Book of Mormon Notes– How deep can you dig?

2009, June 10

“Solutions to LDS/ Mormon Missionary Work Problems: Part 2” by grego

“Solutions to LDS/ Mormon Missionary Work Problems: Part 2”
by grego

Part 1

I would like to present another look at the problems, the situations, and some proposed solutions (some which are known and even officially published but rarely used).

Here’s a conversation:
A: Help me! I’m bleeding!!
Doctor: Get him a blood transfusion, immediately! (Later, in your hospital bed…) You’re all hooked up, lots of blood coming in, you’re going to make it.
A: Um, my wounds still hurt, and there’s… some blood on my blankets.
D: No worry, I’ll get housekeeping and the orderly in here to help out.
A: But aren’t you a doctor? Can’t you like, sew me up?
D: Yeah, but I like to use blood transfusions better. Habit, I guess. Besides, it costs more and we have money to spend, and it makes us all feel like we’re doing more to save someone’s life. Not every day someone needs a blood transfusion, you know!
A: Um, doc, thanks for saving my life, no doubt about it, but there’s a small pool on the floor, and it seems to be increasing in size.
D: Well, you’ll just have to help clean it up, then! Don’t worry, work is good for you, it makes you appreciate your life having been saved.
A: But if it goes on like this, that’s a lot of wasted blood, time, etc. And I’ll probably have to spend the rest of my life here in the hospital, depending on you for my blood and life.
D: Well, well. Your blood just doesn’t want to stay in your body, you know? Like Jesus said, “If your eye is evil, pluck it out”—your blood is following the words of Jesus, I guess, just fulfilling prophecy.
A: Could you like, try sewing my wound up?
D: I’d love to, but that’s not really my job. That’s for a surgeon.
A: Can you have the surgeon do it?
D: We’re not really great at working together.
A: But you’re on the same team in the same hospital!
D: Yeah, pity, ain’t it? Some like to sew, some like to transfuse—but we have the same goal of saving your life, ya know?
A: (Under breath, watching blood flow out…) Why don’t I believe that?

-=-=-=

Another conversation:
A: Hi, welcome. Here’s some water.
B: Thanks, wow, this is a big glass of water. (Takes a sip.) Whoops, looks like the water’s leaking from a hole in the side of the cup.
A: No problem! We’ll just tell our maids to mop it up.
B: But it’s all over the floor, it’ll get messy and someone might slip.
A: Don’t worry, if the maids were just a little better and faster, there wouldn’t be any problems.
B: Where are they now?
A: Oh, they have a few other jobs first. Want some more water?
B: Sure, but how about pouring me a half-glass.
A: No need! We have plenty of water, we need to drink it all, here’s a full glass again.
B: But it’s just leaking on the floor again…
A: Right. That’s what the maids are for.
B: Any chance of just plugging the holes?
A: Naw. We’re just worried about getting the water all drunk.
B: What about my clothes? My new tie?
A: Part of the job, I guess! Sacrifice draws us closer to God!

-=-=-=

Let’s say there’s a race.
Objective: Move as many balls from box X to box Y within two minutes, by putting the balls from box X in a wheelbarrow, pushing it along a narrow bumpy road on a hill, emptying the balls into box Y on the other end. A point is given for each ball in box Y. There are three penalty points for every ball that is put in the wheelbarrow but doesn’t end up in box B, even the ones that fall out and roll down the hill (however far away they may end up).
Each team has three people: one to put the balls from box X into the wheelbarrow, one to push the wheelbarrow from box X to box Y, one to empty the balls into box Y.

What’s your game plan?
(“My answer” further down)

-=-=-=

Shepherd A: Let’s get the sheep into this fold.
Shepherd B: Rah, rah, rah!
A: Drive them all in!
B: Wait, we just drove a bunch in, how come the number of sheep in the fold is the same?
A: Oh, there’s a big hole in the wall, and the sheep run out the hole.
B: Should we fix the hole?
A: Nah, if the sheep want to go there’s nothing we can do about it.
B: But that hole is really big, it’s tempting to go through it, even if you felt like staying. Maybe we should plug it?
A: Well, if we just keep driving the sheep in, enough will eventually stay to fill the fold right up.
B: What if we get the sheep that want to stay, and fix the hole so it will fill up much faster, and the sheep will be safer?
A: Well, that’s the danger of life, my friend. Some sheep just won’t stay in the fold.
Besides, I don’t know how to fix the hole well, and even then, it would take work. I think I might even sweat. Further, if we took the time to fix the hole, well, no sheep would be coming in!! They might get eaten by a wolf or something!
B: (Watching a nice plump sheep run out the hole…) Oh, ok.

-=-=-=

Have you ever played catch? If someone throws well, it’s easy and even fun to play. But if someone never gets a good grip on the ball and then throws it, it goes all over the place. If they throw ball after ball like this, especially at a fast rate, how long before you get tired of playing and quit?

-=-=-=

(My answer to the game plan:
Put as many balls into the wheelbarrow as can be safely pushed across the hill without having any balls lost. Go quickly, but don’t rush, and be careful. Wait patiently at box X while the wheelbarrow is being loaded, and wait patiently at box Y while the wheelbarrow is being emptied.)

-=-=-=

Making Cake
Let’s say that your bakery has a daily limit of 20 wonderfully-done cakes. So, how many will you cook? 21? No–just 20.
If 100 people usually call in to order, what do you do?
A. Shout “yes, yes, yes!” and tell everyone: “Ok, no problem.”
B. Get more trained workers and equipment, find the bottlenecks, etc.
C. Say: “Thanks for calling, we appreciate it, but sorry–we cannot do it this time. We already have too many orders. Would tomorrow or another time still suitable?”

If you choose A, you’ll be extremely tired and running all over the place. You’ll also have 80 dissatisfied customers. Whoops–you’ll actually have even more, because those 20 wonderful cakes won’t be so wonderful, either!

Unless you know who these customers are, apologize profusely, and offer them a free cake, they will probably never buy from you again. (However, as long as you’re not ready to make good on your offer, don’t offer.) They’ll also likely tell their family and friends. Or, even more likely, they won’t have to, because their family and friends will have eaten your cake, and learned for themselves…

If you choose C, you’ll have 80 disappointed customers that day who might wanted to have ordered but couldn’t get a cake from you anyway, but they will still be able to order later without having had a negative experience of having bought something horrible from you the first time. (Also, it might be that only those who are really willing and make the effort will be joining, which means member quality might go up.) Those 80 people will also have realized, hey, they must make really good cakes! I had better order a few days ahead of time next time to make sure I get in. Your reputation goes up, business does well, word of mouth spreads… There will also be a very good chance that 20 customers who bought will be very satisfied and be willing to buy from you again, and willingly refer you to others.

B, of course, would be the best, if you could. So, we stay at C until you could increase production by the amount of + P; then, you could cook “20 + P” cakes every day.

-=-=-=

The Olive Tree (Jacob 5)
This allegory can be likened to many things, one of which is the following:
Branches and roots must be balanced and both nurtured to have the ability to produce good fruit.

Tree=ward; tree branches=new members; tree roots=old members.

If there are too many new branches, they either draw all the strength out of the roots and the tree dies, or they (and the tree) produce evil fruit (v.37, 48).

If there aren’t enough branches, the tree will not produce fruit, the roots don’t serve their purpose, and the tree dies anyway.

In verse 18, the addition of new members actually strengthens the old members; the tree is in balance; both are nourished; the tree produces good fruit.

-=-=-=

The Leaning Tower of Pisa
If a structure is built on an unsure foundation, the higher and bigger it gets, the more chance it will fall, and how much of the work will be wasted!

-=-=-=

Playing Stacking Blocks
How do you win? Start out with a good, strong, wide base. If you stack too fast, it will fall. Wait until it’s balanced well and stopped swinging around, then stack another block on top. Keep going. Steadily stack as fast as you can.

-=-=-=

Do you know of anyone who has had eight babies in three years (twins each time, 9 months apart!)? Too fast, you say? Too taxing on the mother’s body, you say? Too much work for the mother, you say? Too much work for the father, you say? Too little attention for the children, you say? I agree!

-=-=-=

Ok… President Monson spoke about damming the pond wall before taking water from it, if you want to empty it. While he was talking about helping prospective elders who are already members instead of looking for new ones, I suggest concentrating on one step before that—never letting new members even get stuck at “prospective elders”!

-=-=-=

So why do they get stuck? On to Part 3.


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2009, June 8

“Solutions to LDS/ Mormon Missionary Work Problems: Part 1” by grego

Solutions to LDS/ Mormon Missionary Work Problems: Part 1
by grego
(c) 2009

[Ever since being very dissatisfied with the way missionary work was done on my mission (including how I did it), I’ve had a few thoughts about missionary work, and they’ve grown a little over the years. A little background, for those who just *have* to know before they’ll even consider the ideas: I’ve had the callings of called missionary, ward mission leader (twice, in different wards), member of bishopric working with missionaries (twice), Gospel Essentials teacher (twice), etc.]

We had about 80 baptisms last year in our ward. Of those, there are currently about 20 that at least fit the “once-a-month” “active” definition, and about 10 that come regularly. Since the year just ended, these numbers don’t reflect true activity rate, because it hasn’t been a year since their baptism (which is when retention rate is measured, I believe). I do not know what those numbers will be a year after their baptism, but I can’t imagine them being higher.

Over the year, our ward sacrament meeting attendance has increased by 10-20 on average. I think we’re doing a little better than average for our stake.

Out of those who were baptized, some felt pressured by the missionaries, some have mental (and comprehension) problems, some have only belief, and a few seem to… well, have little or no testimony at all. (A few leaders have been surprised, shocked, and even appalled that it seems anyone who wants to get baptized, can. I don’t believe that’s the way it was ever intended to be. We invite all people to attend, even long-term, but only those who meet the requirements for baptism should be baptized.)

So, what are the consequences of our last year’s baptismal situation and retention?

*Many members (including me) don’t want to meet and help investigators, or especially attend baptisms. If I haven’t seen the person at church a few times, or seen them volunteer to help out or seen them at a service project, or heard them bear testimony, I wouldn’t go to their baptism even if it were convenient. It’s 40 minutes travel, minimum (unless it’s on Sundays, in which case–if I don’t have interviews, meetings, etc.–I can and have attended). Yeah, I know, sucky attitude, but that’s what I feel.

*One, two, maybe three at the most remain active (at least partially) out of every 10 who are baptized.

*Probably eight or nine go on church records and “to home teach” lists but are mostly inactive. Assuming baptisms are equal between males and females, each time two brethren stay active and begin home teaching, there are already 18 new people on their home teaching list [the 16 inactives (8+8) and two active sisters]. I get really uncomfortable when I hear “we should sacrifice and be hometeaching a plethora of people” comments; it would be great if everyone were active and we could teach two other brothers’ families, and a few sisters–that’s much more manageable for every month, I think.

*Members might spend lots of time contacting and visiting these inactive members trying to bring them back to activity. Missionaries sometimes also spend lots of time visiting these inactive members and trying to bring them back to activity.

*Of those that go inactive, many don’t want much (or anything) to do with the LDS Church—it’s just a bitter taste in their mouth. So, for every one-three people helping missionary work, there are now many people who hurt it.

Are there success stories with this scenario? Absolutely!

Is this the best way to do it?

On to Part 2.


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2009, April 27

“Book of Mormon: Five Prophets Disappear” by grego

“Book of Mormon: Five Prophets Disappear”
by grego
(c) 2009 in this format

Five prophets “disappear themselves” in the Book of Mormon.

Meaning, they take themselves away from the people.

This doesn’t include the ones that were killed by the wicked, such as Abinadi, etc., or these:
3 Nephi 6:23 Now there were many of those who testified of the things pertaining to Christ who testified boldly, who were taken and put to death secretly by the judges, that the knowledge of their death came not unto the governor of the land until after their death.

Or the two that are the last of their people, who hide up their plates:
Moroni 10:34 And now I bid unto all, farewell. I soon go to rest in the paradise of God, until my spirit and body shall again reunite, and I am brought forth triumphant through the air, to meet you before the pleasing bar of the great Jehovah, the Eternal Judge of both quick and dead. Amen.

Ether 15:34 Now the last words which are written by Ether are these: Whether the Lord will that I be translated, or that I suffer the will of the Lord in the flesh, it mattereth not, if it so be that I am saved in the kingdom of God. Amen.
.
.
The first of the five is Alma the younger:
Alma 45:18 And when Alma had done this he departed out of the land of Zarahemla, as if to go into the land of Melek. And it came to pass that *he was never heard of more; as to his death or burial we know not of*.

Alma 45:19 Behold, this we know, that he was a righteous man; and *the saying went abroad in the church that he was taken up by the Spirit, or buried by the hand of the Lord, even as Moses. But behold, the scriptures saith the Lord took Moses unto himself; and we suppose that he has also received Alma in the spirit, unto himself; therefore, for this cause we know nothing concerning his death and burial*.

Perhaps Alma got his wish to be an angel, after all. I’m sure he didn’t want to head into death with the Korihor event as the last biggie…
.
.
The second is Nephi, his great-grandson (Alma–Helaman–Helaman–Nephi):
3 Nephi 1:2 And Nephi, the son of Helaman, had *departed out of the land of Zarahemla*, giving charge unto his son Nephi, who was his eldest son, concerning the plates of brass, and all the records which had been kept, and all those things which had been kept sacred from the departure of Lehi out of Jerusalem.

3 Nephi 1:3 Then he departed out of the land, and *whither he went, no man knoweth*; and his son Nephi did keep the records in his stead, yea, the record of this people.

3 Nephi 2:9 And Nephi, who was the father of Nephi, who had the charge of the records, *did not return to the land of Zarahemla, and could nowhere be found in all the land*.

Perhaps that had to do with the sealing powers. Did Nephi receive the keys from Elijah? Did Nephi appear to Jesus and the apostles on the Mount of Transfiguration, or to Joseph Smith?
.
.
The remaining three prophets are whom we refer to as the Three Nephites:
Mormon 8:10 And there are none that do know the true God save it be *the disciples of Jesus, who did tarry in the land until the wickedness of the people was so great that the Lord would not suffer them to remain with the people; and whether they be upon the face of the land no man knoweth*.

Yes, they are real, they are here, they are helping. Yes, sometimes people might go overboard with unsourced, unsupported, or otherwise unknown stories, but no need to disbelieve them all, just because someone else believed too much in something that might not have been right.

Remember that the Three Nephites appeared to Mormon and Moroni, they are busy all over the world, and they can show themselves to others, too:
Mormon 8:11 But behold, my father and I have seen them, and they have ministered unto us.

3 Nephi 28:26 But behold, I have seen them, and they have ministered unto me.

3 Nephi 28:27 And behold they will be among the Gentiles, and the Gentiles shall know them not.

3 Nephi 28:28 They will also be among the Jews, and the Jews shall know them not.

3 Nephi 28:29 And it shall come to pass, when the Lord seeth fit in his wisdom that they shall minister unto all the scattered tribes of Israel, and unto all nations, kindreds, tongues and people, and shall bring out of them unto Jesus many souls, that their desire may be fulfilled, and also because of the convincing power of God which is in them.

3 Nephi 28:30 And they are as the angels of God, and if they shall pray unto the Father in the name of Jesus they can show themselves unto whatsoever man it seemeth them good.

3 Nephi 28:31 Therefore, great and marvelous works shall be wrought by them, before the great and coming day when all people must surely stand before the judgment-seat of Christ;

3 Nephi 28:32 Yea even among the Gentiles shall there be a great and marvelous work wrought by them, before that judgment day.

(Why it’s so easy for some to believe in spirit angels or resurrected angels but not in translated beings, is not easy for me to understand…)
.
.
So, as far as I can tell, there you have it, though I’m sure the resurrected people who appeared to others left at some time, too; and though I don’t see where it says when, I imagine they all went to heaven before Jesus appeared to the Nephites:

Helaman 14:25 And many graves shall be opened, and shall yield up many of their dead; and many saints shall appear unto many.

3 Nephi 23:9 Verily I say unto you, I commanded my servant Samuel, the Lamanite, that he should testify unto this people, that at the day that the Father should glorify his name in me that there were many saints who should arise from the dead, and should appear unto many, and should minister unto them. And he said unto them: Was it not so?

3 Nephi 23:10 And his disciples answered him and said: Yea, Lord, Samuel did prophesy according to thy words, and they were all fulfilled.

3 Nephi 23:11 And Jesus said unto them: How be it that ye have not written this thing, that many saints did arise and appear unto many and did minister unto them?


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2009, March 31

“Critique of Book of Mormon Critique Article: ‘HOW DO YOU LOSE A STEEL MILL?’ by Frank R. Zindler” by grego

“Critique of Book of Mormon Critique Article: ‘HOW DO YOU LOSE A STEEL MILL?’ by Frank R. Zindler” by grego

The introduction to Mr. Zindler reads thus:
“FRANK ZINDLER … has a distinguished academic career as a former biology and geology professor, science writer, linguist and bible-era historian.” With such an introduction, it really rubs in the irony that some of those who criticize the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints on the grounds of science either lack reading comprehension skills or use faulty reasoning in their criticisms. One such critique is here: http://nowscape.com/mormon/zindler1.htm , entitled: “HOW DO YOU LOSE A STEEL MILL?” By Frank R. Zindler.

I won’t go through the whole thing, because it’s pretty much different verses of the same batty song; I’ll just critique a few points.

-=-=-=

Zindler:
“When Smith published his “golden bible ” in 1830, he gave elephants to his Jaredite actors, along with asses, cows, oxen, and horses. While this may seem startling to readers today, in upstate New York in the 1930s there was nothing odd about this. Thomas Jefferson had discovered the remains of an extinct mammoth, and it was probably widely assumed that ancient Amerindians had domesticated elephants in the way that modern Indians have done. I doubt that many rural New Yorkers then knew that the Amerindians had had no horses or cows until they got them from the Spaniards.
Although horses originated in North America, they – along with the various American species of “elephants” – went extinct many thousands of years before anything that could be called civilization had evolved in Central or South America.”

grego: Is there a source or reference material for “it was probably widely assumed” or “I doubt”? Probably not, huh? I would expect more from a true scientist.

Oh, elephants. From http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gomphothere:
The Gomphotheres are a diverse group of extinct elephant-like animals (proboscideans) that were widespread in North America during the Miocene and Pliocene epochs, 12-1.6 million years ago… From about 5 million years ago onwards, they were slowly replaced by modern elephants, but the last South American species did not finally become extinct until possibly as recently as 400 CE.[1] Gomphotheres also survived in Mexico and Central America until the end of the Pleistocene.[2]
That’s actual current scientific understanding…

As for the presence of cows (comments by Zindler above and below), note what Charles Darwin (yes, “the”) wrote:
“It is, however, far from being an isolated one; for, during the late tertiary deposits of Britain, an elephant, rhinoceros, and hippopotamus co-existed with many recent land and fresh-water shells; and in North America, we have the best evidence that a mastodon, elephant, megatherium, megalonyx, mylodon, an extinct horse and
ox, likewise co-existed with numerous land, fresh-water, and marine recent shells” (Darwin, C. R. 1846. Geological observations on South America. Being the third part of the geology of the voyage of the Beagle, under the command of Capt. Fitzroy, R.N. during the years 1832 to 1836. London: Smith Elder and Co.)
Elephants, horses, and oxen–all living together in North America!

-=-=-=

Zindler has quite a lot to say about cows, horses, chariots, linguistics–and it sounds so good!

grego: Unfortunately, anyone reading this article–based on actual science and a much more proper methodology in action–will see that he lacks needed understanding on the topic: http://www.fairlds.org/Book_of_Mormon/AshHorse/

-=-=-=

Zindler:
“At no time were cows present before the advent ofHispanic culture. No certain remains of preColumbian horses, asses, or cows have ever been found in the Americas.
…it is an archaeological certainty that no horses ever pulled the chariots of Jewish Aztecs or Babylonian Mayas – or should it be Babylonian Aztecs and Jewish Mayas?”
No animal-drawn wheeled vehicles were ever used in pre-Columbian America.”

grego: See the comment above by Charles Darwin.

-=-=-=

Zindler:
“If millions and millions of people made and used weapons and tools of steel for a period spanning more than three millennia, not only should archaeologists find plentiful remains of swords, chariot axles, anvils, sickles, and many other iron-based artifacts, they should be finding the remains of steel mills all over the territory covered by Smith’s cast of characters! It is perfectly conceivable that one might lose a steel sword. But how in hell can you lose a steel mill?!”

grego: I assume that someone talking about sicence will use facts as a main basis; yet I can’t find, from the Book of Mormon, the facts from the first phrase in the sentence. If Mr. Zindler could kindly provide a reference or even a logical argument for “millions and millions”, “[using] weapons and tools of steel”, and “for a period spanning more than three millennia”, that would be helpful to his argument. I have no idea why those who claim science as their God must make such blatant assumptions to lay the groundwork for their arguments. Also, any references to “chariot axles, anvils,” and “sickles” would be appreciated, too. And which archaeologists are they, and why should archaeologists be finding these things all the time? (By the way, does the Book of Mormon mention “stainless steel that never rusts”, too?) And which “territory” would that be? So, what size would a steel mill be in those cultures? And how many of them would there be?

-=-=-=

Zindler:
“Now, of course, the defenders of the Mormon kingdom might say we just haven’t been looking in the right place. Alas for the apologists, the Book of Mormon tells us precisely where to look for such artifacts. It claims that between one-half and one million steel-owning people died all at once, in one spot, around the year 400 C.E., in a climactic battle at “Hill Cumorah.” According to Mormon tradition, Hill Cumorah is a glacial drumlin situated near the upstate New York town of Palmyra. It is the site of an annual “Mormon Pageant.” Mormon revisionist geographers, however, place the hill in the Tuxtla Mountains, in the Mexican state of Veracruz.”

grego: Mr. Zindler seems to be very much an “only A or B” reasoner. (“It must be A or B!” “What about C?” “C??”) Unless Mr. Zindler can show use how the “Book of Mormon tells us precisely where to look for such artifacts” is not a misleading statement, I will have to accept it as such, because while the Book of Mormon does say “hill Cumorah”, I have yet to find in the Book of Mormon a note or clear map as to where the Hill Cumorah is. Revisionist (as if that were a dirty word–I imagine anyone trying to get beyond Newtonian phsyics was a “revisionist”, correct?) geographers are many, and Mr. Zindler mentions one of many sites postulated for the “Hill Cumorah”. (And yes, some have tried to dig, but are still waiting for approval–not from the Mormon Church, but from the governments of the respective areas.)

-=-=-=

Zindler:
“During that period, many millions of people possessed of steel and brass technology are alleged to have lived and died somewhere in the Americas. It is strange, therefore, to note that no one has ever found any steel artifact datable to Pre-Columbian times.”

grego: I suggest starting at the section “Presence of metal prior to A.D. 900” here: http://en.fairmormon.org/Book_of_Mormon_anachronisms/Metals , then going here:
http://www.fairlds.org/Book_of_Mormon/Steel_in_the_Book_of_Mormon.html , then going here: http://www.jefflindsay.com/LDSFAQ/FQ_metals.shtml#steel .

(Do I agree with all of the explanations, etc., or give equal weight to each? Absolutely not. However, there’s much in these articles that counters many of Mr. Zindler’s comments.)

-=-=-=

I’ll sum it all up with comments from an article found now at http://web.archive.org/web/20041013195225/http://more.abcnews.go.com/sections/science/dailynews/andeans981105.html :
“Much to the surprise of archaeologists, one of the earliest civilizations in the Americas already knew how to hammer metals by 1000 B.C., centuries earlier than had been thought.
“We were shocked. I was shocked,” says Richard Burger, director of Yale University’s Peabody Museum of Natural History.
Mina Perdida translates as “Lost Mine” and local residents had asked the researchers if they were looking for the area’s legendary hidden treasures of gold. Burger told them no, they were just studying the ancient cultures. They were confident the people of the area hadn’t done any metalworking back then.
“To be able to hammer it to that level of thinness requires an incredible amount of technique,” Burger says… “It shows a certain degree of metallurgical knowledge.”
Some foils were gold gilded onto copper and some show signs of annealing—heating to make them more malleable—but not smelting. That technique of melting metals to separate them from ore didn’t appear until about 100 B.C. (grego: according to current finds.)
Based on the dating of carbon atoms attached to the foils, they appear to have been created between 1410 and 1090 B.C., roughly the period when Moses led the Jews from Egypt and the era of such pharaohs as Amenhotep III, Tutankhamen and Ramses.
“It shows once again how little we know about the past and how there are surprises under every rock,” comments Jeffrey Quilter, director of Pre-Columbian Studies at Dumbarton Oaks, a Harvard University research institute in Washington, D.C.”

-=-=-=

I could continue, but like I said, nothing really new.

Critics seem to scream and squeal when pro-LDS use all kinds of ways to get out of problems and difficult situations, inventing all sorts of “specious” answers, etc. Yet, to find a logical countering of these pro-Mormon arguments is rare or even impossible, though critics have tried. On the other hand, con-LDS seem quite apt at coming up with similar situations; yet, the reasoning falls under logical countering. Mr. Zindler provided evidence after evidence that… our current understanding doesn’t know some things yet; in fact, most all of his evidence is only evidence that no hard evidence yet exists. Does it make it harder for a skeptic to believe? It might. Does this damn any argument? Hardly.

In fact, from the beginning to now, “fact” after “fact” has been scratched off the “Problems with the Book of Mormon” list because they were based on the same thing Mr. Zindler bases his criticisms on–lack of evidence. And as the last section shows, even Harvard archeologists admit we know very little, and there are still many suprises. Who knows, maybe one day, after researching more than the .5% or so of Mesoamerica that has been researched up to now (such a staggering amount of data to draw conclusions from, eh?), they’ll even find… a steel mill.

It seems Mr. Zindler’s real purpose was to write something funny for those who were already decided against the Book of Mormon to enjoy. Ironically, at the bottom of the page is an ad: “What does it feel like to suddenly understand everything? God’s Debris isn’t the final answer to the Big Questions. But it might be the most compelling vision of reality you will ever read. The thought experiment is this: Try to figure out what’s wrong with the old man’s explanation of reality. Share the book with your smart friends for FREE, then discuss it later while enjoying a beverage.”

I have an idea for better fun, a new thought experiment: print out Mr. Zindler’s article and discuss it with your friends (if you have some that know how to use a little logic and a search engine) while enjoying a beverage. Try to figure out what’s wrong with his criticisms, and how many are actually based on substance. It’s sure to cause much more of a hoot.


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2009, March 27

“Response/ Critique of the anti-Mormon Article: ‘Critique of 1st Nephi’ (Book of Mormon)” by grego

Response/ Critique of the anti-Mormon Article: “Critique of 1st Nephi” (Book of Mormon)

grego

This is a short response/ critique of the anti-Mormon original article: “Critique of 1st Nephi” by Jimmy Li, found at http://www.teamtruth.com/articles/art_1stnephi.htm.

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Mr. Li:

Introduction
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS), commonly known as the Mormons, is a religious group that claims to be the only true restored church of Christianity. In addition, the LDS teaches unbiblical doctrines and also have three additional religious scriptures besides the Bible: the Pearl of Great Price, Doctrines and Covenant, and the most well known one of all, the Book of Mormon. It is supposedly, “another testament of Jesus Christ”.

grego: Actually, that would be “non-biblical”, not “unbiblical”. And the book is “Doctrine and Covenants”, not “Doctrines and Covenants”. (Just two small but important points, I think.)

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Often, a favorite tactic of the LDS, especially among missionaries, is to give a potential convert the Book of Mormon (we shall abbreviate it as BoM) and ask them to pray for a “burning bosom” to confirm that it’s true. They would use the BoM at Mormoni 10:3-5 and James1:5 in the Bible to support the legitimacy of this act. But is this the right thing to do, and does the Bible really teaches us to pray for “burning bosoms” to confirm truth?

Certainly, no. Looking at James 1:5 again, we find that the passage is actually talking about wisdom, and the context deals with perseverance, not regarding confirmation of truth. The LDS considers the “burning bosom” as the testimony of their church. Personal and subjective testimony in itself isn’t a bad thing; but there must be elements of objective facts too. In this little booklet, we are not denying that God can have the power to penetrate lives and become very personal. We are concerned with evaluating the objective testimony of the LDS.

grego: In all that, I see nothing about what the Book of Mormon or the Holy Bible say about “a burning bosom”. (We seem to already be off to a bad start.) Nevertheless, that is one way to describe the feeling of the Holy Ghost. Now, what does the Holy Bible say? What does one make of this:

Jer. 20: 9 Then I said, I will not make mention of him, nor speak any more in his name. But *his word was in mine heart as a burning fire* shut up in my bones, and I was weary with forbearing, and I could not stay.

What, objections that’s not really it? Well, how about this?:

Luke 24: 32 And they said one to another, *Did not our heart burn within us*, while he talked with us by the way, and while he opened to us the scriptures?

Were the disciples lying, perhaps? (You know, the ones worthy enough to have Jesus appear to them and walk and talk with them?)
Or, was there a mistranslation of the Bible?
I don’t think Mr. Li would admit to either.

What is James 1:5 about? Paraphrased: “If you lack wisdom, ask God for wisdom”. Joseph Smith lacked wisdom; he asked God; he believed; he received–just like James 1:5.

In addition, I wonder if the author assumes that all LDS/ Mormons are less-than-intelligent people whose entire belief is built only upon a “burning bosom”; is this so?

I would be interested in knowing what the author understands about the Holy Ghost, its importance in understanding the things of God (as per Paul), and how God reveals Himself to man through the Holy Ghost. (And not just a bunch of “what the Bible says” references.)

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Let us look at Jesus’ testimony as an example in John 5:31-37. In this passage, we find Jesus giving three testimonies, or witnesses, to his claim of being the Christ:
1. Verse 34: Testimony of John the Baptist and the purpose of that is so that some may believe
2. Verse 36: Jesus’ very works and ministry
3. Verse 37and 39: God the Father, through His scriptures, testify of Jesus as savior

Thus, we will examine the claim of Mormonism objectively too, and welcome any LDS members to examine the claims of Jesus Christ.

grego: So, I gather that the author believes that these three testimonies about Jesus are “objective”. How is it that many nowadays on the earth don’t believe these three “objective” testimonies? Are any of these three testimonies claimed in the LDS Church? What, all of them? So, does that make the LDS Church “objective”?

Whoops. What about the first “objective” testimony? Jesus himself says:
John 5:34 But I receive not testimony from man: but these things I say, that ye might be saved.
In other words, well, Jesus says the testimony of John doesn’t count as an objective testimony, and shouldn’t therefore be included in the examples above.

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Given the limit of this booklet, we will evaluate only the first book to appear in the BoM. The Book of 1st Nephi is a critical book, since this is where allegedly the Mormon story all began in 600 BC. If it falls under examination, since this is the foundation of the Mormon story, then everything else in Mormonism falls too.

grego: And once more, we have a problem (even if “falls” might read better as “fails”). “If one part is wrong, the entire thing is wrong.” Let’s test this hypothesis.. If the book of 1st Nephi fails, does that mean that God doesn’t exist, that He doesn’t love us, and that He didn’t send Jesus Christ to save us (these are three other parts of “everything else in Mormonism” the author refers to as having to fall if the book falls). I think Mr. Li would agree that that obviously doesn’t work. Nevertheless, if something fails, it fails, so let’s continue and see.

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Often, the writer is accused of being unloving and unfair. What is the goal of having a booklet like this? The Bible in Jude1:3 commands that we should “earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered to the saints.” From this verse, we can see that the faith in which people can be saved has ALREADY been delivered to the saints, and “another testament of Jesus Christ” must surely be rejected. Sometimes, LDS members do not realize that the BoM attacks Christianity too. A look at 1Nephi 14 would clearly be an example of this.

We realize that LDS members are sincere people, and we love them and we will present them the truth in a loving manner. Attention was paid to the sensitivity of LDS members.

In addition, we recommend all would examine the verses referred to in this book in their proper context. Quotes from the Bible are from the NIV. It is the prayer of this writer that this booklet would lead some to the true Jesus.

grego: I have nothing whatsoever with someone presenting their point of view. I do have a problem with someone claiming to present my point of view, or others’ points of views, and doing so “unfair”ly, misleadingly, without comprehending, unintelligibly, or naively and stupidly. Which was the cause of what follows, I won’t judge, but I believe it might be at least one of them.

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Critique of 1st Nephi
Summary of 1Nephi
In order to critique 1Nephi, we must understand the story of 1Nephi. It is a story of how one family, having a dad as a prophet name Lehi, tries to leave Jerusalem to escape the upcoming wrath of God and enter into a new promise land. The book is recorded by Nephi, Lehi’s youngest son. Throughout the book, Nephi records visions received by his dad and himself. They leave everything behind to enter the wilderness, but then Nephi and his brothers come back to get their property and some brass plates. After a short adventure and convincing the family of Ishmael to come along also, the party enter into the wilderness. Nephi along with his brother Laman, Lemuel and Sam, married the daughters of Ishmael. Much hardship took place. Two brothers, Laman and Lemuel was especially rebellious and harden hearted. Problems occur often. Finally, they got near the sea and God instructed Nephi to make a ship. When they took off, Nephi got bounded by his brothers but God was able to release him. Nephi makes more prophecy. Eventually, they will find the promise land (and this is suppose to be the American continent).

Problems in 1Nephi
Under examination, the book of 1Nephi contain some problems that is too hard to ignore (there is a list of points here, that is included in the following):

Christ is the Same Forever
1Nephi 10:18 states concerning Christ, “For he is the same yesterday, to-day, and forever; and the way is prepared for all men from the foundation of the world, if it so be that they repent and come unto him.” So from this BoM verse, we see that the way to come to him is the same forever, and never changing. In the Bible, Hebrew 13:8 states the same thing. Now, using the principle of progressive revelation, the second revelation is suppose to agree in it’s teachings with that of the first revelation. Progressive revelation means additional information revealed and not contradicting information. So, if the BoM (second revelation) contradict the Bible (first revelation), it’s the BoM that is in trouble! Remember this principle as you are reading this booklet. We will use this principle to refute 1Nephi and the BoM.

grego: This is an interesting doctrine of “progressive revelation”; is it Biblical? Aren’t there many instances where, in fact, later revelation takes precedence over previous revelation? Isn’t that the purpose of much revelation? Didn’t God send the gospel first to the Jews, then by a later revelation send it to the gentiles? Didn’t God curse the earth because of Adam first, then later take the curse from the earth because of Noah (Genesis 3, 8)? Didn’t God tell Jonah to tell Ninevah it would be destroyed, then change after they repented? These are not extreme or rare occasions where the idea of “progressive revelation” fails, even in the Bible. (Using the same reasoning, does that mean the author’s religion has now failed completely, because something he taught failed?)

Besides, is there any explanation that has to do with the title of this section?

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Which Location?
If some don’t believe that the Bible according to Mormonism is a divine revelation, one just needs to look at the footnotes in the BoM. Bible verses appear everywhere!

grego: Um, Biblical belief was covered in the introduction, and is a really basic tenet of Mormonism.

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One such footnotes is for 1Nephi 8:9-10. In these 1Nephi verses, it describes a place that is footnoted supposedly to be the same place as the Bible’s description in Matt. 13:38, Gen. 2:9 & Rev. 2:7. It’s interesting to note that, in the vain attempt of the LDS to make Mormonism appear “Christian”, errors appear. The applied verse of Matt. 13:38 is actually describing a different place than Gen. 2:9 or Rev. 2:7! Matt. 13:38 has the world as it’s location, while the two other verses describes the garden of paradise. Though such mistake doesn’t put LDS in total jeopardy, it does raise concern about possible verse abuse of the Bible…

grego: Ouch, the author is very mistaken in his assumption as to the meaning adn purpose of the footnotes. Those are references, like a concordance, scriptures for further study, topics, etc.–not “footnotes” like in a research paper!
Of course, to put it in “total jeopardy”, one would have to prove that there is direct conflict between the verses, and because of the problem mentioned right above, there isn’t.

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Filthiness is Not Clear
But then the problem with the place described in 1Nephi as some kind of garden of paradise does not just end there. Picking up the vision in 1Nephi 15:27, Nephi said, “the water which my father saw was filthiness…?Since there are footnotes trying to establish this river as being in the garden of paradise as that of the Bible’s, we would expect it to have the same and not opposite description of the same place. How could the water in 1Nephi be filthy then, when in the Bible at Rev. 22:1 it describes the river as clear?

grego: Ok, I finally understand. The author assumes that Nephi is describing the garden of Eden; it’s clearly not so, the author is mistaken. Footnotes do not try to “establish this river as being in the garden of paradise as that of the Bible’s”. Seriously, I have never heard even one Mormon mention this as a belief (and yes, I have heard some weird things from some Mormons…). I promise you that sharing this with your LDS friends will result in massive confusion or inner laughter or, if they are better people than I, kind rebuke and instruction.

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Saved Forever, Not Temporary
Continuing with the issue of 1Nephi’s “garden of paradise”, it’s realized that the fruits on the tree are the fruit of eternal life (cf. Gen.3:22;Rev. 2:7 in the Bible and intro to 1Nephi Chapter 8 in the BoM). Only those who were saved were allowed to eat this fruit. Yet, in 1Nephi, unsaved people ate the fruit of life, and were no longer saved, but fell away! Christianity teaches once saved, always saved, but not 1Nephi. Because there’s a difference between the two revelations, Mormonism is the one in trouble due to the principle of progressive revelation.

grego: Once more, the author’s argument is based upon false assumptions, so it’s pretty pointless after realizing this to continue to point things out. By the way, which Christianity teaches “once saved, always saved”–or do they all? So, was Judas saved or not? Or was he chosen an apostle, but just never saved in the first place? Is that possible?

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Lord’s True Gospel
Concerning the Lamb’s seed, 1Nephi13:36 states, “in them shall be written my gospel, saith the Lamb, and my rock and my salvation.” The Bible also states that if anyone preaches another gospel, it isn’t really any gospel at all (cf. Gal.1:6-7).

grego: True. “Another gospel” would also include–as apparent to anyone who reads the letters of Paul and understands why he wrote them–an incorrect interpretation of the true Gospel, right? So, which Christian church preaches the correct interpretation of the Gospel (and the Bible, along with it), out of the many interpretations?

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Does the BoM have the right gospel? Their gospel is a gospel of works AND grace (cf. 2Nephi 25:23) The Biblical gospel is one of grace alone (cf. Eph 2:8-9). The LDS gospel is thus, a false gospel. It fails to recognize grace alone for man’s redemption from sin. Works come as a fruit of grace (cf. Eph. 2:10), not a co-factor with grace. We must thus come to God’s grace alone, through faith alone in Christ alone.

grego: Ahhh, so all of Christianity outside of Mormonism is in accordance with this belief?

(See, here’s why Mormons chide others for Bible use; it has nothing to do with using the Bible properly, but improperly. They throw down one verse, ignore all the others, and say, “See! This is the only correct interpretation.” Oh?) Are there two verses in the entire Bible that say, “You are saved by grace alone and nothing you do has anything to do with being saved”? How about a person saying, “Jesus, I ask you to save me.” Is that a work? Did someone do or say something of their own will to be saved? Or is everyone–including those that don’t ask to be saved–saved by grace? Do works have anything to do with being saved?

And are we forgetting, say, the book of James; or was Paul greater than James? What does “progressive revelation” tell us about this if James was an apostle before Paul, and wrote before Paul?

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Disarming the Counter-Attack
It happens often that an attack upon the Bible is made around this point. “The Bible is accurate only as it is translated correctly” the LDS would charge. Since the Bible is used to undermine the BoM, an attack on the Bible seems tempting.

grego: I see no need for “attacking” the Bible “around this point”. I do, however, see a need to disagree with one person’s interpretation of a scriptural passage.

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It seems theoretical that in attacking the Bible as inaccurate from the original manuscripts, the BoM is spared. But we must realized that the Bible has one of the most reliable and accurate ancient manuscripts in history, which gave us many manuscripts in the original language for us to translate…There is original language Bible text to check verses that might not make much sense in English.

grego: Not really. If I recall correctly, at best, especially for the New Testament, we have copies of translations. By the way, does this really have anything to do with the argument?

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Many scholars in this field, whether Christians or not, would agree that the Bible is translated correctly.

grego: Interesting (or naive?) comment, in light of there being numerous non-LDS/ Mormon Christian translations of the Bible, which often disagree with each other. (Mr. Li himself noted which translation he would be using.)

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But the real issue here is actually whether the Bible is considered inspired in the views of the LDS and the BoM. Since there are Bible verses in the footnotes of the BoM concerning truths in terms of God, doctrines and history, this legitimizes the Bible enough as authoritative.

grego: “Is the Bible actually considered inspired in the views of the LDS and the BoM?” I’d say so. This is hardly a point. But it has nothing to do with “Bible verses in the footnotes”.

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Thus a Biblical refutation of 1Nephi is indeed, very powerful in critiquing the BoM.

grego: Absolutely–if only it were true that the Bible refuted 1 Nephi.

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Engraved in Brass or Stone?
1Nephi 4:16 states, “And I also knew that the law was engraven upon the plates of brass.” The BoM gives the impression that the law mentioned in this verse is the law of the Bible since the footnote linked the law to Joshua 1:8, which referred to the Book of the Law (the Torah). Other verses from 1Nephi also mentioned the Law as engraved in brass (1Nephi 4:24, 5:10-11,etc). But here’s another problem in 1Nephi with the Bible; turning to the Bible in 2Cor. 3:7, it states concerning the Law, or “the ministry that brought death”, as being “engraved in letters on stone”!(italics are the author) Hence, another difficulty with the BoM.

grego: Once more, another faulty assumption about footnotes on the author’s part renders this argument unsubstantive. (These are two different records/ engravings, not the same one.)

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Prophecy Unfulfilled
1Nephi 5:18 prophesied (cf. 1Nephi 5:17) “that these plates of brass should go forth unto all nations, kindreds, tongues, and people who were of his seed.” However, this prophecy would never be fulfilled since these plates no longer exist! The Bible mentions that presumptuous predictions that failed to be fulfilled come from man, not God! Thus, 1Nephi is a product of man’s imagination. Of course, some would say that 1Nephi 5:17 refers to the BoM going out to all the nations today. But there’s still one more prophetic problem in 1Nephi.

A False Prophet
If we look at 1Nephi 5:19, Lehi (cf. 5:16-17) prophesied and “said that these plates of brass should never perish” and “neither should they be dimmed any more by time.” The brass plates no longer exist though! We find Lehi prophecy unfulfilled. The Bible says that “if what a prophet proclaims in the name of the LORD does not take place or come true, that is a message the LORD has not spoken. That prophet has spoken presumptuously. Do not be afraid of him.” (Deut. 18:22) Since Lehi was a false prophet, we must reject him, and since he was the prophet that begins everything in 1Nephi, we must also reject 1Nephi and consequently, the BoM too.

grego: Actually, they do still exist. Patience, please. Nothing ungodly here.
This is a case of yet-unfulfilled prophecy, such as the prophecy that Jesus will come again. (I assume Mr. Li believes Jesus will come again, but hasn’t–yet. Or are we just to say, since He hasn’t, Jesus and many of the Biblical prophets are false prophets?)

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Hell Yes, Hell No
Not only does the LDS teachings have a problem with the Bible, but it’s own BoM as well! LDS missionaries sometimes teach that there is no hell. Strangely, in 1Nephi 12:16 an angel interpreted a vision of the depths of a river as “the depths of hell”. Hell here, isn’t a symbolism since it was an interpretation of a symbolic vision. In addition, 1Nephi described hell as “hath no end” (1Nephi 14:3) and awful (15:35).

grego: Interesting. Is there a reference for “LDS missionaries sometimes teach that there is no hell”? Perhaps anything in the Book of Mormon about that?

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Water Baptism
1Nephi 20:1 mentions “the water of baptism”. It’s interesting to note that baptism didn’t exist between 588 through 570 BC, when this verse was written in! Supposedly, 1Nephi 20 is the BoM version of Isaiah 48. There is not mention of water baptism in it whatsoever.

grego: The author seems so sure that baptism didn’t exist…

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Compass
1Nephi 16:10 describes “a round ball of curious workmanship” which is footnoted as being the same object referred to in 1Nephi16:16 and another part of the BoM, Alma 37:38.

grego: At least the author is correct about it being the same object!

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Alma 37:38 mentions that this ball is called Liahona, or interpreted as compass. In addition, 1Nephi 18:12 and 18:21 mentioned about this compass. But compass weren’t in existence yet! Compass was invented in the 1000 AD. Yet, these events in 1Nephi took place over 1, 500 years before!

grego: Please see here: http://www.farms.byu.edu/publications/review/?vol=2&num=1&id=48

I quote from it:
“For Vogel, the Liahona is best explained as an anachronistic response to local debate.

Although the mariner’s compass had not yet been invented, the Lord provided Lehi with a compass-like instrument, described as a “round [brass] ball of curious workmanship.” Inside the ball were “two spindles,” one of which “pointed the way whither we should go into the wilderness.” (p. 51)

Where Vogel sees a magnetic mariner’s compass, Hugh Nibley approaches the text against the purported context and provides an alternate picture.

The Liahona was a hollow bronze sphere in which were mounted two pointers, headless arrows that bore mysterious inscriptions and pointed the way that Lehi’s party should travel in the desert. Besides pointing the direction, the arrows and the inscriptions also provided special instructions for the journey. They only worked during the expedition to the New World, after which they ceased to function.15

Nibley then compares the Liahona to belomancy in the ancient Near East:

A recent study by an Arabic scholar has called attention to the long-forgotten custom of the ancient Arabs and Hebrews of consulting two headless arrows whenever they were about the undertake a journey; the usual thing was to consult the things at a special shrine, though it was common also to take such divination arrows along on the trip in a special container. The message of the arrows, which were mere sticks without heads or feathers, was conveyed by their pointing and especially by the inscriptions that were on them, giving detailed directions as to the journey.16

Vogel mentions aspects of the Liahona that he can relate to the pre-1830 discussion, the round shape, and the pointing spindles, but ignores the odd name, the writing on the pointers, the writing that occasionally appeared on the ball, the fact that the Liahona only worked when Lehi’s people were obedient and stopped working after the voyage, and so on. By Kuhn’s standard, Nibley’s description of the Liahona is more accurate than Vogel’s, more coherent and comprehensive. It introduces novel phenomena, and is, in my view, more aesthetically pleasing and promising. Vogel’s description of the Liahona highlights superficial similarities to a mariner’s compass and ignores profound differences.”

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For some reason unknown to the author, the BoM footnoted a verse in the Bible to support this Liahona object at Exodus 13:21. Exodus 13:21 states, “By day the LORD went ahead of them in a pillar of cloud to guide them on their way and by night in a pillar offer to give them light, so that they could travel by day or night.” Nowhere is there a description of anything similar to a “two spindles” inside a ball, or namely, a compass! Another thing that usually raises up with LDS defenders is the fact that the King James Version has the word “compass”. In context, this doesn’t present us any problems since the word “compass” is used to describe a turning around direction. Note: In Acts 28:13, the “fetched a compass” translated from the greek means to turn around, not to fetch a round metal ball object. This author had the opportunity to look up this verse in a Greek interlinear translation to confirm this.

grego: Um, once more, a problem with misunderstanding the footnotes. (One begins to wonder if the author ever considered that with so many easily-seen discrepancies in the footnotes, they might have perhaps been something other than what he thought they were…)

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The Steel Connection
If we turn to 1Nephi16:18, we find Nephi in a situation in which he has to kill a man named Laban, who had stolen his family’s property. 1Nephi 4:9 records Nephi stating, “And I beheld his sword, and I drew it forth from the sheath thereof; and the hilt thereof was of pure gold, and the workmanship thereof was exceedingly fine, and I saw that the blade thereof was of the most precious steel.” Steel is also mentioned in 1Nephi 16:18. These passages all took place between 600-592 B.C, as the BoM state. But steel as we know it (“exceedingly fine” workmanship), wasn’t invented until the mid-1800s! Is the BoM then, a product of modern myth?

grego: If the Book of Mormon came out before the “mid-1800’s”, how could it have the word “steel” in it?? Might there be more to this? Look here:
http://ldsdoctrine.blogspot.com/2008/06/bible-and-book-of-mormon-steel.html
http://www.fairlds.org/apol/ai267.html
and the section “Old World Steel in the Book of Mormon” from http://www.fairlds.org/FAIR_Conferences/2001_Boomerang_Hits_and_the_Book_of_Mormon.html.

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Where Was Jesus Born?
Another reason why we should reject the BoM is because of another contradicting problem with the first revelation (the Bible). In Alma 7:10 it states, “And behold, he shall be born of Mary, at Jerusalem, which is the land of our forefathers, she being a virgin, a precious and chosen vessel…” Whereas the BoM teaches that Jesus was born at Jerusalem, the Bible teaches that Jesus is born at Bethlehem. Matthew 2:4-5 states,”When he had called together all the people’s chief priests and teachers of the law, he asked them where the Christ was to be born. ‘In Bethlehem in Judea,’ they replied, ‘for this is what the prophet has written’.

grego: This is from a man whose ancestors’ last contact with the old world was almost 500 years earlier. The land of Jerusalem would include Bethlehem, a tiny village. For more reading:
en.fairmormon.org/Book_of_Mormon_anachronisms/Jerusalem_vs_Bethlehem
http://www.shields-research.org/Scriptures/BoM/BOMIssue.htm

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Conclusion
After a critique of the first book appearing in the Book of Mormon, the book of 1Nephi, we have to reject it upon these grounds:
1. It contradicts the Bible, and since the Bible is the first revelation, 1Nephi is the one in trouble due to principle of progressive revelation.
2. Two prophecy unfulfilled made by a major prophet in 1Nephi.
3. It does not represent the true teachings and doctrines of the Bible nor the LDS itself!
4. The mentioning of things that didn’t exist until far beyond it’s time.

What then, shall we do now? We must reject the Book of 1st Nephi. And since 1st Nephi lay the foundation for the rest of the Book of Mormon, the Book of Mormon must be rejected also. Thus, the LDS system must be abandoned altogether. Repent, and come to the true Jesus Christ as revealed in His Holy Word, the Holy Bible. Hold onto His Word as the standard of truth. Confess your sins to Him, and you shall be saved…He is waiting for you.

“Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest in your souls.”-Matthew 11:29

grego: Conclusion:
After a critique of the critique of the first book appearing in the Book of Mormon, the book of 1Nephi, we have to reject it upon these grounds:
1. Mr. Li clearly misunderstands the purpose and use of footnotes in the LDS scriptures;
2. Mr. Li’s arguments are mostly based on that misunderstanding;
3. other arguments Mr. Li makes have been refuted in great and clear detail.

Therefore, I encourage Mr. Li to really should refrain from encouraging others to pass out this pamphlet, or ask Mormons/ LDS about this; it would be pretty embarrassing, I imagine. (Of course, if you don’t believe me, you may make an attempt.) There are other con-Mormon materials out there that are harder to respond to–this is something that many, if not most, Mormons would be able to reject outright.

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–JIMMY LI
Last Edited August 29, 2008 22:49

grego: Jimmy, I love you, brother.


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2009, March 24

“Book of Mormon: Healing Medicine for LDS/ Mormons” by grego

Book of Mormon: Healing Medicine for LDS/ Mormons
by grego

Today, most American Mormons/ LDS are pretty strict Western medicine-only people, especially when it comes to threatening/ serious diseases, like cancer. Even going near “something else” makes many freak out (as in, many of my family). It has almost become a part of our Articles of Faith: “We believe that doctors have been called of God, by prophecy, to cure us from all diseases and provide medicine from God, and others are anathema.”

If Western medicine can’t cure it, it *can’t* be cured, plain and simple. Unless…

Unless, of course, it’s of the devil.

Ok. So, what… The devil wants to cure people, make people better and healthy, give them more happiness, lessen their pain, allow them to spend good happy time with their families, etc.? But, I thought he wanted to make people miserable? It’s something I’ve thought about many times–why not? Keep them from things that will make them turn to God, right? But does that happen in many instances? It’s possible, but is it likely the case? I think usually not.

So what’s going on here?

For most of it, I refer you to my previous article about “Three Spirits”.

I can give you the only reference that I’ve found to medicine/ health in the Book of Mormon (there are just a few in Doctrine and Covenants), and let the LDS reader decide if the book is true or not, and if so, hopefully open their mind just a little more to alternative medicine:

Alma 46:40 And there were some who died with fevers, which at some seasons of the year were very frequent in the land—but not so much so with fevers, because of the *excellent qualities of the many plants and roots which God had prepared* to remove the cause of diseases, to which men were subject by the nature of the climate—

Something to contemplate…

(P.S. Those plants and roots didn’t necessarily have a brand name on them… Even many good dried herbs can contain poison from the drying/ preserving process, so ask before you buy! You might want to consider asking and buying from a real herbalist that doesn’t use those methods, rather than from a big manufacturing and distributing company.)


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2009, March 20

“Book of Mormon: Were the Lehites Led Out or Kicked Out of Jerusalem by the Lord?” by grego

“Book of Mormon: Were the Lehites Led Out or Kicked Out of Jerusalem by the Lord?”

grego
(c) 2009

In the Book of Mormon, Lehi, Nephi, and all the prophets clearly understand that the Lord led the Lehites out of Jerusalem to save them, because of the wickedness of the inhabitants of Jerusalem (1 Nephi 1:4, 13; 3:17, 18; 5:4, 7:13, 14, 15; 17:14; 19:20, 2 Nephi 1:1, 3-5; Jacob 2:32, Omni 1:6, Mosiah 1:11, 2:4, 7:20; Alma 9:9, 22; 36:29; Helaman 8:22).

Laman, Lemuel, and many of the children of Ishmael have different opinions:
1 Nephi 2:11 Now this he spake because of the stiffneckedness of Laman and Lemuel; for behold they did murmur in many things against their father, because *he was a visionary man, and had led them out of the land of Jerusalem*, to leave the land of their inheritance, and their gold, and their silver, and their precious things, *to perish in the wilderness*. And this they said he had done because of the *foolish imaginations of his heart*.
1 Nephi 2:13 *Neither did they believe that Jerusalem, that great city, could be destroyed according to the words of the prophets*. And they were like unto the Jews who were at Jerusalem, who sought to take away the life of my father.
1 Nephi 16:35 And it came to pass that the daughters of Ishmael did mourn exceedingly, because of the loss of their father, and because of their afflictions in the wilderness; and they did *murmur against my father, because he had brought them out of the land of Jerusalem*, saying: Our father is dead; yea, and we have wandered much in the wilderness, and we have suffered much affliction, hunger, thirst, and fatigue; and after all these sufferings *we must perish in the wilderness* with hunger.
1 Nephi 16:36 And thus they did murmur against my father, and also against me; and they were *desirous to return again to Jerusalem*.
1 Nephi 17:20 And thou art like unto *our father, led away by the foolish imaginations of his heart; yea, he hath led us out of the land of Jerusalem*, and we have wandered in the wilderness for these many years; and our women have toiled, being big with child; and they have borne children in the wilderness and suffered all things, save it were death; and it would have been better that they had died before they came out of Jerusalem than to have suffered these afflictions.
1 Nephi 17:22 And *we know that the people who were in the land of Jerusalem were a righteous people*; for they kept the statutes and judgments of the Lord, and all his commandments, according to the law of Moses; wherefore, *we know that they are a righteous people*; and *our father hath judged them, and hath led us away because we would hearken unto his words; yea, and our brother is like unto him*. And after this manner of language did my brethren murmur and complain against us.

All of these thoughts become a Lamanite tradition, and even worse:
Mosiah 10:12 They were a wild, and ferocious, and a blood-thirsty people, believing in the tradition of their fathers, which is this–Believing that they were *driven out of the land of Jerusalem because of the iniquities of their fathers*, and that they were wronged in the wilderness by their brethren, and they were also wronged while crossing the sea…

In addition, the birth and life of Jesus in a faraway land was a point of contention leading to unbelief in some:
Helaman 16:17 And they began to reason and to contend among themselves, saying:
Helaman 16:18 That it is not reasonable that such a being as a Christ shall come; if so, and he be the Son of God, the Father of heaven and of earth, as it has been spoken, why will he not show himself unto us as well as unto them who shall be at Jerusalem?
Helaman 16:19 Yea, why will he not show himself in this land as well as in the land of Jerusalem?
Helaman 16:20 But behold, we know that this is a wicked tradition, which has been handed down unto us by our fathers, to cause us that we should believe in some great and marvelous thing which should come to pass, but not among us, but in a land which is far distant, a land which we know not; therefore they can keep us in ignorance, for we cannot witness with our own eyes that they are true.

And notwithstanding the continuous reminders that the Lord had led them away and preserved them from destruction and blessed them, we still have things like this:
Jacob 7:26 And it came to pass that I, Jacob, began to be old… the time passed away with us, and also our lives passed away like as it were unto us a dream, we being a lonesome and a solemn people, wanderers, *cast out from Jerusalem*, born in tribulation, in a wilderness, and hated of our brethren, which caused wars and contentions; wherefore, we did mourn out our days.

So, I imagine it was an important enough tradition about the Lehite and Mulekite beginnings that when Jesus came to visit this “lost” people, and perhaps because Jesus had lived his mortal life in another part of the world, and only appeared to them after His resurrection, that He told them:
3 Nephi 15:19 But, verily, I say unto you that the Father hath commanded me, and I tell it unto you, that ye were separated from among them because of their iniquity; therefore it is because of their iniquity that they know not of you.

Once more… What is the likelihood that Joseph Smith displayed this wonderful threading of the “leaving Jerusalem” theme throughout the Book of Mormon?


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2009, March 18

“Book of Mormon: Is it Necessary for One to to Know if God the Father of Jesus Christ Had/ Has a Body in order to Have Faith in Jesus Christ?” by grego

“Book of Mormon: Is it Necessary for One to to Know if God the Father of Jesus Christ Had/ Has a Body in order to Have Faith in Jesus Christ?”
by grego

I am continually astounded by the ad nauseum arguments over whether God has a body or not. Frankly, does it matter? Maybe only if you’re trying to know the character of God and His plans. To some LDS doctrine, it’s important: God is our father, we are his children, we will become as Him, the resurrection is for all and it’s permanent, etc. But must it be a central point of contention, especially at the beginning?

However, interestingly, in the Book of Mormon, it seems it’s not important; at least it wasn’t to the brother of Jared at the time of his great faith. I doubt most anyone—ChristianTM or LDS—has the faith in the Lord Jesus Christ that the brother of Jared had. Something finally struck me (after who knows how many times of reading the story)… He was surprised when he saw the pre-mortal Lord in human form, as if He had a body:

Ether 3:6 And it came to pass that when the brother of Jared had said these words, behold, the Lord stretched forth his hand and touched the stones one by one with his finger. And the veil was taken from off the eyes of the brother of Jared, and he saw the finger of the Lord; and it was as the finger of a man, like unto flesh and blood; and the brother of Jared fell down before the Lord, for he was struck with fear.
Ether 3:7 And the Lord saw that the brother of Jared had fallen to the earth; and the Lord said unto him: Arise, why hast thou fallen?
Ether 3:8 And he saith unto the Lord: I saw the finger of the Lord, and I feared lest he should smite me; for I knew not that the Lord had flesh and blood.
Ether 3:9 And the Lord said unto him: Because of thy faith thou hast seen that I shall take upon me flesh and blood; and never has man come before me with such exceeding faith as thou hast; for were it not so ye could not have seen my finger. Sawest thou more than this?
Ether 3:10 And he answered: Nay; Lord, show thyself unto me.
Ether 3:11 And the Lord said unto him: Believest thou the words which I shall speak?
Ether 3:12 And he answered: Yea, Lord, I know that thou speakest the truth, for thou art a God of truth, and canst not lie.
Ether 3:13 And when he had said these words, behold, the Lord showed himself unto him, and said: Because thou knowest these things ye are redeemed from the fall; therefore ye are brought back into my presence; therefore I show myself unto you.
Ether 3:14 Behold, I am he who was prepared from the foundation of the world to redeem my people. Behold, I am Jesus Christ. I am the Father and the Son. In me shall all mankind have life, and that eternally, even they who shall believe on my name; and they shall become my sons and my daughters.
Ether 3:15 And never have I showed myself unto man whom I have created, for never has man believed in me as thou hast. Seest thou that ye are created after mine own image? Yea, even all men were created in the beginning after mine own image.
Ether 3:16 Behold, this body, which ye now behold, is the body of my spirit; and man have I created after the body of my spirit; and even as I appear unto thee to be in the spirit will I appear unto my people in the flesh.

You’ll notice that the Lord mentions the brother of Jared’s faith–twice (verses 9, 15). Notice also the important thing was not whether the Lord had a body or not, or even if God the Father and Jesus Christ are the same, but… Do you believe Jesus’ word? Do you have faith in His word? There was much leading up to this experience of the brother of Jared’s, and it had mostly to do with his great praying and his acting on the answers he received from the Lord.

In the great preachings to and conversions of the Lamanite kings, we read a lot about God and his plan, but nothing about God’s having a body or not having a body, or even of his being our Father (in fact, it’s possible that it was actually skipped on purpose—there was good chance for mentioning it, if the prophets at that time even knew it; must they have known it?). Ditto for the great discourses of Alma. Lehi, Nephi, Jacob, Benjamin, Mosiah, Alma the elder and younger, Helaman, Nephi, Mormon, Moroni—nothing. In fact, the only time it’s a main point of doctrinal discussion in the Book of Mormon is when the prophets talk about Jesus Christ coming to earth and gaining a body, in relation to the resurrection and atonement. (There are a few in the book who speak of seeing and speaking to Jesus Christ.) And yet, the Book of Mormon stresses faith in Jesus Christ and repentance all the time.

The account of the brother of Jared makes it clear that to have faith in Jesus Christ—in fact, *exceeding* faith—strong enough to see him and all spiritual things–
it is *not* necessary to know what God looks like.

And if Joseph Smith, who claimed he saw God in human form shortly after he was fourteen years old, and upon which the whole restoration story starts, really invent the Book of Mormon, how did he forget to write in the Book of Mormon, the landmark book of Mormonism, anything about God the Father having the form of a body?


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2009, March 13

“Book of Mormon: Jesus Christ Was a Spirit Before Coming into the World” by grego

Book of Mormon: Jesus Christ Was a Spirit Before Coming into the World
by grego

Following closely the last post…

In Ether we read of the account of the brother of Jared seeing the Lord Jesus Christ before He was born:
Ether 3:6 And it came to pass that when the brother of Jared had said these words, behold, the Lord stretched forth his hand and touched the stones one by one with his finger. And the veil was taken from off the eyes of the brother of Jared, and he saw the finger of the Lord; and it was as the finger of a man, like unto flesh and blood; and the brother of Jared fell down before the Lord, for he was struck with fear.
Ether 3:7 And the Lord saw that the brother of Jared had fallen to the earth; and the Lord said unto him: Arise, why hast thou fallen?
Ether 3:8 And he saith unto the Lord: I saw the finger of the Lord, and I feared lest he should smite me; for I knew not that the Lord had flesh and blood.

If one were to stop there, it would seem that the Lord had a body of flesh and blood at that time; but continuing…

Ether 3:9 And the Lord said unto him: Because of thy faith thou hast seen that I shall take upon me flesh and blood…
Ether 3:14 Behold, I am he who was prepared from the foundation of the world to redeem my people. Behold, I am Jesus Christ…
Ether 3:16 Behold, this body, which ye now behold, is the body of my spirit; and man have I created after the body of my spirit; and even as I appear unto thee to be in the spirit will I appear unto my people in the flesh.

Jesus Christ had a spirit (body) at that time, but did not have a body of flesh and blood until His birth. This should also make mute any doctrine that supposes that Jesus Christ was a resurrected person before His birth.

But would it be possible that he had a resurrected body, then didn’t/ “gave it up”?

The following scriptures come to mind:
*Alma 11:45: “…that they can die no more; their spirits uniting with their bodies, never to be divided…that they can see no more corruption.”
*Alma 12:18: Alma: “and they cannot die, seeing there is no more corruption.”
*Alma 29:17 And now may God grant unto these, my brethren, that they may sit down in the kingdom of God; yea, and also all those who are the fruit of their labors that they may go no more out, but that they may praise him forever.
*Alma 34:36 And this I know, because the Lord hath said he dwelleth not in unholy temples, but in the hearts of the righteous doth he dwell; yea, and he has also said that the righteous shall sit down in his kingdom, to go no more out;
*Helaman 3:30 And land their souls, yea, their immortal souls, at the right hand of God in the kingdom of heaven, to sit down with Abraham, and Isaac, and with Jacob, and with all our holy fathers, to go no more out.
*3 Nephi 28:40 And in this state they were to remain until the judgment day of Christ; and at that day they were to receive a greater change, and to be received into the kingdom of the Father to go no more out, but to dwell with God eternally in the heavens.
*Doctrine and Covenants 63:49: “…they shall rise from the dead and shall not die after…”
*Doctrine and Covenants 88:116: “…and they shall not any more see death.”
*Doctrine and Covenants 138:17: “the spirit and the body to be united never again to be divided…”
(*Guide to the Scriptures: Resurrection After resurrection, the spirit and body will never again be separated, and the person will become immortal.
*Bible Dictionary: Resurrection The resurrection consists in the uniting of a spirit body with a body of flesh and bones, never again to be divided.)

All of that seems to put a limit on certain speculation regarding God (either the Father or Jesus Christ) having a resurrected body, but then giving it up.


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2009, March 12

“Book of Mormon: The Lord Jesus Christ Corrects the Brother of Jared’s Doctrinal Error” by grego

Book of Mormon: The Lord Jesus Christ Corrects the Brother of Jared’s Doctrinal Error
by grego

This has to do with how Jesus corrects a doctrinal error made the by the brother of Jared when he sees Him.

Here is the situation:
Ether 3:6 And it came to pass that when the brother of Jared had said these words, behold, the Lord stretched forth his hand and touched the stones one by one with his finger. And the veil was taken from off the eyes of the brother of Jared, and he saw the finger of the Lord; and it was as the finger of a man, like unto flesh and blood; and the brother of Jared fell down before the Lord, for he was struck with fear.
Ether 3:7 And the Lord saw that the brother of Jared had fallen to the earth; and the Lord said unto him: Arise, why hast thou fallen?
Ether 3:8 And he saith unto the Lord: I saw the finger of the Lord, and I feared lest he should smite me; for I knew not that the Lord had flesh and blood.

Now, the Lord *didn’t* have flesh and blood at that time–He was still just a spirit, not having been born and received a body of flesh and bones yet; the brother of Jared was wrong when he said, “I knew not that the Lord had flesh and blood.”

So what does the Lord tell him?
Ether 3:9 And the Lord said unto him: Because of thy faith thou hast seen that I shall take upon me flesh and blood; and never has man come before me with such exceeding faith as thou hast; for were it not so ye could not have seen my finger. Sawest thou more than this?

He hints at the correct answer, and praises the brother of Jared’s faith!! The important point was the process of developing and perfecting the brother of Jared’s faith, not getting stuck on a doctrinal tangential point that early in the process.
Ether 3:10 And he answered: Nay; Lord, show thyself unto me.
Ether 3:11 And the Lord said unto him: Believest thou the words which I shall speak?
Ether 3:12 And he answered: Yea, Lord, I know that thou speakest the truth, for thou art a God of truth, and canst not lie.
Ether 3:13 And when he had said these words, behold, the Lord showed himself unto him, and said: Because thou knowest these things ye are redeemed from the fall; therefore ye are brought back into my presence; therefore I show myself unto you.
Ether 3:14 Behold, I am he who was prepared from the foundation of the world to redeem my people. Behold, I am Jesus Christ. I am the Father and the Son. In me shall all mankind have life, and that eternally, even they who shall believe on my name; and they shall become my sons and my daughters.
Ether 3:15 And never have I showed myself unto man whom I have created, for never has man believed in me as thou hast. Seest thou that ye are created after mine own image? Yea, even all men were created in the beginning after mine own image.

Jesus Christ continues on about faith, shows himself to him, and talks about other things.

The Lord finally tells the brother of Jared the truth about what he saw:
Ether 3:16 Behold, this body, which ye now behold, is the body of my spirit; and man have I created after the body of my spirit; and even as I appear unto thee to be in the spirit will I appear unto my people in the flesh.

The Lord certainly has a way in relationships.


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2009, March 4

Book of Mormon: Ammon’s Cataplexy

Well, I just found out, to the best of my research, what Ammon in the Book of Mormon experienced twice: cataplexy. Simply, it’s where your emotions overcome your body, making the muscles relax. (I wonder if there’s another form not mentioned in the literature I’ve read, because I know two children who, with one pinch, suffer immediate total collapse/ are on the floor, and a few others that are close but not that bad. In other words, it seems the cause is not just emotional/ psychological.) By the way, if you know something better, sound off on the comments.

Here it is in the Book of Mormon:
Alma 19:14 Now Ammon seeing the Spirit of the Lord poured out according to his prayers upon the Lamanites, his brethren, who had been the cause of so much mourning among the Nephites, or among all the people of God because of their iniquities and their traditions, he fell upon his knees, and began to pour out his soul in prayer and thanksgiving to God for what he had done for his brethren; and he was also overpowered with joy; and thus they all three had sunk to the earth.

Alma 27:17 Now the joy of Ammon was so great even that he was full; yea, he was swallowed up in the joy of his God, even to the exhausting of his strength; and he fell again to the earth.
Alma 27:18 Now was not this exceeding joy? Behold, this is joy which none receiveth save it be the truly penitent and humble seeker of happiness.
Alma 27:19 Now the joy of Alma in meeting his brethren was truly great, and also the joy of Aaron, of Omner, and Himni; but behold their joy was not that to exceed their strength.

Is it possible that Joseph Smith had cataplexy, and that this condition is how he had the First Vision? (For example, one ex-Mormon critic I know believed that the First Vision came by way of Joseph Smith suffering narcoleptic attack, then having a hypnagogic hallucination/ sleep paralysis, then having an epileptic seizure including a drawn-out participatory visual and auditory hallucination; and, in fact, his other visions were similar. In his own words: “Couldn’t a person with an unusual brain learn to induce such a state more or less at will? Unsual and surprising isn’t the same thing as impossible and why shouldn’t we give a naturalistic account a chance for something like this?” I guess he could also use his powerful mind control brainwaves to induce the same conditions in others that shared his visions and experiences, along with their own… Ok…)

Nope. As I’ve mentioned elsewhere, there is nothing about Joseph Smith having any of the other accompanying principal signs or symptoms. Besides, “hynagogic hallucinations” are never positive, “sleep paralysis” doesn’t allow one to move and speak as Joseph did, and for Joseph–a person of a jovial nature–to have never had a previous cataplectic attack, nor one afterwards, seems to be extremely unnatural.

From @ikipedia:
“Cataplexy is a medical condition which often affects people who have narcolepsy, a disorder whose principal signs are EDS (Excessive Daytime Sleepiness), sleep attacks, sleep paralysis, hypnagogic hallucinations[1] and disturbed night-time sleep.”

From Scholarpedia:
“Emotions that may trigger attacks include laughter, fear, anger, frustration, annoyance, nervousness, embarrassment, and sadness. Positive emotions, specifically laughter, are most predictive of triggering a cataplectic event. Data from the Stanford University Sleep Disorders Clinic of 200 patients with cataplexy showed that 100 percent of these patients reported laughter as the most common trigger, followed by a feeling of amusement, or surprise with happiness and joy [2]. A study by Anic-Labat et al reported that emotions arising from “hearing or telling a joke,” “laughing,” or “when angry,” were most predictive of the loss of muscle function in clear-cut cataplexy [3].”

Note that the experiences of cataplexy in the Book of Mormon are not normal in that the person experiencing them doesn’t have the disorder, just a one- or two-time experience. There is also another difference with usual cataplexy: during at least one episode, Ammon lost consciousness. Compare that to this typical definition of cataplexy: “a medical condition in which strong emotion or laughter causes a person to suffer sudden physical collapse though remaining conscious.”

So when was cataplexy first reported, and how aware of it would Joseph Smith have been? (Or are fainting spells close enough that they count?)

From http://www.pubmedcentral.nih.gov/articlerender.fcgi?artid=2564780:
“To publish the first English translations, with commentary, of the original reports describing narcolepsy and cataplexy by Westphal in German (1877) and by Gélineau in French (1880).”
“Results: Both Westphal and Gélineau correctly identified and described the new clinical entities of cataplexy and narcolepsy, with recurrent, self-limited sleep attacks and/or cataplectic attacks affecting 2 otherwise healthy people. Narcolepsy was named by Gélineau (and cataplexy was named by Henneberg in 1916)…”

So, Joseph Smith and the Book of Mormon predate medical literature by many years. It is possible, of course, that Joseph Smith had known or heard of someone with cataplexy or having a cataplectic attack.

Ammon is not the only one; Lamoni, his wife, and his father all experience it or something similar.

I know from personal experience similar to that of Ammon’s that his experience as written in the Book of Mormon is absolutely possible. (Hey, I doubt I was as righteous or faithful as him, and it wasn’t 14 years separation for me.)


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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 10

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

Filed under: Book of Mormon — grego @ 2:00 am
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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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2008, November 25

Book of Mormon: “Writing a Short History Isn’t that Hard… until You Try”, by grego

Book of Mormon: Writing a Short History Isn’t that Hard… until You Try
by grego

A year ago, I was going back through my journal, searching for particular points about a common topic.

This is from 8 years ago, to current; all my life; most all written by me; I have a decent, if not better than decent, memory (at least compared to my other family members).

Ok, it’s more than a few pages, maybe about 250 pages of 12 pt. document; but still, it was my *own* life history from just the past eight years; I wasn’t condensing/ abridging a record mainly written by others over a period of a thousand (1,000) years…

Results?
*Much of what I thought I had written down for sure, I hadn’t.
*Much of what I thought was clear when I wrote it, wasn’t.
*Many of the open-ended things (feelings about the future, prophecies, worries, whatever happened to?, when did we stop doing something that I wrote about a lot previously, etc.), hadn’t been closed.
*Seeing problems, I changed and added many things right to what they should have been (with a word processor, that’s easy).

That really opened my eyes–

The Book of Mormon really is much, much tighter and more cohesive than I ever realized, and I understand a little more why maybe some things are “spread out”. I also had quite a bit more respect for the writers, and especially Mormon.

NOTE: IF THIS ISN’T WHAT YOU WERE LOOKING FOR, USE THE SEARCH BOX TO THE RIGHT–YOU MIGHT BE SURPRISED!


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2008, October 20

Book of Mormon: More about the Lamanites and Ammonihah, by grego

Book of Mormon: More about the Lamanites and Ammonihah
by grego

Alma prophesies to the (Nephite) people of Ammonihah:
Alma 9:16 For there are many promises which are extended to the Lamanites; for it is because of the traditions of their fathers that caused them to remain in their state of ignorance; therefore the Lord will be merciful unto them and prolong their existence in the land.
Alma 9:17 And *at some period of time they will be brought to believe in his word, and to know of the incorrectness of the traditions of their fathers; and many of them will be saved, for the Lord will be merciful unto all who call on his name*.
Alma 9:18 But behold, I say unto you that *if ye persist in your wickedness that your days shall not be prolonged in the land, for the Lamanites shall be sent upon you; and if ye repent not they shall come in a time when you know not, and ye shall be visited with utter destruction*; and it shall be according to the fierce anger of the Lord.

It’s interesting that this parallel occurs exactly as prophesied in the Book of Mormon, though not in a straightforward way.

The first part of the prophecy is fulfilled in the later story of the preaching of Ammon and his brethren to the Lamanites, in Alma 17-27 or 28.

The second part of the prophecy is fulfilled at the end of the Ammonihah story, in Alma 16.

So, it’s a double prophecy and parallel fulfillment, but in two separate Book of Mormon stories.


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2008, October 17

Book of Mormon: Zeezrom’s Penance, by grego

Book of Mormon: Zeezrom’s Penance
by grego

Speculation here, but fun and interesting, so let’s go anyway…

In Alma , Zeezrom tries to trap Amulek:
Alma 11:22 And Amulek said … And Zeezrom said unto him: Behold, here are six onties of silver, and all these will I give thee if thou wilt deny the existence of a Supreme Being.
Alma 11:23 Now Amulek said: O thou child of hell, why tempt ye me? Knowest thou that the righteous yieldeth to no such temptations?
Alma 11:24 Believest thou that there is no God? I say unto you, Nay, thou knowest that there is a God, but thou lovest that lucre more than him.
Alma 11:25 And now thou hast lied before God unto me. Thou saidst unto me–Behold these six onties, which are of great worth, I will give unto thee–when thou hadst it in thy heart to retain them from me; and it was only thy desire that I should deny the true and living God, that thou mightest have cause to destroy me. And now behold, for this great evil thou shalt have thy reward.

As I mentioned in a past article (http://bookofmormonmusings.blogspot.com/2006/04/how-much-for-your-god.html):
“Amulek tells Zeezrom, you know there is a God, but you love “THAT filthy lucre” more than God–in other words, you love those six onties of silver you’re holding in your hand–which, by the way, you earned dishonestly–more than you love God.”

A judge’s pay (a lawyer’s pay?) was 1/7 of an onti (Alma 11:3, etc.); that puts the amount he held at 42 days of wages.

In other words, according to Amulek, Zeezrom loved 42 days of wages more than he loved God, whom he knew existed.

We have two dates in the Ammonihah story that are relevant, and two other time periods:
7/4/10 (Alma 10:6) — Amulek meets Alma;
“many days” (Alma 8:27);
Alma and Amulek preach, are thrown in prison (Alma 14) –>
“many days” (Alma 14:22-23);
10/12/10 Alma and Amulek come out of prison and go to Sidon (Alma 14:23, etc.)

I surmise that Zeezrom was kicked out of Ammonihah soon after Alma and Amulek preached (in other words, not much time between their preaching and their trial), and that from that point on, he was seriously troubled and in ill health due to penance; and also stopped working. (See Alma 14:6-7, 15:3, 5.)

It seems, looking at the time, that Zeezrom actually had the chance to prove to everyone–especially God–that he now, in fact, did NOT love that six onties of silver/ 42 days of work more than God; then he was healed and immediately up and at it (Alma 15:11, etc.).


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2008, October 5

“Internal Consistency in the Book of Mormon: Nephite Knowledge about the Lamanites” by grego

“Internal Consistency in the Book of Mormon: Nephite Knowledge about the Lamanites” by grego

Here’s what we read about the Lamanites in Alma 17:4:  “And assuredly it was great, for they had undertaken to preach the word of God to a wild and a hardened and a ferocious people; a people who delighted in murdering the Nephites, and robbing and plundering them; and their hearts were set upon riches, or upon gold and silver, and precious stones; yet they sought to obtain these things by murdering and plundering, that they might not labor for them with their own hands.”

Later, here’s what we read in Alma 18:7:  “Now it was the practice of these Lamanites to stand by the waters of Sebus to scatter the flocks of the people, that thereby they might drive away many that were scattered unto their own land, it being a practice of plunder among them.”

Notice that the first comments are what the Nephites would have known about the Lamanites from their “outside” experiences. Later, through Ammon’s experiences and report of living among the Lamanites, we learn that the Nephite knowledge about the Lamanites was incomplete; while they did bad things to the Nephites to get their gold, silver, and precious stones, they also did bad things to other Lamanites to gain their flocks.


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