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What Has The New Farms Produced?


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Obviously, my observations about the question of belief in the historicity of the BOM have been grossly misunderstood and misrepresented. Claims are being made that I am attacking the testimonies of the Bradford Junta. I am not. As I said before, I am confident that all members of the Bradford Junta are faithful members of the Church, and that they believe they are doing the right thing for the Church and the Institute by their coup.

On the other hand, for months I have been perplexed by the actions of the Bradford Junta. Nothing they did made any sense to me at all. Even if MI continued its traditional approach to the apologetic and scholarly study of the historical BOM, nothing prevented the Junta from doing more secularly oriented Mormon Studies that were more congenial to them. One did not have to suppress historicist and apologetic BOM studies in order to do secular Mormon Studies. Bradford well knew that Dan was the star fund-raiser for the Institute. Why in the world would he treat him with such utter contempt, essentially guaranteeing the (at least temporary) collapse of fund-raising efforts? Why discontinue the publication of materials which were of the most interest to the general LDS public, who have by light-years been the most important supporters of the Institute for the past quarter of a century. Jerry's behavior seemed literally crazy to me.

Then it struck me that if he and his Junta reject the historicity of the BOM, everything he is doing suddenly makes perfect sense. Articles and books discussing a historical BOM are fundamentally bogus, and can only serve to embarrass the Church. If the BOM is, in fact, ahistorical, then in the long run, it will be much better for the Institute to abandon its absurd studies of a "historical" BOM, and focus on the BOM as a nineteenth century phenomena, since that is what it really is. This allows you to create a faithful view of a fictional BOM, which is--in their view--fundamental to the future survival of the Church. If the BOM is not historical, then the Bradford Junta's decision to shift the focus of the Institute makes perfect sense. They sincerely believe that by doing so they are serving the long-term interests of the Church. They are acting, in their own way, as faithful members. They believe that, while this may cause a great deal of temporary problems and loss of funding, they are confident that in they long run it will save both the Institute and the Church.

Now I do not know if in fact this is what they believe. As I noted, I have never seen any member of the Junta make any statement about the historicity of the BOM, pro or con. So my scenario may be a complete fantasy. All I’m saying is that this scenario makes overall sense of Bradford’s actions. Otherwise his behavior seems to me erratic and irrational.

The belief that the BOM is not historical, but is modern (inspired) fiction is not uncommon among members of the Church, though still represents a small minority. Many who hold such a belief remain faithful temple recommend-holding members of the Church. Those who hold this belief do not view it as an apostate belief. (On the other hand, all apostates share the belief that the BOM is ahistorical.) They believe it is perfectly consistent with faithful membership in the church. In one sense they are right. I know of people who have been in bishoprics who reject BOM historicity.

Personally, I believe that a rejection of historicity of the BOM necessarily entails a rejection of the essential founding narratives of the Church, since if there was no Moroni and no golden plates, JS was either delusional or lying when he discusses such thing. The inevitable result is that one must believe JS was a “soft”-prophet, that is, a vaguely inspired religious genius who did things that could be described as prophet-like in a very broad sense of the term.

Be that as it may, asking someone if they believe in the historicity of the BOM is not a crime. It is simple inquiry into intellectual ideas. Academics do this all the time. Do you believe in post-modernism? Are you a Progressive? It’s like asking if you believe in evolution or special creation, the big bang or young earth creationism. Do you believe in a global or local flood (or a legendary flood)? One can be a faithful member of the Church and believe in a hemispheric BOM geography or a regional one. One can posit a “heartland” or Mesoamerican model.

So, I am simply trying to understand their position. I’m trying to make sense of what is going on. I’m asking perfectly reasonable and legitimate questions. If theological liberals want the inspired fiction model of the BOM to be accepted as legitimate by church members, they need to start standing up for it. And if that is the position of the Bradford Junta, they should publicly stand by it. If it is not, then it is a very simple matter to say, “I believe in the historicity of the Book of Mormon.”

Edited by Bill Hamblin
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There was a thread here several months ago about some Indian names being evidence of the BoM. It was a silly argument. I tracked down a source showing that the names were given by Mormon missionaries and settlers, I went to the library and copied it out. As a google search revealed, someone on the other board approved.

I believe in the historicity of the BoM. I believe in the historicity of the restoration. I uphold the first presidency and the twelve as prophets, seers, and revelators. I believe in the godhead. Heck, I even believe in a global flood. Does a poster's approval there make us ideological bedfellows?

I don't believe in a global flood. But I hope we can still be friends.

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I note, as I predicted, that the member of the Bradford Junta have ceased posting here. I suspect this is another edict from Bradford ordering silence among Institute employees.

On the other hand, a clear and unambiguous statement from the Director about a wide array of issues would do much to remedy the situation. Alas.

Light, as they say, is the best disinfectant.

Junta will be considered an inflammatory label. Stop using it.

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So, I am simply trying to understand their position. I’m trying to make sense of what is going on. I’m asking perfectly reasonable and legitimate questions. If theological liberals want the inspired fiction model of the BOM to be accepted as legitimate by church members, they need to start standing up for it. And if that is the position of the Bradford Junta, they should publicly stand by it. If it is not, then it is a very simple matter to say, “I believe in the historicity of the Book of Mormon.”

You're just digging a deeper hole, and I don't think you're being misrepresented. On matters of faith, I would find it deeply offensive for somebody on this board to say to me: "Bear your testimony to me right now that Thomas S. Monson is a prophet, otherwise I won't believe anything you say in the future." As a matter of principle I wouldn't respond to such a demand on a public board from another member of the church.

The simple facts remain. The "Junta," truly a derogatory term," is the team employed to carry the banner for MI which I have long admired, respected and helped to fund as a Platinum supporter. At present, I see no reason to believe that what they produce won't be supportive of BYU's academic and spiritual mission. Nor am I persuaded to the contrary when somebody demands on this board they they bear their testimony of the Book of Mormon. Not one whit.

Now, how does this make me feel about the Interpreter? Well, my feelings have changed, certainly. I feel poorly about things now.

This is board nanny stuff. You will be removed if you put up one more post analyzing a debate partner.

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You're just digging a deeper hole, and I don't think you're being misrepresented. On matters of faith, I would find it deeply offensive for somebody on this board to say to me: "Bear your testimony to me right now that Thomas S. Monson is a prophet, otherwise I won't believe anything you say in the future." As a matter of principle I wouldn't respond to such a demand on a public board from another member of the church.

The simple facts remain. The "Junta," truly a derogatory term," is the team employed to carry the banner for MI which I have long admired, respected and helped to fund as a Platinum supporter. At present, I see no reason to believe that what they produce won't be supportive of BYU's academic and spiritual mission. Nor am I persuaded to the contrary when somebody demands on this board they they bear their testimony of the Book of Mormon. Not one whit.

Now, how does this make me feel about the Interpreter? Well, my feelings have changed, certainly. I feel poorly about things now.

I am not demanding anything of them. They can, and will, do whatever they please. I am fairly confident they will simply ignore my question, as they are in a perpetual state of stonewalling. But that doesn't mean it is illegitimate to ask coherent and relevant questions about their ideas. That's they only way to arrive at understanding.

And I note, that, while I can't ask relevant questions about ideas, you get to attack me as a moral reprobate. Seems fair.

Edited by Bill Hamblin
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Junta will be considered an inflammatory label. Stop using it.

Frankly, I think it perfectly encapsulates exactly what is going on at the Maxwell Institute, and I'll use it if I want.

Feel free to ban me.

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This is board nanny stuff. You will be removed if you put up one more post analyzing a debate partner.

At this point, I resign from this board. I have a little blog on LDS material, often legal-related, which you all might follow. See the link below.

I was originally invited to this board years and years ago to lend my expertise on MMM issues, and it was lots of fun dealing with those. But, at this point, I know not what a "Board Nanny" might be and I can't derive any instructions from the moderators.

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Now, how does this make me feel about the Interpreter? Well, my feelings have changed, certainly. I feel poorly about things now.

That's both unfortunate and unjustified. Interpreter has very deliberately not attempted to make this an us vs. them situation.

Quite to the contrary. We've regularly posted notices, in the few months since our launch in early August, of Maxwell Institute events and Maxwell Institute publications.

However we may feel personally about what was done, we've kept Interpreter out of the fray.

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The belief that the BOM is not historical, but is modern (inspired) fiction is not uncommon among members of the Church, though still represents a small minority. Many who hold such a belief remain faithful temple recommend-holding members of the Church. Those who hold this belief do not view it as an apostate belief. (On the other hand, all apostates share the belief that the BOM is ahistorical.) They believe it is perfectly consistent with faithful membership in the church. In one sense they are right. I know of people who have been in bishoprics who reject BOM historicity.

Exactly! But when you want to gin up a mob to suppress a "witch hunt," why bother with the obvious?

Personally, I believe that a rejection of historicity of the BOM necessarily entails a rejection of the essential founding narratives of the Church, since if there was no Moroni and no golden plates, JS was either delusional or lying when he discusses such thing. The inevitable result is that one must believe JS was a “soft”-prophet, that is, a vaguely inspired religious genius who did things that could be described as prophet-like in a very broad sense of the term.

I entirely concur.

Be that as it may, asking someone if they believe in the historicity of the BOM is not a crime. It is simple inquiry into intellectual ideas. Academics do this all the time. Do you believe in post-modernism? Are you a Progressive? It’s like asking if you believe in evolution or special creation, the big bang or young earth creationism. Do you believe in a global or local flood (or a legendary flood)? One can be a faithful member of the Church and believe in a hemispheric BOM geography or a regional one. One can posit a “heartland” or Mesoamerican model.

So, I am simply trying to understand their position. I’m trying to make sense of what is going on. I’m asking perfectly reasonable and legitimate questions. If theological liberals want the inspired fiction model of the BOM to be accepted as legitimate by church members, they need to start standing up for it. And if that is the position of the Bradford Junta, they should publicly stand by it. If it is not, then it is a very simple matter to say, “I believe in the historicity of the Book of Mormon.”

I was going to comment on this, but apparently I have now been banned from the thread by the capricious moderators here at MDDB.

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On matters of faith, I would find it deeply offensive for somebody on this board to say to me: "Bear your testimony to me right now that Thomas S. Monson is a prophet, otherwise I won't believe anything you say in the future." As a matter of principle I wouldn't respond to such a demand on a public board from another member of the church.

I agree with this, especially how you put it, Bob. It's sort of McCarthy-ish to demand that Bradford, et. al. affirm or deny belief in the historicity of the Book of Mormon. I don't think I would respond to such demands, either, simply because I wouldn't want to make it look like I was dancing when being pistol-whipped.

And yet . . .

I also think such "pistol-whipping" is terribly effective. In this case, given Bradford, et. al.'s statements on apologetics, Mormon Studies, standards of academia, etc., I think everyone would be truly shocked if they were to come out with an affirmative statement (on their own or "pistol-whipped" out of them) that "Book of Mormon people, places, and events really existed and really happened."

Such abject literalism seems to go against the guiding principles laid out by Bradford (inasmuch as this can be untangled from his hard-to-follow, lofty academic jargon). It is this kind of "uni-browed," "knuckle-dragging" approach to Mormon Studies that Bradford, et. al. seek to overcome through using:

the following characteristics: (1) It necessarily requires the study of more than just one tradition; in other words, it is inherently a comparative, even cross-cultural, endeavor. (2) It advocates studying religious traditions in comparison with known ideological and philosophical challenges to religion that often function much the same way in society. (3) Because of the multidimensional makeup of systems of faith, it requires that such phenomena be studied from the perspective of several disciplines. (4) It proceeds on the basis of maintaining a distinction between descriptive and structural studies on the one hand and attempts at grappling with religious value judgments and truth claims on the other. (5) And, of particular importance, it requires that students learn how to approach their subjects from the vantage point of those they are studying.
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Frankly, I think it perfectly encapsulates exactly what is going on at the Maxwell Institute, and I'll use it if I want.

Feel free to ban me.

Rofl. That is funny. I Lol'd when I saw the term. To be honest I am not really following this whole thing that much. So it may or may not "encapsulate" what is going on. I'll just take your word for it. I wish this place did not have to be so serious all the time. I truely miss the good ol' days.
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Oh, well. I don't know that I had much more to add to what I have already said, so I will depart with a tranquil soul and a smile on my face.

I see that your avatar has a smile too. Good times.
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