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'Inspired fiction' and doctrine and covenants section 27


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We have quite a few threads that have focused or else heavily addressed the "inspired fiction" or "pious fraud" theory regarding the Book of Mormon.  Here are a few:

There have also been a number of formal written treatments that touch on this topic:

I've laid out my perspective on this topic a number of times (see, e.g., here).  However, in this week's study of Section 27 of the Doctrine & Covenants I came across a passage that brought this topic back to mind:

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1 Listen to the voice of Jesus Christ, your Lord, your God, and your Redeemer, whose word is quick and powerful.
2 For, behold, I say unto you, that it mattereth not what ye shall eat or what ye shall drink when ye partake of the sacrament, if it so be that ye do it with an eye single to my glory—remembering unto the Father my body which was laid down for you, and my blood which was shed for the remission of your sins.
3 Wherefore, a commandment I give unto you, that you shall not purchase wine neither strong drink of your enemies;
4 Wherefore, you shall partake of none except it is made new among you; yea, in this my Father’s kingdom which shall be built up on the earth.
5 Behold, this is wisdom in me; wherefore, marvel not, for the hour cometh that I will drink of the fruit of the vine with you on the earth, and with Moroni, whom I have sent unto you to reveal the Book of Mormon, containing the fulness of my everlasting gospel, to whom I have committed the keys of the record of the stick of Ephraim;
6 And also with Elias, to whom I have committed the keys of bringing to pass the restoration of all things spoken by the mouth of all the holy prophets since the world began, concerning the last days;
7 And also John the son of Zacharias, which Zacharias he (Elias) visited and gave promise that he should have a son, and his name should be John, and he should be filled with the spirit of Elias;
8 Which John I have sent unto you, my servants, Joseph Smith, Jun., and Oliver Cowdery, to ordain you unto the first priesthood which you have received, that you might be called and ordained even as Aaron;
9 And also Elijah, unto whom I have committed the keys of the power of turning the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the hearts of the children to the fathers, that the whole earth may not be smitten with a curse;
10 And also with Joseph and Jacob, and Isaac, and Abraham, your fathers, by whom the promises remain;
11 And also with Michael, or Adam, the father of all, the prince of all, the ancient of days;
12 And also with Peter, and James, and John, whom I have sent unto you, by whom I have ordained you and confirmed you to be apostles, and especial witnesses of my name, and bear the keys of your ministry and of the same things which I revealed unto them;
13 Unto whom I have committed the keys of my kingdom, and a dispensation of the gospel for the last times; and for the fulness of times, in the which I will gather together in one all things, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth;
14 And also with all those whom my Father hath given me out of the world.

This passage includes a roll call of biblical prophets: Elias, John the Baptist, Elijah, Joseph of Egypt, Jacob (Israel), Isaac, Abraham, Michael (Adam), Peter, James and John.  I assume this list is not exhaustive.  Moses, Noah and Enoch are all notable biblical figures who are absent from it. 

The two non-biblical figures are, of course, Joseph Smith and Moroni.  

In any event, I am curious if there are any adherents of the "Inspired Fiction" on this board would be willing to share their thoughts regarding the inclusion of the purportedly-fictional Moroni on this list of persons who shall "drink of the fruit of the vine {} on the earth" with Jesus Christ (perhaps at Adam-ondi-Ahman?).

Thanks,

-Smac

Edited by smac97
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2 minutes ago, The Nehor said:

More excited about finally getting to try out wine myself.

If the 'fruit of the vine' mentioned here turns out to be actual wine, you're going to be sorely disappointed. We have an American shop next to our airport that has started selling bottles of imported concord grape juice for ridiculously high prices. You have no idea how lucky you are!

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21 minutes ago, Hamba Tuhan said:

If the 'fruit of the vine' mentioned here turns out to be actual wine, you're going to be sorely disappointed. We have an American shop next to our airport that has started selling bottles of imported concord grape juice for ridiculously high prices. You have no idea how lucky you are!

Most of my hopes have been disappointments when I achieve them so it will just be another day.

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Yay!  I don't have to worry about being disappointed or let down at achieving my hopes, because, with each passing day, it becomes ever clearer that I'm not going to achieve most any of them!  Thank you for the "pick-me-up"!  I feel so much better now! <_<:rolleyes::fool:

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10 hours ago, smac97 said:

We have quite a few threads that have focused or else heavily addressed the "inspired fiction" or "pious fraud" theory regarding the Book of Mormon..........................

In any event, I am curious if there are any adherents of the "Inspired Fiction" on this board would be willing to share their thoughts regarding the inclusion of the purportedly-fictional Moroni on this list of persons who shall "drink of the fruit of the vine {} on the earth" with Jesus Christ (perhaps at Adam-ondi-Ahman?).......................

The "inspired fiction" theory is actually a step up from the older claims that the BofM was a horrible read (Twain comparing it to "chloroform in print").  Claims of lack of historicity are now often accompanied by an admission that it contains many high-minded sentiments and beautiful turns of phrase.  After all there are some very well known pseudepigrapha out there  Why can't the BofM be one of them?

However, much the same could be (and has been) said of the Bible.  Or indeed of Homeric Epic.  Great literature does not need to be historically true to be inspiring.  Failure to recognize that is just silly.

We cannot expect everyone to accept the miraculous or the supernatural at face value (if those are even viable categories).  It is not wrong to be skeptical in the face of such enormous (some would say preposterous) claims.  "Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence" (Carl Sagan).

Edited by Robert F. Smith
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7 hours ago, Robert F. Smith said:

The "inspired fiction" theory is actually a step up from the older claims that the BofM was a horrible read (Twain comparing it to "chloroform in print"). 

Yes.  But it's still seems quite a step below from the Church's claims that the Book of Mormon is what it claims to be, what Joseph Smith claimed it to be.  

And Mark Twain was not a member of the church.

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Claims of lack of historicity are now often accompanied by an admission that it contains many high-minded sentiments and beautiful turns of phrase. 

The phrase "a spoonful of sugar" comes to mind.

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After all there are some very well known pseudepigrapha out there  Why can't the BofM be one of them?

That depends, I suppose, on the individual's perspective.  In my younger days I was an avid reader of Greco-Roman mythology.  I found the stories fascinating, and as I grew older I came to be aware of how many of the themes and archetypes in these myths are interwoven into our social consciousness.  However, I did not look to these stories to inform my belief in God, or to govern my personal moral code, or to provide meaningfuly guidance in important life decisions (Word of Wisdom, Law of Chastity and Law of Tithing, to attend church, serve a mission, temple worship, family history, marriage/children, etc.).

There are many writings in the world that contain "high-minded sentiments and beautiful turns of phrase," but nevertheless remain firmly the take-it-or-leave-it category of my mind.  I've previously commented on this here:

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A popular refrain from the "Inspired Fiction" folks is that The Book of Mormon has value even if it is entirely fictional, just like the parables of Jesus need not be literally historical in order to have value.  However, I disagree with this comparison.   Parables have value irrespective of their historicity, I agree with that. However, Jesus Christ being the Son of God and Savior of the world only has value because of the historicity tied up with that declaration. Historicity matters when we consider various scriptural passages, such as this one: "I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me." Absent historicity, this passage has no salvific meaning or value. Without historicity, Jesus would be just another admirable fictional character, like Atticus Finch, or Samwise Gamgee, or Captain America. Jesus would be about as valuable to me as an imaginary life preserver would be to a drowning man.

In his article "Joseph Smith and the Historicity of the Book of Mormon" (published in the above volume), Kent P. Jackson asks, "what credibility could any of these sources have if the book is not historical?"  He goes on (emphasis added):

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Can the Book of Mormon indeed be 'true,' in any sense, if it lies repeatedly, explicitly, and deliberately regarding its own historicity? Can Joseph Smith be viewed with any level of credibility if he repeatedly, explicitly, and deliberately lied concerning the historicity of the book? Can we have any degree of confidence in what are presented as the words of God in the Doctrine and Covenants if they repeatedly, explicitly, and deliberately lie by asserting the historicity of the Book of Mormon? If the Book of Mormon is not what it claims to be, what possible cause would anyone have to accept anything of the work of Joseph Smith and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints given the consistent assertions that the Book of Mormon is an ancient text that describes ancient events?" (Historicity and the Latter-day Saint Scriptures, edited by Paul Y. Hoskisson, pp. 137-138.)

Can a person have faith in The Book of Mormon while simultaneously rejecting The Book of Mormon as to its historicity? I don't think so. Such a concept renders Joseph Smith a fraud and a liar, and the book itself a fraud and a lie. A fictional Book of Mormon has no real power, and renders it as nothing more than a quirky self-help book. It becomes no more relevant to the salvation of men than Awaken the Giant Within by Anthony Robbins or How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie. These are useful books, to be sure. For some, they are even life changing. But The Book of Mormon declares itself to be the word of God through inspired prophets.

Can a person have faith in Christ while simultaneously rejecting Christ as an actual, historical figure? I don't think so. Rejecting the historicity of Christ renders Christ a fictional role model, like Atticus Finch or Gandalf. A fictional Christ has no power to atone, no power to forgive, no power to save.

I think the Inspired Fiction folks have not really thought through the ramifications of their proposal.   The "fake but accurate," "I can reject what The Book of Mormon claims to be and what Joseph Smith represented it to be, but still accept it as scripture" type of reasoning is a fundamentally flawed line of reasoning. Elder Oaks aptly described it as "not only reject(ing) the concepts of faith and revelation that The Book of Mormon explains and advocates, but it is also not even good scholarship." This is why I find advocacy of this approach problematic. Such advocates are steering others up a spiritual blind alley; a path, I think, which sooner or later will culminate in a crisis of faith and/or a rejection of The Book of Mormon. After all, one who rejects its historicity has already rejected a substantive, even vital, part of the book. Rejecting the rest of it would seem to be just a matter of time.  I think an affirmative denial of the book's historicity will, sooner or later, become fatal to a testimony of the book. Ambivalence about historicity is perhaps possible, but affirmative denial is, I think, not compatible with an enduring and efficacious testimony of The Book of Mormon.

I've also previously quoted Elder Oaks (same link) (emphasis added) :

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"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, but it is also not even good scholarship. ... 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." (Historicity and the Latter-day Saint Scriptures, edited by Paul Y. Hoskisson, p. 244.)

I don't think we (that is, members of the Church) can say, regarding Jesus Christ, that quotations of Him in the Bible merely contain "high-minded sentiments and beautiful turns of phrase," and that we can enjoy such things while also rejecting His claims to be the Son of God and the Savior of Makind.  I have yet to see the Inspired Fiction folks (that is, those who are members of the Church) address this issue, which I believe is fatal to their proposal.  If The Book of Mormon can be rejected for what it claims to be, and instead construed as fiction, then so can Jesus' claims of being the Son of God and our Savior.

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However, much the same could be (and has been) said of the Bible.  Or indeed of Homeric Epic.  Great literature does not need to be historically true to be inspiring. 

I suppose that depends on what is meant by "inspiring."  Joseph Smith and the Church have never encouraged us to read the Book of Mormon for its status as "great literature."  Rather, it is presented to us as scripture.  It is presented for "the convincing of the Jew and Gentile that Jesus is the Christ, the Eternal God, manifesting himself unto all nations."

Again, to quote Elder Oaks: "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."

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Failure to recognize that is just silly.

I recognize it.  My point, though, is that the Church isn't presenting the Book of Mormon as merely "great literature," nor is it presenting Jesus Christ as merely a thoughtful rabbi.

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We cannot expect everyone to accept the miraculous or the supernatural at face value (if those are even viable categories). 

I acknowledge that.  We likewise cannot expect everyone to accept Jesus Christ as the Son of God.  But I don't think that means we (that is, members of the Church) are at liberty to downgrade the Savior, to affirmatively deny His claims to be "the Christ" (Matt. 16:20, Marck 14:61-62), the "Son of God" (Matt. 27:43, John 10:36),  "the resurrection, and the life" (John 11:25), the "good shepherd" (John 10:14), the "King of the Jews" (Matt. 27:11), that "no man cometh unto the Father, but by me" (John 14:6), the "light of the world" (John 8:12), and so on.

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It is not wrong to be skeptical in the face of such enormous (some would say preposterous) claims. 

I am not speaking of those who are not under covenant, who are on the outside looking in.  I think members of the Church are under covenant to follow Jesus Christ.  Ipso facto, they are constrained by that covenant from denying that Jesus is the Christ, including the "enormous (some would say preposterous) claims" that He is the Son of God, that He performed miracles, that He resurrected in a glorifed and perfected body, that He atoned for the sins of mankind, and so on.

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"Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence" (Carl Sagan).

I'm curious what "extraordinary evidence" you think exists for the divine sonship of Jesus Christ, for His miracles, for His atoning sacrifice, for His resurrection, etc.?

Thanks,

-Smac

Edited by smac97
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13 hours ago, The Nehor said:

Most of my hopes have been disappointments when I achieve them so it will just be another day.

"Ten years ago, I walked this street, my dreams were riding tall
Tonight I would be thankful Lord, for any dream at all.

Some folks would be happy just to have one dream come true
But everything you gather is just more that you can lose."

Garcia/Hunter

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I find myself once again agreeing with @smac97 on this one, even though my conclusion on the evidence is the polar opposite from his.  The historical fiction narrative on the Book of Mormon simply does not align with either the Church's claims regarding its origins or with the text itself.  For example Moroni, himself, states plainly in Moroni 10:27 that he expects to meet us at the "bar of God."  If he's not real, then those types of statements are meaningless.  That is but one example of the narrator/author in the various books speaking to the reading audience about the reality of their words.  Since the Book of Mormon was published, Church leaders have repeatedly testified of the reality of the people, places and things in the Book of Mormon, in addition to its underlying message.  To adopt the historical fiction narrative in an effort to remain a believer is to reject some of the most fundamental elements of the Church and its origins.

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26 minutes ago, ttribe said:

I find myself once again agreeing with @smac97 on this one, even though my conclusion on the evidence is the polar opposite from his. 

Interesting.

26 minutes ago, ttribe said:

The historical fiction narrative on the Book of Mormon simply does not align with either the Church's claims regarding its origins or with the text itself.  For example Moroni, himself, states plainly in Moroni 10:27 that he expects to meet us at the "bar of God."  If he's not real, then those types of statements are meaningless.  That is but one example of the narrator/author in the various books speaking to the reading audience about the reality of their words.  Since the Book of Mormon was published, Church leaders have repeatedly testified of the reality of the people, places and things in the Book of Mormon, in addition to its underlying message.  To adopt the historical fiction narrative in an effort to remain a believer is to reject some of the most fundamental elements of the Church and its origins.

I have previously said this:

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I think those who seek salvation, but who reject the messengers who bring it, are in serious error.  Nevertheless, as deeply flawed as their position is, I welcome such persons who buy into the "inspired fiction" meme in fellowship in the Church.  We are all of us working to improve our understanding of God and His plans for us.  It is not for me to withdraw or withhold fellowship from those who differ from me on this issue.  I also won't speculate as to their standing in the Church generally, and will instead leave such things to those who are in authority and have proper stewardship.

I stand by this.

Thanks,

-Smac

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8 minutes ago, smac97 said:

Interesting.

I have previously said this:

I stand by this.

Thanks,

-Smac

To clarify, I'm certainly not suggesting there shouldn't be room in the Church for people who adopt the historical fiction narrative; far from it.  I am, however, pointing out the most obvious problem(s) with regard to everything that has been said by the Church and its leaders since day one of the Book of Mormon.

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4 minutes ago, ttribe said:

To clarify, I'm certainly not suggesting there shouldn't be room in the Church for people who adopt the historical fiction narrative; far from it.  I am, however, pointing out the most obvious problem(s) with regard to everything that has been said by the Church and its leaders since day one of the Book of Mormon.

Understood.  Of course, the same could be said about "the most obvious problem(s) with regarding to everything that has been said" by all of Christendom about Jesus Christ.  

The Church's claims regarding the origins of the Book of Mormon are, in my view, either on par with, or easier to accept than, the claims that Jesus Christ was born of a virgin, performed many miracles, took upon Himself the sins of the world, was killed, and arose on the third day with a glorified and perfected body and thereafter ascended into heaven.

Thanks,

-Smac

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7 minutes ago, smac97 said:

Understood.  Of course, the same could be said about "the most obvious problem(s) with regarding to everything that has been said" by all of Christendom about Jesus Christ.  

The Church's claims regarding the origins of the Book of Mormon are, in my view, either on par with, or easier to accept than, the claims that Jesus Christ was born of a virgin, performed many miracles, took upon Himself the sins of the world, was killed, and arose on the third day with a glorified and perfected body and thereafter ascended into heaven.

Thanks,

-Smac

I have a theory about Mary, I believe they had to lie on how she got pregnant, because I believe she could have been put to death for getting pregnant unbetrothed in those times. 

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45 minutes ago, smac97 said:

Understood.  Of course, the same could be said about "the most obvious problem(s) with regarding to everything that has been said" by all of Christendom about Jesus Christ.  

The Church's claims regarding the origins of the Book of Mormon are, in my view, either on par with, or easier to accept than, the claims that Jesus Christ was born of a virgin, performed many miracles, took upon Himself the sins of the world, was killed, and arose on the third day with a glorified and perfected body and thereafter ascended into heaven.

Thanks,

-Smac

Once again, I agree with you, even though my conclusions on the meaning of the evidence regarding the reality of these events is far different than yours.

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Instead of being on par with the Bible, the claims in the Book of Mormon and other parts of the LDS Canon rest on certain  events & people being literal in the Bible, the reverse is not true. The Book of Mormon is dependent on the Bible and its claims (the Book of Mormon) cannot be separated from the Bible.

Edited by CA Steve
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4 hours ago, smac97 said:

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

That depends, I suppose, on the individual's perspective.  In my younger days I was an avid reader of Greco-Roman mythology.  I found the stories fascinating, and as I grew older I came to be aware of how many of the themes and archetypes in these myths are interwoven into our social consciousness.  However, I did not look to these stories to inform my belief in God, or to govern my personal moral code, or to provide meaningfuly guidance in important life decisions (Word of Wisdom, Law of Chastity and Law of Tithing, to attend church, serve a mission, temple worship, family history, marriage/children, etc.).

There are many writings in the world that contain "high-minded sentiments and beautiful turns of phrase," but nevertheless remain firmly the take-it-or-leave-it category of my mind.  ..............................

I don't think we (that is, members of the Church) can say, regarding Jesus Christ, that quotations of Him in the Bible merely contain "high-minded sentiments and beautiful turns of phrase," and that we can enjoy such things while also rejecting His claims to be the Son of God and the Savior of Makind.  I have yet to see the Inspired Fiction folks (that is, those who are members of the Church) address this issue, which I believe is fatal to their proposal.  If The Book of Mormon can be rejected for what it claims to be, and instead construed as fiction, then so can Jesus' claims of being the Son of God and our Savior.

Yet, for over three thousand years, the people of Egypt believed that the dying-and-rising-god Osiris showed them the way to eternal salvation.  They identified with him and followed the Book of the Dead liturgy in order to actualize that hope.  Jordan Peterson even cries when considering this act in the context of Jesus --

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I suppose that depends on what is meant by "inspiring."  Joseph Smith and the Church have never encouraged us to read the Book of Mormon for its status as "great literature."  Rather, it is presented to us as scripture.  It is presented for "the convincing of the Jew and Gentile that Jesus is the Christ, the Eternal God, manifesting himself unto all nations."

Again, to quote Elder Oaks: "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."

I recognize it.  My point, though, is that the Church isn't presenting the Book of Mormon as merely "great literature," nor is it presenting Jesus Christ as merely a thoughtful rabbi.

True enough, although LDS scholars will sometimes demonstrate the brilliant chiastic arrangement of key passages, such as Alma 36.  Which carries with it tremendous clarity and exegetical value.

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

I am not speaking of those who are not under covenant, who are on the outside looking in.  I think members of the Church are under covenant to follow Jesus Christ.  Ipso facto, they are constrained by that covenant from denying that Jesus is the Christ, including the "enormous (some would say preposterous) claims" that He is the Son of God, that He performed miracles, that He resurrected in a glorifed and perfected body, that He atoned for the sins of mankind, and so on.

I'm curious what "extraordinary evidence" you think exists for the divine sonship of Jesus Christ, for His miracles, for His atoning sacrifice, for His resurrection, etc.?....................

That is the biblical question which cannot be solved via objective evidence (meaning hard forensic evidence).  There is no biblical archeological or logical evidence which could be used buttress the claim the Jesus was the son of God, or that he was resurrected.  The biblical claims can be taken as true only as a matter of faith.  LDS or not, believers must have some other means by which to know the answer to that question.  And that means is going to have to be non-transferrable (Jesus praises Peter for using just such an other-worldly approach, Matt 16:17).  That approach is adequate in and of itself.

However, precisely because it cannot possibly be historically true, the Book of Mormon comes to the rescue:  Since the BofM can be shown to be archeologically and historically true, objections to its odd origin-story can be disregarded as irrelevant.  The Bible we know to be ancient, even though many reject the supposed miraculous content.  The BofM as published in 1830 has no ancient scribal lineage (at least not one that is objectively traceable), and is widely held in contempt.  Despite this, if it contains scads of material which are substantive and could not possibly have been known to Joseph Smith, that actually buttresses the authenticity of the miraculous biblical claims about Moses, Jesus, etc.  By extension or extrapolation.  It then becomes a literal "Another Testament of Christ."  In the Bayesian sense of the preponderance of evidence.

There are many such extraordinary evidences which I have published (even if they are unnecessary for a faithful LDS member), but three are particularly complex and systematic:

A. The internal chronology of the BofM matches the actual archeology of the three key dates:  (1) First year of the reign of King Zedekiah, when Lehi leaves Jerusalem, and the 600-year-count begins till the birth of Jesus, (2) the birth of Jesus right on schedule, and (3) death of Jesus by crucifixion also right on schedule.  These three dates cannot be known from the Bible, and the first year of the reign of Zedekiah was only discovered on a cuneiform record contemporary with Zedekiah -- over a century after Joseph Smith.

B. The Egypto-Israelite measuring system as it existed in the time of Lehi & Nephi is unknown to the Bible, and has only been recovered archeologically in recent decades.  How then does it show up in Alma 11?  I cover this thoroughly in my book Egyptianisms in the Book of Mormon and Other Studies (2020), online at https://www.google.com/books/edition/EGYPTIANISMS_IN_THE_BOOK_OF_MORMON_AND_O/W-kUEAAAQBAJ?hl=en&gbpv=1&dq=9781736176115&pg=PA105&printsec=frontcover .

C. Epistolary form in the BofM follows an ancient format, but violates both modern and New Testament templates.  See my discussion in FARMS Review, 22/2 (2010):125-135, online at https://scholarsarchive.byu.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1824&context=msr .

Edited by Robert F. Smith
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2 minutes ago, Robert F. Smith said:
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There are many writings in the world that contain "high-minded sentiments and beautiful turns of phrase," but nevertheless remain firmly the take-it-or-leave-it category of my mind.  ..............................

I don't think we (that is, members of the Church) can say, regarding Jesus Christ, that quotations of Him in the Bible merely contain "high-minded sentiments and beautiful turns of phrase," and that we can enjoy such things while also rejecting His claims to be the Son of God and the Savior of Makind.  I have yet to see the Inspired Fiction folks (that is, those who are members of the Church) address this issue, which I believe is fatal to their proposal.  If The Book of Mormon can be rejected for what it claims to be, and instead construed as fiction, then so can Jesus' claims of being the Son of God and our Savior.

Yet, for over three thousand years, the people of Egypt believed that the dying-and-rising-god Osiris showed them the way to eternal salvation.  They identified with him and followed the Book of the Dead liturgy in order to actualize that hope.  Jordan Peterson even cries when considering this act in the context of Jesus --

I'm not sure I understand your point.  I understand that ancient Egyptians worshipped Osiris, but I'm not sure how that relates to members of the Church who advocate for an "Inspired Fiction" approach to the Book of Mormon.

2 minutes ago, Robert F. Smith said:
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I am not speaking of those who are not under covenant, who are on the outside looking in.  I think members of the Church are under covenant to follow Jesus Christ.  Ipso facto, they are constrained by that covenant from denying that Jesus is the Christ, including the "enormous (some would say preposterous) claims" that He is the Son of God, that He performed miracles, that He resurrected in a glorifed and perfected body, that He atoned for the sins of mankind, and so on.

I'm curious what "extraordinary evidence" you think exists for the divine sonship of Jesus Christ, for His miracles, for His atoning sacrifice, for His resurrection, etc.?

That is the biblical question which cannot be solved via objective evidence (meaning hard forensic evidence). 

I agree.  So if this question cannot be solved via "objective evidence," do you still hold it to the "extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence" standard?  If yes, then that would seem to require rejection of the Bible.  If not, then why hold the Book of Mormon to an evidentiary standard that does not apply to the Bible or to Jesus Christ?

2 minutes ago, Robert F. Smith said:

There is no biblical archeological or logical evidence which could be used buttress the claim the Jesus was the son of God, or that he was resurrected.  The biblical claims can be taken as true only as a matter of faith. 

Ultimately, yes.

2 minutes ago, Robert F. Smith said:

LDS or not, believers must have some other means by which to know the answer to that question. 

Agreed.  

2 minutes ago, Robert F. Smith said:

And that means is going to have to be non-transferrable (Jesus praises Peter for using just such an other-worldly approach, Matt 16:17).  That approach is adequate in and of itself.

So if that approach - which doesn't meet Sagan's "extraordinary evidence" standard - is "adequate in and of itself" as to the question of Jesus Christ being the Son of God, that He resurrected, etc., then why apply Sagan's standard to the Book of Mormon?  Were you only speaking hypothetically?

2 minutes ago, Robert F. Smith said:

However, precisely because it cannot possibly be historically true, the Book of Mormon comes to the rescue:  Since the BofM can be shown to be archeologically and historically true, objections to its odd origin-story can be disregarded as irrelevant. The Bible we know to be ancient, even though many reject the supposed miraculous content.  The BofM as published in 1830 has no ancient scribal lineage (at least not one that is objectively traceable), and is widely held in contempt.  Despite this, if it contains scads of material which are substantive and could not possibly have been known to Joseph Smith, that actually buttresses the authenticity of the miraculous biblical claims about Moses, Jesus, etc.  By extension or extrapolation.  It then becomes a literal "Another Testament of Christ."  In the Bayesian sense of the preponderance of evidence.

Okay.  Are you saying, then, that the Book of Mormon can meet the Sagan "extraordinary evidence" standard?

2 minutes ago, Robert F. Smith said:

There are many such extraordinary evidences which I have published (even if they are unnecessary for a faithful LDS member), but three are particularly complex and systematic:

A. The internal chronology of the BofM matches the actual archeology of the three key dates:  (1) First year of the reign of King Zedekiah, when Lehi leaves Jerusalem, and the 600-year-count begins till the birth of Jesus, (2) the birth of Jesus right on schedule, and (3) death of Jesus by crucifixion also right on schedule.  These three dates cannot be known from the Bible, and the first year of the reign of Zedekiah was only discovered on a cuneiform record contemporary with Zedekiah -- over a century after Joseph Smith.

B. The Egypto-Israelite measuring system as it existed in the time of Lehi & Nephi is unknown to the Bible, and has only been recovered archeologically in recent decades.  How then does it show up in Alma 11?  I cover this thoroughly in my book Egyptianisms in the Book of Mormon and Other Studies (2020), online at https://www.google.com/books/edition/EGYPTIANISMS_IN_THE_BOOK_OF_MORMON_AND_O/W-kUEAAAQBAJ?hl=en&gbpv=1&dq=9781736176115&pg=PA105&printsec=frontcover .

C. Epistolary form in the BofM follows an ancient format, but violates both modern and New Testament templates.  See my discussion in FARMS Review, 22/2 (2010):125-135, online at https://scholarsarchive.byu.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1824&context=msr .

I'll give these a read.


Thank you,

-Smac

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2 hours ago, ttribe said:

Once again, I agree with you, even though my conclusions on the meaning of the evidence regarding the reality of these events is far different than yours.

Sounds good.

I think a run-of-the-mill atheist who has already affirmatively rejected belief in the existence of God is going to understandably have similar responses to both the origins of the Book of Mormon and the miraculous events described in the Bible.  

The part I don't understand is how religionists - particularly Non-Latter-day Saint Christians - can find the purported origins of our beliefs to be too absurd to take seriously, while at the same time holding to beliefs regarding the miracles in the Bible.  

As for straight-up atheism, I find it untenable from an evidentiary/reasoning standpoint.  Agnosticism seems to be the most reasonable alternative to theism.  And even then, I find one of its core constituent elements untenable: that "the existence of the ultimate cause, as God, and the essential nature of things are unknown and unknowable, or that human knowledge is limited to experience."  

Thanks,

-Smac

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1 hour ago, CA Steve said:

Instead of being on par with the Bible, the claims in the Book of Mormon and other parts of the LDS Canon rest on certain  events & people being literal in the Bible, the reverse is not true. The Book of Mormon is dependent on the Bible and its claims (the Book of Mormon) cannot be separated from the Bible.

The LDS religion as a whole relies on the Bible being literal, except for things not translated correctly.

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57 minutes ago, smac97 said:

Sounds good.

I think a run-of-the-mill atheist who has already affirmatively rejected belief in the existence of God is going to understandably have similar responses to both the origins of the Book of Mormon and the miraculous events described in the Bible.  

The part I don't understand is how religionists - particularly Non-Latter-day Saint Christians - can find the purported origins of our beliefs to be too absurd to take seriously, while at the same time holding to beliefs regarding the miracles in the Bible.  

As for straight-up atheism, I find it untenable from an evidentiary/reasoning standpoint.  Agnosticism seems to be the most reasonable alternative to theism.  And even then, I find one of its core constituent elements untenable: that "the existence of the ultimate cause, as God, and the essential nature of things are unknown and unknowable, or that human knowledge is limited to experience."  

Thanks,

-Smac

Speaking only for myself, it was my loss of faith in the Church's truth claims and the effectiveness of prayer which, when combined, led to the demise in my ability to accept the probability of a divine being.  I don't think I fit neatly into a box of "atheist;" I guess "agnostic" is closest to where I am, but I don't adhere to some core elements of a creed, of sorts.

Edited by ttribe
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20 minutes ago, ttribe said:

Speaking only for myself, it was my loss of faith in the Church's truth claims and the effectiveness of prayer which, when combined, led to the demise in my ability to accept the probability of a divine being.  I don't think I fit neatly into a box of "atheist;" I guess "agnostic" is closest to where I am, but I don't adhere to some core elements of a creed, of sorts.

I can see your point.  The labels can only go so far in terms of nuance and individual situation.

I hope you left the door open, though.  Agnosticism's "unknowable" bit seems a bit too hard for my tastes.  

Thanks,

-Smac

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Just now, smac97 said:

I can see your point.  The labels can only go so far in terms of nuance and individual situation.

I hope you left the door open, though.  Agnosticism's "unknowable" bit seems a bit too hard for my tastes.  

Thanks,

-Smac

The door is open.  If I could have my faith back this moment, I would embrace it.  But, a lot has happened.

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2 hours ago, smac97 said:

I'm not sure I understand your point.  I understand that ancient Egyptians worshipped Osiris, but I'm not sure how that relates to members of the Church who advocate for an "Inspired Fiction" approach to the Book of Mormon.

Ancient Egyptians believed in Osirification for over 3 thousand years, Christians a lot less time in Jesus.  Today one might want to take a look at ancient Egyptian temple liturgy as inspired fiction, even though the believers took it seriously, just as we take the Bible and BofM seriously.  The analogy ought to be clear, and Nibley even extends that to their and our temple liturgy being very similar.  See Nibley, The Message of the JSP: An Egyptian Endowment

2 hours ago, smac97 said:

  So if this question cannot be solved via "objective evidence," do you still hold it to the "extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence" standard?  If yes, then that would seem to require rejection of the Bible.  If not, then why hold the Book of Mormon to an evidentiary standard that does not apply to the Bible or to Jesus Christ?

Sagan is completely correct, and the Bible miracles must be rejected on a scientific basis.  Why?  Because they abrogate scientific laws.  The Bible is old, the BofM is new.  The BofM cannot possibly be authentic, just from an apriori POV.  Only the BofM can thus be evaluated on a scientific basis, because it contains data which a new document cannot contain.  In Bayesian thinking, the preponderance of evidence carries the day -- because it cannot exist, yet does.

2 hours ago, smac97 said:

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

So if that approach - which doesn't meet Sagan's "extraordinary evidence" standard - is "adequate in and of itself" as to the question of Jesus Christ being the Son of God, that He resurrected, etc.,

Sagan was talking science, not personal revelation.  Jesus was talking personal revelation, not science (flesh and blood).

2 hours ago, smac97 said:

then why apply Sagan's standard to the Book of Mormon?  Were you only speaking hypothetically?

......Are you saying, then, that the Book of Mormon can meet the Sagan "extraordinary evidence" standard?..................................

Exactly.  Most people have no interest in the scientific approach, preferring instead Matt 16:17, Moroni 10:4-7, etc.  Faith.

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