Archive for February, 2009

The explanations for the apparent failure of the Missouri Temple prophecy in D&C 84:1-5 that I have examined so far all agree that the prophecy does speak about the building of a temple in Independence, Missouri, within the lifetime of at least some of the people alive in 1832. Some Mormons, however, offer an alternative explanation of at least part of the prophecy.

According to Stephen Gibson, “the prophecy in (D & C 84:5-6) came to pass less than four years after Joseph Smith received it.” He points out that verse 5 speaks of “an house” rather than “the temple” and argues, “The use of words ‘an house’ indicate that the Lord is not necessarily referring to ‘the temple’ mentioned in verse 4…. The ‘house’ mentioned in verse 5 was dedicated in Kirtland, Ohio, in 1836.” Thus, the “temple” of D&C 84:4 should be distinguished from the “house” of D&C 84:5, which refers to the Kirtland, Ohio temple dedicated in 1836, not to the Independence temple that has yet to be built. Read the rest of this entry »

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20
Feb

The Missouri Temple Prophecy as a Conditional Prophecy

   Posted by: Rob Bowman    in Mormonism

Mormons frequently lecture their critics on the fact that biblical prophecies were sometimes conditional. Michael T. Griffith offers the following “rules” for properly interpreting prophecy:

  1. Almost all prophecy is conditional to one degree or another, even if this is not stated in the prophecy itself (which is often the case).
  2. In many cases human actions and choices can alter, postpone, or prevent the fulfillment of prophecy.
  3. A prophecy is not always telling us what will happen, but what could happen under certain circumstances.

Mormons commonly cite various examples of biblical prophecies that seem to have been conditional as proof that their conservative evangelical critics are judging Joseph Smith’s prophecies by a double standard. Read the rest of this entry »

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I mentioned in my previous post that Mormons have offered two similar but incompatible explanations for the fact that a temple was not built in Independence, Missouri, as Joseph Smith had predicted in 1832:

  • The enemies of the Mormons goofed (from the Mormon perspective) by preventing the Mormons from doing what they were supposed to do to bring about the prophecy’s fulfillment.
  • The Mormons goofed by failing to do what they were supposed to do in order to bring about the fulfillment of the prophecy.

From what I have seen in the literature, these two explanations are the most common of those offered by Mormons. Read the rest of this entry »

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One basic strategy for explaining the apparent failure of Joseph Smith’s Missouri Temple prophecy is to argue that someone goofed. Since God can’t goof (though, according to at least some Mormons, he can change his mind), that leaves four possible suspects for the goof:

  • The prophecy itself is a goof, either because the prophet goofed or whoever reported the prophet’s words goofed.
  • The Mormons goofed by failing to do what they were supposed to do in order to bring about the fulfillment of the prophecy.
  • The enemies of the Mormons goofed (from the Mormon perspective) by preventing the Mormons from doing what they were supposed to do to bring about the prophecy’s fulfillment.
  • Mormon interpreters have goofed over the years by mistakenly understanding the passage to say something it really doesn’t say.

Read the rest of this entry »

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Mormons have offered a bewildering variety of explanations for the apparent failed predictive prophecy of Joseph Smith in Doctrine & Covenants 84:1-5 that a temple would be built in Independence, Missouri, before the generation living in 1832 had all died. Let me just list these various explanations. I will attempt to list them very roughly (as best I can at this point in my research) in the chronological order in which they first appear in the literature: Read the rest of this entry »

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13
Feb

Joseph Smith’s Missouri Temple Prophecy

   Posted by: Rob Bowman    in Mormonism

Was Joseph Smith truly a prophet of God? Although there are several ways of seeking an answer to this question, an obvious one is to test Joseph Smith’s accuracy in prophecies that were predictive of events to come. If Joseph, speaking in his capacity as a prophet, claimed to say on God’s behalf that something humanly unpredictable was going to happen, and if it did, that would be impressive evidence that he was supernaturally inspired—and would count as evidence that his claim to be a prophet was true. On the other hand, if such predictive prophecies failed to happen as stated, this failure would be evidence against his claim to be a prophet of God.

One of Joseph Smith’s most famous—or notorious—predictive prophecies was a “revelation” that Joseph Smith claimed to receive in 1832 from Jesus Christ concerning the building of a temple in Independence, Missouri. Read the rest of this entry »

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1
Feb

Judas and the Choice of Matthias: A Review

   Posted by: Rob Bowman    in Mormonism, New Testament

Zwiep, Arie W. Judas and the Choice of Matthias: A Study on Context and Concern of Acts 1:15-26. WUNT 2/187. Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2004.

 

There have been very few books or even articles published that focus completely on Acts 1:15-26, the passage that narrates the choice of Matthias to replace Judas Iscariot following his betrayal and death. This is a crucial passage, however, for those who claim that the New Testament apostles understood their office as one that was to be perpetuated continuously from one generation to another. As I have explained in previous posts here, there are serious problems with the claim that Matthias’s appointment as apostle establishes a precedent for such an understanding of the office.

I have just finished working through Arie W. Zwiep’s academic monograph, Judas and the Choice of Matthias: A Study on Context and Concern of Acts 1:15-26. Read the rest of this entry »

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