of prior forms was lost. Patterns of use shifted completely and they were unrecoverable except by philological analysis.

OK is putting forth the same unstudied complaint in his 2nd para. that I've addressed here and in the article.

Stanford Carmack said...

Take "exceeding great" in the KJB and BofM. The earliest text has 57 consistent uses of this syntax. The KJB has 9 or so. Talmage in 1920, like 1760s KJB editors did to spelling and word forms in the KJB, changed the last ones to "exceedingly great". That is because by the 20c "exceeding great" sounded ungrammatical and Talmage either didn't check biblical syntax or simply decided to make it sound grammatical to 20c readers. (Compare "exceeding(ly) _ADJ_" in Google's Ngram Viewer. You'll see the crossover around the year 1770.) So critics will say that Smith was a linguistic genius, imbued with KJB syntax, and consistently got it right, while better educated pseudobiblical authors like Hunt and E. Smith used "exceedingly great" and "exceedingly fond".

At the same time critics scorn Smith for apparent errors in the Earliest Text of the BofM. They say he made many glaring errors in a failed attempt to imitate biblical and EModE language. So the critics obligatorily contradict themselves. They have to admit highly consistent usage in some respects, and chalk it up to savant status, but deny it elsewhere when their inexpert views on EModE grammar tell them that Smith made mistakes. However, now that we have searchable databases like EEBO, we can find virtually all the "bad" grammar that is in the BofM in the textual record of EModE.

The correct view, the divine view, is not contradictory. But if you don't allow for a divine view, then you must look elsewhere to explain the BofM text, beyond the erroneous and weak views promulgated thus far.

Anonymous said...

By bringing up "infinite atonement" and infant baptism, I wasn't necessarily ruling out the fact that they appear earlier than the 19th Century. I was just pointing out that they do appear in the 19th Century. Do you have anything older than 1675? Like something from Jewish writings back during the time Lehi left Jerusalem. Because then, you'd really have something good. Then, we can explain why "infinite atonement" shows up in the Book of Mormon. Otherwise, the only other sane conclusion is that Joseph Smith put it in the Book, because it was a part of the religious discussion of his day, and previous days as well.

Unknown said...

Champ, we don't need to argue that infinite atonement and the like "were strictly limited to Smith's era and cultural milieu." It suffices to show that they were (1) live issues for Smith, and (2) not likely to have been live issues for ancient expatriate Israelites.

The key term here is retrojection. Secular scholars know that this happens all the time.
The gospel writers retrojected Jesus's messiahship into the mouth of Isaiah. Later New Testament writers retrojected their contemporary concerns into the mouth of Jesus. Smith did much the same thing, retrojecting his own stance on the theological issues of his day into his story of the Nephites. Your observations that some of those issues date back to the 17th or 18th centuries are irrelevant.

This stuff is all so obvious to those unburdened by orthodoxy -- to those who do not accept that ol' burning in the bosom as a source of truth....

And I'm sorry, but this is simply wrong: "Patterns of use shifted completely and they were unrecoverable except by philological analysis."

Sorry, but it's totally plausible that the similarities between Smith's "pattern of use" and that of certain EModE text are a product of chance.

The odds are not that long. They might seem so at first, but not if

(1) we remember that the patterns of usage were inaccessible to Smith, but not the constructions themselves;

(2) we remember Smith was deliberately aiming for an archaic-sounding style; and

(3) we understand the barn door fallacy.

You're making the fundamental creationist mistake, Champ. You can't see any obvious natural mechanism to explain your observations, and instead of thinking harder about what such mechanism might be (which is what a scientist would do), you jump to the conclusion that God must have done it (as the creationist does).

William Paley redux.

Again I say, get out of the apologetical sandbox. Run your theories past your professional peers in linguistics. Nobody's stopping you.

Unknown said...

@ thekidsaresleeping: The kids may be sleeping, but your mind is wide awake!

Stanford Carmack said...

There are dozens of examples of syntactic usage that point to inaccessible EModE. From what I know of the text I would be insane to think that Smith could've written the BofM.

Stanford Carmack said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Stanford Carmack said...

At this point I know the syntax of the Earliest Text of the BofM as well as anyone besides Skousen. I have also familiarized myself with EModE by searching extensively in the OED and EEBO for more than a year and analyzing a number of EModE texts. I have a PhD in historical syntax. I see dozens of good matches between BofM and EModE syntax, much of it arcane or obsolete. So what do I conclude on that basis? Rather reasonably I conclude that someone who had a masterful grasp of EModE, in all its variety, wrote the text. That someone was not Smith.

Anonymous said...


Now you are suddenly getting very interesting. What are you saying here? Should we start scouring the written words of Sydney Rigdon looking for this EModE syntax?

Anonymous said...

To my knowledge, neither Stanford nor anyone else has addressed the elephant in the room: The resources Stanford is using are not reliable indicators of frontier, rural, uneducated American English.

Instead, the resources Stanford uses are created by analyzing past writings. Yet past writings were disproportionately produced by educated people in cities.

The MOST that Stanford's analysis can hope to prove is that the Book of Mormon did not conform to writings sampled by the authors of the reference books Stanford uses. That's it.

In addition - one should ideally analyze other writings of Joseph or his contemporaries to see if they have examples of EModE.

Here are some other questions I posted in August on the interpreter website, which Stanford never really addressed:

1) In the book “The Gift and Power: Translating the Book of Mormon,” the author makes the point that in rural communities with less education, it would not be surprising to find older, non-standard variants of English being used. Why should the non-standard forms you’ve identified be attributed to the divine translation process, rather than as a by-product of less educated, rural 19th century America?

2) Is it true or false that rural or less educated communities will tend to use older variants of English? Are there scholarly articles discussing this? Doesn’t the type of grammar that one uses depend heavily on the community one is in, the amount of contact that community has with other communities, the diffusion of language, etc.?

3) How do you respond to the idea that any scholarly authorities that define what constitutes “Early Modern English” would have largely been based more on language used in cities and the better-educated (i.e. those who write books)–and that you are inappropriately applying these results to a language of a person from an entirely different community? (i.e., a result is applicable only for population A, but you are extending it to population B).

4) Have other studies (outside of mormon scholarship) used English textual variants to date a text composed at an unknown date?

5) What would falsify your theory? For example, if one were to find a different 19th century book that included Early Modern English in similar quantities to the Book of Mormon (but presumably with no divine intervention), would that falsify your theory? Are there any other ways can your theory be falsified?

6) Do you have a statistical model for showing that your evidence is not due to chance? For example, in the biomedical sciences, a p<0.05 is often used. But to account for publication bias, many people really hope to see p<0.01 or less. How do we get a "p value" from your work?

7) Have you done any case controls on your methods to other texts from the 19th century?

8) It seems like a decent methodology for doing a study like this would be to assume that the date of authorship is unknown, and then to classify ALL the linguistic evidence by time period (so, for example, you might end up with some evidence in the 1500s, some in the 1600s, 1700s, some in the 1800s, etc.). I would expect you would find some evidence of 19th century English in the Book of Mormon. Is this the process you undertook? Quickly scanning your article, it looks like most of what you discuss relates to evidence for Early Modern English. But surely there must also be evidence for 19th century English. How much? How does the quantity of 19th century English compare to Early Modern English?

9) Some authors (Metcalfe) have shown many similarities between BOM language and 19th century sermons - evidence that Joseph used the language of his day during the translation process. How does your theory account for this?

10) Who are a few non-mormon scholars who would be qualified to critique your work? Are you planning on submitting your work to a peer-reviewed journal in the field of linguistics?

muucavwon said...

This post answers the question, "Is there sufficient evidence to support the claim that Joseph Smith plagiarized portions of the Book of Mormon from available, contemporary literature?" Jeff Lindsay concludes "No."

I would ask the same question of other books produced by other-worldly means, like the writings of Patience Worth. IMO there is less evidence to reject Patience Worth than to reject the Book of Mormon. I can't think of an argument against Patience Worth that doesn't also work against the Book of Mormon.

bearyb said...

I am convinced that there certainly is a lot of thought (and a lot to think about) concerning the language used in the translated Book of Mormon. I wonder if the Book draws as much similar attention in any of the other hundreds of languages in which it has been subsequently translated.

All these discussions are enough to keep a person quite busy with the mundane - busy enough so that the real purpose of the book can be pushed aside or ignored for a long, long time (a lifetime, perhaps) until they, or the persons so engaged, can be completely exhausted.

What is wrong with the likely possibility that the Book was translated into a language that Joseph was familiar with? What else even makes sense? If he had been Japanese, guess which language would have been used?

Just so we don't all forget, there are a couple of passages "attributed to Nephi" in the Book that might explain the reason for the current discussion:

1 Nephi 6:5

Wherefore, the things which are pleasing unto the world I do not write, but the things which are pleasing unto God and unto those who are not of the world.

2 Nephi 5:32

And I engraved that which is pleasing unto God. And if my people are pleased with the things of God they will be pleased with mine engravings which are upon these plates.

What are the things you are pleased with?

Anonymous said...


If Joseph Smith were Japanese, of course the book would've been translated into Japanese, but from which era? Would the 1820 Japanese Joseph Smith translate it into the language of the 11th Century "Tale of Genji?" (A famous Japanese work of literature.)

Having served a Japanese mission back in the mid-90s, I think you might find it interesting to know that the Japanese translation of the BoM in use when I started was not the same translation I used when I ended. In 1995, the Church issued a new-modern Japanese translation, because the existing translation was so obsolete few people could understand it.

Joseph Smith didn't translate the book into the language he was familiar with. He tried to make it sound like 1611 English. Frankly, I don't have any problem with that. It was just a quirky thing to do. Nothing more.

But here is the problem: There are large chunks of the book that are quoted verbatim from the KJ Bible. So, I am expected to believe that Joseph Smith had a Reformed Egyptian record from an ancient American culture which he translated into English. And when he did, it just so happens that his English translation matches word-for-word a pre-existing English translation that came out of the British Isles in 1611 by translators who were working with the Hebrew/Greek language of the original manuscripts.

This is impossible. 100% impossible. No two translators are going to translate the same complex passage of text the same way. Especially not translators separated by time and space the way Joseph Smith and King James' committee are.

When there is so much evidence pointing to the book being a product of the 19th Century while all the time Joseph Smith and every church leader after him has guaranteed the ancient origins of the book, one really has to question what exactly the purpose of the book is. Because it looks an awful lot like a fraud.

I was a Mormon for 38 years. I did everything just the way I was taught. And I loved the Book of Mormon. I loved Moroni, especially, and his lonely courage at the end. It was hard for me to see that it can't possibly be what it claims to be. The book still has power. Why? It is just a really good Bible commentary combined with swashbuckling adventure tales. It sounds relevant to our day because it deals with Christian themes which we are still dealing with and with which Joseph Smith was dealing with. It gives very vague, yet foreboding, prophecies of coming destruction, so there is a little bit of the tabloid in there, too. Everyone gets at least a bit of an adrenalin rush thinking of the coming final conflict between good and evil. It teaches good principles that lead one to righteous life. But if it doesn't bring a soul to the true and living Christ when it claims to do just that, (or the church claims it), then it is possibly the most dangerous book in print. It is a hook. It brings people to an organization which has layered on doctrine that isn't found either in the BoM or the Bible. And this additional doctrine perverts the clear message found in the Bible about the role of Christ, salvation, grace, and faith.

I have little to complain about, doctrinally speaking, with the Book of Mormon. It closely matches Biblical doctrine. But I am bothered that Mormons don't really believe the doctrine in that book.

bearyb said...

Just to be clear, the Mormons don't believe the doctrine in which book?

Stanford Carmack said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Stanford Carmack said...

@muucavwon: Just looked briefly at Patience Worth's The Sorry Tale. About the same length as the BofM. Hers is faux EModE. One ex.: I searched an EModE db, came up with 10,000 hits of "they went", zero of "they went them", found about 40 times in PW's book. Faux EModE. BofM = real EModE. Causative stx very different in books. PW uses "and" 50% more than the KJB, which has tons, much more than typical English; BofM slightly below KJB in that regard. PW has "did" < 20% as often as the BofM, etc. Texts are very different syntactically and lexically.

@kidsr: Wrong about text, a lack of understanding about implications of tight control (Skousen 1998), and a lack of knowledge about syntax and EModE. Tight control: God directed angelic translators who used the KJB (logical choice in the 1820s) throughout the BofM, altering it as God saw fit. KJB italics arguments made by some are without import or merit -- ultimately silly. The xlation was xmitted word for word to Smith in the late 1820s. I suggest to all who are prone to jump to conclusions about the language of the book that they spend a significant amount of time learning about the intricacies and variation of 200 years of EModE. Then with that background they can profitably study the earliest text with understanding. Otherwise comments will be off-track. They will be inexpert judgments and pronouncements made without knowledge.

Stanford Carmack said...

@kids: Wake up. Smith and associates couldn't have authored the text. You must find an author who was a wide-ranging expert in nonbiblical EModE lx and lit in order to make a plausible naturalistic argument.

Unknown said...

Champ, you do understand the Texas Sharpshooter fallacy, right?

Stanford Carmack said...

That's the barn-door fallacy you have referred to a few times? You think that applies to complex lx phenomena?

Jeff Lindsay said...

Exploration of the meaning of the atonement and its infinite nature did not begin with Anselm or revivalists in Joseph's day. See http://www.phc.edu/gj_4_culver_final.php. Of course, that doesn't tell us what philosophizing Israelites in 600 BC might have been discussing, but given how little we have extant from that period, the argument from silence doesn't mean nobody then was smart enough to ponder the issue and wonder what, for example, it means in Isaiah 53 to be healed by the servant's suffering.

Anonymous said...


The expression "infinite atonement" does not show up in this essay you recommended. No doubt Christians from any era have been wondering about the nature of the atonement. I have been wanting to know exactly where the expression "infinite atonement" comes from, since it doesn't appear in the Bible. It sounded to me like "infinite" wasn't just being used as an ordinary adjective, but that the entire expression was significant. I thought that if it can't be found in writings outside of Mormonism, then this would be good evidence that this concept is some of that plain and precious truth that the Book of Mormon restored. But it does show up in Christian writing apart from Mormonism and earlier than Mormonism, particularly in New England among Unitarians and Universalists during the time Joseph Smith was growing up. It shows up with the two words "infinite" and "atonement" attached together just in the way it appears in the Book of Mormon, as the name of a doctrinal principle, rather than just as a noun with an adjective. A William Wells in 1816 published some writings about Unitarianism in which he defends Unitarians against ridicule for being hesitant to talk about "infinite atonement" when it is not explicitly talked about in the Bible. In 1828, another series of writings appear addressed to a Reverend Channing that shows "infinite atonement" being used again in a discussion about Universalist-Unitarians. You can find this stuff on GoogleBooks. Just enter "infinite atonement unitarians" and "infinite atonement universalists." Again, I don't care so much about how the doctrine is being defined, but that the expression actually appears in contemporary literature during the time of Joseph Smith. It was part of the religious debate. Asael Smith, Smith Jr's grandfather, helped establish one of the early Universalist congregations in Vermont, and was a believing Universalist his entire life. Unitarians and Universalists were debating this topic, using it as a point of contention.

Anonymous said...

It is not a huge stretch to believe in the infinite atonement:

John 3:16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

Coupled with the belief of free agency, how could the atonement not be infinite? It doesn't take 19th century theologians to come to this conclusion.


Anonymous said...

I found this great Medieval text that dates to 1300 CE, but unfortunately only an old German translation of it. I wondered if the original still existed, but I was sad to hear that the only original French copy of the manuscript was lost in the late 1400s around the time it was translated into German. I read it in the German anyway, and about 20 pages in, there is a mention of frankfurters. I love a good hot dog myself, so I really thought this was cool. This surely had to be one of the earliest known references to hot dogs. But then, some smarty pants friend of mine told me that frankfurters weren't even first created until the late 1400's, and they were first made in Germany, so a 14th Century French text should not be talking about frankfurters at all. He tried to convince me that my book wasn't really a 14th Century French text, but a 15th Century hoax by some German boy. Can you believe that!

And then, along comes some linguist who studied the history of the German language, and he tells me that the German syntax is actually an older form of German that what was in vogue at the time this devious German boy translated the text, so it couldn't possibly have been his writing! I was like...wait a minute. My smarty-pants friend says it can't be a French book, but you tell me that it couldn't have been written by the German boy who claimed to have written it? Oh, I'm so confused!

So I went to some of my old college professors who are the foremost authorities on cuisine and languages and Medieval culture, and I asked them what to make of it. They told me to pray about it. And the Holy Ghost will tell me through spiritual feelings whether or not it is indeed a French text from the 1300's. And I tried it. And it worked! It actually worked! I can now boldly declare to Smarty-pants and Linguist that I know this book is true.

Anonymous said...


To be clear, Mormons don't believe in the doctrines of the Book of Mormon.

Do you believe that eternal punishment is as eternal as the life of the soul? (Alma 42:1) Joseph Smith didn't. Eternal punishment has an end. It is only called Eternal, because Eternal is God's name, and the punishment is God's punishment.

Do you believe that an 8-year old who gets the Holy Ghost (the baptism of fire) is eligible for the unpardonable sin? 2 Nephi 31:14. Check out the footnotes.

Do you believe Christ created all things? You can't also believe, then, that he is a created being.

Do you believe that Christ and the Father are one God, yea the very Eternal Father of Heaven and Earth? Mosiah 15:4?

Do you believe that all we need to do to inherit the kingdom of God is be like a child, repent, and be baptized? And that anything MORE or less than this that is established as the doctrine of Christ is of evil? 3rd Nephi 11:31-41. If you do, then you must believe temple ordinances are evil.

Do you believe that we are cut off from God by the spiritual law? (2nd Nephi 2:5) Joseph Smith didn't preach that. He taught we are sanctified and preserved by law: D&C 88:34-39.

Unknown said...

Good points, kids.

It amazes me that otherwise sensible and intelligent people will go to such convoluted lengths to demonstrate the Book of Mormon's authenticity, while ignoring the most obvious and straightforward evidences against it.

The BoM is obviously not an authentic record of ancient Israelites, and the more I read in it, the more obvious this becomes. Recently I've been trying to read it from a Jewish perspective. (I was raised Jewish.) I keep finding myself thinking, "Wow -- that's sure not Jewish!"

Consider the temple built by Nephi, constructed "after the manner of the temple of Solomon save it were not built of so many  precious things;... But the manner of the construction was like unto the temple of  Solomon; and the workmanship thereof was exceedingly fine."

Apparently Nephi's temple lacked some of the finery of Solomon's Temple but was otherwise similarly constructed. Aside from the finery, what is there for our builders to worry about? The stonework. It's sometime between 588 and 559 BC, a couple of generations after Lehi and his small band have arrived in the New World. Where did all the manpower come from to cut and move and hoist all that stone? Not just any manpower, but masons capable of executing fine worksmanship? There might have been, what, maybe a hundred Nephites total, and of that total, maybe about 30 able-bodied men. How could they build something constructed "like unto the temple of Solomon"?

From a Jewish perspective, there's more: Why would Nephi build a temple in the first place? For what purpose? The temple in Jerusalem was the temple. It was the site of animal sacrifice and it housed the Ark of the Covenant. Nephi didn't have the Ark, and, even though the BoM mentions the temple several more times, it is almost always as the venue for speechifying, never as the site of sacrifices (even though the Nephites are supposedly keeping the law of Moses). Temple sacrifice was extremely important in Lehi's Israel, yet sacrifice is never mentioned in the BoM at all.

To a Jewish ear, the Nephite temple just doesn't ring true.

Then there are the plates of Laban. We've all heard the usual objections: the clothes of both Laban and Nephi would have been drenched in blood; the servant of Laban would have been tipped off by the sight of the blood and the sound of Nephi's unfamiliar voice; etc.

But from a Jewish perspective there's much more. Smith would have us believe that after getting the records, "Lehi ... found upon the plates of brass a  genealogy of his fathers; wherefore he knew that he was a descendant of  Joseph."

So, prior to obtaining these plates, Lehi did know which tribe he belonged to?!

This is idiotic. It's like saying that, without some official record to tell him, Joseph Smith would not have known whether he was a white man or a Negro or an Indian. This is not merely a question of skin color, but of the fact that one's race was so closely bound up with one's social position. White men were not subject to slavery; they could vote; they counted as 100 percent instead of three-fifths (black slaves) or zero percent (untaxed Indians).

If you could vote, you knew what race you were. If you had even a vague understanding that your ancestors came from Europe, you knew your race. If your last name was Smith, you had a pretty good idea you were not an Indian.

To an ancient Israelite like Lehi, his tribal status would have been just as bound up with his social position. He would know it simply by knowing where he owned land, where he grazed his sheep, and where he buried his dead relatives.

There's simply no way that Lehi needed the stolen plates to discover such a basic fact of his life. The idea that he would not have known he was of the House of Joseph is ludicrous.

Of course, for an author as ignorant of ancient Israel as Joseph Smith, it would be a natural mistake.

Ryan said...

Orbiting, I don't know about the plates of Laban thing, but I do have to speak to your point on animal sacrifice. 1 Nephi 5:9, 1 Nephi 7:22, Mosiah 2:3, and 3 Nephi 9:19 all specifically use the word "sacrifice" in relation to the offering of animals. The first three all say that the characters in the chapter in question offered such sacrifices. I find Mosiah 2:3 particularly interesting, since the people were gathering at the temple, where they offered sacrifices. Let's not be so hasty about saying what is or is not in the Book of Mormon.

Unknown said...

You're right, Ryan. On the matter of sacrifices, I stand corrected.

bearyb said...


You said

But from a Jewish perspective there's much more. Smith would have us believe that after getting the records, "Lehi ... found upon the plates of brass a  genealogy of his fathers; wherefore he knew that he was a descendant of  Joseph."

I haven't been able to find that in the Book of Mormon.

I did find this in 1 Nephi 5:16-

"And thus my father, Lehi, did discover the genealogy of his fathers. And Laban also was a descendant of Joseph, wherefore he and his fathers had kept the records."

There is no indication that Lehi wasn't aware of the tribe he belonged to, only that he discovered "the genealogy of his fathers."

I know my family's last name, but beyond my grandparents I really am not very familiar with "the genealogy of my fathers."

Please re-read Ryan's last sentence above.

You might also consider reading the Book of Mormon (again?), to find out what it really contains.

Unknown said...

bearyb, it's right there in 1 Nephi 5:14: "And it came to pass that my father, Lehi, also found upon the plates of brass a  genealogy of his fathers; wherefore he knew that he was a descendant of  Joseph."

The implication is clear that previous to obtaining these plates, Lehi did not know he was "a descendant of Joseph."

Anonymous said...


It says Lehi discovered the genealogy of his fathers. This BECAUSE and AFTER he gets the plates. And check out verse 14 of the same chapter. Lehi finds a genealogy of his fathers on the plates, "wherefore he knew he that he was a descendant of Joseph." Wherefore = "as a result of which."

Anonymous said...

You beat me to it, orbiting...

Unknown said...

kids: But you improved on my comment by elucidating the meaning of "wherefore"....

Stanford Carmack said...

know, v. 10a. To apprehend or comprehend as fact or truth; to have a clear or distinct perception or apprehension of; to understand or comprehend with clearness and feeling of certainty.

So Lehi was told he was of the tribe of Joseph, and knew that from his upbringing and culture, then he knew it with clearness and a feeling of certainty after reading the names and lineage on the bronze plates. A matter of semantics.

Unknown said...

Good grief. See what we're up against here, kids?

Anonymous said...

WOW. Critics do the very thing they accuse the LDS of doing.

Anonymous said...

Which "the temple" are you referring to? The one in Elephantine or the one in Jerusalem? Ok, the question was tongue in cheek. Of course you are referring to the temple in Jerusalem but it seems you are overlooking the temple in Elephantine where the Jews local to that area could also have temple worship.

bearyb said...

I sit corrected about the quote not being elsewhere in the BoM. Ya got me.

Still, there are a couple of questions...

Because of the semicolon used, couldn't the text simply be indicating that Lehi already knew he was a descendant of Joseph, but was not aware of his full line of genealogy? I mean, it also says Laban was also a decendant of Joseph, and that's why he had the records. How did Lehi know of the records and their whereabouts in the first place?

Also, isn't there some scenario by which a person could be a "member" of a tribe without full, certain, and complete knowledge of his actual lineage?

Anonymous said...

14 And it came to pass that my father, Lehi, also found upon the plates of brass a genealogy of his fathers; wherefore he knew that he was a descendant of Joseph; yea, even that Joseph who was the son of Jacob, who was sold into Egypt, and who was preserved by the hand of the Lord, that he might preserve his father, Jacob, and all his household from perishing with famine.
15 And they were also led out of captivity and out of the land of Egypt, by that same God who had preserved them.
16 And thus my father, Lehi, did discover the genealogy of his fathers. And Laban also was a descendant of Joseph, wherefore he and his fathers had kept the records.

A semi-colon indicates a relationship between the two clauses that it separates. This relationship could be an oppositional one, (...; however,...) or it could be one in which the second clause gives more information, or elucidates the meaning, of the first. (...; namely...) or (...; therefore...).

Wherefore means "as a result of which." So in the case of this passage, Lehi learns his genealogy as a result of having acquired the plates.

Also, notice the use of the word "thus" in verse 16. This is a summarizing word. It means "as a result or consequence of," or "in the manner now being indicated or exemplified."

Thus....Lehi, in the manner indicated (the acquiring of the plates) did discover the genealogy of his fathers.

Lehi didn't know he was of the tribe of Joseph until he acquired the plates.

And orbiting is correct in that this doesn't make sense at all. Tribal identity was everything to the Jews.

bearyb said...

If tribal identity was "everything" to the Jews, which tribe did Lehi think he was a member of then, I wonder...

Anonymous said...

Yeah, tribal identity I would imagine is about as strong as knowing your own family which is why some people when they realize they are adopted go to great lengths to find out who their birth parents are. I wouldn't even claim to know why Lehi wanted the brass plates for his genealogy. Lehi's desire for this does not rule out that the Book of Mormon is false. Just like the claim that they would not build a temple in the New World because building a separate temple was "unheard of." That is, until you hear of it.

Unknown said...

Bearyb, the most straightforward reading of 1 Nephi 14 is that Lehi knew he was a descendant of Joseph because of the genealogy he found on the plates.

Compare to the explanation of why God slew Onan in Genesis 38:10: And the thing which he did displeased the Lord: wherefore he slew him also.

A fair paraphrase would be this: Because he did this thing, the Lord slew him also. Before Onan spilled his seed, the Lord had no reason to slay Onan, but because Onan did spill his seed, the Lord now has a reason.

Ditto for Lehi: Before he had the plates, he did not know he was a descendant of Joseph; because he now has read the plates, he now knows that he is.

If tribal identity was "everything" to the Jews, which tribe did Lehi think he was a member of then, I wonder...

The obvious answer is that tribal identity wasn't everything to Lehi, because Lehi is the fictional creation of a writer who didn't understand the importance of tribal identity.

Tribal identity would have been everything to Lehi, were Lehi an actual Israelite being chronicled by an actual Israelite, or even if Lehi were a fictional character created by a modern writer who understood the importance of Israelite tribal identity. But instead, as 1 Nephi 14 makes clear, Lehi is a fictional character created by someone who didn't understand this stuff.

An ancient Israelite writing about ancient Israelites would have known this stuff. Joseph Smith didn't. Who's the more likely candidate for the author?

Ryan said...

This is total speculation, I admit, and maybe I'm just out in left field. But since the tribe of Joseph basically belonged to the Northern kingdom and Lehi lived in the Southern, is it possible he either believed himself to be of the tribe of Judah, or simply could not verify his lineage until he had the record? Just a thought.

Anonymous said...


Again, the more likely explanation, as orbiting pointed out, is that Lehi is a fictional character created by a young man who wouldn't have understand Jewish culture. The fact that Lehi is a Northerner living in the South is more evidence of this unfortunate fact.

It is so interesting how apologists will say, "Joseph Smith could've had no understanding of olive tree gardening! How could he have written Jacob 5?" (Never mind that olive tree allegories are found in the Bible). And all the members in Sunday School will parrot this line. I've heard it so often. Yet, when an obvious error is detected which indicates that the author of the BoM may not have understood Jewish culture, people say, "Gee...I wonder what tribe Lehi thought he was from then...?" Or "Maybe Lehi really was confused about his tribe, since he was a Northerner in the South?"

In your minds, nothing, nothing, nothing, and nothing, at all will ever be enough to verify the Book is not an authentic record. If for some reason the world was mistaken and believed that A Tale of Two Cities was authentic 18th Century history, and then, evidence came out (even a little bit) that it couldn't possibly have been authentic history, none of you would be clinging so tightly to the notion that AToTC is authentic history. You'd give it up. You'd accept it as fiction.

But with this Book, you toss away all those critical thinking skills you use to verify truth outside of the church in order to preserve your truth inside the church.

I feel for you. I do. Because I was one of you for 38 years. I have, for as long as I remember, been an intensely curious person. But I had to shut down that essential aspect of myself to be a good Mormon. I am a bright guy but there are others out there who blow me away in that respect. I am disgusted with myself that the obvious error of my ways was staring me in my face every time I picked up that Book. The clues to its own true history are embedded all through that book.

Who recorded Abinadi's words after Alma left? Who was there to watch and record the play-by-play action of the final fight of the last two Jaredites when Ether was holed up in his cave?

I am ashamed of myself. And I thought so highly of my own intelligence.

Anonymous said...

Now I am even more ashamed of myself. Ether wasn't holed up in his cave the whole time. Sorry....my mistake.

Jeff Lindsay said...

Who recorded Abinadi's words after Alma left?

Hoa about Gideon or any of the many other people who heard him and later teamed up with the Nephites in Zarahemla?

One of the strengths of the Book of Mormon is that the events recorded do have either explicit sources or plausible sources that connect the reporting to the authors of the text. We don't have, for example, dialog from Lamanite councils when nobody there was a future convert to the Nephite religion or other examples of an omniscient narrator in the Nephite text (except when the Lord is speaking, of course). It doesn't use such devices from fiction.

Have you looked into Margaret Barker's views on the world of Lehi as reported in First Nephi? Here is a non-LDS scholar who finds it much more interesting and a lot less ridiculous. Might be worth a look.

Unknown said...

FWIW, Jeff, I do think the Book of Mormon is interesting, extremely so. And I don't think the book itself is ridiculous. What's ridiculous is brushing aside the overwhelming evidence of its 19th-century origins.

Anonymous said...

Jeff, I agree that the Book of Mormon consistently applies limited narration. Now that I have my Ether and Abinadi questions answered, I agree with you on this point. But this is in itself a fictional device, not necessarily a fictional device, but it is used in fiction as well. Hunger Games for instance is a recent example. David Copperfield is an older example.

What makes Book of Mormon unique, I guess, is that large portions of it are in third person, which is common to omniscient narration, but yet it isn't omniscient narration. Mormon abridges a first person limited narration, recording the events in third person, yet the narration is consistently limited.

bearyb said...

The following webpage


outlines some interesting "scenarios" of the type I was inquiring about - possible reasons why Lehi's tribal affilitions or his precise genealogy might not have been known to him.

Still looking around though...

bearyb said...

Here is something else of interest.

From the point of view that the BoM is a fictional text from the mind of Joseph Smith (who apparently didn't understand importance of Israelite tribal identity and familial customs) it should be surprising that there is apparently quite a lot of Lehi's story that is in keeping with such "ancient Israelite family laws and customs" (quote taken from the article).

Found at


Anonymous said...

For the uninitiated, could someone explain what EmodE is? A simple google search didn't turn up anything...Thanks!

Mark Steele

bearyb said...

From what I've gathered here, it means Early Modern English.

bearyb said...

thekidsaresleeping said...

In your minds, nothing, nothing, nothing, and nothing, at all will ever be enough to verify the Book is not an authentic record.

That is perhaps because in our minds - and hearts - there is already so much that verifies that it is. Do we have all the answers to all the questions raised about it? No. But I believe time is actually on our side as more knowledge comes to light about it, if that is what we seek.

However enticing the prospect of physical external verification might be, that is still not the recommended way to approach the question of its veracity. Even the Bible admonishes a test of the truthfulness of the principles it teaches - not by historical verification of places and people - but through a simple promise that If any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of myself. (John 7:17)

The very circumstances of Christ's birth are beyond the scope of logical thought and verifiable experiment. How much of that do you believe?

You, thekidsaresleeping, have said you don't really have a problem with the doctrine in the BoM, but mainly the language used. I don't think we know many of the details of how exactly the BoM was translated - how much was word-for-word (which mostly would probably have been impossible, though apparently many - if not all - words were specified) and how much was "general meaning." In those sections where much of the KJV likely is quoted, it is ok with me if the Lord "inspired" Joseph to simply use much of the language that had already been worked out to illustrate the pertinent principles. Of all the supposed books Joseph is purported to have had at his disposal in his "vast frontier library," there is no doubt that he was probably most familiar with the KJV.

bearyb said...

thekidsaresleeping said...

It (the Book of Mormon) teaches good principles that lead one to righteous life. But if it doesn't bring a soul to the true and living Christ when it claims to do just that, (or the church claims it), then it is possibly the most dangerous book in print. It is a hook. It brings people to an organization which has layered on doctrine that isn't found either in the BoM or the Bible.

Not understanding how a book that "teaches good principles that lead one to righteous life" can be considered "the most dangerous book in print," I will move on to the rest of the above statement with an answer from Mormon 8:12 -

And whoso receiveth this record, and shall not condemn it because of the imperfections which are in it, the same shall know of greater things than these. Behold, I am Moroni; and were it possible, I would make all things known unto you.

Then you added, "And this additional doctrine perverts the clear message found in the Bible about the role of Christ, salvation, grace, and faith."

Are you aware that many churches that rely on the "clear message" of the Bible alone do not agree on these very points? Why might that be?

James Anglin said...

So, in comparison to the King James Bible, the Book of Mormon over-uses the archaic "command that he should" structure. As a miracle this makes no sense, but as fraud it's very easy to understand.

King James English was not Joseph Smith's native dialect, and he wasn't trying to fool modern linguists with a statistically perfect imitation of King James English, either.

He was trying to sound Biblical to the average person of his place and time. So, just as Yankees overuse "y'all" when they try to sound Southern, Smith overused the most archaic elements of King James style, because they sounded most distinctively Biblical.

I wonder what this kind of analysis says about "Behold" and "It came to pass" in the Book of Mormon. My naive impression is that the BoM also uses these much more often than the KJV, and that has always inclined me to suspect deliberate fraud, not bad miraculous translation of Reformed Egyptian into anachronistic English.

Anonymous said...

Bearby, when I said it may be the most dangerous book, I meant what I expressed, that a book that claims or is claimed to bring people to Christ, but which doesn't do this, is a very dangerous book. It may teach correct principles, but that is not sufficient to save, because we cannot save ourselves by "correct principles" and "righteous living". We are saved by faith in Christ. And the Bible warns of false Christs. It is not out of the realm of possibility that people who sincerely and genuinely believe in Christ are misled. Mormons make this claim of every other Christian religion.

Bearby, are you aware that many churches that rely on the plain and precious truths of the Book of Mormon do not agree, either? Do you realize how many different organizations that self-identify as Mormons there are? Sure, the SLC-based church is the largest and most successful. But you'd be surprised to find out the real numbers of these other Mormonisms, if you haven't all ready.

But see, the SLC-based group so powerfully controls the narrative and has so effectively shut-out these other groups who believe the prophet Joseph Smith and the Book of Mormon. And then Mormons say, "See all the confusion in Christianity? I am so glad we have the one true church that has unity and harmony."

The idea that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is this unique beacon of unadulterated truthfulness and unsullied history is simply a myth. And millions buy into it thanks to very powerful PR maneuvering. Missionaries love to use the hook, "God needed to restore his one true church because all the other churches only had a little bit of the truth, but not all of it. Now, we have the one true church again."

No,...now we have just another Christian denomination. If there were a thousand before 1830, there were 1001 after 1830.

See it is all a matter of perspective.

Jeff Lindsay said...

Lehi's tribal identity is an interesting issue. I lean toward the text meaning that Lehi now had confirming details about his genealogy. But if he really wasn't sure about his tribal origins, the speculations raised at https://wmjas.wordpress.com/category/scripture/book-of-mormon/ are interesting. Being an outsider from a northern tribe or an outsider with Egyptian roots in the midst of the tribe of Judah could have complicated things--interesting thoughts.

As for the Malachi quotations of Nephi, Nephi is not necessarily quoting Malachi. I offer some details at http://mormanity.blogspot.sg/2013/06/did-joseph-smith-blunder-with.html.

Nephi's building of a temple not only has support from what we know at Elephantine and other Jewish colonies, but it makes a great deal of sense based on Margaret Barker's explorations of the First Temple traditions before the Exile, which reveals that the world of Lehi portrayed in the opening pages of Nephi's writings are remarkably consistent with modern scholarship that could not have been accessed by Joseph. The idea of one central temple in Jerusalem was part of the reforms from Josiah and his gang that Lehi was opposing.

The problems in the translation process (KJV English and occasional human errors) need to be weighted against the Book of Nephi's strong evidence of authenticity such as it details of Bountiful, Nahom, Valley of Lemuel, etc., plus Margaret Barker's work, Hebraic poetry from Nephi, and many other issues.

Anonymous said...


I think you make a good point here. I tend toward the side of the argument that suggests the Book is a 19th Century work. But I'll concede that there is some evidence to suggest otherwise. And thank you for providing this forum and allowing differing opinions to be heard. Many bloggers like to be heavy-handed with moderation, deleting comments for whatever reason.

bearyb said...


Yes, I am aware that there are many splinter groups that claim belief in the BoM and even call themselves Mormons.

There has been proposed an idea that either the LDS Church is what it claims to be, or it is the biggest hoax ever. I suppose that statement has merit. It has and continues to attract many, while being extremely controversial to others, kind of like Christ Himself. If nothing else, isn't it truly amazing the amount of attention (good or bad) being garnered by one Joseph Smith and the Church he founded?

Unless you think Jesus Christ may have changed His mind about how things should be done - like, say, organizing a church - perhaps the most efficient way to discount most religious organizations is to start by researching how He did it, then compare that to any other extant organization. How many of all of them have all, or even most, of the elements He put in place?

Could satan have arranged one or a few groups patterned after that blueprint? Of course. So, I get that one should look at more than just the organization, but isn't it at least a place to start? I mean, would or should His Church be organized any other way?

It is interesting that you should claim that the BoM doesn't lead anyone to Christ (despite the testimonies of many who have claimed it has), when that is the very stated purpose of the Book from its title page: "- And also to the convincing of the Jew and Gentile that Jesus is the Christ, the Eternal God, manifesting himself unto all nations."

Not to mention 2 Nephi 25:26 "And we talk of Christ, we rejoice in Christ, we preach of Christ, we prophesy of Christ, and we write according to our prophecies, that our children may know to what source they may look for a remission of their sins.

You are certainly right about perspective. It is paramount. I sure hope I'm open to a better one than I currently have. I know I have a lot yet to learn.

bearyb said...


Sorry, I was also going to touch on the "sufficient to save" subject.

I submit that Latter-Day Saints believe in a more broad, inclusive approach to salvation than anyone else.

First, we believe that ALL will be saved from physical death, no matter what or who they belive in, or even if they don't believe at all. (How does that alone compare with many other Christian faiths?) I'm not sure how anyone could read 1 Corinthians 15 and think otherwise. But, there are those who do.

In this sense we believe salvation is a free gift from God. There is nothing we can do to merit it. Anyone who thinks otherwise ought to read Mosiah 2: 20-25.

We also believe, however (as is clearly taught in the Bible), that we shall be judged by our works (and additionally by our thoughts, and intents). Thus, not all of our "salvations" can or will be equal. How could they be if God is a just God? Here is where it DOES matter what and/or Who you believe in. Mosiah 4: 6-10 is a good example of this.

It is biblical that the Lord expects those who love Him to keep His commandments. And Acts 2: 37-47 has some special instructions as well, echoing what is said in John 3:5.

So, it is important to be clear about what is meant by "salvation" when discussing it.

bearyb said...


You said "...the SLC-based group so powerfully controls the narrative and has so effectively shut-out these other groups who believe the prophet Joseph Smith and the Book of Mormon. And then Mormons say, "See all the confusion in Christianity? I am so glad we have the one true church that has unity and harmony."

As far as I know, the LDS Church has not "controlled the narrative" of any other group except its own. Doing so would certainly be in clear opposition to the 11th Article of Faith. I seriously doubt that the success, or lack thereof, of other groups can be attributed to anything the Church has done.

The idea that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is this unique beacon of unadulterated truthfulness and unsullied history is simply a myth.

We recognize that the Church is not the only source of truth, and that we don't even have all of it yet. And when did it ever claim to have an "unsullied history?"

We DO claim that the original organization and authority has been restored, though obviously for logistical reasons that organization has and will continue to change. But the fundamental, core offices and keys will, and must, remain.

Anonymous said...

It is difficult to discuss salvation in a Mormon context, because Mormons are not content with mere salvation. D&C 76 defines salvation as being saved in any of the three degrees of glory. All will be saved, therefore, except the sons of perdition. This is Section 76 doctrine. Later, Joseph Smith added the doctrine of exaltation (probably in conjunction with the practice of polygamy.) So, Mormons are Universalists, almost. All will be saved, and this is through the grace of Christ. It is a free gift indeed. D&C says you don't even need to believe in Christ to be saved in the Telestial Glory

But this isn't what Mormons aim for. They seek exaltation, or eternal life in the highest degree of the Celestial Kingdom. And it most definitely isn't free. It is a conditional reward(Elder Nelson said so in Conference 2008 or 2009), contingent upon obedience to the laws and ordinances of the Gospel. It will cost you at least 10% of your income. It will require you to wear unique undergarments day and night. It will require you to abstain from certain beverages. It will require, basically, everything you are accountable for during a temple recommend interview. Exaltation is earned through temple work.

But Paul preaches a hard truth in the New Testament. He says if a law could've been given that would've brought righteousness, then righteousness would come by means of a law. He says that Christ is dead in vain if you are justified by law. He says that if you are justified through law, you are fallen from grace. Like the Galatians, Mormons start in the Spirit, and then try to finish it on their own. Mormonism is the 21st Century Galatian Heresy. They come unto Christ, but then they enter the temple and place themselves back under bondage to a law.

I know...you'll say that Paul is just talking about salvation here, not exaltation. Okay, but first, ask yourself why, then, Paul nor anyone else in the Bible preaches anything remotely similar to exaltation. No one says anything about eternal marriage, the essential aspect of exaltation.

More importantly, Paul says that if you are justified by law, you are fallen from grace. Can you fall from grace toward exaltation? Ascension to exaltation is a fall from grace, or you simply disagree with Paul.

Read Galatians. Yes, the context of Paul's words is specifically the implementation of circumcision after conversion to Christ, because that is what the Galatians were doing. But they could've just as well been requiring converts to put on undergarments. They could've just as well been requiring dietary restrictions (which Paul deals with in writing to the Colossians, by the way). It doesn't matter, because Paul's doctrine is applicable to anyone who thinks that Christ's work on the cross is not sufficient. And Mormons do not believe it is sufficient for those who seek exaltation.

Paul says you are fallen from grace if you seek justification through a law. Joseph Smith says that law preserves, protects, sanctifies, and justifies.

Are you getting an idea now why Christians won't accept Mormons? It is because the cross of Christ is foolishness and a stumblingblock for Mormons.

In D&C 132, Smith defines everything else except exaltation as a form of damnation. The Encyclopedia of Mormonism is even more explicit. Anything except exaltation is a form of damnation, because progress stops.

So, that free gift from Christ - salvation in one of the degrees of glory - it's damnation, unless you do the rest of the work yourself to earn exaltation. Now are you understanding why Christians consider Mormonism such an egregious heresy? Everything Christ did on the cross for you brings you, at best, a form of damnation, unless you do all the right things on your own, and earn your own exaltation, at which point you'll become a god, having a continuation of your power and your priesthood.

Ryan said...

Kids, It bothers me when people, inside the church or out, think the teaching is that exaltation is earned. Exaltation, salvation, whatever you want to call it, it comes through Christ. Without him, all the works in the world would be useless. But on the flip side of that coin, the fact that something is asked of me is not the same as me earning a reward. I honestly don't see why the bulk of Christians have a problem with that, because they believe that Christ asks something of us too. In their case, what He asks of us is that we believe and confess Him. Anyone who fails to do that can not be saved, ergo salvation is conditional. Yet it is still true that Christians of all denominations believe that salvation comes through Christ, not through the act of confessing Him. I believe Christ asks me to make covenants with Him, and then to keep those covenants. If I do, I will be saved/exalted, but it is not because I deserve it. It's because I made use of the gift He freely offered me.
It is interesting that you bring up section 88 in all this. The law that is being discussed here is the Law of Christ (see vs 21). I grant you the section later says we can be sanctified by the law we keep. However, it also says that anything that breaks a law can not be sanctified by that law. Since we know all have sinned, we need not suppose that this verse means I can lay any claim to salvation by my own righteousness. Rather, by keeping the law of Christ, ie faith, repentance, etc, I can have the sort of relationship with Him that allows me to remain in His presence. This seems consistent with a further reading of Galatians, where Paul invites us to "Bear ye one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ." (Galatians 6:2) Similarly, Paul teaches in Romans that "the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death." (Romans 8:2) So I think we ought to be careful about saying there is no law, but rather that it is the law of Christ that sanctifies us, if we choose to obey it. Whether that means I simply need to believe and confess, or go a little further is a matter for another time, but regardless, He has given a law. If we obey it we are made free because of Him. That is my take on what the church teaches, anyway.

Anonymous said...


You give me a lot to think about, and I've thought about it for a long time now. I grew up as a Mormon, which I've said here before. So I think I understand the Mormon position on this. However, I understand it all from the position of traditional Christianity now also. I see major conflicts between the two positions.

Paul says in Romans 11:6 that if it, meaning salvation, comes by grace, it cannot by by works, for then grace is no longer grace. Paul is declaring that grace is defined in such a way that excludes any talk of works. He is taking a strong stance against a grace/works combo. He says if you work for salvation, your reward isn't grace, but that which was owed to you.

Mormons believe that they are not saved no matter how good they are without faith in Christ. Yet they also believe that without doing certain things, faith in Christ doesn't save. It is definitely a grace/works combination in Mormonism.

But you are right that Christ asks us to do something. He does tell us to believe in Him and confess Him. But when understood correctly, this is not any type of work at all. It is actually the antithesis of work. It is a total and complete relinquishing of oneself into the arms of a waiting Savior. It is the placement of all hope of salvation entirely on Christ and the cross. When this is done by the believer, something happens. The Holy Spirit indwells within you. You then become a son (child) of God. The Bible is clear about this. You are adopted into Christ upon belief. You become a joint-heir with Christ upon belief, adopted into the family through Christ, and are then a son of God. You are not a child of God before this happens.

When this indwelling happens, the Spirit works from the inside to lead the person to good works. It is a natural result of the "born again" experience. But the good works spring totally from a place of love and gratitude. They are not done in order to be saved, because when one is born again, one is ALREADY SAVED! These good works are truly charitable good works, because they "seek not their own."

If you are doing good works for exaltation, they are not charitable works, but they are the labors for which one is expecting his/her wages. And God says that this righteous is filthy rags.

I find it interesting that you quote Galatians 6:2 as a Mormon, because you do not believe that bearing one another's burdens fulfills the law of Christ. There is a lot more you have to do as a Mormon, and you know this.

Pierce said...

"Mormons believe that they are not saved no matter how good they are without faith in Christ. Yet they also believe that without doing certain things, faith in Christ doesn't save."

Kids, saved from what? Torture in hell? That is usually what being saved is referring to, and we actually do believe that people will be saved from the traditional Christian view of being tortured in a fiery hell forever and ever.

Jesus talked about laying up for yourself treasures in heaven. He said he would reward everyone according to their works. He said to be perfect like His Father. So as far as the mainstream view goes, we believe in being saved simply by the mercy of Christ. But where mainstream Christians are limited in their understanding about what the real "end-game" is and what treasures and rewards actually mean, Mormons believe they have a revealed understanding--the doctrine of exaltation.

So Christ has saved us from the permanent separation and destruction through no effort of our own. Now He has told you what to do with that salvation, and what will happen if you throw it away. If you read the 4 gospels with that in mind, and not let the evangelical dogma surrounding Paul get in the way, you'll see a very wonderful harmony of the two concepts.

Ryan said...

I don't believe bearing one another's burdens fulfills the law of Christ? Since when do you get to decide what I believe? Of course I believe bearing one another's burdens fulfills that law. Read Mosiah 18 again. I think you are right that some Mormons believe they must work for the sake of earning their reward. I think those particular Mormons are misled- they misunderstand their own scriptures. I also believe that faith without works is dead. As Rich Mullins put it, "I think you need some works to show for your alleged faith...I really think you outta take a leap off of the ship before you claim to walk on water." Peter had faith. How do we know? Because he actually did something. He acted. Christ wants me to have faith in Him. He also asks me to keep his commandments (ie "law"). How can I claim to have faith in Christ if I am unwilling to keep His commandments? It's not that I believe faith in Christ will not save me unless I do works. It's that I believe I can not actually have faith in Christ without being willing to do what He asks of me. But ultimately it is Christ who saves me. You and I are agreed on that.

Anonymous said...


If you can honestly tell me that all you need to do to fulfill the law of Christ is to bear one another's burdens, then you clearly do not understand Mormonism as I did. Maybe I had it all wrong all those years. I thought that to fulfill the Law of Christ, meaning meet all its requirements, I was also required to participate in complex rituals, wear a certain type of undergarment 24/7, abstain from tea,and several other things.


I'll respond later. Lots to say. No time now to say it.

Thanks to both for this robust debate.

Anonymous said...


You ask "Saved from what?" This illustrates the problem. Only in Mormonism does one need to ask this, because only in Mormonism has the addition of exaltation on top of salvation created a three-part division of the afterlife (and I am NOT talking about the 3 Degrees).

1. Exaltation
2. Salvation without Exaltation
3. Perdition.

As a Mormon you need to be saved from both Perdition and Salvation, both of which are forms of damnation.

To be saved from Perdition, all you need to do is draw breath. If you know too much, you start to run a risk.

To be saved from mere Salvation, you need faith in Christ, and then you need to be obedient to the laws and ordinances of the Gospel, which you bind yourself to live within the temple. If you fail to do this perfectly, you'll be under the power of Satan, who is there in the House of the Lord to tell you so himself. Whether he is joking or not, I don't know. I think we're supposed to take him seriously. And why shouldn't we? He is all but quoting scripture. If you have a law, and you mess up even one part of that law, you've violated the entire thing. And you stand condemned. So, you've placed yourself back under the condemnation of law from which Christ has liberated you through the work of the cross.

I agree when you say Christ tells you what to do with your salvation, and what happens if you throw it away. But I believe the Bible when it says that if after you come to Christ through faith, if you then seek to be justified by law, you have thrown your salvation away already.

Salvation is not a future event. It can happen now. You can receive the down payment of your inheritance now (Ephesians). When this happens, and you have knowledge of your saved condition, the only reason you have left to work is out of love. Not because you are going to get something for it. You've already received it through faith. Before this happens, however, your works are filthy rags, because you seek something by them.

I know this is hard to comprehend. It made no sense to me either as a believing Mormon. But when it suddenly clicked in my head, thanks to the power of the Holy Spirit, my entire worldview and my entire understanding of my relationship to God changed. I am thankful for it.

Ryan said...

If that's what you got out of your covenants, then yeah, I'd say yoi missed the point. May I suggest that the law of Christ can be summmed up pretty well as "love God and love your neighbor." Bearing each other's burdens certainly falls into that. To me, all my covenants point me in that direction. I am sorry you couldn't see that.

bearyb said...

A robust debate indeed.

kids, do you not think that God's house is a house of order? Do you not comprehend that there must be some code of laws in place that govern it?

For example, why was Christ baptized? To fulfill all righteousness (ie, to fulfill all requirements, or conditions). And did He not require it of all who wished to enter His kingdom?

Many will not accept baptism. Doesn't this limit their options? Doesn't it make sense that our choices will either increase or limit our options?

The degree to which we accept and obey each of the Lord's instructions helps us to change and become more submissive, humble, charitable, and like Him. More than just belief, it is effort that builds character and effects the change required to get and stay on the path of discipleship. Still, it is not the act of baptism that changes us, but our willingness to do it and the realization that by doing so we are making promises and obeying a commandment.

Every day of our lives we perform "works." Hopfully, those works are guided by our faith and commitment to do what we have promised to do. When we are unsuccessful at keeping our promises, as we always are, the Lord's grace is sufficient to make up the difference.

The Church teaches the ideal of exaltation, just as Christ taught the ideal of perfection. Why should anything less be taught or expected? But it is only when we are "yoked with Christ" that our efforts can be acceptable offerings.

As far as final rewards go, I believe (though I am uncertain if this is doctrinal) that we will be privileged to go where we will feel most "at home." If we have not been "true and faithful" concerning what has been asked of us, how could we ever feel "at home" with the likes of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob? Perhaps there will be many who will be relieved not to have such high demands or expectations placed on them. They, perhaps, will be satisfied with their "damned" status, knowing that they are/were not willing to go beyond it. Many people "settle" for what they have in this life. Why should it be any different there?

bearyb said...

kids, I meant to respond to this earlier but didn't have the time. So, here goes...

To be clear, Mormons don't believe in the doctrines of the Book of Mormon.

Do you believe that eternal punishment is as eternal as the life of the soul? (Alma 42:1) Joseph Smith didn't. Eternal punishment has an end. It is only called Eternal, because Eternal is God's name, and the punishment is God's punishment.

I'm not sure how that verse (1) pertains to your point. But here is what verse 16 says:

"Now, repentance could not come unto men except there were a punishment, which also was eternal as the life of the soul should be, affixed opposite to the plan of happiness, which was as eternal also as the life of the soul."

Are you referring to the teaching that "hell" (what we call "spirit prison") is a temporary place, and that that conflicts with the above BoM verse? I do not agree. The punishment mentioned could certainly refer to that which follows the resurrection and final judgement, which, as far as we know, is permanent.

Do you believe that an 8-year old who gets the Holy Ghost (the baptism of fire) is eligible for the unpardonable sin? 2 Nephi 31:14. Check out the footnotes.

What do you mean by "gets the Holy Ghost?" As a part of the confirming ordinance, the words are spoken as a directive, "receive the Holy Ghost." But the verse in 2 Nephi doesn't stop there. Also, I would refer you back to the same footnotes, particularly the one in Heb. 6:4–6. Simply having received the ordinance does not elevate one to the levels of awareness and knowledge referred to.

Do you believe Christ created all things? You can't also believe, then, that he is a created being.

If you know LDS doctrine as well as you claim to, you ought to know that, in a sense, NONE of us are created beings. However, there is the matter of our physical bodies that had to come from somewhere, so I suppose that Christ didn't create His own physical body, nor very many of ours!

Do you believe that Christ and the Father are one God, yea the very Eternal Father of Heaven and Earth? Mosiah 15:4?

Yes. (Did you miss the footnotes on that one?)

Do you believe that all we need to do to inherit the kingdom of God is be like a child, repent, and be baptized? And that anything MORE or less than this that is established as the doctrine of Christ is of evil? 3rd Nephi 11:31-41. If you do, then you must believe temple ordinances are evil.

At least, I should say, that is a bit more involved than simply "believe and be saved!" Christ wanted to make such a point of it that He said it twice, almost word for word.

But wait! Then He ordained 12 apostles and gave them a certain commission. (Apparently they couldn't get away with just repenting, being baptized, and becoming as a little child).

Hold everything! Then He delivered the BoM version of the Sermon on the Mount, including the biblical charge to "be perfect." Then He taught the Golden Rule and the importance of doing the will of His Father (requiring it as a condition of entering the kingdom of heaven.)

There's more (including His prayer using language that cannot be written)... Should I continue?

Do you believe that we are cut off from God by the spiritual law? (2nd Nephi 2:5) Joseph Smith didn't preach that. He taught we are sanctified and preserved by law: D&C 88:34-39.

Yes, because we are imperfect, mortal beings.

As I said before, do you not suppose that God's Kingdom is governed by law? Isn't that what "preserves and protects" it?

The explanation to your question lies in verse 35. Haven't we all broken the law?

Anonymous said...


Correct me if I am wrong, but I have not said in any of my arguments that God doesn't have a law which we are expected to follow. There is a standard of perfection, but you (and I) are not living up to it and we never will, because the bar is too high. You say we do what we can to the best of our ability, and then grace makes up the difference. This is not scriptural. It is feel-good doctrine.

The Book of Mormon says you are cut off by the spiritual law. The Bible says that if you mess up even once, you've violated the entirety of the law! It says because of the weakness of the flesh, the law is your curse!

See...there is no "difference" to make up. Because we, condemned by the entirety of the law, cannot contribute anything to the equation. You need 100 dollars, but you only contribute 0. You "ain't" got nothing to give!

0 + n = 100? Answer: 100.

Thus, grace is all or nothing. Paul says the same thing in several different ways through the New Testament. And then he says that if you begin to try to contribute something to your salvation (above and beyond your faith), you are then working. And whatever you get for that work is that which is owed to you. It is the debt you are owed, but it isn't grace! (Romans 4:4). But salvation comes through grace.

A righteous Mormon is God's creditor. The more temple work he does, the more home teaching he does, the more tithes and offerings he pays, the more church callings he holds, the more God goes into debt. And on the day of judgment, he'll expect payment in full, no doubt. Unfortunately, that person will then realize that he was actually the debtor. And he doesn't have the payment.

"Two men went up into the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood and was praying this to himself: ‘God, I thank You that I am not like other people: swindlers, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I pay tithes of all that I get.’ But the tax collector, standing some distance away, was even unwilling to lift up his eyes to heaven, but was beating his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, the sinner!’ I tell you, this man went to his house justified rather than the other; for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but he who humbles himself will be exalted.” Luke 18:9-14.

When the Mormon goes to his temple recommend interview, he declares himself worthy, just like the Pharisee in this parable. And the Mormon is then given the green light to enter into the symbolic presence of God.

The sinner goes to the temple recommend interview and says, "I have sinned terribly, but I believe." He is sent away.

But this isn't the order of God's house. He who exalts himself will be humbled. He who is humble will be exalted.

Pierce said...


I was actually hoping to keep this in terms of traditional Christianity, rather than have you try to break down Mormon salvation. "being saved from salvation" is inaccurate--it is being judged by your works, which is a very biblical principle.

If you don't ask yourself what "saved from what?" means, then you're throwing around the word saved and not comprehending what you're saying. is very relevant. Your hell equates to Mormon perdition. There is also the Mormon doctrine that hell is a temporary place before resurrection. Your hell is torture for eternity. That's what you are being saved from in traditional Christianity, and it certainly is in evangelical Christianity. So it's important to establish that point.

Do you have any doctrine on what heaven is, or what Jesus was talking about when he mentions "treasures in heaven," "be ye therefore perfect," "every man judged according to his works," having greater rewards in heaven, or being a joint-heir with Christ--among a myriad of other references? Because "being saved" doesn't really answer that. It just means you're being saved from burning in hell for eternity and separated from God. Again, we already believe in that level of salvation because of Christ (not works), and that hell won't be the case for us. And we love that idea. I don't know many Mormons who believe your hell is possible for them unless they fulfill a checklist.
So now you need to address what happens after "being saved from hell," because that's what Mormon doctrine addresses and your doctrine does not. It's part of our claim to more truth.

In answering that, I would also challenge you to do this: respond without quoting Paul. Jesus' teaching on salvation seems a little too straightforward for the evangelical view, begging your pardon ;-)

My bottom line is this: we already believe in the salvation your doctrine offers, and it has nothing to do with the Law of Moses discussed by Paul. It's about doing what Jesus taught and commanded, becoming heavenly creatures, and being judged by what we do-- because Jesus already saved us from the eternal separation of hell. This view is a better harmony of the four gospels and Paul's letters than the narrow interpretation of Paul offered by evangelical doctrine, in my view. It is also much more inclusive of God's children.

Thank you for a straightforward and respectful engagement.

Anonymous said...


Okay...I can't quote Paul or the scriptures he produced.

So I am going to limit you also. No quoting Joseph Smith or the scriptures he produced.

I say Paul speaks the words of Christ. You'll say Joseph Smith speaks the words of Christ. Fine. But let's just forget Paul's scripture and Joseph Smith's scripture, and stick only with the Gospels.

Now, show me where Jesus talks about celestial marriage. Show me where Jesus talks about becoming a God among Gods. Show me where Jesus says God wasn't God from everlasting to everlasting. Show me where Jesus says that he and Satan are brothers. Show me where Jesus says you need to abstain from tea and coffee. Show me where he says you need to pay 10% of your income to cover the costs of an organization's administrative expenses (not to feed the poor, mind you!). Show me where he says there are secret handshakes you'll need to know get past the sentinel angels, or you won't be "exalted." Show me where he says that those who don't believe in Him will STILL BE SAVED (Telestial Kingdom). Show me where he says that a mortal human being can be ordained with the very power and authority of God himself. Show me where he describes your underwear.

Good grief!

I'll agree that some of the sayings of Jesus are difficult to reconcile with the writings of Paul. Will you agree that the writings of Joseph Smith (even considering him to be every bit as much of a prophet as Paul) are simply impossible to reconcile with the sayings of Jesus?

I am not trying to put you off. You asked me some valid questions about Jesus's sayings and Paul's Epistles. I'll try to formulate an answer later.

Pierce said...


In my previous response to you, I just used reason to show how we are saved in a similar way to you at the basic level, and why your use of Paul's law of Moses writings don't apply to us. Then I used words like "treasures in heaven" "judged by works" "rewards in heaven" "be ye perfect," which actually ARE the words of Jesus to discuss what happens after being saved from hellfire. At no time have I quoted Joseph Smith's writings as an authority. So yes, you've got a deal.

All the other stuff you mentioned is neither here nor there. For one, it is additional doctrine that harmonizes with the scriptures in my view (even marriages deal with 'sealing on earth and in heaven'). Secondly, this is only about the very basic idea of what salvation is and whether or not Mormons think they have to "work" for it. We don't have to "work" for your own definition of salvation as Mormons, especially in talking about the works of the law of Moses that Paul was usually referencing. We have clearer doctrines about the things that Jesus spoke of in reference to what I quoted above, but the challenge here to show me how our salvation is so different than yours in light of my arguments.

Anonymous said...


Okay, I got carried away in that last bit. Let me slow down, re-read what you've written, and really try to address it. Give me a bit of time.

James Anglin said...

Jesus's line is, "Be ye therefore perfect, even as your father in heaven is perfect." The 'therefore' and the 'even as' refer back to the preceding sentences, which are about how God makes sun shine and rain fall on good and evil alike.

Jesus's 'be ye perfect' is not a general injunction to obey all the rules. The God-like perfection that Jesus commands in this verse is specifically the love of enemies.

Pierce said...

That, in and of itself, is a "rule"

bearyb said...


Many words of Jesus have both narrow and broad applications. (The parables are good examples of this.) How can you assume that His command to be perfect applies only to the subject of the preceding verses, and how many of them does it refer to? Love of enemies isn't the only thing brought up in this chapter.

Besides, does the phrase "even as your Father which is in heaven" speak only of His capacity to love His enemies?

James Anglin said...

The 'therefore' says that the conclusion (be ye perfect) follows from the preceding. The 'as' means 'in the way that', and 'even as' emphasizes it, making 'in the way that' an important qualifier. The whole passage is a coherent point about loving friends and enemies alike, just as God gives sun and rain to good and evil alike.

To me it's a distinctive feature of Jesus's teaching that he articulates points, as it were, in paragraphs. Not long rambles, but not just soundbites. His parables have punchlines, but to appreciate them, you need to take in the whole little story. I think his teaching is kind of like that even outside the parables. You can't just pick one of his phrases out from its context, especially not when the phrase has a 'therefore' built in.

Anonymous said...

Alright. Here goes. I might need to divide this in chunks.

Pierce, you asked a few good questions that really forced me to evaluate what I believe and understand about Mormon doctrine and my own beliefs. You said that in traditional Christianity, the question "what happens after salvation?" isn't addressed; whereas it is addressed in Mormonism. I don't disagree with that. I just have serious problems with the way Mormons answer that question. So I have a hard time even going there.

Point 1 of 4: Mormons are Universalists.

You said that Christian Hell = Mormon Perdition, but it doesn’t.

Hell, in Christianity, is for those who are not saved (don't believe Christ is the Savior.) In Mormonism, these types will go to the Telestial Kingdom. They are saved. Only those in Perdition are not saved. This is explicitly stated in D&C 76: 43, 44, 82. But this contradicts the Book of Mormon, which makes it clear over and over again that only by coming unto Christ can one be saved. (1 Nephi 13:40 is one example.)

Mormonism is Universalism with a twist. The twist is this: the really bad Mormons who can make an informed decision and who don't want to stay in Heaven can opt out. They go to Perdition. And the really good Mormons get to be chief rulers in Heaven, with everyone else serving as ministering angels.

What D&C 76 does is basically partition Heaven and empty Hell of everyone except the sons of Perdition.

In Mormonism, all are saved, thus not one single human (excepting the sons of Perdition, those once saved but who have rejected it) stands before God condemned in the traditional Christian sense of the word. In other words, no one has "Original Sin."

But this contradicts John 3:17 and 18, which states that our default setting is condemnation. We can only override our default setting by believing in Christ. It isn’t a matter of choosing Christ and being saved or rejecting him and being condemned, for we are all already condemned.

Not in Mormonism. We are already saved. No condemnation to even those who do not accept the testimony of Christ.

Anonymous said...

Point 2 of 4: Exaltation’s Real Origins

D&C 76 is received in 1832. It is the first stage of the evolution of the exaltation doctrine. It continues to grow and develop until it reaches full expression in Sections 131 and 132, which is the only place in which one can see the exaltation doctrine in all its glory, in the form that we know it today. 76 touches on it, but it isn't fully developed. 76 gives us no indication that there are different degrees within Celestial Glory. It says absolutely nothing about eternal family/marriage.

Sections 131 and 132, both dating to 1843, are firmly rooted in the historical context of polygamy.

Section 131: Joseph visits Ramus/Macedonia Illinois. There he preaches about degrees within the Celestial Kingdom, and achieving the highest degree requires entering into the New and Everlasting Covenant of Marriage. While there, he is visiting Benjamin Johnson. Less than a month later, however, Joseph returns to Benjamin Johnson’s place to ask him for his sister’s hand in marriage.

Within the same year, Smith pens 132, which is clearly rooted in polygamy. In this section, we learn all about exaltation, about how you need to be married in the new and everlasting covenant to achieve it, how if you don’t achieve it, you are damned, because your increase stops, etc, etc. I highly recommend you read it again closely.

Eternal marriage doesn’t show up in Section 76. Not at all. Not in 1832. Joseph Smith did not yet even have the so-called “sealing keys!” But in 1833, he was probably already involved with Fanny Alger. And starting in 1834, an angel visits and tells him to practice plural marriage. No sealing keys yet. In 1836, Elijah finally brings the keys. He then starts to get married over and over again. And guess what…in 1843, seven years and over a dozen wives later, he decides finally it might be a good idea to get sealed to his only legal wife, Emma.

My conclusion, based upon this sequence of events, is that Joseph Smith was already engaging in an illicit affair. He invented this idea of sealing keys AFTER the affair(s) started in order to religiously justify the additional women. By 1843, he is really off the rails, and concocts the fullness of the exaltation doctrine as we know it today, as recorded in 132.

Eternal marriage springs out of the practice of polygamy, not out of the doctrine of exaltation. Exaltation is actually added after the fact as a means of supporting the practice of polygamy, and actually justifying and enforcing it!

So, let’s talk about Jesus’s words, those words that you mentioned. These rewards that we lay up for ourselves in Heaven….what are they exactly? Are they the “eternal increase” Joseph talks about in Section 132? Are we laying up for ourselves wives in Heaven, if we are faithful over a few things here, we get more there? (That is in 132.) I know you don’t necessarily believe that, but that is precisely how the early Mormon leaders understood this thing called exaltation. I could give you several quotes, but here is one of interest: “There is a great deal said about our plural marriage…It is a principle that pertains to eternal life, in other words, to endless lives, or eternal increase.” Joseph F. Smith.

Notice the language used here. “Endless lives…eternal increase….” This is Section 132 language. Read Section 132 again, if you haven’t read it recently. This is where your doctrine of exaltation comes from: polygamy.

Mormonism, whatever it started out as, turned itself into a polygamy cult. It is so terribly inconvenient for Mormons that their best selling point (eternal families) can only be found in two sections that are both about polygamy.

Anonymous said...

FYI...I am thekidsaresleeping. I have no idea why my usual name has been changed to my blog's name. (Yes...I have a blog.) I am not doing this to promote my blog. I seriously have no idea why this has happened. But it is indeed me...thekidsaresleeping.

Anonymous said...

Point 3 of 4: Reward in Heaven

But I’ll talk about this reward that comes after salvation. 1 Corinthians 3 says a lot. I know…Paul again. But I think combined with Christ’s teachings we get an understanding.

Paul says you build on the foundation of Christ. When you are built on Christ (saved), you then begin to build on top of the foundation with works, but not before. The foundation has to come first. And you have to build upon the true and living Christ, because the NT also warns of false Christs. Whatever could that mean?

At the judgment, your works will be burned (I am sure this is metaphorical.) Whatever survives the fire is your increase. That which doesn’t survive is counted as a loss, YET YOU ARE STILL SAVED, even if all you have is burned. Your good works, those that are truly righteous, these are your reward. These are the things you’ve laid up in Heaven, where rust nor moth doth corrupt.

Christ says to seek first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness, and all “these” things will be added. But take this in context! Read what he has said! He isn’t talking about wives and kids and celestial thrones and planets and dominions and principalities and ministering angels!

Point 4 of 4: Eternal Family…what does that even mean?

Really, tell me: what would that even look like? If we are all sealed together, there are no FAMILIES at all. Just FAMILY. But this isn’t the hook Mormons use to attract new members. Mormon missionaries don’t say, “Did you know you can be with the entire human race together forever?” No! They say, “Did you know you can be with your spouse and kids forever?” Few people can resist bait like that.

The Mormon hook is that I’ll get to have gramma and junior with me forever, not Mr. Kazuo, currently residing in Naha, Japan, and to whom I am distantly related via our common ancestor Adam!

In Mormon Heaven, there will be factions. Separate family units. It is ridiculous and illogical. But if you understand the true origins of exaltation within the polygamy system, it all begins to make more sense. It is still just as illogical, but if exaltation is about one man becoming a god over his own universe, and enjoying “eternal increase,” (aka…wives and offspring from those wives…) then you start to get a clearer picture of everything. It all starts to make sense. And Christians rightfully reject it.

Anonymous said...

Holland once said that people who leave the church must crawl under or around the Book of Mormon. Maybe so. But people who stay will someday have to crawl under or around polygamy in order to say. It is such a fundamental component of your religion, even to this day when you don't practice it. Exaltation requires it even now. Otherwise, God will have to mastermind the afterlife to make sure an equal number of men and women are exalted. Because no one gets exalted without a spouse.

You cannot get around it. Mormons can ignore it, mock the FLDS who still practice it, distance themselves from it, and do anything else they can, but until they are willing to give up the doctrine of eternal family, and thus the doctrine of exaltation, they will never get out from under the shadow that polygamy casts over the religion.

Warren Jeffs is the fruit of Mormonism. Those Lafferty brothers, as awful as it was, are the fruits of the Mormon practice of polygamy. The somewhat recent scandal in Texas when hundreds of kids were taken from their polygamous parents is the fruit of Mormonism. You can't distance yourself from it. None of this would've happened if it hadn't been for Joseph Smith and Brigham Young. And it will never go away. Your current teachings are founded on this practice. Everything you are striving for is rooted in this practice. And you twist the words of Christ and the apostles every time you say "eternal life" = "exaltation."

So don't say that Mormons and Christians believe the same things about salvation. We don't. Don't say that Christ preached exaltation, because he didn't.

Pierce said...


That's a good honest look at things and is worth engaging. You have a lot of good points. I have to say this up front: while a lot of what you say is accurate, I just interpret it differently than you, and I'll express that throughout. I'm about to say "you" and "yours" a lot--which reflects evangelical Christianity as it has been generally accepted and understood (in my experience). If it's not your theology, you're welcome to clarify. You have the advantage of me there.

I want to point out first and foremost that you ultimately didn't answer my question. I have noticed this about the evangelical position for some time. Instead of being able to provide the answers, you rely on spending your energy criticizing or critiquing other's answers. Ultimately, I think we both know that you don't have an answer to "what happens after 'salvation.'" The Bible is not clear about it. So off the bat I find the doctrine of becoming like God to not only make sense and be a biblical idea, but also to be much more satisfying than a dodge or a "we don't know."
Exaltation also better answers the questions of "why did God make us?" "why did he create earth, a place where people could end up going to hell forever" "what is the relationship between grace/works" "what is the ideal afterlife" and many others. I have never found evangelicalism's responses to these to be anything near resonating or satisfying.

Point 1
Your first point is that Mormons are Universalists. I'll add "to a degree" to that. But yes, for the most part we are. Because I believe God is. The alternative dooms 95% of the world to an endless torment in hell for not confessing Jesus while in this life. His atonement, apparently, cannot spread to the Buddhist or Muslim--nor the afterlife. There is a place and time set aside for your kind of hell in Mormonism, but we just don't believe it will last for a literal eternity. Mormonism's salvation from eternal torture for more than the confessors is not it's weakness, it's a strength and it represents a much more loving God. Throwing everyone into hell who didn't know of Christ or had a reason to believe or had certain life circumstances (maybe raised in an atheist home) that affected who they were is not merciful, beautiful, loving, or honorable. It's sadistic. People who need to be punished for their sins will be punished. But, as Christ demonstrated, he still loved the sinners as well as the Samaritans. Also, more people (including Christians) actually believe this over your dogma. Take a poll outside the fundamentalist evangelical view, and you will find that most people don't believe that God will throw the good Muslim family in the pits of hell forever and ever. Mormon doctrine harmonizes faith, good works, love, mercy, and justice in this regard.

Point 2:
You are certainly welcome to interpret the progression of the doctrine of exaltation as something that came from polygamy, but I don't. Because I believe in Mormonism, I will choose to view this as a natural progression in doctrine and understanding. You should find this understandable: the doctrine of the trinity isn't really in the Bible, and Paul seemed to clarify Jesus' teachings of commandment-keeping by saying that works are filthy rags--so of course we'll see some evolution. Just know that you're we're not alone.

Pierce said...

"These rewards that we lay up for ourselves in Heaven….what are they exactly?"

First, I noticed you didn't really provide a meaningful alternative. Second, I think it is an overstatement to suggest that the early Saints all took Jesus' words to mean a bunch of wives. I think exaltation and polygamy work independently, and I think Joseph did too. Not everybody participated in polygamy, but that doesn't mean they were not endowed to be exalted.
Third, I simply believe the polygamy thing was executed poorly, not well-understood, and some of it was really a product of man and his choices. This section would definitely take more time to dive into, so I apologize for not giving it the attention it deserves--hopefully someone else will look at the dates and the evidence closer. I just don't have the time at the moment.

Point 3
Paul says you build on the foundation of Christ. When you are built on Christ (saved), you then begin to build on top of the foundation with works, but not before. The foundation has to come first. And you have to build upon the true and living Christ, because the NT also warns of false Christs. Whatever could that mean?
Paul...I knew you couldn't do it! I find what you said to be the foundation of extreme self-righteousness. Because being a good Muslim gets you burned. Doing good works first, before some sort of confession, means nothing. Being a person who confesses Jesus, then does good works, but also was taught that Jesus and Satan were brothers also gets you burned. Do you start to see how this detracts from what Jesus actually taught? It wasn't this. It's based on a misreading of Paul.

He isn’t talking about wives and kids and celestial thrones and planets and dominions and principalities and ministering angels!
You know very well that when Mormons read Jesus' words, think about what kind of lives they want to live, or consider the motivation for their good deeds, it has NOTHING to do with what you've stated.
We believe that God wants us to be as He is in a literal sense--and that is all there is to it. Does that entail all of those things? Perhaps. We have no clear idea. But if it does, who are you to say that this is impossible or that you can't be a joint-heir with Christ in a literal sense? After all, you don't know what heaven entails.

Pierce said...

Point 4:

I think this really is your weakest point. What does an eternal family mean? I'm not sure, and neither do you. Suggesting that there will be segregated family units is not something I have read in our scriptures. How someone chooses to interpret the idea of an eternal family is neither here nor there, ultimately. No, I don't believe there will be clans, old ladies, or kiddies. My take is that when sealings occur (and we are sealed to our ancestors), it just means that we are all unified in the Celestial Kingdom. We all become part of God's family from everlasting to everlasting. Everyone is ultimately bound together. It's actually quite a beautiful idea. Perhaps one can even view polygamy in heaven (if it indeed exists) this way, as opposed to how we view our worldly and imperfect relationships here. I don't have to believe that heaven is going to be like Brigham Young's or Warren Jeff's situation. Do I have to get around polygamy personally? No, because I'm not a polygamist. Is it a possibility that others might have to? I suppose, but I really believe that being a celestial people with perfect love have different relationships than we humans do.
Also, sealings seem to affect who you can interact with in the afterlife who are in a different station than you. In your view, people who have kids that turn atheists will probably never see their children again because they will be burning in hell forever. Some Christians I have talked to get around this by suggesting that we will have our memories of this world wiped away and there will be no "relationships" in the afterlife. I reject that. As a Mormon missionary discussing sealing and families in heaven, I found that ours was an almost universally accepted idea, and yours panned. It resonates with humans, despite how silly people try to make it out to be.

I'm not saying that Mormons and Christians believe in the same afterlife. What I have told you is that by your standards, we have been saved. Being saved has to do with being saved from an eternal hell because of Jesus' atonement and mercy, and Mormons fall in that category because we have accepted Him (the whole false Jesus thing is your own invention to justify your exclusivity on salvation. Jesus didn't preach that I have to believe the evangelical flavor in order to be saved, or that I would burn in hell for having a few wrong doctrinal ideas). All of our other beliefs, including exaltation, are peripheral to that point.

Anonymous said...


I didn't answer your question. I'll admit it. But you ask up any number of possibly unanswerable questions and rightfully say, "You didn't answer my question."

What you need to show is that the question, "What after salvation?" needed asking in the first place. There are still plenty of unanswered questions out there that Joseph Smith (or God) has decided don't need answering.

So you need to show me that the question needed to be asked in the first place, and more importantly that Joseph Smith answered it correctly. Because I am not so sure he did. I don't trust him. We have too many other Joseph Smith's in history, and we have too many other "one true churches" in history, and there is not one single Mormon who would accept these other men or organizations as coming from God.

Nauvoo in the Summer of 1843 looked an awful lot like the Branch Davidian Compound. Armed and ready. The leader had his own private army. The leader was handpicking women for himself. Smith had a secretive organization called the Council of 50 who was supposed to represent the earthly political counterpart of the Kingdom of God on Earth. Smith was running for President with these sorts of aspirations. Authorities were outside Nauvoo and waiting to charge. And fortunately for Nauvoo, the entire city was spared. But it came close to ending like Waco did. Read Bushman, if you haven't already.

Father Yod in 1970s San Fransciso started out as a vegetarian restauranteur. His spiritual charisma attracted people to him. Witness said he glowed. (Same hadeen said of Joseph Smith). Yod started a commune. Broke his wife's heart by taking to himself 15 other wives. Died in a stupid hang-gliding accident.

Michael Trevasseur, now in prison I believe, since 2008. A 7th-Day Adventist. Started his own commune. Told his followers he was God. Pubescent girls in his commune started spontaneously having spiritual promptings to go stand before Trevasseur naked. You know where it goes from there.

Jacob Cochran, 19th Century New England leader of a group of Evanglicals. He took to himself "spiritual wives." Brigham Young proselyted among them. Many converts won the Cochranites. Brigham Young's first plural wife was associated with the Cochranites.

Anonymous said...

The Gospel of the Kingdom ceased to be proclaimed shortly after the death of the apostles. It was not preached again until after 1918. - Watchtower, JW

“Outside the true Christian congregation what alternative organization is there? Only Satan’s organization…”(Watchtower 3/1/1979 p.24)

“There is one church! There is one God. There is one kingdom of God and this is it! (The Great Commission, audio tape, Weger/Rock, Hodge/Hamann/Fulcher/Fields) - The International Church of Christ

“The True Jesus Church is the true church restored by God through the Holy Spirit of the latter rain. She is the revival of the apostolic church in the end times.”

“Some in the world try to label the PCG a cult. Actually, we are God's only true representative on this earth!...”( The Philadelphia Trumpet, p. 19 March, 1994)

“...that truth is in only one church today, God's church. Only God's Philadelphia Church has retained God's Law in this end time” (The Philadelphia Trumpet , p.5 March 1994).

”But by divine institution it is the exclusive task of these pastors alone, the successors of Peter and the other Apostles, to teach the faithful authentically, that is with the authority of Christ ....” (Vatican Council II Vol. 2, p. 430, 1984)

“If anyone says that in the Roman Church, which is the mother and mistress of all churches, there is not the true doctrine concerning the sacrament of baptism, let him be anathema.” (The Canons And Decrees Of The Council Of Trent, p. 53 -- Seventh Session, Sacrament Of Baptism, Canon 3)

If you leave the church (the Local Church), you miss the mark of the Lord's testimony. You must be in the testimony of Jesus. Only the golden lampstands, the local churches, are the testimony of Jesus....if you are not in the local churches you are not the testimony of Jesus.”( Witness Lee, The Stream magazine Nov. 1976, p.7)

“I urge you to obtain the books … and start learning the true way to Salvation. This way is not taught in the world by any organization, other than the one established by Yahweh"--The House of Yahweh.

“LCOG is the true Church of God which teaches and practices Apostolic Christianity!" - Living Church of God

“That’s what John Holdeman did; he removed the debris of false doctrine and neglect of doctrines, and laid a new foundation, upon which we believed we could build and be safe for eternity.” Church of God in Christ, Mennonite Frank Wenger before a crowd of 2500-3000 at the centennial program recorded in Centennial of the Church of God in Christ, Mennonite 1959 published by Gospel Publishers page 17

Pierce said...

P.S. I'm not interested in reading polygamy stories. It's not a pet study or interest of mine and I'm not interested in how some people chose to live it.

It's only an "unanswerable question" to you. The Bible actually does beg the question, not Mormons. You state:
"What you need to show is that the question, 'What after salvation?' needed asking in the first place."

I find it remarkable that you would ask that question. It negates everything Jesus taught about salvation in favor of the evangelical status of "being saved." Jesus taught about what happens after His salvation. He spoke of rewards, treasures in heaven, being great in the kingdom of heaven, being rewarded according to works, what manner of men ought ye to be, etc etc. And he was talking to his disciples (Christians). His message wasn't solely about 'confession' or 'filthy rags' or 'being saved.' In fact, he rebuked the pious who believed they were at that level. Yes, Jesus saved us from hell (which was important to Paul and to us that he expounded on that)--but Jesus' teachings indicate that "saved" isn't the destination. It was for us to choose become better people--or dare I say: as He is.

Anonymous said...

Here is a question I have often wondered about, and which I think underscores the logical problems within Mormonism relating to what we have been discussing. You say you prefer Mormonism's "almost" Universalism.

Okay, consider this: Mormon missionaries go out through the world to bring people into the Church. If these converts never heard the Gospel, they would already be redeemed through the atonement of Christ. Everything they would've needed to do (baptism, endowment, etc.) will be done on their behalf. They will receive all the blessings promised to anyone else on this planet.

When they join the Church, however, they increase in spiritual knowledge. They make covenants. If they violate these covenants, they will be in a worse spiritual situation then if they had never heard the Gospel at all.

So to me, the logical conclusion I draw is that as a Mormon missionary, I was doing more to potentially damn people than I was to save them. They were already redeemed in the state in which I found them.

However, in traditional Christianity, the belief is that God reaches out to everyone in a variety of ways, even through nature. We can't see this happening usually, but it is happening in everyone's life. Those who respond to God's call will be saved. Those who reject it will be condemned.

In traditional Christianity, missionaries have real incentive to do their work. Because people aren't saved by default as they are in Mormonism. People stand condemned until they heed God's call (John 3:17-18). In traditional Christian doctrine, other people are actually one way God has decided to work on people's hearts to save them from this condemnation.

Summary: In Mormonism, all are already saved (no original sin), but conversion places them in a situation in which if they fail to perform, they are damned. So they are better off before conversion. They would've received everything anyone else would've received who was converted and succeeded in living up to the promises. In traditional Christianity, all are already condemned (original sin), and conversion releases them from this condemnation.

In Mormonism, children who are not yet 8 get a free ride to the Celestial Kingdom. After 8, they begin to be accountable for their sins. As awful as it sounds, the most logically altruistic thing to do would be to sacrifice one's own salvation by killing the children so they are guaranteed Celestial Glory.

Anonymous said...

What everythingbeforeus said about killing ones children so the children will automatically go to the Celestial Kingdom is an awful thing to say.
It is obvious everythingbeforeus has never lost a child. Cold and very ignorant. Which goes to show that mainstream Christianity does not understand why God made us and why we are here on Earth.
I sometimes think mainstream Christians, especially evangelicals, are obtuse on purpose. They really don't want to understand the restored (LDS) Gospel or even try to understand, because they are convinced they are right and their easy, greasy grace is just that, easy and the lazy persons way. Totally not Biblical. Jesus said the way was straight narrow and hard to get to the Kingdom of Heaven.

Anonymous said...


Have you read back to yourself your own words!

And you say I am the one so convinced I am right!

I do not believe in easy grace. My conversion to Christianity was anything but easy. This wasn't about laziness. You simply don't have a clue what you are talking about.

But I have been lazy throughout my lifetime. Very lazy indeed. It was so easy to believe that when 15 men speak, my thinking comes to a stop. I was so lazy, I made sure I never fornicated, never lied, and always wore my garments, so I could get back into the temple. Never mind that inside of me, sin still reigned in my flesh. God only cares if you break the big sins, right? I know the temple recommend checklist.

I was so lazy, I shoved 10% of my income in an envelope twice a month, and felt so proud of myself at the end of the year when I got my tax forms back from the clerk. Look at all that money I gave to the Lord!

The Lord told me in scripture to give it to the poor. But I didn't have enough to do that. I was young, three kids, poorly employed. Besides, I only needed to account for my membership dues at the end of the year, not my charitable giving. 10% to help the church print its manuals, and I was square with the Lord.

I was the perfect Mormon boy, RM, eternally married. I did everything I was supposed to do. I was the pride and joy of my small backwoods ward growing up. The only one in my youth group who didn't do something stupid, like get an earring, a tattoo, or die my hair a strange color.

White shirts, ties, BYC, District Leader, Stake Mission Presidency, Young Men's President, Gospel Doctrine teacher, Ward missionary, EQ president.

And guess what? I was a dead man walking because despite all of that I realized one day that I didn't know Jesus Christ. My fault? Sure. My fault.

But when I discovered him one day on a lonely 2-hour car ride across the Great Plains, I realized that this Jesus I was experiencing was revealing himself to me completely independent of the Church in which I was raised. I knew it then in a moment that all this talk I heard in Church about coming to the Lord was a lie, because the organization cannot bring you to the Lord. The Church isn't God. And I found this out, and my life changed.

Here is the question you need to answer: If tomorrow, the General Authorities announce that the Church is a fraud, will you still have a testimony of God and Jesus Christ?

If you can't answer that question immediately and confidently, you do not know God and you do not know Jesus Christ. You know a Church, and your devotions are paid to a Church, and you worship an organization, and you are an idolator.

If you can honestly answer yes...congratulations.

I agree with you that the road is straight and narrow and few find it. That shouldn't be something you throw around at people. That is something that should make you, me, and everyone very, very afraid.

Don't be so confident.

Easy grace...you don't have any idea what you are talking about.

I think I am done here. Pierce, it's been a great discussion. I am not completely proud of myself for the tone I took in some of my responses to you, so I apologize. But really, you have given me a lot to think about, even about my current spiritual direction. Thanks for the challenges you've presented to me. I think your understanding of Mormonism is sound, even if I don't agree. I appreciate sound, logical, rational thinking. You seem to have it.

I just have a life to get back to now, and kids to raise. You know how it is...

Jeff Lindsay said...

Hey guys, this post is about the Book of Mormon text. Diverting the discussion to get into polygamy, salvation, and numerous other issues with no clear relevance to this post is not particularly helpful. Hope you'll understand.

I recognize that threads shift and move, but this was quite a diversions. I'll give you plenty of other chances to get into grace, etc. later on (or there are earlier posts, too, where you can chime in).

Mormography said...

Ha. Again you had to tell Pierce to knock it off. And you are surprised that someone might perceive that you do not like Pierce. Ha. I admit that my powers of perception are pretty weak, but ...

bearyb said...

I understand, Jeff.

But I just want to point something out to thekidsaresleeping/everythingbeforeus.

He presents a thought process that concludes that logically (according to his perception of LDS teachings) perhaps all would be better off if they died before the age of 8. Besides being a horrible thing to say, it nullifies the statement found in D&C 131:6 "6 It is impossible for a man to be saved in ignorance."

It's not as if all the ordinances performed by proxy automatically apply. Those for whom they are performed will have to learn about and agree to them before they can be made effectual.

It is true that we do not baptize anyone before the age of 8 nor, as far as I know, do we perform any ordinances in the temple for those known to have died before that age (besides, perhaps, sealing them to their families).

But that doesn't mean we believe they will never need these ordinances, right?

Even Christ, Who was innocent, needed baptism.

Anonymous said...


Moroni says that two types of people do not need baptism. In fact, to even baptize them is mockery before God: little children and those without the law. Since it is mockery, and since it is akin to denying the mercy of Christ, and also called "dead works," I think it means what it says. They are redeemed sans baptism.

Of course, this throws a huge curveball for correlated Mormon doctrine today. Because those who die without the law (what law? the law of Christ, aka Mormonism?) are baptized vicariously. Baptism for the dead is a "dead work." No pun intended.

But this is exactly what I've been talking about on many of my contributions to these discussions here: modern Mormon doctrine is derailed by the Book of Mormon, not built upon it.

Stanford Carmack said...

You will parse the Bible and make it work. You will parse the BofM and make it not work. You work with weak, soft evidence. The language structure of any lengthy text (bringing us back to the topic of this post) provides us with a definitive linguistic fingerprint or signature -- strong evidence because it involves tacit syntactic knowledge that cannot be persistently faked. I challenge you to compare the Earliest Text with public-domain EEBO phase I texts (25k of them, now downloadable). If you do a rigorous comparison over many months you will find correspondence after correspondence of syntax and morphology. In the case of the BofM, it tells us that it is only a divinely possible text.

Anonymous said...

"If you do a rigorous comparison over many months you will find correspondence after correspondence of syntax and morphology. In the case of the BofM, it tells us that it is only a divinely possible text."

Statements like this are why you've been challenged to submit your research for peer-review. Those who issue you these challenges know that you will not do so.

The only way to prove the strong, absolute statement (you do use the word "only") above is to already have a standard by which we can judge any text available and declare it "divine." What is the criteria that would determine whether a text is "divine" or not? What does it have to have in it?

Does it have to have syntax that predates it by a few decades? Does that make it divine? It sounds like this is what you are saying. By virtue of the fact that the BofM contains a certain syntax, it is ONLY possible that it is a divine book. Do you mean to say that there are really no other possible conclusions?

You tell me I parse the Book of Mormon to make it not work. I raised a valid conundrum. Moroni says it is mockery before God to baptize someone without the law. Yet Mormons baptize for the dead every dearly-departed Tom, Dick, and Harry, without any regard for whether or not Tom, Dick, and Harry had the law.

You can tell me all day long that the BofM has strange syntax in it. That doesn't solve the doctrinal dilemmas. If I assume that the strange syntax makes the BofM divine, I am still left with the obvious problem that the Church today teaches a different gospel than the one I found inside of it.

Unknown said...

Everythingbeforeus, there's a simple and natural explanation for Champ's syntactical findings.

In the course of his reading, Joseph Smith stumbled across a certain kind of phrasing, an archaic construction that was uncommon in his day but not unheard of (e.g., it's found in the King James Bible). He liked the old-timey sound of it, and so, in his attempt to make his fiction sound old-timey, he used it a lot in the BoM.

You'll note that Smith did NOT write entire passages that are wholly and consistently in Early Modern English; THAT would have been quite a feat, and it would have required the sort of linguistic knowledge that Champ keeps referring to. What Smith DID do is clumsily emulate the archaic grammar he encountered in his own reading, and in doing so, his otherwise jumbled text happened in spots to mimic an actual feature (but only one out of many features) of Early Modern English.

Champ has taken this coincidental hit and proclaimed it a bulls-eye.

He also has not addressed the question of why this archaic construction is found in Smith's writing outside the BoM (e.g., Doctrine and Covenants). Again, there's a perfectly simple and natural explanation for this: Smith wrote (most of) D&C, just like he wrote the Book of Mormon, so his stylistic quirks are found in both.

Pierce said...

Moroni is speaking specifically about baptizing little children. It is not a practice of the church to baptize little children. So what is the conundrum?

Stanford Carmack said...

You don't know what I will do. Your scorn in misplaced.

There is a simple explanation for your point about baptism for the dead, kids, which you know given your background. Mormon theology: (virtually) everyone receives the law in the hereafter. Temple baptisms are for the dead, for those in the hereafter. Consistent.

You two may be forgiven because you know not whereof you write. You don't have the requisite syntactic knowledge to make accurate pronouncements. I would withhold passing judgment on the text until you put in the time to analyze its English language honestly and thoroughly. You've overlooked evidence and some of my argumentation. You are pontificating. Ether 12:26 comes to mind. The D&C isn't Smith's language either. I haven't looked at it very much, and there is no critical text, so I'm not going to get into it.

Once again, on command syntax. Had Smith simply been enamored of the biblical obsolete, he would've used it with passive command verbs at a high rate as well, which he doesn't, and the high degree of principled usage consonant with EModE (and much of it nonbiblical) would not be found in the text. Those interested can educate themselves by reading the article. Causative syntax is even harder to explain naturalistically than command syntax. The KJB is 99% infinitival, all indications are that Smith's dialect was 100%, the BofM is 43% infinitival. It has highly principled and arcane nonbiblical EModE usage in at least 5 different ways. Plus, extended suffer syntax is good, solid EModE. It is not faux EModE syntax.

Anonymous said...


You couldn't have carefully read what I wrote if it wasn't obvious to you what the conundrum.

Read Chapter 8 again. Verses 22, 23.

"For behold that all little children are alive in Christ, and also all they that are without the law. For the power of redemption cometh on all them that have no law; wherefore, he that is not condemned, or he that is under no condemnation, cannot repent; and unto such baptism availeth nothing— But it is mockery before God, denying the mercies of Christ, and the power of his Holy Spirit, and putting trust in dead works."

Moroni also includes those without the law here. Not just little children. It is mockery before God to to baptize those without the law.

He can't be referring to the Law of Moses, since this is post-Christ. So, who is he referring to? And doesn't it sound like exactly what happens in the baptismal font in the temple?

Anonymous said...

"There is a simple explanation for your point about baptism for the dead, kids, which you know given your background. Mormon theology: (virtually) everyone receives the law in the hereafter. Temple baptisms are for the dead, for those in the hereafter. Consistent."

I still don't buy it. Moroni says that the mercy of Christ covers these people. But you are saying that even with the mercy of Christ in place, if someone doesn't get baptized for them, they will be denied the mercy of Christ. In other words, the mercy of Christ doesn't do anything unless there is a baptism performed. This is completely contrary to the spirit of Moroni's words. He is saying that a small child and those without the law are clean through the blood of Christ. You are saying that these people are only clean while alive, and when they die, they no longer have the mercy of Christ until a baptism is performed for them.

This comes from the typical Mormon misunderstanding of the mercy of Christ. This is your grace-plus-works salvation talking here. Grace is only grace when you do all the right rituals and know all the right handshakes. This is the same thing as Catholic "infused righteousness." (By the way, you'd be surprised at just how Roman Catholic Mormonism really is.)

You don't know what his mercy is for, nor do you even know what he has liberated you from. You have constructed unto yourselves another Old Testament religion. Harold Bloom knows this. G.K. Chesterton knows this. And anyone who studies Mormon doctrine in light of Biblical Christianity has to come to the same conclusion. You've got your temples. You've got your Priesthood. Why don't you read the Epistle to the Hebrews and find out what that says about priesthood and temples. Or Acts 7:48...the Lord doesn't dwell in temples made with hands.

Champ...I'd love to see you conduct the same research you've done on the Book of Mormon, only do it on the writings of Sidney Rigdon, Alexander Campbell, and Solomon Spalding. You might not find anything at all. But I have a hunch that you might come to the conclusion that these men couldn't have written these writings either, that they could only come from a divine source.

Scholars who have researched the similarities between BofM language and the language of Sidney Rigdon and Solomon Spalding have had their findings published in peer-reviewed linguistic journals.

Solomon Spalding's fingerprints are all over the BofM, except between 1 Nephi and Words of Mormon....yea...the lost 116 pages, which had to be re-written.

And Sidney Rigdon's prints are all over the entire book, too. Including 1 Nephi through Alma. So, if you are serious about your theory, you need to look into this. And you also need to answer OrbitingKolob's charge that the same syntax you find in the BofM is also in the D&C. And you need to come up with some reasons for this. It is a real blight upon your theory.

Unknown said...

Champ, if your work is really that solid, then you have proved the divine origins of the BoM -- and thus also the existence of God.

Imagine that!

A new proof of the existence of God! You have managed to do what Aquinas tried to do, and what Anselm and Descartes and all those other great theologians and philosophers tried to do!

That's an awesome accomplishment, Champ! It's historic! Surely it's worth sharing with more than just the readers of the Interpreter.

So, don't you think you should share your supremely important discovery with the big, wide world, by, you know, submitting it for peer review?

Why hide your light under a bushel?

Stanford Carmack said...

ethg.: The Spalding theory was once a critic's standard explanation for the BofM. If you have put forth that tired, vacuous theory seriously, one that even the anti-Mormon Brodie rejected, then I know you are grasping at straws. You can and must do better than Spalding. And Rigdon wasn't even around when the original MS was being scribed. You cannot be serious.

Pierce said...


I understand what you think is a conundrum, but you are simply incorrect. In order to support your interpretation, one has to separate one line out of one verse ("all they that are without the law"), apply it to an undefined group of people (such as those outside of the church), and then superimpose that onto the doctrine of baptism for the dead. The passage as a whole deals with none of that.
Rather, starting in vs. 19 and stretching to vs. 23, the context is children-- not heathen people or baptism for the dead. In Mormonism, we have interpreted the idea of 'those without the law' as those who are not capable of committing sin because of a lack of mental competency. They are like little children in this regard. It is not in the LDS tradition to baptize them, or to view them as being danger of hell without the ordinance, because they are not capable of actually committing sin.
View the passage the way that Mormons do, and it makes perfect sense and is still how we view baptism today.
The syntax brought up here is much stronger than this argument.

Anonymous said...


Okay...I can get on board with that explanation. I find it quite unusually progressive for a group of sixth or seventh century Native Americans, though. No where else in the Book of Mormon do you hear any discussion of the law and its power (or lack thereof)e over the mentally-challenged; whereas you do hear a lot of talk about the law in Jewish writings dealing with the Gentile vs. Jew issue.

Pierce said...

Well there's plenty in there about that. But, as you mentioned, this is also A.D. How much do we compare pre-exile Judaism with an A.D. BoM people? It's hard to say. But if you were to take the BoM at face value, then the record was abridged and certain things were chosen to go in. Confusion about baptism in the hundreds of years after Jesus' visit seems likely, so I can see it being included.
But I agree it is quite progressive, as is a lot of the BoM.

bearyb said...


Please do not take my question about the necessity of all
"eventually" needing to receive baptism as a doctrinal statement. It was a question, period - one I really don't know the answer to. It is not a "make or break" question in any case, just a thought I decided to write down.

Jeff Lindsay said...

Orbiting, I'll make the same point here I just made in response to your demands for peer review:

Yes, I think Bro. Carmack should give that a try for some aspects of this work. But I don't think it's a fair standard to demand that before seriously considering the evidence.

Have you read Thomas Kuhn's book on science and revolution? Peer review often fails in dealing with paradigm breaking work. It's great for advances within the context of established paradigms and standard methods, but when it deals with more wild or unfamiliar territory, the esteemed peers are going to be uncomfortable or antagonistic.

Papers touching upon matters of faith are going to create extreme discomfort and an inability to approach the subject matter without bias. That's human nature. But sometimes shocking work does get fairly reviewed and published. So let's give it a try, but it's not fair to demand that and close your mind until it happens.

Two or three years from now, if there is a peer reviewed publication from Carmack with much the same content as this paper or his new publication on "did" syntax, would that really change anything for you? Or would you say, "Well, not that journal. Not those reviewers. I want to see it peer reviewed by Nobel Laureates and published in Acta Supercalifragilistica. Then I'll read it. Then I'll give it a chance. Not a moment before." Or am I wrong?

Is peer review really what we need to fairly evaluate evidences for the divine?

The miracles and teachings of Christ were subjected to peer review. The result is known as the Crucifixion. But I'm sticking with Christ nonetheless.