Book of Mormon Notes– How deep can you dig?

2008, July 31

grego: My Critique of “Problems with the Book of Mormon” by Ben Rast (Contender Ministries)

grego: My Critique of “Problems with the Book of Mormon”, by Ben Rast (Contender Ministries)

From the site http://contenderministries.org/mormonism/bomproblems.php .

The article, and my comments:

-=-=-=

“These questions vexed Roberts, because he could find no suitable answer.  He then posed those same five questions to LDS President Heber J. Grant, Grant’s counselors, the Twelve Apostles, and to the Quorum of the Seventy.  They too, were unable to provide suitable answers.” 

g: I guess that depends on one’s definition of “suitable answer”, right? First, it’s not like no one had any good answers to those questions years ago. One did very well–“I don’t know–and neither does anyone else, one way or the other.”

-=-=-=

“Many of the recently excommunicated Mormon scholars mentioned in the last paragraph wrote academic articles conceding to these same difficulties.” 

g: Any references that the “excommunicated Mormon scholars” were excommunicated for writing the articles?

-=-=-=

“These five questions are:
1.Linguistics.  Why, if the American Indians were descended from Lehi, was there such diversity in their languages, and why were there no vestiges of Hebrew in any of them?
2.Why does the Book of Mormon say that Lehi found horses when he arrived in America?  The horse did not exist in the Americas until the Spaniards brought them over in the sixteenth century.
3.Why was Nephi stated to have a bow of steel?  Jews did not have steel at that time, and no iron was smelted in the Americas until the Spanish colonization.
4.Why does the Book of Mormon mention “swords and cimeters” when scimitars (the current spelling) did not come about until the rise of Islam after 500 A.D.
5.Why does the Book of Mormon mention silk, when silk did not exist in the Americas at that time?”

g: Now, years later, isn’t it interesting that all of these “deep and troubling” questions have been answered enough to pass? What will happen to all these questions when even more evidence comes out?
(I didn’t find a copyright date on the article, so maybe this is older than the answers. Or maybe not…)

I suggest to critics that next time, before throwing up a bunch of questions and arguments that show Mormonism is patently false, and that their are problems with the Book of Mormon: ask the people you’re taking the questions from how current they are! Search on the internet for answers first! Most old questions have been rehashed many times, and thrashed in their answering. Please, unless your intention is only to mislead the very uninformed, do everyone a favor and make yourself look better by checking them first…

More information about those questions and problems and many other “Book of Mormon problems” can be found at FARMS, FAIR.org, mormonapologetics.org, and other websites. Don’t step up to the plate with a plastic bat!

-=-=-=

“Let me add my own question here.  Joseph Smith claimed that the Book of Mormon was the most correct of any book on earth (History of the Church, 4:461).  If that’s true, why has it been subjected to thousands of corrections and alterations since it was first published? 

g: Do spelling, punctuation, and clarification changes count? Any changes that don’t count in one of those three categories? Any?

Of course, the reader should note that every translation of the Bible is likely thousands or tens of thousands of changes different than the others, often in meaning, too. Note that the American Standard version, which is generally held by scholars to be much better than the King James translation, also often changes the meaning in the King James version–not just the spelling, punctuation, or clarification. Hey, even the current King James Bible is different than the first edition! Start with understanding the apparent mistakes in the Bible; then you’ll likely be much more willing to understand the Book of Mormon.

-=-=-=

“Also, some of the LDS scholars to whom I referred in the second paragraph found that the American Indians are genetically more similar to Asians.  No Hebrew link can be made through DNA analysis.”

g: Once more, I suggest those other sites to find out more info about where it stands right now.

-=-=-=

“There are also doctrinal discrepancies between the Book of Mormon and the Doctrine and Covenants and other source of LDS doctrine.  If the Book of Mormon is the most correct book on earth, then why the contradictions?  For example: 
Doctrine and Covenants 130:3 says, The idea that the Father and the Son dwell in a man’s heart is an old sectarian notion, and is false.  But in Alma 34:36, it says, “And this I know, because the Lord hath said he dwelleth not in unholy temples, but in the hearts of the righteous doth he dwell.”

g: More Book of Mormon problems, or other problems? Here are two explanations:
1. It’s a matter of semantics. I’ve heard more than one person, missing a dead one, say something like, “You’ll always be in my heart”. Obviously that person didn’t mean the person’s body would squish itself into their heart, nor did it even mean that the person’s spirit would enter their heart like a ghost.

If this explanation is unacceptable to critics, I think we should expect, during autopsies, to see the Lord’s words written in the hearts of Contender Ministries’ leaders, as per the Bible. (Any autopsies report this? None so far, eh? Get with it!)

2. Note that that verse in Doctrine and Covenants 130 says nothing about the Holy Ghost, which can dwell in one’s heart. Lower down, however, in the same section is this verse, which explains why the Father and the Son can’t literally dwell in our hearts (as Joseph Smith taught), but the Holy Ghost literally can (is the Holy Ghost also God?):
22 The Father has a body of flesh and bones as tangible as man’s; the Son also; but the Holy Ghost has not a body of flesh and bones, but is a personage of Spirit. Were it not so, the Holy Ghost could not dwell in us.

Remember, Joseph Smith was making a clear and distinct point on the literalness of the thought; Amulek (the quote from Alma 34) wasn’t.

And, is it impossible for “the most correct book” at that time, still have contradictions or problems?

-=-=-=

“Joseph Smith said, ‘We have imagined and supposed that God was God from all eternity.  I will refute that idea, and take away the veil, so that you may see.’ (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p. 345)  This introduced the doctrine of eternal progression, which Brigham Young forcefully expounded upon.  [Eternal Progression teaches that God was once a man who progressed to Godhood, and we humans have the ability to do the same through strict adherence to LDS doctrines and temple rites.]  Yet Moroni 8:18 says, ‘For I know that God is not a partial God, neither a changeable being; but he is unchangeable, from all eternity to all eternity.'”

g: I believe that most Contender ministries “members” would agree with Moroni here (ouch… would they??) Let’s see how literal we can take this. If God speaks, does his mouth not change? How does God, unchangeable, become angry? If God is unchangeable, how could He die? I think most should get the gist here about how problematic a strict interpretation would be.

Jesus said, “Ye are gods”. We are, but we aren’t, or are we, or what? Is a caterpillar a butterfly, yes or no? Hard to answer just with those two options, right? Would it be safe to say that “the butterfly has always had wings”? Would that be correct? But what about when it was a caterpillar? Does a caterpillar have wings? Does a butterfly eat leaves? Etc.

-=-=-=

“When Joseph Smith contradicts the Book of Mormon, we can reach only one of two conclusions.”

g: That comment is based on the above TWO “contradictions”. Now that the contradictions aren’t really contradictions, now what?

The argument is not quite logical, either. It’s like saying, If your answer is wrong, it’s because: 1. You didn’t study; 2. You aren’t smart enough. Is that it?? How about: you couldn’t study, you forgot your book, the teacher misgraded, the teacher wrote the question wrong, etc. No, we can’t just “reach only one of two conclusions” as the author would have us imagine.

-=-=-=

“Either he did not write the Book of Mormon under divine guidance and is therefore a false prophet, or he decided to contradict the teachings of God, in which case he is a false prophet.” 

g: “Write”? Translate! Please, this is a very basic and fundamental part of the story.

Notice another “either/or”, “A/B” trap–there often are other options, such as… things people thought were contradictions, aren’t.

-=-=-=

“Smith also stated that no one could see God without the Holy Priesthood. Yet according to his own account, he saw God the Father and Jesus Christ nine years before he himself received the priesthood!”

g: Remember, there was no priesthood on earth when he saw God and Jesus.

But shouldn’t the author provide an actual quote/ reference here for the God and priesthood part?

-=-=-=

“We can also look at Smith’s prophecies directly.  In Doctrine and Covenants 87:2, Smith predicted that the American Civil War would “be poured out upon all nations.”  This did not occur.” 

g: Either that, or someone misread the Doctrine and Covenants and doesn’t understand enough about prophets.

Here’s Doctrine and Covenants 87:1-2:
1 Verily, thus saith the Lord concerning the wars that will shortly come to pass, beginning at the rebellion of South Carolina, which will eventually terminate in the death and misery of many souls;
2 And the time will come that war will be poured out upon all nations, beginning at this place.

Did anyone read “the American Civil War would ‘be poured out upon all nations'”? Nope, because it’s not there.

Notice that the war in verse one ends; then, “the time will come”–not during the War of Secession, but later–when “war will be poured out upon all nations”. Like, as in, WWI, WWII.

-=-=-=

“In Doctrine and Covenants 84:4-5, he prophesied that a temple would be built in Independence, Missouri during that generation. There is still no such temple.

g: The second one has also been answered. I suggest checking out some of those sites.

-=-=-=

“The list goes on. He obviously fails the test of a prophet as outlined in Deuteronomy 18:21-22.”

g: “The list goes on”, but only two are mentioned. Why doesn’t the list go on here?

Just curious–did Moses fail his own test of being a prophet? If so, does that mean Moses was a false prophet? If so, does that mean the test Moses gives isn’t real?

-=-=-=

“Someone asked me once why there isn’t a huge apostasy from Mormonism in light of the compelling evidence.  I can think of two primary reasons.  Many sincere Latter Day Saints simply do not know the evidence, and are discouraged from investigating it… The other reason has to deal with courage versus comfort…” 

g: I can think of a few more reasons Latter-day Saints might stay:
1. the evidence really isn’t compelling (as the reader might have guessed by the five (seven) questions).
2. something called a testimony, and life experiences.

Interestingly, I’ve read almost all of this “critic stuff” on other critic/ anti-Mormon sites…

-=-=-=

“Most Mormons I’ve known have been very sincere, decent people. Many hold their religious beliefs strongly.”

g: Thank you for the compliment… I think.

-=-=-=

“When those beliefs are shown to fail the test in the light of the truth of the gospel, it can be a frightening and life-altering event.”

g: What “test” is that?

Like when articles like this that contain untruths are written and people on hard times run into them? :(

-=-=-=

“Members of the LDS Church can choose to ignore or excuse the evidence, or they can face it with courage.

g: Gee, thanks for giving me two choices here, master. ;) Can I choose something else, like… perhaps members can show how the evidence isn’t necessarily true or even close to it?

-=-=-=

“Mormon missionaries tell people to pray to see if the Book of Mormon is true. I encourage the reader to read your Bible in depth, as a Berean would, to see if the points in this article are true or false.”

g: Sounds good.

-=-=-=

“If you are led to witness to a Mormon, remember always to share the truth in love.

g: Thank you!

-=-=-=

“The facts and truth will shake the foundations of religious beliefs that are often strongly held in the life of a Mormon.”

g: Such as…? “Jesus lives?” “We need Jesus?” “Read the Bible?” “Jesus is my Savior?” “God loves us?” I hope someone’s witnessing doesn’t shake those foundations of mine!

(This is where Evangelical Mormon critics often fall flat on their face, due to a complete inability to grasp Mormon beliefs, concepts, and principles. “Witnessing” usually means: 1. telling Mormons things they already know and believe in; 2. telling Mormons how the Bible is the only and perfect word of God (not!); 3. telling Mormons lies about how Joseph Smith lied, how the Book of Mormon is simple, etc., etc. are–like in this article. Frankly, I sometimes sense there’s another purpose of witnessing for many Evangelicals: please join my church and support my ministry!)

-=-=-=

“Letting God’s love and compassion shine through you as you witness is extremely important.”

g: Though I’d prefer the Spirit as most important…

-=-=-=

“In John 14:6, Jesus said, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” Jesus is the way, and He is the only way.”

g: Amen! Now what?

-=-=-=

“Many have been deceived by Joseph Smith Jr., and need to come face to face with the fact that their founding prophet was a false prophet who introduced a false gospel.”

g: And many have been deceived *about* Joseph Smith, Jr.

-=-=-=

“Facing the truth can sometimes have some difficult consequences on earth, but life on earth is temporary. Denying the truth can have eternal consequences.”

g: Amen, and amen! Luckily for many who have been blinded/ deceived/ confused/ unable to understand/ not had a good chance to accept or reject the gospel of Jesus Christ (as Joseph Smith taught it and prophets and apostles teach it now)/ etc., there is more than just this life for eternal consequences. (And yes, that came from Joseph Smith, too.)

The same teaching that will save the Sauls who so vehemently kick against Joseph and his, came through Joseph; and in the end, he will clasp your hand in brotherhood and love and welcome you!

I hope you’ve see that the problems with the Book of Mormon, as the title implies, aren’t really problems.


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3 Comments »

  1. Grego
    I see on Rasts’s blog that he doesn’t post comments. Apparently he isn’t interested in answers to his questions. This guy sounds like just another anti-Mormon propagandist. It’s one thing to ask a question and elicit responses. It is quite another to hit and run. Propaganda is defined by Oxford Englsih Dictionary here: http://www.askoxford.com/concise_oed/propaganda?view=uk

    JLFuller
    http://mormonthing.wordpress.com/

    Comment by JLFuller — 2008, July 31 @ 2:01 pm

  2. It’s often quite telling, noticing who is willing to back up their comments by allowing opposing arguments, and who is not. Most don’t allow them, or delete or heavily change them.

    It’s also quite telling that the top LDS discussion board by LDS is quite balanced and fair to both sides, while most discussion boards by critics are very lopsided and extremely unfair.

    So I’ll often run into an article, and throw up a quick response. I try to allow them the definition of “critic” instead of “anti-Mormon” or “propagandist”, which I believe many are. (Like giving to beggars–maybe 8 out of 10 don’t need it/ are lying/ are cheating you, but what about those other two?)

    I won’t change all the world in a day, but hopefully those who are interested will not only learn from all the information, but the rules by which people allow the information out.

    People must open their minds and hearts if they want to start to see. (See my post “Filters of Reality” for that. ;) )

    Comment by grego — 2008, August 1 @ 1:40 am

  3. Grego
    I think you do diservice to those who think differently but refrain from anti-Mormon tactics. Lumping them all together under “critics” gives cover to MRM, Ed Decker and all of that ilk. Certainly Pastor Greg Johnson deserves better.

    Comment by JLFuller — 2008, August 2 @ 9:06 pm


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