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Musings Re: Historicity and the Book of Mormon


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6 hours ago, smac97 said:

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“In 1965, the U.S. State Department approached BYU on sending out a ‘collegiate goodwill tour for America’ for an almost unheard of five-month entertainment tour through Southeast Asia and the Middle East,” said Jay Todd, one of the members. “BYU accepted and asked Janie Thompson to package a variety show for the tour.”

Not quite unheard of.  In 1960, while I was a U.S. Marine based in the Far East, just such a BYU troupe came to my Regimental base and performed the musical "Oklahoma" for the entire regiment (we had a huge theater).  All of us were so homesick, and that production was so well done that we were all overwhelmed with gratitude..  Even now, I tear up just thinking about it.

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It seems to me that the advocates of the Inspired Fiction/Inspired or Inspiring But Not Historical approach basically want to recognize the validity of LDS spiritual experience overall against their o

Going back to the OP - I just want to point out something - The Book of Mormon is a modern production. We know when it was first published. We understand it's language (and the history of that la

First, an image: Now, a story: 1. My parents met at BYU, when both were performers with "Curtain Time, USA" (a predecessor to The Young Ambassadors).  See here: 2. Evidence of my

2 hours ago, pogi said:

Agreed.  There should be room. I feel like these kind of arguments try to pigeonhole people who may be undecided to either accept  the historicity or admit that everything in the church is a lie.  That is not fair.  That will only push people away who are not at all comfortable with the historicity but still believe the Book to be the word of God.   

I think the effort here is to persuade, not coerce or "pigeonhole."  I think that's eminently "fair."

As for "push{ing} people away," I am sure that is not the intent, just as the "Bread of Life" sermon in John 6 was not intended to "push people away" (but did).

Thanks,

-Smac

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2 hours ago, Nevo said:

I am not convinced by the arguments that the Book of Mormon is ancient.

Well, okay.  I am persuaded of that.

2 hours ago, Nevo said:

It doesn't ring true to me as an authentic history of pre-Colombian peoples. 

I think most of us lack a sufficient frame of reference to know what "an authentic history of pre-Columbian peoples" should sound like.  

2 hours ago, Nevo said:

Yet, at the same time, I have had profound spiritual experiences in the Church—while reading the Book of Mormon, while participating in the ordinances of the Church, while worshipping in the temple, etc.

I am glad to hear that.

2 hours ago, Nevo said:

What am I to do with that? According to the "no-middle-ground" folks, I need to conclude that the Church is a fraud and a deception. No other position is morally or logically coherent, apparently. 

C'mon.  Surely you can't believe that's what the leaders of the Church want you to conclude.

Thanks,

-Smac

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6 hours ago, mfbukowski said:

How can one know that statement is true?  What justifies that way of thinking?

I am. Others are. My perceptions are important to me. If I agree that others are, then I can also assume that their perceptions are important to them.

I can participate in a group where all members agree to assign authority over the group to someone. In such a case, we can verify consent of the governed and the consent of the entity the authority represents. That entity and the governed are one and the same. Yet in the case of God's authority, God would be a third party. Two different scenarios.

 

 

Edited by Meadowchik
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If I may ask . . . from where does the individual LDS Christian derive his spiritual strength, maturity, peace, and being? Is it derived from his or her individual relationship with Christ as personal Savior, or from the church? If it is the former, the historicity of the church is of little importance. If it is of the latter, then the church is what is vital.  If it is the former, it is all about faith in the one who came from heaven to redeem us, atone us, and grant us everlasting life. It is about faith in what you know in your heart, mind, and deepest being. That comes from the ministry of the Holy Spirit because of the salvific work of the Savior. That is why the Holy Spirit is deemed the comforter. He comforts us through our faith in the one called the Christ. The church, any church shrinks in comparison to that.

Edited by Navidad
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7 minutes ago, Navidad said:

If I may ask . . . from where does the individual LDS Christian derive his spiritual strength, maturity, peace, and being?

Principally, from the Spirit.  From faith in Jesus Christ.  From support and love of others (including the members and leaders of the Church).

7 minutes ago, Navidad said:

Is it derived from his or her individual relationship with Christ as personal Savior, or from the church?

Primarily from the former, but secondarily from the latter.

7 minutes ago, Navidad said:

If it is the former, the historicity of the church is of little importance. If it is of the latter, then the church is what is vital. 

I think this is a false dilemma.  One needn't choose one to the exclusion of the other.  Just prioritize them correctly.

7 minutes ago, Navidad said:

If it is the former, it is all about faith in the one who came from heaven to redeem us, atone us, and grant us everlasting life. It is about faith in what you know in your heart, mind, and deepest being. That comes from the ministry of the Holy Spirit because of the salvific work of the Savior. That is why the Holy Spirit is deemed the comforter. He comforts us through our faith in the one called the Christ. The church, any church shrinks in comparison to that.

I don't think we can bifurcate Christ from His Church.  

What if the church is Christ's Church?  What if He established it?  What if it is imbued with His authority?  His prophetic servants?

I think there is a reason why the Church is referred to as the metaphorical "bride" of Christ (see, e.g., here and here), and why we are sometimes characterized as being part of the "body of Christ."

I think you differentiate what Jesus, and Paul, and John do not.  The "church" in the New Testament has to mean something.

Thanks,

-Smac

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2 hours ago, smac97 said:

Principally, from the Spirit.  From faith in Jesus Christ.  From support and love of others (including the members and leaders of the Church).

Primarily from the former, but secondarily from the latter.

I think this is a false dilemma.  One needn't choose one to the exclusion of the other.  Just prioritize them correctly.

I don't think we can bifurcate Christ from His Church.  

What if the church is Christ's Church?  What if He established it?  What if it is imbued with His authority?  His prophetic servants?

I think there is a reason why the Church is referred to as the metaphorical "bride" of Christ (see, e.g., here and here), and why we are sometimes characterized as being part of the "body of Christ."

I think you differentiate what Jesus, and Paul, and John do not.  The "church" in the New Testament has to mean something.

Thanks,

-Smac

Thanks for the great and thoughtful response. This helps me a lot because it is a clear delineation of our respective faiths. The "church" in the New Testament and beyond, certainly means something. It is the place where we each can worship, fellowship, and be instructed. We attend the ward because we believe we are advised or warned in Hebrews not to forsake gathering together with fellow believers. The ward in Colonia Juarez is the only non-virtual place we can do that, and we enjoy it very much. Those are all things that we experience after we become Christians. Sometimes the instruction involves correction, learning, even discipline. That is the function of the church. In fact, when I was a boy I did not become a Christian in any church; it was at home.

That is different from my original question, "from where does the individual LDS Christian derive his spiritual strength, maturity, peace, and being?" It is my heartfelt belief and faith all of that comes from my personal relationship with Christ via the influence and shepherding of the Holy Spirit. If the church of which I am a member, or the church which I attend went away completely tomorrow; I would miss all that I receive from worship, fellowship, instruction, opportunities for service, and oversight, but my spiritual center would still be in Christ as it is now.

That is why it matters not to me if I attend a Mennonite church, an LDS Chapel, or speak in a Presbyterian or Baptist church, or a non-denominational church, because while they do indeed have some differences, none of them provide me my spiritual compass, my gifts, my faith, my peace, or my assurance of an intimate relationship with Christ or the reality of the  indwelling of the Holy Spirit. By the same token, no church can take that away from me because they tell me their doctrine doesn't allow for me to have that! I have sixty-five years of life as a Christian to the contrary. It is also a truth that sometimes the church or an individual church (ward, etc) (yours, mine, or any) can interfere with that peace and joy.

Committed Christians in any church (globally) are indeed Christ's church. He established it in its entirety as his bride (globally). There are prophetic servants in every church I have ever attended. As far as I can tell, Christ's authority is no different in one group than in another. Peter assures us a common royal priesthood in I Peter 2:9. All committed Christians are his bride and "special possession." I mean no offense by this, but it has to be said - do you not think that if we saw, observed, felt, perceived, something better, more powerful, more spirit-filled, different in our ward or in our interactions with members of the LDS church in a number of different venues (including this one), that we wouldn't jump at that chance to join that unique, special one-of-a-kind church with unique, special one-of-a-kind Godly people? Of course we would! Our truth (My wife and I) is that our ward is every bit as special as my home church in Pennsylvania, and our long time church home in Florida. Every bit as special. It just is not more special. The folks in the ward and those I have met at conferences have convinced me that they love the Lord with as much fervor and commitment as any Christians I have known anywhere. That is why I don't hesitate to get into trouble with my non-LDS Christian friends to defend my LDS Christian friends as to the veracity and strength of their (LDS Christian) faith. Thanks again for your kind reply.

Edited by Navidad
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smac. If you have three hours, you might be interested in the last three podcast episodes I've done that go into my views on the Book of Mormon. If you want to understand why a Latter-day Saint would adopt an inspired but non-historical view, this would give you that insight.

Here's the most recent episode. https://www.churchistrue.com/blog/podcast-episode-5-book-of-mormon-translation/

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9 minutes ago, churchistrue said:

If you have three hours, you might be interested in the last three podcast episodes I've done that go into my views on the Book of Mormon. If you want to understand why a Latter-day Saint would adopt an inspired but non-historical view, this would give you that insight.

Is there a way through technology to do voice to text to get a transcript of these?

I don't have 3 hours to donate to you at the moment.  Time is money, time is life itself.

I like your stuff but I also speed read.

It sounds like it would not be hard to do that but then again I certainly don't know how. :)

 

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50 minutes ago, mfbukowski said:

Is there a way through technology to do voice to text to get a transcript of these?

I don't have 3 hours to donate to you at the moment.  Time is money, time is life itself.

I like your stuff but I also speed read.

It sounds like it would not be hard to do that but then again I certainly don't know how. :)

 

I'll let you know when I get the transcripts up.

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14 hours ago, Navidad said:

That is different from my original question, "from where does the individual LDS Christian derive his spiritual strength, maturity, peace, and being?" It is my heartfelt belief and faith all of that comes from my personal relationship with Christ via the influence and shepherding of the Holy Spirit. If the church of which I am a member, or the church which I attend went away completely tomorrow; I would miss all that I receive from worship, fellowship, instruction, opportunities for service, and oversight, but my spiritual center would still be in Christ as it is now.

I understand this and agree fully.  For me if somehow the Book of Mormon disappeared along with "the church" my beliefs would remain the same, as guided by the spirit of God within me, and my own personal experiences.

I was inventing a form of Christian extreme anthropomorphic theology - with God as the Father figure and Christ as the human messenger and giver of the Word, which implies for me the creation of reality as we know it now, "through a glass darkly". But those connections take a lot of explaining.

Anyway I was inventing that as a Phd student in New York City, wondering if anyone west of the Hudson was worth listening to, when I found it already in existence, right here, in this strange faith among what I saw as Utah farmers far away in the anti-intellectual hinterland.   Talk about condescension !!  

This is a good insight for me to ponder, thanks.  Yes my core beliefs really have not changed since I decided to allow God to speak to my soul and actually acknowledged that that was a possibility for human experience.

I had to believe in the possibility of revelation to people like me before  I would even ask for guidance.

That is one reason why it is clear to me that belief is prior to history or anything else- If one does not believe in God or revelation as a possibility, the historicity of a church is unthinkable.

Belief that revelation is even possible is a faith position that must come prior to anything else, and belief that the Bible is a reliable source of God's word can only come through such revelation.

Many use the bible as its own proof in a circular argument- the bible is true because it says it is true.  Same for the BOM. 

To break that circle, one must have an additional source of verification, and what kind of spiritual verification should be the starting point?  Spiritual experience itself.!!

Yes it is circular but certainly no more so than "Cogito Ergo Sum".   Everything in life starts with a leap of faith.

When one gets old enough it might take a leap of faith to stand up and walk across the room, faithful that a hip won't break in the process!  ;)

Joseph said that faith is a principle of action, and that is certainly true AND part of Pragmatic philosophy.   And so yes, faith does come before "church" or else one would not even be seeking what church if any to join!

It's clear as a bell!

That's why LDS must cede that the spirit can even come to non- members, or else there could be no converts!

That is the "proof" of your position that faith comes first, because without the Holy Spirit, one would not even seek a "church" or a philosophy or a meaning for one's life.

One would not even join secular causes if they did not first see the need to change and put that prior to which particular cause one will join- Save the Whales, Black Lives Matter, or climate change.

One must first see beyond immediate needs like food clothing and shelter,  to seeking for purpose in one's life,  before any commitment to any ideal can be made, and that questioning presumes that there must be a source for such an answer. 

Even atheists concede the importance for a purpose in one's life, and that seeking comes from what religious people call  "the Holy Spirit."

 

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1 hour ago, churchistrue said:

I'll let you know when I get the transcripts up.

I'm down. ;)

 

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On 6/22/2020 at 3:18 PM, Meadowchik said:

Authority over a human organisation is not the same as being the authority representing God to human beings.

I asked you how you knew that was true and makes that way of thinking "true"

This is your response:

Quote

 

I am. Others are. My perceptions are important to me. If I agree that others are, then I can also assume that their perceptions are important to them.

I can participate in a group where all members agree to assign authority over the group to someone. In such a case, we can verify consent of the governed and the consent of the entity the authority represents. That entity and the governed are one and the same. Yet in the case of God's authority, God would be a third party. Two different scenarios.

 

What started the discussion was my saying that WE - the participants- give the authority to the organization simply by accepting that they have authority.

It appears you agree with me that members of the group assign authority to someone who takes it on by mutual agreement among all.

Then you say that it is a different scenario with God's authority.

I am not following the argument.   And what does that have to do with the importance of your perceptions?

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duplicate

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duplicate

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oh my gosh triplicate!

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1 minute ago, mfbukowski said:

I asked you how you knew that was true and makes that way of thinking "true"

This is your response:

What started the discussion was my saying that WE - the participants- give the authority to the organization simply by accepting that the organization has authority.

It appears you agree with me that members of the group assign authority to someone who takes it on by mutual agreement among all.

Then you say that it is a different scenario with God's authority.

I am not following the argument.   And what does that have to do with the importance of your perceptions?   I am confused.

I began with the foundational value system that informs it. 

Your example is merely people choosing a representative for them.  It does not consider the consent of God to be represented by whoever your group accepts/chooses to represent Him. 

 

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13 minutes ago, Meadowchik said:

I began with the foundational value system that informs it. 

Your example is merely people choosing a representative for them.  It does not consider the consent of God to be represented by whoever your group accepts/chooses to represent Him. 

 

And how do we know that God gives his consent independent of people believing that he does?  I am not seeing any difference in how we know that the authority is "real"- other than all in the group agreeing that God accepts the group

That is part of the beliefs of the group in the first place- that we all agree and so does God

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20 minutes ago, mfbukowski said:

And how do we know that God gives his consent independent of people believing that he does?  I am not seeing any difference in how we know that the authority is "real"- other than all in the group agreeing that God accepts the group

That is part of the beliefs of the group in the first place- that we all agree and so does God

Well for me, the value system applies to how I would treat God:

I am. Others are. My perceptions are important to me. If I agree that others are, then I can also assume that their perceptions are important to them....and if God exists: God has perceptions which are important to God. Recognising all of the above means valuing others including respecting the fact of their own perceptions and thus it means not making assumptions about what God wants. Specifically in this case, it means not assuming we know who God wants to represent Him.

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1 hour ago, mfbukowski said:

What started the discussion was my saying that WE - the participants- give the authority to the organization simply by accepting that they have authority.

PS What started the authority-focused discussion was my comment about authority. Your remark you reference was in response to my comment, although you attributed it to stemelbow.

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4 hours ago, Meadowchik said:

Well for me, the value system applies to how I would treat God:

I am. Others are. My perceptions are important to me. If I agree that others are, then I can also assume that their perceptions are important to them....and if God exists: God has perceptions which are important to God. Recognising all of the above means valuing others including respecting the fact of their own perceptions and thus it means not making assumptions about what God wants. Specifically in this case, it means not assuming we know who God wants to represent Him.

Agree, except of course by our own revelations of what we think He wants

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4 hours ago, mfbukowski said:

Agree, except of course by our own revelations of what we think He wants

So you have your perception of what God wants, and other people have theirs. 

I actually prefer the concept of people joining together and sharing their perceptions about God, communing, deciding what they believe in common, and even appointing their representative. There are churches like this that do not adopt the "one true church" model of authority.

Yet the LDS Church does adopt the model of the one true church, where The Book of Mormon is typically used to establish that authority.

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33 minutes ago, Benjamin McGuire said:

Going back to the OP - I just want to point out something -

The Book of Mormon is a modern production. We know when it was first published. We understand it's language (and the history of that language). We can discuss its first readers. None of this is really in dispute by believers or non-believers (as far as I know). The historicity of the Book of Mormon, if we want to discuss such a concept, is that of the Book of Mormon as an artifact, with a well defined history, and with lots of early copies and manuscripts.

Well, sort of.  The issue is whether it is a translation of an ancient record, or a fiction fabricated by Joseph Smith (or a contemporary).

33 minutes ago, Benjamin McGuire said:

This is entirely different (and separate) from the question of whether or not the Book of Mormon was produced using an ancient source, and is in some way a translation of that ancient material. And for the most part, we cannot discuss the historicity of the source text of the Book of Mormon (assuming it is a translation from an ancient source) because (a) we don't have the source text (except for a couple of small potential fragments which are two small to have yielded any significant analysis so far), and (b) we have no ancient historical record that aligns with the contents of the text in a way that connects specific literary characters and places and events in the Book of Mormon to the historical record. What this means is that the issue with the Book of Mormon is entirely one of verisimilitude.

I disagree with both of the foregoing points.  I think we can discuss the historicity of the (putative) source text of The Book of Mormon even though "we don't have the source text."  I also don't think a corroborating "ancient historical record" is necessary to "discuss the historicity of the source text."

33 minutes ago, Benjamin McGuire said:

It is easy to make the inappropriate shift and claim that verisimilitude is somehow historicity.

You seem to be the one proposing this "inappropriate shift."

33 minutes ago, Benjamin McGuire said:

Perhaps a good analogy is something like the Book of Esther from the Old Testament. It is a fictional novel. But is in, in fact, a very ancient fictional novel. And so while the text has historicity (we have a history of the text-as-artifact within the historical record), the narrative that is the text has no historicity. But that narrative fits a certain historical context, it was written within an ancient context, and so it has very good verisimilitude.

This seems to put the cart before the horse.  Fiction v. Historical authenticity is the point at issue.

33 minutes ago, Benjamin McGuire said:

On what grounds is a story to be judged fictional? Because it is easier to accept a patently unrealistic story, fictionality was sometimes determined by whether or not the events of the story could have happened or by whether the story seemed realistic.

We can also look at extant evidence.  

33 minutes ago, Benjamin McGuire said:

But to judge a story’s historicity by its degree of realism is to mistake verisimilitude for historicity. Verisimilitude is the literary term for the illusion of reality. Just because a story sounds real does not mean that it is. Realistic fiction is just as fictional as nonrealistic fiction.

I agree with this.  

33 minutes ago, Benjamin McGuire said:

Among the leading arguments for Esther’s historicity are that its setting is authentic and that its knowledge of Persian custom is detailed and accurate. But this realistic background proves nothing about the historicity of the story, as our aforementioned commentators were well aware. (“The Book of Esther and Ancient Storytelling,” JBL, Vol. 120, No. 1)

If the Book of Esther is fictional, its author could have been steeped in the milieu, and therefore could have included such authentic details in the (fictional) narrative.

I don't think Joseph Smith is similarly situated.  

33 minutes ago, Benjamin McGuire said:

While you could argue that there isn't any way that Joseph Smith could have produced realistic fiction in this way, that isn't my point.

Sure seems like it.  

33 minutes ago, Benjamin McGuire said:

Believers who make this shift, who, to use the example here, compare the Book of Mormon to an ancient clay jar, make the Book of Mormon into something that it isn't. This doesn't help us understand the text.

I don't think I did "compare the Book of Mormon to an ancient clay jar."  Instead, I was critiquing the "Inspired Fiction" theory.  

Thanks,

-Smac

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I have never been able to understand the "inspired fiction" concept of the Book of Mormon. It would mean that God allowed His church to believe something was true that wasn't.

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