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David Ostler's book Bridges on LDS faith crisis

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22 minutes ago, clarkgoble said:

Sorry again, wasn't saying anything beyond that in terms of the authoritative texts the theology is pretty open. Everyone has their own interpretation, however tentatively held. My point was just that it's far more open than many suspect in terms of the range of interpretations.

Yeah there I break company. I think there are some people like that no doubt. I find them annoying but I think they're a pretty small minority. I do agree that "the gospel according to McConkie" was a problem back in the 90's but Hinkley successfully tapped that down I think. That's not to say you don't find older people still with that mindset - particularly in more rural wards. (Idaho I'm looking at you) But I don't think it's that common any more. 

Umm. No. I said I agreed with you but that many inactive and ex-Mormon people find the idea offensive. Ultimately while I think people were in the past more open about that, the rhetoric has definitely changed over the past 20 years. My personal feeling is that the root causes haven't as much, although again more information about Church history has aggravated it more. So if someone gets offended and they're troubled by some historical event like polyandry, they're more apt to blame the history than the triggering event. That change of focus is significant. But I suspect the underlying root causes aren't as different as some think. Although that may be my bias from growing up in "the mission field" as opposed to Utah/Idaho. We just encountered such things all the time - especially converts. In Utah people were sheltered in a much larger degree from such things and (IMO) didn't need as strong a testimony.

No need to apologize Clark. I am a little reluctant to fully discuss my beliefs online at this time. It is not because I am shy about them or anything. To be blunt I think there is an official story about me because of what I have written, so to be fair to this teacher, my guess is he was a bit hypervigilant, and so overreacted. Teachers who were more willing to engage didn't seem to remain teachers. Now that the materials don't teach the same way and are more focused on how to understand and improve our lives, the issue is less pronounced, and I probably seem "better behaved." I still believe that less active and ex-members who have tried to talk about these things get a feeling of being offended which is why I brought up my little story. It may not happen in a class-room setting but in a familial setting or with people considered friends. I have just seen/heard and experienced it numerous times. You may be right that the focus has changed away from a triggering event, which I guess is good in a way. It is more likely that someone may eventually be satisfied and return than if they are really offended by someone in their ward. There are also lots of other ways people get offended. They don't like being made someone's "project." There was poster here you probably recall who didn't like our truth claims and felt offended by them, etc. Anyway, my overall point is to try to help the Church improve - not to attack her or to just air criticism. Hopefully, she/we will continue to take heart. Thanks for discussing these issues. 

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1 hour ago, RevTestament said:

Come on Robert. The Book of Abraham does really nothing to tell us where the garden of Eden was. It agrees that it was "eastward" which I discussed, but this time it would be eastward of where Abraham was.

The text of the Book of Abraham has clear connections to the KJV in its translation. While I think it was a translation of something, I've been coming around to thinking it's a deconstruction type translation. That is the process of translation can take elements of a text and interrogate that element in terms of its reference. To me the JST is the best example of that where Joseph was interrogating the text and getting new information. A kind of hyper-text like approach to translation. I rather suspect that to a degree that was true of the Book of Mormon as well. (Blake Ostler's old expansion theory) 

In particular Abraham 4 seems clearly dependent upon the KJV text with variants. So in the opening verse the Lord says go down, but it's a plurality of gods who go down. Given that dependence I think one has to be careful treating it (or the equivalent in Moses) as different texts. They're one text with significant inspired revisions. What the nature of those revisions are has to be unpacked. 

To assume that the account in Abraham 4 is told from Abraham's perspective rather than it being a type of interrogation leading back to Genesis 1-3 seems a bit problematic to me. I don't want to say the real historic Abraham is irrelevant to the text. But neither do I think we can assume it. What's most interesting to me is how Abr 3:22-28 is set as the precursor to Genesis 1:1. This is in a way a deeper expansion than what we see in Moses with the connection between the Genesis 1 creation account and the fairly independent Genesis 2-3 creation account. There, in a fashion somewhat akin to Philo in the 1st century, the first creation account is a spiritual creation. However the spiritual creation is now more explicitly a planning. (I think it is in Moses 2/Genesis 1 as well - but it's more explicit here with "Lord" (as Father/El) picking Jesus' plan. By connection of Abr 3 the Gods of Abr 4/Gen 1 are clearly all the pre-mortal spirits who didn't fall away. (Giving a new emphasis for fallen angels)

I raise all this to point out that when we get to the Gen 2-3 narrative, things have shifted. We still have the transition in a fashion like Moses in Abr 5:2-3 but it's much more explicit as planning rather than a more Platonic creation ala Philo. What then is the eastward in Eden in Abr 5:8? I think it's largely just an artifact from Genesis that isn't modified. For whatever reason Joseph's translation is following Genesis with variants that are expansions or changes where appropriate.

The Genesis version (IMO) largely is referring to the canals in Babylon connecting the Tigris and Euphrates around Ur. Now it's possible that this tradition was in place at the time of Abraham or it's possible it's a much later editing done by the Priestly tradition during the exile. In either case I don't think we should take it as a reference to the real Eden (meaning Missouri - which by 1838 was clearly Joseph's theology. While I'll confess I'm not up on the minutiae of Book of Abraham debates, I believe that chapters 3-5 are usually dated to later rather than 1835 although some see the Dec 1835 entry as indicating the opposite. Joseph's diary in 1838 seems to refer to elements of Abr 3 and again that's the period where Joseph sees Missouri as Eden. Whether our text is composed in 1835 or later isn't clear to me. (Maybe there is consensus on this point among historians - again I've not kept up on all those debates)

I think therefore that while there's this KJV substrate the Book of Abraham is dependent on, Joseph sees it as referring to the New World rather than the old. So we have a divided somewhat corrupt text even in Abraham.

If we turn to the Spring Hill region of Missouri, there is of course rivers there although not quite the same as in Babylon. The head of the Grand River is close by. It merges with Thompson river not that many miles away. (I think something like 25)

If we see Genesis 2-3 more in terms of an idealized Canaanite geography where the river comes out of the entrance to heaven and splits into four then that makes more sense but ties us more to a mythic realm than a historic realm. (IMO) In that case we have a distorted Canaanite/Babylonian text from their own mythology tied to Jewish traditions in various ways. It is then quite heavily distorted - possibly Robert's point.

I should also note that it's here that the traditional Documentary Hypothesis consensus has really broken down. The traditional J source is usually seen as during the early part of the exile, but these days many scholars argue we can't really separate E from J and sometimes just combine them as a single more mythological JE source from before the exile. The emphasis by some is thus on a P redactor during the exile. I'll confess I'm just not up on the nuances of Gen 2-3 criticism and revision over the last 20 years or so. It seems to me that there's not consensus on Gen 2-3 being primarily a Babylon exile work though although dating J late seems to remain the popular position with many now dating it even later than the early days of the exile.

Edited by clarkgoble

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9 minutes ago, SeekingUnderstanding said:

I’m sorry this makes no sense to me. David Ostler is projecting his own experience onto others? Your statement would be the equivalent of me saying that people’s testimony and feelings of the spirit are nothing more than indigestion. 

religious language is notoriously vague, but I am wondering what "non traditional testimony" means, and how big of a sample size David Ostler's survey is and how he can extrapolate general principles from it. I am saying that a testimony, a religious testimony isn't indigestion but a witness from the Holy Ghost, after you've studied and prayed about something, as per Moroni 1:3-5 and beliefs isn't equal to a witness from the spirit but your witness can lead to beliefs-hopefully correct ones

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1 hour ago, Duncan said:

Nice article, but I have never felt the HG testify of any authority in the church.  The Catholic church claims authority, some Protestants claim Jesus fulfilled the time of prophets with no authority needed, AofF#9 - many things yet to be revealed indicates the LDS church does not itself claim a full restoration or knowledge.  The lds president does not claim infalliability so... Muhammad at least was not a treasure digger... the Pope's at least did not practice polygammy...   

Community is good, but there is good, better, and best ways for doing things.  I like the "by the people, for the people" organization model - if the church were "by the people" what inactive members ask for - freedom of thought - faith crisis support groups - honest resources - apology and acknowledgement of the past mistakes of the church - ask and receive, right?  

 

The church needs programs for adults who are in the dark night of the soul, and programs for adults who are in different stages of faith - not just programs for the youth.  It is too centered on the primary stages of faith, with no room for embracing those with more open and universal ideologies.  

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4 minutes ago, changed said:

Nice article, but I have never felt the HG testify of any authority in the church.  The Catholic church claims authority, some Protestants claim Jesus fulfilled the time of prophets with no authority needed, AofF#9 - many things yet to be revealed indicates the LDS church does not itself claim a full restoration or knowledge.  The lds president does not claim infalliability so... Muhammad at least was not a treasure digger... the Pope's at least did not practice polygammy...   

Community is good, but there is good, better, and best ways for doing things.  I like the "by the people, for the people" organization model - if the church were "by the people" what inactive members ask for - freedom of thought - faith crisis support groups - honest resources - apology and acknowledgement of the past mistakes of the church - ask and receive, right?  

 

The church needs programs for adults who are in the dark night of the soul, and programs for adults who are in different stages of faith - not just programs for the youth.  It is too centered on the primary stages of faith, with no room for embracing those with more open and universal ideologies.  

if you can't say it is true, priesthood authority seperate from bearers of the priesthood, then by the same token you can't say it isn't true either

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16 minutes ago, Duncan said:

religious language is notoriously vague, but I am wondering what "non traditional testimony" means, and how big of a sample size David Ostler's survey is and how he can extrapolate general principles from it. I am saying that a testimony, a religious testimony isn't indigestion but a witness from the Holy Ghost, after you've studied and prayed about something, as per Moroni 1:3-5 and beliefs isn't equal to a witness from the spirit but your witness can lead to beliefs-hopefully correct ones

There are other similar reports if you are interested with more participants

https://faenrandir.github.io/a_careful_examination/2013-faith-crisis-study/

I have recieved a witness and testimony of the Tao Te Ching :) it has calmed my soul as no other book has.  I have prayed, and meditated about it - just writing about now I feel a warmth, like hands on my head.  A comforter, that brings me great peace.  I have not experienced full enlightenment as others have, but I have had a little taste of it.

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1 minute ago, Duncan said:

if you can't say it is true, priesthood authority seperate from bearers of the priesthood, then by the same token you can't say it isn't true either

Embracing ambiguity in everything is part of my new belief system.  

I do not need anything to be "true".  Just heuristics - rules of thumb that for the most part work.  Taking ownership for my own well- being, spiritual self-reliance, not looking to others to provide happiness or hope, but creating my own joy and peace - have to let go of the priesthood for that - not relying on others, not expecting others to do for me what I should be doing for myself.  No borrowed light as some would say.... no borrowed authority, no priesthood to fill my lamp with oil - have to fill it myself... not trying to be prideful here - the easy way out is relying on others to baptise, bless, lead, save - make someone else hold all the keys, make someone else provide and protect - I really tried to hand it all over.... reality is, I have to protect my children.  I have to provide for them.  I have to take ownership of my own salvation, my own inner light - nothing borrowed.  No arms of flesh to rely on - that is just my reality.

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26 minutes ago, changed said:

Nice article, but I have never felt the HG testify of any authority in the church.  The Catholic church claims authority, some Protestants claim Jesus fulfilled the time of prophets with no authority needed, AofF#9 - many things yet to be revealed indicates the LDS church does not itself claim a full restoration or knowledge.  The lds president does not claim infalliability so... Muhammad at least was not a treasure digger... the Pope's at least did not practice polygammy...   

Community is good, but there is good, better, and best ways for doing things.  I like the "by the people, for the people" organization model - if the church were "by the people" what inactive members ask for - freedom of thought - faith crisis support groups - honest resources - apology and acknowledgement of the past mistakes of the church - ask and receive, right?  

The church needs programs for adults who are in the dark night of the soul, and programs for adults who are in different stages of faith - not just programs for the youth.  It is too centered on the primary stages of faith, with no room for embracing those with more open and universal ideologies.  

Muhammad led an invasion of Arabia and you are happy for the lack of peepstones? Would you rather lose the peepstones and have Zion’s Camp attacking Missouri directly in our history? Some of the Popes were involved in mischief that makes polygamy look like a misdemeanor.

We are not switching to a democratic model. Most Christian churches are like this. Why do you want to change ours? Go somewhere you can have it. I suspect you find something unique of value in our organization but your attempts to take that good only on your own terms is the metaphorical equivalent of chopping up the goose that lays the golden eggs. If the church did change it would lose what attracts you.

We do not want to people embrace the open and universal ideologies so why should we teach them? I love how charged with superiority those terms are though, the implication being that belief in the gospel is provincial and closed. My father used to say that open mindedness is a good thing but those who boast about being open minded are generally airheads. I have found him to be right. To be open minded is to avoid prejudice. It means to avoid judging until after you have the facts, evidence, and (I would argue) revelation. It means you do not decide based on emotion or zeal or what you like or what is convenient and then backfill canned arguments to justify it later. Most people who claim to be open minded mean they have a vague interest in everything but only on a simple level and avoid making value judgements or decisions. It is just an attempt to give laziness an air of sophistication. I sympathize. I am quite lazy but I can also admit it.

Edited by The Nehor
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19 minutes ago, RevTestament said:

Come on Robert. The Book of Abraham does really nothing to tell us where the garden of Eden was. It agrees that it was "eastward" which I discussed, but this time it would be eastward of where Abraham was. Do you want me to point that out? I don't see it helping your case that Eden was in America. It also agrees that the river has four heads, but is not concerned with helping us locate Eden.That is not why Eden is brought up to Abraham. The story is important because it tells us that at the time of Adam, the creation was reckoned in God's time, and that Adam had not been given a time of reckoning. Abr 5:13. This means that the days of creation are given to us in a form of God's reckoning. Moses agrees with Gen 2 that the days of creation are the generations of the creation of the earth. They are not according to the generations of man. Yeshua said He would return in this generation about 2000 years ago. So man/isa was created in the sixth generation. How was man created? Out of the dust of the earth just like evolution says - with the help of water.

There is one version in two canonical sources which locate the garden of Eden. They agree completely. Are you expecting the plates of Ether to disagree? Is that why you bring up the subject? Do you not believe that Mormon knew the story of Genesis and may have brought it up if it disagreed? But seeing as how Mormon did not see fit to bring it up, I don't see it supporting you in any way. It's time to give up Robert. I don't believe Moses wrote the Torah. He came down from Sinai with tablets, and his experience of 40 days of what God had told him. He would have written down something more if he was commanded - otherwise it was passed down in oral form. I believe our Torah was written by David and his scribes. So they used names they were familiar with like Rameses. However, that city was quickly destroyed/carted off to build Tunis, and was not the city of Rameses in Moses' day. What language Moses wrote things down in is unknown to us. It may have been proto-sinaitic/Hebrew, cuneiform or some form of Egyptian writing. Whatever the case, I believe David's scribes had a little difficulty with understanding the numerical forms. 

Wow, you are wedded to reading all Scripture like an evangelical, and pointedly ignoring the internal contradictions, with which the ancients had no problem.  You can't carry on a coherent discussion as long as you are in denial about all that. Scholars also include creation accounts outside our official Canon, such as Enuma elish.  You seem to be unaware that all are part of liturgy, and are not historical narratives (or science or geography texts).

Scholars don't even think that the traditional four rivers mentioned in Genesis 2:11-14 (Moses 3:11-14) are part of the original Hebrew text.  However, even if they were, that leaves us with two major problems: (1) In light of modern philological and geographic knowledge, the four named rivers in pairs are separated by vast distances (two in Mesopotamia and two in Egypt), and cannot have coelesced in some past eon[1]; (2) A much earlier portion of the LDS canon appropriately lacks any mention of these river names (PGP Abraham 5:10), thus suggesting the false priority of those names.  In other traditions, these four (sometimes two) special rivers are given other names, and they are frequently connected with, and flow from the four cardinal directions, from the World-Tree on the World-Mountain, the dwelling place of God (like Olympus or Ṣafon).  This cosmic mountain is the location of the Divine Council and eschatological Banquet of Salvation[2] – the Eden motifs even show up in the wall painting from the 1700 B.C. palace of Zimri Lim at Mari.[3]  In other words, those specific biblical names for the rivers of Eden are late glosses on earlier texts.[4]

[1] cf. W. F. Albright in American Journal of Semitic Languages and Literature, 35 (1919):161-195; 39 (1922):15-31; E. A. Speiser, Genesis, Anchor Bible 1 (1964), ad loc.

[2] E. T. Mullen, Jr., The Assembly of the Gods, Harvard Semitic Monograph 24 (Scholars Press, 1980), 150-158; R. J. Clifford, The Cosmic Mountain in Canaan and in the OT (1972); B. Margulis, "Weltbaum and Weltberg in Ugaritic Literature," ZAW, 86 (1974):1-23; Albright, Yahweh and the Gods of Canaan (1968), 95-96; G. de Santillana & H. von Dechend, Hamlet's Mill, 111,188-191, 195, 223-227, 232-234, 447-448, etc.

[3] R. N. Holzapfel, D. M. Pike, and D. R. Seely, Jehovah and the World of the Old Testament (SLC: Deseret Book, 2009), 24.

[4] Walsh, Journal of Biblical Literature, 96:169-177.

19 minutes ago, RevTestament said:

Because BY is the source of your apparent belief that Eden was in the Americas. Had he not claimed that, I don't believe we would be having this conversation. Of course you are welcome to find a source contemporaneous with or directly from Joseph Smith, and I will consider it, but I have to say the spirit of revelation has shown me otherwise. Have a great day Robert.

You are the guy who continually brings up Brother Brigham, while I haven't (at least not in this thread), at the same time carefully ignoring the actual nature and context of Scripture.

However, just for the record, Joseph Smith did say the following in Commerce, Illinois, July 1839 (recorded by W. Richards): "I saw Adam in the valley of Adam-ondi-Ahman.  He called together his children and blessed them with a patriarchal blessing" (TPJS, 126; Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Joseph Smith,  105; HC, III:388), which best makes sense in light of W. W. Phelps quoting Moses 5:1-16, the Lord speaking to Adam from the Garden (Evening & Morning Star, I/11, April 1833).  D&C 117:8 (Far West, Missouri, July 1838) speaks of the nearby mountains of Adam-ondi-Ahman and the plains of Olaha Shinehah, or the land where Adam dwelt.

It isn't only Brother Brigham who makes that claim about Joseph, M. Cowley wrote that A. Smoot and A. Ripley claimed that, while surveying land at Adam-ondi-Ahman (about 72 miles north of Jackson County), Joseph Smith visited them and "said that the Garden of Eden was located in Jackson County, Missouri."[1]  The identification seems pretty secure, Rev.

[1] Cowley, Wilford Woodruff, 545-546, cited in BYU Studies, 13:566.

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29 minutes ago, changed said:

Embracing ambiguity in everything is part of my new belief system. 

Thank you for supporting my previous post.

Edited by The Nehor
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32 minutes ago, clarkgoble said:

To assume that the account in Abraham 4 is told from Abraham's perspective rather than it being a type of interrogation leading back to Genesis 1-3 seems a bit problematic to me. I don't want to say the real historic Abraham is irrelevant to the text. But neither do I think we can assume it. What's most interesting to me is how Abr 3:22-28 is set as the precursor to Genesis 1:1. This is in a way a deeper expansion than what we see in Moses with the connection between the Genesis 1 creation account and the fairly independent Genesis 2-3 creation account. There, in a fashion somewhat akin to Philo in the 1st century, the first creation account is a spiritual creation. However the spiritual creation is now more explicitly a planning. (I think it is in Moses 2/Genesis 1 as well - but it's more explicit here with "Lord" (as Father/El) picking Jesus' plan. By connection of Abr 3 the Gods of Abr 4/Gen 1 are clearly all the pre-mortal spirits who didn't fall away. (Giving a new emphasis for fallen angels)

I disagree. Many are angels. "The gods" are reference to elohim on the council of God or "in His house of Elohim" if you will. 

32 minutes ago, clarkgoble said:

I raise all this to point out that when we get to the Gen 2-3 narrative, things have shifted. We still have the transition in a fashion like Moses in Abr 5:2-3 but it's much more explicit as planning rather than a more Platonic creation ala Philo. What then is the eastward in Eden in Abr 5:8? I think it's largely just an artifact from Genesis that isn't modified. For whatever reason Joseph's translation is following Genesis with variants that are expansions or changes where appropriate.

The Genesis version (IMO) largely is referring to the canals in Babylon connecting the Tigris and Euphrates around Ur. Now it's possible that this tradition was in place at the time of Abraham or it's possible it's a much later editing done by the Priestly tradition during the exile. In either case I don't think we should take it as a reference to the real Eden (meaning Missouri - which by 1838 was clearly Joseph's theology. While I'll confess I'm not up on the minutiae of Book of Abraham debates, I believe that chapters 3-5 are usually dated to later rather than 1835 although some see the Dec 1835 entry as indicating the opposite. Joseph's diary in 1838 seems to refer to elements of Abr 3 and again that's the period where Joseph sees Missouri as Eden. Whether our text is composed in 1835 or later isn't clear to me. (Maybe there is consensus on this point among historians - again I've not kept up on all those debates)

How many pages in your links am I supposed to look through to find anything showing Joseph believed Eden was in Missouri? Maybe I'm just dumb, but I don't see it. This belief of the Church is just ilfounded. It is not from Joseph. It is from BY's belief. It is not "clearly Joseph's theology" by 1938 - it's not even as clear as mud. It's invisible. 

 

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This might deserve its own thread, but I will ask here anyways since it is related to the idea of an 'unorthodox testimony.'

What is the standard for that kind of testimony?

I have always held that as long as you can answer the temple recommend interviews, you are meeting the standard of belief to be a solid member and have nothing to be ashamed about or worried about.  The questions don't contain anything specifically about the BOA, location of the BOM or its historicity, age of the Earth, Mother in Heaven, etc.  

But not being able to answer the TR questions to me does put one at odds with the 'orthodoxy'...

Thoughts

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32 minutes ago, changed said:

Nice article, but I have never felt the HG testify of any authority in the church.  The Catholic church claims authority, some Protestants claim Jesus fulfilled the time of prophets with no authority needed, AofF#9 - many things yet to be revealed indicates the LDS church does not itself claim a full restoration or knowledge.  The lds president does not claim infalliability so... Muhammad at least was not a treasure digger... the Pope's at least did not practice polygammy...   

Community is good, but there is good, better, and best ways for doing things.  I like the "by the people, for the people" organization model - if the church were "by the people" what inactive members ask for - freedom of thought - faith crisis support groups - honest resources - apology and acknowledgement of the past mistakes of the church - ask and receive, right?  

 

The church needs programs for adults who are in the dark night of the soul, and programs for adults who are in different stages of faith - not just programs for the youth.  It is too centered on the primary stages of faith, with no room for embracing those with more open and universal ideologies.  

This Church cannot teach alternate ideologies and theologies. That won't happen. It can and should treat people with alternative ideas with respect. The Church should not persecute its members. They should leave on their own terms rather than feeling forced out. In matters of sin, unrepentant members may have to be excommunicated. If alternate ideas are from God, they will take root and bear fruit eventually, and will no longer be considered alternate. That has already happened in the history of this Church.

Edited by RevTestament

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16 minutes ago, The Nehor said:

Muhammad led an invasion of Arabia and you are happy for the lack of peepstones? Would you rather lose the peepstones and have Zion’s Camp attacking Missouri directly in our history? Some of the Popes were involved in mischief that makes polygamy look like a misdemeanor.

We do not want to people embrace the open and universal ideologies so why should we teach them? I love how charged with superiority those terms are though, the implication being that belief in the gospel is provincial and closed. My father used to say that open mindedness is a good thing but those who boast about being open minded are generally airheads. I have found him to be right. To be open minded is to avoid prejudice. It means to avoid judging until after you have the facts, evidence, and (I would argue) revelation. It means you do not decide based on emotion or zeal or what you like or what is convenient and then backfill canned arguments to justify it later. Most people who claim to be open minded mean they have a vague interest in everything but only on a simple level and avoid making value judgements or decisions. It is just an attempt to give laziness an air of sophistication. I sympathize. I am quite lazy but I can also admit it.

There were those 140 pioneers from Ca who were killed, and the Danites looting burning, and pillaging... plenty of OT stories too... America killed native Americans- there is bloodshed in every history - to me, it all encouragement from God for everyone to be self-reliance rather than rely on or trust any organization- political or religious.  The test of faith to me isn't staying loyal to one organization over another, the test to me is being willing to think and act for yourself, rather than just go with the crowd. I believe those who stood against the priesthood ban are those who passed the test for example... or those who stand against any oppression.  

 

As a teacher, in order to get students to think for themselves, open-ended questions are presented... "find the mistake in the soln manual" excercises are great... who can correct the mistake I just made?  I eventually post the correct soln with multiple derivations for them - sometimes the best way to teach is not to teach - to let people find their own authority they must be supported in taking ownership of their own answers.  

In a church youth class of YW, a conversation almost ended with "we just don't know the answer to everything" to which I asked "do your teachers at school give you the answers for everything? - neither does God... those are the questions you are supposed to answer for yourself.

 

To be open minded is to be teachable, to let go of control -let go of desires as those in Eastern religious would say, or "not my will but thine be done"... we're not supposed to kick against the pricks - the load is supposed to be light if carried correctly...

Edited by changed

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2 hours ago, changed said:

I asked my stake president what he thought of those who see most of it as parables - take the non-literal approach.  Jesus taught in parables - which is great, because it is not about what did or did not happen- ...

You can learn a lot of valuable lessons from Aesop's Fables without fighting through apologetics...

The main problem, though, is that both apologists and their opponents are unaware that the Creation texts are all liturgical.  They are not fables and they are not historical, scientific, or geographical texts, and were never meant to be read that way.  The most important Mesopotamian Creation text is Enuma elish, which has the creation of everything from pre-existing material in the same order as in Genesis.  Enuma elish was read each year in temples in Babylon and in Asshur (the capital cities) on New Year's Day.  It is a ritual text, and (as Anglican Bishop Tom Wright reminds us) it is a temple text -- because Eden is a temple.

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1 hour ago, RevTestament said:

This Church cannot teach alternate ideologies and theologies. That won't happen. It can and should treat people with alternative ideas with respect. The Church should not persecute its members. They should leave on their own terms rather than feeling forced out. In matters of sin, unrepentant members may have to be excommunicated. If alternate ideas are from God, they will take root and bear fruit eventually, and will no longer be considered alternate. That has already happened in the history of this Church.

If the church cannot teach, out of say, the Tao Te Ching, then I would suggest it is missing out on what billions of people have been blessed by God to have guide their lives... 

Man-made vs made by God - nature is made by God, and it is big, and diverse, with each tree and each leaf on every tree being unique... 

Many who leave the church describe a freedom, and expansion of thought - as if they were locked in a box, just a few books, a few people, one small community to learn from - and all of a sudden the entire world is there to explore and learn from.

 

Plato's cave...

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1 minute ago, changed said:

If the church cannot teach, out of say, the Tao Te Ching, then I would suggest it is missing out on what billions of people have been blessed by God to have guide their lives... 

Man-made vs made by God - nature is made by God, and it is gib, and diverse, with each tree and each leaf on every tree being unique... 

Many who leave the church describe a freedom, and expansion of thought - as if they were locked in a box, just a few books, a few people, one small community to learn from - and all of a sudden the entire world is there to explore and learn from.

 

Plato's cave...

Please stop projecting your previous insular life on to all members.

It is ironic that you complain the church did not teach you out of a Taoist text as if that meant you could not read it and now suddenly you are FREE to read it. You could do it before. Many members have esoteric reading hobbies, myself included. Many have social lives beyond the membership of the church. You wax in rhapsody about how you got out of a cage and how everyone should come out of the cage but the door was not locked and there was no one (God, human, or church) telling you to stay in there and most of the people you are preaching to were never in the cage. Your zeal is not unto knowledge.

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10 minutes ago, Robert F. Smith said:

Wow, you are wedded to reading all Scripture like an evangelical, and pointedly ignoring the internal contradictions, with which the ancients had no problem.  You can't carry on a coherent discussion as long as you are in denial about all that. Scholars also include creation accounts outside our official Canon, such as Enuma elish.  You seem to be unaware that all are part of liturgy, and are not historical narratives (or science or geography texts).

Scholars don't even think that the traditional four rivers mentioned in Genesis 2:11-14 (Moses 3:11-14) are part of the original Hebrew text.  However, even if they were, that leaves us with two major problems: (1) In light of modern philological and geographic knowledge, the four named rivers in pairs are separated by vast distances (two in Mesopotamia and two in Egypt), and cannot have coelesced in some past eon[1]; (2) A much earlier portion of the LDS canon appropriately lacks any mention of these river names (PGP Abraham 5:10), thus suggesting the false priority of those names.  In other traditions, these four (sometimes two) special rivers are given other names, and they are frequently connected with, and flow from the four cardinal directions, from the World-Tree on the World-Mountain, the dwelling place of God (like Olympus or Ṣafon).  This cosmic mountain is the location of the Divine Council and eschatological Banquet of Salvation[2] – the Eden motifs even show up in the wall painting from the 1700 B.C. palace of Zimri Lim at Mari.[3]  In other words, those specific biblical names for the rivers of Eden are late glosses on earlier texts.[4]

[1] cf. W. F. Albright in American Journal of Semitic Languages and Literature, 35 (1919):161-195; 39 (1922):15-31; E. A. Speiser, Genesis, Anchor Bible 1 (1964), ad loc.

[2] E. T. Mullen, Jr., The Assembly of the Gods, Harvard Semitic Monograph 24 (Scholars Press, 1980), 150-158; R. J. Clifford, The Cosmic Mountain in Canaan and in the OT (1972); B. Margulis, "Weltbaum and Weltberg in Ugaritic Literature," ZAW, 86 (1974):1-23; Albright, Yahweh and the Gods of Canaan (1968), 95-96; G. de Santillana & H. von Dechend, Hamlet's Mill, 111,188-191, 195, 223-227, 232-234, 447-448, etc.

[3] R. N. Holzapfel, D. M. Pike, and D. R. Seely, Jehovah and the World of the Old Testament (SLC: Deseret Book, 2009), 24.

[4] Walsh, Journal of Biblical Literature, 96:169-177.

I am wedded to the scriptures like they are God's word which he expects us to try to live by. Does this mean every word is from God's mouth? NO, and I have said as much. There is no internal contradiction concerning the locale of the garden of Eden. You are just obfuscating now. The two canonical scriptures on point completely agree, which you ignore in favor of works of man. 

To address your first "problem" you I am sure are full aware that the Hebrew text says one of the rivers comes from 'Cush." That has been changed to Egypt in English texts. Where this land was in Adam's day is ignored by you, but there was a Cush eastward, so there was no river out of Egypt. You also full know Euphrates was a Greek name given by the Greeks at the time of Alexander. But it does correctly identify the river. It is just a redacted name. It does not help your case that Eden was in America. It just hurts it more. Now there are two definite identifying geographical landmarks to explain away.

The second "problem" you bring up is a non-starter. It does not matter the order of God's word. Moses clarifies Abraham on the locale of Eden, and therefore has priority on this particular subject. It agrees with our Genesis for a reason - that is because that is where Eden was. 

10 minutes ago, Robert F. Smith said:

You are the guy who continually brings up Brother Brigham, while I haven't (at least not in this thread), at the same time carefully ignoring the actual nature and context of Scripture.

However, just for the record, Joseph Smith did say the following in Commerce, Illinois, July 1839 (recorded by W. Richards): "I saw Adam in the valley of Adam-ondi-Ahman.  He called together his children and blessed them with a patriarchal blessing" (TPJS, 126; Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Joseph Smith,  105; HC, III:388), which best makes sense in light of W. W. Phelps quoting Moses 5:1-16, the Lord speaking to Adam from the Garden (Evening & Morning Star, I/11, April 1833).  D&C 117:8 (Far West, Missouri, July 1838) speaks of the nearby mountains of Adam-ondi-Ahman and the plains of Olaha Shinehah, or the land where Adam dwelt.

It isn't only Brother Brigham who makes that claim about Joseph, M. Cowley wrote that A. Smoot and A. Ripley claimed that, while surveying land at Adam-ondi-Ahman (about 72 miles north of Jackson County), Joseph Smith visited them and "said that the Garden of Eden was located in Jackson County, Missouri."[1]  The identification seems pretty secure, Rev.

[1] Cowley, Wilford Woodruff, 545-546, cited in BYU Studies, 13:566.

The valley of Adam ondi Ahman is not the place of Adam ondi Ahman in Spring Hill. I believe it to be a valley just east of Eden which one of the four rivers flowed through. So it is you who has misinterpreted the context of what Joseph Smith said - like BY did(and Smoot and Ripley). If we would stop doing that we could actually believe what our canonical scriptures tell us instead of hearsay! What a concept!

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18 minutes ago, changed said:

There were those 140 pioneers from Ca who were killed, and the Danites looting burning, and pillaging... plenty of OT stories too... America killed native Americans- there is bloodshed in every history - to me, it all encouragement from God for everyone to be self-reliance rather than rely on or trust any organization- political or religious.  The test of faith to me isn't staying loyal to one organization over another, the test to me is being willing to think and act for yourself, rather than just go with the crowd. I believe those who stood against the priesthood ban are those who passed the test for example... or those who stand against any oppression.  

 

As a teacher, in order to get students to think for themselves, open-ended questions are presented... "find the mistake in the soln manual" excercises are great... who can correct the mistake I just made?  I eventually post the correct soln with multiple derivations for them - sometimes the best way to teach is not to teach - to let people find their own authority they must be supported in taking ownership of their own answers.  

In a church youth class of YW, a conversation almost ended with "we just don't know the answer to everything" to which I asked "do your teachers at school give you the answers for everything? - neither does God... those are the questions you are supposed to answer for yourself.

 

To be open minded is to be teachable, to let go of control -let go of desires as those in Eastern religious would say, or "not my will but thine be done"... we're not supposed to kick against the pricks - the load is supposed to be light if carried correctly...

What a mess of contradictions.

You must think for yourself and make your own decisions but also not do your will but God’s will?

A church class admits they do not have the answers and you lecture on the point as if they were wrong to say that while agreeing with them.

Congrats on finding secular individualism I guess. Funny how monotonous everyone who finds it is about “thinking for yourself” while copying the verbiage of everyone else who “thinks for themself”.

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14 minutes ago, changed said:

If the church cannot teach, out of say, the Tao Te Ching, then I would suggest it is missing out on what billions of people have been blessed by God to have guide their lives... 

Man-made vs made by God - nature is made by God, and it is gib, and diverse, with each tree and each leaf on every tree being unique... 

Many who leave the church describe a freedom, and expansion of thought - as if they were locked in a box, just a few books, a few people, one small community to learn from - and all of a sudden the entire world is there to explore and learn from.

 

Plato's cave...

Members are free to learn about such things on their own. I like the eight-fold path of Buddhism, and I rather think that Buddha picked up the ideas from exiled Hebrews of Israel, but I don't agree with the primary "truths" of Buddha. Life is not about avoiding suffering. Suffering adds to our experience and is part of our learning process. We live in a dualistic world that Buddha tried to escape. One cannot escape dualism. My point being that this is not a discussion for SS class.

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1 hour ago, RevTestament said:

This Church cannot teach alternate ideologies and theologies.

Plus it is better to learn the ideologies, etc from those who actually believe them. While basic facts and ideas can be shared by teachers not of a particular faith, the passion, commitment, the meaningfulness in someone’s life is best conveyed through firsthand teaching, imo. 

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7 hours ago, changed said:

.  I think sometimes the best way to support someone is to disagree with them, and refuse to follow. 

Just so long as it is not done on principle and is authentic disagreement. Disagreeing for the purpose of teaching someone how to think, to challenge them etc, quickly devolves in my experience to manipulation and lost of trust in the ‘teacher’ as being able to rely on them to be open about how they really think. 

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57 minutes ago, RevTestament said:

Members are free to learn about such things on their own. I like the eight-fold path of Buddhism, and I rather think that Buddha picked up the ideas from exiled Hebrews of Israel, but I don't agree with the primary "truths" of Buddha. Life is not about avoiding suffering. Suffering adds to our experience and is part of our learning process. We live in a dualistic world that Buddha tried to escape. One cannot escape dualism. My point being that this is not a discussion for SS class.

Yin/yang in all of it - I agree.  I do think it could add to SS though, as much of the poetry I think beautifully explains so many principles such as trusting God/ the Tao, explaining what humility is (the last will be first, and first last - put yourself last to be appreciated and know others - why is the sea king of 1000 streams?  Because it lies below them all)  being non-materialistic, to work without being attached to it - do what needs to be done without dwelling on it - I think there are scriptures which match each of these principles, but sometimes one way of saying it makes it click a little more than another.

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2 hours ago, RevTestament said:

I disagree. Many are angels. "The gods" are reference to elohim on the council of God or "in His house of Elohim" if you will. 

Angels are just people in Joseph's theology. I'm not sure how early that formally develops. However certainly the early accounts have the visiting angels as historic people like Moroni. It's definitely in place by 1839 where he starts identifying angelic names with historic names. e.g. Gabriel = Noah, Michael = Adam. 

So the distinction between angels, humans and gods is pretty blurry well before Brigham makes things more explicit or even before the more expansive endowment in Nauvoo. (Which itself is highly parasitic on the Abraham variant of Genesis) The point of Abraham 3 is that the intelligences existed before creation, Abraham and Jesus were among them, Jesus was God in that counsel under El/Lord. The "us" of Abr 4 is the "us" of Abr 3 which is this divine council including these intelligences. This obviously gets made more explicit in Nauvoo - particularly in the endowment. But it's there in Abraham (possibly as early as 1835).

2 hours ago, RevTestament said:

How many pages in your links am I supposed to look through to find anything showing Joseph believed Eden was in Missouri? Maybe I'm just dumb, but I don't see it. This belief of the Church is just ilfounded. It is not from Joseph. It is from BY's belief. It is not "clearly Joseph's theology" by 1938 - it's not even as clear as mud. It's invisible. 

Eden in Joseph's view isn't necessarily in Missouri, but Spring Hill is where Adam was when cast out of Eden. A completely valid interpretation of Joseph's comments is that Eden is a different layer or reality although some interpret it as in our world. I tend to favor the former and think it in the terrestrial world while our phenomenal world is the telestial one. However the "eastward" is typically taken in terms of a consistent present geography. Since I see the geographic elements as primarily residue of Canaanite and Babylonian influence it doesn't mean much to me.

The idea that this geography of Adam in Missouri is Brigham Young seems difficult to accept given the explicit 1832 revelation and 1835 revelation. While those don't specify Missouri, the 1838 Joseph Smith Journal does. "In the after part of the day, Prest<s.> smith and Rigdon and myself, went to Wights. Ferry about a half mile from this place up the river, for the purpose of selecting and laying claims to city plott near said Ferry, in Davis [Daviess] County Township 60, Range 27 & 28, and Sections 25, 36, 31, 30, which was called Spring Hill a name appropriated by the bretheren present, But after wards named by the mouth of [the] Lord and was called Adam Ondi Awmen [Adam-ondi-Ahman], because said he it" An 1838 letter also says this. "One of these is situated about 30 miles north of this place on [Gr]and river, which is nearly as large as this place at this time One This is called Adam Ondi Awman [Adam-ondi-Ahman], or the place where Adam dwelt. One at the mouth of Grand river called Dewitt it was a gentile city plott and named by them that is about 40 miles miles East of this place &c. &c. &c."

So by 1838 this place is explicitly Missouri. Again, this is where Adam was put and not Eden. How to interpret its relationship to Eden is more open. It was common among Joseph's associates to see Eden in Missouri as well. 

The 1839 instructions make explicit the idea of angels as humans and the divine council as all humans. 

1 hour ago, RevTestament said:

The valley of Adam ondi Ahman is not the place of Adam ondi Ahman in Spring Hill. I believe it to be a valley just east of Eden which one of the four rivers flowed through. So it is you who has misinterpreted the context of what Joseph Smith said - like BY did(and Smoot and Ripley). If we would stop doing that we could actually believe what our canonical scriptures tell us instead of hearsay! What a concept!

Joseph clearly believed it, although whether he was wrong I don't think we have a way of determining.

1 hour ago, RevTestament said:

I am wedded to the scriptures like they are God's word which he expects us to try to live by. Does this mean every word is from God's mouth? NO, and I have said as much. There is no internal contradiction concerning the locale of the garden of Eden. You are just obfuscating now. The two canonical scriptures on point completely agree, which you ignore in favor of works of man. 

Not quite following you here. Both Robert and I see a lot of errors in scripture and see the Old Testament in particular as complex with a lot of corruption. To say there is "no internal contradiction" seems an odd claim to make. 

I tend to agree with Robert that these texts are primarily liturgical relating to a heavenly ascent. I think Abr 3-5 definitely points in that direction particular as it was transformed in a more Masonic form in Nauvoo. (People point to Masonry, but I think Abraham is the much stronger influence for the form) I think that's also a clue for how Joseph interpreted the Genesis accounts in any of their variants. That is the Masonic ritual is probably a good basis for thinking of the hermeneutics of ritual and how Joseph viewed these creation accounts.

I'd note that in the Canaanite view of the pantheon, God (El) has a garden near a cave entrance on the divine mount. Elements of this remain in our account such as Gen 2:6 where water comes from the ground (a subterranean river) to water the garden.There's debate on the word here (ed) which doesn't appear to be Semitic and some tie to Akkadian origins. The Ugarit accounts have God (El) living where the upper and lower waters meet. So Genesis 2 could be tied to the flood myth with the primordial waters as well. Ezekiel explicitly (chapter 28) has it on the mountain of El and calls it El's Garden. I think this is a remnant of the merger of the accounts (possibly quite early before the Kingdom era) where the mountain is the Canaanite Mount Zaphon. There El lives "at the springs of the rivers, at the channels/meeting place of the two deeps." (The two deeps are the heavenly and subterraneous primordial waters from before they were divided by the creation of the earth - I'm largely following this persons translation)

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6 hours ago, The Nehor said:

 

Congrats on finding secular individualism I guess. Funny how monotonous everyone who finds it is about “thinking for yourself” while copying the verbiage of everyone else who “thinks for themself”.

I'm an individualist, but not secular.

As for individualism, can you name this talk?  Let's discuss the two different churches within the LDS faith :)

 

20190807_182803.jpg

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