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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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11 hours ago, smac97 said:

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). 1- 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:

Yep.  Not seein' it.

2- 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:

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").

3- 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):

...

4- 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.

5- "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."

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).

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.

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?

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.  

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

That's super long. It will be challenging to address each issue so I'll choose a couple. However, I'd ask you to check your formatting as you begin by quoting me, then you quote someone else but it still appears to be attributed to me. I didn't say it and I don't want people thinking I did. It's your second quote- Please fix by removing or attributing it to the right person.

1- I agree that in the TR interview the church requires us to proclaim a testimony of the restoration of the church. I view that as the church's requirement, not God's. Besides, "restoration" can mean so many things. There are nuanced ways to believe in the continuing restoration of the church without accepting all the miraculous truth claims.

2- I think it's important not to conflate belief with faith. To me they are very different things.

3- As all of Christ's teachings in the scriptures are funneled to us through imperfect mediators/prophets/authors I think we have a duty to study out any issues we find unpalatable and seek inspiration. Should I follow something I think is wrong simply because someone else told me Jesus said so? I don't think so. I am responsible for my own beliefs and actions so it is too simplistic and even lazy to be obedient to someone because they claim to be an authority. If what they say is verified by the spirit, then great. I'm happy to follow. But I won't follow someone just because they tell me to.

4- And if the spirit doesn't testify of the validity of the truth claims should I still believe it?

5- This issue is part of the collateral damage of the Book of Abraham. Joseph claimed that book was the words of Abraham, written by his own hand on the papyrus, when the evidence indicates otherwise. Even the church backs away from that claim in the BoA essay, and views the translation process as more of a "catalyst" for inspiration. What if the seer stone was likewise a "catalyst" for producing the BoM? The BoA isn't what Joseph claimed so why is it a huge stretch to think that the BoM likewise isn't what Joseph claimed? If both were produced by inspiration, using catalysts of stones or papyri, should they be rejected outright? I think it's possible for God to inspire things and for Joseph to not even understand the process himself.

 

 

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11 minutes ago, HappyJackWagon said:

... Should I follow something I think is wrong simply because someone else told me Jesus said so? I don't think so. I am responsible for my own beliefs and actions so it is too simplistic and even lazy to be obedient to someone because they claim to be an authority. If what they say is verified by the spirit, then great. I'm happy to follow. But I won't follow someone just because they tell me to.

 

I think the problem with your question is that it removes the discussion from the context in which it was taking place.  There are differing theories as to the locale in which the Book of Mormon takes place. The fact that one or more of such theories may be "wrong" is, in the eternal scheme of things, of relatively little consequence.  On the other hand, as I said regarding Tal "The Talibachman" Bachman's comment to Helen Whitney in her documentary The Mormons that if his mission president had asked him to strap on a bomb he would have done so, "Read your scriptures, strap on a bomb: It's all the same to us!"  Of course, it's not, but it only becomes an issue if someone having or claiming stewardship over us asks (or commands) us to do that, or to do something similar.  

Yes, clearly, inherently, mala in se "wrong" does exist, and yes, hopefully, we would have a decision to make if someone having or claiming stewardship over us were to ask us to do such a thing.  But if the "inspired fiction" camp (or even the empiricist camp) turns out to be right, the worst thing that may be said about those who accept the Restoration account on its own terms is that they were gullible.  Gullibility is one thing; evil is entirely another.  Yes, we all have a responsibility to seek our own witness about whatever we're asked to do, and to not follow a leader who asks us to violate our conscience by doing something that clearly is evil: God gave us all consciences for that very purpose. However, while such a scenario raises many interesting hypothetical conundrums, absent an actually-occurring example, its real-world applicability is limited.

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On 8/13/2016 at 10:39 PM, Brant Gardner said:

 I'm sure that the historicity of the Book of Mormon doesn't matter to anyone's salvation, because very few people who read it care about historicity, understand what historicity is, understand the issues surrounding historicity, or why anyone would spend so much time talking about it.

Let me make it very simple for you.  Can someone receive exaltation if they believe that Joseph Smith lied about the visit of Moroni, that the eight witnesses lied about the plates, that the account of Christ appearing in America -- the second witness of Christ -- is fiction?

Depending on your answer this will  tell us whether the issue of the historicity of the BOM is important.  I believe that it should make one pause to consider the question.

But maybe that;s just me.

Edited by cdowis
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On 8/16/2016 at 10:29 AM, HappyJackWagon said:

That's super long. It will be challenging to address each issue so I'll choose a couple. However, I'd ask you to check your formatting as you begin by quoting me, then you quote someone else but it still appears to be attributed to me. I didn't say it and I don't want people thinking I did. It's your second quote- Please fix by removing or attributing it to the right person.

Done.

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1- I agree that in the TR interview the church requires us to proclaim a testimony of the restoration of the church. I view that as the church's requirement, not God's.

That seems a bit . . . convenient.  I suppose we can also disregard the Word of Wisdom as "the church's requirement, not God's."  And the Law of Tithing, And the Law of Chastity.  Pretty much any concept or teaching a person dislikes can be jettisoned on a whim by characterizing them as "the Church's requirement, not God's."

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Besides, "restoration" can mean so many things. There are nuanced ways to believe in the continuing restoration of the church without accepting all the miraculous truth claims.

"Nuanced ways."  That's an interesting word for it.  So which truth claims are, in your view, optional?

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2- I think it's important not to conflate belief with faith. To me they are very different things.

I'm not sure what that means.

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3- As all of Christ's teachings in the scriptures are funneled to us through imperfect mediators/prophets/authors I think we have a duty to study out any issues we find unpalatable and seek inspiration.

Agreed.

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Should I follow something I think is wrong simply because someone else told me Jesus said so? I don't think so.

Hence the need to have a testimony of the Restored Gospel in these, the latter days.  Not all testators are on equal footing.  

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I am responsible for my own beliefs and actions so it is too simplistic and even lazy to be obedient to someone because they claim to be an authority.  If what they say is verified by the spirit, then great. I'm happy to follow. But I won't follow someone just because they tell me to.

Agreed.

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4- And if the spirit doesn't testify of the validity of the truth claims should I still believe it?

The truth claims of the LDS Church are out there for evaluation, study, and prayer.  I think we should examine them, exercise a measure of faith, seek guidance from God, and see what happens.

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5- This issue is part of the collateral damage of the Book of Abraham. Joseph claimed that book was the words of Abraham, written by his own hand on the papyrus, when the evidence indicates otherwise.

I don't think that is an accurate summary of the issue. Here are some thoughts I wrote about this earlier today.

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Even the church backs away from that claim in the BoA essay,

No, it doesn't.

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and views the translation process as more of a "catalyst" for inspiration.

The Gospel Topics essay about The Book of Abraham acknowledges the "catalyst" theory regarding how The Book of Abraham was translated, but does not impute fraud or deceit onto Joseph Smith.  In contrast, the existence of the plates and the testimony of the witnesses necessarily requires the "Inspired Fiction" folks to accuse Joseph Smith of fraudulent/deceitful behavior (such as fabricating a set of plates and passing them off as an ancient artifact, tricking or colluding with the Witnesses regarding the plates, etc.).   

The catalyst concept (which, I should note, is only presented as a theory by the Church) still allows for historicity.  That is, that Abraham did really exist, really had the experiences described in the BOA, etc., but that "the papyri provided an occasion for meditation, reflection, and revelation" and "catalyzed a process whereby God gave to Joseph Smith a revelation about the life of Abraham, even if that revelation did not directly correlate to the characters on the papyri."  In contrast, the "Inspired Fiction" necessarily requires wholesale rejection of pretty much everything presented in The Book of Mormon (it is "fiction," therefore Lehi did not exist, nor did Lehi, nor did any of their descendants, none of the events described in the text take place, including the visitation of Jesus Christ in 3 Nephi, and Joseph Smith was lying or deluded/insane when he claims to have been visited by a resurrected Nephite named Moroni, that there were actual physical plates, that those plates were of ancient origin, that an angel descended from heaven and showed these plates to the Three Witnesses ("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...") that this happened "by the gift and power of God," and on and on and on).

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What if the seer stone was likewise a "catalyst" for producing the BoM?

I don't understand.  Are you suggesting The Book of Mormon is historical, but that the text was not based on the engravings on the Gold Plates?  Or are you suggesting The Book of Mormon text is ahistorical?  I'm not sure I understand your position.

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The BoA isn't what Joseph claimed

Well, it may be.  The verity your assertion is certainly not self-evident.

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so why is it a huge stretch to think that the BoM likewise isn't what Joseph claimed?  If both were produced by inspiration, using catalysts of stones or papyri, should they be rejected outright?

What does this mean?  Do you concede that the Gold Plates existed?  If so, where did these plates come from?  

Did Joseph find them buried in a hill, or not?  

Did he fabricate them?  

Did someone (other than Moroni) give them to him?  

If so, why did he lie about an angel leading him to them as they lay buried in a hill?

How do you account for the testimony of the Three Witnesses?  Were they all lying?  

Were they collectively deluded/insane at the same moment in time?  If so, how did they all experience the exact same delusion?

How do you account for the testimony of the Eight Witnesses?  If Joseph fabricated plates, and if he showed them to the Witnesses, and if he encouraged them to testify about the plates, he did these things under false pretenses, with an intent to deceive, did he not?

Coming back to Joseph, how do you account for the voluminous angelic visitations he claimed to have experienced (some lists are available hereand here)?  Was he lying about all of them?  Some of them?  Just the ones pertaining to The Book of Mormon?

Did a resurrected Nephite named Moroni appear to Joseph multiples times, or not?  If he did appear to Joseph, did he lie to Joseph?  Or did he tell Joseph to lie?  Did he tell Joseph to fabricate plates and pass them off as an ancient record?

I really don't understand this vague, nebulous stuff you folks keep throwing around.  With respect, it comes across as rather . . . evasive.  Couldn't you just come out and explain these things?  Why hide your viewpoint, your alternative theory for origins of The Book of Mormon?  Do you even have an alternative theory?  

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I think it's possible for God to inspire things and for Joseph to not even understand the process himself.

So do I.  But I'm less persuaded that God would inspire Joseph Smith to resort to lies and deceit on a grand scale as the means of bringing souls to Christ through The Book of Mormon.  Lies and deceit and delusion and secret combinations to defraud people about The Book of Mormon are necessary components of the "Inspired Fiction" concept.

Thanks,

-Smac

Edited by smac97
  • Upvote 3
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12 hours ago, smac97 said:

Done.

Thanks

That seems a bit . . . convenient.  I suppose we can also disregard the Word of Wisdom as "the church's requirement, not God's."  And the Law of Tithing, And the Law of Chastity.  Pretty much any concept or teaching a person dislikes can be jettisoned on a whim by characterizing them as "the Church's requirement, not God's."

I also think it is convenient when a person or entity requires others to support it. Following the WoW as essential for temple attendance and therefore exaltation is the church's requirement. It's a policy. The WoW revelation specifically states it is NOT given by way of commandment. The law of tithing (as interpreted by the church) is also a church requirement but the general principle is from God.

"Nuanced ways."  That's an interesting word for it.  So which truth claims are, in your view, optional?

Any truth claim which is not confirmed to me by the spirit.

I'm not sure what that means.

Agreed.

Hence the need to have a testimony of the Restored Gospel in these, the latter days.  Not all testators are on equal footing.  

Agreed.

The truth claims of the LDS Church are out there for evaluation, study, and prayer.  I think we should examine them, exercise a measure of faith, seek guidance from God, and see what happens.

I agree. And after doing so, after taking Moroni's promise and after experimenting upon the word as Alma suggests, and the spirit doesn't testify of the truth and the fruit does not appear to be good, then it is incumbent to reject those parts as not being from God.

I don't think that is an accurate summary of the issue. Here are some thoughts I wrote about this earlier today.

No, it doesn't.

The Gospel Topics essay about The Book of Abraham acknowledges the "catalyst" theory regarding how The Book of Abraham was translated, but does not impute fraud or deceit onto Joseph Smith.  In contrast, the existence of the plates and the testimony of the witnesses necessarily requires the "Inspired Fiction" folks to accuse Joseph Smith of fraudulent/deceitful behavior (such as fabricating a set of plates and passing them off as an ancient artifact, tricking or colluding with the Witnesses regarding the plates, etc.).   

Sure it does. Joseph claimed certain things about the BoA and its translation method. The church clearly doesn't know how to explain the BoA which is why it suggests the catalyst theory, as well as others, for explanations for why the BoA isn't what Joseph claimed. They may not be certain about what IS truth of BoA origins, but that institutional uncertainty is enough for me to consider the church to be backing away from it's origins.

The catalyst concept (which, I should note, is only presented as a theory by the Church) still allows for historicity.  That is, that Abraham did really exist, really had the experiences described in the BOA, etc., but that "the papyri provided an occasion for meditation, reflection, and revelation" and "catalyzed a process whereby God gave to Joseph Smith a revelation about the life of Abraham, even if that revelation did not directly correlate to the characters on the papyri."  In contrast, the "Inspired Fiction" necessarily requires wholesale rejection of pretty much everything presented in The Book of Mormon (it is "fiction," therefore Lehi did not exist, nor did Lehi, nor did any of their descendants, none of the events described in the text take place, including the visitation of Jesus Christ in 3 Nephi, and Joseph Smith was lying or deluded/insane when he claims to have been visited by a resurrected Nephite named Moroni, that there were actual physical plates, that those plates were of ancient origin, that an angel descended from heaven and showed these plates to the Three Witnesses ("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...") that this happened "by the gift and power of God," and on and on and on).

This has nothing to do with whether or not Abraham existed but rather the source of the BoA is what Joseph claimed. The fact that the church even considers the catalyst theory as a possibility means they are unsure of the origins.

I don't understand.  Are you suggesting The Book of Mormon is historical, but that the text was not based on the engravings on the Gold Plates?  Or are you suggesting The Book of Mormon text is ahistorical?  I'm not sure I understand your position.

I have my own personal believe about it but I'm suggesting it doesn't matter. If God inspires the BoM or the BoA, it doesn't matter if it's fiction or non-fiction. It's inspired by God, meaning there must be something to learn from it. A fictional status doesn't change that.

Well, it may be.  The verity your assertion is certainly not self-evident.

What does this mean?  Do you concede that the Gold Plates existed?  If so, where did these plates come from?  

Did Joseph find them buried in a hill, or not?

Doesn't matter 

Did he fabricate them?  

Doesn't matter

Did someone (other than Moroni) give them to him?  

Doesn't matter

If so, why did he lie about an angel leading him to them as they lay buried in a hill?

Doesn't matter and I don't know for sure that he did. But if he did, perhaps it's because the story fit with his magical worldview and he felt the miraculous claims would give him credibility. But I don't know and it doesn't matter.

How do you account for the testimony of the Three Witnesses?  Were they all lying?  

Maybe, maybe not. Perhaps they were led into a meditative state in which Joseph suggested things for them to envision to see with their spiritual eyes. Perhaps those who hefted the plates were holding a heavy box they assumed contained the plates. Don't know, doesn't matter.

Were they collectively deluded/insane at the same moment in time?  If so, how did they all experience the exact same delusion?

Group led meditation is one possibility that comes to mind, but I don't know and it doesn't matter.

How do you account for the testimony of the Eight Witnesses?  If Joseph fabricated plates, and if he showed them to the Witnesses, and if he encouraged them to testify about the plates, he did these things under false pretenses, with an intent to deceive, did he not?

Maybe. Not sure. Doesn't matter. But it seems clear that the affidavit of testimony he had them all sign was prepared for them to sign. After signing and making a significant truth claim, it would be challenging for them to make any other claim without it impacting upon their character.

Coming back to Joseph, how do you account for the voluminous angelic visitations he claimed to have experienced (some lists are available hereand here)?  Was he lying about all of them?  Some of them?  Just the ones pertaining to The Book of Mormon?

Or maybe he had dreams/visions instead of visitations. Dreams and visions can be explained in many ways. Maybe he lied about some piously to build up the church and God's work. Don't know for sure.

Did a resurrected Nephite named Moroni appear to Joseph multiples times, or not?  If he did appear to Joseph, did he lie to Joseph?  Or did he tell Joseph to lie?  Did he tell Joseph to fabricate plates and pass them off as an ancient record?

Don't know. Doesn't matter. Maybe he dreamed it. Maybe he made it up. Was the angel named Moroni or Nephi? Does that matter in any way?

I really don't understand this vague, nebulous stuff you folks keep throwing around.  With respect, it comes across as rather . . . evasive.  Couldn't you just come out and explain these things?  Why hide your viewpoint, your alternative theory for origins of The Book of Mormon?  Do you even have an alternative theory?  

All of these things are narrative details in providing an origin story for a book purported to be the Word of God. Just because the origin story, or elements of it, aren't accurate, doesn't mean it's not the word of God.

So do I.  But I'm less persuaded that God would inspire Joseph Smith to resort to lies and deceit on a grand scale as the means of bringing souls to Christ through The Book of Mormon.  Lies and deceit and delusion and secret combinations to defraud people about The Book of Mormon are necessary components of the "Inspired Fiction" concept.

Thanks,

-Smac

 

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7 hours ago, HappyJackWagon said:

Done.

Thanks

That seems a bit . . . convenient.  I suppose we can also disregard the Word of Wisdom as "the church's requirement, not God's."  And the Law of Tithing, And the Law of Chastity.  Pretty much any concept or teaching a person dislikes can be jettisoned on a whim by characterizing them as "the Church's requirement, not God's."

I also think it is convenient when a person or entity requires others to support it. Following the WoW as essential for temple attendance and therefore exaltation is the church's requirement. It's a policy. The WoW revelation specifically states it is NOT given by way of commandment. The law of tithing (as interpreted by the church) is also a church requirement but the general principle is from God.

"Nuanced ways."  That's an interesting word for it.  So which truth claims are, in your view, optional?

Any truth claim which is not confirmed to me by the spirit.

I'm not sure what that means.

Agreed.

Hence the need to have a testimony of the Restored Gospel in these, the latter days.  Not all testators are on equal footing.  

Agreed.

The truth claims of the LDS Church are out there for evaluation, study, and prayer.  I think we should examine them, exercise a measure of faith, seek guidance from God, and see what happens.

I agree. And after doing so, after taking Moroni's promise and after experimenting upon the word as Alma suggests, and the spirit doesn't testify of the truth and the fruit does not appear to be good, then it is incumbent to reject those parts as not being from God.

I don't think that is an accurate summary of the issue. Here are some thoughts I wrote about this earlier today.

No, it doesn't.

The Gospel Topics essay about The Book of Abraham acknowledges the "catalyst" theory regarding how The Book of Abraham was translated, but does not impute fraud or deceit onto Joseph Smith.  In contrast, the existence of the plates and the testimony of the witnesses necessarily requires the "Inspired Fiction" folks to accuse Joseph Smith of fraudulent/deceitful behavior (such as fabricating a set of plates and passing them off as an ancient artifact, tricking or colluding with the Witnesses regarding the plates, etc.).   

Sure it does. Joseph claimed certain things about the BoA and its translation method. The church clearly doesn't know how to explain the BoA which is why it suggests the catalyst theory, as well as others, for explanations for why the BoA isn't what Joseph claimed. They may not be certain about what IS truth of BoA origins, but that institutional uncertainty is enough for me to consider the church to be backing away from it's origins.

The catalyst concept (which, I should note, is only presented as a theory by the Church) still allows for historicity.  That is, that Abraham did really exist, really had the experiences described in the BOA, etc., but that "the papyri provided an occasion for meditation, reflection, and revelation" and "catalyzed a process whereby God gave to Joseph Smith a revelation about the life of Abraham, even if that revelation did not directly correlate to the characters on the papyri."  In contrast, the "Inspired Fiction" necessarily requires wholesale rejection of pretty much everything presented in The Book of Mormon (it is "fiction," therefore Lehi did not exist, nor did Lehi, nor did any of their descendants, none of the events described in the text take place, including the visitation of Jesus Christ in 3 Nephi, and Joseph Smith was lying or deluded/insane when he claims to have been visited by a resurrected Nephite named Moroni, that there were actual physical plates, that those plates were of ancient origin, that an angel descended from heaven and showed these plates to the Three Witnesses ("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...") that this happened "by the gift and power of God," and on and on and on).

This has nothing to do with whether or not Abraham existed but rather the source of the BoA is what Joseph claimed. The fact that the church even considers the catalyst theory as a possibility means they are unsure of the origins.

I don't understand.  Are you suggesting The Book of Mormon is historical, but that the text was not based on the engravings on the Gold Plates?  Or are you suggesting The Book of Mormon text is ahistorical?  I'm not sure I understand your position.

I have my own personal believe about it but I'm suggesting it doesn't matter. If God inspires the BoM or the BoA, it doesn't matter if it's fiction or non-fiction. It's inspired by God, meaning there must be something to learn from it. A fictional status doesn't change that.

Well, it may be.  The verity your assertion is certainly not self-evident.

What does this mean?  Do you concede that the Gold Plates existed?  If so, where did these plates come from?  

Did Joseph find them buried in a hill, or not?

Doesn't matter 

Did he fabricate them?  

Doesn't matter

Did someone (other than Moroni) give them to him?  

Doesn't matter

If so, why did he lie about an angel leading him to them as they lay buried in a hill?

Doesn't matter and I don't know for sure that he did. But if he did, perhaps it's because the story fit with his magical worldview and he felt the miraculous claims would give him credibility. But I don't know and it doesn't matter.

How do you account for the testimony of the Three Witnesses?  Were they all lying?  

Maybe, maybe not. Perhaps they were led into a meditative state in which Joseph suggested things for them to envision to see with their spiritual eyes. Perhaps those who hefted the plates were holding a heavy box they assumed contained the plates. Don't know, doesn't matter.

Were they collectively deluded/insane at the same moment in time?  If so, how did they all experience the exact same delusion?

Group led meditation is one possibility that comes to mind, but I don't know and it doesn't matter.

How do you account for the testimony of the Eight Witnesses?  If Joseph fabricated plates, and if he showed them to the Witnesses, and if he encouraged them to testify about the plates, he did these things under false pretenses, with an intent to deceive, did he not?

Maybe. Not sure. Doesn't matter. But it seems clear that the affidavit of testimony he had them all sign was prepared for them to sign. After signing and making a significant truth claim, it would be challenging for them to make any other claim without it impacting upon their character.

Coming back to Joseph, how do you account for the voluminous angelic visitations he claimed to have experienced (some lists are available hereand here)?  Was he lying about all of them?  Some of them?  Just the ones pertaining to The Book of Mormon?

Or maybe he had dreams/visions instead of visitations. Dreams and visions can be explained in many ways. Maybe he lied about some piously to build up the church and God's work. Don't know for sure.

Did a resurrected Nephite named Moroni appear to Joseph multiples times, or not?  If he did appear to Joseph, did he lie to Joseph?  Or did he tell Joseph to lie?  Did he tell Joseph to fabricate plates and pass them off as an ancient record?

Don't know. Doesn't matter. Maybe he dreamed it. Maybe he made it up. Was the angel named Moroni or Nephi? Does that matter in any way?

I really don't understand this vague, nebulous stuff you folks keep throwing around.  With respect, it comes across as rather . . . evasive.  Couldn't you just come out and explain these things?  Why hide your viewpoint, your alternative theory for origins of The Book of Mormon?  Do you even have an alternative theory?  

All of these things are narrative details in providing an origin story for a book purported to be the Word of God. Just because the origin story, or elements of it, aren't accurate, doesn't mean it's not the word of God.

And I'm not closer to understanding the reasoning or evidentiary basis for the "Inspired Fiction" theory.

Rather than evaluating the evidence at hand, all you've got is a series of "Don't knows," "Doesn't matters," "Maybes," "Maybe nots," and sheer speculation ("Perhaps they were led into a meditative state..." "Perhaps those who hefted the plates were holding a heavy box..." "Group led meditation is one possibility that comes to mind..." "Maybe he lied..." "Maybe he dreamed it..." "Maybe he made it up...").

Apparently the "Inspired Fiction" theory is essentially devoid of reasoning and evidentiary analysis, and is instead based on any-explanation-about-The-Book-of-Mormon-will-do-other-than-the-one-given-by-Joseph-Smith-and-the-Witnesses-and-the-LDS-Church-esque speculation.

Oh, well.  At least I've tried to understand it.

I would very much appreciate it if anyone can point me to a resource written by someone in the "Inspired Fiction" school of thought which explains the reasoning and evidentiary analysis of that theory.

Thanks,

-Smac

Edited by smac97
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41 minutes ago, smac97 said:

And I'm not closer to understanding the reasoning or evidentiary basis for the "Inspired Fiction" theory.

Rather than evaluating the evidence at hand, all you've got is a series of "Don't knows," "Doesn't matters," "Maybes," "Maybe nots," sheer speculation ("Perhaps they were led into a meditative state..." "Perhaps those who hefted the plates were holding a heavy box..." "Group led meditation is one possibility that comes to mind..." "Maybe he lied..." "Maybe he dreamed it..." "Maybe he made it up...").

Color me unimpressed.  Apparently the "Inspired Fiction" theory is essentially devoid of reasoning and evidentiary analysis, and is instead based on any-explanation-about-The-Book-of-Mormon-will-do-other-than-the-one-given-by-Joseph-Smith-and-the-Witnesses-and-the-LDS-Church-esque speculation.

Oh, well.  At least I tried.

I would very much appreciate it if anyone can point me to a resource written by someone in the "Inspired Fiction" school of thought which explains the reasoning and evidentiary analysis of that theory.

Thanks,

-Smac

If you're looking for evidence of the inspired fiction theory then you'll naturally be disappointed. It can't be proved. So the reasoning for the inspired fiction theory is very similar to the traditional truth claims model

The truth claims of the miracles can't be proven either. Do you have evidence for those questions you asked me? Of course not. Where are the plates, the liahona, the sword of laban, the interpreters? Where are the physical evidences of the BoM civilization and peoples? There isn't any. So it's taken on faith.

The point I'm trying to make with you is that IF God inspires scripture like the BoM or the BoA, it doesn't matter if it's historical. It doesn't matter if Joseph lied to make it seem more believable to some people. It doesn't matter if he simply misunderstood his experiences IF God inspired him to do certain things. The details just don't matter. Joseph's moral limitations wouldn't matter.

But it may suggest that we don't have a complete and accurate understanding of God's requirements of worthiness and obedience. But that possibility doesn't seem unreasonable, does it? Why should we think we understand God perfectly?

Edited by HappyJackWagon
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6 hours ago, HappyJackWagon said:

If you're looking for evidence of the inspired fiction theory then you'll naturally be disappointed.

Yes, I'm starting to perceive that.

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It can't be proved.

I'm not looking for "proof."  I'm just looking for reasoning and evidentiary analysis.  So far, I'm coming up snake-eyes.

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So the reasoning for the inspired fiction theory is very similar to the traditional truth claims model

No, it's not.  Not at all.  

The explanation for the origins of The Book of Mormon per Joseph Smith and the Witnesses and the LDS Church have no corollary in the "Inspired Fiction" theory.  There is no evidence.  There is no reasoning (any-explanation-about-The-Book-of-Mormon-will-do-other-than-the-one-given-by-Joseph-Smith-and-the-Witnesses-and-the-LDS-Church-esque speculation does not count in my book).

Quote

But neither can the truth claims of the miracles.

Generally, you are correct.

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Do you have evidence for those? Nope.

Yep.  The Book of Mormon is evidence.  The Gold Plates are evidence.  The testimonies of Joseph Smith and the Witnesses are evidence.  Most importantly, The Spirit is evidence, albeit considerably more subjective.

I have yet to see any corollary evidences pertaining to the "Inspired Fiction" theory.  Have any of these folks claimed that they have received a spiritual witness that The Book of Mormon is fictional?  

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Where are the plates, the liahona, the sword of laban, the interpreters?

Not here.  Physical artifacts are not the only source of evidence, however.  The text of The Book of Mormon is evidence.  The statements by the Witnesses are evidence.

Quote

Where are the physical evidences of the BoM civilization and peoples? There isn't any. So it's taken on faith.

I don't think we need to limit the scope of available evidence to the "physical."  There exists textual and testimonial evidence for the "historicity"-based explanation of The Book of Mormon which was presented by Joseph Smith, the Witnesses, and which is now presented by the LDS Church.  

In contrast, there is no textual or testimonial evidence (or reasoning) supporting the "Inspired Fiction" theory.

We still ultimately take such things on faith, though.  You are correct as to that point.

Quote

The point I'm trying to make with you is that IF God inspires scripture like the BoM or the BoA, it doesn't matter if it's historical.

Yes, it does.  It matters a lot.

It matters in the same sense that it matters whether Jesus Christ was "historical."  If He is fictional, then faith in him doesn't do much for our salvation.  Relying on Him would be like a drowning man trying to rely on an imaginary life preserver.

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It doesn't matter if Joseph lied to make it seem more believable to some people.  It doesn't matter if he simply misunderstood his experiences IF God inspired him to do certain things. The details just don't matter. Joseph's moral limitations wouldn't matter.

Then it also doesn't matter if the authors of the New Testament and The Book of Mormon lied about Jesus Christ being the Son of God.

Right?

Thanks,

-Smac

Edited by smac97
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11 minutes ago, smac97 said:

Yes, I'm starting to perceive that.

I'm not looking for "proof."  I'm just looking for reasoning and evidentiary analysis.  So far, I'm coming up snake-eyes.

No, it's not.  Not at all.  

The explanation for the origins of The Book of Mormon per Joseph Smith and the Witnesses and the LDS Church have no corollary in the "Inspired Fiction" theory.  There is no evidence.  There is no reasoning (any-explanation-about-The-Book-of-Mormon-will-do-other-than-the-one-given-by-Joseph-Smith-and-the-Witnesses-and-the-LDS-Church-esque speculation does not count in my book).

Generally, you are correct.

Yep.  The Book of Mormon is evidence.  The Gold Plates are evidence.  The testimonies of Joseph Smith and the Witnesses are evidence.  Most importantly, The Spirit is evidence, albeit considerably more subjective.

I have yet to see any corollary evidences pertaining to the "Inspired Fiction" theory.  Have any of these folks claimed that they have received a spiritual witness that The Book of Mormon is fictional?  

Not here.  Physical artifacts are not the only source of evidence, however.  The text of The Book of Mormon is evidence.  The statements by the Witnesses are evidence.

Ha!  Nice try in restricting the scope of evidence to the "physical."  There exists textual and testimonial evidence for "historicity" explanation of The Book of Mormon which was presented by Joseph Smith, the Witnesses, and which is now presented by the LDS Church.  In contrast, there is no evidence or reasoning underlying the "Inspired Fiction" theory.  

We still ultimately take such things on faith, though.  You are correct as to tha tpoint.

Yes, it does.  It matters a lot.

It matters in the same sense that it matters whether Jesus Christ was "historical."  If He is fictional, then faith in him doesn't do much for our salvation.  Relying on Him would be like a drowning man trying to rely on an imaginary life preserver.

Then it also doesn't matter if the authors of the New Testament and The Book of Mormon lied about Jesus Christ being the Son of God.

Right?

Thanks,

-Smac

You're seriously claiming the BoM is it's own evidence? It is evidence of miraculous truth claims because it exists, but it's existence cannot likewise be evidence of it being written by inspiration? Weak, man.

The BoM being historical isn't even in the same ball park as Jesus being real. One is the savior of the world. The other points to him.

You view my opinion as unfounded and I see yours in the same way. The difference is, you're claiming that the view of inspired fiction is damning in some way whereas I make no claims about the miracle origin story. God has inspired scripture in the past that isn't historical so I don't see why it's a stretch to think that could be the case with the BoM as well. Allowing for the inspired fiction possibility allows people to hold on to some faith in the restoration even if they can't accept the miraculous truth claims. Refusing the possibility of inspired fiction further alienates the individuals trying to maintain some faith in the church. Your view is damaging and exclusive. I view the inspired theory as at least possible and hopeful. It's a middle ground for those who can't believe the miracles but don't want to completely reject the BoM or the restoration. I can't understand why that would be threatening to you.

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Only fifteen years ago, I was truly impressed with how LDS expositors could defend traditional Mormonism against the attacks of non-LDS. It seemed to me that everyone, both LDS and non-LDS were in agreement that if the Book of Mormon was fictional, the ramifications for LDS truth claims were shaken to the foundations. But if this board is any indicator, significant numbers of Mormons have become persuaded that the Book of Mormon is inspired fiction. 

I wonder if anyone thinks LDS missionaries should be allowed to share this new approach to Book of Mormon truth claims with potential converts? Can't those of you who want to back off of true history see how "uninspiring" such fiction would be to someone not already LDS? Think about how it would be growing up LDS believing that the Book of Mormon was "inspired fiction", and being asked as you approach adulthood to go on a mission, to be a little bit weird to the world, and to observe the commandments and Word of Wisdom. I think you have already begun to lose the youth. Watering down the message hasn't worked for my religion and it won't for yours either.

Rory

Edited by 3DOP
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4 minutes ago, 3DOP said:

Only fifteen years ago, I was truly impressed with how LDS expositors could defend traditional Mormonism against the attacks of non-LDS. It seemed to me that everyone, both LDS and non-LDS were in agreement that if the Book of Mormon was fictional, the ramifications for LDS truth claims were shaken to the foundations. But if this board is any indicator, significant numbers of Mormons have become persuaded that the Book of Mormon is inspired fiction. 

I wonder if anyone thinks LDS missionaries should be allowed to share this new approach to Book of Mormon truth claims with potential converts? Can't those of you who want to back off of true history see how "uninspiring" such fiction would be to someone not already LDS? Think about how it would be growing up LDS believing that the Book of Mormon was "inspired fiction", and being asked as you approach adulthood to go on a mission, to be a little bit weird to the world, and to observe the commandments and Word of Wisdom. I think you have already begun to lose the youth. Watering down the message hasn't worked for my religion and it won't for yours either.

Rory

I agree that "inspired fiction" may not be as powerful as miracles and angelic visitations, but should we not allow for the possibility of inspired fiction simply because it's not as easy a sell? Is that not a possible reason for Joseph creating the miraculous truth claims narrative. Just because a claim may have a powerful impact doesn't mean it's right.

I'm not interested in propping up the religion for the religions sake. Please note my signature line.

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19 minutes ago, 3DOP said:

Only fifteen years ago, I was truly impressed with how LDS expositors could defend traditional Mormonism against the attacks of non-LDS. It seemed to me that everyone, both LDS and non-LDS were in agreement that if the Book of Mormon was fictional, the ramifications for LDS truth claims were shaken to the foundations. But if this board is any indicator, significant numbers of Mormons have become persuaded that the Book of Mormon is inspired fiction. 

I wonder if anyone thinks LDS missionaries should be allowed to share this new approach to Book of Mormon truth claims with potential converts? Can't those of you who want to back off of true history see how "uninspiring" such fiction would be to someone not already LDS? Think about how it would be growing up LDS believing that the Book of Mormon was "inspired fiction", and being asked as you approach adulthood to go on a mission, to be a little bit weird to the world, and to observe the commandments and Word of Wisdom. I think you have already begun to lose the youth. Watering down the message hasn't worked for my religion and it won't for yours either.

Rory

I don't think the opinions  expressed on this board are necessarily indicative of any trends in the church as a whole. 

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There is plenty of archeological, cultural ties, artifacts, and dna evidence that supports the Book of Mormon as authentic history. Unfortunately all the Mesoamerican apologist want to stick with a unproven model.

 

Artifacts

https://mormonbandwagon.com/dave/tribe-manasseh-3/

 

Hebrew ties to native Americans

https://mormonbandwagon.com/dave/tribe-manasseh-4/

 

DNA

 

https://mormonbandwagon.com/dave/x2aj/

 

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1 hour ago, HappyJackWagon said:

You're seriously claiming the BoM is it's own evidence?

I am saying the text of The Book of Mormon must be accounted for (certainly something more than endless repetitions of "Don't know" and "Doesn't matter").  It came from somewhere.  Consider this statement by Hugh Nibley:

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“There is no point at all to the question: Who wrote the Book of Mormon? It would have been quite as impossible for the most learned man alive in 1830 to have written the book as it was for Joseph Smith. And whoever would account for the Book of Mormon by any theory suggested so far—save one—must completely rule out the first forty pages.”

And this one:

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The book itself declares that it is an authentic product of the Near East. It gives a full and circumstantial account of its own origin. It declares that it is but one of many, many such books that have been produced in the course of history and may be hidden in sundry places at this day. It places itself in about the middle of a long list of sacred writings, beginning with the patriarchs and continuing down to the end of human history. It cites now-lost prophetic writings of prime importance, giving the names of their authors. It traces its own cultural roots in all directions, emphasizing the immense breadth and complexity of such connections in the world. It belongs to the same class of literature as the Bible, but, along with a sharper and clearer statement of biblical teachings, contains a formidable mass of historical material unknown to biblical writers but well within the range of modern comparative study since it insists on deriving its whole cultural tradition, even in details, directly from a specific time and place in the Old World.

And this one (same link):

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Where else [but in the Book of Mormon] will one find such inexhaustible invention combined with such unerring accuracy and consistency? To put it facetiously but not unfairly, the artist must not only balance a bowl of goldfish and three lighted candles on the end of a broomstick while fighting off a swarm of gadflies, but he must at the same time be carving an immortal piece of statuary from a lump of solid diorite.

In an undertaking like this, merely to avoid total confusion and complete disaster would be a superhuman achievement. But that is not the assignment; that is only a coincidental detail to the main business at hand, which is, with all this consummately skillful handling of mere technical detail, to have something significant to say; not merely significant, but profound and moving, and so relevant to the peculiar conditions of our own day as to speak to our ears with a voice of thunder.

And this one (same link):

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It is a surprisingly big book, supplying quite enough rope for a charlatan to hang himself a hundred times. As the work of an imposter it must unavoidably bear all the marks of fraud. It should be poorly organized, shallow, artificial, patchy, and unoriginal. It should display a pretentious vocabulary (the Book of Mormon uses only 3,000 words), overdrawn stock characters, melodramatic situations, gaudy and overdone descriptions, and bombastic diction . . ..

Whether one believes its story or not, the severest critic of the Book of Mormon, if he reads it with care at all, must admit that it is the exact opposite. . . . It is carefully organized, specific, sober, factual, and perfectly consistent.

And this one (same link):

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We can say without hesitation that the first chapter of the Book of Mormon, the Testament of Lehi, has the authenticity of a truly ancient pseudepigraphic writing stamped all over it. It is a well-nigh perfect example of the genre.

And this one (same link):

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It is rarely necessary to go any further than the document itself to find enough clues to condemn it, and if the text is a long one, and an historical document in the bargain, the absolute certainty of inner contradictions is enough to assure adequate testing. This makes the Book of Mormon preeminently testable, and we may list the following points on which ceretainty is obtainable.

1. The mere existence of the book is a powerful argument in favor of its authenticity.

2. In giving us a long book, the author forces us to concede that he is not playing tricks.

3. This writer never falls back on the accepted immunities of double meaning and religious interpretations in the manner of the Swedenborgians or the schoolmen. This refusal to claim any special privileges is an evidence of good faith.

4. Shysters may be diligent enough, in their way, but the object of their trickery is to avoid hard work, and this is not the sort of laborious task they give themselves.

5. Upon close examination all the many apparent contradictions in the Book of Mormon disappear. It passes the sure test of authenticity with flying colors.

6. The style is not that of anyone trying to write well. . . . Here is a book with all the elements of an intensely romantic adventure tale of far-away and long-ago, and the author turns down innumerable chances to please his public!

7. There are few plays on words, few rhetorical subtleties, no reveling in abstract terms, no excess of esoteric language or doctrine to require the trained interpreter.

8. Whoever wrote the book must have been a very intelligent and experienced person; yet such people in 1830 did not produce books with rudimentary vocabularies. This cannot be the work of any simple clown, but neither can it be that of an able and educated contemporary.

9. The extremely limited vocabulary suggests another piece of internal evidence to the reader. The Book of Mormon never makes any attempt to be clever.

10. Since it claims to be translated by divine power, the Book of Mormon also claims all the authority—and responsibility—of the original text. The author leaves himself no philological loopholes, though the book, stemming from a number of nations and languages, offers opportunity for many of them.

And this one (same link):

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Entirely apart from the contents of the Book of Mormon and the external evidences that might support it, there are certain circumstances attending its production which cannot be explained on grounds other than those given by Joseph Smith. These may be listed briefly:

1. There is the testimony of the witnesses.

2. The youth and inexperience of Joseph Smith at the time when he took full responsibility for the publication of the book—proof (a) that he could not have produced it himself and (b) that he was not acting for someone else, for his behavior at all times displayed independence.

3. The absence of notes and sources.

4. The short time of production.

5. The fact that there was only one version of the book ever published (with minor changes in each printing). This is most significant. It is now known that the Koran, the only book claiming an equal amount of divine inspiration and accuracy, was completely re-edited at least three times during the lifetime of Mohammed.

6. This brings up the unhesitating and unchanging position of Joseph Smith regarding his revelations. . . . From the day the Book of Mormon came from the press, Joseph Smith never ceased to spread it abroad, and he never changed his attitude towards it. What creative writer would not blush for the production of such youth and inexperience twenty years after? What imposter would not lie awake nights worrying about the slips and errors of this massive and pretentious product of his youthful indiscretion and roguery? Yet, since the Prophet was having revelations all along, nothing would have been easier, had he the slightest shadow of a misgiving, than to issue a new, revised, and improved edition, or to recall the book altogether, limit its circulation, claim it consisted of mysteries to be grasped by the . . . initiated alone, say it was to be interpreted only in a “religious” sense, or supersede it by something else. The Saints who believed the Prophet were the only ones who took the book seriously anyway.

7. There has never been any air of mystery about the Book of Mormon. There is no secrecy connected with it at the time of publication or today.

8. Finally, though the success of the book is not proof of its divinity, the type of people it has appealed to—sincere, simple, direct, highly unhysterical, and nonmystical—is circumstantial evidence for its honesty. It has very solid supporters. . . .

When one considers that any one of the above arguments makes it very hard to explain the Book of Mormon as a fraud, one wonders if a corresponding list of arguments against the book might not be produced. For such a list one waits with interest but in vain. At present the higher critics are scolding the Book of Mormon for not talking like the dean of a divinity school. We might as well admit it, the Victorian platitudes are simply not there.

And this one (same link):

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The writer of 1 Nephi was confronted by a hundred delicately interrelated problems of extreme difficulty. The probability of coming up with a plausible statement by mere guesswork once or twice is dim enough, but the chances of repeating the performance a hundred times in rapid succession are infinitely remote. The world through which Lehi wandered was to the westerner of 1830 a quaking bog without a visible inch of footing, lost in impenetrable fog; the best Bible students were hopelessly misinformed even about Palestine.

And this one (same link):

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To the trained eye, every document of considerable length is bound to betray the real setting in which it was produced. This can be illustrated by something Martin Luther wrote two days before his death: “No man can understand the Bucolics and Georgics of Virgil who has not been a herdsman or farmer for at least five years. And no one can understand Cicero’s letters, I maintain, who has not been concerned with significant affairs of state for twenty years. And no one can get an adequate feeling for the Scriptures who has not guided religious communities by the prophets for a hundred years.”

What is the world of experiences and ideas that one finds behind the Book of Mormon? What is the real Sitz im Leben [milieu]? We can start with actual experiences, not merely ideas, but things of a strictly objective and therefore testable nature. For example, the book describes in considerable detail what is supposed to be a great earthquake somewhere in Central America, and another time it sets forth the particulars of ancient olive culture. Here are things we can check up on; but to do so we must go to sources made available by scholars long since the days of Joseph Smith. Where he could have learned all about major Central American earthquakes or the fine points of Mediterranean olive culture remains a question.

And this one (same link):

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If [the Jaredite story] is fiction, it is fiction by one thoroughly familiar with a field of history that nobody in the world knew anything about in 1830. No one’s going to produce a skillful forgery of Roman history, for example, unless he actually knows a good deal of genuine Roman history. So if Ether is a forgery, where did its author get the solid knowledge necessary to do a job that could stand up to five minutes of investigation? I have merely skimmed the surface, . . . but if my skates are clumsy, the ice is never thin. Every page is loaded with matter for serious discussion—discussion that would fizzle out promptly in the face of any palpable absurdity.

There are huge amounts of scholarship pertaining to "textual evidences" of The Book of Mormon.  The "text" being referenced is . . . The Book of Mormon.

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It is evidence of miraculous truth claims because it exists, but it's existence cannot likewise be evidence of it being written by inspiration? Weak, man.

With respect, may I suggest you give this matter a little more thought?

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The BoM being historical isn't even in the same ball park as Jesus being real. One is the savior of the world. The other points to him.

Assertion is not argument.  It is not persuasive.  

Meanwhile, I think these remarks by Elder Oaks are instructive:

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Some Latter-day Saint critics who deny the historicity of the Book of Mormon seek to make their proposed approach persuasive to Latter-day Saints by praising or affirming the value of some of the contents of the book. Those who take this approach assume the significant burden of explaining how they can praise the contents of a book they have dismissed as a fable. I have never been able to understand the similar approach in reference to the divinity of the Savior. As we know, some scholars and some ministers proclaim him to be a great teacher and then have to explain how the one who gave such sublime teachings could proclaim himself (falsely they say) to be the Son of God who would be resurrected from the dead.

The new style critics have the same problem with the Book of Mormon. For example, we might affirm the value of the teachings recorded in the name of a man named Moroni, but if these teachings have value, how do we explain these statements also attributed to this man?

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And if there be faults [in this record] they be the faults of a man. But behold, we know no fault; nevertheless God knoweth all things; therefore, he that condemneth, let him be aware lest he shall be in danger of hell fire. (Mormon 8:17.)

And I exhort you to remember these things; for the time speedily cometh that ye shall know that I lie not, for ye shall see me at the bar of God; and the Lord God will say unto you: Did I not declare my words unto you, which were written by this man, like as one crying from the dead, yea, even as one speaking out of the dust? (Moro. 10:27.)

There is something strange about accepting the moral or religious content of a book while rejecting the truthfulness of its authors' declarations, predictions, and statements. This approach not only rejects the concepts of faith and revelation that the Book of Mormon explains and advocates. This approach is not even good scholarship.

...

As Jack Welch and I discussed the topic of my address this evening, he pointed out that this new wave of antihistoricism "may be a new kid on the block in Salt Lake City, but he has been around in a lot of other Christian neighborhoods for several decades."

Indeed! 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. As we know, there are many so-called Christian teachers who espouse the teachings and deny the teacher. Beyond that, there are those who even deny the existence or the knowability of God. Their counterparts in Mormondom embrace some of the teachings of the Book of Mormon but deny its historicity.

Two months ago, as I was scanning the magazine Chronicles, published by the Rockford Institute (of which I have been a director for about 15 years), I was stopped by the title of a book review, "Who Needs the Historical Jesus?," and the formidable reputation of its author. Jacob Neusner, who is Dr., Rabbi, and Professor, reviewed two books whose titles both include the words "the historical Jesus." His comments are persuasive on the subject of historicity generally.

Neusner praises these two books, one as "an intensively powerful and poetic book . . . by a great writer who is also an original and weighty scholar" and the other as "a masterpiece of scholarship." But notwithstanding his tributes to their technique, Neusner forthrightly challenges the appropriateness of the effort the authors have undertaken. Their effort, typical in today's scholarly world, was to use a skeptical reading of the scriptures rather than a believing one, to present a historical study that would "distinguish fact from fiction, myth or legend from authentic event." In doing so, their "skeptical reading of the gospels" caused them to assume that the Jesus Christ of the Gospels was not the Jesus who actually lived. It also caused them to assume that historians can know the difference.

In the foregoing description I have paraphrased Neusner's review. I now quote his conclusions:

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No historical work explains itself so disingenuously as does work on the historical Jesus: from beginning, middle, to end, the issue is theological.

Surely no question bears more profound theological implications for Christians than what the person they believe to be the incarnate God really, actually, truly said and did here on earth. But historical method, which knows nothing of the supernatural and looks upon miracles with unreserved stupefaction, presumes to answer them.

But statements (historical or otherwise) about the founders of religions present a truth of a different kind. Such statements not only bear weightier implications, but they appeal to sources distinct from the kind that record what George Washington did on a certain day in 1775. They are based upon revelation, not mere information; they claim, and those who value them believe, that they originate in God's revelation or inspiration. Asking the Gospels to give historical rather than gospel truth confuses theological truth with historical fact, diminishing them to the measurements of this world, treating Jesus as precisely the opposite of what Christianity has always known Him to be, which is unique.

When we speak of "the historical Jesus," therefore, we dissect a sacred subject with a secular scalpel, and in the confusion of categories of truth the patient dies on the operating table; the surgeons forget why they made their cut; the remove the heart and neglect to put it back. The statement "One and one are two," or "The Constitutional Convention met in 1787," is simply not of the same order as "Moses received the Torah at Sinai" or "Jesus Christ is Son of God."

What historical evidence can tell us whether someone really rose from the dead, or what God said to the prophet on Sinai? I cannot identify a historical method equal to the work of verifying the claim that God's Son was born to a virgin girl. And how can historians accustomed to explaining the causes of the Civil War speak of miracles, or men rising from the dead, and of other matters of broad belief? Historians working with miracle stories turn out something that is either paraphrasic of the faith, indifferent to it, or merely silly. In their work we have nothing other than theology masquerading as "critical history." If I were a Christian, I would ask why the crown of science has now to be placed upon the head of a Jesus reduced to this-worldly dimensions, adding that here is just another crown of thorns. In my own view as a rabbi, I say only that these books are simply and monumentally irrelevant.

Please excuse me for burdening you with that long quote, but I hope you will agree with my conclusion that what the Rabbi/Professor said about the historical Jesus is just as appropriate and persuasive on the question of the historicity of the Book of Mormon.

...

In this message I have offered some thoughts on about a half-dozen matters relating to the historicity of the Book of Mormon.

  1. On this subject, as on so many others involving our faith and theology, it is important to rely on faith and revelation as well as scholarship.
  2. I am convinced that secular evidence can neither prove nor disprove the authenticity of the Book of Mormon.
  3. Those who deny the historicity of the Book of Mormon have the difficult task of trying to prove a negative. They also have the awkward duty of explaining how they can dismiss the Book of Mormon as a fable while still praising some of its contents.
  4. We know from the Bible that Jesus taught his Apostles that in the important matter of his own identify and mission they were "blessed" for relying on the witness of revelation ("the things that be of God") and it is offensive to him for them to act upon worldly values and reasoning ("the things . . . that be of men") (Matt. 16:23).
  5. Those scholars who rely on faith and revelation as well as scholarship and who assume the authenticity of the Book of Mormon must endure ridicule from those who disdain these things of God.
  6. I have also illustrated that not all scholars disdain the value of religious belief and the legitimacy of the supernatural when applied to theological truth. Some even criticize the "intellectual provincialism" of those who apply the methods of historical criticism to the Book of Mormon.

I encourage you to give this matter more thought.  Your surprised response to an obvious and long-discussed point - the evidentiary value of the text of The Book of Mormon - indicates that perhaps more study and reading would be helpful.

Back to you:

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You view my opinion as unfounded and I see yours in the same way.

With respect, my opinion is based on reasoning and an assessment of the relevant evidence.  Yours is based on any-explanation-about-The-Book-of-Mormon-will-do-other-than-the-one-given-by-Joseph-Smith-and-the-Witnesses-and-the-LDS-Church-esque speculation, and no evaluation of the extant textual and testimonial evidence except for a litany of "Don't knows" and "Doesn't matters."

I think our respective opinions are quite different.

Back to you:

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The difference is, you're claiming that the view of inspired fiction is damning in some way whereas I make no claims about the miracle origin story.

So I can explain and defend the basis for my position, and you cannot explain or defend the basis for yours, and this means . . . that your position is superior?

How does that work, exactly?

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God has inspired scripture in the past that isn't historical so I don't see why it's a stretch to think that could be the case with the BoM as well.

I can see the point about some parts of scripture not needing to be literally true in order to be valuable and inspired.  The Savior's parables are good examples.  But here's the thing: The Savior did not say that the things in His parables really happened.  He presented them as parables.  

In contrast, The Book of Mormon declares itself to be historical.  Your position is to reject that and call it a lie.

The story provided by Joseph Smith is that he was visited by angels, that an angel led him to discover an ancient artifact, that the angel told him the artifact was a historical record of actual people who had lived in the Americas, that Joseph Smith took possession of these plates, that these plates had mass and volume, that these plates had the "appearance of gold" and had engravings on them, that Joseph Smith "translated" these engravings by "the gift and power of God," that Three Witnesses testified that an angel descended from heaven and showed them these plates, that another Eight Witnesses hefted and examined the plates at a separate time and in mundane circumstances, and so on.

Your proposal is that all of these things are factually false.  Lies or delusions.  Conspiracies and fabrications.  And most astounding of all, that God is the author of these lies and deceits and fabrications.

So yes, your proposal is "a stretch."  To put it mildly.

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Allowing for the inspired fiction possibility allows people to hold on to some faith in the restoration even if they can't accept the miraculous truth claims.

It's also setting them up for a fall.  Your proposal requires us to believe that God commanded Joseph Smith to orchestrate a massive series of lies and deceptions and collusions, over a period of years and involving many different people.  Your proposal also requires virtually every leader of the LDS Church to have been either a co-conspirator in this massive fraudulent scheme, or else dupes of the first order for falling for it.  How does that inspire faith in the Restored Gospel?

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Refusing the possibility of inspired fiction further alienates the individuals trying to maintain some faith in the church.  Your view is damaging and exclusive.

Well, I suppose that's a possibility.  But it's hardly a ringing endorsement for the "Inspired Fiction" concept.  To be frank, that sounds rather manipulative.  "Hey!  I get to try to persuade others to reject the LDS Church's position on the origins of The Book of Mormon as handed down from Joseph Smith, but don't you dare say anything about my efforts!  If you do, I will accuse you of trying to alienate individuals who are trying to maintain some faith in the Church!"

I think you need to get real here.  You are publicly espousing a theory regarding The Book of Mormon, the "keystone of our religion" that is radically and profoundly at odds with the teachings of Joseph Smith and his successors.  You are now apparently insisting on some sort of special privilege to do so.  A unique immunity from scrutiny or critique of your radical contradiction of the teachings of the Church.  I don't think that's right or appropriate.  

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I view the inspired theory as at least possible and hopeful.

And I view it as ill-considered, devoid of evidence or reasoning, reckless and potentially destructive.  Reasonable minds can disagree about such things, I suppose.

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It's a middle ground for those who can't believe the miracles but don't want to completely reject the BoM or the restoration. I can't understand why that would be threatening to you.

Rejecting Jesus Christ as the Son of God and the Redeemer of the world can also be a "a middle ground for those who can't believe the miracles but don't want to completely reject the BoM or the restoration."  And yet it's a middle ground that is fraught with peril.  And incoherence.  

And it requires us to believe that God inspired Joseph Smith to orchestrate a massive series of lies and deceptions and collusions, over a period of years and involving many different people.  

And it requires us to believe that virtually every leader of the LDS Church to have been either a co-conspirator in this massive fraudulent scheme, or else dupes of the first order for falling for it.  

And those who publicly espouse it are seeking to persuade others to accept a teaching which is "contrary to or oppose those {teachings} accepted by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints."

These are the main reasons I publicly oppose members of the Church who are attempting to persuade other members of the Church to join in rejecting the teachings of the LDS Church regarding The Book of Mormon, Joseph Smith, and even the very nature and character and goodness of God, and to instead adopt the "Inspired Fiction" theory.

Look, I don't want to push you out of the Church.  Far from it.  I want you in the Church.  I want everyone in it.  But the doctrines of the Church matter.  I don't think we are at liberty to disregard them or radically re-define them to suit our personal preferences, particularly when we do so in ways that end up contradicting the teachings of the Church.  I also don't think we are at liberty to publicly persuade other members of the Church to join in rejecting the teachings of the Church and instead adopting concepts that contradict those teachings.  

With no malice in my heart, I submit that the "Inspired Fiction" theory is a hugely problematic position to take for the Latter-day Saints.  I think we should seek ways to understand The Book of Mormon for what it is, for what it claims to be, and for what Joseph Smith and the Witnesses and the prophets and apostles teach it to be, rather than what we as individuals want it to be.

Thanks,

-Smac

 

Edited by smac97
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27 minutes ago, smac97 said:

 

 

And it requires us to believe that God inspired Joseph Smith to orchestrate a massive series of lies and deceptions and collusions, over a period of years and involving many different people.  

 

Thanks,

-Smac

 

You said it.

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22 minutes ago, Gray said:

It's not required at all. 

God "inspired" Joseph Smith to create a work of "fiction" and then lie about it and present it as a translation of an ancient record.

That is how the "Inspired Fiction" concept works.

I suppose we have a few alternatives, though.  God "inspired" Joseph Smith to create a work of "fiction," and then Joseph Smith lied about it in his own right, without a commandment from God.  

Or God "inspired" Joseph Smith to create a work of "fiction" and Joseph Smith was so deluded/insane that he, as a "pious fraud," honestly thought his fictional work was a translation of an ancient record and communicated that concept to everyone around him.  For years.  

And somehow Joseph Smith was able to conceal this nonstop condition of insanity from those who knew him well (or else they noticed it, but they all conspired to keep it a secret).  

Of course, the "Pious Fraud" theory doesn't seem to account for the physical artifact which Joseph must have either fabricated himself or conspired with others to do so.  It also does not account for the experience of the Three Witnesses.  I guess they were all massively and profoundly mentally ill.  All at the same time.  And they all just happened to imagine the exact same things about the angel and the plates, or else they colluded in their insanity to piously lie about the angel and the plates.

Thanks,

-Smac

Edited by smac97
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54 minutes ago, smac97 said:

1- I am saying the text of The Book of Mormon must be accounted for (certainly something more than endless repetitions of "Don't know" and "Doesn't matter").  It came from somewhere.  Consider this statement by Hugh Nibley:

 

There are huge amounts of scholarship pertaining to "textual evidences" of The Book of Mormon.  The "text" being referenced is . . . The Book of Mormon.

2- With respect, may I suggest you give this matter a little more thought?

...

I think you need to get real here.  You are publicly espousing a theory regarding The Book of Mormon, the "keystone of our religion" that is radically and profoundly at odds with the teachings of Joseph Smith and his successors.  You are now apparently insisting on some sort of special privilege to do so.  A unique immunity from scrutiny or critique of your radical contradiction of the teachings of the Church.  I don't think that's right or appropriate.  

3- And those who publicly espouse it are seeking to persuade others to accept a teaching which is "contrary to or oppose those {teachings} accepted by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints."

4- Look, I don't want to push you out of the Church.  Far from it.  I want you in the Church.  I want everyone in it.  But the doctrines of the Church matter.  I don't think we are at liberty to disregard them or radically re-define them to suit our personal preferences, particularly when we do so in ways that end up contradicting the teachings of the Church.  I also don't think we are at liberty to publicly persuade other members of the Church to join in rejecting the teachings of the Church and instead adopting concepts that contradict those teachings.  

5-With no malice in my heart, I submit that the "Inspired Fiction" theory is a hugely problematic position to take for the Latter-day Saints.  I think we should seek ways to understand The Book of Mormon for what it is, for what it claims to be, and for what Joseph Smith and the Witnesses and the prophets and apostles teach it to be, rather than what we as individuals want it to be.

Thanks,

-Smac

 

1- This first statement is why I think you're not paying attention or you're deliberately ignoring the argument. Yes. The book of Mormon comes from somewhere but you're unequivocally stating that it could not have simply been God inspiring Joseph to write it. "INSPIRED" fiction also comes from somewhere.

2- Don't pretend to be respectful. I've attempted to engage you and answer questions only to meet your scorn. That's ok because your opinion of me doesn't matter, but you're being a bit smug and judgmental. How am I "insisting on some special privilege"? Have I claimed immunity from disagreement? If you want to stick with those assertions, CFR.

3- You're accusing me of intentionally leading people astray in violation of the temple recommend questions. Dial it back with your accusations. What you don't seem to realize or care about is that there are many, many members of the church who don't believe JS's restoration narrative but they still want to hold onto some kind of hope and faith in the church. The inspired fiction theory is one way they can do it. You would seem to prefer they just leave.

4- But I don't believe history is doctrine. History is the way you justify doctrine. It's fine if you see only one way to Mormon but your opinion isn't binding on me or anyone else. We read history differently. You view Joseph as a reliable narrator of the restoration whereas I see far too much dishonesty to rely on his accounts. I don't find him believable so the best I can do is put faith in God despite Joseph. Inspired fiction allows for the possibility that God can do great things through very imperfect vessels. I can put my faith in Christ without putting my faith in Joseph.

5- Still, you don't seem to grasp that most people who are clinging to the inspired fiction theory aren't choosing between the two options of 1- The restoration is totally true just as Joseph said and 2- Inspired fiction. It's more like choosing between 1- Joseph and the church are a total fraud in which case they should be abandoned entirely and quickly and 2- Inspired fiction and a nuanced restoration. So if you demand the inspired fiction theory be abandoned you are pushing people toward accepting the conclusion of absolute fraud. So you're doing no favors for the individual or the church by being dogmatic about the truth claims. All you accomplish is making yourself feel superior. I'm guessing that's a bit of a pyrrhic victory.

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6 minutes ago, HappyJackWagon said:

1- This first statement is why I think you're not paying attention or you're deliberately ignoring the argument. Yes. The book of Mormon comes from somewhere but you're unequivocally stating that it could not have simply been God inspiring Joseph to write it. "INSPIRED" fiction also comes from somewhere.

I've tried really hard to sort out your position.  I am a reasonably intelligent person.  And I am not playing dumb.  I simply do not comprehend your position.  Putting aside whether I disagree with it.  I don't even understand it.

Is it your position that God "inspired" Joseph Smith to write the text of The Book of Mormon, and that this text is fictional?  That is, that there was no Lehi, no Nephi, etc.?

What is your position about Joseph's subsequent statements declaring The Book of Mormon to be a historical record?  Was he consciously lying?  Subconsciously lying?  Deluded/insane?  Commanded by God to lie?

What is your position about the Gold Plates?  If The Book of Mormon is fictional, then there were no plates (no Lehi --> no Nephi -------> no Mormon --> no abridgement of records --> no Moroni --> no resurrected Moroni --> no visitations to Joseph --> no plates buried in a hillside, etc.).  Was there a sham artifact?  If so, where did it come from?  Did Joseph Smith make it?  Did he collude with others to make it?  Did God tell him to fabricate these plates?  Did God also tell him to lie about these plates being an ancient record?

If there were no real ancient plates, then how do you account for the testimonies of the Witnesses?  Were they lying when they said an angel came down from heaven and showed them the plates?  Were they collectively deluded/insane, yet somehow all experiencing the same delusion at the same time?

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2- Don't pretend to be respectful. I've attempted to engage you and answer questions only to meet your scorn. That's ok because your opinion of me doesn't matter, but you're being a bit smug and judgmental. How am I "insisting on some special privilege"? Have I claimed immunity from disagreement? If you want to stick with those assertions, CFR.

Well, I apologize for giving offense.  Unreservedly.  I will strive to be more circumspect in my remarks.

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3- You're accusing me of intentionally leading people astray in violation of the temple recommend questions. Dial it back with your accusations.

I think it is objectively correct to say that the LDS Church teaches certain things about the origins of The Book of Mormon.  I also think it is objectively correct that the "Inspired Fiction" theory contradicts the LDS Church's teachings in many material respects.  These two sets are contrary to each other.  They are not compatible.  So in my opinion, those who publicly espouse the latter are seeking to persuade others to accept a teaching which is contrary to or oppose those teachings accepted by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

I don't know you.  I don't know if you have ever encouraged others to reject the teachings of the LDS Church regarding the origins of The Book of Mormon in favor of the "Inspired Fiction" theory.  I have not accused you of doing so.

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What you don't seem to realize or care about is that there are many, many members of the church who don't believe JS's restoration narrative but they still want to hold onto some kind of hope and faith in the church. The inspired fiction theory is one way they can do it.

I've already addressed this.  I'll not belabor the point further.

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You would seem to prefer they just leave.

You're just bearing false witness now.  From my previous post (emphases added):

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Look, I don't want to push you out of the Church.  Far from it.  I want you in the Church.  I want everyone in it.  But the doctrines of the Church matter.  I don't think we are at liberty to disregard them or radically re-define them to suit our personal preferences, particularly when we do so in ways that end up contradicting the teachings of the Church.  I also don't think we are at liberty to publicly persuade other members of the Church to join in rejecting the teachings of the Church and instead adopting concepts that contradict those teachings.  

With no malice in my heart, I submit that the "Inspired Fiction" theory is a hugely problematic position to take for the Latter-day Saints.  I think we should seek ways to understand The Book of Mormon for what it is, for what it claims to be, and for what Joseph Smith and the Witnesses and the prophets and apostles teach it to be, rather than what we as individuals want it to be.

Again, I do not want people in the Church to leave.  I want them to stay and grow along with the rest of us.

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4- But I don't believe history is doctrine.

"History" is "the branch of knowledge dealing with past events ... a continuous, systematic narrative of past events as relating to a particular people, country, period, person, etc., usually written as a chronological account; chronicle."

"Doctrine" is "a particular principle, position, or policy taught or advocated, as of a religion or government."

So a "doctrine" can be a "principle" pertaining to a past event (history).  The creation of the earth.  God speaking to Moses.  Jesus Christ being born of Mary.  Jesus Christ teaching and performing miracles and calling apostles.  Jesus Christ being crucified, dying, resurrecting, ascending to heaven, and appearing to the Nephites.  Lehi actually existing, along with his descendants and the records they kept.  One of those descendants appearing to Joseph as a resurrected being and leading him to actual, physical plates.  All of these things are both "history" ("knowledge dealing with past events") and "doctrine" ("a particular principle ... taught or advocated, as of a religion...").

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History is the way you justify doctrine.

I don't know what this means.

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It's fine if you see only one way to Mormon but your opinion isn't binding on me or anyone else.

I don't see "only one way to Mormon" (I'm not even sure I know what that means).

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We read history differently. You view Joseph as a reliable narrator of the restoration whereas I see far too much dishonesty to rely on his accounts.

Yes, I get that.

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I don't find him believable so the best I can do is put faith in God despite Joseph.

I hope you reconsider your position.

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Inspired fiction allows for the possibility that God can do great things through very imperfect vessels.

I already believe "that God can do great things through very imperfect vessels."  But I don't believe those things include God commanding Joseph to orchestrate a massive fraudulent scheme, with lies and collusions and deceptions.  And I don't believe the Lord's servants who have served since then would collectively be either A) in on this massive fraud, or B) collectively duped by it.  These are the natural and necessary ramifications of the "Inspired Fiction" theory.

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I can put my faith in Christ without putting my faith in Joseph.

Well, there is that.

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5- Still, you don't seem to grasp that most people who are clinging to the inspired fiction theory aren't choosing between the two options of 1- The restoration is totally true just as Joseph said and 2- Inspired fiction. It's more like choosing between 1- Joseph and the church are a total fraud in which case they should be abandoned entirely and quickly and 2- Inspired fiction and a nuanced restoration.  So if you demand the inspired fiction theory be abandoned you are pushing people toward accepting the conclusion of absolute fraud.

I don't know how to respond to the implicit threat here.  Either capitulate and say nothing in response to the massive errors and dangers I see in the Inspired Fiction theory, or else say something and be accused - as you have done repeatedly - of wanting to chase people out of the Church.

Thanks,

-Smac

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13 minutes ago, smac97 said:

I've tried really hard to sort out your position.  I am a reasonably intelligent person.  And I am not playing dumb.  I simply do not comprehend your position.  Putting aside whether I disagree with it.  I don't even understand it.

Is it your position that God "inspired" Joseph Smith to write the text of The Book of Mormon, and that this text is fictional?  That is, that there was no Lehi, no Nephi, etc.?

What is your position about Joseph's subsequent statements declaring The Book of Mormon to be a historical record?  Was he consciously lying?  Subconsciously lying?  Deluded/insane?  Commanded by God to lie?

What is your position about the Gold Plates?  If The Book of Mormon is fictional, then there were no plates (no Lehi --> no Nephi -------> no Mormon --> no abridgement of records --> no Moroni --> no resurrected Moroni --> no visitations to Joseph --> no plates buried in a hillside, etc.).  Was there a sham artifact?  If so, where did it come from?  Did Joseph Smith make it?  Did he collude with others to make it?  Did God tell him to fabricate these plates?  Did God also tell him to lie about these plates being an ancient record?

If there were no real ancient plates, then how do you account for the testimonies of the Witnesses?  Were they lying when they said an angel came down from heaven and showed them the plates?  Were they collectively deluded/insane, yet somehow all experiencing the same delusion at the same time?

Well, I apologize for giving offense.  Unreservedly.  I will strive to be more circumspect in my remarks.

I think it is objectively correct to say that the LDS Church teaches certain things about the origins of The Book of Mormon.  I also think it is objectively correct that the "Inspired Fiction" theory contradicts the LDS Church's teachings in many material respects.  These two sets are contrary to each other.  They are not compatible.  So in my opinion, those who publicly espouse the latter are seeking to persuade others to accept a teaching which is contrary to or oppose those teachings accepted by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

I don't know you.  I don't know if you have ever encouraged others to reject the teachings of the LDS Church regarding the origins of The Book of Mormon in favor of the "Inspired Fiction" theory.  I have not accused you of doing so.

I've already addressed this.  I'll not belabor the point further.

You're just bearing false witness now.  From my previous post (emphases added):

Again, I do not want people in the Church to leave.  I want them to stay and grow along with the rest of us.

"History" is "the branch of knowledge dealing with past events ... a continuous, systematic narrative of past events as relating to a particular people, country, period, person, etc., usually written as a chronological account; chronicle."

"Doctrine" is "a particular principle, position, or policy taught or advocated, as of a religion or government."

So a "doctrine" can be a "principle" pertaining to a past event (history).  The creation of the earth.  God speaking to Moses.  Jesus Christ being born of Mary.  Jesus Christ teaching and performing miracles and calling apostles.  Jesus Christ being crucified, dying, resurrecting, ascending to heaven, and appearing to the Nephites.  Lehi actually existing, along with his descendants and the records they kept.  One of those descendants appearing to Joseph as a resurrected being and leading him to actual, physical plates.  All of these things are both "history" ("knowledge dealing with past events") and "doctrine" ("a particular principle ... taught or advocated, as of a religion...").

I don't know what this means.

I don't see "only one way to Mormon" (I'm not even sure I know what that means).

Yes, I get that.

I hope you reconsider your position.

I already believe "that God can do great things through very imperfect vessels."  But I don't believe those things include God commanding Joseph to orchestrate a massive fraudulent scheme, with lies and collusions and deceptions.  And I don't believe the Lord's servants who have served since then would collectively be either A) in on this massive fraud, or B) collectively duped by it.  These are the natural and necessary ramifications of the "Inspired Fiction" theory.

Well, there is that.

I don't know how to respond to the implicit threat here.  Either capitulate and say nothing in response to the massive errors and dangers I see in the Inspired Fiction theory, or else say something and be accused - as you have done repeatedly - of wanting to chase people out of the Church.

Thanks,

-Smac

I've already answered these questions and don't have the energy or time to do it again. Maybe you could go back and reread previous comments.

If you don't understand what "inspired fiction" means, define each word separately and see what you come up with.

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1 hour ago, smac97 said:

God "inspired" Joseph Smith to create a work of "fiction" and then lie about it and present it as a translation of an ancient record.

That is how the "Inspired Fiction" concept works.

I suppose we have a few alternatives, though.  God "inspired" Joseph Smith to create a work of "fiction," and then Joseph Smith lied about it in his own right, without a commandment from God.  

Or God "inspired" Joseph Smith to create a work of "fiction" and Joseph Smith was so deluded/insane that he, as a "pious fraud," honestly thought his fictional work was a translation of an ancient record and communicated that concept to everyone around him.  For years.  

And somehow Joseph Smith was able to conceal this nonstop condition of insanity from those who knew him well (or else they noticed it, but they all conspired to keep it a secret).  

Of course, the "Pious Fraud" theory doesn't seem to account for the physical artifact which Joseph must have either fabricated himself or conspired with others to do so.  It also does not account for the experience of the Three Witnesses.  I guess they were all massively and profoundly mentally ill.  All at the same time.  And they all just happened to imagine the exact same things about the angel and the plates, or else they colluded in their insanity to piously lie about the angel and the plates.

Thanks,

-Smac

All of those scenarios are rather cynical. They could have been written by a church critic. 

How about, "God inspired Joseph Smith with spiritual insights relating to Jesus Christ and the gospel. Joseph mistakenly believed he had the ability to restore ancient histories by means of his seer stone, just as he mistakenly believed he had the ability to find hidden treasure by the same means. Within the narrative of the Book of Mormon, Joseph Smith included the inspired doctrines he had received throughout his life, although the narrative itself is not historical."

 

 

Edited by Gray
Link to post
42 minutes ago, Gray said:

All of those scenarios are rather cynical. They could have been written by a church critic. 

Cynical of a concept that flatly contradicts the teachings of Joseph Smith and the Church?  Yeah, I guess I'll own that.

Quote

How about, "God inspired Joseph Smith with spiritual insights relating to Jesus Christ and the gospel.

Mush.  A spoonful of sugar to help the bitter medicine of faithlessness go down.

The Inspired Fiction concept posits that "God inspired Joseph Smith" to lie.  A lot.  About a lot of things.  For years on end.  And to dupe or collude with others in propagating a massive web of deceit.  This you choose to characterize as "spiritual insights relating to Jesus Christ and the gospel?"  Speaking of cynicism...

Quote

Joseph mistakenly believed he had the ability to restore ancient histories by means of his seer stone, just as he mistakenly believed he had the ability to find hidden treasure by the same means.

That doesn't account for the central conceit of the Inspired Fiction concept: that there were no "ancient histories."  That Joseph Smith lied about it.  About the visions.  The dreams.  The angels.  The ancient plates buried in a hill.  The translation of those plates by "the gift and power of God."  Or else he was so profoundly mentally ill that he was a "pious fraud" about these things.  Or, if we are really going to scrape the bottom of the barrel, that God commanded Joseph to lie about these things, or else He deluded/tricked Joseph into thinking these things were real.

Your statement also does not account for the reality of the Gold Plates.  Or the Three Witnesses.  Or the Eight Witnesses.  Or Emma Smith.  

Your statement also requires us to believe that not only was Joseph either insane or a profligate liar of the first order, but also that all of the prophets and apostles since him have either been in on the scam or else have all been duped into believing it.

Honeyed words cannot gloss over the inherent bitterness of the Inspired Fiction theory.

Quote

Within the narrative of the Book of Mormon, Joseph Smith included the inspired doctrines he had received throughout his life, although the narrative itself is not historical."

What is the source of that narrative?  Is it your position that God "inspired" Joseph Smith to write the text of The Book of Mormon, and that this text is fictional?  That is, that there was no Lehi, no Nephi, etc.?  That seems to be what you are saying ("the narrative itself is not historical...").

What is your position about Joseph's subsequent statements declaring The Book of Mormon to be a historical record?  Was he consciously lying?  Subconsciously lying?  Deluded/insane?  Commanded by God to lie?

What is your position about the Gold Plates?  If The Book of Mormon is fictional, then there were no plates (no Lehi --> no Nephi -------> no Mormon --> no abridgement of records --> no Moroni --> no resurrected Moroni --> no visitations to Joseph --> no plates buried in a hillside, etc.).  Was there a sham artifact?  If so, where did it come from?  Did Joseph Smith make it?  Did he collude with others to make it?  Did God tell him to fabricate these plates?  Did God also tell him to lie about these plates being an ancient record?

If there were no real ancient plates, then how do you account for the testimonies of the Witnesses?  Were they lying when they said an angel came down from heaven and showed them the plates?  Were they collectively deluded/insane, yet somehow all experiencing the same delusion at the same time?

I am repeating myself here, but only because I have yet to see anyone walk me through the factual predicates and ramifications of the Inspired Fiction theory.  

HappyJackWagon has stated that the Inspired Fiction theory facilitates what appears to be a wholesale rejection of Joseph Smith as a prophet:

Quote

We read history differently. You view Joseph as a reliable narrator of the restoration whereas I see far too much dishonesty to rely on his accounts. I don't find him believable so the best I can do is put faith in God despite Joseph. Inspired fiction allows for the possibility that God can do great things through very imperfect vessels. I can put my faith in Christ without putting my faith in Joseph.

I see his point.  I understand his point.  That is why I find the Inspired Fiction concept so troubling.  That is why I am somewhat vigorous in my opposition to it when I see people publicly espousing it to other Latter-day Saints as a viable framework of faith.  When adopted, I think it will generally lead to . . . well, what HJW is saying above.

Again, I don't want to push HJW or you or anyone else out of the Church.  Far from it.  I want you in the Church.  I want everyone in it.  But the doctrines of the Church matter.  I don't think we are at liberty to disregard them or radically re-define them to suit our personal preferences, particularly when we do so in ways that end up contradicting the teachings of the Church.  I also don't think we are at liberty to publicly persuade other members of the Church to join in rejecting the teachings of the Church and instead adopting concepts that contradict those teachings.  

Thanks,

-Smac

Edited by smac97
  • Upvote 2
Link to post
12 minutes ago, smac97 said:

Cynical of a concept that flatly contradicts the teachings of Joseph Smith and the Church?  Yeah, I guess I'll own that.

Mush.  A spoonful of sugar to help the bitter medicine of faithlessness go down.

The Inspired Fiction concept posits that "God inspired Joseph Smith" to lie.  A lot.  About a lot of things.  For years on end.  And to dupe or collude with others in propagating a massive web of deceit.  This you choose to characterize as "spiritual insights relating to Jesus Christ and the gospel?"  Speaking of cynicism...

That doesn't account for the central conceit of the Inspired Fiction concept: that there were no "ancient histories."  That Joseph Smith lied about it.  About the visions.  The dreams.  The angels.  The ancient plates buried in a hill.  The translation of those plates by "the gift and power of God."  Or else he was so profoundly mentally ill that he was a "pious fraud" about these things.  Or, if we are really going to scrape the bottom of the barrel, that God commanded Joseph to lie about these things, or else He deluded/tricked Joseph into thinking these things were real.

Your statement also does not account for the reality of the Gold Plates.  Or the Three Witnesses.  Or the Eight Witnesses.  Or Emma Smith.  

Your statement also requires us to believe that not only was Joseph either insane or a profligate liar of the first order, but also that all of the prophets and apostles since him have either been in on the scam or else have all been duped into believing it.

Honeyed words cannot gloss over the inherent bitterness of the Inspired Fiction theory.

What is the source of that narrative?  Is it your position that God "inspired" Joseph Smith to write the text of The Book of Mormon, and that this text is fictional?  That is, that there was no Lehi, no Nephi, etc.?  That seems to be what you are saying ("the narrative itself is not historical...").

What is your position about Joseph's subsequent statements declaring The Book of Mormon to be a historical record?  Was he consciously lying?  Subconsciously lying?  Deluded/insane?  Commanded by God to lie?

What is your position about the Gold Plates?  If The Book of Mormon is fictional, then there were no plates (no Lehi --> no Nephi -------> no Mormon --> no abridgement of records --> no Moroni --> no resurrected Moroni --> no visitations to Joseph --> no plates buried in a hillside, etc.).  Was there a sham artifact?  If so, where did it come from?  Did Joseph Smith make it?  Did he collude with others to make it?  Did God tell him to fabricate these plates?  Did God also tell him to lie about these plates being an ancient record?

If there were no real ancient plates, then how do you account for the testimonies of the Witnesses?  Were they lying when they said an angel came down from heaven and showed them the plates?  Were they collectively deluded/insane, yet somehow all experiencing the same delusion at the same time?

I am repeating myself here, but only because I have yet to see anyone walk me through the factual predicates and ramifications of the Inspired Fiction theory.

Thanks,

-Smac

Smac, it's probably impossible to do this, but please try.  Imagine you somehow came to believe that the BOM was not historical.  You had irrefutable evidence.  Maybe the Holy Ghost also confirmed it to you.  Whatever.  Just imagine that.  But nothing else about your belief in Mormonism changed.  You still believed all the spiritual truths of the BOM.  You still believed the other revelations that came through Joseph.  You still believed God was in the Mormon church.  You still believed your temple covenants were real.  You still believed everything else.  What would you do?

 

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21 minutes ago, smac97 said:

Cynical of a concept that flatly contradicts the teachings of Joseph Smith and the Church?  Yeah, I guess I'll own that.

Mush.  A spoonful of sugar to help the bitter medicine of faithlessness go down.

 

 

Quote

The Inspired Fiction concept posits that "God inspired Joseph Smith" to lie.  A lot.  About a lot of things.  For years on end.  And to dupe or collude with others in propagating a massive web of deceit.  This you choose to characterize as "spiritual insights relating to Jesus Christ and the gospel?"  Speaking of cynicism...

 

 

Quote

That doesn't account for the central conceit of the Inspired Fiction concept: that there were no "ancient histories."  That Joseph Smith lied about it.  About the visions.  The dreams.  The angels.  The ancient plates buried in a hill.  The translation of those plates by "the gift and power of God."  Or else he was so profoundly mentally ill that he was a "pious fraud" about these things.  Or, if we are really going to scrape the bottom of the barrel, that God commanded Joseph to lie about these things, or else He deluded/tricked Joseph into thinking these things were real.

 

Quote

Your statement also does not account for the reality of the Gold Plates.  Or the Three Witnesses.  Or the Eight Witnesses.  Or Emma Smith.  

Your statement also requires us to believe that not only was Joseph either insane or a profligate liar of the first order, but also that all of the prophets and apostles since him have either been in on the scam or else have all been duped into believing it.

 

Quote

Honeyed words cannot gloss over the inherent bitterness of the Inspired Fiction theory.

What is the source of that narrative?  Is it your position that God "inspired" Joseph Smith to write the text of The Book of Mormon, and that this text is fictional?  That is, that there was no Lehi, no Nephi, etc.?  That seems to be what you are saying ("the narrative itself is not historical...").

What is your position about Joseph's subsequent statements declaring The Book of Mormon to be a historical record?  Was he consciously lying?  Subconsciously lying?  Deluded/insane?  Commanded by God to lie?

What is your position about the Gold Plates?  If The Book of Mormon is fictional, then there were no plates (no Lehi --> no Nephi -------> no Mormon --> no abridgement of records --> no Moroni --> no resurrected Moroni --> no visitations to Joseph --> no plates buried in a hillside, etc.).  Was there a sham artifact?  If so, where did it come from?  Did Joseph Smith make it?  Did he collude with others to make it?  Did God tell him to fabricate these plates?  Did God also tell him to lie about these plates being an ancient record?

If there were no real ancient plates, then how do you account for the testimonies of the Witnesses?  Were they lying when they said an angel came down from heaven and showed them the plates?  Were they collectively deluded/insane, yet somehow all experiencing the same delusion at the same time?

I am repeating myself here, but only because I have yet to see anyone walk me through the factual predicates and ramifications of the Inspired Fiction theory.

Thanks,

-Smac

 

This is very cynical stuff, Smac. But I don't think you're treating the idea with maximum charity. Rather you seem to be looking for the worst version of it possible. 

I'll walk you through a scenario:

  • Joseph Smith spends his young years studying the Bible and attending revival camps.
  • He is inspired with spiritual insights about the nature of Jesus and the gospel.
  • In a superstitious time in rural New York, he comes to believe that he has the ability to find hidden treasure by using a stone and picturing the treasure in his mind.
  • Eventually he comes to believe he can restore ancient histories by the same means. The process is similar - he uses a stone and "studies out" the words that come to his mind. 
  • Joseph has visions or dreams of an ancient Native American named Moroni
  • He sets out to restore the history of Moroni's people. The history itself is not inspired by God, but the doctrines that Joseph received earlier are. 
  • Anxious about being seen as credible, Joseph constructs a prop to help bolster the credibility of the history he is seeking to restore. Joseph does this on his own. A youthful mistake. 
  • The prop is for the most part kept hidden, or covered with a cloth. Probably it would not be very impressive if examined closely.
  • Joseph completes the translation. The story itself was created by Joseph Smith, who believed he was writing real history.
  • The doctrines in the book are the same doctrines that God revealed to Joseph. 

 

This is merely a hypothetical scenario, of course. But it's a plausible one that does not fit the cynical vision you seem to have of it. 

 

 

Edited by Gray
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19 minutes ago, smac97 said:

Mush.  A spoonful of sugar to help the bitter medicine of faithlessness go down.

Classy, Smac.

So much for the whole  "with no malice in my heart" more-in-sorrow-than-anger act.

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