Book of Mormon Notes– How deep can you dig?

2008, August 27

grego: Critique of “Chains in the Book of Mormon” by Chris Smith

grego: Critique of “Chains in the Book of Mormon” by Chris Smith

Chris Smith, an LDS critic, wrote this ( http://chriscarrollsmith.blogspot.com/2008/01/chains-in-book-of-mormon.html ) :

“Saturday, January 26, 2008
Chains in the Book of Mormon

The Book of Mormon makes a number of references to “chains”. In one case, 2 Nephi 13:19, decorative chains are intended. The other sixteen occurrences use chains as a metaphor for the power of death, hell, or the devil. In some cases the chains merely bind, but in others they take on a life of their own, grasping, snaring, and encircling their victims. Chains appear to have been an evocative motif for the author(s) of the Book of Mormon.”

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grego: Well, ok, I agree with the important part: the authors and the translator of the Book of Mormon are amazingly consistent in using “chains” in figurative form, and using “cords” when talking about normal-day use. (I will give the Book of Mormon references to “chain”/ “chains”, “rope”, “cord”/ “cords”, and “bind”/ “bound” at the end of the post.)

Note that the reference to “decorative chains” that Chris Smith calls attention to is from Isaiah. All the other examples are from: 1. Lehi and Nephi, who were from Jerusalem. 2. Alma, prophet and scriptorian. 3. Ammon (one reference), another one very familiar with the scriptures (Alma 17:2: “Now these sons of Mosiah were with Alma at the time the angel first appeared unto him; therefore Alma did rejoice exceedingly to see his brethren; and what added more to his joy, they were still his brethren in the Lord; yea, and they had waxed strong in the knowledge of the truth; for they were men of a sound understanding and they had searched the scriptures diligently, that they might know the word of God.”). Note that all of these references (other than the Isaiah one) are figurative.

This actually follows well the lack of evidence–at least so far–that Chris Smith provides about the lack of chains in Mesoamerica at that time period.

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Chris Smith: “Chains do not appear to have been available to the Olmec or Maya during the Book of Mormon timeframe. As LDS apologist Brant Gardner pointed out to me, “chains” could theoretically just be Joseph Smith’s translation of a Book of Mormon word for “ropes”. Or the Book of Mormon authors might merely have been mechanically repeating a biblical phrase they had learned from the “brass plates”. But these explanations are unsatisfactory. There is no reason Joseph Smith should have preferred the word “chain” for the perfectly good English word for “ropes”, and in fact Joseph Smith, Sr. told Fayette Lapham in an 1830 interview that his son had discovered a gold “chain” among the Nephite artifacts he discovered in the Hill Cumorah (EMD 1:462). It also seems implausible that several generations of Book of Mormon authors could (or would) have so effectively utilized images that had no analogue in their culture.”

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grego writes: I agree with While “rope” is used in the Book of only once (in Isaiah), “cord”/ “cords” is used many times. I also don’t see “chains” as a translated word for “rope”.

HOWEVER, I see no need for the logical fallacy that follows, the double bind that: either a) “chains” means “rope”, or b) the authors were “mechanically repeating a biblical phrase they had learned from the ‘brass plates'”; reasoned such because there’s no evidence of chains in Mesoamerica, so it had to be one or the other; and neither a) nor b) is likely, therefore the Book of Mormon is false. **And Chris Smith’s entire argument lies there.**

No!! Why would the references to “chains” in the Book of Mormon have to be used by authors who “might merely have been mechanically repeating a biblical phrase they had learned from the ‘brass plates'”, as Chris Smith assumes? No need. A refresher about Lehi and Nephi, the “founders” of Book of Mormon society: they lived at Jersualem, and most likely worked metal. Perhaps, just perhaps, they were familiar with “chains”–even metal ones. Perhaps they even had them with them (though *I* surely wouldn’t lug around metal chains for eight years in the desert without good reason). Perhaps even Jacob had seen them in vision, with the destruction of Jerusalem and the deportation of the Jews. Perhaps pictures were drawn, or a famous carving with chains existed. But let’s think here…

Are there any modern references to extinct or unused or rare objects? There are many–especially with motifs!

There are many references to “breastplates” in Christian literature, and I imagine most everyone who hears the word in America, educated or not, understands what it means. But the last time I can imagine one being used was at least 200 years ago, maybe 400 years ago. Chariots? I’ve never seen one or heard of them being used–almost 2,000 years ago? That’s much more than the 500-600 years of Book of Mormon times. Pyramids? Haven’t been built for thousands of years, yet most people know what they are. Can you think of any others?

At a time when technology is not as fast-paced as now, and items not so numerous, I don’t imagine it hard for a knowledge of non-existent item to be known and even referred to.

As long as the people knew what “chains” basically meant, that’s good enough. There is no need to build a pyramid in order that others understand what one is.

Or, even better, a few existing ones that everyone is familiar with are good enough.

(Now if we could only find out where to dig in that remaining 99% to see how common chains were…)

I would like to particularly call Chris Smith’s attention to a part of the Book of Mormon likely overlooked: Alma 12-14. In this episode, Alma and Amulek prophesy of chains:
Alma 12:6
And behold I say unto you all that this was a snare of the adversary, which he has laid to catch this people, that he might bring you into subjection unto him, that he might *encircle you about with his chains*, that he might *chain you down* to everlasting destruction, according to the power of his captivity.
Alma 12:11
And they that will harden their hearts, to them is given the lesser portion of the word until they know nothing concerning his mysteries; and then they are taken captive by the devil, and led by his will down to destruction. Now this is what is meant by the *chains of hell*.
Alma 12:17
Then is the time when their torments shall be as a lake of fire and brimstone, whose flame ascendeth up forever and ever; and then is the time that they shall be *chained down to an everlasting destruction*, according to the power and captivity of Satan, he having subjected them according to his will.
Alma 13:30
And may the Lord grant unto you repentance, that ye may not bring down his wrath upon you, that ye may not be *bound down by the chains of hell*, that ye may not suffer the second death.

The chief judge and other leaders, as punishment, do to Alma and Amulek and their believers what Alma and Amulek had prophesied would happen to the unrepentant Ammonihahites. Note, however, the following:
Alma 14:14
Now it came to pass that when the bodies of those who had been cast into the fire were consumed, and also the records which were cast in with them, the chief judge of the land came and stood before Alma and Amulek, as they were *bound*; and he smote them with his hand upon their cheeks, and said unto them: After what ye have seen, will ye preach again unto this people, that they shall be cast into a lake of fire and brimstone?
Alma 14:22
And many such things, yea, all manner of such things did they say unto them; and thus they did mock them for many days. And they did withhold food from them that they might hunger, and water that they might thirst; and they also did take from them their clothes that they were naked; and thus they were *bound with strong cords*, and confined in prison.
Alma 14:23
And it came to pass after they had thus suffered for many days, (and it was on the twelfth day, in the tenth month, in the tenth year of the reign of the judges over the people of Nephi) that the chief judge over the land of Ammonihah and many of their teachers and their lawyers went in unto the prison where Alma and Amulek were *bound with cords*.
Alma 14:26
And Alma cried, saying: How long shall we suffer these great afflictions, O Lord? O Lord, give us strength according to our faith which is in Christ, even unto deliverance. And they broke the *cords with which they were bound*; and when the people saw this, they began to flee, for the fear of destruction had come upon them.

The people of Ammonihah likely did not use “brimstone” to make the lake of fire, but just fire. Why? I guess brimstone wasn’t readily available. And, the people of Ammonihah do *not* bind Alma and Amulek with “chains”–as Alma and Amulek had prophesied–but with “cords”. Why? I imagine they didn’t have any available! Not even the chief judge, in an entire city…

I think that is, once more, amazingly consistent with the figurative references to “chains” in the Book of Mormon and realistic uses of cords.

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Chris Smith can find no support for chains during the Book of Mormon time period, and finishes with this:
“Book of Mormon apologists, in short, have a long way to go in order to establish the credibility of “chain” imagery in the Book of Mormon.”

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grego: I think not. Critics should see that, once more, what seems to have been a big problem for the Book of Mormon, turns out to be a big plus.

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References:

References to “chain”/ “chains” in the Book of Mormon:

2 Nephi 1:13
O that ye would awake; awake from a deep sleep, yea, even from the sleep of hell, and shake off the awful chains by which ye are bound, which are the chains which bind the children of men, that they are carried away captive down to the eternal gulf of misery and woe.

2 Nephi 1:23
Awake, my sons; put on the armor of righteousness. Shake off the chains with which ye are bound, and come forth out of obscurity, and arise from the dust.

2 Nephi 9:45
O, my beloved brethren, turn away from your sins; shake off the chains of him that would bind you fast; come unto that God who is the rock of your salvation.

2 Nephi 13:19
The chains and the bracelets, and the mufflers;

2 Nephi 28:19
For the kingdom of the devil must shake, and they which belong to it must needs be stirred up unto repentance, or the devil will grasp them with his everlasting chains, and they be stirred up to anger, and perish;

2 Nephi 28:22
And behold, others he flattereth away, and telleth them there is no hell; and he saith unto them: I am no devil, for there is none–and thus he whispereth in their ears, until he grasps them with his awful chains, from whence there is no deliverance.

Alma 5:7
Behold, he changed their hearts; yea, he awakened them out of a deep sleep, and they awoke unto God. Behold, they were in the midst of darkness; nevertheless, their souls were illuminated by the light of the everlasting word; yea, they were encircled about by the bands of death, and the chains of hell, and an everlasting destruction did await them.

Alma 5:9
And again I ask, were the bands of death broken, and the chains of hell which encircled them about, were they loosed? I say unto you, Yea, they were loosed, and their souls did expand, and they did sing redeeming love. And I say unto you that they are saved.

Alma 5:10
And now I ask of you on what conditions are they saved? Yea, what grounds had they to hope for salvation? What is the cause of their being loosed from the bands of death, yea, and also the chains of hell?

Alma 12:6
And behold I say unto you all that this was a snare of the adversary, which he has laid to catch this people, that he might bring you into subjection unto him, that he might encircle you about with his chains, that he might chain you down to everlasting destruction, according to the power of his captivity.

Alma 12:11
And they that will harden their hearts, to them is given the lesser portion of the word until they know nothing concerning his mysteries; and then they are taken captive by the devil, and led by his will down to destruction. Now this is what is meant by the chains of hell.

Alma 12:17
Then is the time when their torments shall be as a lake of fire and brimstone, whose flame ascendeth up forever and ever; and then is the time that they shall be chained down to an everlasting destruction, according to the power and captivity of Satan, he having subjected them according to his will.

Alma 13:30
And may the Lord grant unto you repentance, that ye may not bring down his wrath upon you, that ye may not be bound down by the chains of hell, that ye may not suffer the second death.

Alma 26:14
Yea, we have reason to praise him forever, for he is the Most High God, and has loosed our brethren from the chains of hell.

Alma 36:18
Now, as my mind caught hold upon this thought, I cried within my heart: O Jesus, thou Son of God, have mercy on me, who am in the gall of bitterness, and am encircled about by the everlasting chains of death.

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Reference to “rope” in the Book of Mormon:

2 Nephi 15:18
Wo unto them that draw iniquity with *cords of vanity*, and sin as it were with a cart *rope*;

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References to “cord”, “cords” in the Book of Mormon:

1 Nephi 7:16
And it came to pass that when I, Nephi, had spoken these words unto my brethren, they were angry with me. And it came to pass that they did lay their hands upon me, for behold, they were exceedingly wroth, and they did bind me with cords, for they sought to take away my life, that they might leave me in the wilderness to be devoured by wild beasts.

1 Nephi 18:11
And it came to pass that Laman and Lemuel did take me and bind me with cords, and they did treat me with much harshness; nevertheless, the Lord did suffer it that he might show forth his power, unto the fulfilling of his word which he had spoken concerning the wicked.

2 Nephi 26:22
And there are also secret combinations, even as in times of old, according to the combinations of the devil, for he is the founder of all these things; yea, the founder of murder, and works of darkness; yea, and he leadeth them by the neck with a flaxen cord, until he bindeth them with his strong cords forever.

Alma 14:4
But it came to pass that they did not; but they took them and bound them with strong cords, and took them before the chief judge of the land.

Alma 14:22
And many such things, yea, all manner of such things did they say unto them; and thus they did mock them for many days. And they did withhold food from them that they might hunger, and water that they might thirst; and they also did take from them their clothes that they were naked; and thus they were bound with strong cords, and confined in prison.

Alma 14:23
And it came to pass after they had thus suffered for many days, (and it was on the twelfth day, in the tenth month, in the tenth year of the reign of the judges over the people of Nephi) that the chief judge over the land of Ammonihah and many of their teachers and their lawyers went in unto the prison where Alma and Amulek were bound with cords.

Alma 14:26
And Alma cried, saying: How long shall we suffer these great afflictions, O Lord? O Lord, give us strength according to our faith which is in Christ, even unto deliverance. And they broke the cords with which they were bound; and when the people saw this, they began to flee, for the fear of destruction had come upon them.

Alma 20:29
And when Ammon did meet them he was exceedingly sorrowful, for behold they were naked, and their skins were worn exceedingly because of being bound with strong cords. And they also had suffered hunger, thirst, and all kinds of afflictions; nevertheless they were patient in all their sufferings.

Alma 20:30
And, as it happened, it was their lot to have fallen into the hands of a more hardened and a more stiffnecked people; therefore they would not hearken unto their words, and they had cast them out, and had smitten them, and had driven them from house to house, and from place to place, even until they had arrived in the land of Middoni; and there they were taken and cast into prison, and bound with strong cords, and kept in prison for many days, and were delivered by Lamoni and Ammon.

Alma 26:29
And we have entered into their houses and taught them, and we have taught them in their streets; yea, and we have taught them upon their hills; and we have also entered into their temples and their synagogues and taught them; and we have been cast out, and mocked, and spit upon, and smote upon our cheeks; and we have been stoned, and taken and bound with strong cords, and cast into prison; and through the power and wisdom of God we have been delivered again.

Alma 62:21
And it came to pass that they were on the east, by the entrance; and they were all asleep. And now Moroni returned to his army, and caused that they should prepare in haste strong cords and ladders, to be let down from the top of the wall into the inner part of the wall.

Alma 62:23
And it came to pass that they were all let down into the city by night, by the means of their strong cords and their ladders; thus when the morning came they were all within the walls of the city.

Alma 62:36
And it came to pass that Teancum in his anger did go forth into the camp of the Lamanites, and did let himself down over the walls of the city. And he went forth with a cord, from place to place, insomuch that he did find the king; and he did cast a javelin at him, which did pierce him near the heart. But behold, the king did awaken his servants before he died, insomuch that they did pursue Teancum, and slew him.

3 Nephi 22:2
Enlarge the place of thy tent, and let them stretch forth the curtains of thy habitations; spare not, lengthen thy cords and strengthen thy stakes;

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References to “bind”, “bound” in the Book of Mormon:

1 Nephi 7:16
And it came to pass that when I, Nephi, had spoken these words unto my brethren, they were angry with me. And it came to pass that they did lay their hands upon me, for behold, they were exceedingly wroth, and they did bind me with cords, for they sought to take away my life, that they might leave me in the wilderness to be devoured by wild beasts.

1 Nephi 7:17
But it came to pass that I prayed unto the Lord, saying: O Lord, according to my faith which is in thee, wilt thou deliver me from the hands of my brethren; yea, even give me strength that I may burst these bands with which I am bound.

1 Nephi 18:11
And it came to pass that Laman and Lemuel did take me and bind me with cords, and they did treat me with much harshness; nevertheless, the Lord did suffer it that he might show forth his power, unto the fulfilling of his word which he had spoken concerning the wicked.

1 Nephi 18:12
And it came to pass that after they had bound me insomuch that I could not move, the compass, which had been prepared of the Lord, did cease to work.

1 Nephi 21:18
Lift up thine eyes round about and behold; all these gather themselves together, and they shall come to thee. And as I live, saith the Lord, thou shalt surely clothe thee with them all, as with an ornament, and bind them on even as a bride.

2 Nephi 1:13
O that ye would awake; awake from a deep sleep, yea, even from the sleep of hell, and shake off the awful chains by which ye are bound, which are the chains which bind the children of men, that they are carried away captive down to the eternal gulf of misery and woe.

2 Nephi 1:23
Awake, my sons; put on the armor of righteousness. Shake off the chains with which ye are bound, and come forth out of obscurity, and arise from the dust.

2 Nephi 9:45
O, my beloved brethren, turn away from your sins; shake off the chains of him that would bind you fast; come unto that God who is the rock of your salvation.

2 Nephi 18:16
Bind up the testimony, seal the law among my disciples.

Mosiah 7:7
And behold, they met the king of the people who were in the land of Nephi, and in the land of Shilom; and they were surrounded by the king’s guard, and were taken, and were bound, and were committed to prison.

Mosiah 7:16
And now, king Limhi commanded his guards that they should no more bind Ammon nor his brethren, but caused that they should go to the hill which was north of Shilom, and bring their brethren into the city, that thereby they might eat, and drink, and rest themselves from the labors of their journey; for they had suffered many things; they had suffered hunger, thirst, and fatigue.

Mosiah 12:9
And it came to pass that they were angry with him; and they took him and carried him bound before the king, and said unto the king: Behold, we have brought a man before thee who has prophesied evil concerning thy people, and saith that God will destroy them.

Mosiah 17:5
And it came to pass that the king caused that his guards should surround Abinadi and take him; and they bound him and cast him into prison.

Mosiah 17:13
And it came to pass that they took him and bound him, and scourged his skin with faggots, yea, even unto death.

Mosiah 20:13
And they took him and bound up his wounds, and brought him before Limhi, and said: Behold, here is the king of the Lamanites; he having received a wound has fallen among their dead, and they have left him; and behold, we have brought him before you; and now let us slay him.

Mosiah 21:23
And the king having been without the gates of the city with his guard, discovered Ammon and his brethren; and supposing them to be priests of Noah therefore he caused that they should be taken, and bound, and cast into prison. And had they been the priests of Noah he would have caused that they should be put to death.

Mosiah 23:12
And now I say unto you, ye have been oppressed by king Noah, and have been in bondage to him and his priests, and have been brought into iniquity by them; therefore ye were bound with the bands of iniquity.

Mosiah 23:13
And now as ye have been delivered by the power of God out of these bonds; yea, even out of the hands of king Noah and his people, and also from the bonds of iniquity, even so I desire that ye should stand fast in this liberty wherewith ye have been made free, and that ye trust no man to be a king over you.

Alma 7:12
And he will take upon him death, that he may loose the bands of death which bind his people; and he will take upon him their infirmities, that his bowels may be filled with mercy, according to the flesh, that he may know according to the flesh how to succor his people according to their infirmities.

Alma 7:15
Yea, I say unto you come and fear not, and lay aside every sin, which easily doth beset you, which doth bind you down to destruction, yea, come and go forth, and show unto your God that ye are willing to repent of your sins and enter into a covenant with him to keep his commandments, and witness it unto him this day by going into the waters of baptism.

Alma 8:31
And they had power given unto them, insomuch that they could not be confined in dungeons; neither was it possible that any man could slay them; nevertheless they did not exercise their power until they were bound in bands and cast into prison. Now, this was done that the Lord might show forth his power in them.

Alma 13:30
And may the Lord grant unto you repentance, that ye may not bring down his wrath upon you, that ye may not be bound down by the chains of hell, that ye may not suffer the second death.

Alma 14:14
Now it came to pass that when the bodies of those who had been cast into the fire were consumed, and also the records which were cast in with them, the chief judge of the land came and stood before Alma and Amulek, as they were bound; and he smote them with his hand upon their cheeks, and said unto them: After what ye have seen, will ye preach again unto this people, that they shall be cast into a lake of fire and brimstone?

Alma 14:22
And many such things, yea, all manner of such things did they say unto them; and thus they did mock them for many days. And they did withhold food from them that they might hunger, and water that they might thirst; and they also did take from them their clothes that they were naked; and thus they were bound with strong cords, and confined in prison.

Alma 14:23
And it came to pass after they had thus suffered for many days, (and it was on the twelfth day, in the tenth month, in the tenth year of the reign of the judges over the people of Nephi) that the chief judge over the land of Ammonihah and many of their teachers and their lawyers went in unto the prison where Alma and Amulek were bound with cords.

Alma 14:26
And Alma cried, saying: How long shall we suffer these great afflictions, O Lord? O Lord, give us strength according to our faith which is in Christ, even unto deliverance. And they broke the cords with which they were bound; and when the people saw this, they began to flee, for the fear of destruction had come upon them.

Alma 17:20
And as Ammon entered the land of Ishmael, the Lamanites took him and bound him, as was their custom to bind all the Nephites who fell into their hands, and carry them before the king; and thus it was left to the pleasure of the king to slay them, or to retain them in captivity, or to cast them into prison, or to cast them out of his land, according to his will and pleasure.

Alma 20:29
And when Ammon did meet them he was exceedingly sorrowful, for behold they were naked, and their skins were worn exceedingly because of being bound with strong cords. And they also had suffered hunger, thirst, and all kinds of afflictions; nevertheless they were patient in all their sufferings.

Alma 20:30
And, as it happened, it was their lot to have fallen into the hands of a more hardened and a more stiffnecked people; therefore they would not hearken unto their words, and they had cast them out, and had smitten them, and had driven them from house to house, and from place to place, even until they had arrived in the land of Middoni; and there they were taken and cast into prison, and bound with strong cords, and kept in prison for many days, and were delivered by Lamoni and Ammon.

Alma 23:2
Yea, he sent a decree among them, that they should not lay their hands on them to bind them, or to cast them into prison; neither should they spit upon them, nor smite them, nor cast them out of their synagogues, nor scourge them; neither should they cast stones at them, but that they should have free access to their houses, and also their temples, and their sanctuaries.

Alma 26:29
And we have entered into their houses and taught them, and we have taught them in their streets; yea, and we have taught them upon their hills; and we have also entered into their temples and their synagogues and taught them; and we have been cast out, and mocked, and spit upon, and smote upon our cheeks; and we have been stoned, and taken and bound with strong cords, and cast into prison; and through the power and wisdom of God we have been delivered again.

Alma 30:13
O ye that are bound down under a foolish and a vain hope, why do ye yoke yourselves with such foolish things? Why do ye look for a Christ? For no man can know of anything which is to come.

Alma 30:20
But behold they were more wise than many of the Nephites; for they took him, and bound him, and carried him before Ammon, who was a high priest over that people.

Alma 30:21
And it came to pass that he caused that he should be carried out of the land. And he came over into the land of Gideon, and began to preach unto them also; and here he did not have much success, for he was taken and bound and carried before the high priest, and also the chief judge over the land

Alma 30:23
Now the high priest’s name was Giddonah. And Korihor said unto him: Because I do not teach the foolish traditions of your fathers, and because I do not teach this people to bind themselves down under the foolish ordinances and performances which are laid down by ancient priests, to usurp power and authority over them, to keep them in ignorance, that they may not lift up their heads, but be brought down according to thy words.

Alma 30:29
Now when the high priest and the chief judge saw the hardness of his heart, yea, when they saw that he would revile even against God, they would not make any reply to his words; but they caused that he should be bound; and they delivered him up into the hands of the officers, and sent him to the land of Zarahemla, that he might be brought before Alma, and the chief judge who was governor over all the land.

Alma 31:17
But thou art the same yesterday, today, and forever; and thou hast elected us that we shall be saved, whilst all around us are elected to be cast by thy wrath down to hell; for the which holiness, O God, we thank thee; and we also thank thee that thou hast elected us, that we may not be led away after the foolish traditions of our brethren, which doth bind them down to a belief of Christ, which doth lead their hearts to wander far from thee, our God.

Alma 52:39
But behold, there were many that would not; and those who would not deliver up their swords were taken and bound, and their weapons of war were taken from them, and they were compelled to march with their brethren forth into the land Bountiful.

Helaman 9:9
And it came to pass that they laid hold on them, and bound them and cast them into prison. And there was a proclamation sent abroad that the judge was slain, and that the murderers had been taken and were cast into prison.

Helaman 9:19
Nevertheless, they caused that Nephi should be taken and bound and brought before the multitude, and they began to question him in divers ways that they might cross him, that they might accuse him to death–

Helaman 16:6
But the more part of them did not believe in the words of Samuel; therefore when they saw that they could not hit him with their stones and their arrows, they cried unto their captains, saying: Take this fellow and bind him, for behold he hath a devil; and because of the power of the devil which is in him we cannot hit him with our stones and our arrows; therefore take him and bind him, and away with him.

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2008, August 1

grego: My Critique of “Problems with the Book of Mormon” (Catholic.com)

grego: My Critique of “Problems with the Book of Mormon” (Catholic.com)

Original article found at: http://www.catholic.com/library/Problems_with_the_Book_of_Mormon.asp

The article, and my comments interspersed:

-=-=-=
“In these “latter days,” there are few people who haven’t been visited at least once by Mormon missionaries. At some point in your doorstep dialogue, these earnest young men will ask you to accept a copy of the Book of Mormon, read it, and pray about it, asking the Lord to “send the Holy Ghost to witness that it is true.” Then, very solemnly, they’ll “testify” to you that they know the Book of Mormon is true, that it’s God’s inspired word, and that it contains the ‘fullness of the everlasting gospel.’

They’ll assure you that if you read their text in a spirit of prayerful inquiry, you, too, will receive the testimony of the Holy Ghost. That testimony supposedly will convince you beyond doubt that the Book of Mormon is exactly what they claim it to be.

Keep in mind that the missionaries want you to have a feeling about the Book of Mormon after reading it. They’ll tell you that you’ll receive the witness of the Holy Ghost in the form of a “burning in the bosom”–a warm, fuzzy feeling–after reading and praying about it. This feeling is the clincher for them. It’s the real “proof” that the Book of Mormon is inspired Scripture, and everything else follows from that conclusion.

But think about it. How often have you felt strongly about something or someone, only to learn your feelings were misguided? Feelings, although a part of our human makeup, can’t be a yardstick in matters like this.

After all, some people might get a good feeling after reading anything from the Communist Manifesto or the Yellow Pages. They could pray about such a feeling, and they could take the lingering of the feeling as some kind of divine approbation, but no such sensation will prove the inspiration of Marx’s or Ma Bell’s writings.”

g: Is the Spirit forbidden in the Catholic Church? What of the scriptures that testify of the feelings that the Spirit brings? Is the fear so strong that it’s better to convince Catholics not to feel the Spirit so they won’t convert to Mormonism, than to feel the Spirit and maybe convert? How is one to know of the things of God, if not by the Spirit? How is one to know the Bible is the word of God, if not by the Spirit of God? (There really is more to the Spirit than “warm fuzzy feelings” that might be mistaken.)

-=-=-=

“When you tell the missionaries you don’t need to pray about the Book of Mormon, they’ll think you’re copping out, that you’re afraid to learn the truth. Admittedly, you’ll seem like a cad if you simply refuse and leave it at that. You need to provide them with an explanation for refusing.”

g: Nope, it’s ok to say “I’m not interested” and leave it at that. (P.S. Note that telling Catholics to talk to Mormons opens the door for the Spirit and those “warm fuzzies” to enter into their hearts and could persuade them to leave the Catholic Church.)

-=-=-=

“The devout Mormon believes this text is inspired because Joseph Smith said it is. He believes Smith had the authority to claim divine inspiration for the Book of Mormon because the book itself says Smith was a prophet and had such authority.”

g:  Nope. The devout Mormon will say those things because of the Spirit. If you don’t believe me, ask some and see.

-=-=-=

“Jesus Visited America?
Let’s take a closer look at the text the missionaries offer. At first glance the Book of Mormon appears to be biblical in heft and style. It’s couched in tedious “King James” English, and it features color renderings of Mormon scenes made to look like Bible illustrations.

g: Yes, “tedious ‘King James’ English”–but much better than horribly tedious Latin. ;)
“Made to look like Bible illustrations”?? Is there an artists’ manual “Make Your Illustrations Look Like Bible Illustrations” somewhere I don’t know about?

-=-=-=

“The introduction tells you that the “Book of Mormon is a volume of holy scripture comparable to the Bible. It is a record of God’s dealings with the ancient inhabitants of the Americas and contains, as does the Bible, the fullness of the everlasting gospel.” There it is again—the “fullness of the everlasting gospel.” Naturally, you ask yourself just what that phrase means.

According to the Mormon church, authentic Christianity can’t be found in any of the so-called Christian churches—only, of course, in the Mormon church.

Mormons teach that, after Jesus ascended into heaven, the apostles taught the true doctrines of Christ and administered his sacred ordinances (roughly the equivalent of Catholic sacraments). After the death of the apostles, their successors continued the work of the gospel, but with rapidly declining success. Within a few generations, the great apostasy foretold in the Bible had destroyed Christ’s Church (contrary to Jesus’ own promise in Matthew 16:18).

The Mormon church asserts that the Church Christ founded became increasingly corrupted by pagan ideas introduced by nefarious members. (Sound familiar?) Over a period of years, the Church lost all relationship with the Church Christ established. Consequently, the keys of authority of the holy priesthood were withdrawn from the earth, and no man any longer had authorization to act in God’s name.

From that time onward there were no valid baptisms, no laying on of hands for the receipt of the Holy Ghost, no blessings of any kind, and no administration of sacred ordinances. Confusions and heretical doctrines increased and led to the plethora of Christian sects seen today.

Mormons claim that to restore the true Church and true gospel to the earth, in 1820 God the Father and Jesus Christ appeared to Joseph Smith in a grove of trees near his home. They told him that all professing Christians on the face of the earth were abominable and corrupt and that the true Church, having died out completely shortly after it began, was to be restored by Smith.

Mormons run into no small difficulty in reconciling the great apostasy theory with Christ’s promise in Matthew 16:18: “You are Peter, and on this rock I will build my Church, and the powers of death shall not prevail against it.”

How could it be that Christ, who should have known better, would promise that his Church wouldn’t be overcome if he knew full well a great apostasy would make short shrift of it in a matter of decades? Was Christ lying? Obviously not. Was he mistaken? No. Did he miscalculate things? No, again. Christ’s divinity precluded such things.

What are we left with then? Could it be that Mormons are mistaken in their interpretation of such a crucial passage? This is the only tenable conclusion. If there were no great apostasy, then there could have been no need for a restoration of religious authority on the earth. There would be no “restored gospel,” and the entire premise of the Mormon church would be undercut.

g: There are other tenable conclusions (not for the Catholic Church, though). Plenty of scripture—Biblical—that shows the early church was in trouble. History books work, too. Heck, Boccaccio and Dante suffice for many.
Here are a few references: Acts 20:29-30, Amos 8:11-12, Revelation 1:11-20, Revelation 2, 3; Romans 10:2-3, Galatians 1:6-7, 2:4, Titus 1:10, 16; Jude 4, 1 Timothy 1:6-7, 2 Timothy 1:15, 2 Corinthians 11:12-15, 1 John 2:18-19.

Let’s see how large a difficulty this really is. Did Christ say the Church would prevail against sin? Nope. What was the problem? Sin. Does the Bible really say “Powers of death”? My King James Bible says “gates of hell”; another Bible says “gates of Hades” = hell; Satan. Short term: yes; long term: no. “Prevail against it” = “not prove stronger than it”.
Now: Did Christ say the Church would be around till his return, uninterrupted? Nope. Why not just say that, if that’s what he meant?

Wait… How can anyone even be sure that Christ said that? Do we have the original to check? Wait… How do we know the original is what Christ said? Were you there to hear it? No? Then how do you know, if you aren’t supposed to pray to find answers, and get them through the Spirit? Can’t? Just because of tradition?

Ironically, what did Jesus tell Peter in Matthew 16:17? That *revelation from the Father through the Spirit*—exactly how Peter had gotten his answer about who Jesus was—is what the Church was going to be based upon, and the reason that Satan wouldn’t prevail against it. Yet revelation stopped, and much more—not because of God or Satan, but because of the people inside the church corrupting it; in other words, because of man.

-=-=-=

The fact is that the only church with an unbroken historical line to apostolic days is the Catholic Church. Even many Protestants acknowledge this, though they argue that there was a need for the Protestant Reformation in the sixteenth century.

g: I would greatly expect some Protestants would say that–otherwise, what branch would they have to stand on?
Yet, the fact that they protested, is sure sign that they thought the apostolic authority was lost long ago. Hey, wasn’t there a quote by Luther or someone about that?

-=-=-=

“As non-Catholic historians admit, it can be demonstrated easily that early Church writers, such as Ignatius of Antioch, Eusebius, Clement of Rome, and Polycarp, had no conception of Mormon doctrine, and they knew nothing of a ‘great apostasy.'”

g: Might these “non-Catholic historians” the author refers to be those who also don’t believe in Mormon doctrine, perhaps? Might there be an ulterior reason for their thinking? But read the next part for the best part…

-=-=-=

“Nowhere in their writings can one find references to Christians embracing any of the peculiarly Mormon doctrines, such as polytheism, polygamy, celestial marriage, and temple ceremonies. If the Church of the apostolic age was the prototype of today’s Mormon church, it must have had all these beliefs and practices. But why is there no evidence of them in the early centuries, before the alleged apostasy began?”

g: Many *scholars* greatly disagree with the above paragraphs, and would say they are evidently false. Granted, this article I’m critiquing is a few years old, which doesn’t help; perhaps an update is in order?

-=-=-= 

“Church History Is Catholic

The fact is that there is no historical or archaeological indication of any kind that the early Church was other than the Catholic Church.

g: Hey, even lots of other churches would argue against that. Let me introduce you to them: Assyrian Church of the East, the Coptic Orthodox Church of Alexandria, the Armenian Apostolic Church, the Greek Orthodox Church, the Russian Orthodox Church, the Ethiopian Orthodox Church, the original Thomas Christians in India, other Eastern Orthodox and Oriental Orthodox churches, the Old Catholic Church, the Polish National Catholic Church, and the Anglican Communion.

-=-=-=

When dealing with Mormon missionaries, remember that all the evidence is in favor of the claims of the Catholic Church. If you want to watch their sails go slack quickly, ask the missionaries to produce any historical proof to support their claim that in the early centuries the Church was Mormon. They can’t do it because there is no such evidence.”

g: What and where is “all the evidence” that is “in favor of the claims of the Catholic Church”?

The early church was *not* the Catholic Church. The early church was the early church, and it existed for a few hundred years before the Catholic church. Any evidence to the contrary?

(See the part about early Christianity and Mormonism.)

-=-=-=

“The Book of Mormon itself suffers the same fate when it comes to its own historical support. In a word, it hasn’t got any.

The Book of Mormon describes a vast pre-Columbian culture that supposedly existed for centuries in North and South America. It goes into amazingly specific detail describing the civilizations erected by the “Nephites” and “Lamanites,” who were Jews that fled Palestine in three installments, built massive cities in the New World, farmed the land, produced works of art, and fought large-scale wars which culminated in the utter destruction of the Nephites in A.D. 421. The Latter-Day Saints revere the Book of Mormon as the divinely-inspired record of those people and of Christ’s appearance to them shortly after his crucifixion in Jerusalem.

The awkward part for the Mormon church is the total lack of historical and archaeological evidence to support the Book of Mormon. For example, after the cataclysmic last battle fought between the Nephites and Lamanites, there was no one left to clean up the mess. Hundreds of thousands of men and beasts allegedly perished in that battle, and the ground was strewn with weapons and armor.

Keep in mind that A.D. 421 is just yesterday in archaeological terms. It should be easy to locate and retrieve copious evidence of such a battle, and there hasn’t been enough time for the weapons and armor to turn to dust. The Bible tells of similar battles that have been documented by archaeology, battles which took place long before A.D. 421.

The embarrassing truth—embarrassing for Mormons, that is—is that no scientist, Mormon or otherwise, has been able to find anything to substantiate that such a great battle took place.”

g: Awkward? Embarrassing? Not really. I don’t know that it ever has been for many, though it might be for some.
Fortunately for those who need evidence before considering, there is more and more evidence that supports the Book of Mormon (note that near the beginning, when it first came out, there was hardly any at all). Here are a few websites with examples (and it’s a very incomplete list):

http://farms-stage.byu.edu/publications/books/?bookid=8&chapid=67

http://farms.byu.edu/publications/books/?bookid=8

http://comevisit.com/lds/bom-evid.htm

http://www.fairlds.org/apol/ai105.html

http://maxwellinstitute.byu.edu/publications/jbms/?vol=14&num=2&id=376&cat_id=293

http://www.bmaf.org/page.php?cmd=view&id=59

-=-=-=

“‘Lifting’ from the King James Bible

There are other problems with the Book of Mormon. For example, critics of Mormonism have shown convincing proof that the Book of Mormon is a synthesis of earlier works (written by other men), of the vivid imaginings of Joseph Smith, and of simple plagiarisms of the King James Bible.”

g: Hmmm…. so, anyone know where the “convincing proof” is? Perhaps even a *name* of this “convincing proof” work/ book/ article? Any way someone other than the author can take a look at it?

-=-=-=

“The only Bible that Joseph Smith relied on was the King James Version. This translation was based on a good but imperfect set of Greek and Hebrew manuscripts of the Bible.

Scholars now know the Textus Receptus contains errors, which means the King James Version contains errors. The problem for Mormons is that these exact same errors show up in the Book of Mormon.

It seems reasonable to assume that since Smith was a prophet of God and was translating the Book of Mormon under divine inspiration, he would have known about the errors found in the King James Version and would have corrected them for when passages from the King James Version appeared in the Book of Mormon. But the errors went in.”

g: Actually, that’s not the story—once more, a complete lack of understanding (unintentional or intentional, I’ll let the author answer). And the real story is actually more favorable to critics than this made-up one.
I don’t know if there is an explanation now other than, “I don’t know”. I’m ok with that—some things I have said that to before about religion and scriptures, have over time become “I know (and usually we were right)”.

-=-=-=
 
The “Fullness” of the Gospel?
“According to a standard Mormon theological work, Doctrines of Salvation, one finds this definition: “By fullness of the gospel is meant all the ordinances and principles that pertain to the exaltation of the celestial kingdom” (vol. 1, p. 160). That’s an official Mormon statement on the subject. But there’s a problem.”

g: “[S]tandard Mormon theological work”? “[O]fficial Mormon statement”? Says who?? Where? Once more, where is the source?
There are other definitions of “fullness of the gospel” that don’t include that. Is it fair to take one definition and let all the others go?

-=-=-=

“If the Book of Mormon contains all the ordinances and principles that pertain to the gospel, why don’t Mormonism’s esoteric doctrines show up in it? The doctrine that God is nothing more than an “exalted man with a body of flesh and bones” appears nowhere in the Book of Mormon. Nor does the doctrine of Jesus Christ being the “spirit brother” of Lucifer. Nor do the doctrines that men can become gods and that God the Father has a god above him, who has a god above him, ad infinitum.”

g: Wait… is all doctrine “principles and ordinances” necessary for salvation? Nope—though the author would have you believe that. So what are the basic principles and ordinances? Faith and repentance are the principles, and baptism by water and fire, and priesthood, are the ordinances. Are those in the Book of Mormon? Quite a bit.

-=-=-= 

“The Book of Mormon is Anti-Mormon

These heterodox teachings, and many others like them, appear nowhere in the Book of Mormon. In fact, pivotal Mormon doctrines are flatly refuted by the Book of Mormon.

For instance, the most pointed refutation of the Mormon doctrine that the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost are actually three separate gods is found in Alma 11:28-31: “Now Zeezrom said: ‘Is there more than one God?’ and [Amulek] answered, ‘No.’ And Zeezrom said unto him again, ‘How knowest thou these things?’ And he said: ‘An angel hath made them known unto me.’”

g: I hope that’s the “most pointed” because it’s pretty blunt—when put in context. Zeezrom is asking if there is more than one God that will save mankind; Amulek says no: just one way, just one Savior. Would you basically agree?

-=-=-=

“The Bottom Line

The Book of Mormon fails on three main counts. First, it utterly lacks historical or archaeological support, and there is an overwhelming body of empirical evidence that refutes it.”

G: So lacking support means it fails? How so? By the way, as I showed, there is plenty of support, and the trend continues.

And where is the “overwhelming body of empirical evidence that refutes it”? I missed it.

-=-=-=

“Second, the Book of Mormon contains none of the key Mormon doctrines. This is important to note because the Latter-Day Saints make such a ballyhoo about it containing the “fullness of the everlasting gospel.” (It would be more accurate to say it contains almost none of their “everlasting gospel” at all.) Third, the Book of Mormon abounds in textual errors, factual errors, and outright plagiarisms from other works.”

g: Already answered that.

Huh? “Textual errors, factual errors, and outright plagiarisms from other works.” Evidence, please. “Textual errors” make a book not scripture?

-=-=-=

“If you’re asked by Mormon missionaries to point out examples of such errors, here are two you can use.

We read that Jesus “shall be born of Mary at Jerusalem, which is in the land of our forefathers” (Alma 7:10). But Jesus was born in Bethlehem, not Jerusalem (Matt. 2:1).

If you mention this to a Mormon missionary, he might say Jerusalem and Bethlehem are only a few miles apart and that Alma could have been referring to the general area around Jerusalem. But Bethany is even closer to Jerusalem than is Bethlehem, yet the Gospels make frequent reference to Bethany as a separate town.”

g: My goodness, again!?! Please, there are about how many hundreds of websites that made this a non-issue decades ago… (If you need help finding one, leave me a comment.)

-=-=-=

“Another problem: Scientists have demonstrated that honey bees were first brought to the New World by Spanish explorers in the fifteenth century, but the Book of Mormon, in Ether 2:3, claims they were introduced around 2000 B.C.

The problem was that Joseph Smith wasn’t a naturalist; he didn’t know anything about bees and where and when they might be found. He saw bees in America and threw them in the Book of Mormon as a little local color. He didn’t realize he’d get stung by them.”

g: Once more, what seems like a blunder by Joseph Smith turns out to be a wonder.

“[L]ocal” would actually most likely be in Asia, not America—go take a look at the text of the Book of Mormon and see if it mentions bees in the Americas.

Nevertheless—where did the New World Maya get their bees? I don’t know either, but it seems they had them (Cute ending; ironically, however, the bees are stingless–see http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2005/06/050615062105.htm , for example.)

-=-=-=

“Tell the Mormon missionaries: “Look, it is foolish to pray about things you know are not God’s will. It would be wrong of me to pray about whether adultery is right, when the Bible clearly says it is not. Similarly, it would be wrong of me to pray about the Book of Mormon when one can so easily demonstrate that it is not the word of God.”

g: If after reading all this you think the author of the original article is still correct, you’re likely to take his advice, which I imagine is his main desire. And, I’d also suggest not wasting your time reading or praying, either, as it likely wouldn’t do much for you.

Of course, you could be more honest and truthful and just tell the Mormon missionaries, “I don’t feel like it right now, thank you, I feel fine” or such.

-=-=-=

“NIHIL OBSTAT: I have concluded that the materials
presented in this work are free of doctrinal or moral errors.
Bernadeane Carr, STL, Censor Librorum, August 10, 2004”

g: “Free of doctrinal or moral errors”?!? That’s a good one I’ll have to pass around sometime. Perhaps the Evangelicals could use this service, too? Is there a charge for it?

-=-=-=

“IMPRIMATUR: In accord with 1983 CIC 827
permission to publish this work is hereby granted.
+Robert H. Brom, Bishop of San Diego, August 10, 2004”


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