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

Wednesday, August 05, 2015

An Embarrassment . . . of Riches in the Book of Mormon Text--And a Surprise from "Them Days"

When I first opened up my newly purchased blue-bound volume from Royal Skousen containing the details of the surviving original text of the Book of Mormon, I was immediately disappointed. Yikes, hick grammar! Not just archaic KJV language, but genuinely bad grammar, like "he found Muloki a preaching the word." I was chagrinned and wondered why we couldn't get more up-to-date English in the divine text. Having the beautifully printed summation of Royal Skousen's work, The Book of Mormon: The Earliest Text (New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 2009), hereafter The Earliest Text, lessens the impact of the awkward grammar, but the discomfort is still there.

As I read more about the process, I came to terms with the idea that God could give revelation to people in their own language, even their own dialect. I guess that was OK--except now there's growing evidence that many of these "errors" weren't necessarily the result of Joseph's New England dialect and aren't as much bad English as much as they are legitimate older English, namely, Early Modern English, often slightly predating the era of the King James Bible, in spite of heavy quotations therefrom. Puzzling, strange, weird, and controversial--but with detailed data that shouldn't be ignored.

While I saw some grammar that bothered me, I'm glad the first few pages I looked at did not contain what may be the most jarring grammatical oddity in the text: "in them days," with two painful occurrences in the Earliest Text of the Book of Mormon at Helaman 7:8 and 13:37, which Joseph mercifully exterminated in the 1837 edition. It's not just quaint or archaic to my ears, but immediately evokes a visceral reaction in me because it sounds so uneducated. Please, I can handle someone a preaching as they are a going, but not if it happens "in them days."

Naturally, it came as a relief and a surprise to see that "them days" did occur occasionally in formal EModE, as Stanford Carmack demonstrates in "A Look at Some 'Nonstandard' Book of Mormon Grammar," Interpreter: A Journal of Mormon Scripture 11 (2014): 209-262.

As I wondered about those two occurrences, it seemed strange that they were so close together in the Book of Mormon, both in the Book of Helaman. I wondered if there might be other factors that their usage had in common. Interestingly, I discovered that both occur within quotations of public laments from prophets, quotations rich in parallelism, with apparent elements of Hebrew poetry such as paired bicola.

Here's the first occurrence in Helaman 7:
6. ... And he did exclaim in the agony of his soul:
7. Oh, that I could have had my days in the days
when my father Nephi first came out of the land of Jerusalem,
that I could have joyed with him in the promised land.
Then were his people easy to be entreated,
firm to keep the commandments of God,
and slow to be led to do iniquity.
And they were quick to hearken unto the words of the Lord.
8. Yea, if my days could have been in them days,
then would my soul have had joy in the righteousness of my brethren.
9. But behold, I am consigned that these are my days
and that my soul shall be filled with sorrow
because of this the wickedness of my brethren.

Look at the nice grouping of parallel elements in couplets (paired bicola):
A. Nephi in Jerusalem / him [Nephi] in the promised land
B. easy to be entreated / firm to keep the commandments
C. slow to do iniquity / quick to hearken
D. them days, soul have had joy in righteousness of brethren / these days, soul shall filled with sorrow [from] wickedness of my brethren.
In addition to this series of four paired bicola, there may be a small chiastic structure as well in verses 7-9:
A. Past days: joy with my father Nephi
   B. easy to be entreated
      C. firm to keep the commandments
      C'. slow to do iniquity.
   B'. quick to hearken.
A'. Current days: sorrow with my wicked brethren.

Here's the passage from Helaman 13, taken from the Earliest Text prepared by Royal Skousen:
32 ... And then [in the days of your poverty] shall ye weep and howl in that day, saith the Lord of Hosts, and then shall ye lament, and say:
33. O that I had repented
and had not killed the prophets and stoned them and cast them out.
Yea, in that day ye shall say:
O that we had remembered the Lord our God
in the day that he gave us our riches,
and then they would not have become slippery,
that we should lose them.
For behold, our riches are gone from us.
34. Behold, we lay a tool here and on the morrow it is gone.
And behold, our swords are taken from us
in the day we have sought them for battle.
35. Yea, we have hid up our treasures,
and they have slipped away from us, because of the curse of the land.
36. O that we had repented in the day that the word of the Lord came unto us.
For behold the land is cursed;
and all things are become slippery, and we cannot hold them.
37. Behold, we are surrounded by demons;
yea, we are encircled about by the angels of him
who hath sought to destroy our souls.
Behold, our iniquities are great. O Lord, canst thou not turn away thine anger from us?
And this shall be your language in them days.

Parallelism also abounds in this lament of the prophet, Samuel the Lamanite:
A. then shall ye weep and howl / then shall ye lament,
B. repented and not killed the prophets / stoned them and cast them out, had remembered the Lord
C. our riches, become slippery / our riches are gone from us.
D. tool … on the morrow it is gone / swords are taken in the day of battle.
E. hid up our treasures / they have slipped away from us
F. curse of the land, repented [turned toward God] / word of the Lord , the land is cursed;
G. all things slippery / we cannot hold them.
H. surrounded by demons / encircled by Satan's angels
I. destroy our souls / our iniquities are great.
And there may be a chiastic structure:
A. then shall ye weep and howl in that day,
 B. O that I had repented
  C. killed the prophets and stoned them and cast them out [destroy the prophets, great sins listed]
   D. remembered the Lord our God
    E. Riches have become slippery, that we should lose them [BIG SLIPPERY SECTION]
     F. the curse of the land.
      G/G': O that we had repented in the day that the word of the Lord came unto us.
     F'. the land is cursed;
    E'. all things are become slippery, and we cannot hold them.
   D'. surrounded by demons of Satan
  C'. destroy our souls / our iniquities are great.
 B'. O Lord, canst thou not turn away thine anger from us?
A'. And this shall be your language in them days.

Section E comprises several lines introducing the theme of slippery riches. Above it is collapsed to its key phrasing, but it may actually be a chiasmus within a chiasmus:
A. our riches have become slippery
  B. our riches are gone
    C. a tool here and on the morrow it is gone.
    C'. our swords are taken from us in the day of battle.
  B'. hid up our treasures
A'. they have slipped away from us
Reference to "days" (including "the morrow") occur in the middle of the slippery chiasmus, and in the middle and outer ends of the large chiasmus. Days is a unifying feature, and the jarring "in them days" at the end almost seems to invite us to look at these often-overlooked words in new ways to understand the structure and poetry that is there. Poetry marked with an ironic instance of hick grammar (albeit acceptable EModE)--strange, I know. Yes, perhaps it's another example of the many ironies found in the Book of Mormon, where weak and foolish things start getting a little stronger and smarter over time.

Or is it just an overactive imagination on my part? Intended Hebraic poetry? Actual EModE? All just the result of Joseph's natural lack of education in the frontier spewing out bad grammar? I think there's more than lucky accidents going on in the sophisticated text that Joseph Smith dictated rapidly to his scribes back in them days.


Anonymous said...

"it came as a relief and a surprise to see that "them days" did occur occasionally in formal EModE"

It's incredible how the "occasional" bits of EModE have become the ace up the sleeve proving the BoM.
Exactly What does occasional EModE have to do with the book of Mormon?? What's the point? That God revealed His word in various forms of EModE, Mid and ModE?
Is the entire book EModE? No, it's a mix of several styles. Occurrences here and there. So what's the point?

Jeff Lindsay said...

It is far more than bits and pieces, but rather the dominant voice of the Book of Mormon. Way over 50%. it is persistent from beginning to end and brings a great deal of unity and consistency to the text, in spite of measurably distinct styles from different authors being present. Understanding the language it was dictated in is an important step toward understanding the book and its origins, whatever they are, IMO.

Unknown said...

The next "important step toward understanding the book and its origins" is genuine peer review by non-LDS academic linguists.

Jeff, I don't think you're primarily interested in understanding the book. I think you're primarily interested in maintaining your testimony.

No peer review, no respect.

flying fig said...

It just doesn't make sense. Why would the Book of Mormon not be translated into the modern language of 1829 except the need to sound ancient and biblical?
And why would the revelations in the Doctrine and Covenants appear in the same archaic English? They do not purport to be ancient documents, but modern.

Did God simply decide 16th and 17th century English as the best fit for MODERN revelations?

Anonymous said...

When you write fan-fic, you do your best to sound like the original author. Maybe you'll have your friend Oliver help out a bit. But between the two of you, you can't erase your inherent writing styles. Throw in the stuff you lift directly from other sources, and you got yourself a stew of semi-traceable styles and influences that people will be straining at for almost 200 years.

Anonymous said...

What does the stone say?

Jeff Lindsay said...

Flying Fig, are you so sure that the Doctrine and Covenants is in the same style of language as the Book of Mormon? That's what many of us thought, but look at again. E.g., consider my previous post on the issue of ADP did. The difference really surprised me. But there's more to explore there.

Orbiting, the details of the dictated text aren't relevant to maintaining my testimony. Whether it was in Joseph's dialect, straight KJV lingo, or EMod, the method poses no problem. I do want to understand what the original text is about and how it was given, and find the data to be genuinely fascinating. They pose new questions and puzzles worth exploring. If EModE is a fluke, that's fine. I'm interesting in finding out.

SilverRain said...

If nothing else, the chaotic mix of styles suggests that Joseph, at least, believed it was divine translation/revelation.

You can't argue he was a mastermind set to deceive the masses while overlooking a simple concept like consistency. Which was it, a genius or a rube?

I'd be mildly curious in analyzing contemporary literary works with similar claims to Joseph's claim of divine origin. See how patterns differ or are the same.

SilverRain said...

If nothing else, the chaotic mix of styles suggests that Joseph, at least, believed it was divine translation/revelation.

You can't argue he was a mastermind set to deceive the masses while overlooking a simple concept like consistency. Which was it, a genius or a rube?

I'd be mildly curious in analyzing contemporary literary works with similar claims to Joseph's claim of divine origin. See how patterns differ or are the same.

flying fig said...

"are you so sure that the Doctrine and Covenants is in the same style of language as the Book of Mormon?"

There may be some differences between the BoM and D&C but overall they're both still written in an archaic KJV style.

My question then is Why would the Book of Mormon not be translated into the modern language of 1829 except the need to sound ancient and biblical?
And why would the revelations in the Doctrine and Covenants appear in a similar archaic English? They do not purport to be ancient documents, but modern.

James Anglin said...

Just how strong is this claim that 50% of the "voice" of the Book of Mormon is EModE? Its vocabulary and spelling look nothing at all like the EModE texts I saw quoted in Carmack's article. In fact the vocabulary of the BofM has always sounded very suspiciously 19th century-ish to me. And does 50% EModE only mean that 50% of the BofM syntax is consistent with EModE syntax? That might not be a strong claim at all, it seems to me, because EModE is not actually that much earlier than KJV. How thoroughly can English grammar have changed in the interval? I bet the frequency changes were only big for a few constructions. In which case even the KJV itself might easily be 50% consistent with EModE syntax.

The persistent interest in parallelism and chiasmus just baffles me, though. Mormon apologists seem to rely on the implicit assumption that these simple rhetorical structures would have been tremendously difficult for anyone like Smith to have noticed in the Bible and imitated. And yet the very appeal of pointing out these structures is because they stick out like sore thumbs. Parts of the Bible are so full of them that every smart-alecky kid making a Bible parody includes them automatically.

And they are very convenient if you're trying to spin a tale, because they are so repetitive. While you're methodically ringing the changes on this chapter's handful of thoughts, you can be thinking of the two or three thoughts you'll be needing for the next chapter's long repetitions. If I were faking a Bible-ish text, you betcha I'd be packing it full of chiasmus and parallelism.

If Mormons were really serious about finding out the truth about the Book of Mormon's origin, I think the first thing to do would be to grab a dozen glibly fluent non-Mormon writers familiar with the Bible — Madison Avenue would probably turn up a that many Bible-raised copy-writers on a lunch break — and pay them to produce fake ancient texts about Hebrew tribes in the Americas. Then analyze the language they produce, and compare that to the Book of Mormon. If you could notice significant limitations in even the glibbest fraudsters' texts, and see that the Book of Mormon was clearly more ancient-like than their best efforts, then you'd have a real basis for saying that either Joseph Smith was a genius or else he was a prophet.

As it is, to me it really just seems that the Book of Mormon could easily have been produced by a merely competent con artist, and none of the things I've seen about parallelism or EModE grammar seem at all inconsistent with that view. Honestly and seriously, I really see nothing in these arguments but a persistent wild exaggeration of how unlikely it would be to produce these structures by fraud. That's the point for a serious Mormon apologist to tackle — with evidence and not just with rhetoric.

shokupanmanbo said...

This is funny. There are critics here who remind me so much of the little band of dwarfs in CS Lewis' The Last Battle:
"they all said: ‘Well, at any rate, there’s no Humbug here. We haven’t let anyone take us in. The Dwarfs are for the Dwarfs!’

‘You see,’ said Aslan. ‘ They will not let us help them. They have chosen cunning instead of belief. Their prison is only in their own minds, yet they are in that prison; and so afraid of being taken in that they can not be taken out."

Anonymous said...

Lots of opinions and hypotheses. What do other books written in the early 1800's time period that try to imitate KJV bible look like? Does View of the Hebrews contain the same elements of missing the mark to sound like KJV to end up sounding like EModE? I think that there is enough material from the 1800's so that we wouldn't have to find "glibly fluent" Bible thumpers from Madison Avenue to produce the texts. Just use the early 1800's texts that are already available.

I know, it's easier to pound diatribes on your keyboards rather than investigate your own ideas.


Anonymous said...


Yes, that is funny to me, too, but for entirely different reasons.

You seem to have enshrined "belief" as one of the primary virtues. Well, since we are quoting C. S. Lewis, let's see what he says about this:

"Roughly speaking, the word faith seems to be used by Christians in two senses or on two levels, and I will take them in turn. In the first sense it means simply belief--accepting or regarding as true the doctrines of Christianity. That is fairly simple. But what does puzzle people--at least it used to puzzle me--is the fact that Christians regard faith in this sense as a virtue. I used to ask how on Earth it can be a virtue--what is there moral or immoral about believing or not believing a set of statements? Obviously, I used to say, a sane man accepts or rejects any statement, not because he wants or does not want to, but because the evidence seems to him good or bad. If he were mistaken about the goodness or badness of the evidence, that would not mean he was a bad man, but only that he was not very clever. And if he thought the evidence bad but tried to force himself to believe in spite of it, that would be merely stupid. Well, I think I still take that view."

Unknown said...

Does View of the Hebrews contain the same elements of missing the mark to sound like KJV to end up sounding like EModE?

Just FYI, Steve, in View of the Hebrews Ethan Smith did not try to "sound like KJV." He wrote in the standard English of his time and place.

Also, I think it bears repeating that the Book of Mormon -- at least the great majority of it -- does not sound like EModE. I've read plenty of EModE, and I can assure you, the BoM does not sound like it at all. It sounds like the KJV with some more modern English thrown in.

Think about this for a second. If the BoM really did "sound like EModE," Carmack's "discovery" would not have come as a surprise, eh?

At best what we have here is not a text that "sounds like EModE," but a text that, when subjected to some subtle and sophisticated linguistic analysis, can be shown to share some features of EModE that the reader would otherwise not notice.

Anonymous said...

Well, Orbiting Kolob: If the Book of Mormon is so easy to produce with all that chiasmus and parallelism and EModE syntax and Hebraic stuff; and you are so smart, it sounds like you are just the guy to finally do what no one else has done: write your own text and pass it off as a revelation.

Surely if that simpleton Joseph could do it, a sophisticated modern learned intellectual like yourself can do it. Should be a piece of cake, right?

The best part is: you shouldn't have any trouble at all putting in Hebraic language structures that no one knows about yet, just like no one really knew about Chiasmus in the early 1800's, (yet the BofM is drenched in the stuff; and sophisticated chiasmus at that, spanning entire chapters and books, even).

Come on, Orbiting. You've boasted numerous times about how educated, smart, and brilliant you are and you are always mocking the Book of Mormon. Let's see you replicate that idiot Joseph's works. You're just the type to do it! One caveat: it must duplicate the Book of Mormon's features; including all that mundane stuff that fits in to whatever early civilization you plan on setting your text in. Stuff like warfare, ceremony; etc. Without research, mind --as much research as was available to Joseph Smith. But still, for someone of your staggering intellect and astonishing hubris, it shouldn't be an issue-- it should be easy!

Anonymous said...

After he's done writing it, if the geography doesn't fit the real world setting can we move it to another part of the world? Also can he copy large portions of the BoM (errors included) but claim he never owned a BoM?

One more thing, can be write it in 60% 14th century English for no real reason except that it'll sound really old??

Unknown said...

... and finally, if Anon 4:40 doesn't agree with me that my writing is the epitome of religious truth and a masterpiece of literary art, can I tell him it's because he hasn't prayed about it sincerely enough?

Seriously, I'd like to ask Anon 4:40 just where anyone on this blog has ever seen me "boast[ing] numerous times about how educated, smart, and brilliant" I am? (Feel free to quote these boasts if you can find them.)

And where have I ever said that Joseph Smith was an "idiot"? For the record, I think Smith was a kind of genius.

Anyway, that tired old "Book of Mormon Challenge" is just silly. It's amazing to me that people still repeat it as if it might prove something. It doesn't. I suppose I could issue some challenge to you, Anon 4:40 -- a challenge predicated on a gross misunderstanding of your position, and that would waste so much of your time you would never take me up on it -- and then consider you to be refuted because you declined to give up a big chunk of your life in meeting it. I suppose I could issue you such a chalenge, but I'm not going to bother because it would prove nothing at all.

The fact is that I have already written a few books -- this is nothing special, merely part of my job as a professor -- and I'm currently working on another one. I find writing a good book to be hard work. But the Book of Mormon is not a very good book. It reads very much like a smart but inexperienced writer's first effort. It reads very much like something written by someone who did not have a lot of formal education but was steeped in the KJV and deeply interested in early 19th-century debates about Christian theology and Native American origins. There's nothing strange about the idea that Smith could have written it himself.

As for chiasmus, it is a very basic biblical literary technique, and anyone trying to imitate the biblical style would naturally pick up on it. Its presence proves nothing whatsoever.

The chiasmus argument is one of a larger group of arguments hinging on the idea that Joseph (nor anyone else in his circle) could have done it, therefore Goddidit, therefore the Book of Mormon is true. The claim is that in Joseph's time no one had yet explicitly identified chiasmus as a rhetorical form, so therefore Joseph could not have known about it. But this argument confuses two senses of the word know (basically, it's guilty of the fallacy of equivocation).

That is, most users of a language do not "know" that language in the sense of consciously being able to describe its grammar (and its common rhetorical forms), but they do "know" the language in the sense of being able to produce grammatically correct (and rhetorically effective) utterances. Any competent speaker of English can say "I hate Obama," even if they've never been told about subjects, verbs, and objects.

Many competent users of English can say things like "I love my Jeep more than I love Jesus," even if they can't tell you that the sentence uses hyperbole, alliteration, and assonance. Can people use such devices successfully without formally studying rhetoric and literary technique? Of course they can. They do it all the time.

In the same vein, could Joseph Smith have used chiasmus without formally "knowing" what it is? Of course he could have done so. (As for Welch's purported 36-level chiasmus, that's a fake construct produced by ignoring large blocks of the text of Alma 36, as Earl Wunderli demonstrated long ago in Dialogue.)

The chiasmus argument is a zombie. It's dead. It gets killed again and again, but it keeps getting up out of the grave to lurch around in the twilight world of LDS apologetics, where you just can't keep a bad argument down.

Anonymous said...

You're being dishonest in your approach, Orbiting. Address the other chiasms, the compact 4- to 6-level ones, some intricate. It doesn't work here to take on one example which might be weak and ignore the strong ones. We're smarter than that. Also, against what you wrote, people don't just pick up on chiastic structure, as Welch showed when he addressed an educated Jewish audience and showed them the blasphemer chiasm in Leviticus. Though they had read it more than once they didn't know anything about it. This is also shown by the fact that it wasn't till the late 1960s that Welch noticed it in the Book of Mormon, after he had attended a German seminar on the subject. The various compact chiastic passages present in the Book of Mormon are almost certainly there consciously (which has been shown statistically), and the probability of Smith constructing them all is very low. You can keep lying to yourself about it if it makes you feel better.

Anonymous said...

Orbiting writes, "If the BoM really did "sound like EModE," Carmack's "discovery" would not have come as a surprise, eh?"

The current LDS text has had a lot of the EModE stripped out of it. You have to study the dictation, the earliest text, to get the full picture. Still, there's tons of stuff in the current text which is totally like EModE. So you must be letting your bias get in the way.

You do know, Orbiting, that Skousen wasn't looking for EModE in the text, he just noticed old, extrabiblical meaning because he was performing critical text work, and making thorough intratextual and extratextual comparisons when he came upon unusual, interesting, and difficult readings. He didn't look for it to make an apologetic point, but since it's there, he doesn't ignore it. You apparently do not want there to be any.

Anonymous said...

What's your take on the following, Orbiting?

2 Nephi 12:16
and upon every high tower and upon every fenced wall,
and upon all the ships of the sea
and upon all the ships of Tarshish,
and upon all the pleasant pictures.

KJV Isaiah 2:16
And upon every high tower, and upon every fenced wall,
And upon all the ships of Tarshish,
and upon all pleasant pictures.

1535 Coverdale Bible
upon all costly towres, and upon all stronge walles,
upon all shippes of the see,
and upon every thinge that is glorious and pleasaunt to loke upon.

Anonymous said...

Anon 10:58

This is a strange redundancy that actually throws doubt on Joseph Smith's work, rather than supports it.

Tarshish is to be interpreted as meaning "any trading vessels or merchant ships." So, the KJV is saying the same thing as the Coverdale Bible. The line is just translated differently. The original Hebrew text does not include both "ships of the sea," and "ships of Tarshish."

So, why Joseph Smith puts both of the lines in his rendering is really the big question here.

Bible commentaries leading up to the publication of the Book of Mormon, at least one written by Wesley (the Methodist,...hmmm) dealt with this passage of scripture. So, even if Joseph SMith didn't have the Coverdale Bible, it was very likely he would've been introduced to the common interpretation of "Tarshish."

This isn't a challenge at all for the critics. But it is a problem for the believers.

Anonymous said...

It's interesting to see how the twisted mind works. Tarshish is a place, land, not the sea. But you're working hard.

Anonymous said...

If Chiasmus is an ancient Hebraic language structure, why would it also appear in the "Modern" revelations of the Doctrines & Covenants? And why would the "modern" Doctrines & Covenants be written in an archaic English style anyway?

Does God speak only in archaic English?

The fact is Smith was very familiar with the KJV which is full of Chiasmus. The BoM contains the exact same translation errors and italicized words of the KJV, proving Smith had a KJV during the writing of the BoM. Smith and the witnesses lied when they said he didn't have a Bible, thus calling into question any Chiasmus found in the BoM anyway

Anonymous said...

anon 1:34

I didn't say Tarshish was the sea. I said that Tarshish, the ships of Tarshish, is used to refer to merchant ships. Because of the way "ships of Tarshish" is used throughout the Old Testament, some Bible commentators have stated that it is referring to merchant ships, any merchant ship. This is not my commentary. This is from quite a few sources from the late-1700's to early 1800's.

A long paper about this very topic written by Dana Pike and David Seely and published by the Maxwell Institute states that it is possible Smith's contribution to this scripture (adding the additional line) could've come from his familiarity with Methodist commentaries. The article goes on to say that ultimately, it is..........(wait for it).........a matter of faith! And if you accept the Book of Mormon as divine, then you can believe that Joseph Smith was actually tapping into an original rendering of this verse, even if he was familiar with the commentaries.

The Maxwell Institute is clearly not interested in truly scholarly work. Not with stuff like that!

Here is the gem of a quote: "Any conclusion about the relationship between Isaiah 2:16 and 2 Nephi 12:16 is for most people a matter of faith—as is acceptance of the Book of Mormon in general—not just a matter of textual analysis. People who accept the authenticity of the
Book of Mormon typically favor an explanation for the form of 2 Nephi 12:16 that other people reject, although Latter-day Saint explanations regarding this matter cannot now be substantiated by the available comparative biblical textual evidence alone. People who do not accept the authenticity of the Book of Mormon will likely accept the primacy of the synonymous couplet found in the Masoretic Text and Septuagint over the three-line form of
2 Nephi 12:16 and will suggest that Joseph Smith erred or accepted outside influences when he “composed” this verse. Huggins, for example, asserted that “Joseph could not have avoided coming into contact with Methodist books,” especially Adam Clarke’s commentary on the Bible.62 This may be true. But even if Joseph Smith did have such contact, this does not
prove he rendered 2 Nephi 12:16 under the influence of Clarke or anyone else other than the Holy Spirit."

So, there you have it. In other words, "there is a perfectly good explanation for this, but since we have faith, we are going to go with the explanation that cannot be substantiated." Nice work.....

Ryan said...

Just as a point of clarification, the BoM does not contain "the exact same italicized words" as the KJV. So far I have compared all of the Isaiah Chapters through 2 Nephi 15 to their biblical counterparts, as well as the Sermon at the Temple compared to Matthew 5-7. Of the 174 italicized phrases that I counted in Isaiah/Matthew, 63 of them (or ~37%) were present in the corresponding BoM verses. Maybe that's "good enough," maybe it isn't. But let's at least get the facts straight.

Anonymous said...

"Of the 174 italicized phrases that I counted in Isaiah/Matthew, 63 of them (or ~37%) were present in the corresponding BoM verses"

Okay, not 100% but yeah, its "good enough"
Good enough to explain the archaic KJV-sounding language of the BoM.
Good enough to explain BoM Chiasmus.
And good enough to cast doubt on the unanimous witness testimony that Smith did not have any papers or text with him while "translating" the BoM

Anonymous said...

It sounds like Dana Pike and David Seely might have a crucial assumption wrong: that JS consulted a Bible during the dictation. They follow Roberts, Sperry, Ludlow, Gardner, et al. on this. They are all wrong. Skousen is correct. Smith didn't have a Bible during the dictation. Neither he nor the witnesses lied about it. Skousen knows more about the text that any of these people did/do. The original MS, which Skousen knows better than anyone, shows no sign of scribal difference when biblical passages were dictated in 1 Nephi. It is tight control all the way.

I am comfortable with asserting that is unlikely, taken together, that Smith himself knew relevant biblical commentaries on "ships of Tarshish" and matched, on his own, the Septuagint/Coverdale reading.

Some (most?) KJV error arguments are vacuous. If there is a strong KJV error argument, then (as Jeff wrote) the divine translation simply decided not to change it for whatever reason.

Biblical changes in the Book of Mormon:

There are 816 (constituent/word) changes in biblical passages, and 171 of these involve italics, so only 21% of the changes involved italics. Hence italics was a minority change.

171 of 438 italics are changed which is a 39% rate. So italics were changed at a higher rate than non-italics items, but fewer than half were changed and there are more than 600 non-italics changes.

Arguments can be made either way on biblical changes.

If chiasmus does occur in the D&C then it could be there because the D&C section is a revealed text, like the Book of Mormon. The presence or absence of chiasmus in the D&C is meaningless to authorship arguments. IOW, the D&C can be a revealed text if there is or if there is not chiasmus in it; the D&C can be a fraudulent text if there is or if there is not chiasmus in it.

Anonymous said...

Yep, Pike and Seely wrongly assume that Smith is the translator, in the usual sense. They acknowledge Skousen briefly, but then quote Ludlow and indicate in at least two instances that they think Smith was translating, against Skousen and with Ludlow and Sperry. That is an important assumption they get wrong. Smith read a revealed text. Those who think that Smith dictated a fraudulent text understandably think that the faithful view is that Smith used a Bible. That has been the majority view among apologists. But only Skousen's view is correct, and that will become apparent in the future.

Anonymous said...

"They are all wrong. Skousen is correct. Smith didn't have a Bible during the dictation"

"If there is a strong KJV error argument, then (as Jeff wrote) the divine translation simply decided not to change it for whatever reason."

Everyone is wrong, Smith didn't have a bible, but if there are KJV errors in the BoM ( which there are) God put them there "for whatever reason"

Well I'm convinced, discussion over! :-)

Anonymous said...

ANY percentage of KJV italics or errors found the in the BoM is evidence that Smith used a bible.

It's the most likely explanation.

To say "the divine translation simply decided not to change it for WHATEVER REASON" is amusing

James Anglin said...

It is absurd to complain that critics seem seem determined not to believe, like the dwarves in The Last Battle, when the LDS church sends out thousands of missionaries every year. Everyone who, like those missionaries, believes in one thing firmly, is determined not to believe in things that contradict their beliefs. And it seems to me that the dwarves have nothing on the ingenious persistence of some Mormon apologists.

It's also a misconception to ask me to do myself what I suggest that Mormon apologists do, and check out 19th century efforts to imitate ancient writings. I'm not a Mormon, but neither am I religiously committed to anti-Mormonism. I don't feel called to save all Mormons from Mormonism personally. If I'm going to work hard, there are worse problems in the world to be solved.

I'm just saying that if I were a sincere Mormon believer trying to win converts, I would try to get hard evidence for the claim that faking the Book of Mormon would have been really hard, instead of just insisting on that claim as if it were self-evident. To non-Mormons, it is far from self-evident. The Book of Mormon just does not look so hard to fake, and so the claim that Joseph Smith could not possibly have faked it just falls flat. People think, Huh? Why not? So if I wanted to reach those people, I'd try to get hard evidence to answer that Why not? reaction.

Anonymous said...

On KJV errors and using a Bible: There are a few apparent errors perpetuated in the Book of Mormon. In contrast, there are hundreds, if not thousands of apparent items of EModE in the Book of Mormon that say that no one proposed as author of the book could have written it. Also, manuscript evidence says that a Bible wasn't used. Also, eyewitnesses, one never a Mormon, said a Bible wasn't used. Which is there more evidence for?

Those who think a Bible was used and that Smith was the author ultimately rely on relatively weak manuscript and textual evidence and go against witness testimony. The divine view relies on a huge amount of manuscript and English-language evidence as well as supportive witness testimony, corroborated by Emma's brother-in-law Morse.

Anonymous said...

ano 8:24

You guys keep harping on this same thing, over and over. Okay....I'll concede! There is EModE in the Book of Mormon and that Joseph Smith couldn't have written it. I don't have a problem with this conclusion. But what is your point?! Is that it? Joseph Smith couldn't have written it? Oaks and Turley already made this point in Boise a few weeks ago, quoting Smith's journals, to prove that he was such a Yankee hick that he probably didn't even know how to fry an egg.

But still, you are trotting out this evidence, which is really fascinating, but you haven't done anything meaningful with it! It is like one of your friends floated away yesterday and now you are going around telling everyone that the laws of gravity have been revoked! Fine, I see the pictures of your friend up in the clouds. But tell me what I am supposed to do with it!

Or, as OrbitingKolob has been suggesting, find someone who can look at your photograph and offer an educated analysis.

All you are doing is telling me that Smith couldn't have written it. Well, there was a brand of anti-Mormon propaganda not too long ago that purported the same thing.

You aren't doing anything meaningful with this information. And you come here expecting people like me and Orbiting and James to care. You seem to think that the presence of EModE makes the case that the BoM is a divine book a done deal. It doesn't do anything of the sort.

You know...this EModE business along with the seerstone photograph really puts you all in a bad way. Before he started seeing the BoM in the stone, he was seeing the location of buried treasure!

So, let's say Smith was right, he really saw both treasure and the BoM in the same stone. We can conclude a few things:

1. By the power of God through the stone, he saw both buried treasure (but failed to acquire it, which made him appear to be a deceiver for the people for whom he was digging) and the Book of Mormon.
2. By the power of the Devil through the stone, he saw both buried treasure and the Book of Mormon in order to deceive people.
3. By the power of the Devil, he saw the treasure, but it was by the power of God that he saw the Book of Mormon. But both the Devil and God used the same stone.
4. He saw nothing. He was a fraud.
5. He saw everything by the power of his imagination or his delusion.

Those are your options. Pick one. Which one do you HAVE to believe? But which one is the most logical?

Anonymous said...

"There are a few apparent errors perpetuated in the Book of Mormon"

Actually as anon509 admits, Of the 174 italicized phrases counted in Isaiah/Matthew, 63 of them (or ~37%) were present in the corresponding BoM verses

Now comparing the evidence, which of the two make a strong case proving our disapproving the BoM?

There's evidence of EModE that's mixed with other styles of English for no apparent reason. Why would a pre Columbian text translated in the 19c contain 16c-17c English?

One the other hand, KJV Translation errors and italicized words found in the BoM are easily explained by the fact that Smith owned a bible and copied from it, he spoke of how much he studied it growing up, he was familiar with KJV-sounding dialect, the witnesses were all close friends and family members capable of being in on the scam. He has a history of conning folks with his magic rock and claims the very same magic rock to "translate" the BoM

Which is the more likely story?

Anonymous said...

EBU: treasure hunting and the production of the BoM are not linked events. You'd like to make them so, but they aren't. You have to take some things on faith to maintain your belief about the BoM. Admit it to yourself. All of the various witnesses argue against your view. Their refusal to recant through the years argues against your view. Harris's actions after his NY visit argue against your view. All we know about Smith's literary abilities argue against your view. The text itself, in a thousand different ways, argues against your view. The steady dictation and the resumptive process argue against your view. You've convinced yourself, 'cause you don't like a bunch of stuff about it, that the above ain't so, or that it isn't important.

Anon957: Italics changes are only about one-fifth of the changes to biblical passages. Smith may not have known in 1829 what the italics were all about. But let's say he did. It's still highly unlikely that he used a Bible. There's no evidence for it. There's eyewitness testimony against it.

You guys keep on believin'. I know what I believe in, and I think it's solid. The witnesses are solid, and the English-language text is solid.

flying fig said...

There's no evidence for it?? The very fact that the italics are there IS evidence!

That's like saying "sure there's a knife in his back, but there's no evidence that he was stabbed. And we have witnesses that say he was shot"

What about the knife in his back?

"You guys keep on believin'. I know what I believe in, and I think it's solid. The witnesses are solid"

Anonymous said...

Italics evidence is meaningless. Look, it either was a divine translation (not Smith) or he dictated fraudulently from his own mind. A divine translation could do whatever it wanted with KJV italics. It could change them, leave them alone, or delete them. Simple.

flying fig said...

I apologize, I was hoping for an intelligent discussion of the most likely explanation, I didn't count on "it's that way because God said so"

I'll move on

Anonymous said...

Good idea for you to move on. And actually, your approach is unintelligent since you can't see the two obvious alternatives, and you won't allow a choice between them. Sounds small-minded to me. Also, because the text was statistically beyond Smith, the most likely explanation is the divine one.

Anonymous said...


They are linked. They are linked by this seerstone. He had the stone. He looked for treasure. He didn't find any. He still had the stone. He used it to translate the Book of Mormon.

Anonymous said...

anon 206. No, the most likely explanation is that Smith didn't do it. That doesn't immediately mean it was the divine. What world are you people living in?

Smith couldn't do it, so God could is the only possible being who could've done this. If this is really what you are arguing, again....What world are you people living in?

Why can't all you anonymous people start including a name at the end, so we can keep you all straight? I have no idea who I am talking to. Make up a name. Post anonymously, but make up a name. Like Steve does. It really helps out the discussion.

flying fig said...

okay, I said I'm moving on but I want to work with you And really try to understand.
Let's say God did it. That It's a Devine translation. That God purposely revealed KJV translation errors and italicized words to the BoM.
You say my approach is unintelligent and small minded for not considering this alternative. I'm being completely sincere, Can you please give me ONE intelligent reason why a holy God would do this?
If you can't give me ONE, be honest, am I really that small minded to entertain the explanation I hold?

Kevin Woodward said...

@flying fig. Thanks for the sincerity and have patience with me since this is the 2nd time I've tried to respond to you. The first time I meant to click "Submit/Publish" in the bottom right corner but instead clicked "Sign Out" and lost everything. :: sigh :: Why in the world is this the submit form designed this way when there is plenty of precedence of good layouts? Guess I'll have to pay more attention.

Would you consider that God is using human instruments with all their weaknesses and imperfections and believe it or not allows them to have them? We don't fully understand/consider how revelation works with our human minds. I use the analogy of receiving revelation as hearing a symphony and relating it to others by humming out the tune. It is never as beautiful as the initial experience and sometimes I forget details unless I really reflect on it. Stick with me now because I'm sure you're thinking "oh great..another vision-receiving deluded weirdo" but I would really consider myself far from that and believe Science and Religion are not mutually exclusive but that is a whole different topic and I digress...

Now sharing that tune sometimes you forget the measure change or change in tempo since you already think you know the tune and how the whole thing goes so mistakes get involved.

Now think about Joseph Smith and his family Bible. It was probably one of the only books the poor Smiths owned and so Joseph would have studied that thing over and over. Now comes the time of translating parts he has read before. What would you write? Would you do your best to get every new piece down or think you already know the passage or maybe your subconscious takes over and spits out what it thinks it knows already leaving out the clean revelation? God guides...He doesn't force and unfortunately we humans mess up the directions He gives us but He wants us to live by faith sometimes as we seek for knowledge. Knowledge is always the end-goal but faith is what we live by at times of uncertainty and I think applies in this case.

I will continue studying it out till more information arises but understand I go this route because I have experiences that I cannot explain away that tells me this book is true..and as Jeff has been pointing out there are quite a few scientific pros outweighing the cons in this area (though I know some vehemently disagree)...but that's what makes it fun right?


Anonymous said...

Critics need to get a PhD in linguistics then come back and dialogue rationally and stop pontificating.

I like how people will accept the Bible and all the unproven events, yet the Book of Mormon could not have been a Godly translation. What a double standard and hypocrisy the critics have. And yet some don't have a problem with Calvin, believe TULIP and other nonsense Calvin taught, but have a problem with Smith. Luther had issues too. Instead of working to clean up their own houses, deal with skeletons in their respective religions, call out the money hustlers in mainstream Christianity, work to make the world better, confront Atheists ( who have the same arguments against Christianity as the critics of LDS beliefs) they focus on attacking the LDS church.

You don't believe it, fine. Take the beams out of your eyes first.


Anonymous said...


The reason Christians are reluctant to make allowances for the Mormonism's miraculous origins is because Mormonism introduced doctrines that are contrary to the scriptures. If someone were to come along and claim that they have miraculously translated the sealed portion of the plates, you would reject those miracles, because they run contrary to the established order of things according to your belief.

So, it shouldn't be so hard to understand why Christians reject Mormonism. Many of its doctrines are contrary to the Biblical teachings.

And there is a big difference between Luther/Calvin and Smith/Young and others. Neither Luther nor Calvin declared themselves to be God's official spokesperson on Earth. That makes all the difference. Cult leaders declare themselves to be God's official spokespeople. This is the pattern for cult leaders, not religious leaders.

Kevin Woodward said...

I don't understand EBU....by your definition then Moses, Isaiah, Jesus, Peter and Paul are cult leaders. God's pattern is calling a spokesperson otherwise you get confusion. So he calls people to bring them back to the fold and gives them more light and knowledge as they are ready to understand it. Wouldn't you say the Jews thought Christ was contradicting the doctrines of his day? Interesting how history seems to repeat itself.

Anonymous said...

Kevin Woodward,

Okay...so God has called another spokesperson. All the confusion is gone, right? It is so clear and obvious to everyone that we can all just put our eggs in the LDS basket, because the world is no longer confused!

You are looking at it all through the Mormon paradigm? Where did you get the idea that God's pattern is to call people to give more light and knowledge? You got that idea from the LDS interpretation of scripture.

But there is some holes in that interpretation. Where are the chosen mouthpieces during the 400-year intertestamental period? Where are the chosen mouthpieces between @150-1820?

God doesn't ALWAYS call prophets after all, does he?

But you can rest assured that he has a prophet now? Why? Imagine you were a Christian in the year 175 CE. According to the Mormon perspective, you would be a part of a church that was either slipping into or fully embracing all-out apostasy. How would you know this?

You are just an average 2nd Century Christian. How would you know you were in apostasy?

Well, if you could realize it at all, you would know it because the ordinances have changed and the doctrines had been altered.

Now, today, 2015. The ordinances have been changed and the doctrines have been altered again. The initiatory/endowment is not at all in its originally-revealed form, and important doctrines have been altered (Celestial Marriage = Plural Marriage, Black skin = curse, etc.) Yet, you would never entertain the idea that your church is now again in a state of apostasy.

Why not?

Jesus isn't a cult leader because he was God incarnate. He was not simply God's chosen mouthpiece. Peter and Paul never declared themselves to be God's chosen mouthpiece in the way Mormons consider them to be. There was no First Presidency at all. And interestingly, at the Jerusalem Conference, it is James who presides, not Peter. Read Acts 15. So, the Mormon insistence on calling Peter the head of the church is anchored not in scripture, but in their practice of proof-texting. James presided probably because he was the head of the Jerusalem branch of Christianity.

Moses and Isaiah more fully fit the bill. But these are Old Testament prophets. In times past, God spoke to us through his prophets...but in these last days, he has spoken to us through his Son.

The author of Hebrews clearly didn't see it the Mormon way. Can you imagine a General Authority getting up at conference and making such a statement without qualifying it further in any way? Of course not.

Everything makes sense to you within your Mormon paradigm. That's fine. But I guarantee you that if you step out of it, only as an experiment, you'll realize that everything can still make sense from a different point of view as well.

Kevin Woodward said...


You are correct it did not clear up the confusion for the world (God does not force but allows everyone to make a choice) but gives at least a better alternative than just relying on men's word they have the best interpretation. You say I'm using the LDS interpretation/paradigm but I feel it's what I read in the Bible. Many held the same views even before the church was restored because that is what the Bible told them. Not by pastors or trained ministers that propagated interpretations they received.... Just reading their Bibles. So it gets down to everyone's interpretation.... So what do we do? What's the deciding factor? Can we define spokesperson as someone that receives revelation?

I would look for that in all these men (human men mind you) and then wait for confirmation from the Lord as we are all entitled to revelation as we seek truth. Peter and Paul received revelation and directed church matters in Acts and other chapters as I'm sure you've read. Why should we not look for that now? Yes we must be weary of false prophets but that doesn't mean we don't look for any.

Were there prophets throughout time that didn't make it in the Bible and even after? I'm certain there were but a book is not a qualifier... Revelation is.

I'm interested in what you look for with all these contradictory interpretations?

I promise you I have stepped out of my perspective... Even forced out many times as I had an atheist stepfather who ridiculed any belief system from the age of 6 till 15. The one thing I held on to was that there was a God. My mom would drop us off at the library in the summer and unlike many boys who would run to the fiction section to read about anything fun (I still did that too)...I would enter the religion section and read about Buddhism and Hindu and other world religions. Odd for a 7 year old would you say? I kept on studying too and it gave me respect for other religions but one of the major deciding factors was revelation. The other deciding factor against other Christian religions was placing everyone in Hell that hadn't even heard of Christ. LDS interpretation of the Bible only allows Mormons to go to Hell (Outer Darkness). That I could get on board with. Since that time more has just been added on and I'll take the human mistakes in church with the revelation because I know I myself can still receive it if I'm living a Christ centered life. Again, thanks for responding and hope I clarified my position a little better.

Anonymous said...


I appreciated what you wrote. The universal aspect of salvation in Mormonism appeals to you. But this isn't proof of the claims of authority that the LDS church makes for itself. If nothing more, it indicates that the founder was greatly influenced by the concept of universal salvation. Joseph's grandfather was a Universalist. His father dabbled in it for a while. There is a very logical explanation for the liberality of Mormonism regarding salvation. Mormonism was not the first religious sect to propose this. Considering Joseph had such a background with universalism, I don't think the presence of it in the doctrine proves that the LDS. Church is the one true church.

Kevin Woodward said...

I agree and have read on what you wrote before... And I also find universal salvation in the Bible but that is another topic and one we can revisit later if you wish.

I would like to continue to focus on what we have been discussing with personal interpretation and revelation. In fact, Acts 10 and 11 have excellent examples of dealing with difficult issues and how the church is to handle them. But again, what is your take on dealing with interpretation especially when groups differ on the same subject? Thanks in advance because I appreciate diversity in perspective.


Anonymous said...


The diversity in perspective you appreciate is the reason we have differences in interpretation. Nothing will ever change this. The Restoration didn't change this at all.

I believe in the power of the Holy Spirit to teach truth. But I think the questions one asks are extremely important. And I think the answers we are expecting to receive play a large role in what God can tell us.

When we go to prayer to ask God if a particular church is true, we are asking a simple "yes or no" question. If you were to pray if your local Lutheran congregation is a "true" church, what do you think God would say to you?

Would he say "No!" What would that mean? Would it mean that that Jesus isn't the Christ? The Lutherans teach this, and God just told you that they aren't true.

If he says, "Yes" does this mean EVERYTHING they teach is 100% the honest truth?

See, the answer to that question is far more complex than the question allows for.

Let's say the person saying the prayer is a recovering drug-addicted bank robber who was raised with no belief in God at all. The person is asking a very sincere simple question. They are expecting a Yes or a No. They aren't expecting, nor could they probably even receive, the complex answer that lays out the different doctrinal tenets of Lutheranism and elaborates on their relative "truthfulness." So both a YES or a NO would technically be correct. But perhaps God gives the answer that will move that person into the greatest position of spiritual safety at that stage in that person's life.

I think a lot of Mormons or "aspiring Mormons" ask these very simplified questions of God, and they get very simplified answers.

Jesus never asked anyone to pray about whether or not his "church" was true. Never. Nor did Paul, Peter, James, John, etc. Their messages were clear and consistent. Believe in Christ. Follow Jesus Christ.

This idea of asking God about his "one true church" is not supported by scripture at all. Going into a prayer with the mindset that you have found the "one, true, church" and now want God to sign off on your decision with an affirming stamp of approval is setting oneself up for confusion. Many try and fail. Many try and succeed, but end up NOT in Mormonism. Explain this to me?

If you already think you have the answer, what in the world could God possibly say to you?
When I went to God without any preconceived notions, and turned my life over to him independent of any church at all, that is when things began changing fast for me. If you can't think outside of the church, I think God prefers to keep you in the church, where you'll have the law to keep you relatively safe. It is far more spiritually secure. God knows you are ready for the complex answer when you don't dictate to God what you think the answer might be.

That has been my experience. The Truth (with a Capital T) lies outside of a church. Churches, to varying degrees, say the right words. But Truth transcends words. And it is open to all, regardless of denomination. After one receives it, then decisions can be made regarding denomination or sect. They are not all created equal. But there is not one that is going to bring you into your eternal rest. Only Christ can do that.

Kevin Woodward said...

Thanks for the reply EBU. I agree with everything you stated especially the last paragraph.

I think you answered your question by how people phrase questions to God and how God sometimes will give them an answer that they then apply to everything they didn't ask. It can be complex but I think the important thing is to keep asking.

Since Truth transcends all things it is our purpose to seek as much as we can while here since I believe it brings us closer to God and His Son. I see different religions as stepping stones bringing us closer to Him in varying degrees but do feel there are churches that contain more than others. Which I guess means they potentially have more to be blessed with in this life but of course the main thing people need to acquire is what helps bring them closer to Christ. My bias of course is this is His Church but does not mean it contains all Truth or that he doesn't direct people in other churches... just that this is where confusion over baptism and laws he has asked us to follow are found. And that direction I believe requires revelation among leaders and it's members to confirm the truth they hear. That is the same principle/pattern in Acts 10 and 11 and I wondered if you see it the same?

Anonymous said...


What do you make of the fact that in Acts 10, Cornelius receives the gift of the Holy Ghost (see verse 45) without the laying on of hands?

Also, if churches can act as stepping stones, how can you be sure your church is the one further along the path? How would you know it if it weren't?

Everyone who believes in a "one true church" is going to think their church is the last stone in the path. How can you be sure you are right and they are wrong? There can only be one final stone, after all. If it really comes down to finding the right church in this life, I think we are all in serious trouble.

How do you know your church resolves the confusion over baptism? How can you be sure that Joseph Smith's take on this doctrine isn't just one more belief in a wide variety of beliefs?

Kevin Woodward said...


I asked one question and got many in return. I think if we answer my first question it will help answer the rest.


Anonymous said...


What is your first question again?

Kevin Woodward said...

Sorry. "That is the same principle/pattern in Acts 10 and 11 and I wondered if you see it the same?"

Anonymous said...


Millions of people do not see the pattern you are seeing because they have not been primed to see it. Missionaries, Sunday school teachers, Institute teachers do not sit down with people and say "Read Acts 10, 11 and tell me what you notice." They prime their audience first. They talk about how God's church always has prophets to lead it. Etc. etc. Then they will present the scriptural support.

This is called prooftexting.

When I read Acts 10 and 11, the first thing I notice (having been raised Mormon) is that Cornelius does not receive the gift of the Holy Ghost through the established procedure. And he is baptized afterwards, not before. That is a big problem for you.

But it isn't for the Lutherans (I am not Lutheran) who happen to teach that conversion comes as a gift of God through the hearing the Word of God. Peter preached, Cornelius listens, Cornelius receives the gift of the Spirit (is converted), then he is baptized. This isn't the Mormon system. This is Protestantism.

So I read Acts, I see God doing his own work. Men might play a role. You read Acts, you see men doing God's work. That is a very Mormon way of thinking.

I read the New Testament, I see Jesus telling Pilate that his kingdom is not of this world. You go to the temple. You promise to build up the kingdom of God on earth.

I read the New Testament, I read Paul telling us not to let people judge us as to what we eat and drink. Jesus says that which goes into the man doesn't defile the man. You meet with a Bishop once every two years to tell him you haven't defiled yourself by taking certain things into your body.

I read the Bible, and I don't find Mormonism there. You read it, and you do. Partly because in front of each chapter, you've got Bruce R. McConkie's words telling you how to interpret what you are about to read.

Kevin Woodward said...


I think it will be more productive for our conversation to only include our personal observations on the text and not what we generalize other groups to read or the way they are taught to read it. I am only interested of your view of what happens in the chapters. It may also help not to assume what I will see as a problem or how I read things....maybe phrasing or asking me if I see it as a problem first, otherwise it comes across that I should be on the defensive and I don't see how that is helpful when trying to understand someone else's perspective. I consider myself a little unorthodox compared to the average Mormon and hope that is a good thing for us when discussing these topics.

But since you brought it up I don't see a problem with Cornelius receiving the gift of the Spirit. When I taught as a missionary we actually hoped this experience would take place as we taught. It meant the principle we were teaching at the moment was being confirmed by the Spirit as Truth. Now when we talk about my son being baptized it is inferred he will receive the Holy Ghost afterward as a constant companion. I see the same at play here (which I understand if you do not but makes me question whether you really understood what you were being taught as a member). We're not reading a manual on church doctrine but letters and testimonies of what has taken place...so the whole chapter or even books need to be read to discern how things actually happened because elsewhere you see examples of say Paul receiving the Holy Ghost by laying on of hands.

"So I read Acts, I see God doing his own work. Men might play a role. You read Acts, you see men doing God's work. That is a very Mormon way of thinking."

Could you elaborate on this? Because I see both at play here..but maybe that is just me and don't see why we have to label either/or to a group.

Again you put more inferences to put me on the defensive instead of staying on topic with what is in the chapters but I promise you can understand these statements you've made with a little more effort into studying the why instead of me explaining them to you. There are simple answers but if you want we can address them if you really want to understand them.

Seriously though...let's take out anything you think Mormonism is (you give Bruce way too much credit btw and assume that's all I focus on when reading) and just read the text and tell me the story of what you think is happening. Sorry if this seems so personal and I understand if you don't want to continue but I think it's the only way to understand someone's perspective if they share what they are understanding when relating the narrative. Am I being specific enough? What happens to Peter when meditating? What does the vision/revelation mean? How does Peter handle it? What does he do with the vision/revelation? How do the disciples receive him? What happens when Peter shares the information?
You don't have to answer each question but just give your narrative on the important aspects of what happens and what you think we should do with the information when seeking Truth. I don't think what happens in there is too complex and something we really need to debate over. I want to see what we agree on and where we disagree. It really helps to tell me your side only and not where I will disagree or agree before I've even responded.



Anonymous said...


Sorry for putting words in your mouth. I don't know what you believe, really, so I apologize.

I wasn't throwing out all these other issues to get us diverted. I was only presenting them as evidence that I don't see a lot of Mormonism in the Bible. I was making a broad point. I don't think we need to discuss them point-by-point. You say you have a way of understanding them. I'm sure you do. That is partly because you are a Mormon. Or it is partly why you are a Mormon. You have a way of making it all work.

As for what happens in Acts, Peter has a private vision, he acts on it. Later he tells the other apostles about it, and what he did and why he did it. Those who were "of the circumcision" were a little put off by this, because Peter was breaking rules by doing what he did. They are only satisfied when they hear that Cornelius was given the Gift of the Holy Ghost, like they had been given it. Acts 11:15-16 suggests that the Holy Ghost falling upon Cornelius and the Gentiles was happening in the same way it happened to the apostles, which indicates that apostles also received it without the laying on of hands. (Day of Pentecost.)

The apostles are only at peace with what Peter did when they are convinced the Holy Ghost had been poured out upon the Gentiles. They are not convinced just because Peter had a vision.

There are some issues I would like to see worked out before I am convinced that this foreshadows the current system of things.

1. Why does Peter do what he does without consulting the other apostles? Today, there must be harmony among the apostles before a change of this nature would be given the red stamp.

2. Again, why is the Gift of the Holy Ghost (Not just the influence, and I am sure you know the difference) being given without the laying on of hands?

3. Peter recognizes this outpouring of the Spirit as the sign of conversion. And thus Cornelius is brought into the church through baptism. But in Mormonism, baptism MUST come before the Gift, which now seems to be nothing more than a dead ordinance at which nothing at all might even happen. Even Bednar says that many who have received that ordinance have not yet truly received the Holy Ghost!

So, this is what I deal with when I read Acts 10 and 11. And if we were to expand our discussion out into other portions of the Bible, I would have plenty of other issues to contend with.

Kevin Woodward said...

Thanks EBU and I understand where you are coming from now with your references. Sorry I misunderstood.

Mind if I add to what you said and see if you agree?

Peter receives a private vision to settle confusion on preaching the Gospel to the Gentiles. He follows the promptings of the Spirit and receives understanding the gospel is to be preached to the Gentiles. Cornelius receives an outpouring of the Spirit similar to the Day of Pentecost. Now hear we differ but I think looking back at the Day of Pentecost we can see there is a difference between receiving gifts of the Spirit (to confirm Truth when the word is preached) and receiving the Gift of the Holy Ghost (note the capital G). When the Holy Ghost fell upon all those gathered on the Day of Pentecost you'll notice that even after they had received the Holy Ghost and the gift of tongues Peter still said after testifying in Act 2:38 ,"Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost." I see two distinct occurences of the Holy Ghost. The first is confirming Truth by bestowing gifts of the Spirit and the second comes with receiving the Gift of the Holy Ghost after baptism (to be a constant companion).

And then I agree with you on the resolution of Peter and the apostles but I also want to emphasize as you did that they were allowed to receive confirmation themselves of what happened and were not expected to blindly accept it. Do you agree this can still occur today with church leaders over items of confusion? (not just in the LDS faith) And then can we receive the Holy Ghost to confirm it?

As to your items let me give my thoughts.

1. Peter is relatively young in preaching the gospel as are the apostles and still learning and understanding everything the Lord would have them do. He allows them to be mistaken but to grow in understanding and knowledge of the gospel and slowly understand the order of the Church and how things will work. The Lord does not give out manuals but allows us to grow by trial and error...even among his chosen leaders. I don't see how this conflicts with the establishment today because we all are allowed to receive a witness after a prophetic proclamation is made. Some will follow by faith till the Holy Ghost confirms it as Truth and it becomes knowledge.

2. See above. There are gifts of the Spirit (experiences to testify of Truth) and the Gift of the Spirit (to be a constant companion of those who are baptized). Even Christ said you must be born of water and of the Spirit. I guess you can still argue that order was not implied but even Christ received the Holy Ghost after baptism. I tend to have more focus on what Christ has done or said over the other books. Very interested for your take on this and sad I may not get to read or respond till later after work tomorrow. How bothersome, right?

3. I still think we have some semantics that differ but believe the same thing. Awesome reminder from Bednar and hope it wakes up those that aren't continually working to receive the companionship of the Holy Ghost in their lives as it is not an automatic thing. Baptism shows your willingness to follow God and start a new life with him but you have to truly repent and receive sanctification by the Holy Ghost is how I take his statement.

BTW, may I ask what age you left the Church and particular denomination (or non-denomiation) you are now? And thanks again for the discussion, I would talk all day on the gospel and religion if I could!

And quick thanks to Jeff for allowing the extra bits in our conversation as I still see it applying to revelation.

Anonymous said...


I attend the Episcopal church now. But I am not an Episcopalian. I do not consider it the "one true church." But I feel it is a place I can go to appropriately express devotion to God through communal worship. And I find their understanding of the Gospel more in keeping with what I read in the Bible.

And it is the only place I've found in town that would actually refuse to re-baptize me, since I have already been baptized. I was baptized as a Mormon at age 8, but in the eyes of the priest, a baptism is a baptism. He will honor it. Not all Episcopal Priests may feel this way, but the Priest here does. The Episcopalians allow for some variations in practice among the different parishes, depending upon the feelings or beliefs of the priests. There is a limit to this, of course.

But I find it kind of telling. If I were to officially become Episcopalian, the LDS church would consider this grounds for excommunication per the Official Handbook of Instructions. They would no longer honor my baptism as a binding covenant. But the Episcopalians would, because to them, the baptism is between me and God. Who are they to say "yes" or "no" to it? They believe in my Mormon baptism more than the Mormons do!

Kevin Woodward said...


I know a little of the Episcopalian faith as my step-mother was one before she converted to the LDS faith but I found many parts of it practical and appealing. Did you attend many other faiths before settling with them?

I took a religion class (seems like forever ago) that I thoroughly enjoyed and we got to attend sessions with a variety of faiths and their pastors/ministers who spoke on their faith and its differences and answered questions. I do remember thinking at the time I could see myself with the Methodists if I wasn't LDS but don't remember the particulars why.

I can see how upsetting it is to think how the LDS church would excommunicate you from wanting baptism again with another faith while the Episcopalian wholeheartedly accept your previous one. The hard part is we see priesthood authority as binding to covenants as all ordinances must be performed by someone with authority. But I would also add that I don't see excommunication as something horrible but merciful. If a person is excommunicated it's as if they had never made covenants in the first place so they are not held accountable for breaking their covenants. Does that make sense? So if someone were to get re-baptized it would be like getting baptized for the first time again in the eyes of God. Goes along with the whole principle of what is bound on earth is a bound in heaven and what is loosed on earth is loosed in heaven by those with that authority.

But if you were to get baptized with another faith you wouldn't be rejecting your previous willingness to follow God per se but rejecting the authority of who performed it. Jesus didn't just go to anyone to be baptized. He ordained 12 apostles giving them authority. When Judas fell they selected another. God still knows our heart but he is bound by laws just as we are and can't recognize ordinances without the proper authority. This is another reason baptisms for the dead (and other ordinances) are performed because it allows us to work out all these issues for those that didn't have a chance to receive baptism but would have or fix it for those that strayed due to circumstances God knows but knew their heart was right.

Does this mean you are punished when going to heaven. Not exactly. God knows all our circumstances which may have lead us down a different path than His and knows our heart and we will receive all blessings dependent where our heart was. One difference I see is how much we could have been blessed in this life and been able to bless the lives of others if we missed out on opportunities serving in His Church. The other difference I see is our standing with God in the eternities. Much like the parable of the talents we will receive according to what we did with what God gave us. I'm not sure on how you view heaven now but do you still see gradients as also related in Corinthians and what is our purpose for eternity afterward?

Sorry in advance as it sure is hard to answer a question without touching on so many principles in the Scriptures since I see them as dependent on each other which of course all centers on Christ and His Atonement. That is why I see revelation as key and utmost importance to finding all Truth and understanding the big picture presented in the Scriptures.


Anonymous said...


If God is bound by laws, there is something higher than God in existence in the universe. Either the universal law is the highest authority (very much like in our Republic, assuming you are American, in which the law is the governing power which all must obey, leaders included) or there is a law-giver out there somewhere.

Either way, there is something higher than God. Why do you not worship that higher authority instead of God, who apparently is not the highest authority?

Even if you say, "Well, God makes the laws, just like Congressmen make our laws. God is the law-giver, but he still has to abide by the laws he makes." Even if you say something like this, you are conceding that there is a higher authority than God, because laws are being made based upon certain lawful principles, like justice, compassion, mercy, etc. These principles, then, are clearly higher than God. If he must obey something or cease to be God, then he is neither omnipotent nor truly eternal.

You put a gentle spin on the whole matter of turning away from covenants and going to Heaven. Joseph Smith wrote that if you are not exalted, you are damned. D&C 132. Granted, Mormon damnation means a cessation of the procreative powers, loss of family ties, and the end of all upward progress, but basically, salvation without exaltation is form of damnation. Think about what salvation is. It is the free gift of Christ. In Mormonism, everyone gets it except the Sons of Perdition. Everyone. Those who are fully obedient to the laws and ordinances of the Gospel (their works) get exalted.

Joseph Smith took the bipartite Heaven/Hell model. He added a third part. Exaltation. The really righteous people in the old Heaven will get to move into Exaltation. Hell is emptied of all its inhabitants, who move into Heaven (a degree of glory), which, since it isn't exaltation, it is called damnation. In his new model, we now have Exaltation, Salvation/Damnation (per D&C 132), Perdition. So in Mormonism, it is by grace we are damned and by our works we are exalted. It is a diabolical doctrine and it runs contrary to the message preached in the Bible.

Joseph read some words about "rewards in Heaven." He decided to define the highest reward possible. In his day, the focus of this highest reward included "eternal increase" meaning polygamous marriages, and power, might, and authority, thrones, principalities, etc. Sounds a lot like the stuff Satan dangled in front of Jesus Christ in the wilderness.

Kevin Woodward said...


There are a lot of big jumps in your conclusions about God and I really don't see how you reach them in your IF/THEN statement "If he must obey something or cease to be God, then he is neither omnipotent nor truly eternal. ". We could go the rounds on this but this argument has been hashed out time and again and really goes into defining terms...agreeing what those terms mean (or not) and agreeing to disagree. I think you have seen other LDS explain this before as I have seen it explained as well (I'm guessing you still don't agree). I think we'll be more productive just sticking to the Bible questions.

Now with exaltation do you not see that in the Bible? Us becoming "joint-heirs with Christ"? The interesting thing I find is that the "deeper" doctrines that people attack us for all come from the Bible. You seemed to forget to address the Talents parable that Christ spoke of or the degrees of resurrection spoken by Paul (and more examples from the Bible if you'd like me to point them out) which makes Heaven and Hell not so black and white but if you disagree what is the appeal of that structure and how do you rule out the gradients?

That's why I want to understand what you think we would do then in heaven?

The grace of Christ is the only way we achieve heaven and yes beyond that I believe we will be comfortable where we are placed according to what we did with the knowledge (Talents) he gave us. Joseph just didn't read some words it is all throughout the Bible. But say we just read one phrase about being joint-heirs with Christ...what does that mean to you?

You compare the gifts Christ is offering to us if we follow Him as what Satan dangled in front of Jesus. They are completely opposite. Satan can only offer worldly things while Christ offers everything of an eternal nature if only we Love Him. Now what Loving Him means seems to take different roles in different faiths. Some do what the Bible says and follow "If ye Love me keep my commandments" and do so with a heart truly accepting his Grace and doing their best, while others seem to find shortcuts being selective (or misinterpreting) from many of Paul's writings and only using their mouths. And there we have confusion again unless there is a common denominator all can rely on...and that is revelation from God via the medium of the Holy Spirit.

Man... this may sound so one-sided but I really want to understand how you reach your conclusions on the things in the Bible we've been discussing instead of hearing the arguments against Mormon doctrine from D&C, King Follet Discourse and so forth. I really think I have heard them all (actually hope to hear something new but the same things seem to get regurgitated over and over again with plenty of sites like fairmormon.org that will address them for you (and if they don't fully address it then let me know where you think their argument falls short)). If it is something new I will definitely engage more to your liking but don't want to waste energy on things outside the Bible. The Bible I think is a common ground we can build on and gain better understanding of each others perspective.


Anonymous said...


1. Joint-heirs. This is the doctrine of adoption. The Bible does not say we are spirit children of God in any literal sense. We become children of God through adoption. Christ is the only "biological" child of God, and by "biological" I am not denying the virgin birth, I am just piggybacking on an analogy Paul uses. Christ is the Son of the King. We are the servants. We are NOT part of the family, thus we are NOT children. We are therefore NOT heirs. We don't naturally deserve the estate (Heaven), in other words. But we can be adopted into the family, and we are adopted into the family by believing on the name of the Son. Then, and only then, do we become children of God.

2. Degrees of Resurrection.

Again, stick only with the Bible. Joseph Smith made a most egregious mistake when he invented the world Telestial to go along with the KJV's Celestial and Terrestrial. These words simply mean "heavenly" and "earthly." They are not referring at all to degrees of glory in the afterlife. We can be sure of this because the glory of the Earth is Telestial in Mormon doctrine. Why isn't it "Terrestrial?" Terrestrial means "of the earth?"

A prime example of the bumbling ways of Joseph Smith.

Anyway, so Celestial and Terrestrial are only referring to things heavenly and things earthly. Paul is setting up groups of pairs. The reason he does this is because the question he is asked is "How do bodies resurrect and what will they look like?" Before/After.

So Paul is answering a very specific question (vs 35). And his answer is this: when you plant a seed, the seed dies, but out of it springs something new. What springs out of the seed is dependent upon what type of seed it is. Barley seeds produce barley. Wheat seeds produce wheat. Etc. etc.

So it is with flesh. There are humans, there are animals, there are fish, there are birds. The implication is that if we are humans, we will be raised with a body that is unique to humans. If we are fish, we are raised with a body unique to fish, etc, etc.

He goes on to say that there are heavenly bodies and there are earthly bodies. I believe what he may be saying here is that just as on earth there are different types of bodies, there are different types of bodies in the heavenly realm also. There is a sun, there is a moon, there are stars. Paul was a believer in a complete change in the universe at the day of redemption. All things (not just human beings) will be made new. All creation will be made new. So Paul is saying just like we have fish and birds, we have suns and moons. They too will be raised into a form according to their kind.

That is one interpretation that really fits. So, he is saying that everything will be made new, in other words "resurrected." But everything starts off in corruption, but is raised in incorruption. Everything starts off natural, but is raised spiritual. Just like the first man Adam was natural first (again...no "spirit child" concept at all) and the last man Adam (Jesus Christ) was made a quickening spirit.

No three degrees of glory here. Paul is simply answering the question asked. What is our resurrected body going to be like? He is using dichotomous pairs over and over again. Seed/plant. Flesh/Spirit. Adam/Christ. Heavenly/Earthly. Corruption/Incorruption. He is so consistent with this, I truly believe the three degrees of glory interpretation has serious problems.

Anonymous said...

Part Two

There is glory of the sun. A glory of the moon. A glory of the stars.

The people who receive the glory of the moon have bodies.....terrestrial? What? They differ from the celestial as the moon differs from the sun, so they have .....terrestrial glory? Earthly glory?

The earth isn't the moon.

It is goofy! The sun, the moon, the stars...these are all celestial (of the heavens). That is what the word means. Celestial means "of the heavens." The earth is "terrestrial" meaning "of the earth."

It simply doesn't work. It is so clumsy. Because Joseph Smith was wresting the scriptures to make them say something they do not say.

Kevin Woodward said...

Great Response EBU and thanks for the time spent in replying. I followed your logic but have some questions for clarification.

1. I agree with you on the spiritual adoption that takes place when we choose to follow God and receive of his Spirit but see it as a point where we have chosen to become his again due to our sinful/carnal/corrupt nature (in which we are cut off). So I'm saying there is a symbolic aspect that we acquire when we choose to follow Him again and a literal aspect that he created our spirits as well. This doesn't take away from Christ. He is the only biological Son of the Father (Spirit and Body). I also reference Psalms 82:6 (which even Christ spoke of) Ye are gods and all of you are children of the most High. So even if you say we are adopted does that mean you believe we only receive a partial inheritance and not a full inheritance?

Heir to me signifies we receive the full inheritance and coupled with Galatians 4:7 "Wherefore thou art no more a servant, but a son; and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ" and Revelations 3:21 "To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne." A throne for inheritance signifies more than just a bodily redemption but to receive all of the Father through Christ. Are you weary of this thinking taking away from God in some way? I don't see this as taking away from Heavenly Father but only adding more Glory to him.

2. Totally follow your thinking here. Thank you for being so clear here but just one item to clarify. You're saying of the Celestial Bodies (with the degrees of Glory of Sun, Moon and Stars) that we (humans) will be resurrected to the Glory of the Sun and birds and animals and other life forms are resurrected to the glories of the Moon and Stars?

Anonymous said...


I have a hard time seeing that one passage in Psalms and extrapolating from that the doctrine that we become a God, that we will populate an earth, and that we will have spirit children that perpetuate the species of the Gods.

You asked me to stop referring to the D&C and the King Follett sermon and only deal with what is in the Bible. If you play by the same rules, you are at a great disadvantage. All you have is Psalms 82:6. All you have is some rather poetic language in Galatians, which I grant does a fine job of supporting the concept of eternal progression. But in my opinion, it only supports the idea of eternal progression if you've already accepted the doctrine of eternal progression that Joseph Smith taught. Alone, to me, Galatians is not talking about exaltation in the sense that Mormon doctrine teaches it. It certainly isn't presenting exaltation the way that D&C 132 presents it.

Galatians may have poetic language about being an heir and sitting on God's throne, but Galatians also has language that makes mince-meat of the Joseph Smith's doctrine of laws found in D&C 88. He states in verses 34-39 that it is law that preserves, protects, sanctifies, and justifies. It is precisely this kind of doctrine that Paul is contending with in Galatians. He says that if there had been a law given that could've given life, righteousness would've come by the law. He isn't talking only about the Law of Moses. He is talking about law, period. If a law COULD HAVE been given that would give life, then righteousness would have come by that law. But there is no law that can bring life.

But Joseph Smith teaches a different gospel here. All kingdoms have a law. And the law must be lived. It is what preserves, protects, and sanctifies. Without obedience to the conditions of the law, no flesh is justified.

So you may score a few points (I'm not counting) in Galatians when Paul talks about being an heir of God. But in my opinion, the entire book of Galatians undercuts Mormon doctrine before it even gets started.

As for your question regarding the glory of the sun. I am not saying the glory of the sun is a degree of resurrection at all. Humans will be resurrected with perfect human bodies. Fish with perfect fish bodies. Human glory is different from fish glory. Likewise in the heavens, as it is on earth, there are different bodies of differing glory. I don't see Paul using the sun, moon, and stars as analogies for degrees of human glory in the resurrection.

Anonymous said...

Anyway, Psalms 82:6 still doesn't teach the doctrine that human beings are ALL children of God. Especially not when you take a look at Christ's commentary on it in John. He says that those who are being called "gods" are those to whom the word of the Lord came. He is speaking of the Jews, the chosen people. Not of the entire human race. In the Old Covenant, the Jewish people were the children of God by the old covenant. In the New Covenant, this promise and blessing is available to all who believe in the name of Christ, the mediator of the New Covenant.

Regardless, neither Psalms 82 nor Christ's quotation of it in John can really be called in to support the doctrine of exaltation and eternal progression. In Psalms, the context is the wickedness of those who are supposed to be the stewards of the word of God. It is saying that despite this blessing and privilege, it will not spare them, for they may be gods, but they will die like men. Do you really think the Psalmist has eternal progression on his mind when he wrote this?

In John, the Pharisees are pressing Jesus, trying to just get him to come out and declare himself to be God. So, Jesus says, "What are you getting so uptight for when I suggest I am God? Your law says to those whom the word of God came, "Ye are all gods," so why are you giving the one who has been sanctified and sent from the Father so much grief when he says that he is the Son of God?"

Those who want to use these scriptures to support Mormon doctrine are proof-texting. It is embarrassing. I say this because not too many years ago, I fell for these gross and ill-informed misrepresentations of Bible passages. I am ashamed that it took me 38 years to finally open up the Bible for myself and read it alone.

James Anglin said...

Episcopalians are famously fuzzy; but accepting Mormon baptism is a little unusual, I think, because Episcopalians/Anglicans are normally pretty keen on the Trinity. It's very Episcopalian to pick something really mysterious to be conservative about. Baptism 'In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit' is considered important, and Anglicans normally do refuse to re-baptize anyone who has received Trinitarian baptism in any denomination, because their one baptism is considered valid; but Mormon tritheism is not usually considered to count as that. This is a church that is proud to consecrate female bishops, and openly gay bishops; but a mysterious point of theology is still a line in the sand. Most of the time, anyway.

I'm that kind of Anglican, myself, in fact; so my interpretation may be biased.

Kevin Woodward said...


Thanks for clarifying for me on your view of the degrees of glory.

As for Psalms 82:6 I still see that as another reason to justify the divinity capable within us with God making it so. I also in particular like Hebrews 12:9 "Furthermore we have had fathers of our flesh which corrected us, and we gave them reverence: shall we not much rather be in subjection unto the Father of spirits, and live?". I see more in the scriptures throughout that talk more than just a symbolic Father/Children relationship but that he really is the Father of our spirits but I guess can understand where you stick to just a symbolic sense. And I can see where you don't agree with every item in D&C for exaltation but if he really is the Father of our Spirits and we achieve Eternal Life through Jesus Christ what is our limitation to be everything our Father in Heaven is with a view of eternity before us?

What is life eternal for us in your perspective (what do you think we'll be doing in the eternities)?

I read Galatians again to see if I could grasp Paul talking about anything but the Law of Moses and could not see it so far as chapter 1-5 was concerned (so that my be our split there). Every chapter of Galatians 1-5 Paul kept talking about the Law of Moses with analogies and references throughout and then in Chapter 6 he starts talking about the Law of Christ and following that. Now that sounds like a law that must be followed and see that as the Law you're talking about in D&C. You state, "But there is no law that can bring life." I think you're right if you're talking pre-Christ. I think Paul was really talking that before Christ came there was no Law that could do this...but after Christ came his new Law made this possible after completing his Mission.

Thanks and sorry for the delay (had a Father/Son camp-out and survived everything but the rocks in my back last night).

Anonymous said...

Well, what is the law of Christ exactly? James calls it the "law of liberty." He differentiates between the "royal law" and the "law of liberty." He says under the Royal Law, meaning the Law of Moses, you would do well if you loved your neighbor as yourself, but if you failed to keep the entirety of the law, you were guilty of breaking all of it. The Law of Liberty on the other hand is that we'll receive mercy to the extent that we are merciful. (In other words, love).

Paul also says that the Law of Moses required exact obedience. The law was a curse.

John speaks extensively in his epistle about keeping the commandments of Christ. What are the commandments of Christ? Love one another. All of the law is fulfilled in that one commandment. He says it himself!

I love what he says in his second epistle. Basically, he says, I don't write a new commandment, but that which we heard from the beginning: love one another. This is love: that we walk after his commandments. This is his commandment: that which we had from the beginning (love one another.) Get it?! It is amazing. Love one another. What is love: Keeping the commandments. What is the commandment? Love one another.

It is quite clear. The Law of Christ is not a series of rituals and ordinances. It is love.

Considering James's words about the Royal Law requiring exact obedience or condemnation, what do you make of the temple ceremony, when after you have covenanted to take upon yourself laws, Satan looks you in the eye and tells you if you fail to live up to all you covenant, you will be in his power? Doesn't that sound like you are being placed back under the condemnation of an Old Testament-style Royal law? It sure does to me. It sounds like the temple places you back under the curse of a law.

Kevin Woodward said...

I wish we all could fully understand Christ's love for us and live it as he did. This world would certainly be a different place. If we don't have love toward God and our neighbor everything else we do avails us nothing. I agree this is the ultimate commandment to follow.

That being said...Christ also stated, "Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God." He also said, "Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, ye have no life in you. Whoso eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, hath eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day."

Here we have two commandments of baptism and the sacrament...two covenants if you will. These are laws given to us by Him and required to follow...if I don't is there a consequence?

Now if I have done these and don't have the love in my heart Christ asked me to have then of course they don't profit me at all. But He did ask me to do them. I will especially partake in the sacrament ordinance/covenant because I fall short every day of what I'm required to do but I love Him and am trying to love as He asked me to. So I renew all my covenants with Him when I partake of it (not just Baptism but my Temple covenants as well). My Temple covenants are another way He shows me He loves me and another way I can show that I love Him.

The Temple also shows me how I can love my neighbor (past and present). I can perform ordinances for those that have passed on and did not have the chance to perform something they would have done if given the chance (if you don't agree with the endowment fine but baptism?). It allows them to follow the requirement Jesus stated of being born of water and of the spirit. Is there any other faith practicing this act of love for those gone before? I believe it fulfills the prophecy of "And he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers, lest I come and smite the earth with a curse.". I am interested in your reading on this or is this yet to be fulfilled in your mind?

Also if we don't keep the covenant of baptism and the sacrament are we in Satan's power/influence? I would definitely say so. Though ultimately as you stated without keeping the Law of Love we break everything underneath it. And that also puts us under Satan's influence. It is so critical we follow the Law of Christ and I sum it up that if we do we will be empowered by Him to do anything he needs us to do since "perfect love casteth out fear".

Thanks again for this discussion. I do have a lot of respect for what you have been sharing with me.


Anonymous said...


We could go back and forth like this for a long time. I am certainly game. Perhaps Jeff's blog isn't the right place for it.

But to address a few things your just wrote. The scriptures in Malachi about the turning of the hearts...if the LDS church did not tell you so, you would never have taken these scriptures to indicate that that there are sacred rituals that need to be performed in temples in order to unite the entire human race together. Never. But, it makes sense to you because, most likely, you were born and raised in the church and have been told that this is what it means all your life.

But this meaning is not at all obvious based upon what Malachi says. Not in the least.

Jesus says to eat his flesh and drink his blood. Do you believe in transubstantiation then? No, you don't. This is symbolic.

Look at what it says. If you eat and drink, you HAVE eternal life. It doesn't say you might get eternal life if you behave yourself and perform the correct rituals. It says that if you eat and drink you have eternal life. You will be raised up.

So, does that mean all I need to do is partake of communion and it is a done deal?

Of course not. Jesus can't be referring to the sacrament here, because literally eating and drinking doesn't raise anyone up. He is speaking about something very deep.

Rituals have power in that they remind us of deeper truths. But they have not power to save us or redeem us. But in Mormonism, you cannot be saved without them. So, therefore, the belief is that they do have power to save.

Same thing when he says we need to be born of water and Spirit. Baptism and the Laying on of hands doesn't in themselves guarantee anyone a place in the kingdom of God. So he can't be speaking literally here, either.

Jesus is saying exactly what he is saying. If you truly believe in him, are born again, eat of his flesh and drink of his blood, you are saved, redeemed.

He is the one who makes the covenant. Not us. God made a covenant with Abraham. Abraham didn't make it with God. God made a covenant with the Children of Israel. They didn't make a covenant with God. And God made the covenant with us through Christ. We don't make covenants with God. If we do, we are damned, because we are not faithful to our word. If you truly made a covenant, Kevin, did you make a promise you cannot keep?

Of course you did. Your covenants and your renewing of these covenants makes you a liar. You are condemned by these covenants, not saved. Jesus told us not to make oaths.

Only God is faithful to his word. And we have his promise that we are redeemed through the blood of the lamb. When you realize what this means, you are born again. And when you are born again, you are redeemed. It goes hand in hand.

Kevin Woodward said...

You really don't see covenants/oaths being made with God by others in the scriptures? Understood. I guess you already understand that we interpret what Jesus said about our communications being yay or nay was with our fellow man but between God we are allowed those solemn oaths. Even Paul does on occasion.

As for baptism and the sacrament...of course these don't save us as only Christ can but they are rituals he has required of us per his words. The eating of flesh and blood is symbolic but the act of the ritual is actually performed. Baptism by water and spirit has symbolic significance but the ritual is literally done just as he was baptized to show us the way.

But you're saying they are not required?

You say that we Mormons can't be saved without them that is correct but in your words it still doesn't guarantee we will be saved. You're making an assumption that we are saved just for doing them. That never is the case.

Now with the prophecy in Malachi this goes full circle to what we think prophets and revelation is for. Amos 3:7 "Surely the Lord God will do nothing, but he revealeth his secret unto his servants the prophets." Did I accept what this blindly meant in my youth in the Church. Sure did. But as I come of age to test the teachings I have received and able to practice it with the Spirit witnessing to me of its Truth then it suddenly becomes something more than just a man's word. You say that only Mormon's see this pattern but I really think you just are arguing over semantics, the principle is still the same. Because following the Lord's statement of "Ask and ye shall receive" basically means we are to ask for anything we truly need to understand or know and the power of the Holy Ghost will bring that answer to us. I know from here we disagree on how those answers can get complicated and such but hoped I clarified my position.

Anonymous said...

We share two fundamentally different views about religion. I follow Christ. You follow Christ. But I believe we can follow Christ by being next in line. You believe that we should follow Christ by following the 15 men who claim to be following Christ. You cannot have a personal relationship with someone if you have 15 other people standing in your way telling you what kind of a relationship you are permitted to have with that person.

I know, having been a Mormon myself for 38 years, the confidence to be gained from being in the "one true church" which promises health, strength, power, and authority. You are convinced that you are right because you have been told for a very long time and from a very young age that you are right. It is hard (and terribly frightening) to be where you are and even have to begin to consider the possibility that you may be wrong. Fear is such an essential part of the Mormon scheme. It is a powerful motivational tool. But it is being used against you to convince you to serve the needs and wishes of an organization. You even promise to give everything to it. Not to God. But to the organization.

Right now, I imagine, it all works for you. You are probably a fairly successful person. Life is probably relatively comfortable. You probably attribute a lot of this to the fact that your religion has given you resources and skills and abilities to be successful. It does. I know it does. I can get up in front of any audience and speak without a fear, even if I am not prepared. That is an essential skill for a college instructor like me. The church has given me this skill. The church gives us leadership opportunities from young ages that produces successful people.

You have great family around you. Friends. Community. It is all working out just right. No doubt you have your share of trials, too. We all do. I am not trying to downplay the difficulties you no doubt face in your life. I don't know you, so I am generalizing. Probably a bad idea.

But I know the general lifestyle of the middle-aged American Mormon male. It isn't all that bad. Not bad at all.

Someday, for whatever reason, it might stop working out for you. It might start to get a little uncomfortable. And it will start to get really dark, confusing, and scary. They've set you up for this. They've built up this "temple" but that is as far as they can go. They don't have anything for you when God comes into your life and starts to tear this temple down. They just start saying things like "doubt your doubts," or "obey until you believe" or "stay in the boat."

Christ isn't in the boat. He isn't there. When they tell you to stay in the boat, it isn't for your protection. It is for their survival. I know there is probably nothing that sounds more audacious to a Mormon than to be told by an ex-Mormon to find the true and living Christ. But that is what I am saying.

If you have already found Him, someday you may find out that the Church really had nothing to do with it. If you haven't found Him yet, the Church can't reveal Him to you.

Kevin Woodward said...

Thanks for sharing your views with me EBU. It seems we both had very different experiences growing up in the church and the way we viewed the leadership but I am happy you find yourself closer to Christ at this time in your life. I look forward to reading your responses to future articles and appreciate you keep us "comfortable" Mormons thinking outside the box.