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Opinions of "Self-Identified" Latter- day Saints, Quantified


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Here:

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We sent out 80,000 postcards to Latter-day Saints in the U.S. Here’s what we learned

Our representative survey found high percentages of self-identified members agreeing with church teachings on historical questions and sexuality

 Jan 31, 2024, 10:56am MST
 

The 21st century is in many ways already unrecognizable to the 20th century — especially in terms of marked evolutions in religious beliefs and practices in America. Understanding how and why these changes are taking place is often at the mercy of the headlines we see, the media we consume and our intuition. Helpful data can also help us make sense of what is taking place.

With respect to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, there have been countless internet-based surveys that are typically posted on forums or email lists (often called convenience and snowball surveys). Even though some of these cover very large swaths of Latter-day Saints, these types of surveys lack the statistical validity to say much that is meaningful about Latter-day Saints.

I've had this surmise for a while now.

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In 2022, we at the B.H. Roberts Foundation made plans to begin conducting a large representative survey of current and former Latter-day Saints to not only gather information on basic demographics, beliefs and practices, but to see if we could detect and quantify philosophical differences between these two groups.

We had an interest in understanding if there were meaningful variations within the Latter-day Saint faith community as well. While there is a lot of information out there about Latter-day Saints and politics, we also wanted to explore more directly the religious beliefs that were more specific to Latter-day Saints. 

Very cool.

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When making a statement about what members of the church actually believe, it’s natural for people to assume their own beliefs are representative of the whole. Yet rather than speculate about what members think about Book of Mormon historicity or the 19th-century practice of polygamy, a far more accurate picture is made possible by a statistically rigorous, representative survey. 

We decided to focus our research on what has been historically known as the “Mormon Corridor” — the areas of western North America that were settled between 1850 and 1890 by members of the Church of Jesus Christ. Despite encompassing just 37% of America’s Latter-day Saints (according to the 2020 U.S. Religion Census), this area represents a major cultural hub of the faith. 

So, in 2023 we sent out nearly 80,000 postcards to a random distribution of households within counties that had populations that were at least 15% Latter-day Saint based on the 2020 U.S. Religious Census estimates. In addition to the mailers, recent research has shown that Facebook advertisements, after proper weighting, can be utilized in survey work, so we ran a Meta campaign that solicited survey respondents from Facebook and Instagram both inside and outside this geographical region. 

Screenshot_2024_01_30_at_11.38.55_AM.png

 

Counties shown in blue have a population of at least 15% Latter-day Saints.

2020 U.S. Religious Census

Again, useful stuff.  I would also be interested, though, in hearing what self-identified Latter-day Saints who live outside the "Mormon Corridor" think on the issues addressed in the survey.

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This method allowed us to obtain 3,865 valid responses to our survey, roughly half from the mailers and half from Facebook. When surveys came in from word of mouth, they were removed to maintain representativeness. You can read more about the methodology here

In total, we surveyed 2,625 members and 1,183 former members. About 71% of respondents that identified as Latter-day Saints in this geographical area state that they attend church weekly, while 65% of those outside the area state that they attend weekly. These rates are very similar to the 69% of Latter-day Saints who attend church weekly, per the 2022 Cooperative Election Study.

Interesting!

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This relatively high rate of reported religious activity doesn’t necessarily mean that 7 out of 10 members of record are regularly attending church, because there are those that are members of record that no longer identify as Latter-day Saints. But it does reflect a relatively high activity level for those that do.

A fair point.

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Our data uncovered fine-grained detail about a wide variety of beliefs. For example, we found that about 90% of self-identified members believed that “the Book of Mormon is a true record of ancient people who actually existed” — with over 85% agreeing that “Joseph Smith literally saw God the Father and Jesus Christ.”

So the "Inspired Fiction" theory doesn't seem to be making a lot of inroads in the Church.  I am quite happy to hear that.

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Only 1 in 10 members agreed on some level that the church should solemnize same-sex marriages in the temple.

Wow.

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We also asked respondents a number of questions about their own marriages. We found that the divorce rate for temple marriages is about three times lower than the national divorce rate. 

Also wow.

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In order to investigate possible philosophical differences between current and former Latter-day Saints, we chose to use a set of standardized Moral Foundations Theory questions developed by social psychologists Jonathan Haidt and Craig Joseph. Moral Foundations Theory is one of the preeminent theories in moral psychology and measures the fundamental moral drives that shape people’s moral, political and social outlooks. This theoretical framework had never been applied to current or former Latter-day Saints until now.

In addition to basic demographics and Moral Foundations Theory, we asked respondents about their beliefs related to a host of other topics. We were interested to find two very different ways respondents answered these questions — and which we will explore in future articles in coming weeks.

Josh Coates studied computer science at the University of California, Berkeley and is the executive director of the B.H. Roberts Foundation.

Stephen Cranney is a data scientist with a joint Ph.D. in demography/sociology from the University of Pennsylvania.

Excellent stuff.  The data set seems pretty good.

Thoughts?

Thanks,

-Smac

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2 hours ago, smac97 said:

We also asked respondents a number of questions about their own marriages. We found that the divorce rate for temple marriages is about three times lower than the national divorce rate. 

I would like to know if there is a difference between former and current as well as mixed…

Looking forward to seeing the info.  I hope they broke it down by BIC versus convert, sex, education and age.  Maybe income too, but not as interested.  It would be nice to also have years since believer for former Saints to see if there is change over time…

Edited by Calm
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I thought it was curious that after condemning other surveys for lack of statistical validity due to restricted sampling pools, and therefore limiting what can be meaningfully said about Latter-day Saints generally, they decided to limit the statistical validity of their survey by limiting their sampling pool to the Mormon Corridor, which we all know has a culture of its own and only encompasses 37% of Latter-day Saints worldwide.  I also think the Mormon corridor probably represents members who hold beliefs that are far more traditional/theologically conservative than might be found in other locations in the US and other nations.   So while this may be a step up from other types of surveys, for the very same reasons they mention, these numbers should not be used to represent Mormon thought in general in a world-wide church. 

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Our data uncovered fine-grained detail about a wide variety of beliefs. For example, we found that about 90% of self-identified members believed that “the Book of Mormon is a true record of ancient people who actually existed” — with over 85% agreeing that “Joseph Smith literally saw God the Father and Jesus Christ.”

3 hours ago, smac97 said:

So the "Inspired Fiction" theory doesn't seem to be making a lot of inroads in the Church.  I am quite happy to hear that.

Again, this is limited to the Mormon corridor, so I actually am surprised at how high these numbers are.  1 in 10 believe the BoM is inspired fiction and even fewer believe that Joseph Smith literally saw God the Father and Jesus Christ.  To me that is pretty huge and larger than I expected.  It says to me that the "Inspired Fiction" theory is making significant inroads within the Mormon Corridor and my belief is that the numbers are probably higher outside the corridor.  I only expect those numbers to get larger over time.  I too am happy to see these numbers, but for other reasons. 

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Only 1 in 10 members agreed on some level that the church should solemnize same-sex marriages in the temple.

That to me is also an unexpectedly large number for the Mormon corridor, and also probably much higher outside of it, as it represents very conservative (politically and theologically) views in general.  This is about "solemnizing same-sex marriages in the temple", not just supporting gay marriage in general.  That to me is a huge number for the corridor. 

1 in 10 represents a healthy tithe!  I'll take it.  Again, IU expect the numbers to be much higher than this outside the Mormon corridor.  

Edited by pogi
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  • 2 weeks later...
On 1/31/2024 at 3:47 PM, smac97 said:

 

Again, useful stuff.  I would also be interested, though, in hearing what self-identified Latter-day Saints who live outside the "Mormon Corridor" think on the issues addressed in the survey.

I would be interested in that as well.

On 1/31/2024 at 3:47 PM, smac97 said:

I

So the "Inspired Fiction" theory doesn't seem to be making a lot of inroads in the Church.  I am quite happy to hear that.

That is to bad.  Does not leave room for a nuanced believer much I guess.  Likely most who hold to the inspired fiction model end up realizing that it is just made up period. No inspiration at all. But maybe in that case it is not to bad.  Inspired fiction seems like a desperation move to hold on to something that is slipping away.  On the other hand our friend @mfbukowskiseems to think it does not matter what it is as long as is speaks some sort of inspiring truth to the one reading it.

On 1/31/2024 at 3:47 PM, smac97 said:

 

 

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On 1/31/2024 at 12:47 PM, smac97 said:

So the "Inspired Fiction" theory doesn't seem to be making a lot of inroads in the Church.  I am quite happy to hear that.

Ever heard of parables?  Jesus taught them all the time, but I supposed he then might also be "inspired fiction", right?

I beg to differ.

Well, not actually BEG.  

 

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1 hour ago, Teancum said:

I would be interested in that as well.

That is to bad.  Does not leave room for a nuanced believer much I guess.  Likely most who hold to the inspired fiction model end up realizing that it is just made up period. No inspiration at all. But maybe in that case it is not to bad.  Inspired fiction seems like a desperation move to hold on to something that is slipping away.  On the other hand our friend @mfbukowskiseems to think it does not matter what it is as long as is speaks some sort of inspiring truth to the one reading it.

 

Yep, me, and most of the philosophy of language over the last 150 years.

Omigosh. Crazy!

I wrote my reply BEFORE I saw your post!  BLESSED BOVINE!

EVERYTHING  humans write cannot logically be how things "really are" because they are all- 100%- filtered through human senses and THEN written with squiggles on a page which cannot possibly "represent" the full reality of experience.

And so every word, literally, cannot be anything BUT "fiction".  Including these squiggles.

This is what the philosophy of language has been teaching for 150 years!

And it's also Alma 32! "Truth" is what is sweet!

"31 And now, behold, are ye sure that this is a good seed? I say unto you, Yea; for every seed bringeth forth unto its own likeness. 32 Therefore, if a seed groweth it is good, but if it groweth not, behold it is not good, therefore it is cast away. 33 And now, behold, because ye have tried the experiment, and planted the seed, and it swelleth and sprouteth, and beginneth to grow, ye must needs know that the seed is good. 34 And now, behold, is your knowledge perfect? Yea, your knowledge is perfect in that thing, and your faith is dormant; and this because you know, for ye know that the word hath swelled your souls, and ye also know that it hath sprouted up, that your understanding doth begin to be enlightened, and your mind doth begin to expand. 35 O then, is not this real? I say unto you, Yea, because it is light; and whatsoever is light, is good, because it is discernible, therefore ye must know that it is good; and now behold, after ye have tasted this light is your knowledge perfect? 36 Behold I say unto you, Nay; neither must ye lay aside your faith, for ye have only exercised your faith to plant the seed that ye might try the experiment to know if the seed was good. 37 And behold, as the tree beginneth to grow, ye will say: Let us nourish it with great care, that it may get root, that it may grow up, and bring forth fruit unto us. And now behold, if ye nourish it with much care it will get root, and grow up, and bring forth fruit31 And now, behold, are ye sure that this is a good seed? I say unto you, Yea; for every seed bringeth forth unto its own likeness. 32 Therefore, if a seed groweth it is good, but if it groweth not, behold it is not good, therefore it is cast away. 33 And now, behold, because ye have tried the experiment, and planted the seed, and it swelleth and sprouteth, and beginneth to grow, ye must needs know that the seed is good. 34 And now, behold, is your knowledge perfect? Yea, your knowledge is perfect in that thing, and your faith is dormant; and this because you know, for ye know that the word hath swelled your souls, and ye also know that it hath sprouted up, that your understanding doth begin to be enlightened, and your mind doth begin to expand. 35 O then, is not this real? I say unto you, Yea, because it is light; and whatsoever is light, is good, because it is discernible, therefore ye must know that it is good; and now behold, after ye have tasted this light is your knowledge perfect? 36 Behold I say unto you, Nay; neither must ye lay aside your faith, for ye have only exercised your faith to plant the seed that ye might try the experiment to know if the seed was good. 37 And behold, as the tree beginneth to grow, ye will say: Let us nourish it with great care, that it may get root, that it may grow up, and bring forth fruit unto us. And now behold, if ye nourish it with much care it will get root, and grow up, and bring forth fruit"

Sounds like "Inspired Fiction" to me!

😏

Danke!

 

Edited by mfbukowski
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13 minutes ago, mfbukowski said:
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So the "Inspired Fiction" theory doesn't seem to be making a lot of inroads in the Church.  I am quite happy to hear that.

Ever heard of parables?  Jesus taught them all the time, but I supposed he then might also be "inspired fiction", right?

I beg to differ.

Well, not actually BEG.  

The parables were not presented as being (or needing to be) actual historical events involving actual historical persons.  Whether the Good Samaritan was an actual, flesh-and-blood person, or not, does not affect the substance of the parable.  See, e.g., the Encyclopedia of Mormonism's entry on this subject:

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Parables are short didactic narratives that make use of characters, situations, and customs familiar to their audience. They are meant to convey a spiritual message, but the reader usually must infer the message from the story, which generally is a presentation of some aspect of daily life. Because they are stories, parables are sometimes more memorable and more interesting than direct exhortation. Parables are seen to have several layers of meaning and may be understood differently, depending on the sensitivity and spiritual preparation of the hearer.

See also this article by Kent P. Jackson (from "Historicity and the Latter-day Saint Scriptures").  An excerpt:

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Those who argue in favor of the true-but-not-historical thesis sometimes invoke the analogy of good literature or the parables of Jesus. The parables, they would suggest, are nonhistorical literary creations that Jesus used to teach true principles. They would suggest that while the parables are not meant to portray events that actually transpired, they are nonetheless true in the sense that they enlighten us, lift us, educate us, and teach us about life. Like good literature in general, the parables are true because their message is true, despite the nonhistorical nature of the events and persons who are mentioned in them. [7]

Using the parables-are-true-but-not-historical model, friendly critics of the Book of Mormon’s historicity argue that it does not matter whether the events and individuals in the Book of Mormon are historical, because the aims of the book are achieved independently of its historicity. In other words, like parables or other good works of literature, the Book of Mormon can teach its true principles even if the events in it never happened. [8] Thus it can still be the word of God. [9]

In my opinion, Latter-day Saints cannot accept these ideas regarding the Book of Mormon. Its historicity is fundamental to what it is and what it intends to accomplish. A perspective that sees it as unhistorical is, in my view, a rejection not only of it and everything else about it but of much more as well.

To determine whether the Book of Mormon must be historically genuine in order to be the “true” “word of God,” I will examine four sources of potential evidence that may bear on our subject: (1) the internal evidence provided within the Book of Mormon itself, (2) the evidence from the Prophet Joseph Smith, (3) the evidence from the Doctrine and Covenants, and (4) the evidence from the Three and Eight Witnesses. This evidence is not brought forth to prove the truth of the Book of Mormon, because that is something that is unprovable using the tools of scholarship and reasoning. But I believe that it can be demonstrated that the book cannot be both unhistorical and true at the same time. That is the objective of this paper.

The whole article is worth a read.

In contrast, the Church's narrative about Book of Mormon requires historicity.  If it is "inspired fiction," then there were no people who left Jerusalem around 600 B.C. and eventually landed in the Americas, ergo no Nephites/Lamanites, ergo no prophetic record maintained for 1,000 or so years, ergo no Mormon and no records to abridge, ergo no Moroni receiving and depositing the abridged records in the earth, ergo no resurrected Moroni appearing to Joseph and no Gold Plates and other artifacts for Joseph to retrieve, ergo no ancient writing to translate "by the gift and power of God," ergo no physical Plates to be attested to by the Three and Eight Witnesses, ergo Joseph's recitation of events and experiences are necessarily the result of mental illness or profound fraud or both, ergo the statements of the Witnesses and others about the Plates and the translation process are necessarily the result of mental illness or profound fraud or both, and so on.

Thanks,

-Smac

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59 minutes ago, Teancum said:
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So the "Inspired Fiction" theory doesn't seem to be making a lot of inroads in the Church.  I am quite happy to hear that.

That is to bad.  Does not leave room for a nuanced believer much I guess. 

I don't know what you mean.  Nobody is suggesting that people who subscribe to the Inspired Fiction theory cannot continue as members of the Church.  

In any event, I do not think the "Inspired Fiction" can be reasonably characterized as a mere "nuance" (that is, "a subtle difference or distinction in expression, meaning, response, etc.").  Its explanatory model for the Book of Mormon, and indeed most - if not all - of the founding events of the Restoration is a near-complete departure from, and a negation and rejection of, the model presented by Joseph Smith, his successors, and the institutional Church.  It is a difference of kind, not degree

If someone were to advance a theory that Jesus Christ was not the Son of God, performed no miracles, did not suffer and atone for our sins, did not resurrect and ascend in to heaven, etc., and if that someone were to instead characterize Jesus Christ as just a regular human being who spent some years wandering around Judea as an itinerant preacher and espousing a few interesting ideas (and/or was mentally deluded when he claimed to have performed miracles, to be the Son of God, etc., or else was a conscious fraud in claiming such things), and if that someone were to present all of these things as a mere "nuanced" set of revisions to the normative beliefs about Jesus Christ, I think very few professed disciples of Jesus Christ would go along with that characterization.  It's not "nuance."  It is an abject and near-total negation of the message of Christ.

I respectfully submit that pretty much the same can be said for the "Inspired Fiction" theory relative to the Book of Mormon.  It is not a "nuanced" approach to the book's origins and purpose, but rather a substantive and near-total negation of the overall message of the Restoration.

59 minutes ago, Teancum said:

Likely most who hold to the inspired fiction model end up realizing that it is just made up period. No inspiration at all. But maybe in that case it is not to bad.  Inspired fiction seems like a desperation move to hold on to something that is slipping away. 

I agree that it's a "desperation move."  That is why I hope it is rejected or set aside by the Latter-day Saints.  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.

The "Inspired Fiction" destroys the utility of The Book of Mormon as scripture.  Ever single page of it.  This is why I simply cannot wrap my head around a fourth theory underlying the "inspired fiction" concept, which is that Joseph Smith was deluded / deceived and dishonest / fraudulent and honest / correct in his claims about the book. That makes no kind of sense whatsoever. Elder Oaks was right: "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."

 

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.

The "inspired fiction" approach to The Book of Mormon requires a rejection of The Book of Mormon for what it claims to be. To accept it on those grounds would be like saying "Yes, I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God and my Lord and Savior, even though I reject the idea that he ever actually existed." In my view, a fictional Christ does not work as an object of worship, veneration and faith, and a fictional Book of Mormon does not work as inspired, revealed scripture.

59 minutes ago, Teancum said:

On the other hand our friend @mfbukowskiseems to think it does not matter what it is as long as is speaks some sort of inspiring truth to the one reading it.

Reasonable minds can disagree about all sorts of things.

Thanks,

-Smac

Edited by smac97
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1 hour ago, mfbukowski said:

Ever heard of parables?  Jesus taught them all the time, but I supposed he then might also be "inspired fiction", right?

I beg to differ.

Well, not actually BEG.  

 

In trying to understand your perspective, I have struggled with the notion as to whether or not you accept the entirety of the Christ story to be 'inspired fiction'. When you say "I beg to differ" I don't understand.

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50 minutes ago, smac97 said:

The parables were not presented as being (or needing to be) actual historical events involving actual historical persons.  Whether the Good Samaritan was an actual, flesh-and-blood person, or not, does not affect the substance of the parable.  See, e.g., the Encyclopedia of Mormonism's entry on this subject:

See also this article by Kent P. Jackson (from "Historicity and the Latter-day Saint Scriptures").  An excerpt:

The whole article is worth a read.

In contrast, the Church's narrative about Book of Mormon requires historicity.  If it is "inspired fiction," then there were no people who left Jerusalem around 600 B.C. and eventually landed in the Americas, ergo no Nephites/Lamanites, ergo no prophetic record maintained for 1,000 or so years, ergo no Mormon and no records to abridge, ergo no Moroni receiving and depositing the abridged records in the earth, ergo no resurrected Moroni appearing to Joseph and no Gold Plates and other artifacts for Joseph to retrieve, ergo no ancient writing to translate "by the gift and power of God," ergo no physical Plates to be attested to by the Three and Eight Witnesses, ergo Joseph's recitation of events and experiences are necessarily the result of mental illness or profound fraud or both, ergo the statements of the Witnesses and others about the Plates and the translation process are necessarily the result of mental illness or profound fraud or both, and so on.

Thanks,

-Smac

Thanks for your lengthy reply.

I see your position as a category error. You seem to be using a narrative I see differently.

I am speaking about the nature of language itself, while you seem to be discussing the nature of history. 

None of us were there.

"Now we see darkly through a mirror of our own limited perception, but THEN "face to face" as things 'really ARE' "-

Bukowski Translation 😉

I was speaking of the philosophy of language, AND ITS LIMITS as opposed to what humans BELIEVE ON FAITH is "true", including science. Paradigms change.

Your belief that the church is infallible and not subject to other paradigms ignores the issue of inspiration, and what belief IS.

It is in itself a denial of inspiration.

Joseph translated the BOM 100% based on inspiration, and now you require scientific knowledge of history?

Again, imo, a category error.

If you want "evidence" for my position, I can refer you to 150 years of philosophies of language, but I don't think that would be useful. 

I think I have said as much as I need to, and I think lengthy discussion is unnecessary.

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1 hour ago, Vanguard said:

In trying to understand your perspective, I have struggled with the notion as to whether or not you accept the entirety of the Christ story to be 'inspired fiction'. When you say "I beg to differ" I don't understand.

Yes, I believe on faith that, for example, the crucifixion happened, but that histotical fact is irrelevant to the spiritual belief that this event had anything to do with forgiving my sins.

One man dies, therefore my sins are forgiven.  I have a problem with that.

The spirit hits me in the gut, but the atonement I think, could have taken place in other ways. So it's facticity is somewhat irrelevant

It is KNOWING that Jesus the divine person is there for me spiritually that is confirmed for me through my own religious experience, and could not be in any other way.

Trust my belief based on HISTORY written by men?

Squiggles on a page handed down like the game of "Telephone"?

You gotta be kidding! Hearsay is not even allowed in court!

 

Edited by mfbukowski
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57 minutes ago, mfbukowski said:

Thanks for your lengthy reply.

I see your position as a category error. You seem to be using a narrative I see differently.

I am speaking about the nature of language itself, while you seem to be discussing the nature of history. 

None of us were there.

"Now we see darkly through a mirror of our own limited perception, but THEN "face to face" as things 'really ARE' "-

Bukowski Translation 😉

I was speaking of the philosophy of language, AND ITS LIMITS as opposed to what humans BELIEVE ON FAITH is "true", including science. Paradigms change.

Your belief that the church is infallible and not subject to other paradigms ignores the issue of inspiration, and what belief IS.

It is in itself a denial of inspiration.

Joseph translated the BOM 100% based on inspiration, and now you require scientific knowledge of history?

Again, imo, a category error.

If you want "evidence" for my position, I can refer you to 150 years of philosophies of language, but I don't think that would be useful. 

I think I have said as much as I need to, and I think lengthy discussion is unnecessary.

I have been trying to tell you that almost no faithful Latter-day Saint understands the BoM, Bible, or anything the church teaches the way you do. And @smac97illustrates this well.  Just sayin.....😉

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1 hour ago, Teancum said:

I have been trying to tell you that almost no faithful Latter-day Saint understands the BoM, Bible, or anything the church teaches the way you do. And @smac97illustrates this well.  Just sayin.....😉

Agree.

So what? 

 I see things differently, again, as I understand them.

Thus is why people are leaving.

They put the erroneous "mirror" of earthly vision- actually a pretty literally- above the spirit.

They put the old very limited paradigms of men above the spirit, while postmodernism shreds their "arguments" like a rottten tomato patch through a lawnmower.  Augh! 😱

( I did that once, by mistake.  Never again!) 

One paradigm replacing another? Yep!  

Exactly like evolution or Galileo vs THE CHURCH which took the "traditional view" over the new paradigm.

This is NOT my idea. It is a new way of seeing religion.

Even atheists have to admit the validity of the position I am presenting, including Wittgenstein, Rorty, William James, Heidegger and Nagel,

Nagel_bat.pdf, Phenomenology and on and on

 

 

 

Edited by mfbukowski
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2 hours ago, smac97 said:

I don't know what you mean.  Nobody is suggesting that people who subscribe to the Inspired Fiction theory cannot continue as members of the Church.  

 I just meant that your joy over a low % accepting the inspired fiction model does leaves a nuanced believer a bit in the lurch.  I did not  meant to imply the cannot be members.  But I doubt their espousing or pontificating in their meetings would be easy to do.

 

2 hours ago, smac97 said:

In any event, I do not think the "Inspired Fiction" can be reasonably characterized as a mere "nuance" (that is, "a subtle difference or distinction in expression, meaning, response, etc.").  Its explanatory model for the Book of Mormon, and indeed most - if not all - of the founding events of the Restoration is a near-complete departure from, and a negation and rejection of, the model presented by Joseph Smith, his successors, and the institutional Church.  It is a difference of kind, not degree

Ok.  I have no horse in the race. I think it is pretty clear the BoM is simply a work of fiction period. And I actually am sympathetic to your position.

 

2 hours ago, smac97 said:

If someone were to advance a theory that Jesus Christ was not the Son of God, performed no miracles, did not suffer and atone for our sins, did not resurrect and ascend in to heaven, etc., and if that someone were to instead characterize Jesus Christ as just a regular human being who spent some years wandering around Judea as an itinerant preacher and espousing a few interesting ideas (and/or was mentally deluded when he claimed to have performed miracles, to be the Son of God, etc., or else was a conscious fraud in claiming such things), and if that someone were to present all of these things as a mere "nuanced" set of revisions to the normative beliefs about Jesus Christ, I think very few professed disciples of Jesus Christ would go along with that characterization.  It's not "nuance."  It is an abject and near-total negation of the message of Christ.

Sure I agree. Again, I don't think it likely Jesus was any of what Christianity claims. I pretty much by into the arguments made by Bart Ehrman in his book How Jesus Became God ( and elsewhere).  It seems to me Jesus's followers made the man Jesus never said or even intended in his message to be what Christianity has made it.  

 

2 hours ago, smac97 said:

I respectfully submit that pretty much the same can be said for the "Inspired Fiction" theory relative to the Book of Mormon.  It is not a "nuanced" approach to the book's origins and purpose, but rather a substantive and near-total negation of the overall message of the Restoration.

Indeed. I coul not make it work. It is either an actual account.  Or it is not. If the latter, no divine inspiration.

 

2 hours ago, smac97 said:

I agree that it's a "desperation move."  That is why I hope it is rejected or set aside by the Latter-day Saints. 

Well maybe desperation move is not the best term. I do have sympathy for a member who has been a totally devoted orthodox member who comes to the realization that what they have based their entire life on is likely not true nor what it claims.  They seeks for ways to make it work.  The inspired fiction theory is one way some make it work. When the can no longer make it work then that is another stone out of the arch that eventually may crumble.  Being strident and insistent that inspired fiction just does not work and stating it so strongly, as you do, is something that will help to usher them out of the church.

 

2 hours ago, smac97 said:

 

 I've previously commented on this here:

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

Great arguments to reject the inspired fiction approach.

 

2 hours ago, smac97 said:

 

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.

The "Inspired Fiction" destroys the utility of The Book of Mormon as scripture.  Ever single page of it.  This is why I simply cannot wrap my head around a fourth theory underlying the "inspired fiction" concept, which is that Joseph Smith was deluded / deceived and dishonest / fraudulent and honest / correct in his claims about the book. That makes no kind of sense whatsoever. Elder Oaks was right: "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."

I think what I bolded is a pretty apt description of what JS was.  But I cannot state whether or not one who thinks the BoM is inspired fiction would agree with your caricturation of the model. I doubt they would.  But like I said, it is not my horse to race.

 

2 hours ago, smac97 said:

I think those who seek salvation, but who reject the messengers who bring it, are in serious error.  

How serious?  Will such a view imperil their standing before God?  WIll is keep them from exaltation?  Will is separate them from family members?  Can they attend the temple if they hold such a view?  

 

2 hours ago, smac97 said:

 

Nevertheless, as deeply flawed as their position is,

Why is it deeply flawed?  Would you rather they reject the Book of Mormon outright like I have?

2 hours ago, smac97 said:

 

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.

Ah ok you answered my question.  So can such a member be in as good of a standing in the church as someone who believes the historical narrative and the claims JS made about the coming forth of the book?  Can they be a bishop?  RS President? Area authority? General Authority?  Apostle?

2 hours ago, smac97 said:

The "inspired fiction" approach to The Book of Mormon requires a rejection of The Book of Mormon for what it claims to be. To accept it on those grounds would be like saying "Yes, I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God and my Lord and Savior, even though I reject the idea that he ever actually existed." In my view, a fictional Christ does not work as an object of worship, veneration and faith, and a fictional Book of Mormon does not work as inspired, revealed scripture.

Reasonable minds can disagree about all sorts of things.

Thanks,

-Smac

Thanks!

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5 minutes ago, mfbukowski said:

Agree.

Great! 

5 minutes ago, mfbukowski said:

So what? 

Does not matter to me. I just have been pointing that out for a long time. I am all for live and let live.

5 minutes ago, mfbukowski said:

 I see things differently, again, as I understand them.

Thus is why people are leaving.

Well they are leaving because they have concluded that what the church pedals is a bunch of hooey. Sorry.  But that is why they leave.  Maybe more who leave would stay or would have stayed had they been taught to and able to have a world view similar to yours. And if the top leaderships taught the narratives in such a way.  But they have not.  And the don't.  And I doubt they ever will.

5 minutes ago, mfbukowski said:

They put the erroneous "mirror" of earthly vision- actually a pretty literally- above the spirit.

They put the old very limited paradigms of men above the spirit, while postmodernism shreds their "arguments" like a rottten tomato patch through a lawnmower.  Augh! 😱

( I did that once, by mistake.  Never again!) 

One paradigm replacing another? Yep!  

Exactly like evolution or Galileo vs THE CHURCH which took the "traditional view" over the new paradigm.

This is NOT my idea. It is a new way of seeing religion.

Even atheists have to admit the validity of the position I am presenting, including Wittgenstein, Rorty, William James, Heidegger and Phenomenology and on and on

 

 

 

I have more sympathy for your position than I even have.

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8 minutes ago, Teancum said:
Quote

I don't know what you mean.  Nobody is suggesting that people who subscribe to the Inspired Fiction theory cannot continue as members of the Church.  

I just meant that your joy over a low % accepting the inspired fiction model does leaves a nuanced believer a bit in the lurch. 

I did not  meant to imply the cannot be members.  But I doubt their espousing or pontificating in their meetings would be easy to do.

Denying the atonement of Jesus Christ would also not be easy to espouse or pontificate about in Latter-day Saint meetings.  

8 minutes ago, Teancum said:

Well maybe desperation move is not the best term.

Okay.

8 minutes ago, Teancum said:

I do have sympathy for a member who has been a totally devoted orthodox member who comes to the realization that what they have based their entire life on is likely not true nor what it claims.

There is a "realization" that can go in the opposite direction, and that one makes me quite happy.  

Technically, neither is a "realization" (that is, "an act of becoming fully aware of something as a fact").  Whether Jesus Christ is the Son of God is, in the end, a question of "fact," but our respective positions on this issue are based on faith.

"Inspired Fiction," though, tends to grease the skids in the process of losing faith, not gaining it.

8 minutes ago, Teancum said:

They seeks for ways to make it work.  The inspired fiction theory is one way some make it work. When the can no longer make it work then that is another stone out of the arch that eventually may crumble.  Being strident and insistent that inspired fiction just does not work and stating it so strongly, as you do, is something that will help to usher them out of the church.

I'll give your words due consideration.

8 minutes ago, Teancum said:
Quote

The "Inspired Fiction" destroys the utility of The Book of Mormon as scripture.  Ever single page of it.  This is why I simply cannot wrap my head around a fourth theory underlying the "inspired fiction" concept, which is that Joseph Smith was deluded / deceived and dishonest / fraudulent and honest / correct in his claims about the book. That makes no kind of sense whatsoever. Elder Oaks was right: "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."

Great arguments to reject the inspired fiction approach.

I agree.  It's difficult, if not impossible, to cogently frame it in a way that works with continued faith in and observance of the Restored Gospel.

8 minutes ago, Teancum said:

I think what I bolded is a pretty apt description of what JS was. 

Yes, that's your perspective, and you are welcome to it.  Latter-day Saints who want to continue in faith, though, are not likely to be helped in that objective by adopting the Inspired Fiction theory.

8 minutes ago, Teancum said:

But I cannot state whether or not one who thinks the BoM is inspired fiction would agree with your caricturation of the model. I doubt they would. 

As I noted previously:

Quote

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.

 

8 minutes ago, Teancum said:
Quote

I think those who seek salvation, but who reject the messengers who bring it, are in serious error.  

How serious? 

Pretty darn.

8 minutes ago, Teancum said:

Will such a view imperil their standing before God?  WIll is keep them from exaltation?  Will is separate them from family members? 

I don't know.  I have no particular insights as to the ultimate disposition of these things.

8 minutes ago, Teancum said:

Can they attend the temple if they hold such a view?  

That's up to the individual and his/her local leaers.

8 minutes ago, Teancum said:
Quote

Nevertheless, as deeply flawed as their position is,

Why is it deeply flawed? 

I have explained this at some length already.

8 minutes ago, Teancum said:

Would you rather they reject the Book of Mormon outright like I have?

No.

8 minutes ago, Teancum said:
Quote

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.

Ah ok you answered my question.  So can such a member be in as good of a standing in the church as someone who believes the historical narrative and the claims JS made about the coming forth of the book?  Can they be a bishop?  RS President? Area authority? General Authority?  Apostle?

I lack stewardship over such matters.  That said, Amasa Lyman comes to mind...

Thanks,

-Smac

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24 minutes ago, Teancum said:

Great arguments to reject the inspired fiction approach.

And in fact just parrot the old paradigm.  It's a mistake to quote them!

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3 hours ago, Teancum said:

I will let you and @smac97duke it out on this one. 😁

Not me!

We are speaking in two different "language games", and never the twain will meet.

The trick is showing that secularism is also a "religion" just with different beliefs.

Secularists believe and accept things NO ONE can explain as much as we do.

How does one justify that "all men are created equal" scientifically?

Or that shooting random people, now a sport in in the US, is "wrong".   

 

Edited by mfbukowski
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22 minutes ago, mfbukowski said:

Thanks for your lengthy reply.

I see your position as a category error. You seem to be using a narrative I see differently.

Could you elaboration?

22 minutes ago, mfbukowski said:

Your belief that the church is infallible and not subject to other paradigms ignores the issue of inspiration, and what belief IS.

I do not believe that the Church is infallible.

I don't know what you mean in saying that "the church is ... not subject to other paradigms."

22 minutes ago, mfbukowski said:

It is in itself a denial of inspiration.

I don't know what you are referencing here.  What is "it"?  What "inspiration" am I denying?

22 minutes ago, mfbukowski said:

Joseph translated the BOM 100% based on inspiration,

This this translation involve actual physical, tangible ancient artifacts described in JS-H?

22 minutes ago, mfbukowski said:

and now you require scientific knowledge of history?

No.  

22 minutes ago, mfbukowski said:

If you want "evidence" for my position, I can refer you to 150 years of philosophies of language, but I don't think that would be useful. 

Okay.

22 minutes ago, mfbukowski said:

I think I have said as much as I need to, and I think lengthy discussion is unnecessary.

Okay.

Thanks,

-Smac

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4 hours ago, smac97 said:

Could you elaboration?

I do not believe that the Church is infallible.

I don't know what you mean in saying that "the church is ... not subject to other paradigms."

I don't know what you are referencing here.  What is "it"?  What "inspiration" am I denying?

This this translation involve actual physical, tangible ancient artifacts described in JS-H?

No.  

Okay.

Okay.

Thanks,

-Smac

Well all I can say is that going back over what I wrote, I find it clear.

But if any others want to ask questions- even about the points you raise here, I will be glad to respond. :)

 

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