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Claim the Book of Mormon is “inspired fiction” & still be exalted to Celestial Kingdom?


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38 members have voted

  1. 1. Grant Hardy (FAIR Presentation)

    • I’m LDS and I believe Grant Hardy is WRONG—among other things, one must affirm belief in historical “Nephites” to inherit the Celestial Kingdom
      4
    • I’m LDS and I believe Grant Hardy is RIGHT—one can believe the Book of Mormon contents to be “inspired fiction” and still inherit the Celestial Kingdom
      19
    • I’m LDS & and this poll makes me uncomfortable and/or I think the pollster is incompetent, doesn't understand Mormonism, etc.
      7
    • I’m not LDS
      8


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deleted- misunderstanding

Edited by mfbukowski
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Is the Grant Hardy presentation available?

If not how can we discuss it?

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8 minutes ago, mfbukowski said:

Is the Grant Hardy presentation available?

If not how can we discuss it?

Having not read an article or seen a movie ,has never stopped us from discussing the pros and cons before. Why should we hesitate now? :ph34r:

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14 minutes ago, mfbukowski said:

............................................................

The entire question entails a question which is incompatible with the Book of Mormon's own definition of truth

The question presumes there is a reality outside of "what is sweet to me" in religious questions by which the BOM may be judged as true or false.

This is the correspondence theory and the correspondence theory is not compatible with Alma 32!!

.........................................................  

Yes it is circular but no religious claims can be anything else.  There is no objective basis for judging religious claims other than being "sweet" to us

Correct.  And, if someone is so bold as to claim that there is an objective, scientific basis for judging the BofM (or other religious artifact or claim), he has a very high bar to meet in making his case.  This applies to both negative and positive claims, of course.

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21 hours ago, Five Solas said:

To be sure... 

;0)

And you might take it back one step further and challenge your own assumption concerning "spirit prison"--a Mormon construct, although some say it's borrowed from the Catholic doctrine of Purgatory.  Either way, it's not Biblical (an "intermediate state" is not easily reconciled with Hebrews 9:27).

--Erik

Just to make the point, one could question if belief in the bible grants "salvation" to a group of Buddhists who have an entirely different view of "salvation" (like samsara) that Christians have

The question would go nowhere, because belief in biblical doctrine presumes that biblical doctrine is "correct" and that in fact biblical doctrine itself is perfectly definable in unambiguous terms which is clearly not the case- just look at the number of Christians in the world who disagree with each other.

Either you believe your interpretation of the bible produces salvation or you don't

There is no way to measure which denomination is "right" independent of each denomination's beliefs themselves.

So people agree to disagree and leave it at that.  There is no sense in arguing the position any more than there is "The Democrats are correct and Republicans are wrong"

Republicans and Democrats will just disagree on what that even means.

Edited by mfbukowski
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17 hours ago, salgare said:

Thank you for not insulting me as much this time Robert.  Actually I mostly come to keep up on new issues.  Perhaps you notice I really don't hang around much and for too long.  Same is true for the trailer park actually.  It sounds to me like the Grant Hardy talk is quite significant for those here that support [insert non offensive label here] Mormonism and I'm interested to see the opinions here. 

 

 

What you do not understand is that changes to Brand X Mormonism are only changes to Brand X Mormonism and not changes to TBM Mormonism

If however all TBM Mormons change, then TBM Mormonism changed

You don't improve Fords by working on Chevys .  Labeling is everything.

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25 minutes ago, Robert F. Smith said:

Correct.  And, if someone is so bold as to claim that there is an objective, scientific basis for judging the BofM (or other religious artifact or claim), he has a very high bar to meet in making his case.  This applies to both negative and positive claims, of course.

Yup.

He better be God himself.

You pays your money and you takes your chances.    Didn't Pascal say that? ;)

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1 hour ago, mfbukowski said:

Yup.

He better be God himself.

You pays your money and you takes your chances.    Didn't Pascal say that? ;)

Yeh.  I saw a thick book at FairMormon on the Philosophy of Religion: Selected Readings, 4th ed. (Oxford, 2010), which had a nice chapter on Pascal's Wager.  An introductory college text, with plenty of friendly definitions.  They have it on special for about $51, but it looked worth the price, and it wouldn't hurt a few people here to consider obtaining it.  https://bookstore.fairlds.org/product.php?id_product=1437 .

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4 hours ago, SteveO said:

If the Book of Mormon is a work of fiction, then you're correct, it is eye rollingly silly about who believes what about Christ.

The principle taught in the parable is true whether or not the Book or Mormon is true.

It is also true that Christ teaches all men to do good, as it says in the verse from Second Nephi that you quoted.  

If someone from another religion embraces a teaching that teaches him to do good, do you think that teaching is from Christ or not? 

If you're not sure, see Moroni Chapter 7.  The emphasis there is on the doing, not the dogma, and in fact it even warns against getting caught up in dogma, such as labelling things evil when they are not.   

Remember, Christ's work and his glory are "to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man", not just of Mormons, and he is hard at work among "all nations of the earth" (Second Nephi again). 

Edited by Eek!
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10 hours ago, Calm said:

I think someone who was not brought up in North America might look at it quite differently.  Ocean travel from the Middle East  does not have to end up in America, there were other explorers besides Columbus (iirc even for Americs there are other suggestions such as John Cabot), and the descriptions are close enough imo to match a number of other attitudes towards aboriginal groups.

Columbus himself would probably look at differently. After four voyages from Spain he never knew he ended up in America.

Had a Book of Mormon fallen from the sky into his hands as he returned from his fourth voyage, he likely would have been impressed that it was an accurate account of the Camarini of Camara (Cambodia). So similar to what he read about the Mongols and Tartars in Marco Polo. He might have been moved by the prophecy in 1st Nephi of his voyage across the great waters to the Isle of the Blessed mentioned in so many ancient texts, which he had no doubt was to be found in Further India.

In a way, the fact that the Book of Mormon doesn't resemble the New World at all is the most convincing evidence of its ancient origins. It fits in perfectly with other ancient texts that were written many centuries before Columbus or Joseph Smith. 

 

Edited by Rajah Manchou
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I selected the second option.  The Book of Mormon even if carrying some historic elements most likely has something made up, in terms of history.  if so, then I'd say we're all a bit goofy to pretend to know whether someone who sees the book as inspired fiction must therefore reject the book as not scripture, or whatever was said earlier in the thread. 

If we were to think, truly, that only those who accept the BoM content as absolutely historic information will be those exalted, well, we'd be pretending to know God in a way we can't possibly know.  It can't possibly matter to God whether a person on this earth is going to accept the historicity of the BoM.  That's my take anyway. 

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8 hours ago, Rajah Manchou said:

......................................................

In a way, the fact that the Book of Mormon doesn't resemble the New World at all is the most convincing evidence of its ancient origins. It fits in perfectly with other ancient texts that were written many centuries before Columbus or Joseph Smith. 
 

"the Book of Mormon doesn't resemble the New World at all"??

Perhaps you could expand on or explain that very odd claim.  Mesoamerican civilizations from the Olmec through successor cultures virtually mirror BofM civilizations in their rise and fall and in their specific chronology.  I should have thought that you would have seen the isomorphic picture there, just as you do in SE Asia.  Or am I missing something, Rajah?

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38 minutes ago, Robert F. Smith said:

"the Book of Mormon doesn't resemble the New World at all"??

Perhaps you could expand on or explain that very odd claim.  Mesoamerican civilizations from the Olmec through successor cultures virtually mirror BofM civilizations in their rise and fall and in their specific chronology.  I should have thought that you would have seen the isomorphic picture there, just as you do in SE Asia.  Or am I missing something, Rajah?

Do you see SE Asian cultures virtually mirroring BoM civilizations in their rise and fall and in their specific chronology? I've been posting about it for nearly a year now. I'd be happy to have a discussion about it, but not a one-sided one.

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On ‎8‎/‎13‎/‎2016 at 10:27 PM, smac97 said:

I declined to answer the poll, as I thought the question a bit too broad.  A few thoughts:

1. Faith in Christ is Required for Salvation

I think faith in Christ is required for salvation.  I also think "faith" requires action.  "[F]aith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone" (James 2:17).  Hence we are obligated to obey God's commandments.  Serve our fellow man.  Develop Christlike attributes.  Participate in saving ordinances.  And so on.  Further, D&C 112:20 states:

2. "Inspired Fiction" = "Rejection of The Book of Mormon as Scripture and Joseph Smith as a Prophet"In my view, rejecting the BoM's historicity necessarily requires rejecting the BoM's status as scripture. I don't think that a coherent good faith argument can be made otherwise. In fact, I think the "Inspired Fiction" concept sets a faith-imperiling precedent.  If we reject The Book of Mormon as not having historicity, we reject it as scripture, because The Book of Mormon presents itself as historical, not as a fable.  If we reject The Book of Mormon for what it claims for itself, then we must also reject Joseph Smith, who likewise declared it to be an actual historical document recounting the lives of actual historical people.  

3. Rejection of BOM as Scripture = Rejection of Christ

If we reject The Book of Mormon as scripture, we must also reject Joseph Smith as a liar and deceiver of the first order.  And if we do that, then rejection of the remainder of the Restored Gospel will, I think, necessarily follow, culminating in a rejection of Jesus Christ as the Son of God.

We are warned several times about the perils of rejecting Christ's messengers (emphases added):

4. The Value of The Book of Mormon is Inextricably Linked to its Historicity

A popular refrain from the "Inspired Fiction" folks is that The Book of Mormon has value even if it is entirely fictional, just like the parables of Jesus need not be literally historical in order to have value.  However, I disagree with this comparison.   Parables have value irrespective of their historicity, I agree with that.

5. I Welcome the "Inspired Fiction" Folks in the Church

I think those who seek salvation, but who reject the messengers who bring it, are in serious error.  Nevertheless, as deeply flawed as their position is, I welcome such persons who buy into the "inspired fiction" meme in fellowship in the Church.

1- Agreed. Faith in Jesus is necessary for salvation. We are not required to have faith in any other being (except the Father), or thing.

2- Inspired fiction does NOT necessarily mean a rejection of JS as a prophet or the BoM as scripture. I accept the Book of Job as scripture but find it unlikely a man named Job ever had the experiences written about. Similarly, I can accept some of the lessons of Noah and the flood without believing Noah lived hundreds of years or that the entire earth was covered by water. Story/myth are great teachers and can be inspired by God. Why do we feel God is only a historian. Maybe He's also a great writer of fiction.

3- No. IMO- Conflating belief in Jesus and belief in the BoM is a mistake. Joseph only needs to be viewed as a fraud if you buy into a false dichotomy that teaches it must be so. Otherwise, Joseph, with all of his faults, could still be inspired by God to "produce" a book that will lead people to Christ. It is very clear he didn't understand what "translate" means and that he didn't understand his own translation process for the Book of Abraham, so I find it possible that he didn't understand a lot of what God asked him to do. Maybe God gave him a very vivid dream with a man named Nephi/Moroni as an effort to move the work. Maybe joseph believed everything he taught. I can't prove that he didn't, but it is clear that he was wrong about some things.

4- No. The value of the BoM is in the lessons it teaches, not in its portrayal of history.

5- Thank you.

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Address to the OP: 

Books of Scripture, be it individual or a collect are not history books, but they must contain historical events. Chronology is not as important as truth, in fact truth is almost all that matters. The truth that must be accurate above all else is all truth surrounding Jesus Christ. The truth that he lived (lives), the truth that he is the Son of God, and the truth of the Atonement. If the Bible, Book of Mormon are incorrect as to the day, month or year that he was born is of little to no consequence as to his divinity. Having said that, the Patriarchs and Prophets who speak of him also must be real persons, who lived real lives in order for their testimonies and witness too be true. 

The Bible contains errors as soom issues, but it cannot contain error as to the issues surrounding Jesus Christ.

The Book of Mormon contains these truths and bears witness if all necessary truths concerning Christ and bears witness to the Bible. 

The Doctrine and Covenants bears witness to the Divinity of Jesus Christ and bears witness to the Bible and Book of Mormon as being true. 

Errors are man made, anything touched by man will contain errors. But nothing written by man can be in error as it relates to, God the Father, Jesus Christ, The Son of God, or The Holy Ghost. More specifically the Life, Death, Resurrection and the Atonement of Jesus Christ. Because if these things are not true, then as the Apostle Paul wrote..."we are all men most miserable". Then all that we read, write, or debate is futile. We live, we die and that is all. 

BTW, "I am a believer, in the Great I AM". I know that he lives, and I know that we will all live again with his if we choose. :) 

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7 hours ago, Rajah Manchou said:

Do you see SE Asian cultures virtually mirroring BoM civilizations in their rise and fall and in their specific chronology? I've been posting about it for nearly a year now. I'd be happy to have a discussion about it, but not a one-sided one.

I've been making positive, substantive comments and additions to your very fertile observations and articles now for all that time (didn't you notice?), and would appreciate the same from you on Mesoamerica, Rajah.

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On ‎8‎/‎13‎/‎2016 at 8:29 PM, Five Solas said:

To be sure... 

;0)

And you might take it back one step further and challenge your own assumption concerning "spirit prison"--a Mormon construct, although some say it's borrowed from the Catholic doctrine of Purgatory.  Either way, it's not Biblical (an "intermediate state" is not easily reconciled with Hebrews 9:27).

--Erik

Reconciliation is rather simple. 

Heb 9:27 And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment:

Are we claiming that men die more than once?  NO!

Are we claiming that death comes after the judgment? NO!

 

So, where is this irreconcilability of this verse with LDS doctrine?

 

And why did Christ teach this parable?  

 

Luke 16:19 ¶ There was a certain rich man, which was clothed in purple and fine linen, and fared sumptuously every day:

  20 And there was a certain beggar named Lazarus, which was laid at his gate, full of sores,
  21 And desiring to be fed with the crumbs which fell from the rich man’s table: moreover the dogs came and licked his sores.
  22 And it came to pass, that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels into Abraham’s bosom: the rich man also died, and was buried;
  23 And in hell he lift up his eyes, being in torments, and seeth Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom.
  24 And he cried and said, Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus, that he may dip the tip of his finger in water, and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame.
  25 But Abraham said, Son, remember that thou in thy lifetime receivedst thy good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things: but now he is comforted, and thou art tormented.
  26 And beside all this, between us and you there is a great gulf fixed: so that they which would pass from hence to you cannot; neither can they pass to us, that would come from thence.
  27 Then he said, I pray thee therefore, father, that thou wouldest send him to my father’s house:
  28 For I have five brethren; that he may testify unto them, lest they also come into this place of torment.
  29 Abraham saith unto him, They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them.
  30 And he said, Nay, father Abraham: but if one went unto them from the dead, they will repent.
  31 And he said unto him, If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded, though one rose from the dead.

Sounds a lot like a description of "Spirit Prison" to me.

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17 minutes ago, Vance said:

Reconciliation is rather simple. 

Heb 9:27 And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment:

Are we claiming that men die more than once?  NO!

Are we claiming that death comes after the judgment? NO!

So, where is this irreconcilability of this verse with LDS doctrine?

And why did Christ teach this parable?  

Luke 16:19 ¶ There was a certain rich man, which was clothed in purple and fine linen, and fared sumptuously every day:

  20 And there was a certain beggar named Lazarus, which was laid at his gate, full of sores,
  21 And desiring to be fed with the crumbs which fell from the rich man’s table: moreover the dogs came and licked his sores.
  22 And it came to pass, that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels into Abraham’s bosom: the rich man also died, and was buried;
  23 And in hell he lift up his eyes, being in torments, and seeth Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom.
  24 And he cried and said, Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus, that he may dip the tip of his finger in water, and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame.
  25 But Abraham said, Son, remember that thou in thy lifetime receivedst thy good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things: but now he is comforted, and thou art tormented.
  26 And beside all this, between us and you there is a great gulf fixed: so that they which would pass from hence to you cannot; neither can they pass to us, that would come from thence.
  27 Then he said, I pray thee therefore, father, that thou wouldest send him to my father’s house:
  28 For I have five brethren; that he may testify unto them, lest they also come into this place of torment.
  29 Abraham saith unto him, They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them.
  30 And he said, Nay, father Abraham: but if one went unto them from the dead, they will repent.
  31 And he said unto him, If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded, though one rose from the dead.

Sounds a lot like a description of "Spirit Prison" to me.

Vance you often offer fresh insights into the gospel. Thanks ;)

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1 hour ago, Robert F. Smith said:

I've been making positive, substantive comments and additions to your very fertile observations and articles now for all that time (didn't you notice?), and would appreciate the same from you on Mesoamerica, Rajah.

Yes, I have noticed and I've appreciated your engagement. Even if it hasn't been to specifics on the model I have proposed I have appreciated learning more about Meso through the links you share.

IMO Mesoamerica does not resemble the geography in the Book of Mormon. But there are many interesting cultural and historical parallels. My belief is, as Coe has said, that Mesoamerica and Southeast Asia are "parallel civilizations". Almost every Meso scholar I've met here in Asia has been surprised by the similarities and many are making comparative studies of the two in order to understand both better. I think this same process can be useful for Book of Mormon studies. One complication is that most comments we share are on threads unrelated to comparing models, and to go deeply into a conversation risks threadjacking. I've (non)-started a couple of threads on the Asia model to hopefully get some feedback from Meso experts and would be thrilled to have yours. 

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On 8/15/2016 at 10:25 AM, HappyJackWagon said:

1- Agreed. Faith in Jesus is necessary for salvation. We are not required to have faith in any other being (except the Father), or thing.

Well, sorta.  We need to have "faith" in Christ, of course.  But I guess we differ in terms of what that "faith" entails, as we are also called upon to have a "testimony" of certain things (as evidenced by the Temple Recommend questions).  For example, we are required to have a "testimony of the restoration of the gospel in these the latter days."  I don't see how the "Inspired Fiction" folks could in good faith say something like this (EDIT TO ADD: The following is a hypothetical statement by someone from the "Inspired Fiction" school of thought.  It is not a quote of HappyJackWagon.):

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"I reject The Book of Mormon for what it claims to be.  And I reject what Joseph Smith said about it over and over throughout his life and until his death.  And I also reject what the Witnesses said about it.  All of these people were either deluded/insane, or else were part of a grand conspiracy to deceive others regarding the origins of The Book of Mormon.  Perhaps God 'inspired' these people to participate in this conspiracy to defraud and deceive.

I reject what Joseph Smith said about being visited by the Angel Moroni.  No such being ever existed.  Joseph was either lying about that, or God 'inspired' him into believing that lie.

I also reject that Joseph Smith found actual gold plates.  He fabricated them, perhaps with help from unknown other co-conspirators.  And then he spent the rest of his life lying about those plates, saying they were ancient records which an angel led him to discovery, when in fact one of this happened at all.  Joseph made all of this up, or else God 'inspired' him into making all of these things up and into lying to everyone around him for the rest of his life.

But notwithstanding my belief that the 'keystone of our religion' is a product of massive fraud, lies and collusion, and despite my belief that God was possibly the author of this mountain of lies and deceptions, I nevertheless have a 'testimony of the restoration of the gospel in these, the latter days.'"

 

Yep.  Not seein' it.

For me, I cannot bifurcate faith in Christ from action, as meaningful faith requires it.  You seem to agree with that.  I suppose where we diverge is what "actions" must accompany faith in order for that faith to have meaning, to be acceptable to God.  Consider this:

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 Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.

 Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works?

 And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.

(Matthew 7:21-23)

And this:

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 For behold, God hath said a man being evil cannot do that which is good; for if he offereth a gift, or prayeth unto God, except he shall do it with real intent it profiteth him nothing.

 For behold, it is not counted unto him for righteousness.

 For behold, if a man being evil giveth a gift, he doeth it grudgingly; wherefore it is counted unto him the same as if he had retained the gift; wherefore he is counted evil before God.

 And likewise also is it counted evil unto a man, if he shall pray and not with real intent of heart; yea, and it profiteth him nothing, for God receiveth none such.

(Moroni 7:6-9)

And this:

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And Jesus said unto him, No man, having put his hand to the plough, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.

(Luke 9:62)

And this:

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These things saith the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of the creation of God;

I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot.

So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth.

(Revelation 3:14-16)

As I see it, merely mouthing a profession of faith is not enough, because actions matter and are a part of faith.  

Nor is doing seemingly "good" things for the wrong reasons, because motives and intent matter.

Nor is having a faith of half measures (hand to the plow then looking back, being "lukewarm").

So what are we to do as to points of Christ's doctrines that we find unpalatable?  Are we at liberty to reject or ignore them (or, perhaps worst of all, are we at liberty to do what the "Inspired Fiction" folks do, which is radically revise them until we do find them palatable)?  Apparently not.  In John 6, we see that some of the Savior's followers were not able/willing to abide by some of this teachings, and so left "and walked no more with him."  Others, however, withstood the difficulties because, notwithstanding the strangeness and difficulty of some of the things the Savior, they knew something (emphases added):

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 24 When the people therefore saw that Jesus was not there, neither his disciples, they also took shipping, and came to Capernaum, seeking for Jesus.

...

28 Then said they unto him, What shall we do, that we might work the works of God?

...

35 And Jesus said unto them, I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst.

36 But I said unto you, That ye also have seen me, and believe not.

...

40 And this is the will of him that sent me, that every one which seeth the Son, and believeth on him, may have everlasting life: and I will raise him up at the last day.

41 The Jews then murmured at him, because he said, I am the bread which came down from heaven.

42 And they said, Is not this Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? how is it then that he saith, I came down from heaven?

43 Jesus therefore answered and said unto them, Murmur not among yourselves.

...

51 I am the living bread which came down from heaven: if any man eat of this bread, he shall live for ever: and the bread that I will give is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.

52 The Jews therefore strove among themselves, saying, How can this man give us his flesh to eat?

53 Then Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, ye have no life in you.

54 Whoso eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, hath eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day.

55 For my flesh is meat indeed, and my blood is drink indeed.

56 He that eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, dwelleth in me, and I in him.

57 As the living Father hath sent me, and I live by the Father: so he that eateth me, even he shall live by me.

...

60 Many therefore of his disciples, when they had heard this, said, This is an hard saying; who can hear it?

61 When Jesus knew in himself that his disciples murmured at it, he said unto them, Doth this offend you?

62 What and if ye shall see the Son of man ascend up where he was before?

63 It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life.

64 But there are some of you that believe not. For Jesus knew from the beginning who they were that believed not, and who should betray him.

65 And he said, Therefore said I unto you, that no man can come unto me, except it were given unto him of my Father.

66 From that time many of his disciples went back, and walked no more with him.

67 Then said Jesus unto the twelve, Will ye also go away?

68 Then Simon Peter answered him, Lord, to whom shall we go? thou hast the words of eternal life.

 69 And we believe and are sure that thou art that Christ, the Son of the living God.

(John 6)

This chapter speaks of disciples of Christ who rejected some portions of Christ's teachings, and in so doing ended up rejecting Christ as well.  I think rejecting The Book of Mormon for what it claims to be may be functionally equivalent to what occurred in John 6.  Some of Christ's disciples were willing to accept some portions of His message, but not all of it.  They murmured at those parts they disliked.  They characterized the parts they disliked as "an hard saying."  And because they were unwilling to accept some parts of Christ's message, these people "went back, and walked no more with him."

I think the same question given in verse 61 above can be applied to those who reject The Book of Mormon for what it claims to be: "Doth this offend you?"

I also think the "murmuring" above is perhaps on par with presenting a profoundly problematic approach to The Book of Mormon, one that requires us to reject what the text says about itself, what Joseph Smith said about it, what the Witnesses said, one that requires us to believe that God is the author of a huge fraud and deception about the "keystone of our religion."

I think that the origin story of The Book of Mormon is a pretty amazing claim.  It is "an hard saying," if you will.  It offends some of the Saints.  While I can understand their reticence at accepting The Book of Mormon for what it claims to be and what Joseph Smith and the Witnesses claimed about it, I think we are obligated to accept that amazing claim.  Through the Spirit.  And with faith.  I don't think we are at liberty to take the message which God has revealed to us and reject and radically redefine it so that it suits our preferences in a way that does violence to the message itself.

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2- Inspired fiction does NOT necessarily mean a rejection of JS as a prophet or the BoM as scripture. I accept the Book of Job as scripture but find it unlikely a man named Job ever had the experiences written about. Similarly, I can accept some of the lessons of Noah and the flood without believing Noah lived hundreds of years or that the entire earth was covered by water. Story/myth are great teachers and can be inspired by God. Why do we feel God is only a historian. Maybe He's also a great writer of fiction.

"Inspired Fiction" is incompatible with the text of The Book of Mormon.  The Book of Mormon declares itself to be a historical record.  Joseph Smith declared it to be a historical record.  So to reject The Book of Mormon as a historical record is to reject the book for what it claims to be, and is also to make Joseph Smith a liar and/or lunatic.

The "Inspired Fiction" approach to The Book of Mormon is inherently incoherent.  It requires us to reject what the text says and what Joseph Smith said in favor of what the "Inspired Fiction" folks have imputed onto the text.  Those imputations are incompatible with the text, and with the testimonies of Joseph Smith and the Witnesses.  So the "Inspired Fiction" concept is confusion, and as we know, "God is not the author of confusion."

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3- No. IMO- Conflating belief in Jesus and belief in the BoM is a mistake.

Well, I did not really intend to conflate the two.  As someone else aptly stated, there are many people who believe in Christ but who do not accept The Book of Mormon.

Rather, my point is that the central conceit of the "Inspired Fiction" concept - that we are at liberty to disregard what The Book of Mormon says for itself (and it undeniably presents itself as a historical record of actual people and actual events) - has a logical corollary in claiming we are at liberty to disregard what Jesus Christ said for Himself.  As Elder Oaks so eloquently put it, "The argument that it makes no difference whether the Book of Mormon is fact or fable is surely a sibling to the argument that it makes no difference whether Jesus Christ ever lived."

If The Book of Mormon can be fictional and still have value, then so too can Jesus Christ be fictional and still have value.  But that value does not pertain to salvation.  The "Inspired Fiction" approach to The Book of Mormon requires a rejection of The Book of Mormon for what it claims to be, and reduces it to something along the lines of a self-help book written by Anthony Robbins or Dale Carnegie.  The Book of Mormon as "Inspired Fiction" would just be a quaint collection of bromides, any or all of which can be disregarded at the whim of the reader.  Likewise, a fictional Jesus Christ becomes just another teacher like Kahlil Gibran or Theodore Roethke.  His teachings would just be a quaint collection of aphorisms, any or all of which can be disregarded at the whim of the reader.

The reasoning that allows the "Inspired Fiction" folks to reject The Book of Mormon for what it claims to be can be used with equal utility to reject Jesus Christ for what he claimed to be.  That was my point.  And since what Jesus Christ claimed for Himself was the most important message in the history of forever, I don't think we should resort to quirky bits of logic that enable ourselves and others to disregard His message willy-nilly (and which "logic" also underlies the "Inspired Fiction" concept).

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Joseph only needs to be viewed as a fraud if you buy into a false dichotomy that teaches it must be so.

But it's not a false dichotomy.  The "Inspired Fiction" folks must account for the mountains of statements made in the text, and also by Joseph Smith, the Witnesses, and others which present the book as a historical record.

Joseph Smith said he met an angel who was a resurrected Nephite named Moroni, and that Moroni was the son of an ancient prophet named Mormon, who was "descendant of Nephi" (Mormon 1:5), who was the son of Lehi.  Moroni then directed Joseph Smith to a place where he recovered actual, physical golden plates, which were later attested to by the Three Witnesses under miraculous circumstances and by the Eight Witnesses under mundane circumstances.

However, according to the "Inspired Fiction" folks, there was no such person as Lehi, hence no Nephi, hence no Nephites/Lamanites, hence no Mormon, hence no Moroni, hence no records kept and abridged and buried in the earth, hence no gold plates, hence . . . Joseph Smith was a liar or a fraud.  And so were The Three Witnesses.  And so were The Eight Witnesses (or else they were duped).

The "Inspired Fiction" explanation for The Book of Mormon requires fraud, deceit, insanity, conspiracy, and so forth on a tremendous scale.  Joseph Smith lied or was deluded about the Angel Moroni, the gold plates, translating the plates, showing the plates to the Witnesses, and so on.  Emma Smith was either in on this conspiracy (since she claims to have felt the plates), as was Mary Musselman Whitmer.  Huge levels of coordinated deceit and/or mass delusion/insanity are necessary components of the "Inspired Fiction" approach to The Book of Mormon.  And what's worse, the "Inspired Fiction" approach would have us believe that God the Father and His Son, Jesus Christ, were the authors of this coordinated deceit and/or mass delusion/insanity.  

The Holy Ghost "inspired" Joseph Smith to lie about Moroni?  

Or did the Spirit lie to Joseph Smith about Moroni?  

Did the Spirit delude Joseph into imagining a visitation from Moroni?

Did the Spirit delude Joseph into imagining the plates?  The great weight of historical evidence indicates that there was an actual, physical artifact answering to the description of "a record engraved on thin goldlike sheets" which Joseph Smith claims to have "translated and published {} as the Book of Mormon."  The physical artifact "measured about 6 inches by 8 inches (15.2 cm by 20.3 cm), were 6 inches (15.2 cm) thick, and weighed about 50 pounds (22.7 kg)."

How do the "Inspired Fiction" folks account for the plates?  

Did Joseph Smith fabricate the plates which he showed to the Witnesses?  

Or did they all lie about seeing the plates?  

Or were they all collectively deluded/insane about the plates?

And if Joseph Smith fabricated these plates, do the "Inspired Fiction" folks contend that he did so under direction from God?  

Do the "Inspired Fiction" folks really claim that God is the author of a grand conspiracy to defraud and mislead (I mean, how else can we characterize an enterprise centering on Joseph Smith fabricating a physical artifact and then passing it off to others as being of ancient origin)?

Is there some article or book or resource which I can use to sort out these very basic issues pertaining to the "Inspired Fiction" concept?  Have these folks made any effort to address these issues?

This is the main contention I have with the "Inspired Fiction" folks.  They are leading others up a blind alley.  An alley that has the real potential to cause these others to reject Joseph Smith, the Witnesses, the divine origins of The Book of Mormon, and even to reject Jesus Christ.

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Otherwise, Joseph, with all of his faults, could still be inspired by God to "produce" a book that will lead people to Christ.  It is very clear he didn't understand what "translate" means and that he didn't understand his own translation process for the Book of Abraham, so I find it possible that he didn't understand a lot of what God asked him to do. Maybe God gave him a very vivid dream with a man named Nephi/Moroni as an effort to move the work. Maybe joseph believed everything he taught. I can't prove that he didn't, but it is clear that he was wrong about some things.

So just to be clear:

You are claiming that God "inspired" Joseph Smith to fabricate a story about numerous visitations from an angel, and about that angel leading him to some gold plates buried in a hill?

And you are also claiming that God "inspired" Joseph Smith to fabricate an artifact answering to the description of ancient metal plates?

And you are also claiming that God "inspired" Joseph Smith to lie to each and every person in his family and of his acquaintance by claiming that his fabricated plates were actually an ancient record, when in fact they were not?

And you are also claiming that God "inspired" the Three Witnesses to either lie or be deceived or collectively deluded into testifying about their viewing the plates ("we declare with words of soberness, that an angel of God came down from heaven, and he brought and laid before our eyes, that we beheld and saw the plates, and the engravings thereon; and we know that it is by the grace of God the Father, and our Lord Jesus Christ, that we beheld and bear record that these things are true ...  And ... the voice of the Lord commanded us that we should bear record of it...")?

And you are also claiming that God "inspired" Joseph Smith to present the Eight Witnesses with the plates he had fabricated, and to lie to those witnesses, and to coax them into testifying that about the plates ("which have the appearance of gold; and as many of the leaves as the said Smith has translated we did handle with our hands; and we also saw the engravings thereon, all of which has the appearance of ancient work, and of curious workmanship")?

And you are claiming that all of these lies and deceptions, which according to you were "inspired" by God, are intended to "lead people to Christ?"

I am really not understanding what your position is.  Can you perhaps see why the "Inspired Fiction" concept is so deeply problematic?  It forces us to believe that God is the author of lies and deceit.  A lot of folks would have a hard time stomaching such a concept, such that they would reject it, and hence reject God, or at least the teachings about God as promulgated by the LDS Church.  And who can blame them?  Who would want to buy into a belief system that teaches you that God manipulates His children through lies and deceit?

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4- No. The value of the BoM is in the lessons it teaches, not in its portrayal of history.

Which is functionally equivalent to saying "The value of Jesus Christ is the lessons that He taught, not in Him being the Son of God and the Savior of mankind."

These are logically incoherent statements.  Jesus Christ taught many things about how we should behave, but He also taught us about having faith in Him.  By your reasoning, however, we are free to disregard those parts.

Similarly, The Book of Mormon teaches many things about how we should behave, but it also teaches that it is an actual, historical record (the most important piece of that history being the visitation of Jesus Christ to the New World).  By your reasoning, however, we are free to disregard those parts.  

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5- Thank you.

Again, I will always welcome such persons who buy into the "inspired fiction" meme in fellowship in the Church.  However, as much as I value them and wish them well, I will not stand by and let pass unchallenged what I see as the sowing of seeds of profound error, perhaps even apostasy (on par, in terms of severity, with the things Amasa Lyman taught).  It is not within my province to make pronouncements on the eschatological destiny of the "Inspired Fiction" folks, which is why I have not and will not respond directly to the poll in the OP.  I will leave such matters to those who are in authority.  However, when I see such folks publicly attempting to persuade others in the Church to what I find to be a profoundly illogical, incoherent approach to sacred doctrinal matters, I feel compelled to speak and defend the doctrines of the Church against such efforts.

Thanks,

-Smac

Edited by smac97
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At the risk of oversimplifying Smac97's excellent analysis of the inspired fiction theory, that theory requires much more of a suspension of disbelief than does the actual account of how the Book of Mormon came to be and how the Gospel of Jesus Christ was restored to the Earth.  It's as though God said, "Let's see: What will I need to 'restore' my Gospel?  I'll need a hologram named Moroni, and some ersatz metal plates, and ersatz metal swords, and an ersatz Liahona ..."  And pretty soon, there are enough cards in the inspired fiction house that removing just one of them puts the whole house in danger of complete collapse.  As far-fetched as the actual restoration account might be to those who cannot accept it because they are of too empirical a bent, the efforts of inspired fiction proponents to "save" the restoration account are, to me, even more far-fetched.

Interaction with actual beings purporting to be from the world the Book of Mormon describes, as well as interaction with actual physical objects purportedly created by those actual beings, are what throws the gauntlet down with respect to the Book of Mormon.  Well-meaning inspired-fiction proponents attempt to deal with the throwing down of that gauntlet by pretending that the gauntlet simply doesn't exist, and that simply doesn't work for me.  To each, his or her own.

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14 minutes ago, Kenngo1969 said:

At the risk of oversimplifying Smac97's excellent analysis of the inspired fiction theory, that theory requires much more of a suspension of disbelief than does the actual account of how the Book of Mormon came to be and how the Gospel of Jesus Christ was restored to the Earth.  It's as though God said, "Let's see: What will I need to 'restore' my Gospel?  I'll need a hologram named Moroni, and some ersatz metal plates, and ersatz metal swords, and an ersatz Liahona ..."  And pretty soon, there are enough cards in the inspired fiction house that removing just one of them puts the whole house in danger of complete collapse.  As far-fetched as the actual restoration account might be to those who cannot accept it because they are of too empirical a bent, the efforts of inspired fiction proponents to "save" the restoration account are, to me, even more far-fetched.

Interaction with actual beings purporting to be from the world the Book of Mormon describes, as well as interaction with actual physical objects purportedly created by those actual beings, are what throws the gauntlet down with respect to the Book of Mormon.  Well-meaning inspired-fiction proponents attempt to deal with the throwing down of that gauntlet by pretending that the gauntlet simply doesn't exist, and that simply doesn't work for me.  To each, his or her own.

So are you saying that the physicalists simply don't have enough faith? ;)

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