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Uncle Dale On The Book Of Mormon


Severian

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From Uncle Dale on another thread: My thoughts on the matter can be expressed quickly, and they are, that the essential message of the BoM is faith-promoting and non historical. That is, I know from a multitude of testimony that it has promoted the faith of many good people --- but I see nowhere near the same amount of testimony of its being an authentic history. Can it somehow be testified to as "true," but non-historical? I say yes.

The volume is not mentioned in the "first principles of the gospel," and so my view is that whatever the book may be, it stands at a level below that gospel message, essential for conversion.

There are many biblical figures whose historical existence will probably never be demonstrated to the effect of compelling proof. There are other biblical figures who may have never existed at all, but whose roles in the scriptures are symbolic, or mythical or that of characters in parables.

For me, at least, the unique BoM characters fall into this category -- but I do not expect a great many other people to take the same view as I do. And, as I said, I believe that the gospel is a higher priority.

UD

I invited Uncle Dale to expound on his thoughts of how the Book of Mormon is non-historical but true. He invited me to start the thread and hopefully he can fill in the blanks for an interesting discussion.

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I invited Uncle Dale to expound on his thoughts of how the Book of Mormon is non-historical but true. He invited me to start the thread and hopefully he can fill in the blanks for an interesting discussion.

In that other thread I cut and pasted the text to a paper I wrote several years ago on the subject:

http://www.geocities.com/Athens/Delphi/375....broadhust.html

Since writing that paper I have left Community of Christ and my BoM views have changed

slightly -- so don't hold me to each and every word of that old essay.

However, the basic ideas I expressed there seem valid ones to me.

Latter Day Saints have two diverging routes into their future: either to hold on to a literalist view

of their religion and its scriptures, or to seek out new interpretations and new perspectives.

In my on-line paper I mentioned how Mormons are reluctant to go down that second alternative

path, unless led there by somebody in an office of high ecclesiastical authority.

The unstated (but implied) aspect of my paper, is the need to identify and empower new authority.

At least those were my initial thoughts, while writing the paper.

Uncle Dale

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Uncle Dale:

I don't believe the BoM to be true, but as yours is an argument used against the Bible I would like to respond. I don't buy this "well, it's the moral that's important" argument. No where in Scripture (or I assume the BoM when Christ visited the New World) did Christ give any credence to this idea. Once you start tossing sections of revelation you must then toss the foundational argument of a Revelator and fall back on men's ideas alone being the source of scripture.

Then what difference do you have between "revelation" and Aesop?

And as much as I want to avoid slippery sloping I have noticed all too often that the next step is to start rejecting those teachings in revelation that the reader finds repugnant to personal taste. scripture becomes our sunday buffet where we fill up on the clam chowder and ice cream and ignore the zucchini.

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And as much as I want to avoid slippery sloping I have noticed all too often that the next step is to start rejecting those teachings in revelation that the reader finds repugnant to personal taste. scripture becomes our sunday buffet where we fill up on the clam chowder and ice cream and ignore the zucchini.

The bible has been a buffet for Christians for a long time now. We don't stone adulterers to death, do we? We don't execute homosexuals, right? Not even the Ten Commandments are followed; Christians don't even refrain from making pictorial representations of things in heaven.

The Bible is almost exclusively used to justify behavior rather than dictate it. Think for a moment--is there any behavior that you find morally repulsive, yet force yourself to do because the Bible commands it? Does the Bible ever really make you contradict your own conscience?

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The Bible is almost exclusively used to justify behavior rather than dictate it. Think for a moment--is there any behavior that you find morally repulsive, yet force yourself to do because the Bible commands it? Does the Bible ever really make you contradict your own conscience?

I think it was W. C. Fields when caught reading the Bible stated "I'm looking for loopholes." I think that you are on to something here.

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I don't believe that there is an alternative to the literalist interpretation. There is no second alternative. The church rests on the literalist view of the Book of Mormon. Any change to that position by the LDS church would lead to its downfall. Not to mention causing pain in the lives of many saints.

The LDS ship sails or sinks with the literalist view.

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I don't believe that there is an alternative to the literalist interpretation. There is no second alternative. The church rests on the literalist view of the Book of Mormon. Any change to that position by the LDS church would lead to its downfall. Not to mention causing pain in the lives of many saints.

The LDS ship sails or sinks with the literalist view.

Precisely,

Also those that like to present this theory not only ignore the church's stance but the church's own history. They ignore the angel Moroni, Joseph's whole story of retrieving the plates, the existence of plates, the 3 and 8 witness's. These things can't possible fit outside of a literalists view unless you want to call God and Joseph Smith a liar.

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Uncle Dale:

I don't believe the BoM to be true, but as yours is an argument used against the Bible I would like to respond. I don't buy this "well, it's the moral that's important" argument. No where in Scripture (or I assume the BoM when Christ visited the New World) did Christ give any credence to this idea. Once you start tossing sections of revelation you must then toss the foundational argument of a Revelator and fall back on men's ideas alone being the source of scripture.

Then what difference do you have between "revelation" and Aesop?

And as much as I want to avoid slippery sloping I have noticed all too often that the next step is to start rejecting those teachings in revelation that the reader finds repugnant to personal taste. scripture becomes our sunday buffet where we fill up on the clam chowder and ice cream and ignore the zucchini.

Yes, I understand your argument -- but what are we to do with "sacred texts" which many people

testfy to as possessing something beyond mere "moral?"

I can try and dismiss the effect of the Koran upon millions of Muslims, and tell myself that they are

all deluded in thinking that theirs is a holy book. Or I can accept it upon their terms....

Or.... I can redefine my own understanding of what "scripture" is, and in doing so, try to see what

metaphysical value those Mulsims are finding in that text.

What I CANNOT do, is to force my new, personal understandings upon an entire group of people.

Uncle Dale

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UD, I agree whole heartedly that the BoM is not historically true, but is full of truths of spirituality. In fact, I extend this to old and new testaments as well. This does not mean that the Bible is not historically accurate (I honestly believe that JC existed), but is it 100% factual and accurate? Not hardly. Are the spiritual truths taught accurate? 100% yes.

When asked if I believe the BoM to be true, and the rest of the scriptures for that matter, I say yes, because I gain much spirituality from them, and the truths are 100% correct. In any mythology, there is no reason to argue about whether or not these things actually occurred because in most cases, it can not be proven one way or the other. Besides, scriptures aren't about the letter of the scriptures, its about the spirit of them.

Even if these things actually happened, God could care less if you literally believe they occurred. The reason for scriptures are for learning deep philosophical truths. If you were to miss these truths, but believe the literal things happened, you are sorely missing the point. If you (OTOH) get the spiritual truths but miss the literal parts, you are still better off for reading the scriptures, and gain what they are really there for - to teach spiritual truths.

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UD, I agree whole heartedly that the BoM is not historically true, but is full of truths of spirituality. In fact, I extend this to old and new testaments as well. This does not mean that the Bible is not historically accurate (I honestly believe that JC existed), but is it 100% factual and accurate? Not hardly. Are the spiritual truths taught accurate? 100% yes.

When asked if I believe the BoM to be true, and the rest of the scriptures for that matter, I say yes, because I gain much spirituality from them, and the truths are 100% correct. In any mythology, there is no reason to argue about whether or not these things actually occurred because in most cases, it can not be proven one way or the other. Besides, scriptures aren't about the letter of the scriptures, its about the spirit of them.

Even if these things actually happened, God could care less if you literally believe they occurred. The reason for scriptures are for learning deep philosophical truths. If you were to miss these truths, but believe the literal things happened, you are sorely missing the point. If you (OTOH) get the spiritual truths but miss the literal parts, you are still better off for reading the scriptures, and gain what they are really there for - to teach spiritual truths.

However, some of the other posters here do not agree with the sum total of your realization.

And, I assume that Mormons like why me, would deny me an LDS baptism, if I continue in my

beliefs along these lines. I also assume, that were I an active "Temple Mormon," who expressed

such beliefs, that I would be marginalized and perhaps even disciplined by an LDS church court.

Why is it, that individual LDS are prohibited from (or at least very, very strongly counseled against)

holding these personal views?

Uncle Dale

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However, some of the other posters here do not agree with the sum total of your realization.

And, I assume that Mormons like why me, would deny me an LDS baptism, if I continue in my

beliefs along these lines. I also assume, that were I an active "Temple Mormon," who expressed

such beliefs, that I would be marginalized and perhaps even disciplined by an LDS church court.

Why is it, that individual LDS are prohibited from (or at least very, very strongly counseled against)

holding these personal views?

Uncle Dale

I know a couple of members who don't believe the BofM is historical, but they don't talk about it very much and they are very active in the Church and have some important callings. Their bishops know about it and these members still have TRs.

Besides, I don't ever remember being asked in any interview if I believed the BofM was historical or not. I do, but I have only been asked if I believed if the BofM was the word of God, which I also do.

I don't know if members are counseled about holding those views, because that is such a personal belief and it's really hard to change a personal belief sometimes. In fact, I have never been counseled about my beliefs, rather I have been counseled about my actions. In my POV, there are only a few questions about ones beliefs in the temple interview, and they tend to be very general questions, while most of the questions deal with ones actions.

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Why is it, that individual LDS are prohibited from (or at least very, very strongly counseled against)

holding these personal views?

Unfortunately, churches revolve around the idea of Group Think, defined at wikipedia as a type of thought exhibited by group members who try to minimize conflict and reach consensus without critically testing, analyzing, and evaluating ideas. IOW, its far easier to boil it down to the lowest common demoninator than to try to operate as such an abstract level, thereby covering more individuals, resulting in a larger church population. I just don't bring it up, because in my mind by saying I know the book is true, I believe it to be referring to spiritual truths, and therefore, I am not lying nor upsetting the group with such thoughts.

Many are just not ready to operate at such an abstract level here, or refuse to try to for fear of losing a testimony. However, there is no doubt in my mind that the question of whether or not scriptures are true has nothing to deal with its literal interpretations and believing that the stories told are real stories. I don't believe this is why the scriptures are written. They are not for historical records, but for spiritual growth.

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Unfortunately, churches revolve around the idea of Group Think, defined at wikipedia as a type of thought exhibited by group members who try to minimize conflict and reach consensus without critically testing, analyzing, and evaluating ideas. IOW, its far easier to boil it down to the lowest common demoninator than to try to operate as such an abstract level, thereby covering more individuals, resulting in a larger church population. I just don't bring it up, because in my mind by saying I know the book is true, I believe it to be referring to spiritual truths, and therefore, I am not lying nor upsetting the group with such thoughts.

Many are just not ready to operate at such an abstract level here, or refuse to try to for fear of losing a testimony. However, there is no doubt in my mind that the question of whether or not scriptures are true has nothing to deal with its literal interpretations and believing that the stories told are real stories. I don't believe this is why the scriptures are written. They are not for historical records, but for spiritual growth.

Yes, I understand all of that, coming from another Latter Day Saint church which (at least when I was a kid)

exerted a strong influence upon its members to believe every word in the BoM as literal, historical truth.

I am not trying to change anybody's personal testimony here. If they still wish to put their four-year-olds

up at the microphone on F&T Sunday, and whisper in their ears, "Say you know beyond a shadow of a

doubt that the Book of Mormon is true, Johnny -- say it loud so Bishop Jensen can hear you...." well,

that's OK by me.

What I am advising, is that probably an additional 13,000,000 converts could be "gathered in" within

the next decade or so, simply by dropping the requirement that new converts believe the standard

works to the the perfect, literal word of God. If there could be some adjustment in that LDS message,

then converts who cannot "swallow" the BoM as historically accurate, might still join and pay tithes.

At least, such thoughts occur to me from time to time --- let each member decide for himself.

UD

.

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However, some of the other posters here do not agree with the sum total of your realization.

And, I assume that Mormons like why me, would deny me an LDS baptism, if I continue in my

beliefs along these lines. I also assume, that were I an active "Temple Mormon," who expressed

such beliefs, that I would be marginalized and perhaps even disciplined by an LDS church court.

Why is it, that individual LDS are prohibited from (or at least very, very strongly counseled against)

holding these personal views?

Uncle Dale

No I wouldn't deny you a lds baptism nor a temple recommend. But of course, I would ask you why you are being baptized into a church whose beliefs you do not believe.

The way the story of the book of mormon is set up there can be no other way but the literalist interpretation. That is my point. There is no room for the alternative you posted. The church would fall like a house of cards in a tornado.

Or there would be a hardcore membership of 250,000. :P

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Precisely,

Also those that like to present this theory not only ignore the church's stance but the church's own history. They ignore the angel Moroni, Joseph's whole story of retrieving the plates, the existence of plates, the 3 and 8 witness's. These things can't possible fit outside of a literalists view unless you want to call God and Joseph Smith a liar.

I just don't understand how anyone would think differently. They must not know the lds mindset about the book of mormon. The church would have to put on a really good spin if they changed their position and even then, there would be a massive exodus, especially when the Internet lds church haters would chime in on the boards.

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No I wouldn't deny you a lds baptism nor a temple recommend. But of course, I would ask you why you are being baptized into a church whose beliefs you do not believe.

The way the story of the book of mormon is set up there can be no other way but the literalist interpretation. That is my point. There is no room for the alternative you posted. The church would fall like a house of cards in a tornado.

Or there would be a hardcore membership of 250,000. :P

Why me, I suppose none of the members in the Church have a non-literalist interpretation of the BoM right now, eh? No members leave the Church because they refuse to believe in a literal, historical BoM? And LGM in no way contradicts either the statements of Joseph Smith or the BoM, right?

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The church would have to put on a really good spin if they changed their position and even then, there would be a massive exodus, especially when the Internet lds church haters would chime in on the boards.

You mean the same spin they have to put on the Bible when LDS scholars are doing research in critical analysis of the manuscripts and Syro-Palestinian archaeology? If you think there would be a "massive exodus" because of some Internet chatter, where have you been for the last ten years?

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Why me, I suppose none of the members in the Church have a non-literalist interpretation of the BoM right now, eh? No members leave the Church because they refuse to believe in a literal, historical BoM? And LGM in no way contradicts either the statements of Joseph Smith or the BoM, right?

It is one thing to have an own interpretation. It is quite another thing to have it confirmed. If confirmed those said people would most likely leave. And the lds church could not claim to be the one true church without a big laugh from the peanut gallery.

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You mean the same spin they have to put on the Bible when LDS scholars are doing research in critical analysis of the manuscripts and Syro-Palestinian archaeology? If you think there would be a "massive exodus" because of some Internet chatter, where have you been for the last ten years?

Internet chatter is one thing. However, to have the church make an exodus from a literal interpretation, the antimormons in Internetland would have a field day...and yes, many would leave with or without the internet and the antimormon internet groupies. But there would be a mass exodus.

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No I wouldn't deny you a lds baptism nor a temple recommend. But of course, I would ask you why you are being baptized into a church whose beliefs you do not believe.

First off, the vast majority of people in the world do not believe 100% everything their church teaches. Secondly, he does believe the beliefs of the church. The church doesn't specifically tell us to literally believe the Book of Mormon.

The way the story of the book of mormon is set up there can be no other way but the literalist interpretation. That is my point. There is no room for the alternative you posted. The church would fall like a house of cards in a tornado.

I think this is one of the reasons why people do not speak of things that are not in concordance with the mainstream beliefs of its members. They think this will somehow harm the church. However, I think this is just a false belief. There is no reason to believe such a church would fail if the teachings of compassion and understanding of one's friends and peers were more properly taught. Therein lies the real problem here.

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It is one thing to have an own interpretation. It is quite another thing to have it confirmed. If confirmed those said people would most likely leave. And the lds church could not claim to be the one true church without a big laugh from the peanut gallery.

Uncle Dale isn't proposing an announcement of "Oh, just kidding... it's false!" He wants less emphasis on literal belief in the BoM as a requirement for salvation. I agree with him. Salvation doesn't come from texts written and "translated" by fallible men. It comes from faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, repentance, baptism for the remission of sins, and the gift of the Holy Ghost.

And just to let you in on a secret, there's been laughter from the peanut gallery at the Church for the last 177 years.

If non-historical or non-literal, the book of mormon would be false, period.

You mean like Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy, Joshua, Judges, are false?

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Uncle Dale isn't proposing an announcement of "Oh, just kidding... it's false!" He wants less emphasis on literal belief in the BoM as a requirement for salvation. I agree with him. Salvation doesn't come from texts written and "translated" by fallible men. It comes from faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, repentance, baptism for the remission of sins, and the gift of the Holy Ghost.

And just to let you in on a secret, there's been laughter from the peanut gallery at the Church for the last 177 years.

You mean like Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy, Joshua, Judges, are false?

Less literalist is okay, as long as it isn't seen as a retreat. No problem with that. All the points you made about repentance etc are right on target.

But any retreat from the literal interpretation would be a disaster for the lds church. The old testament books you mentioned are an entirely different egg in my opinion. The character of the book of mormon depends on the literalist interpretation and its truth claims too.l

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Hey, what we were told about Vietnam was false to begin with, so it must all be false and never happened, right?

No comparison! And many Americans in the 1970's lost faith in the United States in the early 1970's. In the case of the lds church, any backtracking from the original understanding of the book and how it came about, would cause many lds to lose faith in the church, in god, and I dare say, have severe depression.

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