What’s This Mormon Thing?

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Posts Tagged ‘Religion’

1 Nephi 14:9 – The Great and Abominable Church- Which One Is It?

Posted by JLFuller on January 24, 2009

Is there one evil and corrupt church that is the church of the devil and which one do Mormons think it is? The Book of Mormon passage (1st Nephi 14: 9) that many misunderstand and from which many people (a few Mormons too) think seperates Mormons from everyone else really provides a clearer understanding of this doctrine.  It says Behold that great and abominable church, which is the mother of abominations, whose founder is the devil.” Some cite comments made by a few very early church members and leaders, right after the church was founded, as supporting the notion that this is one particular church. They were in error. The LDS Church does not teach and does not believe that any other established church as we know them is the Great and Abominable Church.  Rather we believe the “church” spoken of is all the people who fight against God. The next verse helps to clarify. 

Verse 10 continues. ” Behold there are save two churches only; the one is the church of the Lamb of God, and the other is the church of the devil; wherefore, whoso belongeth not to the church of the Lamb of God belongeth to that great church, which is the mother of abominations; and she is the whore of all the earth.I suppose some used this verse to suggest that there are only two players – Mormons and everyone else. But that just isn’t so and never has been.  

Verse 12 further identifies who the players are. “I beheld the church of the Lamb of God, and its numbers were few, because of the wickedness and abominations of the whore who sat upon many waters; nevertheless, I beheld that the church of the Lamb, who were the saints of God, were also upon all the face of the earth; and their dominions upon the face of the earth were small, because of the wickedness of the great whore whom I saw.” 

Just as is said, the number of the people in God’s church is few and they are on all the face of the earth. We interpret that as meaning members of God’s Church are all those that seek after Him and seek to have Him guide their lives. They are many good people who abide by and seek to live their lives according to God’s will in whatever light that has been given them. These can be and are people in every religious denomination. The others, members of the Great and Abominable Church, are those who corrupt, persecute, defame, malign and abuse people with whom they disagree and over whom they seek advantage or dominion. They fight against godliness. They seek to destroy and enslave. In short, they seek the things of this world and reject God.  

We believe  the gospel has always been on the earth, But it was only in its fullness for certain periods of time and then only according to how much the people could accept and live. We believe that to hear, know and understand the gospel but not live it, or abide by it, results in condemnation. In many cases, giving the people everything would just set them up to fail. So as an act of a loving father, God only allowed as much as the people could live.  But it would have been available if the people were ready for it. 

The advent of Jesus Christ restored the full gospel to the earth once again. But because of the wickedness of the people, and the Great and Abominable church, it was lost when the last apostle died. The record of the entire gospel – which we know was under attack even during the time of Christ and the Apostles – was further attacked afterward. Eventually, much of the record of the Gospel was removed or distorted and only a part of it remains in the traditional canon today. God had said it would happen but that He would restore it in the end times. The Book of Mormon is that restored Gospel. It was being kept by a separate group of God’s people on the American continent.   

Within the group of people identified in Nephi as those who are not members of the Great and Abominable Church, you find the Mormons. While we were still in our pre-mortal life, we took upon ourselves the obligation to take this message to the rest of the world. We understand and accept that some will find a certain resonance with what we claim and will want to learn more. Others, for various reasons, will not.  That doesn’t make them part of the other group though. They may have hardened their hearts and been swayed by the craftiness of men. It is expected.

All people learn and are ready to receive in their own time. It may mean those who reject the message in this life will learn of the fullness of the gospel after they pass over to the other side where they will be taught by Christ’s missionaries as it says in John 5:25. Verily, verily, I say unto you, the hour is coming, and now is, when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God: and they that hear shall live.”

So, we Mormons are very much a part of the Church of the Lamb of God just as Methodists, Pentecostals, Baptists, Catholics and Jews and all the other good and godly people of the earth. We also accept that membership in any one church or religious group does not exclude a person from membership in the Great and Abominable Church too. Now I understand some people are going say this is too black and white and that there are many shades of gray. That is true. There are many interpretations of scripture that lead to long and deep discussions. But for a short hand version of who Mormons are and how we see ourselves fitting into the world, this I think works – for now.  I invite others to put a finer point on my comments if they wish to do so. I am coachable. 

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The Journal of Discourses – Not an Authorized Source of Mormon Doctrine

Posted by JLFuller on January 12, 2009

Just about everyone who questions LDS doctrine cites the JoD as an authorized source of true Mormon doctrine but is it a reliable source of current Mormon beliefs and practices? No, it is not. So I suggest that people who quote from it refrain from saying it is.  If it is important enough for you to comment on, check with an authoritative organ of the Church for an authentic answer to your questions or response to a statement before you publish what you think we believe.  We understand people make mistakes. We all do. Certainly I err and have to revisit something I said to clarify. But deliberately and knowingly misinforming others is not a mistake.  Don’t get caught up in bearing false witness. 

So why isn’t it authoritative? The JoD was written and printed in Great Britian between 1854 and 1886.  According to the Encyclopedia of Mormonism, a MacMillian publication edited by religion professors at BYU and some others, “It served as the printed word of the LDS Church for members who had no access to the Deseret News in Salt Lake City. It most often published sermons of Church leaders which were not always considered to be official statements of doctrine.”  At best it is an historic resource which often contains authorized doctrine of the times, but not always. 

Former BYU Religion Department Dean Dr. Robert Millet  presented a paper in 2004 to the faculty on Church doctrine. In it he again re-iterated how offical doctrine is determined. In his presentation he said   “…let me affirm at the outset that I understand implicitly that the right and authority to declare, interpret, and clarify doctrine rest with living apostles and prophets.” Dr. Millet re-affirmned what LDS members have been told for decades and in fact longer than that.  The prophet and the Twelve, when acting in concert, are the sole source of doctrine. Other members have no authority to declare what doctrine is. I should emphasize the living part of his statement.  There are no other authoritative sources. Our recently departed President and prophet, Gorden B. Hinckley said that a living prophet was better than a dead one, and so it is.

Authoritative sources are Church published teaching resources such as manuals and other printed documents, pamphlets, letters from the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve, presentations made at semi annual Conference or statements or proclamations issued by the Church. There are many highly reliable sources to which one can turn to report on Church doctrine such as Church magazines, official Church organ publications and schools such as BYU, presentations by individual General Authorities and other Church leaders. However, unless the message presented originates from one of the sources of authorized doctrine, it cannot be considered authentic. That means personal opinions don’t count even if they come from a high ranking leader. I encourage readers to read Dr. Millet’s paper and read his footnotes as a means of confirming what he said. 

Now, so I don’t mix messages here, counsel from our leaders is important. Guidance from our bishops, stake and branch presidents and others is intended to aid us in understanding gospel principles. We believe in taking their guidance and using it as an aid in our lives. When they provide us with guidance they will refer us to where their guidance comes from. We as members and they as leaders note, or should note,  when we state our opinions or those of others and if our message is not clear we hasten to clarify. Teachers are provided with training and teaching aids and manuals along with authoritative sources, from which their message is taken. In all cases, presenters of the message should have spoken with the aid and presense of The Holy Ghost after sincere prayer and supplication to the Lord. We as receivers of their message are admonished to pray for confirmation by the Holy Ghost of what is  said.

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What if Mormons are right and Catholics and Protestants wrong?

Posted by JLFuller on January 9, 2009

Eamonn McCann, an Irish writer, writes in the Belfast Telegraph in August 2008, concerning the Catholic response to The Church of Jesus Christ’s of Latter Day Saints’ doctrine of baptism for the dead. The LDS Church has sought the baptism and other records owned by the Catholic Church to use in doing this vicarious work. This practice and discussion has drawn a wave of comments from Catholics and non-Catholics alike. In the article, McCann postulates that baptising babies makes less sense than baptising the dead. Indeeed, the baby is oblivious to the ordinance and requires an adult to act as mouth accepting the ordinance and making lifetime commitments in his stead. The infant has a lifetime to  learn about the complex belief system and then make up his mind as to whether he believes it or not and wishes to continue as a Catholic. The dead however are in a far different situation. I think the reader will find this an interesting article.

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Pastoral Behavior – Not Theology

Posted by JLFuller on August 25, 2008

I am legitimately criticized for having a less than respectful opinion of a major part of traditional Christianity’s pastors. I have formed my opinion based on their behavior not their theology. In my mind, I have a picture of a high school graduate who couldn’t get accepted into a real four year college where he would be taught how to think and had to settle on the trade school version called bible college where he was taught only what to think. My opinion is based on my experience with many such people. I was a case officer in a government agency and interacted professionally with many of these folks. I have to say it was a mixed bag of experiences and some left me with a very distasteful opinion of their abilities.

 

These less than well educated leaders in the traditional Christian, (read Evangelical) community are the people who created the bulk of anti-Mormon sentiments extant. It takes only a little effort to find out what Mormons actually believe but yet they continue to regurgitate the old, lame, uninformed pap that was thrown at us by their grandfathers. I have said that if these people are bound and determined to hate us anyway they should at least get our theology and practices right. It’s kind of like the cop who tells the father of the perpetrator he arrested that if he is going to sue make sure he gets the name right.

 

Oddly enough, these same denominations are the churches of the slave owners of the Old South, modern segregationists and supporters of the Ku Klux Klan. They have a visceral reaction to Mormons, Jews, Indians, Catholics and others they perceive as undesirables. The Southern Baptists for example, have a laundry list of churches that are OK to hate. They actually teach this crap from the pulpit. They have an online book store with 26 pages of hate filled derogatory offerings for sale to their adherents.  It is unsettling to me as an American that so many look to these people for leadership. You will notice that none of what I said was theological in nature but rather are comments on officially sanctioned behaviors.

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“Mormon Prophets are False” Says the Bible. Really? Lets See…

Posted by JLFuller on August 23, 2008

 Luke 16:16 -“There is no need for prophets after John”.  This has been used  by critics of  LDS theology to prove that there was an end to the need for prophets and therefore modern Mormon prophets are false. The KGV version of the passage says

“The law and the prophets were until John: since that time the kingdom of God is preached, and every man presseth into it.” Luke 16:16. 

What they don’t tell you is that the John talked about is John The Baptist. Matthew 11:12-13 corrects the critics claims.

12 And from the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffereth violence, and the violent take it by force. 13 For all the prophets and the law prophesied until John.

The New Centry Version makes it a bit clearer.

12 Since the time John the Baptist came until now, the kingdom of heaven has been going forward in strength, and people have been trying to take it by force.13 All the prophets and the law of Moses told about what would happen until the time John came.”

So what is The Law and The Prophets talked about in this passage? If our critics are going to use the terms as proof of our falseness they should at least know what the passage says. The Law is a book. Galations 3:10 talks about it.

10 For as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse: for it is written, Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them.

The Prophets is a book too. Acts 7:42 tells a bit of it.

42 Then God turned, and gave them up to worship the host of heaven; as it is written in the book of the prophets, O ye house of Israel, have ye offered to me slain beasts and sacrifices by the space of forty years in the wilderness?

The Law and The Prophets are scriptures read in the synagogue.

“And beginning at Moses and all the prophets, he expounded unto them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself.” (Luke 24:27)

“The Law and The Prophets are two of the three main groups of Jewish scriptures, which over time Christians called the “Old Testament,” and Jews called the “Tanakh” (a.k.a. the Hebrew Bible). The Hebrew Bible is divided into three groups of books: the Law, the Prophets, and the Writings. During the time of Christ, the third group or division was called “the psalms:  (Raymond Woodworth, www.lightplanet.com)”

 

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Does Behavior Matter? More Hate Filled Evangelicals

Posted by JLFuller on August 19, 2008

For some time now, there have been groups of anti-Mormons who parade in front of the Temple, the Conference Center at conference time and protest at the dedication of Church buildings around the country. They engage in highly confrontational, in-your-face tactics at our events and claim they are just informational. OK, I accept they have doctrinal differences with The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. They say they are only interested in informing the LDS membership and others of errors they perceive in our Church and believe their methods are justified. Apparently they think they have some role in deciding what others are allowed believe. In any event, I fail to see how such confrontations can do anything but alienate others. Then again I don’t think they intend to bridge any divides. 

 

One such group, Mormon Research Ministries, says they consider the term anti-Mormon  offense and liken it to a racial slur. Evidently they see themselves as some kind of victim. But  thier verbal violence and in-your-face confrontations make a mockery of legitimate victims of religious persecution. They prefer the term critic as though they were providing peer reviewed commentaries. I suggest anyone who observes this group’s behavior will conclude the term anti-Mormon fits – regardless of what they want us to believe.

 

This confrontation tactic is not a new strategy. It is in fact an old one. We have seen it elsewhere such as anti-war demonstrations as well as by such groups as NOW, Code Pink, the Black Panther Party, The Nation of Islam and others. Even the American Nazi Party used this tactic in their 1977 confrontation of Jewish survivors of the Holocaust. So both radical ends of the spectrum have found the tactic useful. Groups in the mainstream find other more constructive ways to express opinion and differences with others.

 

Recently at the Mormon Miracle Pageant event in Manti, Utah, anti-Mormon women dressed up as Joseph Smith’s wives and paraded in front of attendees as a way of expressing their views of Joseph Smith and his polygamist beliefs. I can’t comment on the accuracy of what they attempted to convey and I suggest they can’t either. I don’t think any one knows the whole story. To this writer it appears MRM had a nickels worth of opinion and wanted us to believe it was a dollars worth of fact. MRM writer Aaron Shafovaloff told me the resource they used was Todd Compton’s In Sacred Loneliness although in reading Compton I found he denounces the very methods MRM uses.

 

Compton says “… I also dislike Mormon history that systematically censors out anything “positive.” Mormon history is filled with wonderful people who have performed authentically Christ like actions. There are many stories of heroism and sacrifice. While some church leaders have been authoritarian and controlling others have been warm and inclusive. Anyone who continually hammers on only the negative is guilty of censorship and cover up, just as is the person who censors out the negative. Both write unrealistic and unbelievable history. Furthermore, the person who includes only the negative can be guilty of sensationalism and the low moral atmosphere of yellow journalism.”   www.lds-mormon.com/compton.

 

I don’t know if the message MRM wants to convey holds water or not or how much is accurate and how much is contrived or taken out of context. I have doubts about the accuracy because MRM does not provide the other side which is a sign their intent was just to spread more propaganda. In fact, when it comes to LDS theology and history we  see only negative comments and articles coming from MRM. So when they present a piece I have serious doubts about its legitimacy. They certainly are not balanced and, to my way of thinking, are not credible. I find it too hard to get past their behavior to seriously consider what they say. I think a lot of people are like me. It certainly is not in keeping with the Savior’s way of treating other people. Mormons believe creating conflict is Satan’s way and that Christ rejects it.

 

But, right or wrong, there they were. Their method was intended to be provocative and so it was. As I read the reports of the event and saw the photos taken, I couldn’t help but think that these were likely fine people. But a lot of fine people are poorly led. The issue I take with them is not their doctrine or belief about Joseph Smith, Brigham Young or anyone else. I object to the blatantly offense manner they choose to express themselves and their beliefs. Let them believe what they will. But how do attendees protect themselves from these openly hostile behaviors? This was a family event with small children, elderly and invited guests to a beautiful, spiritual event intended to praise God and honor Mormon forbearers.

 

MRM’s blog MormonCoffee.com has pictures and commentary of the event.  Shafovaloff reports on the event if readers care to follow this link – www.blog.mrm.org. As in many of these staged events the outcome is often predicted in advance to have been a “roaring success” according to those who put it on. However those not connected with the event often have a different view. I wonder if it is even worth the effort. It certainly rallies the troops, and I suppose such expressions raise money and keep some people’s interest up.  But isn’t that like preaching to the choir? What kind of person is impressed with behavior like this?

 

Nation of Islam’s (Lewis Farrakhan) Million Man March of a few years ago claimed to have over a million participants. But the National Park Service who monitored and licensed the event reported a significantly smaller number of less than half that. In Farrakhan’s case success was defined according to someone’s preference rather than the actual outcome. Who knows whether this MRM event was a success? I suppose it depends on how you define success and who you think was listening.

 

All this brings me to the point I try to make on this blog and wherever I comment or participate in a discussion. I ask if we are getting closer or farther apart? Does the discussion lead us to becoming more Christ-like? So I ask it here too. In the case of the Manti event, is the divide between LDS and the protesters narrower or wider and whose interest does it benefit, Satan’s or Christ’s. 

 

I have offered Shafovaloff the chance to say what he wants in response to my piece. In fact I sent him a draft of what I said here so he would know what to respond to. I think that is only fair given I mentioned him and his site by name. In the past, others have claimed that the end justifies the means. They believe they have a duty to educate unknowing Mormons about some unsavory behaviors, as they see them, and that such behaviors are indicative of the falseness of our religion. They think Mormons are oblivious to the failings of the people who preceded us. We are not. When it comes to Joseph and Brigham, I don’t think we have the whole story. In fact I am sure we don’t. We don’t know enough to judge. I don’t know and I am OK with it until someone with gravitas and says otherwise. I want to hear the other side before I draw conclusions. Until then, these stories are only half-told.

 

So, in answer to my question, does behavior matter? Of course it does. There is a threshold which legitimate discourse must meet to be considered worthy of discussion. That is, participants must respect the premise enough to consider all sides of a question and practice a modicum of restraint in arriving at conclusions. MRM’s behavior is analogous to inviting oneself over a colleague’s home and forcing themselves verbally upon him. Honest, responsible people do not behave this way – or so it seems to me.

 

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The Book of Abraham – The Tired Old Anti-Mormon Myth

Posted by JLFuller on August 17, 2008

Commenter’s on LDS theology have for decades used the same old tired arguments when discussing Mormons. Even though the Church has repeatedly responded to them, every new religious “thinker” drags up these poor old dogs and beats them again. I always thought one stopped kicking the dog when your leg gets tired – but not so this new batch. I suppose they hear it from the pulpit in some churches which allows me to think the pastors of these venues have learned nothing over the years. Now I am not saying everyone has to agree with us on everything we teach or that folks can’t disagree with us. But when the same old nonsense is regurgitated time after time you have to think somebody isn’t paying attention or that somebody is copying off somebody else’s paper.  For instance, Joseph Smith as a false prophet.  Many commenters use the Egyptian papyri on which was written the Book of Abraham as an example.

The papyri were bought by Joseph in 1835 and from them he translated the B of A. Detractors have claimed that non-LDS experts in Egyptian hieroglyphics interpret the papyri differently than Joseph did thus proving Joseph a false prophet.  But it doesn’t take much research to dispel this old myth.  LDS scholar Dr. Michael Rhodes writes about it.

“First of all, none of these manuscripts of the book of Abraham is in Joseph Smith’s handwriting.  They are mostly in the handwriting of William W. Phelps, with a few short sections written by Warren Parrish. Nowhere in the documents is Joseph Smith designated as the author. Moreover, the Egyptian characters in the left hand margin were clearly written in after the English text had been written. These cannot be the working papers of a translation process. Instead, Phelps and Parrish seemed to have copied down the text of the book of Abraham and were then attempting to correlate that translation with some of the scrolls in the Church’s possession. These documents are most likely that preliminary stage of investigation and exploration the Lord prescribed in D&C 9:8 to “study it out in your mind.”

The Lord expects us to first do all we can to understand something (and in the process discover our own limitations) before we seek for direct revelation from him. This is what Phelps and Parrish were apparently doing, although their efforts were short-lived and unsuccessful. In fact these same men shortly after this began to turn away from the Prophet Joseph and fell into apostasy. If they had been parties to some fraudulent process of producing the book of Abraham, they would surely have denounced Joseph Smith for this, but they never did.” (Rhodes 1992)

So, in a very real way the evidence of the papyri is tainted. There is nothing to indicate they were the ones Joseph used. But still, this is brought up as an example of Joseph’s fallibility. You can read the rest of the piece here http://farms.byu.edu/publications/review/?vol=4&num=1&id=93.

 

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Mormons Who Go Bad – Loosing one’s Faith

Posted by JLFuller on August 10, 2008

In a bishops interview we are asked if we are living the principles of the Gospel. That is, praying, paying a full tithing, attending our meetings, living a chaste life if unmarried, observing God sanctioned sexual behavior within the bounds of marriage between one man and one woman, observing the sanctity of the Sabbath, reading the scriptures daily, regular temple worship for those with a recommend and so forth. Yet I have yet to talk with anyone who espouses the former-Mormon-turned-anti-Mormon point of view who kept the vows they made with God when they entered the waters of baptism, received confirmation and took upon themselves Temple covenants.

 

  The very manifestations of the Holy Ghost that we so regularly need are based on how well we live the promises we make to God. When we make these covenants we essentially agree to live by a higher standard than others do. We chose to rise above the normal human understanding of things and seek to understand God by changing the natural man. We acknowledge that the natural man is an enemy to God and promise to work towards being a more holy person and that we desire to be a Son of God in the biblical sense Paul talks about – that is, more Christ like. When we break our covenants we give up the right to the companionship of the Holy Ghost. In fact I suggest we regress to a point of no promise. In essence we loose our faith.

 

  We lose it for a variety of reasons but I suggest it is mostly due to sexually inappropriate behavior brought on by pornography which in turn leads to other worldly behaviors, adhering to worldly ideas and rejecting the counsel of the prophet and apostles. We kind of go our own way. One really devastating thing I see among some members is a commitment to the “intellectual honesty” meme. My reasoning is based on twenty five years experience working with dysfunctional people on a professional basis. These people got into trouble because they came to a place where they felt entitled to their behavior and believed they could get away with what ever they wanted to do. They bought off on the big lie.      

 

 The purpose in clinging tightly to our covenants is not to force people into a way of thinking but rather to open up the pathway to heavenly communication. The Gospel does not aim to dictate how to live but to make it so God can enter our lives and direct us. But all is hinged on us living the principles of the Gospel and rejecting the worldliness we see all around us. Worldliness is not normal for holy beings but it is normal for the natural man who is God’s enemy.

 

 Some are going to say that they can do all the things I mention above in any other faith. Of course others outside the Church can elevate themselves to a higher level of living and become more Christ like. But they can only go so far. No other faith has the authority to bind on earth and make it binding in heaven too. No one else can prepare people for a celestial existence. No one else has the authority of the priesthood. Only Christ has that authority and only the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints has the Gospel in its fullness. If you reject this after having made the covenants of baptism and the additional covenants found within the temple I suggest you are in deep trouble. You don’t go back to a state of just not knowing as we see in the other non-members who don’t know. You have in fact rejected God. That is different than merely not knowing Him.

 

Some say they left the Church because they found God as a member of something else. But when you examine their lives you see a completely different human being than they portray to the public. More often than not you see a public “Christian” and a worldly real person underneath. I have never found it to be otherwise. But then I have only worked with a few hundred members, former members and their families. I could be wrong. One caveat – being a member in name only does not automatically include a person in the ranks of those I talk about here.

 

So, what does all this mean? Does it mean all good Mormons should reject those who have fallen away? Should we act coolly to them and their families? Certainly not. If anything we are required to show an extra measure of love and kindness to them in hopes of welcoming them back into full fellowship. But the reality is that some of these folks can do a lot misinforming and damage to Christ and the Church. They have placed us in a precarious position. On one hand we are admonished to encourage them and even be anxious for their full fellowship. On the other hand we are encouraged to inform the misinformed of the disinformation some spread about us. And so it is my sense that the honest of heart in the former member ranks make every attempt for re-instatement into the Church. They should call upon God for His guidance and follow it. But by no means should we as members be shy about correcting the damage others inflict on the Church keeping in mind the Saviors words that doing unto the least of our brethren is like doing unto Him.  

 

 (Note: More Mormons are disciplined in the Church for illegal and inappropriate sexual behaviors and financial misdealing than any other reasons according to one source although I am not aware of any publicly available statistics to support my contention. I found that to be the case with the population I supervised as a case manager too. Disciplining means being disfellowshipped or excommunicated.)

 

 

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Solomon Spaulding, The B of Mormon – Joseph Smith was Functionally Illiterate

Posted by JLFuller on August 4, 2008

Joseph Smith Jr could not have written the B of M nor could he have used Spaulding as the basis for it. He was functionally illiterate. He didn’t have the skills. I think even most anti-Mormons gave up on that years ago – but you never know. So, just in case there are people who don’t know we landed on the moon in 1969, that Dwight D. Eisenhower is no longer president and the Soviet Union collapsed, here is a brief quote from Lance D. Chase that gives the history.   

“The Spaulding Manuscript is a fictional story about a group of Romans who, while sailing to England early in the fourth century A.D., were blown off course and landed in eastern North America. One of them kept a record of their experiences among eastern and midwestern American Indian tribes. The 175-page manuscript was first published as a 115-page monograph in 1885, some seventy years after the death of its author, Solomon Spaulding (sometimes spelled Spalding). The only known manuscript was lost from 1839 until its discovery in Honolulu, Hawaii, in 1884. It was promptly published by both the Latter-day Saints and Reorganized Latter Day Saint churches to refute the theory of some critics that it had served as an original source document for the Book of Mormon, supposedly supplied to Joseph Smith by Sidney Rigdon.” http://farms.byu.edu/publications/books/?bookid=51&chapid=445 

Anyone who has read or is otherwise familiar with the Joseph Smith Jr. story should recognize he could not have written or created a work as sophisticated as The Book of Mormon or The Pearl Of Great Price nor could he have edited the Inspired Edition of bible. And just as he could not have written the B of M he could not have used the Spaulding manuscript as the basis for the B of M. Smith was not competant to do either given with his skill level. He had what is considered today to be an inadequate education. He was, in fact, functionally illiterate. I invite readers to go to The Joseph Smith Papers Project and read some of his own hand written journals and other writings. What is presented was written almost ten years after the B of M was written – all this is after he had been tutored and was a more experienced writer – even then he never met a punctuation mark he liked. I think you will see that what I say is correct. Certainly the LDS Church has said for years that in his youth his lack of education made it impossible for him to create such a work. The implication is that he had some help. 

Some commentators have agreed. But they suggest the help he received was from his Church associates such as Martin Harris or Sidney Rigdon both of whom held responsible positions in the nascent Church. What they do not say is that both of these men left the Church over disagreements with Smith and denounced him. But neither ever renounced* their previous testimonies about where the Book of Mormon came from or that it was translated by Joseph Smith in the manner he and they always claimed. That is, the Book of Mormon was presented to Joseph by an angel of the Lord on gold and brass plates and that Joseph translated them using the methods he described. 

*I have not found any secular source claiming these men ever renounced their stories about the origins of the B of M. If anyone has such information I would like to see it. 

Go to the Oberlin College website to see what they have to say about the Spaulding Manuscript. It is in thier library.

http://www.oberlin.edu/archive/faq/spaulding_origins.html

 

 

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The Great Apostasy

Posted by JLFuller on July 26, 2008

Did the ancient Christian church devolve into an apostate religion?   
2 Thesalonians 2 says yes.
1 Now we beseech you, brethren, by the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and by our gathering together unto him,  2 That ye be not soon shaken in mind, or be troubled, neither by spirit, nor by word, nor by letter as from us, as that the day of Christ is at hand. 3 Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition;

Following the death of Jesus Christ, wicked people persecuted and killed many Church members, and other Church members drifted from the principles taught by Jesus Christ and His Apostles. The Apostles were killed and the priesthood authority —including the keys to direct and receive revelation for the Church—was taken from the earth ( 2 Thessalonians 2:1–3).  Because the Church was no longer led by priesthood authority and revelation, error crept into Church teachings.  Good people and much truth remained, but the gospel as established by Jesus Christ was lost, resulting in a period called the Great Apostasy.

This apostasy led to the formation of many churches with conflicting teachings.  Without the full gospel or the priesthood authority, people relied on human wisdom to interpret the scriptures and the principles and ordinances of the gospel of Jesus Christ.  False ideas were taught as truth, and much of the knowledge of the true character and nature of God the Father, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Ghost was lost.  The doctrines of faith in Jesus Christ, repentance, baptism and the gift of the Holy Ghost became distorted or forgotten.  Each generation inherited a state of apostasy, as people were influenced by what previous generations passed on, including changes to Christ’s gospel.  Some inspired people, such as Martin Luther and John Calvin, recognized that practices and doctrines had been changed or lost and tried to reform the churches to which they belonged.  Without the priesthood authority, however, Christ’s gospel could not be returned to its original form. 

After centuries of spiritual darkness, a restoration of truth was needed.  Under the Direction of our Heavenly Father, the gospel of Jesus Christ was restored on the earth through the Prophet  Joseph Smith.  God has promised it will never be taken from His children again. www.lds.org.

Intersted readers will want to read Bart Ehrman’s book Misquoting Jesus.  A brief synopsis can be found by following the link. Dr. Ehrman is a Professor of Religious Studies at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, and is a leading authority on the early Church and the life of Jesus. He is not LDS. 

 

Posted in Biblical searching, Christian bible, Christian Love, Mormon, Mormonism, Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments »

The Case Against Joseph Smith

Posted by JLFuller on July 23, 2008

I posted this on Dr. Bill Poole’s blog, http://hottubreligion.wordpress.com/2008/07/21/are-mormons-christians/#comment-1572 this morning but I think the subject matter is sufficently intersting that I would like to post it here too.

Bill

I have read many of your comments. I notice you tend to demonize Mormons rather than discuss theological differences. Demonizing I think plays into Satan’s hand. It drives us apart. I suggest there is a better way. We can discuss doctrine and history without the name calling and still accomplish Christ’s goals of bringing people together. Doing so raises the level of discourse and I think allows us to invite the presence of the Holy Ghost to enhance the experience.

 

The thing you seem to focus on is Joseph Smith. As a life long Mormon and I think somewhat well read, I don’t know enough about Joseph to make the leaps you and others do. Much of the information available is tainted therefore unreliable although many diaries and journals seem straightforward enough when taken en masse. There are as many people speaking on Joseph’s behalf as there are those attacking him. So as I read the record, I don’t yet clearly understand what happened let alone believe I am able to come to an honest conclusion. I acknowledge my bias, but I am not blinded by it. I can be corrected. But I have heard all the arguments pro and con and am not convinced. I doubt you can add anything I haven’t already heard or read.  Even so, given the dark side of Christianity is the base, I wonder if an individual’s personal behavior is sufficient foundation on which to postulate a theory. In other words, does it really matter?

 

When we look back on Catholicism, for example, do the excesses of the Spanish Inquisition bear on today’s Church? Does the Baptist and Presbyterian support of slavery and genocide mean we can’t look to the modern Church for leadership? Does the behavior of current pastors who support the Ku Klux Klan mean Evangelicals have no voice worth listening to? I think if we kick everybody out who has sinned or made a mess of his personal life there would be no one left. I believe in holding leadership to a higher standard of course but the evidence has to be unimpeachable too. The case against Joseph Smith does not rise to that level. When acknowledged scholars on all sides come to a mutual agreement over time I will consider the case sufficiently resolved for me too. Anything short of that is just propaganda. 

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Mormon Ministry – Just How Different?

Posted by JLFuller on July 16, 2008

Just in case there are some who read this but know nothing about Mormons, let me take minute to tell you about us and why we are not like any other Christian denominations. First, we believe in Jesus Christ, the same one as in the New Testament. We believe the bible is the word of God, that Christ died to atone for mankind’s sins and by doing so made it possible for every human being to be resurrected after death. This is the salvation we read about in the scriptures. By His sacrifice we are saved from being cast into outer darkness (eternal hell) with Satan and his followers. God has told mankind that He cannot abide sin in the least degree so in our sinful state we would not be able to live with God so what Christ did makes us eligible to attain a heavenly state. We also believe that there is nothing we can do by ourselves that merits what has been given to us so in a very real way, Christ bought us. We are His. We believe in baptism by emersion by one holding the authority to perform that ordinance. We take Holy Communion weekly, we call it the Sacrament. We believe in the laying on of hands to heal the sick and to convey priesthood authority and that marriage between a man and a woman is a Holy ordinance. I could go on. So far, you might say, Mormons are not different from most  other Christian denominations and you would be right.

What makes us different and riles most other Christian Churches, we call them historic or traditional Christians, is that we believe God restored His original Church in 1830 through a young man named Joseph Smith Jr. It was after Joseph prayed for guidance as to which church he should join, according to Joseph’s account, that he was visited by God the Father and Jesus Christ. He was told that he should join none of the churches of his day because they all had adopted creeds which were an abomination to God. In time Joseph would be given the responsibility of restoring Christ’s original Church along with the many teachings and ordinances which had been lost or removed from scripture over the centuries. Joseph would be given plates upon which were written the records of a people who had lived in the New World centuries before and that those records would testify that Jesus was the Christ and that the Holy Bible was in fact the word of God. Joseph would be able to translate them with the aid of heavenly beings and that this would be the most correct of all the scriptural works of God. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter day Saints is that Church today. We are known as Mormons after a prophet named Mormon who lived 1400 years ago. He compiled all the records of the book we call the Book of Mormon, a testament of Jesus Christ. It was Mormon’s records that were given to Joseph to translate. 

As you can image some religious people take serious exception to what Joseph said and the teachings of his new church. Many said then and say today that we are not Christian because of our view that their theology is not what Christ taught in the first century but has become infused with man’s teachings and ideas. Most churches just leave us alone but some have an active campaign against us. Some of what they say is legitimate but wrongly understood, incomplete or misinterpreted. Others are deliberate in their distortions. We, however, do not attack other churches but just proclaim the doctrine we believe was given us to preach. We are a missionary church which means we go into the community to make the message of the gospel, as we understand it, available to others. In fact we have been very successful having grown to the fourth largest church in North America. Most of our membership came from other churches so you can image how we are viewed in some circles. 

But just as we are a missionary church and seek new members, we also have strict guidelines to which members must adhere. Some members leave the church over these things. Being uncompromising rankles some members especially those who want to preach their own views in our Churches while desiring to be considered authoritative and legitimate. But we are a structured Church and all authority concerning doctrine comes from a prophet and 12 apostles just as in Christ’s time. If these people don’t recant and get back to the official Church doctrine they are excommunicated. Personal conduct such as adultery and homosexuality or other sex offenses are cause for excommunication too and a fair number of members are dropped from the roles of the church every year for those reasons. There are those who leave for other reasons too.

 Over the years there has grown up a substantial number of ex-Mormons who have taken severe umbrage with Church disciplinary actions and have become quite vocal if not militant in their condemnation of us. Many of these ex-Mormons have joined other churches and with a few attaining positions of authority. Some make attacks on the Church a tenet of their religious doctrine. You will hear them referred to as anti-Mormons. They are not to be confused with other denominations whose theology is different from ours but refrain from the overtly militant activities of the anti-Mormons. We respect everyone’s right to believe what ever they chose however and respect legitimate dialog with those who are respectful in return.   

There other things about our theology that historic Christianity thinks are heretical too. I disagree of course. Our beliefs are not heretical or orthodox – they are heterodox.  But for our basic beliefs you can go here.

 

Posted in Anti-Mormon, Christian Love, Christian Service, Joseph Smith Jr., Mormon, Mormon History, Mormonism | Tagged: , , , , , , , | 11 Comments »

Reverence Invites Revelation

Posted by JLFuller on July 14, 2008

The natural man,” Paul told us, “receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.” (.)”  “If doctrines and behavior are measured by the intellect alone, the essential spiritual ingredient is missing, and we will be misled. No message appears in scripture more times, in more ways than, ‘Ask, and ye shall receive.’ (; ; ; ; ; ; ; and are examples.)Moses 6:52D&C 4:7Mosiah 4:21Enos 1:151 Ne. 15:111 Jn. 3:22James 4:3Matt. 21:221 Cor. 2:13–14

“While we may invite this communication, it can never be forced! If we try to force it, we may be deceived. Enos, who was ‘struggling in the spirit’ said, ‘Behold, the voice of the Lord came into my mind.’ (; While this spiritual communication comes into the mind, it comes more as a feeling, an impression, than simply as a thought. Unless you have experienced it, it is very difficult to describe that delicate process.Enos 1:10

The witness is not communicated through the intellect alone, however bright the intellect may be,” Elder Packer says. Personal testimony is confirmed to us initially and is reaffirmed and enlarged thereafter through a harmonious combining of both the intellect and the spirit.”

Read the rest of the article here: Boyd K. Packer, “Reverence Invites Revelation,” Ensign, Nov. 1991, 21.

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Born Again In Order To Understand the Things of God

Posted by JLFuller on July 12, 2008

This post is taken from an article printed in The Ensign, November 1981. It is by a truely inspired man of God. I did not appreciate Elder Romney until after I grew up. He is gone now, but the simplicity of his message is golden. He talks to the question we all face sooner or later: Are we ready to better understand the things of God?

“In the third chapter of John, it is written that Nicodemus, a very wise man, in fact a member of the Sanhedrin, came to see Jesus by night—he did not yet have enough courage to come to see him during the daytime. But he came to Jesus by night, and said:

“Rabbi, we know that thou art a teacher come from God: for no man can do these miracles that thou doest, except God be with him.” (John 3:2.)

In this statement Nicodemus unwittingly but clearly revealed the fact that he did not know who Jesus was. All he could see in the Son of God was a great teacher. This was all he could be expected to see, however, because he based his knowledge of who Jesus was upon what he had seen and heard of the Master’s miracles. Perceiving this, Jesus informed him that the knowledge of divine things could not be had through man’s normal senses”. Marion G. Romney, “Except a Man Be Born Again,” Ensign, Nov. 1981,

And so it is with the things of God. Our Savior testified that it is so. Without His assistance and the presence of The Holy Ghost human beings have only their own unlearned understanding and that of other men to guide them. But there is another plain where His help can be had in understand the things of God. The Holy Ghost can be at our side whispering of the correctness or lack of it, in our understanding.

Whom do men say that I the Son of man am?  And they said, Some say that thou art John the Baptist: some, Elias; and others, Jeremias, or one of the prophets. He saith unto them, But whom say ye that I am? And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God. And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven.” 

And so said the Savior in Matthew 16:13-17. In fact this principle is foundational to Christ’s Kingdom for he said in the next verse

And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” This personal revelation that Peter experienced and Christ remarked could not be had through man’s normal senses was later to be made available to all when He said he would build His Church upon it that “the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.”

The Savior continued with Nicodemus –

“Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God,” said Jesus. (John 3:3.)

Although Nicodemus was wise in the things of the world, he could not understand this simple statement of truth. As a matter of fact, his answer revealed amazement:

“How can a man be born when he is old?” he said. “Can he enter the second time into his mother’s womb, and be born?” (John 3:4.)

Jesus, still persisting in his efforts to get him to understand, continued: “Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.” (John 3:5.)

Here we have the Savior saying that the kingdom of God can neither be seen nor entered except one be born again.

But Nicodemus still could not understand. Jesus then stated the great law: “That which is born of the flesh is flesh.” That is, that which we learn through our normal senses has to do with this earth. “And that which is born of the Spirit,” he said, “is spirit.” (John 3:6.) The things that we learn through the process of inspiration are of God, of the Spirit.

Everyone who would know God the Eternal Father and Jesus Christ, whom He has sent, must receive such knowledge by the Spirit. Church members have, of course, been through the process. They have been baptized and confirmed members of the Church and have had hands laid upon their heads for the gift of the Holy Ghost. Through these ordinances the door is unlocked. Submission to this is absolutely essential to rebirth. But to obtain life eternal one must so humble and purify himself that he in fact receives through the power of the Holy Ghost a personal witness that God is his Eternal Father and that Jesus Christ is God’s Son and our personal Savior as well as the Redeemer of the world.

 

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