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It'S Too Sacred


Rob Bowman

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Whom do you consider to be the heavyweight critics of LDS apologetics?

"Heavy weight" as in rotund?

Or "heavy weight" as in well researched and scholarly?

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You are so blinded by your antagonism toward me that you have missed how this point actually supports what I am saying. It would be unfair to expect the same sort of paper trail from Paul in the first century that we have from Joseph Smith in the nineteenth century. How this undermines my argument I am sure I do not know.

Uh, let me spell it out for you.

Paul could have told the story many times, remembering it differently or emphasizing different aspects each time, and all we would know is what survived, but when Joseph does the same thing, each version is written down, and survives.

Does that make it clear enough?

I think frankly, there are no "heavyweight" critics of Mormonism.

I feel that I myself have come up with the only arguments I would find threatening to my testimony, and have resolved those- and I am not about to reveal those arguments!

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Mr. Bukowski,

You wrote:

Uh, let me spell it out for you.

Paul could have told the story many times, remembering it differently or emphasizing different aspects each time, and all we would know is what survived, but when Joseph does the same thing, each version is written down, and survives.

Does that make it clear enough?

What is clear is that you have now changed the argument entirely. The argument was that the time lag between Joseph's first vision in 1820 and the official account of it in 1838 has precedent in the time lag between Paul's conversion in AD 34 and the first written accounts of that event (AD 49 and later). Now that this argument by precedent has been refuted, you are appealing to unknown and unknowable hypothetical accounts by Paul of his conversion that theoretically might have contradicted the extant accounts as precedent for Joseph Smith's conflicting extant accounts of his first religious experience.

If you think that argument is worth anything, I have one for you. Perhaps Joseph wrote a confession in 1844 admitting that the Book of Mormon was a fraud, that he was not a prophet of God, and that he had made up the whole business about celestial marriage to satisfy his personal desires. Prove he didn't!

Both arguments (your apparently serious one, and my tongue-in-cheek one) are examples of the fallacy of arguing from ignorance. Arguments must be made on the basis of the evidence we have, not on the basis of evidence we don't have but imagine might exist or have existed.

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"Heavy weight" as in rotund?

:rofl:

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I have been criticized and even excoriated on another thread for supposedly not understanding that when Mormons say that temple rituals should not be publicized because they are "sacred," this term has limited application to rituals. I do understand that context. However, I have noticed in other threads that the idea of something being "sacred" has been used to explain lack of information on non-ritual matters. Three examples come to mind.

(1) I have been told that the reason why very few LDS apostles since Joseph Smith have spoken publicly about seeing the risen Jesus is that the experience was too sacred.

(2) I have also been told that the details of a Mormon's spiritual testimony or experience by which they know that the Book of Mormon (etc.) is true are also too sacred to discuss publicly.

(3) A current thread includes the statement that the reason why we don't hear more stories from Mormons about miracles occurring in fulfillment of a priesthood blessing is that "The experience is not going to be publicized because it is simply [too] sacred." (I understand that the priesthood blessing might be described as a sacred ritual, but not the promised miracle itself.)

So, what should I think about those Mormons who criticized me for not understanding that the temple rituals are secret because they are sacred rituals and not merely because they are "sacred" in a broader sense? Were they wrong? Or were these Mormons wrong to appeal to the "sacred" nature of various non-ritual experiences (visions of Jesus, personal testimonies of the Book of Mormon's truth, miracles of healing, etc.)? Is it possible that Mormons too easily appeal to sacredness to rationalize lack of information on a wide variety of issues?

Do you consider anything sacred; let’s start there. If so, would you discuss it among people who devote their time and efforts to disgrace or belittle it?

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The argument was that the time lag between Joseph's first vision in 1820 and the official account of it in 1838 has precedent in the time lag between Paul's conversion in AD 34 and the first written accounts of that event (AD 49 and later). Now that this argument by precedent has been refuted, . . .

Refuted?

When/where exactly, was that done?

CFR!

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What is clear is that you have now changed the argument entirely.

Guess again.

Moreover, Paul told the same story from day one, reporting in his earliest epistles the same facts: that he had been a persecutor of the church; that Christ had been revealed to him; that this experience turned him from persecutor to apostle. Paul's earliest reference to these facts is probably in Galatians, dated about AD 49--perhaps 15 years or so after his conversion. That is also his very first writing. Joseph Smith, on the other hand, left quite a paper trail of stories about his earliest religious experiences prior to the account that became the official, scriptural account in JS-H. ...

It would be unfair to expect the same sort of paper trail from Paul in the first century that we have from Joseph Smith in the nineteenth century. How this undermines my argument I am sure I do not know.

You don't?

The issue was the "length of the paper trail" and that Joseph's was long, and Paul's short, and therefore Paul's was more believable.

Then I made the point that much of Paul's paper trail could have been lost, or in fact, never even committed to "paper".

Then you said that it would be unfair to even expect that Paul's paper trail would be long.

I agree; that was exactly my point.

The comparison between Paul and Joseph is completely unfair in this regard.

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Do you consider anything sacred; let’s start there. If so, would you discuss it among people who devote their time and efforts to disgrace or belittle it?

This is the real issue- not a derail about Joseph's "paper trail".

This thread is not about the first vision.

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Well, do you consider anything sacred?

We've asked him at least five times in this topic (beginning here and here). I haven't seen his answer.

Lehi

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We've asked him at least five times in this topic (beginning here and here). I haven't seen his answer.

Lehi

I doubt he holds anything sacred. He seems to busy firing up the BBQ for all of our sacred cows.

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If he holds nothing sacred, then he cannot understand why sacredness comes into being, and therfore he is limited in his understanding. Nothing is sacred to him, he cannot fathom then why something could be sacred to someone else.

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If he holds nothing sacred, then he cannot understand why sacredness comes into being, and therfore he is limited in his understanding. Nothing is sacred to him, he cannot fathom then why something could be sacred to someone else.

Indeed.

That's why Mark Beesley and I asked four days ago. It was my premise and at least two others have made the same point.

I do not question that he holds something sacrrd, although it seems less and less likely in my mind. But in order for this conversation to continue in ant meaningful way, then we need to know, at least, that there are things he does regard as sacred (even if he does not want to reveal their nature to us). Or, if not, then we can proceed with that knowledge.

Lehi

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If he holds nothing sacred, then he cannot understand why sacredness comes into being, and therfore he is limited in his understanding. Nothing is sacred to him, he cannot fathom then why something could be sacred to someone else.

As I see it, either he holds nothing sacred (as you say) or he is afraid to reveal what he holds sacred for fear of it being mocked, which would make him a hypocrite.

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The issue here is not the time lag per se, it is the nature of the claim in the context of who is making it and in what circumstances. No one seriously questions that Paul persecuted Christians and then became a Christian after a religious experience of some kind. The reason is that Paul tells on himself in his own letters about his guilt in persecuting Christians. Moreover, Paul told the same story from day one, reporting in his earliest epistles the same facts: that he had been a persecutor of the church; that Christ had been revealed to him; that this experience turned him from persecutor to apostle.

I know plenty of New Testament scholars who are more than willing to call into question whether Paul actually had a vision, the overwhelming majority of whom suggest that Paul acted as the first of a long line of reformers that changed the gospel of Christ to suit their own interests. I do not share their beliefs to the extent to which they are offered, but I think Crossan, Borg, Ehrman, and Spong may well be on to something.

You note that Paul told the same story from day one, yet his accounts differ on a number of significant details. Richard Lloyd Anderson notes:

Many Christians who comfortably accept Paul’s vision reject Joseph Smith’s. However, they aren’t consistent in their criticisms, for most arguments against Joseph Smith’s first vision would detract from Paul’s Damascus experience with equal force.

For instance, Joseph Smith’s credibility is attacked because the earliest known description of his vision wasn’t given until a dozen years after it happened. But Paul’s earliest known description of the Damascus appearance, found in 1 Corinthians 9:1, was recorded about two dozen years after his experience.

Critics love to dwell on supposed inconsistencies in Joseph Smith’s spontaneous accounts of his first vision. But people normally give shorter and longer accounts of their own vivid experiences when retelling them more than once. Joseph Smith was cautious about public explanations of his sacred experiences until the Church grew strong and could properly publicize what God had given him. Thus, his most detailed first vision account came after several others—when he began his formal history.

This, too, parallels Paul’s experience. His most detailed account of the vision on the road to Damascus is the last of several recorded. (See Acts 26:9–20.) And this is the only known instance in which he related the detail about the glorified Savior prophesying Paul’s work among the Gentiles. (See Acts 26:16–18.) Why would Paul include this previously unmentioned detail only on that occasion? Probably because he was speaking to a Gentile audience, rather than to a group of Jewish Christians. Both Paul and Joseph Smith had reasons for delaying full details of their visions until the proper time and place.

You assume the lack of a "long paper trail" with Paul confirms with conclusive assertion that Paul was called of God, and that Joseph's long paper trail debunks his alleged claims to the First Vision because #1 it never happened (your obvious explanation) or #2 he chose not to share (or most likely publish) the experience until 12 years later. Does Paul's choice to not publish his vision until at least 15 years after it happened not also undermine his own account as well? I'm not ruling out that Paul may have shared his vision long before publication, but I'm not ruling that out for Joseph as you have. You seem to only want to accept what is on paper, rather than the implication existing as early as 1831 that Joseph was sharing his experience of the First Vision with others.

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