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Posts posted by rongo

  1. 20 minutes ago, bluebell said:

    This was actually my confusion, because right now we teach that there will be very very very very few sons of perdition.  That most people will never have a relationship with Christ to the level where they can fall so far they can't come back from it.  But the scripture makes it sound like everyone who has started on the pathway to exaltation, who leaves it, will become a son of perdition.  

    I don't think this D&C warning is aimed at potential sons of perdition. I think it's a warning to those who may stray. The sons of perdition are very few in number (most of us won't qualify for it). 

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  2. I think it's "where much is given, much is required/expected." "Ye that hear me not . . . that have professed my name" are cursed with the heaviest of all cursings. 

    I think all of us know people well who have willfully turned against the teachings and authority of the Church, and with rare exceptions, I think their lot (their demeanor, their attitude, how their life is going, etc.) can be seen as the "heaviest of all cursings." There are exceptions, but they "prove the rule," I think (original meaning: test the rule, as an exception). Many of us know people who have lost light, knowledge (even basic knowledge), and happiness.

    The exceptions I know aren't bitter. They've left the Church or the Church lifestyle, but are well-disposed towards the Church or Church members (or, at least, aren't ill-disposed). 

    This is  

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  3. 16 minutes ago, poptart said:

    I'm a fan of the German system as well as state churches, would solve a lot of problems.  Thing is, this is the USA, freedom of religion/separation of church and state.  Guess we'll see how things play out.  

    You know, that's a really good point. Germany (all of Europe, actually) is a lot more secular than the U.S., but we are rapidly heading that way. Yes, despite, that secularism, Europe still sees the religion of their past as being an important cultural heritage, and wants its youth to know about it (even while not really believing the religious side of it). Freedom of religion is probably just as robust in Western Europe, I would say, as it is here, but as you point out, they still have the state churches (which means that you pay a small "church tax" if you are a member of the state churches; it is collected by the government and given to the Catholic or Lutheran churches). 


    20 minutes ago, poptart said:

    From what I've been told, the church was and over there still is an institution.  In the USA, Christianity is more individualistic, feelings based and contrary.  In Germany, businesses close on Sunday and religious holidays.  The families are more stable, there is less divorce and from what I've heard child welfare is a bigger deal. 

    Germany is probably the strongest LDS center of Europe, but it pales in comparison to clout and its effect on member families compared to the U.S. Compared to other countries, though, there is a lot more leadership experience and commitment (there's a reason why Germany is proportionately over-represented among general authorities). 

    I don't know that I would say that the family is more stable in Germany, or that there is less divorce than here (it looks like our rates are similar). They do put their all into their children, few as they have (most of Europe is below the replacement threshold).  In both countries, many are simply never getting married in the first place, and that is and will have disastrous consequences in coming years. 

    Kindergeld is insane! 200-300 Euros per child, per month, until they are in their 20s. How do they pay for it? Very high taxes. Germany is actually wanting to encourage more mothers to stay home with their children, and to have more children, so this money is a government incentive.

  4. 14 hours ago, 2BizE said:

    I have been told by a few different people that in many countries Mormonism is taught as a cult in secondary and college curriculum.  Anyone experience that?

    My mission was in northern Germany (heavily, but very nominally Lutheran). People would often sneer that we are a Sekte (cult), and we would point out that the very word is related to the word Sektion (section). What does that make the Lutheran Church? They broke away from the Catholic Church. Most people are atheist/agnostic, or so "inactive" in Lutheranism as to be functionally atheist/agnostic, so they didn't really care. It was a pejorative meant to end the discussion. 

    The treatment of other faiths in school was very respectful and professional, at least in the Gymnasien, in my experience. 

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  5. 14 hours ago, 2BizE said:

    I have been told by a few different people that in many countries Mormonism is taught as a cult in secondary and college curriculum.  Anyone experience that?

    In some European countries, missionaries are regularly asked to visit schools and introduce the Church, answer questions, etc. That happened to me several times in the mid 1990s as a missionary, and it's happened to my son in Norway (he gets back from his mission in June). It's really interesting that in much more secular countries than the U.S., they still not only have but require religion instruction. They see it more as cultural well-roundedness, and aren't afraid of kids "getting" religion. In Germany, we would get a phone call from the Religionsunterricht teacher, asking if we were the right people to talk to about explaining our church beliefs for about an hour and answering questions. We would ask how many students, and have a Book of Mormon and Joseph Smith testimony pamphlet for each of them. The questions were really good and fun to answer, too. Mostly about practices, but also doctrinal or historical. I would imagine that they would lean even more that way with the internet. 

    The focus is on historical Christianity (Catholic and Lutheran), world religions, etc. I know that Islam was also invited, and Mormons were invited if the teacher wanted to broaden it out even further. Students can also control their "mandatory religion elective" somewhat (i.e., more heavily focus on Catholicism or Lutheranism), but the goal is for students to have a broad base of understanding about basic beliefs and issues and how they fit into the past, present, and future. 

    People would lose their minds in the U.S. over church/state separation if this sort of thing happened in public schools. :) 

    The Osmonds and Mormons in Westerns were most people in Germany's immediate reactions in the mid 90s to the term "Mormon."  Many people in Chicago had never heard of Mormons, either. I think our large high school had five LDS kids in it (late 80s, early 90s).

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  6. 12 hours ago, carbon dioxide said:

    We are constantly eating in our family.  So the best time to fast is when we sleep.  It raises an issue.  If one meal bleeds into the next or if you are like a Hobbit and you have many small meals during the day, fasting for 2 meals can be just fasting for 4 hours.

    When our family was young, a talk in Priesthood session of conference woke me up to the fact that "two meals" means "24 hours." I remember eating heartily just before midnight of fast Sunday, not eating breakfast, and having a big lunch. There is a big difference between that and beginning your fast after dinner on Saturday, and breaking your fast with Sunday dinner. 

    My wife can't fast for health reasons, so she takes her warfarin with some crackers or cereal in the morning, and then has some crackers or cereal as needed. She receives all the benefits of the fast that the rest of us do because of where her heart is, praying/fasting with a purpose, etc. 

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  7. 1 hour ago, The Nehor said:

    I eat one meal a day most days. If I sneak in a prayer do I get the blessings of fasting two meals every day?

    Are you praying for a specific purpose, and dedicating your two meals to something? If not, then you are just eating one meal a day. You get the health benefits of limiting your caloric intake. 

  8. 4 hours ago, JLHPROF said:

    Imagine how many more there could be if the initiated were permitted to use what they were instructed on a local personal level.

    I was surprised years ago to read in a (wonderful, well-written and researched) published history of the Morgan Utah Stake that stake prayer circles were abolished in the early 80s. I asked my parents about this, and they said, oh, yes, they used to do these as a high council or a stake presidency in the stake center. 


    4 hours ago, JLHPROF said:

    I would say the power of the three day fast is truly potent.  Some have called this the true fast, symbolic of Christ's death, time in the grave, and resurrection.  I have only completed a few full 3 days fasts in my life and on at least two of them I saw immediate miraculous changes in my life. I wish my medical issues would permit me to do that again.

    I once fasted three times in one week on my mission. I had to make a difficult decision on whether to approve someone for baptism, and the mission president told me it was my decision, not his. I had experience with revelation, and fully expected one, but got nothing. So I fasted and continued to get nothing. I wondered if no answer was itself an answer, but felt unsatisfied with either a yes or a no decision, so I fasted again. And called the mission president again, and again he told me I needed to make the decision, not him. In the end, the whole process was valuable --- including God not giving me needed revelation I was worthy to receive at the time. Often, fasting seems like this for me --- the spiritual benefits are felt during the fast, but especially after the fast is over, in retrospect. 

    I love my career as a teacher, but my first day was really rough. My first school was so rough, I could have gone into Compton or Watts and done better after that initial year. When the assistant principal came in after school to see how it had gone, I was honest with her. She knew I was a religious Mormon from my interviews, and I knew she was a devout Protestant. She was a special person with a special spirit about her. When I told her I was seriously thinking about doing something else, it had been that bad, I told her that I was going to fast tonight and the next day. She said, "Let's pray," and we prayed in the classroom. My second day went much, much better. I know that fasting and faith played a big part in that. 

    I've really loved seeing my children do fasts on their own (not on Fast Sundays or even Sundays) when they have special blessings they are seeking. We don't always even know what it is they are fasting for. 

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  9. 1 hour ago, katherine the great said:

    I’m convinced that it is biological (although there also seems to be a social benefit to kids these days to experiment with homosexuality and it often leads to their confusion).

    Boy, is this true in spades --- and you're really not allowed to talk about it because of outrage. I've seen a literal explosion of students in the last four years identifying as this or that along the LGBT spectrum (what they're doing is experimenting, and as you said, there are actually a lot of social benefits in identifying). My wife asked me how many gay or trans students I had (this was at a former school), and out of the total number, it was between 10 and 15 percent. Much, much higher than what social scientists think the actual rate of homosexuality is, and all of these kids seemed to "come out" at once (within the same semester). Most of the students were "lost soul" types who were experimenting and really latching onto an instant support and friend network (upon identifying). Many reverted after a year or two (part of the experimentation). I'm convinced that the massive proliferation in recent years of people identifying as LGBT is due to a) social lionization of it, and b) social phenomena. I think it's much more a social thing than a biological thing.

    There are people who are simply gay; I'm not denying that. We all know and have friends and family in that boat. But most of these experimenting youth really aren't, and they figure it out. We had a girl in our ward whose friend came out as lesbian, had a girlfriend, lots of PDA at school, etc. She started investigating the Church at this time, accepted everything, and disclosed to the district leader in her baptismal interview that she was pregnant. I have the article on my laptop, so I can't look it up right now, but it discussed how the teenage pregnancy rate among gay teens (boys and girls; both girls getting pregnant and boys getting them pregnant, all self-identified gay) is off the charts. Many are simply confused, looking for acceptance and companionship, and following social trends and social conditioning, and experimenting with homosexuality is only part of the larger promiscuousness they are dealing with. 

    My daughter is having a wonderful time in her freshman year. She said that she was the only girl in her honors college seminar who identified as cisgender (straight). Every single other girl identified as some form of LGBT (most designated themselves as "queer," which means whatever they want it to mean and is vague and undefined and can be changed situationally). It was **the** popular thing to be in her honors college seminar. 

  10. I think that intelligence is what acts, and spirit/physical matter is what is acted upon.

    I think that lower creations have agency within their spheres, but only man (God's spirit children) has the ability to fully exercise agency along the full spectrum of obedience or rejection. 

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  11. Regarding the prayer circle in the temple, there are two anecdotes I really like, both from George Q. Cannon. I think that fasting is certainly part of "praying in the right way:"


    While Brother Woodruff was speaking about what President Young had told him in Winter Quarters . . . a thing came to my mind that I was taught in the same way in the beginning of my labors on my first mission, and the impression it made upon my mind has been a lasting one; I have never forgotten it . . .

    There were ten of us, of whom I was the youngest, wind-bound in the Bay of San Francisco, and we had been thus delayed for nearly a week near the Golden Gate in consequence of head winds. I dreamed one night that this party of brethren were heaving at the windlass, having a rope attached to it reaching forward to the anchor at the bow of the vessel. We were working with all our might endeavoring to raise the anchor, but seemingly we made but little progress. While thus engaged . . . the Prophet Joseph came from the after part of the vessel dressed in his temple clothes, and tapping me on the shoulder told me to go with him. I went, and he climbed on to the forecastle which was higher than the main deck and on a level with the bulwarks, and there he knelt down . . . He prayed according to the order of prayer which is revealed. After prayer, he arose upon his feet. "Now," said he, "George, take hold of that rope—the rope we had been pulling on with all our might. I took hold of it, and with the greatest ease and without the least effort, the anchor was raised." "Now," said he, "let this be a lesson to you; remember that great things can be accomplished through the power of prayer and the exercise of faith in the right way."

    I would like to impress this, with what Brother Woodruff has told you, upon the minds of the young, also upon the middle-aged and the aged of this congregation if they choose to take it; great is the power of prayer when properly offered to the Lord. Whatever success I have had upon my missions in battling with the adversaries of this people, in being able to hold my position when warred upon—and it seemed that nothing in the world but the power of God could save me or prevent legislation adverse to this people—whatever success there may be about this in the past, throughout my life—and I believe it was the case with my predecessors—it has been due to faith and prayer. I have remembered this always . . .

    Men have met in secret in holy places, and have besought God in the appointed way, according to the holy order revealed, and deliverance has been wrought out for Zion, when it seemed that everything was dark before them and without one ray of light. At such times, when everything has been hedged up, the servants of God have met in secret places and have plead with God according to the holy order, and the heavens have been moved, and difficulties have vanished away, and our path has been made plain before us . . . (George Q. Cannon; Hooper, Utah; June 27, 1881; Journal of Discourses 22:290).


    I was very much struck by a statement made to me by President Taylor since my return, showing that faith when connected with works accomplishes wonderful results. Brother Caine and myself, with some other Utah friends, were in the Senate chamber on the 23d of February last, watching Senator Edmunds' attempt to get through his special legislation of which you have read. It seemed as though nothing could prevent it. Senators with whom we had conversed said that they saw no possible chance of stopping it; that its passage seemed inevitable. But . . . one by one [many supporters] stole from the Senate Chamber while the bill was under discussion . . . and the first that was known when a vote was called was that a quorum was not present. In the absence of a quorum, you know, a legislative body is powerless to act. For four hours Senator Edmunds did all in his power to get action on his bill; but every attempt was resisted by the Democrats upon the ground that there was no quorum, and they accordingly fillibustered until Edmunds, disgusted and tired, called for an adjournment.

    President Taylor told me upon my return that, on the 22d of February, feeling exercised in his mind about our political affairs, and that it was a time of peril, he called a few of the brethren together and they met at the Endowment House according to the holy order, and besought God, in the name of Jesus, to baffle the plans of our enemies and frustrate them in their designs, and put them to confusion and shame. In watching Senator Edmunds that evening, I thought that if ever there was a man confused, chagrined and confounded at the futility of his own attempts, it was he. And there is no doubt in my mind that the prayers of President Taylor and the brethren ascended favorably unto the ears of the God of Sabaoth, and were heard and answered. The dreadful wrong was defeated and failed, and it may be said, it met with its death blow; for every attempt afterwards made to bring it up, was unsuccessful. In this way God has wrought out deliverance for Zion. (George Q. Cannon; Assembly Hall, Salt Lake City; March 18, 1883; Journal of Discourses 24:63)

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  12. 50 minutes ago, nuclearfuels said:


    1. Does fasting for more than one person or more than one purpose lesson the strength or potency of one's fasting? I hope not

    2. Is it kosher to fast as a part of the repentance process? The Great and Last Sacrifice was the Savior so fasting as a sacrifice offering to demonstrate one's repentance seems amiss, no?

    3. Is fasting without a purpose meaningless?

    My views:

    [ETA]: Sorry! I didn't read carefully enough. I thought you were asking about more than one person fasting for the same thing. As to your original question, no, I don't think fasting for more than one person lessens the strength or potency of fasting one bit]

    1) I believe that it does. That's why we fast together on Fast Sunday, sometimes for common things. I believe that the combined prayers and fasting is powerful. Maybe not more powerful than a powerful "solo" fast for a purpose, but I believe it's good to do everything that is at one's disposal. Even better than fasting (or, actually, best in conjunction with fasting), is participating in the prayer circle in the temple with a purpose (i.e., going to the temple to pray for someone(s), actually writing their names on the slip, and then doing a session and being in the circle). Yes, people can and do call multiple temples and just "get the names put on the list," but to me, in my experience, treating it like an ordinance (physical, with my participation) has more meaning. I have seen immediate miracles through this --- sometimes when going to the temple to pray as a bishopric, or a ward council (and then participating together in the circle for that person or family). 

    If someone doesn't have access to that, I believe that God will "own and honor" the best that they can do, which would be fasting. 

    2) Absolutely. In spades! The first stake president I served under believed strongly in fasting, and recommended it for all "this kind goeth not out but by prayer and fasting" situations. I don't think fasting seems amiss in light of Christ's sacrifice --- completely the opposite, in fact.

    3) Without a purpose, you would only have the health benefits of fasting now and then, in my opinion. 

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  13. 59 minutes ago, PacMan said:

    It is difficult to ignore that difficulties of a church doctrine that tells a subset of people that they cannot have meaningful, intimate relationships with those they are attracted to.  It's a hard thing to convince someone that is gay that they have an equal place in the church.  It's just hard.

    If homosexuality is epigenetic and the genetic expression can be turned on and off, what implications does that have from a doctrinal standpoint and the gay community as a whole?

    If it is doctrinally true that "gender is an essential characteristic of individual premortal, mortal, and eternal identity and purpose," then I don't think the current science on the mutability/immutability of sexual orientation is the final answer. In other words, if that doctrine is true (regardless of how we feel about that), then it isn't simply the random fortunes of biology.

    I agree that it is difficult to remain active and believing in the Church when one is gay and feels no attraction at all to the other sex. We don't have much that is helpful in the way of explaining this state of things, other than harking back to the pre-existence, God's overarching plan, and everyone having the trials and tests that he personally needs in mortality. All of this is in general, vague terms, absent clarifying revelation and doctrine on it. 

    This is an area that I think a concrete, clear-cut revelation would be helpful and needed, but God gives these when He sees proper, not on our demand. 

    I come down on the conservative, believing side when it comes to doctrine, history, etc., and I believe that things like homosexuality won't exist in the resurrection. As I have discussed this with gay members and ex-members, the best explanation I have heard (and I don't know how valid it is, but it makes sense in a general way in explaining how homosexuality still exists from an evolutionary perspective) is that the odds of having a gay son increase dramatically with each son that is born. That is, after four sons, hormones are produced that form the developing fetus along these lines to "tamp down" the sexual competition. I don't think this represents the real state of things, myself (I think it's much, much more a factor of environment and experiences), but it does offer a plausible explanation. Whether or not this theory is borne out by evidence is another question. 

    If it turns out that there is a biological foundation or component to it, I think it will be found in the in utero development of children. 

  14. I had a Zoom meeting with two women from the Goethe Institut - San Francisco to plan out our semi-annual state conference. One of them is from Bielefeld (2nd area of my mission!), and the other is from Köln. In passing, I asked about how things were in Germany currently, especially with Covid, and I was told that they are locked down "hard." If this is true, then I find it hard to believe that the youth headed to Germany in February is still happening. Anyone know anecdotally of any missionaries who will make it to Germany (or other foreign areas) in the next little while?

    I have two **foreign exchange** students from Italy right now! Both are taking German 1, but I'm stunned that they are here at all (they've been here for a couple of weeks). They don't know each other, but they are both from the same area (one from Verona, and the other from Vicenza --- both near Venice). I am stunned that we even have exchange students. I don't think there are any American exchange students, anywhere in the world. 

  15. 15 minutes ago, Nevo said:

    I tend to agree that Joseph Smith probably didn't have an open KJV Bible in front of him as he translated, not most of the time anyway. The intertextual links to the OT and NT are often quite intricate and sophisticated, not the sort of thing that could be pieced together in a few minutes by flipping through a Bible. I'm thinking here of things like the creative use made of 1 Corinthians 15:53–55, John 1:4–5, and John 5:29 in Mosiah 16:6–11 (see Nicholas Frederick, "'If Christ Had Not Come into the World,'" in Abinadi: He Came Among Them in Disguise, ed. Shon D. Hopkin [RSC/Deseret Book, 2018], 117–138).

    He also flawlessly and effortlessly repurposed passages, like "fair as the moon, clear as the sun, and terrible as an army with banners" out of Song of Solomon (used a few times in D&C in a much different way to describe the Church and the latter-day work). He appears to have been "soaked" in Bible language, and he drew upon this for expression. This is all the more interesting to me because his mother said he was the least inclined of her children to read. Again, I think that after he looked up James 5 in response to Reverend Lane's talk on James 1:5 (per his brother William), after what he was told in the First Vision, and after Moroni's visit (where Moroni quoted many passages), I think that after this he read the Bible intently, and God enhanced his memory while producing scripture. 

    ETA: Excellent point, by the way, about the complexity of his use of the KJV. It absolutely could not have been done while flipping through a Bible with witnesses present. 

  16. 9 hours ago, Nevo said:

    Evidently the Church News didn't employ fact-checkers in 1961, otherwise this spurious claim would never have made it into print. Sadly, because Nibley said it, people still trot this out as fact.

    None of it is true, apart from the observation that scholars have referred to 1 Corinthians 13 as a hymn. Neither Harnack, Weiss, nor Reitzenstein ever claimed that 1 Corinthians 13:4–7 was composed by someone other than Paul.. Harnack, in fact, famously referred to 1 Corinthians 13 as "the greatest, strongest, deepest thing Paul ever wrote" (source). Weiss thought chapter 13 originally belonged after chapter 8 but held that Paul was the author. Reitzenstein thought Paul's "faith, hope, and charity" might have derived from a Gnostic formula, "faith, truth, love, hope," that Paul then Christianized by dropping "truth" and switching "hope" with "love." But even that modest claim has not withstood scrutiny. As another "first-rate investigator" has noted, it suffers from the following difficulties:

    Far from offering "a striking vindication of the Book of Mormon," critical scholarship is in nearly universal agreement that Paul composed 1 Corinthians 13.

    Thanks for the additional updated info (updated to me) !

    Given that God inspired Paul with this, it's obviously still not a problem if God inspired Mormon/Moroni with the same thought --- and had Joseph Smith use the KJV version in dictating a translation. My personal view is that God endowed Joseph Smith with superhuman feats of memory (I see no evidence that he used manuscripts, papers, or books in the translation process), hence the prevalence of identical or close KJV language in those sections of the Book of Mormon. Unlike Roberts, I don't think that he simply referred to a copy of the KJV while translating. We would have witness testimony about that. 

    I think by far the most insightful part of Nibley's article here is the discussion about KJV/Elizabethan English in general. 

  17. 17 hours ago, MiserereNobis said:

    Ha! Do you mind if I offer some thoughts on the "Revelation and Non-Mormons" section? As far as Catholicism is concerned, it is a bit of a straw man. Then again, it appears LDS and protestants have contended with each other much more than LDS and Catholics, so maybe all those quotes are meant to be primarily directed at protestants.

    Of course I don't mind! 

    Most apologetic responses, as you noted, are directed at Protestants for the simple fact that Protestants have been much more aggressive historically against Mormon missionary work. Obviously, this is probably different in heavily Catholic countries, but for the most part, Catholics aren't really on Mormons' apologetic radars. 

    17 hours ago, MiserereNobis said:

    For this first sentence here, I'll point out that if "Scripture" Wells means an addition to the canon, it's been quite some time for the LDS, too.

    For the second sentence, this does not at all represent the position of the Catholic Church. We rely on Sacred Scripture, Sacred Tradition, and the Magisterium. The Bible alone is insufficient. And besides, we put together the Bible in the first place.

    I am aware that these 19th century criticisms increasingly apply to the institutional Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in the 21st century as well. I think the truth of the statements still stand, regardless of the extent to which we are still good "poster children" for what Roberts, Wells, Cannon, et. al. taught. 

    I also agree that the evangelical Protestant doctrines of sole fide and sola scriptura go far beyond both the narrow technical definition of papal infallibility, and the broader notion of papal infallibility as conceived by Catholics at large (there is a difference there). Bible infallibility can rightly be called "Bible-olatry," I think, and it stems from the human need to have constants and stability (things that can be relied on not to change). As you point out, Mormons aren't immune to this, either, even though we vigorously deny it. We just institutionally tend to keep the goalposts moving. ;) 

    17 hours ago, MiserereNobis said:

    Well, at least the distinction here is made between protestantism and Catholicism. However, it grossly simplifies and overstates the Catholic position on the infallibility of the Pope. The Pope is only infallible in EXTREMELY limited cases.

    Yes, only when he speaks ex cathedra. I think this is akin to how the institutional LDS Church keeps the goalposts moving on when its prophets are speaking as such, and when they are not (it's usually situational, with deniability baked in). 

    When was the last ex cathedra declaration? Wasn't it the Immaculate Conception in the 1860s? Or has there been a more recent one than that? I think that it's more clear-cut when papal infallibility is being invoked (official declaration and process). 

    17 hours ago, MiserereNobis said:

    Yikes! Childish credulity? You mean, like believing that Jesus' spit could cure blindness? This is a sectarian judgement by Roberts for sure.

    Roberts was a colorful speaker/writer, and he could be excessive. I think that conservative believers in all churches believe in physical miracles that make the "sophisticated" co-religionists among them blush --- and I think that the "sophisticated" far outnumber the conservative believers. Increasingly so in our church as well. 

    Obviously, you don't have statistics, but in your opinion, what relative percentage of the global Catholic Church do you think believe in "outstanding" miracles? e.g., Lourdes, Fatima, etc.? This probably varies regionally --- my parents were very impressed with the faith and religiosity of the Catholics in Poland when they served a mission there. Very different from our Catholic-dominated area we live in (nominal membership, usually don't even attend Mass on Christmas and Easter). 

    Roberts believed in "outstanding" miracles and even experienced them. I think what he had in mind was the (in his view) devolution of faith to relics-worship and things like that.

    17 hours ago, MiserereNobis said:

    There's lots of problems here. First of all, if someone venerates a relic and that produces a miracle, how is that puerile?

    Relic veneration is really foreign to Mormons, but I personally don't ridicule or demean people with deep faith in things like that. The second best area of my mission in northern Germany was a suburb of Oldenburg called Krusenbusch that was "erzkatolisch" (arch-Catholic). Somehow, there was a pocket of observant Catholics in this (nominal --- and nothing is more nominal than a Lutheran) Lutheran center of NW Germany. Very nice people, willing to listen and talk with us (I even continued writing a family we taught after I returned home). I've always much preferred observant Catholics to lukewarm or ambivalent Mormons or Protestants. I wish my Catholic students' families knew their religion and that it meant something to them. 

    Regarding your list of gifts of the spirit, I think Roberts's criticism of sectarian Christianity applies to Mormonism today as well:

    "I apprehend that this Christian belief respecting the discontinuance of revelation came into existence as an excuse offered for the absence of revelation. Ministers . . . found themselves without communication with God, either through the visitation of angels or direct revelation. Finding themselves without these powers so abundantly possessed by the servants of God in the early age of the church, they attempted a defense of their own powerless state by saying these things were no longer needed. They were extraordinary powers only to be employed at the commencement of the work of God, in order to establish it in the earth, and afterwards to be put aside as childish things."

    The institutional LDS Church doesn't outright say that these things are no longer needed, but it institutionally acts like this --- much like much of the rest of Christianity. I think that the conservative believers in all churches today blow on the coals of faith in the altars of their own families. Among my leisure reading projects is the encyclopedia (I have around 20 books on my nightstand, until my wife makes me tidy it up. It doesn't take long for it to need attention again. ;) ). I'm currently in "T" in the encyclopedia, but I remember reading in "K" about the "kakure karishitan" in Japan. What a story! The "hidden Christians" were Catholic converts who observed Christianity secretly and underground in their families for centuries when it was suppressed. While inevitable syncretism crept in, it is remarkable to me how "in-tact" Christian belief remained, handed down only generation to generation within families. I often wonder how well we Mormons would hand it down for centuries without any church structure. It would depend solely on the intensity of devotion within those families. 

    I think in many ways, many of us are in the position of keeping the fire of faith alight on our family altars, even though we have institutional churches and no real persecution (some parts of the world have real persecution). 

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  18. The full table of contents for the handout (I'd post it, but the file size restrictions prevent it). Formatting and "plain texting" wreak havoc, but I don't want to sit and format it here. :) :

    Useful and Relevant Quotations ………………………………………………………………………………………………………3-5

                   ---Duty of Latter-day Saints in dealing with criticisms of the Book of Mormon                             3

                   ---Duty of critics of the Book of Mormon concerning Latter-day Saints’ responses                         3

                   ---Insincerity of demands for “proof”                                                                                                       3

                   ---Non-Mormon Christians, the Bible, and archaeology                                                                    3-4

                   ---Criticisms of the Book of Mormon reflecting 19th Century American language                         4

                   ---Would having the plates today settle everything?                                                                            4

                   ---Elder Dallin H. Oaks on assumptions about Book of Mormon lands and peoples                   4-5

                   ---Hugh Nibley’s Parable of the Diamond                                                                                                5

    Three Common Criticisms and Concerns about the Book of Mormon …………………………………………… 5-9

    ---If the Book of Mormon is scripture from God, shouldn’t it be 100% error-free and not

        require any corrections or changes in later editions?                                                                   5-6

    ---How can Book of Mormon contain the “fulness of the gospel” if it doesn’t discuss

        vital doctrines such as the pre-existence, three degrees of glory, the priesthood, the

        temple, etc.?                                                                                                                                              6

    --- The Book of Mormon contains lengthy word-for-word excerpts from the King James

    Bible. How can Latter-day Saints answer critics who insist that this is proof that Joseph Smith simply used the Bible as the basis for the Book of Mormon?                                 6-9

    Changes in the Book of Mormon Text ……………………………………………………………………………………………..9-13

    Cross-cultural Onomastica (“Loanshifting”) ……………………………………………………………………………………13-15

    Linguistic “Bulls-eye” Hits in the Book of Mormon ………………………………………………………………………..15-18

    Case Study in Making up Names: The Spaulding Manuscript vs. the Book of Mormon ………………..18-20

    DNA Criticisms against the Book of Mormon …………………………………………………………………………………20-26

                   ---Problem #1: What does modern “Jewish” or “Hebrew” DNA look like?                                     21

                   ---Problem #2: Determining 600 B.C. “Israelite” DNA                                                                      21-23

                   ---Problem #3: Book of Mormon peoples merged and interacted with numerically larger

                   native populations                                                                                                                                     23-25

                   ---Problem #4: DNA analysis doesn’t give anything close to a full view of heritage and

                   ancestry                                                                                                                                                           25

                   ---What about the statement in the current introduction to the Book of Mormon (1981

                   edition) that states that Book of Mormon peoples are the “principal ancestor” of the

                   American Indians?                                                                                                                                      25-26

  19. Here are some items from the 26 page handout we had at our "Book of Mormon: Fact or Fiction?" fireside back in 2010 (we did a series of three, this being the second one. My primary president was the presenter, and there were 96 slides. The handout was interesting and necessary information not covered in the slides. There was also a Q&A that went very late --- 130 non-members were present). Some of this has a bearing on the question of translation method. 

    Criticisms of the Book of Mormon reflecting 19th Century American language

    "Today some critics are fond of pointing out that the Book of Mormon is written in the very language of Joseph Smith's own society. That is as if a professor of French literature were to prove Champollion a fraud by showing after patient years of study that his translation of the Rosetta Stone was not in Egyptian at all but in the very type of French that Champollion and his friends were wont to use! The discovery is totally without significance, of course, because Champollion never claimed to be writing Egyptian, but to be rendering it into his own language."  --- (Hugh Nibley, “An Approach to the Book of Mormon, 8).

    Would having the plates today settle everything?

    "Critics of the Book of Mormon often remark sarcastically that it is a great pity that the golden plates have disappeared, since they would very conveniently prove Joseph Smith's story. They would do nothing of the sort. The presence of the plates would only prove that there were plates, no more: it would not prove that Nephites wrote them, or that an angel brought them, or that they had been translated by the gift and power of God; and we can be sure that scholars would quarrel about the writing on them for generations without coming to any agreement, exactly as they did about the writings of Homer and parts of the Bible. The possession of the plates would have a very disruptive effect, and it would prove virtually nothing." --- (ibid, 21).

    If the Book of Mormon is scripture from God, shouldn’t it be 100% error-free and not require any corrections or changes in later editions?

    Mormon and Moroni, the compilers and editors of the Book of Mormon record, emphasized that their record, although inspired, is not infallible, inerrant, or error-free, and that it is subject to weaknesses and imperfections.

    “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.” — Title page, last plate; Moroni, son of Mormon.

    “And whoso receiveth this record, and shall not condemn it because of the imperfections which are in it, the same shall know of greater things than these.” — Mormon 8:12, Moroni.

    “And I know the record which I make to be a just and a true record; nevertheless there are many things which, according to our language, we are not able to write.” — 3 Nephi 5:18, Mormon.

    “And I said unto him: Lord, the Gentiles will mock at these things, because of our weakness in writing . . . And thou hast made us that we could write but little, because of the awkwardness of our hands. Behold, thou hast not made us mighty in writing . . . Thou hast also made our words powerful and great, even that we cannot write them; wherefore, when we write we behold our weakness, and stumble because of the placing of our words; and I fear lest the Gentiles shall mock at our words.” — Ether 12:23-25, Moroni

    How can Book of Mormon contain the “fulness of the gospel” if it doesn’t discuss vital doctrines such as the pre-existence, three degrees of glory, the priesthood, the temple, etc.?

    Among the most basic and fundamental doctrines in Mormonism is the 9th Article of Faith: “We believe all that God has revealed, all that He does now reveal, and we believe He will yet reveal many great and important things pertaining to the kingdom of God.”  The Book of Mormon itself makes it clear that “greater things than” the Book of Mormon would be known to those who “receive this record and shall not condemn it” (Mormon 8:12). The lengthy section in 1 Nephi 13 that details both the importance of the Bible (the book that “proceedeth out of the mouth of a Jew”) and the Book of Mormon (“I will manifest myself unto thy seed, that they shall write many things which I shall minister unto them, which shall be plain and precious; and after thy seed shall be destroyed, and dwindle in unbelief, and also the seed of thy brethren, behold, these things shall be hid up, to come forth unto the Gentiles, by the gift and power of the Lamb”) also tells of “other books” which “shall make known the plain and precious things which have been taken away from them” (1 Nephi 13:39-40). In other words, both Joseph Smith and the Book of Mormon clearly point out that many important doctrines would come forth after and outside of the Book of Mormon. And these predictions were dictated to scribes before the dictation of the Book of Mormon was even completed or the Church organized, let alone the Doctrine and Covenants, Book of Abraham, or Inspired Revision of the Bible had even been contemplated!

    “First of all, let’s consider what the Lord means by a ‘fulness of the gospel.’ He did not mean to convey the impression that every truth belonging to exaltation in the kingdom of God had been delivered to the Nephites and was recorded in the Book of Mormon . . . Neither would this statement imply that every truth belonging to the celestial kingdom and exaltation therein was to be found within the covers of the Book of Mormon . . . The fulness of the gospel . . . has reference to the principles of salvation by which we attain unto this glory. Therefore, the Lord has revealed in the Book of Mormon all that is needful to direct people who are willing to hearken to its precepts, to a fulness of the blessings of the kingdom of God. It is beyond dispute . . . that the Book of Mormon teaches that the first principles of the gospel are faith in God, repentance, baptism for remission of sin, the gift of the Holy Ghost, obedience to divine law, and that man cannot be saved in ignorance of these divine truths.” — Joseph Fielding Smith, “Answers to Gospel Questions,” 3:95-97.

    The Book of Mormon contains lengthy word-for-word excerpts from the King James Bible. How can Latter-day Saints answer critics who insist that this is proof that Joseph Smith simply used the Bible as the basis for the Book of Mormon?

    The best treatment of this question is probably by the late Mormon scholar Hugh Nibley in an article for the Church News:

    “The next most devastating argument against the Book of Mormon was that it actually quoted the Bible. The early critics were simply staggered by the incredible stupidity of including large sections of the Bible in a book which they insisted was specifically designed to fool the Bible-reading public. They screamed blasphemy and plagiarism at the top of their lungs, but today any biblical scholar knows that it would be extremely suspicious if a book purporting to be the product of a society of pious emigrants from Jerusalem in ancient times did not quote the Bible. No lengthy religious writing of the Hebrews could conceivably be genuine if it was not full of scriptural quotations.

    “ . . . the emphasis [in criticisms] has now shifted to two other points, (1) that the Book of Mormon contains, to quote another writer of Christianity Today, ‘passages lifted bodily from the King James Version,’ and (2) that it quotes, not only from the Old Testament, but also the New Testament as well . . . As to the ‘passages lifted bodily from the King James Version,’ we first ask, ‘How else does one quote scripture if not bodily?’ And why should anyone quoting the Bible to American readers of 1830 not follow the only version of the Bible known to them?

    “Actually the Bible passages quoted in the Book of Mormon often differ from the King James Version, but where the latter is correct there is every reason why it should be followed. When Jesus and the Apostles and, for that matter, the Angel Gabriel quote the scriptures in the New Testament, do they recite from some mysterious Urtext? Do they quote the prophets of old in the ultimate original? Do they give their own inspired translations? No, they do not. They quote the Septuagint, a Greek version of the Old Testament prepared in the third century B.C. Why so? Because that happened to be the received standard version of the Bible accepted by the readers of the Greek New Testament. When ‘holy men of God’ quote the scriptures it is always in the received standard version of the people they are addressing.

    We do not claim the King James Version or the Septuagint to be the original scriptures—in fact, nobody on earth today knows where the original scriptures are or what they say. Inspired men have in every age been content to accept the received version of the people among whom they labored, with the Spirit giving correction where correction was necessary.

    Since the Book of Mormon is a translation, ‘with all its faults,’ [this was the title of a series of articles on Bible manuscripts and texts in Christianity Today at the time of Nibley’s article]  into English for English-speaking people whose fathers for generations had known no other scriptures but the standard English Bible, it would be both pointless and confusing to present the scriptures to them in any other form, so far as their teachings were correct.

    What is thought to be a very serious charge against the Book of Mormon today is that it, a book written down long before New Testament times and on the other side of the world, actually quotes the New Testament! True, it is the same Savior speaking in both, and the same Holy Ghost, and so we can expect the same doctrines in the same language. But what about the "Faith, Hope and Charity" passage in Moroni 7:45? Its resemblance to 1 Corinthians 13 is undeniable. This particular passage, recently singled out for attack in Christianity Today, is actually one of those things that turn out to be a striking vindication of the Book of Mormon. For the whole passage, which scholars have labeled ‘the Hymn to Charity,’ was shown early in this century by a number of first-rate investigators working independently (A. Harnack, J. Weiss, R. Reizenstein) to have originated not with Paul at all, but to go back to some older but unknown source: Paul is merely quoting from the record.

    Now it so happens that other Book of Mormon writers were also peculiarly fond of quoting from the record. Captain Moroni, for example, reminds his people of an old tradition about the two garments of Joseph, telling them a detailed story which I have found only in a thousand-year-old commentary on the Old Testament, a work still untranslated and quite unknown to the world of Joseph Smith. So I find it not a refutation but a confirmation of the authenticity of the Book of Mormon when Paul and Moroni both quote from a once well-known but now lost Hebrew writing.

    Now as to [the] question, ‘Why did Joseph Smith, a nineteenth century American farm boy, translate the Book of Mormon into seventeenth century King James English instead of into contemporary language?’

    The first thing to note is that the ‘contemporary language’ of the country-people of New England 130 years ago was not so far from King James English. Even the New England writers of later generations, like Webster, Melville, and Emerson, lapse into its stately periods and "thees and thous" in their loftier passages.

    For that matter, we still pray in that language and teach our small children to do the same; that is, we still recognize the validity of a special speech set apart for special occasions. My old Hebrew and Arabic teacher, Professor Popper, would throw a student out of the class who did not use ‘thee’ and ‘thou’ in constructing. ‘This is the word of God!’ he would cry indignantly. ‘This is the Bible! Let us show a little respect; let us have a little formal English here!’

    Furthermore, the Book of Mormon is full of scripture, and for the world of Joseph Smith's day, the King James Version was the Scripture, as we have noted; large sections of the Book of Mormon, therefore, had to be in the language of the King James Version—and what of the rest of it? That is scripture, too.

    One can think of lots of arguments for using King James English in the Book of Mormon, but the clearest comes out of very recent experience. In the past decade, as you know, certain ancient non-biblical texts, discovered near the Dead Sea, have been translated by modern, up-to-date American readers. I open at random a contemporary Protestant scholar's modern translation of the Dead Sea Scrolls, and what do I read? ‘For thine is the battle, and by the strength of thy hand their corpses were scattered without burial. Goliath the Hittite, a mighty man of valor, thou didst deliver into the hand of thy servant David.’

    Obviously the man who wrote this knew the Bible, and we must not forget that ancient scribes were consciously archaic in their writing, so that most of the scriptures were probably in old-fashioned language the day they were written down. To efface that solemn antique style by the latest up-to-date usage is to translate falsely.

    At any rate, Professor Burrows . . . falls naturally and without apology into the language of the King James Bible. Or take a modern Jewish scholar who purposely avoids archaisms in his translation of the Scrolls for modern American readers: ‘All things are inscribed before Thee in a recording script, for every moment of time, for the infinite cycles of years, in their several appointed times. No single thing is hidden, naught missing from Thy presence.’ Professor Gaster, too, falls under the spell of our religious idiom.

    By frankly using that idiom, the Book of Mormon avoids the necessity of having to be redone into ‘modern English’ every thirty or forty years. If the plates were being translated for the first time today, it would still be King James English!” (Hugh Nibley, “The Prophetic Book of Mormon,” [Salt Lake City: Deseret, 1990] pp. 214-218).

  20. 1 hour ago, Glenn101 said:

    Why? What is your evidence to refute the work and research of Stanford Carmack and Royal Skousen?

    I also don't find the EmodE theory to be persuasive or compelling (no animosity, just disagreement). I don't think many examples of "exclusively" archaic grammar and usage truly are (I think that examples contemporaneous to Joseph Smith can be found). I also find the theory of a "ghost committee" of reformers several centuries before Joseph Smith who translated the text and transmitted it to Joseph to be weird and unnecessary. I think the manuscripts, textual evidence, and witness accounts all attest to reality more in line with Elder Roberts's thoughts in the early 20th century. 

  21. 55 minutes ago, smac97 said:

    Have you compared and contrasted Roberts' explanation with Royal Skousen's?  This may be a good place to start: Translating the Book of Mormon: Evidence from the Original Manuscript



    Oh, yes. I own the Original and Printer's Manuscripts volumes, and have a bunch of Critical Text Project things from Skousen. The EmodE theory is different from his --- he does posit places of "tight" and places of "loose" translation, which I think the text clearly shows (spelling of names, for instance). 

  22. 5 minutes ago, smac97 said:

    I think we sometimes misconstrue what "revelation" means, how it functions, how in manifests.


    I think this goes both ways --- both for claims of not enough, and for claim of too much. 

    I think of the title quote from my FAIR paper on prophetic infallibility  https://www.fairmormon.org/archive/publications/well-nigh-as-dangerous

    “It is well nigh as dangerous to claim too much for the inspiration of God in the affairs of men as it is to claim too little. By the first men are led into superstition, and into blasphemously accrediting their own imperfect actions, their blunders, and possibly even their sins to God; and by the second they are apt to altogether eliminate the influence of God from human affairs. I pause in doubt as to which extreme would be the worse.” — B. H. Roberts, A Defense of the Faith and the Saints (Provo: Maasai, 2002), p. 346.

    Just as it's possible to be too critical or demanding of prophets, it is also possible to be too permissive. For some, it is literally impossible for the Brethren to say or do anything that is not 100% the mind and will of God. In a circular type of logic, by definition anything said or done must be the mind and will of God, or it wouldn't have been said or done. When pressed, these people take umbrage at this, but when asked if they can think of any examples, crickets. 

    Unlike Elder Roberts, I think that too much faith in inspiration is better than too little. But, both are "well nigh as dangerous." 

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