Book of Mormon Notes– How deep can you dig?

2009, February 27

“The Ministering of Angels versus the Holy Ghost” by grego

“The Ministering of Angels versus the Holy Ghost”
by grego

So, what’s the difference between the minstering of angels and the Holy Ghost?
I think there are a few things:
1. For most LDS/ Mormons, the Holy Ghost (including His gifts) will suffice for and be used for most things, especially spiritual.
2. Angels are more for temporal salvation, especially when there is immediate and clear need of more, and when there is no path already prepared.
3. Angels also appear to give clear messages, help, teachings, etc. Angels are more involved with helping those who, through lack of prayer or ordinance or worthiness, don’t or cannot receive the Holy Ghost and His help.
4. Angels may let one clearly understand, as a sign beforehand, that there was heavenly involvement in a matter. Certain things might need hands to perform, too.

As with all true heavenly things, the Holy Ghost and angels will not conflict in any way.

So, is that a complete list? Nope.
Is any of that doctrine? Not that I’m aware of.
Is it helpful? It has been for me!

The Book of Mormon clearly testifies multiple times of both the Holy Ghost and His gifts, and the ministering of angels. Next time through, note the occurrences and the conditions of both.


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2009, February 24

A Different LDS/ Mormon Critique of Abraham Lincoln; Or, “Why Abraham Lincoln Might Still Be in Hell” by grego

A Different LDS/ Mormon Critique of Abraham Lincoln; Or, “Why Abraham Lincoln Might Still Be in Hell”
by grego

Ok, that’s kind of a no-brainer for a Mormon why Lincoln might still be in hell, even though he might have been an awesome, God-fearing man. I’m talking like a “normal” Christian, though.

There’s quite a worship of Lincoln in America. He ranks second, only to George Washington; Presidents Day is basically about those two.

There’s also quite a worship of Lincoln in the LDS Church. In fact, it’s possible he ranks right under C.S. Lewis, maybe tied with Mother Theresa. He clearly ranks above most presidents and civil leaders. He is oft-quoted (as if he actually wrote what he spoke…) in General Conference. The “epitome” of Independence Day celebration music is the Mormon Tabernacle Choir’s rendition of “The Battle Hymn of the Republic” which stirs LDS hearts and souls as they remember… I’m not quite sure what it is that is remembered; I guess that God loves America, though I ‘m not sure what the connection between that and Abraham Lincoln is…

Where Abraham Lincoln is now or what he’s doing, I don’t know; of course I hope he has repented and is enjoying the good gospel life. But this isn’t about what he’s doing; it’s about what he did.

I posit Abraham Lincoln is likely the most evil men to have ever ruled America, and the main reason for the tribulations of war prophesied by Joseph Smith. And to top it off, he didn’t like Mormons.

The legend of Lincoln that most Americans (including me) learned and learn in school and by watching films like “National Treasure 2” will, for those willing to read and think (hopefully all of you), die a quick death today. LDS will find it nearly impossible to cogently believe that Lincoln was inspired of God, one of the greatest presidents and heroes to ever live, religious, and greatly deserving of our admiration and respect; in fact, they will understand that he was probably the worst.

Lincoln reminds me of Pahoran , a great propagandist and orator–just on a much higher level, and much worse. As one author wrote about Lincoln: “Face it.  The guy was an extremely ambitious political, legal and literary genius masquerading as a backwoods lawyer.  Abe was slicker than Johnnie Cochran summing up for O. J., pushing an agenda that killed way more than two people.  Thanks to his incomparable rhetorical skills, Lincoln has heretofore been found not guilty of killing 670,000 people and one constitution.” (“DiLorenzo and His Critics on the Lincoln Myth”, by James Ostrowski, April 2003; located at www.mises.org/journals/scholar/ostrowksi.pdf or www.lewrockwell.com/ostrowski/ostrowski39.html ).

First, a few things need to be set straight:
1. The War Between the States (what most refer to as “The Civil War”) was not about the North being righteous and against the bad treatment of Black slaves.

Charles Dickens summed it up well: “Union means so many millions a year lost to the South; secession means the loss of the same millions to the North. The love of money is the root of this, as of many other evils. The quarrel between the North and South is, as it stands, solely a fiscal quarrel.”

A congressman from Texas, Reagan, said (on 15 January 1861): “You are not content with the vast millions of tribute we pay you annually under the operation of our revenue law, our navigation laws, your fishing bounties, and by making your people our manufacturers, our merchants, our shippers. You are not satisfied with the vast tribute we pay you to build up your great cities, your railroads, your canals. You are not satisfied with the millions of tribute we have been paying you on account of the balance of exchange which you hold against us. You are not satisfied that we of the South are almost reduced to the condition of overseers of northern capitalists. You are not satisfied with all this; but you must wage a relentless crusade against our rights and institutions.”

The North was forcing the South to keep the government and country afloat in funds. One major way was the North forced the South to buy manufactured goods from them at high prices, or pay a very high tariff on imported manufactured foreign goods. Then the money collected was spent mostly on the North. The South protested, but to no avail. Yes, slaves certainly had a lot to do with this, but it was a double slavery—Blacks to mostly Southern owners, and all Southerners to the Northerners.

It’s clear that Lincoln didn’t plan to free the slaves unless it became a political necessity, and never considered Blacks on his level; for him, “all men are created equal” did *not* apply to the Blacks. Compare his views and what he did, with the views and proposition of Joseph Smith regarding resolving the release of Black slaves quickly, with fairness for both sides, without arms or blood, and good will.

2. Lincoln didn’t feel nor demonstrate much love for the Saints:

Lincoln spoke against polygamy. In fact, as president he signed into law the Anti-Polygamy Act (in 1862). Luckily for the Saints, Lincoln didn’t enforce the law (with a war ready to get started and all, he had other things to take care of first), but it set the stage for further trouble for the Saints, in the same line as constitutional meddling a la Lincoln.

When asked about the Saints in 1963, Lincoln said: “…when I was a boy on the farm in Illinois, there was a great deal of timber on the farms which we had to clear away. Occasionally we wou[l]d come to a log which had fallen down. It was too hard to split, too wet to burn and too heavy to move, so we plowed around it. That’s what I intend to do with the Mormons. You go back and tell Brigham Young that if he will let me alone, I will let him alone.”

So, Mr. Lincoln, I’ve been thinkin’… What if the “LDS log” *hadn’t* been “too hard to split, too wet to burn and too heavy to move”? Would you have “coerced” the Saints, as he had opined earlier that he would? Would he have “taken care of” the LDS like he “took care of” the South?

So did Lincoln keep his word?

Not really. After the Saints were in Utah, Lincoln sent three federal judges there; if I recall correctly, two of which were openly anti-LDS (before Lincoln appointed them, and afterwards, too), and one which was neutral.

Lastly, folks, think: Nauvoo, Illinois. Lincoln, backwoods boy from… Illinois. Where was Lincoln, with the assassinations of Joseph and Hyrum Smith, and the driving out of the Saints? The LDS Church criticizes Martin van Buren for not helping the Saints; what about Abraham Lincoln? Though others might think so, I personally don’t really think Lincoln was doing a “greater work”.

Here’s from the Doctrine and Covenants 87:
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.
3 For behold, the Southern States shall be divided against the Northern States, and the Southern States will call on other nations, even the nation of Great Britain, as it is called, and they shall also call upon other nations, in order to defend themselves against other nations; and then war shall be poured out upon all nations.
4 And it shall come to pass, after many days, slaves shall rise up against their masters, who shall be marshaled and disciplined for war.

What was so special about this war, that “war will be poured out upon all nations, beginning at this place”? Is there a connection. I believe so, and it is an important key, and I will answer that shortly. Note that there is nothing in the verses (or the others in the section) about who is right or wrong in the war (the “Civil War”). Note that the slaves that are being talked about in verse four are not Blacks in the war between the North and the South, for a few reasons: the placement of the verse, the timing, and historical reality.

Did the LDS Church ever strongly support the North, especially on principles? Or did the LDS leaders ask the Saints to serve in the North only when called upon (wait, I thought Lincoln was going to leave them alone?) and then give a promise that the soldiers wouldn’t have to shoot others, in order to avoid being labeled rebels by the North and to garner safety against an otherwise sure destruction that such a label would bring? Remember, the Saints had already been through the Utah War of rebellion a few years earlier (1857-8), and knew that the next time it wouldn’t end so well, especially for the Saints. Generally, both the North and the South had rejected the Saints and their plight (search for some Brigham Young quotes about that). In a recent Ensign article, we read: “Dr. Wall Southwick recounted a meeting he had attended in Carthage, Illinois, wherein the enemies of the Prophet had gathered together from every state in the Union but three. They were concerned that Joseph’s “views on government were widely circulated and took like wildfire.” According to Southwick, they believed that if the Prophet “did not get into the Presidential chair this election, he would be sure to the next time; and if Illinois and Missouri would join together and kill him, they would not be brought to justice for it.” (History of the Church, 6: 605–6). Doesn’t sound like just Southerners to me…

Some (most all, probably) of you reading this might be thinking, well, so what? There’s nothing really strong against him there, and the tone here is really disrespectful of him.

So, from these things, I was able to listen to the following, which showed, by research, debate, and first-hand sources, that they were much more likely to be true than anything I had ever read or heard about Lincoln–a tyrant that committed numerous evils and unconstitutional acts, including (there might be one or two repeats). Here’s a basic list (sorry if there is a little redundancy and overlap, it’s a lot to keep track of) what he did that I believe was wrong:
1.secretly arresting and illegally imprisoning anyone he deemed a threat (in the North), especially newspaper editors;
2.not allowing the states to secede, which the founding fathers allowed;
3.then, allowing West Virginia to illegally secede from Virginia;
4.forming Kansas and Nevada unconstitutionally;
5.sending the military to control the voting lines (i.e., throw out all the opposition voters) and imprisoning opposing politicians;
6.militarily set up the South to fire on Fort Sumter by tricking and lying to them;
7.recruiting criminals to serve as pillagers and plunderers in Sherman’s army;
8.killing civilians, razing the South, and supporting torture, rape, starvation, robbery, theft, confiscation, and destruction;
9.believing “might makes right”;
10.though feeling that slavery was regrettable and a state right, then turning around and going against this, as it was convenient to do so for him;
11.feeling that Blacks were inferior to Whites, and was in support of Whites remaining on a higher social and political level, never wanting to make “voters or jurors of Negroes, nor of qualifying them to hold office, nor to intermarry with white people”, and if he could never free them and still accomplish his designs of “saving the Union”, that would be fine;
12.never defending a runaway slave, though he defended a slaveholder against his runaway slave;
13.promoting an unconstitutional central bank and inflationary paper money;
14.being unwilling to allow mediation or discussion to avoid the War;
15.refusing to see peace commissioners from the Confederacy offering to pay for all federal property in the South;
16.supporting protectionist tariffs for the North;
17.nationalizing the railroads;
18.being in favor of corporate welfare for the railroad industry;
19.suspending habeas corpus;
20.opposing states’ rights that were clearly constitutional;
21.launching a military invasion without consent of Congress;
22.blockading Southern ports without declaring war;
23.imprisoning without warrant or trial some 13,000 Northern citizens who opposed his policies;
24.arresting dozens of newspaper editors and owners and, in some cases, had federal soldiers destroy their printing presses;
25.censoring all telegraph communication;
26.deporting a member of Congress after he criticized Lincoln’s unconstitutional behavior;
27.confiscating private property;
28.confiscating firearms in violation of the Second Amendment;
29.blatantly ignoring the Ninth and Tenth Amendments;
30.closing churches and imprisoning (and more) ministers for failing to pray for him;
31.ordering the Postmaster General to deny newspapers that criticized him delivery through the mail;
32.ignoring rulings delivered by the U.S. Supreme Court;
33.myths about great things he said that he never really said, as far as can be proven; and more, as almost straight from the site, http://www.LewRockwell.com:
34.saying contradictory things to different audiences;
35.supporting a political economy that encourages corruption and inefficiency;
36.supporting conscription;
37.supporting a disastrous public works project in Illinois and continuing to support the same policies oblivious of the consequences;
38.conjuring up a specious and deceptive argument against the historically-recognized right of state secession;
39.supporting a tariff and other policies that systematically redistributed wealth from the South to the North, causing great consternation in the South;
40.tolerating inhumane conditions in prison;
41.supporting a law that indemnified public officials for unlawful acts;
42.laying the groundwork for the establishment of conscription and income taxation as permanent institutions;
43.rigging elections in Maryland and elsewhere in the North;
44.tolerating or supporting mistreatment of citizens in conquered territory and
45.taxing those citizens without their consent;
46.executing those who refused to take a loyalty oath;
47.quartering troops in private homes unlawfully;
48.allowing an unjust mass execution of Sioux Indians in Minnesota;
49.engineering a constitutional revolution through military force which destroyed state sovereignty and replaced it with rule by the Supreme Court (and the United States Army);
50.laying the groundwork for the imperialist and militarist campaigns of the future as well as the welfare/ warfare state;
51.creating the dangerous precedent of establishing a strong consolidated state out of a decentralized confederation;
52.effectively killing secession as a threat, thus encouraging the rise of our modern federal monolith;
53.using civilians as hostages;
54.promoting a general because of his willingness to use his troops as cannon fodder;
55.setting up the plundering of the South by his allies, after the war;
56.creating the federal tax bureaucracy and various taxes that are still with us;
57.ending slavery by means that created turbulence that continues to this day;
58.desecrating a battlefield graveyard right after battle, to the great dismay of the remaining men;
59.establishing precedents for centralized powers and suppression of liberties that continue to be cited and followed today.

In other words: *Lincoln basically one-handedly maimed the Constitution and it has never recovered*. And that is the cause of most of America’s problems today. The executive branch has upset the power structure the Constitution was set up to preserve, both between the USA and the states that form it, and between the other branches–and Lincoln is the major reason for that. Now, the president basically decides monetary policy, military policy, and domestic policy, and presents bills to Congress. States have very few powers left.

(**Most of the above information and most all, if not all, the quotes in this article have been taken and/ or gleaned from Lew Rockwell, at www.LewRockwell.com, or from www.mises.org . I encourage further reading there.)

More about Abraham Lincoln from the site:

“Lincoln never joined a church and was opposed by almost all the ministers of Springfield, Illinois, when he ran for president. He was infamous for his dirty jokes and even his criticisms of Scripture. There is no explicit evidence that he ever became a Christian, and some of his contemporaries believed he was an atheist…”
“Lincoln was nevertheless brilliant in his use of religious language and images to mesmerize Northern audiences, especially the hyper-puritanical New England Yankees and their upper Midwest brethren. After launching a war that he apparently thought would last only a few months, Lincoln distanced himself more and more from responsibility for his own decisions by invoking religion. By the time of his Second Inaugural, when over a half million young American men had been killed in the war, he was to the point of absolving himself entirely from any responsibility for all the war’s death and destruction. He declared that “the war came,” as though he had nothing to do with it, and said that it was all out of his hands and a matter of God’s will. He theorized that God was punishing America for the sin of slavery. This argument was nonsensical on its face, however, since it ignored the fact that some 95 percent of all the slaves that were brought to the western hemisphere ended up outside the U.S., where no such “punishment” was being executed by the Lord. Why would God punish Americans for the sin of slavery but no one else?
In his Second Inaugural Lincoln quoted at length Mathew 18:7 and Luke 17:1 in order to make the argument that both North and South were being punished for the sin of slavery. This in itself is, well, Straussian, since Lincoln claimed to know the “inner meaning” of God’s Word.”

By the way: Yes, there is more to that list, both in general and in specific; and the short phrases on that list hardly do justice for the horrors he committed.

So, why don’t LDS know any of this? Two reasons: it has been set up so that we never learn it, mainly because I believe it glorifies, justifies, empowers, and serves the federal government; and because we are blinded by prejudice (there’s more than one type).
Here is a prime example of what I’m talking about, LDS being taught wrong things and being blinded: http://richardkmiller.com/mormonism/joseph-smith-and-abraham-lincoln/. Richard Bushman, who is (supposed to be) a great historian!, presents points about Lincoln; yet, five of them are either clearly incorrect or misleading. But, I believe Bushman is in the same boat as us, hoodwinked by the Lincoln Cult, just the same way that many of these early political leaders were told lies about the LDS Church and its leaders…

As that and the following articles show, I also see what seems like it might be a strong desire from LDS to link Joseph Smith and Abraham Lincoln (though I’m not sure why):
http://www.meridianmagazine.com/ideas/090209lincoln.html
http://www.lds.net/forums/lds-gospel-discussion/17976-did-abraham-lincoln-ever-meet-joseph-smith.html
http://www.mormontimes.com/people_news/religion/?id=6248

According to A. Johnson, “The President has been cited over 200 times in General Conference Addresses.” (http://thegreataccommodation.blogspot.com/2008/05/mormons-and-presidents-lincoln-johnson.html)

By the way, to be clear, Lincoln didn’t write his speeches, and certainly not the parts about the Bible, God, etc. (See those recommended articles about this.)

I especially encourage all LDS who still believe that Abraham Lincoln was a good, God-fearing righteous man, to read at least an exerpt of “America’s Caesar: Abraham Lincoln and the Birth of a Modern Empire” by Greg Loren Durand found here, on the author’s website: http://www.crownrights.com/blog/etext/cult_of_lincoln.htm . It is not full of opinions, but quotes from those who knew Abraham Lincoln very well and were eyewitnesses to many of his words and acts, both public and private.

So, I forgive the man; judgment–for bad or good–is with Abraham Lincoln and the Lord. However, never let it be said, when I have a say, and especially among LDS, that Abraham Lincoln was a good man and a great president who did much good.

Further reading:
http://mises.org/article.aspx?Id=973&FS=Confronting+the+Lincoln+Cult

(This is another article/ topic that I’ve had sitting around for a while… There are about two more, I guess, that I’ve had here since probably 2005… Yay, finally!)


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2009, February 18

Book of Mormon: “An Oath of Liberty: A Critique of the Book of Mormon as Support for a Moral Obligation to Fight for One’s Government” by grego

Book of Mormon: “An Oath of Liberty: A Critique of the Book of Mormon as Support for a Moral Obligation to Fight for One’s Government” by grego

Some people use the instances of Moroni and the freemen versus the kingmen as proof that one has a moral obligation when called upon by one’s government to fight for their country, such as the following verse:
“And it came to pass that whomsoever of the Amalickiahites that would not enter into a covenant to support the cause of freedom, that they might maintain a free government, he (Moroni) caused to be put to death; and there were but few who denied the covenant of freedom” (Alma 46:35).

However, we will see that the use of the scriptures in this way is not correct, and those who believe that the Book of Mormon preaches against conscientious objectors, draft dodgers, etc., and imposes the death penalty on them are incorrect.

First, let’s look at the history of this situation from the Book of Mormon, which is a little long, but essential to understanding the verse above:
Alma 46:1 AND it came to pass that as many as would not hearken to the words of Helaman and his brethren were gathered together against their brethren.
Alma 46:2 And now behold, they were exceedingly wroth, insomuch that they were determined to slay them.
Alma 46:4 And Amalickiah was desirous to be a king; and those people who were wroth were also desirous that he should be their king; and they were the greater part of them the lower judges of the land, and they were seeking for power.
Alma 46:5 And they had been led by the flatteries of Amalickiah, that if they would support him and establish him to be their king that he would make them rulers over the people.
Alma 46:29 And it came to pass that when Amalickiah saw that the people of Moroni were more numerous than the Amalickiahites–and he also saw that his people were doubtful concerning the justice of the cause in which they had undertaken–therefore, fearing that he should not gain the point, he took those of his people who would and departed into the land of Nephi.
Alma 46:32 And it came to pass that he did according to his desires, and marched forth into the wilderness, and headed the armies of Amalickiah.
Alma 46:33 And it came to pass that Amalickiah fled with a small number of his men, and the remainder were delivered up into the hands of Moroni and were taken back into the land of Zarahemla.
Alma 46:34 Now, Moroni being a man who was appointed by the chief judges and the voice of the people, therefore he had power according to his will with the armies of the Nephites, to establish and to exercise authority over them.
Alma 46:35 And it came to pass that whomsoever of the Amalickiahites that would not enter into a covenant to support the cause of freedom, that they might maintain a free government, he caused to be put to death; and there were but few who denied the covenant of freedom.

So, there are a few important things that happen before the key verse:
1. Many people (“king-men”) want a king instead of a judge.
2. Most of the king-men are judges (government officials).
3. They conspire with Amalickiah for future positions of power in exchange for help in making him king.
4. They are wroth with those that don’t stand with them, and want to slay them.
5. The king-men don’t ask for a vote on the matter, unlike the Amlicites (Alma 2:4-6).
6. The king-men see that they aren’t as powerful as the freemen, and want to leave Nephite land.
7. They are captured/ arrested while still in Nephite land.

At this point, it is probable that the king-men are not just in a state of dissenting opinion, contention, and dispute, but are dissenters, rebels, opposers of the government in more than word–in a state of open forceful opposition to the government. Every time the word dissenter is used in the Book of Mormon, it is more than just words–there is a physical separation because of a disagreement over law or government. The king-men have chosen to be enemies of the state. They are doing this while still in Nephite land. By doing so, they could be charged with treason and likely executed.

Now, even in this state, Moroni gives them the choice to return in good standing, or suffer the consequences of their choices. Not once do we read in the Book of Mormon of any other Nephite (other than the chief judge) having to take an oath of allegience to the Nephite government. At least for the king-men, taking the oath–after rebelling against the state–allowed them to set aside their penalty and reaffirm their citizenship and rights; refusing to take the oath would just allow the just penalty to be enforced. This oath was to support their form of government, and was a protective set-up so that when Amalickiah and the Lamanites came against the Nepites, they would not be divided on the inside.

If the Amalickiahites had not committed any crime, but had decided to leave the country and go to the Lamanites, this likely would have been fine. However, by being determined to slay” innocent people, wanting to seek kingship by force, then having the plan to leave the country with a plan to become the Lamanites allies against the Nephites, the king-men are clearly in an illegal situation.

Later, in Alma 62:7, we learn that king-men resisted the lawful Nephite government by the sword, yet the men who were not slain in battle were taken prisoners and received a fair trial. Once more, the opponenets of liberty were required to take an oath. For them, it was not just fight for the defense of the country or die, which would have still been a fair oath, I believe; but: “whosoever would not take up arms in the defence of their country, BUT WOULD FIGHT AGAINST IT, were put to death.” In Alma 62:10, it reads: “And thus it became expedient that this law should be strictly observed for the safety of their country; yea, and whosoever was found denying their freedom was speedily executed according to the law.” “Fighting against the country” and “denying freedom” are different than opposing or refusing to fight in a war.

There are many reasons given in the Book of Mormon why one can and maybe should fight. See my post here: https://bookofmormonnotes.wordpress.com/wp-admin/post.php?action=edit&post=141 .

The story of the Anti-Nephi-Lehies must also be considered. They refused to take up arms to fight their enemies, and they were righteous:
Alma 24:6 Now there was not one soul among all the people who had been converted unto the Lord that would take up arms against their brethren; nay, they would not even make any preparations for war; yea, and also their king commanded them that they should not.
Alma 24:18 And this they did, it being in their view a testimony to God, and also to men, that they never would use weapons again for the shedding of man’s blood; and this they did, vouching and covenanting with God, that rather than shed the blood of their brethren they would give up their own lives; and rather than take away from a brother they would give unto him; and rather than spend their days in idleness they would labor abundantly with their hands.
Alma 27:27 And they were among the people of Nephi, and also numbered among the people who were of the church of God. And they were also distinguished for their zeal towards God, and also towards men; for they were perfectly honest and upright in all things; and they were firm in the faith of Christ, even unto the end.
Alma 27:28 And they did look upon shedding the blood of their brethren with the greatest abhorrence; and they never could be prevailed upon to take up arms against their brethren; and they never did look upon death with any degree of terror, for their hope and views of Christ and the resurrection; therefore, death was swallowed up to them by the victory of Christ over it.
Alma 27:30 And thus they were a zealous and beloved people, a highly favored people of the Lord.

So, it should be clear that the Book of Mormon cannot be used by those who want everyone to necessarily follow the call to arms or be drafted or fight “for their country”, as twisted as that meaning is these days.

When deciding whether to fight for one’s country or not, many things may be considered:
*the country’s history of fighting;
*whether the country has ever lied about its involvement or purposes before;
*how the war started, and why;
*whether the cause is just, or not;
*whether the fighting is in direct defense of the country or not;
*whether the fighting is in the the country or not;
*what support the government gives its warriors (during and after the fighting);
*etc.
This must be based mostly on real history, not future promises or “top secret confidential secret information”.

For example, when looking at the USA, we see that:
*the USA has lied about the reason for getting involved in most wars;
*the USA has lied in almost every war to get the government’s and citizens’ support;
*the USA has rarely, especially recently, fought to truly defend itself and its innocent citizens;
*the USA has rarely fought on US soil against an aggressive first offense invader;
*the USA has rarely equipped its fighters with necessities, even after repeated communications of the problems and requests by soldiers and their leaders;
*the USA has a record of betraying its fighters to the enemy, such as in Vietnam and the USS Liberty;
*the USA, since at least Korea, has treated its veterans horribly and dishonorably.
(I know, that’s probably not what you learned in history class, unless you took it from me.)

So, were anyone from the USA to choose to not be forcefully drafted, especially to fight in a foreign country, it’s clear that this person might be extremely patriotic and freedom-loving, maybe even more than those who would go. It’s an injustice to judge someone on just this issue, especially by trying to rely on the Book of Mormon for support.


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2009, February 17

Book of Mormon | “Three Spirits: God, Devil, and Man” by grego

Book of Mormon | “Three Spirits: God, Devil, and Man” by grego

(I started this in 2005 and it’s been sitting the whole time… I figured I’d finish it and put it up.)

On one teaching experience on my mission, my companion for the day and I felt a very strong influence of the Spirit as we spoke with a young woman who was unsure of her faith, her testimony, her boyfriend, whether she should get baptized or not, and what she really wanted. It was clear by revelations we received as we spoke with her that the Spirit was there. Following what were clearly the promptings of the Spirit of God, I asked her to take out a piece of paper and a pen, and start writing down whatever came into her mind, especially her feelings and thoughts, without stopping. She finished a page; I asked her to continue. She kept writing until she suddenly stopped and said, “Ok, I’m done”. I asked her what she had written. With a blank look on her face, replaced by a startled look, she replied, “I don’t know”. She returned to her paper and read. She was very surprised to read her own testimony and her feelings and thoughts regarding the choices she knew she had to make. Tears came to her eyes and she choked up more than once; she was clearly overcome by the Spirit of God. She was later baptized. In a way, she had converted herself.

Years later, I found out that we had performed a session of what might be called “automatic writing”. Searching the internet, I found something amazing–most all the references said it was of the devil! What?? Interestingly, a friend said he had experienced automatic writing on both sides, and could tell the difference (which sounds kind of obvious, but might not be…).

In my experience, many ChristiansTM and LDS believe the following: there are only two spirits in the world–the “spirit of God”, and the “spirit of the devil”. Everything can be categorized into those two groups: for God (good), or against God (evil). These two spirits control everything, and fight for everything. It might be possible, but unlikely, that there is a mixture of the two spirits–something is usually either just “good” or “bad”. (This is why books like “Early Mormonism and the Magic World View” cause such a ruckus and chaos for both ChristiansTM and LDS.) While this all might be true in a few cases, I believe that it is extremely simplistic, general, and incomplete.

Here is a classic example:
“1. Joseph Smith’s family were occultists, and he had been personally involved in both the occult and necromancy since his youth. There is consistent evidence in this regard, including affidavits signed by neighbours that verify amongst other things, his participation in occultic animal sacrifice and contact with the dead. LDS seminary teacher Grant Palmer documented the occultic beliefs and practices of the Smith family in his book, “An Insider’s View of Mormon Origins”(SLC, Signature Books, 2002, pages 175 to 195). And Ed Howe mentions in his book, “Mormonism Unvailed,” that sixty‑two residents of Palmyra, New York, had signed affidavits negatively reflecting on the Smith family, their reputation, character, occupation and habits. And Joseph admitted to having been a “money digger,” which was the designation used for a person who claimed to have the ability to locate the whereabouts of buried treasure (History of the Church, Volume 3, page 29).” (from a source that has within two days disappeared form the internet..? Either that or Google has messed up; but there are similar quotes and claims elsewhere on the internet.)

Anyone looking more closely at the Smith’s family real history and with a deeper understanding would find that these claims eventually amount to nothing of substance–though I imagine that since very little checking of sources occurs, the writer might have been been misled (hmmm… God, devil, man?). Notwithstanding many clear logical responses of many LDS/ Mormon apologists, claims like this and more continue to litter the internet.

I propose that LDS think of three spirits being in the world: God, devil, and man; and that everything that is or happens can be categorized into five groups: clearly and directly of God (though when given to man, it becomes less than perfect); influenced by God; clearly and directly of the devil; influenced by the devil; and of man. Mixtures and especially fluctuations are definitely possible, and quite likely. Truth can be mixed with untruth, either intentionally or unintentionally. So, for example, a religion could contain many truths, and a few falsehoods. (Even LDS Sunday School can be like that!)

According to David Whitmer, in 1829 Joseph Smith taught that “some revelations are of God: some revelations are of man: and some revelations are of the devil” (David Whitmer, An Address to All Believers in Christ, p.31). While there is a lot of support that David Whitmer’s statement is not factual ( http://en.fairmormon.org/Did_Joseph_Smith_attempt_to_sell_the_Book_of_Mormon_copyright%3F ), especially in its intended con-LDS interpretation, nevertheless–I guess for those who must believe it–it’s pretty much true. Many misinterpret this to mean that Joseph Smith received revelations from men and the devil, and was confused and couldn’t tell them apart; but, the statement means just what it says–we can separate things in this life, and assign them to, three spirits or sources–God, man, and the devil.

If I think and make a decision–any decision–it had to come from somewhere; likely it came from one of those three, or a combination. Did God, Satan, or yourself tell yourself to go through your daily routine of getting ready this morning? Which source told you how to start your car last time you drove? Sure, God created the world, but is he in complete infinite conscious micromanagement of every atom in this world and every other? Does he have to remind the sun to rise every day, or does he set laws and boundaries and things follow a course?

What is the spirit of man? This is obviously a harder topic. However, I believe it to be pretty simple, more or less. Basically it’s a misnomer–there is no “spirit of man”, so to say; it is the natural laws that exist here on this earth, both inside and outside of us. It consists, more or less, of non-saving, non-gospel truths.

By holding that there is clearly only good or evil, right or wrong, white or black, there is a strong limitation of knowledge and useful or helpful application. The LDS Church doesn’t talk about much of anything outside of saving truths and gospel truths, even if it were to be of benefit, though “tips” often do make their way into many talks and a few publications. This is understandable, and agreeable for a church. However, this limiting seems to have put an unspoken restriction on the search of truth and knowledge outside of gospel and traditional acceptable Western studies, and brands anyone who searches for truth outside of these subjects–unless possibly done in a Western “professional” or “scientific” way–a loony, a fruitcake, an inactive, a rebel, or something worse (like “a son of perdition” ;) ).

This is interesting because miracles have been defined by many leaders in the LDS Church as occurrences that are according to the laws of nature that we don’t understand yet. I don’t know if we really understand what that means. In general we interpret it as “laws of nature that fit in with out traditional scientific paradigm”. But it really means that there are many things, about the natural world we live in, that we don’t understand yet. LDS accept angels without the blink of an eye, but have a hard time accepting the possibility of ghosts. LDS can accept that a man can walk on water with the help of God, so why is it impossible for a person to walk on water without the help of God? Perhaps even worse, if ChristiansTM see it done by non-ChristiansTM or even competing ChristiansTM, it’s not from God. And if LDS see it done by a non-LDS, we in general likewise naturally assume that it is either trickery or done by the power of the devil.

I’ll ask a few questions now. Which spirit do the following fall under: hypnosis? kinesiology? crystal healing? sleepwalking, with a change of weight and eyes closed? anti-gravity? UFO’s? OBE (out of body experiences)/ astral projection? modern-day monsters or creatures (of any sort)? crystal balls? dowsing rods? energy healing? pyramid power? yoga? prayer (by non-LDS)? miracles for non-LDS? miracles by non-LDS? miracles in the name of God, by non-LDS?

Maybe the better question is, are any of the above the tool of , or under, the same spirit–ALWAYS? Or is it that these things (at least some of them) are neither intrinsically good or bad, but its goodness or badness is to be found in the way someone believes in it and uses it?

LDS scriptures seem to say that it’s easy to distinguish between the spirit of God and the spirit of the devil. Yet, LDS believe in the “differences of administration” (Doctrine and Covenants 46:15), the “diversities of operations” (D-C 46:16) and the spirit of discernment (D-C 46:27).
(15 And again, to some it is given by the Holy Ghost to know the differences of administration, as it will be pleasing unto the same Lord, according as the Lord will, suiting his mercies according to the conditions of the children of men. 16 And again, it is given by the Holy Ghost to some to know the diversities of operations, whether they be of God, that the manifestations of the Spirit may be given to every man to profit withal… 27 And unto the bishop of the church, and unto such as God shall appoint and ordain to watch over the church and to be elders unto the church, are to have it given unto them to discern all those gifts lest there shall be any among you professing and yet be not of God.)

So if it’s so easy to distinguish, why these gifts? I believe that part of the reason is not just to distinguish the good from the bad, but to distinguish them both from the spirit of man, and the degrees and mixtures between them–especially when we as humans try to judge them through our own filters of belief, understanding, and experience.

I do not claim these gifts in any special way; in fact, I feel I would like to use them a lot more than I am able to. However, here are a few examples of what I’ve experienced that show the importance of these things, to me:
*one day I was sitting in a church-school cafeteria when a boy suddenly jumped up with this look of pain and surprise on his face. Clutching his stomach area with both hands, he screamed out loud what sounded like “he stabbed me!” Something was definitely going on here. The boy sitting next to him–who didn’t have the best reputation–scooted away and had a scary look on his face. Goosebumps shot up my arms. I looked for the blood coming from the boy’s stomach. I didn’t see any. A few seconds later the authorities took over, and I was late for class. Later, I found out that the the boy sitting next to him hadn’t done anything, and was more freaked out than I had been! What had happened? The guy hadn’t taken his medication.
*Another time I was in stake conference. Right after the closing prayer, a man jumped up and quickly walked towards the back, yelling, “Bro. _, I’m going to kill you!” more than once–there was no doubt about what he had said. Obviously the spirit of the devil!, right? Either take him outside and beat him, or cast that devil out! Well, some men took him outside all right, but got his medicine from his wife and gave him some. He was fine.
*Another time I watched men go into a trance and chew glass and rip coconuts apart with their teeth. Though they believe they are possessed, what seemed scary seemed to be just men in a trance, and perhaps a little showmanship for tourists. Was it even real glass? Were the coconuts specially prepared? I don’t know. I didn’t feel really comfortable about it, but I didn’t really feel anything evil about it, even after praying.
*Another time a girl was extremely depressed and slightly suicidal–unfortunately, nothing unusual for her. She saw a cockroach and wanted to kill it. “I’m worthless, just like that cockroach! Just kill it!” I felt something just a very little differently now, like she had passed into a little worse state of mind (not frequent, but not the first time, either). I prayed for help, and this time, unlike most other times before, I learned that she was possessed by an evil spirit. I cast the spirit out of her, and immediately, suddenly, she was in a very different state of mind, seemingly forgetting anything that had just happened and wanting to go straight to sleep.
*Another time a guy in a truck gave me a hug. He had been sharing his experiences about his very recent and much-missed ex-fiancee; I had been praying, and in the context of everything that happened, I knew that this had no sexual meaning or such–it was a hug of support and understanding of men of Christ trying to do good.
*I didn’t see that much wrong with Dungeons and Dragons. My sister and mom came home from a talk one night and said the visiting speaker said it was an evil game. Well, that was strange, as I hadn’t seen, heard, or felt anything really evil about it. Nevertheless, I prayed about it, and that night I had a dream that a huge demon threw a spear of evil that pierced my heart. I awoke, and decided that whether I had felt anything evil about it or not, or whether the game was evil or not, for whatever reason, to me the answer was to not have to do with it.
*Interesting, because years later, many of my family told me about how great “The Lord of the Rings” series was. I watched it, but had uneasy feelings about parts of it. However cool or well done it might have been, or whatever good might have been mixed in, to me, it was clearly not all good.
*Watching TV and movies, as a whole, shows this a lot. I have watched R movies that were beneficial, and watched PG movies and TV shows that were clearly harmful. In these days of propaganda and an ever-increasing struggle for our minds, hearts, and souls, we need help to distinguish the spirits even more.
*Another time in an interview, all the answers were better than perfect; yet, I could feel that something was clearly wrong. I spoke four times about one matter, but was consistently brushed off. Yet, less than five minutes after our interview, it was witnessed by more than one that this person had a *major* problem with the topic I had just asked about four times.
*I had a mission companion who, while hypnotized, could run around the apartment in a trance with eyes closed, yet still “see”. (No, don’t ask!)

It is also wise to consider that there are other things to consider:
*while something might be true, we might not know about the person presenting it.
*inspiration and insight might come to different people in different ways, according to their own understanding, and at different times in their lives when they are at different spiritual orientations, beliefs, and personal righteousness.
*a person might believe the power comes from one source, when in fact, it comes from another. This might be done knowingly or unknowingly. What makes it more confusing, is that though the source and purpose may differ completely, the outward form—what an unknowing detached observer would see/ sense—might be identical. For example, one reference to magic in the Bible refers to a black magic ritual of a priest of God using holy water to test a person’s guilt—nope! The two don’t go together.
*a person might discover/ learn/ reveal certain truths, yet mix them with other things, especially religious ideas, that are false. For example, ayurvedic medicine has many truths, yet LDS are clear that some of the teachings of the religion and culture are not correct.
*there can be differences in purposes. For example, a “magician” may be someone who is really good in trickery, in order to entertain and enlighten; or it may be a main tool used by someone to form a cult and instill false beliefs in others.
*there can be differences in manifestations. A person might be a magician based on: trickery and deceit of the senses and brain; or they might be based on actual powers outside themselves, be it from God (though of course a ChristianTM or LDS wouldn’t consider this person a magician, per se), the devil, or man (natural laws). What about pharaoh’s magicians? I believe that they obviously were more than mere charlatans. They obviously weren’t working under the spirit of God, yet were they necessarily drawing all their powers straight from the devil to do their work, and were completely helpless without him? I don’t think so.

While this spirit of man is not intrinsically evil, there is/ can be danger in dealing with natural laws. Electricity isn’t evil, but touch it wrong, and you’re dead. That applies to the knowledgeable and skilled electrician, the innocent and naïve child, and everyone. So the danger in some cases is not because of the devil and his powers, but of natural laws that we cross, be it knowingly or unknowingly–though to the unknowing, it might seem to be of the devil. Similar to how remote tribes might believe a camera or an airplane is of the devil, it is no stretch of the imagination that an adult who was a total stranger to electricity, whose child got shocked and died, might consider electricity to be evil and of the devil, and find evidence for that.

I am convinced that much of what many ChristiansTM and LDS consider to be occult or of the devil in all ways, are originally of the spirit of man. In support of my belief that these natural laws are neither good nor bad, but truths that exist, I will draw on a few things that follow.

What does one make of these occurrences in the Book of Mormon?:
*Nephi and his brothers draw lots (1 Nephi 3:11)–though with Laman and Lemuel at the head, it’s not saying much.
*Nephi and Alma talk about out of body experiences (OBE’s), or at least state their possibilities (1 Nephi 11:1, 15:1; Alma 29:16).
*Lamoni’s wife has a Pentecostal experience–she falls to the floor in a trance, then jumps up, cries out praises to Jesus, clasps her hands, then speaks in tongues (Alma 19:13, 29-30).

Now, for both ChristiansTM and LDS, there are many references in the Bible that seem to implicate that people of God used magic—especially as interpreted by modern-day pagans. In my opinion, that is not the case—there is little evidence for it in some of the cited cases. I consider it to mainly be interpretation problems, based on lack of information and understanding that much of this article discusses. (Perhaps I will critique them later.) On the other hand, there are references in the Bible that imply that all cases of certain procedures or thinking are of the devil. I also don’t believe that that is always the case, based also upon lack of information and lack of understanding that much of this article discusses. (Perhaps I will explain more later.) I believe that in the circumstances they were given and understood, they fit.
For example, President Kimball accepted that face cards were evil and not to be used by LDS; yet, he and his wife spent many happy evenings playing majong. To a Chinese LDS, that is backwards! But for the culture and the time, his message was correct (and the principles behind that message still hold). (I must add: there might also be something to that teaching that has to do with symbology and power of the playing cards…)

Early in this dispensation, some people used seer stones. (My current opinion is that as there is a difference between a Prophet and a prophet, I also believe that there is a difference between a Seer and a seer, and that as God would like all to be prophets, perhaps he would like all to be seers, too.)

Now, let’s get a little up-close and personal for modern-day LDS.
1. Have you ever carried or possessed a rabbit’s foot?
2. Have you ever followed routines or rituals to prepare you for a sports game?
3. Do you follow a routine or ritual that “wouldn’t make any sense” when you go to bat in baseball, when you stand at the foul line and take a free throw, before you make a call, before you go on a date?
4. Have you ever worn a shirt, necklace, etc. to an important date, business meeting, test or exam, etc. because it brings you “good luck”?
5. Have you ever gone out of your way to avoid or felt uncomfortable about breaking a mirror, walking under a ladder, sitting in seat #13, seeing a black cat cross your path, etc.?
6. Have you ever read your horoscope, and especially, gotten guidance from it?
7. Do you say, “Bless you!” when someone sneezes?
8. Do you have any heavy metal music in your collection?
9. Do you have a Harry Potter book in your house?
10. And, of course, do you have a Book of Mormon?
Then by some of the standards of some others, you are dealing with the occult.

In addition to many of the considerations above, I have found a few rules or principles helpful to consider when judging whether something is good or bad:
1. How much is the idea based on religious principles or ideas?
2. Does the idea contradict/ conflict with gospel principles/ truths in whole?
3. Does the idea contradict/ conflict with gospel principles/ truths in part?
4. Does the idea ever supersede gospel principles/ truths for the person using it?
5. Does the idea lead to good or bad in general?
6. Does the idea lead to good or bad in a specific case?

The Book of Mormon says:
2 Nephi 21:2 And the Spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the Lord;
2 Nephi 21:3 And shall make him of quick understanding in the fear of the Lord; and he shall not judge after the sight of his eyes, neither reprove after the hearing of his ears.

Ether 4:12 And whatsoever thing persuadeth men to do good is of me; for good cometh of none save it be of me. I am the same that leadeth men to all good…

Moroni 7:12 Wherefore, all things which are good cometh of God; and that which is evil cometh of the devil; for the devil is an enemy unto God, and fighteth against him continually, and inviteth and enticeth to sin, and to do that which is evil continually.
Moroni 7:13 But behold, that which is of God inviteth and enticeth to do good continually; wherefore, every thing which inviteth and enticeth to do good, and to love God, and to serve him, is inspired of God.
Moroni 7:14 Wherefore, take heed, my beloved brethren, that ye do not judge that which is evil to be of God, or that which is good and of God to be of the devil.
Moroni 7:15 For behold, my brethren, it is given unto you to judge, that ye may know good from evil; and the way to judge is as plain, that ye may know with a perfect knowledge, as the daylight is from the dark night.
Moroni 7:16 For behold, the Spirit of Christ is given to every man, that he may know good from evil; wherefore, I show unto you the way to judge; for every thing which inviteth to do good, and to persuade to believe in Christ, is sent forth by the power and gift of Christ; wherefore ye may know with a perfect knowledge it is of God.
Moroni 7:17 But whatsoever thing persuadeth men to do evil, and believe not in Christ, and deny him, and serve not God, then ye may know with a perfect knowledge it is of the devil; for after this manner doth the devil work, for he persuadeth no man to do good, no, not one; neither do his angels; neither do they who subject themselves unto him.
Moroni 7:18 And now, my brethren, seeing that ye know the light by which ye may judge, which light is the light of Christ, see that ye do not judge wrongfully; for with that same judgment which ye judge ye shall also be judged.
Moroni 7:19 Wherefore, I beseech of you, brethren, that ye should search diligently in the light of Christ that ye may know good from evil; and if ye will lay hold upon every good thing, and condemn it not, ye certainly will be a child of Christ.

Just as many Christians and others lose out on many gospel truths (especially the saving ones) by judging based on incorrect perspectives, many LDS likewise lose out on many natural truths that would be helpful for their temporal betterment and salvation by judging based on incorrect perspectives.

I know that some things are wrong not because they are always and completely wrong, but for other reasons, such as we personally are not right/ ready for them, it’s not the proper time (for us or the world or the church), there are prerequisites, etc.; this includes laws of man. (And interestingly enough, this also applies to things of the spirit of God.)

My belief is that as time passes, we will learn more and more, and more “miracles” will occur that will draw people to all kinds of different directions. In fact, I will be bold and anathema and say that I believe that almost every good result of facets of the gospel can—if we were to know how—be achieved by similar results by obedience to the spirit of man/ natural law—ways outside the Church; at least, enough to fool man. So in all this, it is very important to remember, so that we don’t get caught up in a less-than-best, miss-the-mark way, that nothing can nor will ever replace the Atonement of Jesus Christ and his gospel, nor his Church/ kingdom.

Perhaps it is for this reason—the ease that some people have of getting caught up in things that start out innocently and end up destroying, or maybe much better to say, replacing their faith and testimonies—that many ChristiansTM and LDS leaders and members are leery of the spirit of man, and rightfully so. I always encourage reason and experience, and especially the Spirit and personal revelation, when making decisions in these areas.

My hope and wish is that instead of using our cultural perspectives (including LDS cultural perspectives) to judge something, we rely on gospel truths and principles to judge, especially the most important part of judging–having the Spirit/ Holy Ghost to judge right.


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2009, February 11

Book of Mormon: Which Angels Visited the Anti-Nephi-Lehies? by grego

Book of Mormon: Which Angels Visited the Anti-Nephi-Lehies?
by grego

Part of the chapter heading for Alma 24 says:
“The Anti-Nephi-Lehies rejoice in Christ and are visited by angels…”

King Anti-Nehi-Lehi (Alma 24:3) says that his people has been visited by angels:
Alma 24:14 And the great God has had mercy on us, and made these things known unto us that we might not perish; yea, and he has made these things known unto us beforehand, because he loveth our souls as well as he loveth our children; therefore, in his mercy he doth visit us by his angels, that the plan of salvation might be made known unto us as well as unto future generations.

While it is absolutely clear in the record that some of the Anti-Nephi-Lehies spoke with angels:
Alma 19:34 And behold, *many did declare unto the people that they had seen angels and had conversed with them*; and thus they had told them things of God, and of his righteousness.

and also it’s certain that angels were there among them because of their righteousness,

here’s another possibility–the one I believe the king was referring to:
Alma 27:4 Now when Ammon and his brethren saw this work of destruction among those whom they so dearly beloved, and among those who had so dearly beloved them–for *they were treated as though they were angels sent from God to save them from everlasting destruction*–therefore, when Ammon and his brethren saw this great work of destruction, they were moved with compassion, and they said unto the king:

This is also noted in Alma 24, at the beginning of the king’s speech:
Alma 24:7 Now, these are the words which he said unto the people concerning the matter: I thank my God, my beloved people, that our great God has in goodness sent these our brethren, the Nephites, unto us to preach unto us, and to convince us of the traditions of our wicked fathers.
Then the king talks about repenting and burying their weapons, then he talks about angels and burying their weapons.

There’s one more reason, though anecdotal:
When I was on my mission, my mission president gave a talk in stake conference about angels. Someone had asked him, “Have you ever seen an angel?” “Yes, I see them every day.” The person was taken aback. He continued: “Missionaries, please stand up.” We stood, somewhat sheepishly, having an idea of what might be coming. “These are the angels I see every day.” Um… I knew us, even if just a little, and I knew that we weren’t angels. So I felt pretty stupid standing there.
Over a year later, I was visiting an old lady who turned sentimental in a moment and grabbed my hand, held it tight, looked us in the eye, and with emotion said, “You are my angels. You are my angels.”


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2009, February 10

“Is the Book of Mormon Real? Part 1” by grego

Filed under: Book of Mormon — grego @ 2:00 am
Tags: , ,

Is the Book of Mormon Real? Part 1
by grego

Well, yes, you can hold it in your hands and see. ;)

Ok, the question probably means, is it what it claims to be? Is it really scripture from God, given as it was claimed to be given, or is it something else?

Of course this question divides religions. It’s very hard to find non-LDS who believe in it yet firmly hold to another faith (except for mainly branches of the church), and very hard to find true LDS who don’t believe in it.

One would listen to both sides, I imagine, check for problems with arguments, and weigh the results.

So what are they?

And that is the first problem.

As in law, it’s much easier to win a case if the judge never gets to hear it! So many con-LDS try their best to persuade others to NOT go through the process–to just condemn the book before even reading, praying, meditating, weighing, and judging. (It happens that many con-LDS who write about the Book of Mormon trying to persuade others to disbelieve it, have never read it once, much less opened the covers once. Many just pass on what others have told them.) Understandable, I guess. I admit I would rather read a review from a trusted friend about some Satan book than crack it open myself…

LDS, on the other hand, would rather that most members not read “anti-Mormon literature”. I have found out there’s a different reason for it, though. I have found out that the means by both sides used are usually very different. To those who have never met a Mormon especially, most Mormons, as derogatively spread all over the internet and elsewhere, are pretty naive and stupid creatures as to the ways of the world. We trust people. W A Y too much sometimes. We don’t expect people–even those who preach against our religion—or maybe, especially because they claim to follow Christ—to pass on bad information, lie, clip a little here and there to completely change the meaning of the quote, knowingly wrest scriptures, use bad sources and ignore good sources, tell incomplete stories, etc. So when many Mormons read what obviously must be “the truth” (I mean, why would a Christian following “the real Jesus” be dishonest, right?), it troubles them.

The LDS position is pretty much, wait and all will be all right. But many who read anti-Mormon literature have a hard time waiting, especially when faith is weak, hearts are tired/ heavy/ hard, and/ or problems are many.

So in steps Mormon/ LDS apologetics—not to spin, but to unspin what has usually been spun to wringing. Usually Mormon apologetics is a disorganized, personal, non-paying hobby. There is little to no support from the Mormon/ LDS church, other than a few BYU professors who research and write (and usually do very well with it, thank you folks!) (no, not me).

As an LDS apologist (and I use that term somewhat lightly), my purpose is not to prove that the Book of Mormon is real or true, but to give it a chance. To provide enough answers against what appear to be cons, to allow the Book of Mormon a chance to have a trial, so to say. Not a trial by the world, but by each person who, having listened to so much negative things about it, now sees much evidence—at least enough to give it a chance.

What good is a gift, if the wrapping paper is never taken off and the box opened? If you don’t like it after you “try it on”, that’s very different than never even having received, opened, or looked at it.


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2009, February 4

Book of Mormon | “Ammonihah: Order of Nehors versus Order of the Son of God; Authority, Power, and Judgment: Part 7” by grego

Book of Mormon | “Ammonihah: Order of Nehors versus Order of the Son of God; Authority, Power, and Judgment: Part 7”
by grego

Part 7

**The leaders of the people of the city of Ammonihah ask Alma and Amulek,
Alma 14:21 How shall we look when we are damned?

Well, shortly thereafter, it was hard to tell, because those same leaders were buried in the rubble when they fell down and the prison collapsed on top of them (Alma 14:27), making them a physical “lost and fallen people” as Alma had preached they were spiritually:
Alma 9:30 …ye are a lost and a fallen people.

However, for their fellow city-citizens, the answer is somewhat clearer:
Alma 16:10 …the carcases were mangled by dogs and wild beasts of the wilderness.
Alma 16:11 …after many days their dead bodies were heaped up upon the face of the earth, and they were covered with a shallow covering. And now so great was the scent thereof that the people did not go in to possess the land of Ammonihah for many years…

Pretty much how I would expect a damned person to look…

There are many parallels and many examples of irony:

**The people in the city of Ammonihah say,
Alma 9:2 …Suppose ye that we shall believe the testimony of one man, although he should preach unto us that the earth should pass away?
Alma 9:3 Now they understood not the words which they spake; for they knew not that the earth should pass away.
Alma 9:4 And they said also: We will not believe thy words if thou shouldst prophesy that this great city should be destroyed in one day.
Alma 9:5 Now they knew not that God could do such marvelous works, for they were a hard-hearted and a stiffnecked people.

Here, the people say that they will not believe Alma’s words, as he is the only one testifying of them; in other words, they refuse to accept his authority. Also, they deny a basic prophecy, and unknowingly foreshadow their own destiny.
The reason they will not believe is that they are a very unbelieving people. Also, they do not understand God. Which fits in beautifully with the next verse:
Alma 9:6 …Who is God, that sendeth no more authority than one man among this people, to declare unto them the truth of such great and marvelous things?

When Amulek also testifies, they are astonished, but it does little to change many of their hearts.


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2009, February 2

“Prophets, Prophecy, Mormonism/ LDS, and Christian Apologetics Rant” by grego

“Prophets, Prophecy, Mormonism/ LDS, and Christian Apologetics Rant”
by grego

I’ve been reading a few less-than-choice articles from con-LDS Christian apologists about prophets and prophecy. Many follow the same similar course:
1. The LDS Church is wrong because its prophets weren’t true prophets
2. Here is proof they weren’t true prophets: give an example or two (almost always based on personal interpretation/ misinterpretation of either the Bible or the prophets, opinion, half-truths, incomplete reconstruction/ lack of proper context, misquotes, faulty reasoning, a curious process of accepting certain sources and comments but decrying others, third-generation anti-LDS blatant lies, or similar);
3. The Bible is the word of God, not prophets (but then, what is the Bible if not the words of prophets?)
4. Praise Jesus!
5. (For the very, very few of the more daring:) See here, I am a true prophet.
6. Lastly, but perhaps most importantly: Believe me, and of course, join *my* church (the real true church) and maybe give my organization/ me money, which personally benefits me.

For an example about con-LDS’s take on false prophecy, look at the “False Prophecy” section here: http://www.eldenwatson.net/Witte.htm

Interestingly, most who are so adamant about pretending to know all about prophecy and proving others to be false prophets, are deafeningly quiet, without prophecy, themselves; maybe because they couldn’t prophesy to save their little finger. No wonder so many of them try to prove that prophets and prophecy “are over” and the Bible is the final word of God. Then, the ones who do claim to be a “prophet” fail so miserably when put through the same tests they put other “prophets” through it’s obvious–without even having to dig into some obscure opinion–that they are less prophets than Miss Cloe.

Hmmm… Ok, so why would anyone, who truly believed in the Bible, want to believe and join someone’s church unless:
1. there were a prophet or apostles at the head, as the Bible clearly shows; or
2. the person who claimed to be a prophet actually showed a life of teachings, prophecies, godly living, faith, hope, charity, etc.?

I just can’t see anyone else who comes close to what should be. The whole thing does seem a little ridiculous to me. Especially in light of the old argument: either the Catholic Church wasn’t the church of God and so everything that came from it wasn’t; or, the Catholic church is the church of God.
I don’t wonder much why so many leaders of Christian churches that broke away from the Catholic Church despise it, or why those who claim their own dispensation out of thin air despise the LDS/ Mormon Church.
It’s illogical to me, and I wonder if the cognitive dissonance—caused by claiming the Bible, then starting or leading a church that doesn’t fit it—causes it.

If people want to believe something, ok, but I find it disturbing that some websites follow the pattern I listed above. See, I would much prefer smart good LDS, and smart good Christians of all sects, even smart and good people of all sects/ religions, rather than less-than-intelligent and bad ones; and it makes me wonder, when I continually see this type of thing: are the leaders really that stupid, or just blind (what I’m hoping for most of the time, and more understandable), or do they believe that their followers are stupid and thus easily fooled? Or do the leaders believe that the ends justify the means, so it’s ok to continually and relentlessly lie, cheat, defame, speak evil against others, etc., in order to “save a soul”? Since this type of attack seems to have been the trend since the beginning of Mormonism, and seems to be getting worse recently, it scares me about the state of Christianity, and its effect on the state of America, in particular. If Christianity (those churches broken off from the Catholic church at some previous time) is trying to become one, I see two main groups and ways: the stupids will try to unite everyone against Mormonism, or the smart and good ones will try to unite everyone on good principles and work with good Mormons and even (gasp!) good non-Christian religionists to stand against those who do the devil’s work–which, I guess, includes those who feel it is possible and ok to do the devil’s work in order to attain God’s glory.

There are things about the LDS religion that seem very problematic, and LDS apologists have even publicly listed them out. These problems are so much stronger, go so much further, and require so much more thinking than the typical con-LDS trash that it’s mind-blowing. But no one seems to care about that. I guess it’s much easier/ requires much less effort and thinking to use Satan’s methods to gather the weak, than to use reason and discuss actual points and maybe even bring people closer to God.

I guess there is one more possible reason, and it comes from a connection between the few good con-LDS arguments that there have been. See, when that happens, LDS apologists research and think even more, and often enough, even deeper and heavier points are “scored” for Mormonism—and maybe that is something that many Christians want to avoid, so they stick with the worn-out, thrown-out, hopeless arguments and hope by passing them on they’ll stick with at least some people, and hey, they tried, right?

If you’ve ever wondered why there’s so much religious crap out there, unfortunately you might have just gotten a big part of the answer.

There are obviously many different types of fish in the sea, so if it doesn’t fit you, it wasn’t meant to; unless you’re the type that it fits all too well but you’ll never see that, in which case, it won’t matter that it meant you anyway…

I truly hope that Christians and everyone (even atheists!) will become better (more good) and smarter and more Christ-like, no matter what religion they profess. The world would certainly be a better place to live in, and more pleasing to God, which would receive more of his blessings.

For those who are truly interested in LDS religious discussion, the best I can suggest is http://www.lds.net/forums/ or http://www.mormonapologetics.com.


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