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Benjamin Seeker

How an Ahistorical Book of Mormon Can Still Be Scripture

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Gray    4,372
2 hours ago, Meerkat said:

Moroni had buried the plates in the ground to come forth in our day. If the Book of Mormon plates were shown to 3 witnesses by the angel Moroni then 8 witnesses who hefted the plates, and the Holy Ghost witnesses it is a true book,  it is actually an historic book in my opinion.  One cannot dismiss the three  witnesses testimony.

What about all the eye witness testimony to the various appearances of the Virgin Mary? People who do not already believe in such things have no trouble dismissing it, even if they think the witnesses sincerely believe they saw something.

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17 hours ago, clarkgoble said:

I guess what I'm saying is that by portraying God as so interventionist it seems intrinsically something he was pondering. Even in the very early forms of the first vision narrative. Indeed the First Vision and the quest for the plates seems like intervention was his focus. I admit I kind of expected you to say that his focus on that meant that he was less influenced by inspiration. It's interesting you went the completely opposite route.

I see what you are saying. I don't think JS was approaching the question how we are though. He was just interested in whether people can/should be having revelatory experiences while we're discussing whether revelation is an upflow or downflow phenomenon. The traditional assumed conception is that revelation is a downflow phenomenon. It would be interesting to look at the scriptures and JS' teachings for indications that he was giving thought to upflow vs. downflow (hopefully those words are making sense... I just kind of made them up).

On the flipside, JS was obviously considering the conflict in religion, which he attributed to lack of revelation as did his revelations. However, this seems to be related to a very typical trend in the formation of religious traditions to call everyone else wrong, which is related somehow to human psychological development. Basically, things get messy fast. On top of that, we don't know what all of JS' inner experiences were like, obviously. For example, he indicated that he didn't reveal all that had been revealed to him. Basically, we don't know what inklings of thoughts or even reveltory experiences he may have had on our discussion here.

Edited by Benjamin Seeker

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Meerkat    224
5 hours ago, Gray said:

What about all the eye witness testimony to the various appearances of the Virgin Mary? People who do not already believe in such things have no trouble dismissing it, even if they think the witnesses sincerely believe they saw something.

That's a fair point.  For me, it goes back to living it, doing good and enjoying my life of faith.  Reading the Scriptures, an important part of God's pattern is speaking to His children through prophets, apostles, etc.  The LDS Church works for me.

Regarding the Catholics, I am impressed with their doctrine of Divination, us becoming "little Christs" to do His work.  I am very impressed with their healing ministries through hospitals, Catholic Community Services and all the little centers helping the poor, helpless, homeless and addicted.  I definitely see the Catholic Church doing the Lord's work of mercy and compassion.  Just to finance all that, many of the members do take their commitment to the Church seriously and sacrifice to make it all happen.  

I believe the LDS Church has the authority from God to act in His name, and the necessary ordinances.  And we have the Book of Mormon, another testament of Jesus Christ.  And living it, we experience the fruits of the religion.

Most all the churches have a place and important work to do, as does the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, imo.

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Tom N    0

 

Testimonies of Joseph Smith, Moroni, Jacob, Nephi and Me

 

I have read through this thread and the previous one that was started by a question about a conversation I had with my father which I repeated to a friend who sought corroboration from the participants on this board. I could address many of the posts found thereon, but there seems to be pretty good representation and give and take throughout a spectrum of a number of nuances of beliefs in, on and about the BOM, so I decided the most useful thing I could do would be to bear testimony of what I believe. I have done a lot of reading about religion, spirituality and  various philosophies during my life. I have found some pleasure in the many interesting ideas and practices that abound in this world. But I’m getting too old to spend my time dancing around with things that are not of eternal value. So, although I still occasionally dip a toe into blogs and videos that expound the views of this or that person, I am most interested in what will bring me not just an understanding but actual benefit in this world and, more importantly, in the worlds to come.

The discussion here has been on various views on the historicity or ahistoricity of the Book of Mormon. Let me state at the outset that my view is unequivocal and emphatic. The Book of Mormon is record of a historic people and is exactly what it claims to be as stated on the title page:

An Account Written by the Hand of Mormon upon Plates Taken from the Plates of Nephi

Wherefore, it is an abridgment of the record of the people of Nephi, and also of the Lamanites—Written to the Lamanites, who are a remnant of the house of Israel; and also to Jew and Gentile—Written by way of commandment, and also by the spirit of prophecy and of revelation—Written and sealed up, and hid up unto the Lord, that they might not be destroyed—To come forth by the gift and power of God unto the interpretation thereof—Sealed by the hand of Moroni, and hid up unto the Lord, to come forth in due time by way of the Gentile—The interpretation thereof by the gift of God.

An abridgment taken from the Book of Ether also, which is a record of the people of Jared, who were scattered at the time the Lord confounded the language of the people, when they were building a tower to get to heaven—Which is to show unto the remnant of the house of Israel what great things the Lord hath done for their fathers; and that they may know the covenants of the Lord, that they are not cast off forever—And also to the convincing of the Jew and Gentile that Jesus is the Christ, the Eternal God, manifesting himself unto all nations—And now, if there are faults they are the mistakes of men; wherefore, condemn not the things of God, that ye may be found spotless at the judgment-seat of Christ.

I believe that statement should absolutely be taken literally and to think that it is possible to study the book and the gospel it teaches without taking these words into account is a grave mistake.

The introduction that is included in the BOM since at least 1981 has this paragraph:

Concerning this record the Prophet Joseph Smith said: “I told the brethren that the Book of Mormon was the most correct of any book on earth, and the keystone of our religion, and a man would get nearer to God by abiding by its precepts, than by any other book.”

To me this is what the book is all about. More than that, this is what life is all about. I believe we were given the opportunity to live on this earth for the purpose of determining exactly how close to God we want to get. That will vary from person to person, and what will bring joy to one soul will be boring, irritating or distressing to another. Hence there are many kingdoms and degrees of glory hereafter. That  is a kind and wonderful aspect of the plan of salvation which should be evident just by looking around at how different people are. A kind and generous God has provided means for every soul to achieve and receive whatever will be most delightsome to him/her.

But if what you desire is to get near to God then the Book of Mormon, according to JS, is the prime tool for the job. Exploring avenues for its creation may be fun and exciting, but in the end it is not where or how the book came into existence that is important. It is to be used! It is a tool to get us near to God. So let’s try it out. The proof of the pudding, as the saying goes, is in the eating. Talking about its provenance will not satisfy your hunger. If you’re not hungry, okay, I understand, talk about it all you want without digging in.

However, if you hunger and thirst for the everlasting light, if you yearn from the depths of your soul to know the only true God and Jesus Christ whom He hath sent then for heaven’s sake take the plunge, dive into the Book of Mormon and see where it gets you. Plant the seed, nourish it and see what grows. Don’t just talk about it-- do it! See if you don’t come to know of the doctrine. Do it and see if you don’t actually get nearer to God.

Now in my view this promise of JS will only be fulfilled if the book is historical. The first chapter of the book has Lehi seeing into Heaven and beholding “One descending out of the midst of heaven, [whose] luster was above that of the sun at noon-day.” If Lehi was real, a historical human being, then other human being can have the same type of experience by doing the same type of things. Nephi, if he also really lived, proved that this is the case:

17 And it came to pass after I, Nephi, having heard all the words of my father, concerning the things which he saw in a vision, and also the things which he spake by the power of the Holy Ghost, which power he received by faith on the Son of God—and the Son of God was the Messiah who should come—I, Nephi, was desirous also that I might see, and hear, and know of these things, by the power of the Holy Ghost, which is the gift of God unto all those who diligently seek him, as well in times of old as in the time that he should manifest himself unto the children of men.

18 For he is the same yesterday, today, 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.

19 For he that diligently seeketh shall find; and the mysteries of God shall be unfolded unto them, by the power of the Holy Ghost, as well in these times as in times of old, and as well in times of old as in times to come; wherefore, the course of the Lord is one eternal round. (1 Ne. 10)

Notice that Nephi extends the promise to whoever will follow the example that he and his father set. That would include you and me.

Now if Lehi and Nephi are only fictional, non-historical inventions of Joseph Smith, Sidney Rigdon, Solomon Spaulding or Joe Blow then I might as well go hunting for Aladdin’s lamp, Sauron’s ring or Harry Potter’s wand. Only if Lehi and Nephi are historical characters do these stories and promises have any validity. But you cannot ascertain their validity or invalidity by going the rounds about who wrote it when or whose imagination can come up with most satisfying paradigm that fits with their personal worldview.

That means a valid test requires accepting, at least as a possible tentative actuality, a worldview, or rather an eternally extensive-- in both time and space-- cosmic view in which angels, visions and God Himself are real. If you can’t accept that proposition then at least allow yourself to suspend your unbelief for a moment or two. Try to make it a long enough moment for it to be a real test. Plant the seed and nourish it long enough for it to start to grow. Approach God with the intent of your heart being real and honest enough that you can face the possibility that the results can bring about changes in your views and your life. These changes can be profound, so don’t approach this test lightly or insincerely.

Some on this board have mentioned the promise Moroni makes to meet us at the “pleasing bar of God.” (Royal Skousen says that should read “pleading bar”, the place in a courtroom where one stands to enter his plea.) Moroni prefaces that promise with some excellent advice. Again, you have to take this advice seriously to realize the promised effects.

32 Yea, come unto Christ, and be perfected in him, and deny yourselves of all ungodliness; and if ye shall deny yourselves of all ungodliness, and love God with all your might, mind and strength, then is his grace sufficient for you, that by his grace ye may be perfect in Christ; and if by the grace of God ye are perfect in Christ, ye can in nowise deny the power of God.

33 And again, if ye by the grace of God are perfect in Christ, and deny not his power, then are ye sanctified in Christ by the grace of God, through the shedding of the blood of Christ, which is in the covenant of the Father unto the remission of your sins, that ye become holy, without spot.

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. (Moro. 10)

Moroni will not be alone to meet us, there will be at least two others, Jacob, brother of Nephi:

11 O then, my beloved brethren, repent ye, and enter in at the strait gate, and continue in the way which is narrow, until ye shall obtain eternal life.

12 O be wise; what can I say more?

13 Finally, I bid you farewell, until I shall meet you before the pleasing bar of God, which bar striketh the wicked with awful dread and fear. Amen. (Jacob 6)

And then there will be Nephi himself. Part of this passage was already quoted in the thread, so excuse, if you will, the redundancy. I am going to quote at greater length, however, and add comments in brackets.

1 And now I, Nephi, [a real person] cannot write all the things which were taught among my people [a real people]; neither am I mighty in writing, like unto speaking; for when a man speaketh by the power of the Holy Ghost the power of the Holy Ghost carrieth it unto the hearts of the children of men [remember as you read that it is difficult to achieve this with the written word, but not impossible, as the BOM here and in other places often attests].

2 But behold, there are many that harden their hearts against the Holy Spirit [it is difficult and often painful to honestly examine our hearts to see if they are hard, but it is imperative to truly know where we stand before God], that it hath no place in them [when you contemplate writing a post do you ask if was inspired by the Holy Spirit, or does it come from some other source. If you don’t know how to tell read Moroni 7]; wherefore, they cast many things away which are written and esteem them as things of naught [anybody ever notice that happening? Of course the ones who do the casting away don’t think they’re losing anything of value so out it goes. That causes pain to those who esteem those things to be of inestimable value. Be careful.].

3 But I, Nephi, have written what I have written, and I esteem it as of great worth, and especially unto my people. For I pray continually for them by day, and mine eyes water my pillow by night, [real person, real prayers, real tears, real pillow even. And real concern for those who will read his words.] because of them; and I cry unto my God in faith, and I know that he will hear my cry.

4 And I know that the Lord God will consecrate my prayers for the gain of my people. And the words which I have written in weakness will be made strong unto them; for it persuadeth them to do good; it maketh known unto them of their fathers; and it speaketh of Jesus, and persuadeth them to believe in him, and to endure to the end, which is life eternal.

5 And it speaketh harshly against sin, according to the plainness of the truth; wherefore, no man will be angry at the words which I have written save he shall be of the spirit of the devil. [ouch]

6 I glory in plainness; I glory in truth; I glory in my Jesus, for he hath redeemed my soul from hell. [if this is a work of fiction who cares? If historic there is power in it.]

7 I have charity for my people, and great faith in Christ that I shall meet many souls spotless at his judgment-seat. [I testify that everyone involved in this discussion will be among them. Yes, this means you.]

8 I have charity for the Jew—I say Jew, because I mean them from whence I came.

9 I also have charity for the Gentiles [now he’s talking about us directly]. But behold, for none of these can I hope except they shall be reconciled unto Christ, and enter into the narrow gate, and walk in the strait path which leads to life, and continue in the path until the end of the day of probation [that would be the path that is described throughout the BOM].

10 And now, my beloved brethren, and also Jew, and all ye ends of the earth, hearken unto these words and believe in Christ; and if ye believe not in these words believe in Christ. And if ye shall believe in Christ ye will believe in these words, for they are the words of Christ, and he hath given them unto me; and they teach all men that they should do good [If you haven’t already, take a few minutes to contemplate the importance of these words if they are true].

11 And if they are not the words of Christ, judge ye—for Christ will show unto you, with power and great glory, that they are his words, at the last day; and you and I shall stand face to face before his bar [yes, we will. You may not believe it. If you think the BOM is not historical then you won’t be concerned with these words at this time. But the time will come, and it breaks my heart to think about it, that these words will be really, historically fulfilled.]; and ye shall know that I have been commanded of him to write these things, notwithstanding my weakness [he isn’t into ego trips, this comes from his heart.]

12 And I pray the Father in the name of Christ that many of us, if not all, may be saved in his kingdom at that great and last day [Nephi really is charitable. He really does have your best interest in mind. He really sincerely means this. And he really is, to hammer home ad nauseum the point, a real historical person.].

13 And now, my beloved brethren, all those who are of the house of Israel, and all ye ends of the earth, I speak unto you as the voice of one crying from the dust: Farewell until that great day shall come.

Brethren and sisters, I add my testimony that of Joseph, Nephi, Jacob, Moroni and all the prophets in the Book of Mormon and elsewhere, real, living people who wrote what they did for our benefit under the commandment of God. I have planted the seed of the Book of Mormon and I have felt it sprout and swell and begin to grow. I know that if I continue to nourish it I will be able to come ever nearer to to God. How near I am able to get will depend on my faithfulness and diligence. I recognize my weaknesses and know that if I don’t come up to the full measure of Godliness it will be no one’s fault but my own. If I do manage to make into realms of Celestial Glory it will be due to the merits, mercy, grace, power and condescension of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, the Father of heaven and earth, the Creator of all things from the beginning. To Him I am forever grateful for His atonement and the scriptures, including the Book of Mormon which I, through the grace of God, being strengthened by Him, hope to have the courage and faith to defend and bear testimony of unto and beyond my last breath in this mortal sphere.

 

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Gray    4,372
1 hour ago, Meerkat said:

That's a fair point.  For me, it goes back to living it, doing good and enjoying my life of faith.  Reading the Scriptures, an important part of God's pattern is speaking to His children through prophets, apostles, etc.  The LDS Church works for me.

Regarding the Catholics, I am impressed with their doctrine of Divination, us becoming "little Christs" to do His work.  I am very impressed with their healing ministries through hospitals, Catholic Community Services and all the little centers helping the poor, helpless, homeless and addicted.  I definitely see the Catholic Church doing the Lord's work of mercy and compassion.  Just to finance all that, many of the members do take their commitment to the Church seriously and sacrifice to make it all happen.  

I believe the LDS Church has the authority from God to act in His name, and the necessary ordinances.  And we have the Book of Mormon, another testament of Jesus Christ.  And living it, we experience the fruits of the religion.

Most all the churches have a place and important work to do, as does the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, imo.

I can't find fault with any of this. Thanks!

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clarkgoble    1,928
7 hours ago, Benjamin Seeker said:

I see what you are saying. I don't think JS was approaching the question how we are though. He was just interested in whether people can/should be having revelatory experiences while we're discussing whether revelation is an upflow or downflow phenomenon. The traditional assumed conception is that revelation is a downflow phenomenon. It would be interesting to look at the scriptures and JS' teachings for indications that he was giving thought to upflow vs. downflow (hopefully those words are making sense... I just kind of made them up).

Not quite sure what you mean by downflow. I was taking you to be embracing something more akin to a platonic Nous that in theory we all have contact with - a kind of shared mind such as Jungian psychoanalysis appropriated from the Platonists. In this model it's kind of like a pipe that's always running and that everyone is always in contact with in some measure but isn't intentional communication the way Mormons think of prayer or answers.

With that kind of model Joseph tapped into this Nous unconsciously. The question then becomes what was inspired and why these key aspects of the nature of God he got wrong. i.e. pretty quickly if we reject historicism the question becomes what is true within Mormonism that's different from generic ethics ala Fowler's horrible stages of faith model. (Not that you are adopting that) Fowler more or less takes the highest level of faith to be a generic secular ethics. But what's interesting about the more Platonic conceptions is that they don't make that sort of move - although typically seeing the unity in all things is seen as an important insight.

Quote

On the flipside, JS was obviously considering the conflict in religion, which he attributed to lack of revelation as did his revelations. However, this seems to be related to a very typical trend in the formation of religious traditions to call everyone else wrong, which is related somehow to human psychological development. Basically, things get messy fast. On top of that, we don't know what all of JS' inner experiences were like, obviously. For example, he indicated that he didn't reveal all that had been revealed to him. Basically, we don't know what inklings of thoughts or even reveltory experiences he may have had on our discussion here.

But I don't think we can reduce Joseph to merely an other voice in the theological squabbles of the burned over region. Key to his earliest religion was the idea of continuing revelation and authority. Yet it seems to me those are the least compatible with ahistoric revelations. So I think you're dismissing the conflict there a tad too quickly.

You're completely right that we don't know Joseph's inner experiences. (That true even in the more traditional view of his revelations which is why I think a little hermeneutics of suspicion is always in order) Not to put words in your mouth, but the typical way of dealing with this is that the things Joseph thought strongly about were those least open to revision by this vague inspiration since he wasn't "open" to it. (Again using the broad platonic model here) However the epistemological problems here become pretty pronounced. After all, if we reject any kind of authority or burden of proof for Joseph (which is required if it's all fictional and only indirectly and loosely inspired) upon what basis can we ourselves know by inspiration? That is the very things we feel strongly about are themselves the things we are least able to know about under this model. Of course we might quibble, turning to say Emerson or Thoreau or other figures in that "loose inspiration" model arising out of platonism.

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3 hours ago, Tom N said:

Now if Lehi and Nephi are only fictional, non-historical inventions of Joseph Smith, Sidney Rigdon, Solomon Spaulding or Joe Blow then I might as well go hunting for Aladdin’s lamp, Sauron’s ring or Harry Potter’s wand. Only if Lehi and Nephi are historical characters do these stories and promises have any validity.

I appreciate your sincerity and value your advice, always. But... my disagreement with the general premise of this quotation is the exact reason I began this thread. If the BOM is based on true spiritual experience/truth/etc., whether the book is historical or not will not change the effect of following its precepts. Parables and allegory work along side recounting personal experiences as teaching tools. I blieve people can nourish the seed of faith even if they come to believe that the BOM is not historical. In starting this thread, I felt it was important to voice this position as I've seen so much opposition to the idea that one can spiritually flourish with a non-literal approach.

I believe the either-it's-historical-and-valid-or-ahistorical-and-invalid approach, especially when given strong rhetoric, will mostly push away those who are nourishing the seed of faith despite a conclusion of BOM ahistoricity. Someone who has carefully considered the topic, taken in a wide range of information, lived the promises of the BOM, but comes to the conclusion its ahistorical will likely see more options than the either-or approach gives, and rhetoric that invalidates their other options, can make them feel like a total and complete outsider (they already feel like an outsider, trust me, I know ;)). I'm not saying anyone needs to agree with BOM ahistoricity, just instead of saying its historicity-or-the-spiritually-descending-highway, perhaps consider, like Grant Hardy (who believes the BOM is historical), that a faith in an ahistorical BOM may still be a saving faith.

I feel like its important to voice this as there are others who instead of saying anything will, with enough reminders that their position is seen as not only untrue but also invalid, just leave despite not wanting to, simply because their sense of community, a vital part of most religious experience, has been removed. 

I just wanted to add Grant Hardy's quotation from the 2016 FAIR conference as a parting thought:

"When people talk about “inspired fiction,” it’s worth thinking harder about what they might mean. Perhaps that the Book of Mormon is a product of human genius, like other literary or religious works. Or it may be the product of general revelation, in which God or some higher power makes himself known to humans, who then communicate that encounter with the Divine though various scriptures such as Buddhist sutras or the Daodejing or the Bhagavad Gita or the Qur’an. Or there may be special revelation in which God inspired Joseph to create the Book of Mormon in such a way that it exemplifies specific truths of unique importance. In any case, however, we might ask, “Can faith in the Book of Mormon as inspired fiction be a saving faith?” My answer is, “Absolutely!” I believe that if someone, at the judgment bar, were to say to God, “I couldn’t make sense of the Book of Mormon as an ancient American codex, given the available evidence, but I loved that book, I heard your voice in it, and I tried to live by its precepts as best I could,” then God will respond, “Well done, my good and faithful servant.”"

Edited by Benjamin Seeker

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clarkgoble    1,928
46 minutes ago, Benjamin Seeker said:

In any case, however, we might ask, “Can faith in the Book of Mormon as inspired fiction be a saving faith?” My answer is, “Absolutely!” I believe that if someone, at the judgment bar, were to say to God, “I couldn’t make sense of the Book of Mormon as an ancient American codex, given the available evidence, but I loved that book, I heard your voice in it, and I tried to live by its precepts as best I could,” then God will respond, “Well done, my good and faithful servant.”"

I completely agree with this. People believe lots of crazy things in the Church. Somehow I don't think God is going to judge them for that if they were trying according to their understanding. So the person who thinks white sugar and vinegar are against the Word of Wisdom might be annoying to have as a home teacher but will it damn them? That does seem crazy. Likewise if someone has erroneous ideas about what the world of Christ in Roman occupied Palestine was like (say filled with Irish looking white guys in a lush environment) is that going to damn them? I'd hope not. Is getting the world of the Nephites wrong (from our perspective) really that different?

That said, I also think the Church has some duty to teach correct doctrine. So I think a different calculus might be at work for callings. I had a friend struggling with a testimony at BYU. She went to talk to her Stake President who was a well known professor. (Not naming any names - so no one ask) She said she was struggling with believing the Book of Mormon was history. He told her he didn't think it was historical either. This floored her. She asked the obvious question of whether the New Testament was historical. He thought it was. She asked what the difference was? I don't want to get into that argument as I think we all know there are key differences even if many narratives in the NT are problematic in terms of history. However to her this set her on a series of doubt that led her to lose her testimony. (She eventually came back as I understand it) So I think having those kind of doubts, while completely something I'd want to be accepting of, might be problematic to hold in certain callings.

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cdowis    1,599
11 hours ago, Gray said:

What about all the eye witness testimony to the various appearances of the Virgin Mary? People who do not already believe in such things have no trouble dismissing it, even if they think the witnesses sincerely believe they saw something.

You are then saying that JS and the witnesses were are deceived by Satan and "angels of light" as mentioned by Paul.  If so, the the answer is no, a nonhistorical BOM cannot be considered scripture if it is dependent on such false visions by Satan.

I think you are deliberately missing the point, that the Moroni was, based on eyewitness testimony, an actual person.  Take away Moroni, you then take away the truth claims of Joseph Smith.

Edited by cdowis

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Gray    4,372
13 minutes ago, cdowis said:

You are then saying that JS and the witnesses were are deceived by Satan and "angels of light" as mentioned by Paul.  If so, the the answer is no, a nonhistorical BOM cannot be considered scripture if it is dependent on such false visions by Satan.

No, I don't think that at all. I think all such visions are in the mind only. That does not mean they lack spiritual value, the same way one can find inspiration in nature, or in a text.

 

Quote

I think you are deliberately missing the point, that the Moroni was, based on eyewitness testimony, an actual person.  Take away Moroni, you then take away the truth claims of Joseph Smith.

Moroni's personhood doesn't make spiritual truths more or less true. He's part of the story, he doesn't need to be historical.

We are a story telling species. We find our meaning and purpose in our stories.

Edited by Gray

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cdowis    1,599
2 hours ago, Gray said:

No, I don't think that at all. I think all such visions are in the mind only. That does not mean they lack spiritual value, the same way one can find inspiration in nature, or in a text.

Moroni's personhood doesn't make spiritual truths more or less true. He's part of the story, he doesn't need to be historical.

We are a story telling species. We find our meaning and purpose in our stories.

1. Indeed, and "spiritual value" is found in all churches.  If that is all that we are seeking, we might as well all go to the Baptist church.

2. It does tell us about the credibility of "con man" Joseph Smith and his gang of witnesses.  If he is lying about a fake Moroni, the three witnesses about this fake angel, then the foundation of the church crumbles.

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