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Everything posted by rongo

  1. I'll also say that do have some cognitive dissonance dismissing David Whitmer's statements along the lines of Joseph reading off of parchment that appeared in the U&T. a) he may have been told this by Joseph Smith, instead of simply assuming it as Elder Roberts and I assume b) if we rely on him as Exhibit A in the witnesses department (as we do, because he was the longest living, most interviewed, and most adamant about the plates and the angel), then it's hard to pick and choose when he's perfect for our claim, and when he's dead wrong. I'm aware of these things, even whi
  2. People often insist that we don't believe in infallibility, but when asked for any examples, they refuse to give any. Some of us have some examples we can come up with.
  3. There is also Joseph Smith's statement when he first looked through the Urim and Thummim (large diamonds set in frames, attached to the breastplate): "These are amazing. I can see everything!" So, I don't think they were **just** faith aids. I think Joseph Smith's experience as a see-er (he was sought out by Josiah Stowell because of his reputation), and the cultural milieu of his area contributed to him having confidence that it would even be possible (imagine a 2020 person being asked to translate with a stone or stones today).
  4. In a nutshell, under the Skousen theory, it isn't a matter of "paying a price." It's a matter of convincing the intelligences to accept imperfect, tainted higher intelligences being allowed in God's presence. What Jesus had to go through to achieve this can be considered a "price," but it's not really transactional. Jesus has to bring about "the bowels of mercy" through His unjust suffering during His life, in the Garden, and on the Cross to make this possible.
  5. Two devil’s advocate responses on my part 1) Martin Harris’s anecdote about switching the seer stone (which thwarted translation) seems to indicate that there was some special property about the stone itself. This undermines Roberts’s theory. I personally don't believe that the stone(s) had any special properties; I think they were a faith and focus aid (like "Dumbo's feather"). Most of the Book of Mormon was translated without the seer stone or U&T at all. 2) If I were an EmodE advocate, I would argue that the work of translation was simply done by the „ghost committee.“ This t
  6. I think the best explanation of the available evidence for the translation method of the Book of Mormon is from B.H. Roberts in 1903-1906. I think it still remains superior, even to recent general authority „smart phone“ explanations (Joseph Smith read the Urim and Thummim or the seer stone like someone today reads a smart phone) or the Early Modern English theory of the last few years. Because of its length, here is a synopsis of it (originally printed in „Defense of the Faith and the Saints“). The Roberts theory was a major part of the young men’s manuals for 1903-1906, and received a lot of
  7. Thank you for sharing your thoughts, Peacefully! I always encourage and enjoy open, sincere discussion in a faithful atmosphere. I think we would all be better off if this were more prevalent.
  8. As an aside, I taught a FHE lesson a few years ago where we charted the blessings and promises for each tribe. For some reason, Simeon draws the short straw. Seriously --- it's really hard to find a silver lining. Dan, for some reason, is absent from the 144,000. No idea why for either of these, just interesting. We emphasized that we are almost certain to be Ephraim/Manasseh (and why this is), but that exceptions do exist.
  9. To add to what @JLHPROF said on this: Both circumcision and animal sacrifice were changed with the Dispensation of the Meridian of Time (Jesus' ministry and the New Testament Church). I would say that that right there is a big difference (going from the Old Covenant to the New Covenant). I don't think those examples apply across the board to significant changes every few years.
  10. Patriarchs are told to be **very** sure if they feel inspired to name a tribe other than Ephraim or Manasseh (and stake presidents do patriarch audits of blessings in their stakes, part of the purpose of which is to make sure that there isn't a ratio of lineages that seem excessive or "off the norm"). The vast, vast majority of Church members have been Ephraim/Manasseh up to this point. So, the deck appears to be stacked very heavily in favor of Ephraim and Manasseh, for now (I'm not saying there's anything bad about that. That's the Deuteronomy 33/Genesis 49 mission of Ephraim/Manasseh). If i
  11. After the changes in the temple, I think there is literally nothing that couldn't theoretically be done away with and simply done "symbolically only." Even baptism by immersion. We criticize other churches for sprinkling, but changing it from immersion to sprinkling is no different. So, it becomes a matter of authority --- if the authority is there, then the change is authorized.
  12. I don't think He can. Because I believe that God's power is His honor, as He has said in the scriptures, and because I believe that the atonement only works if the intelligences accept it, I don't believe that He can just save anyone He wants, however He wants, whenever He wants. I believe that there is a reason why there had to be a savior, and He had to be God (part of which is the virgin birth), or it wouldn't have worked. The miracles were because, as God, the intelligences honor and obey Him with exactness. Without the miracles (and the biggest ones of atonement and resurrection), the ato
  13. I believe that people at all iterations of the endowment receive the blessings of the endowment; I'm just saddened by the loss. I compare it to knowing about the original covenant with Moses, but being under the Law of Moses given in its place when it was rejected. It's not a perfect analogy, because I don't think we have rejected anything, other than how cultural undercurrents drove the changes. People who were under the Law of Moses until the New Testament Church and followed it received all blessings available for them at that time. And yet, there was an original law, and a step down
  14. Like what? I'm not putting you on the spot, it's more rhetorical than anything. I would be interested in seeing lists from people who don't believe the Book of Mormon about the great lessons and wisdom they find in it. I think the list and how they describe the items would be telling.
  15. How can He save us, though, if there wasn't a virgin birth (so, not the Only Begotten), He never really did any miracles (so, not God), and He never was resurrected (let's be honest --- if we jettison the virgin birth and miracles, there's no way we keep resurrection or atonement)? That's every bit as much a pipe dream as believing in the "non-essential" like Eden, lost tribes, Book of Mormon peoples, etc. Just as fictitious, so what good does it do to "trust" Him, then? There is literally no difference in "trusting" or "believing" in a Jesus neutered by skepticism, other than it might ma
  16. a) what people think matters is all over the map, b) we can't really separate what matters from what doesn't like that. They are bound together, and can't really be compartmentalized, I think. c) Trying to do so leads to a weak faith that doesn't really do anything. As has already been discussed a bit here, I don't think "what really matters is just encouraging faith in Jesus" really helps. The same logic that gets us to that point also demolishes His divinity. What good does having faith in Him do, then? If we take Joseph Smith completely out of the picture for all of the unsci
  17. Assuming the whole book has been written. And only when it's framed a certain way. When I and my family have had physical miracles happen in our lives, the "poor track record of religion going up against science" doesn't faze us. I'm sure there will be some disagreement on this, but I also think that the vitality of belief in the literal is superior in many ways over "belief in the inspirational," for lack of a better term. What I mean by that are the people who are embarrassed by literal belief, but still have felt things, and want to still believe in religion. I have a hard time seeing
  18. Oh, I see. Yes, you're right about that. That even has an important bearing on Book of Mormon historicity (i.e., if Lehi and his party existed, then they are physical or "principal" ancestors, even if it's really not detectable). I agree with this. I think genetics is in its infancy as far as what it can actually definitively tell us, but the developments are exciting and important.
  19. I really think that is the crux of it for this, and for a lot of things. Belief in the literal reality (historicity) of things, past and future, is waning. I personally think that for a lot of people, it's because of embarrassment at how such things are seen by the world. They don't want to be thought of as a backwater, superstitious rube. I've shared this before, but my wife brought up once in a lesson when she was RS president the miracle of the sun standing still in the battle at Aijalon. Several sisters thought that was crazy talk, and were actually unfamiliar with the story (I think
  20. Yeah, but not to the extent of having a Zebulun man have only Ephraim descendants. I do believe that there is some physical descent aspect to it, but clearly the spiritual aspect is the more important one.
  21. Can you imagine everything hitting the fan if, to avoid disclosure on something in the future, they say, "Okay. We'll just disband BYUPD?" No way to spin that one.
  22. What do we do, then, with D&C 133? --- 26 And they who are in the north countries shall come in remembrance before the Lord; and their prophets shall hear his voice, and shall no longer stay themselves; and they shall smite the rocks, and the ice shall flow down at their presence. 27 And an highway shall be cast up in the midst of the great deep. 28 Their enemies shall become a prey unto them, 29 And in the barren deserts there shall come forth pools of living water; and the parched ground shall no longer be a thirsty land. 30 And they shall bring forth their
  23. I don't think anyone who believes they are on another world believes that they were translated, as the people of Enoch were. They have their own prophets and scriptures, though (which is another point against the "scattered among the known peoples" view, I think), and their own history over the last 2800-ish years, so I wouldn't rule out people and periods of great righteousness, either, a la 4 Nephi or Enoch. The statements in favor of "removal from the earth" come from compelling witnesses, but one of the things that holds me back is just Occam's Razor (I know, I know --- for the skept
  24. One other thing she pointed out was the cosmopolitanism of the branches. She said they were chock full of different nationalities and languages (English was actually her sixth language, and though Malaysian herself, Malaysian was actually only her second language, in school along with the beginnings of British English. Her native language was a Chinese dialect I hadn't heard of). They had a lot of Muslim women, and it was a delicate situation threading the needle between Church ministering/teaching and not running afoul of cultural problems in teaching and helping them. It was fraught with ris
  25. What you say is true as far as gender disparity in the small branches abroad (and even increasingly in North America, although not to the same extent), but I think that the Church's own strong consolidation actions head this off. Small branches in outlying areas have been and are being largely consolidated into "centers of strength" in population centers, which isn't good for spreading and growing the Church, but is good for consolidation of priesthood and "critical mass" of active members. I, personally, would like us to venture out and try blowing on some coals in the branches, but the conso
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