9
Jul

So You Think the Book of Mormon Is Authentic?

   Posted by: Rob Bowman   in apocrypha, Mormonism

Greg Trimble, a Latter-day Saint who blogs on Mormon topics, recently posted on the question, “So…You Think the Book of Mormon Is a Fraud?” After some poisoning of the well against critics of the Book of Mormon (they jeer at testimonies to its truth; the loudest critics have never even read it), Trimble asks eleven questions apparently meant to vanquish doubt about the truth of the Book of Mormon.

It is easy to ask short questions that seem just in the asking to provide evidence; it is another thing to back up the claims. Refuting them thoroughly in some instances might take whole books. Still, something must be said. The reader is warned in advance that what is offered here are brief, bottom-line responses, not academic treatises. Trimble’s questions are quoted below, followed by my responses.

  1. Could an uneducated boy come up with 531 pages of ancient scripture on his own that was historically accurate and prophetic in nature?

No, but that’s not what Joseph Smith did. He came up with 531 pages of material that copied extensively from both the Old and New Testaments, with a narrative that is historically implausible in the extreme, and that does not pass reasonable tests of being prophetic in nature.

  1. Would it be possible for that boy to understand and include ancient Hebrew literary writing styles such as idioms and Chiasmus, some of which weren’t even discovered until long after Joseph Smith was gone?

Probably not, but the examples of Hebrew idioms and chiasmus that Mormon scholars have presented fall short of showing anything more than that the Book of Mormon imitates biblical style. Similar verbal phenomena have been documented in all sorts of materials, from Joseph’s supposed modern revelations in Doctrine & Covenants (obviously not written by an ancient Hebrew) to the Aquarian Gospel of Jesus the Christ (a New Age pseudo-gospel written in the early twentieth century by a man who could not have cared less about Hebraic style). Supposed Hebraisms appear only inconsistently in the Book of Mormon (e.g., the “Hebraic” sounding expression “land of promise” but also the more idiomatic English “promised land”).

  1. How would Joseph Smith have been able to know so much about the Middle East, especially the Arabian Peninsula where Lehi and his family traveled? The book includes findings in that region that no one had discovered yet.

Trimble gives no examples of these “findings,” but presumably he has in mind something like the NHM altar, which Mormons correlate with the place name “Nahom” in 1 Nephi 16:34. This debatable “bulls-eye” (the inscription on the altar should arguably be spelled “Nihm” and it might not even be a place name) cannot overcome all of the difficulties with even this part of the narrative in the Book of Mormon (implausible trips back and forth between the desert and Jerusalem, questionable distances covered per day, etc.). The seeming specificity of the account of Lehi’s journey through Arabia actually cuts the other direction. The Book of Mormon’s travelogue of the journey of Lehi and his party is very straightforward and explicit as long as they are in the Old World—specific directions (“nearly a south-southeast direction,” which doesn’t sound Hebraic at all!), days of travel, and so forth. Yet it becomes so vague as soon as they set sail that Mormons to this day argue among themselves as to where things took place. The simplest explanation for this difference is that Joseph Smith was prepared to be specific about the Old World geography, using a map of Arabia to estimate directions and distances, but deliberately kept the New World geography complex and ambiguous because he had no specific locations in mind.

Sorry—hard to keep an answer to such a loaded claim short.

  1. How could Joseph Smith come up with roughly 200 new names in the Book of Mormon and then have them turn out to be Semitic in nature?

He didn’t. The Book of Mormon contains 174 proper names that are not exact duplicates of names in the King James Version. Of these, many are simply variant spellings or likely altered forms of biblical names (Samuel—Sam, Joshua—Josh, Enoch—Zenoch, etc.). Other Book of Mormon names are Greek, not Semitic (Antipas, Archeantus, Lachoneus, and Timothy), or Greek forms of Hebrew names (Jonas and Judea).

  1. If you think Joseph Smith couldn’t have written this book, then where did it come from? If one says the devil put him up to it…then why would Satan want to publish another testament of Jesus Christ and a book that does nothing but promote righteousness. Jesus said that a house divided against itself would fall.

I think Joseph Smith could have written the Book of Mormon, and abundant evidence shows that in fact he did. There have been many pseudo-gospels written throughout the past two millennia that claim to honor Jesus and promote right living. Are they all inspired by God? The dilemma argument that the Book of Mormon must have been inspired either by God or the devil is a flawed argument.

  1. Who were the “other sheep” that would hear Jesus’s voice in John 10:16?

Gentiles. (That was easy.)

  1. Why are there volumes of books written by non-LDS authors stating that Christ came and visited the America’s a couple thousand years ago just like it says in 3rd Nephi? (See Example “He Walked The America’s”) How would Joseph Smith have known this when at the time no one even considered it?

Trimble’s “non-LDS author” is L. Taylor Hansen, a science-fiction writer who claimed in He Walked the Americas that she had been made an honorary Indian and who described a “pale visitor” with “blue eyes” (he doesn’t sound very Semitic!) coming to the Americas and walking around the hemisphere from Peru to Michigan. No non-Mormon anthropologist or historian takes Hansen’s book seriously. In fact, I don’t think Mormon anthropologists or historians take it seriously.

  1. If we have the stick of Judah (record of the Jews or the Bible), then where is the stick of Joseph that is referenced in Ezekiel 37:15-20? The Book of Mormon is the only explanation for this scripture. Lehi was a descendant of Joseph. Think Joseph Smith could have gotten that right by sheer chance?

The “stick of Judah” is not the Bible; it refers to a stick that Ezekiel held in his hand along with another stick. Ezekiel explains that the two sticks symbolized the southern kingdom of Judah and the northern kingdom of Israel, of whom Joseph’s descendants were part. Ezekiel put the two sticks together into his hand to symbolize the reuniting of all the Israelites in a future restoration, not to symbolize two canons of Scripture (see our article on Ezekiel 36 for a somewhat more detailed discussion).

  1. How could there be so many witnesses of the Book of Mormon and the plates and not one of them deny their testimony even when some of them became bitter toward Joseph Smith? With so many people involved…a hoax of this magnitude could never go uncovered.

Assuming some or all of the witnesses knew their testimonies were false, to deny their testimony would have meant to admit their own complicity in a deliberate deception. However, it is quite likely that Joseph at some point had some metal plates that he allowed some of his friends and family members to see and hold. He might well have constructed the plates himself from tin sheets available in his family’s cooper shop. So some or all of the witnesses might have been sincere and yet sincerely wrong about having seen the gold plates. Trimble’s question also overlooks a host of problems concerning these plates—the fact that they were not nearly as heavy as they should have been, the fact that the three witnesses supposedly needed faith to see the plates yet Joseph had to go to extreme lengths to keep unbelievers from finding them, and on and on.

  1. How could the Book of Mormon never contradict itself while being an extremely complex book? After all these years…someone would have found something…but no.

People have found internal contradictions in the Book of Mormon, such as confusing King Benjamin with King Mosiah or placing the city of Mulek in the land of Nephi. Presumably what Trimble means is that none of these problems are genuine contradictions. Well, that would need to be hashed out on a case by case basis. What really cannot be plausibly denied is that the Book of Mormon contradicted later Mormon theology (e.g., one God versus many Gods). If you’re a Mormon, that fact ought to be given due consideration.

After listing the above ten questions, Trimble plays his spiritual trump card, the unnumbered eleventh question:

And the most important question to ask yourself is “How do I feel while I read the Book of Mormon?”

Trimble goes on to defend this test: “Don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t trust your feelings. We are spiritual beings, and if we can’t trust our feelings, then what do we have?” Well then. When I read the Book of Mormon, I experience a roller-coaster of feelings: bemusement (some of the problems are funny), incredulity (I can’t believe it said that!), sadness (how tragic that Christian piety could be hijacked in this way), disgust (how self-serving to write into a supposed ancient book a not-so-veiled “prophecy” about yourself!), and the like.

No doubt Trimble and my other Mormon readers will dismiss my feelings as untrustworthy. Good—now at least we agree that I can’t trust my feelings. But if my feelings as a “spiritual being” are untrustworthy, maybe yours are, too. The difference is that I don’t ask anyone to trust my feelings or to try to duplicate them. I only ask you to look at the evidence.

By the way, I have those feelings as a committed believer in the Lord Jesus Christ. I pass the Moroni 10 test: I have read the Book of Mormon; I have prayed to know if it is true; I have faith in Christ; and I am sincere. At least, I think I am sincere—and I dare you to say otherwise. I will admit that my prayer might have been a little different from that of the Mormon and the hopeful Mormon convert. I didn’t ask God to give me a nice warm feeling or some supernatural manifestation (nor did I ask him not to do those things). I asked God to give me the wisdom, the clarity of mind, and the openness to his truth to believe the truth about the Book of Mormon, whatever that truth might turn out to be.

Do I think that the Book of Mormon is a fraud? Sorry, but the answer is Yes, I do.

 

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This entry was posted on Wednesday, July 9th, 2014 at 4:16 pm and is filed under apocrypha, Mormonism. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

21 comments so far

HappyMormon
 1 

It saddens me that you feel this way about the Book of Mormon. I know that your love for our Savior will be rewarded, and hope that your feelings about Mormonism don’t keep you from true happiness. I disagree with your assessment, but I guess that’s my right as well.

October 7th, 2014 at 7:29 pm
 2 

Hi there Happy Mormon. It is indeed your right to disagree with me. My opinion, as far as it being mine, is not important. My feelings are also not particularly important; my point in describing my feelings regarding the Book of Mormon was to illustrate that how we feel when we read it is really not determinative. What is important is that we seek the truth. This might mean accepting a text as Scripture that makes us uncomfortable or rejecting a text as Scripture that we personally like.

October 7th, 2014 at 10:44 pm
Brandon.R
 3 

I smiled as I read this though it saddens me. You really think you’re so smart and the world has wisdom to offer you not deception. In this misconception will your soul one day despair. In my believing of this true testimony of Jesus Christ, despite worldly doubts of those who think carnal ignorance is knowledge or wisdom infinite, will my soul rejoice forever. And all others who use hope and faith in Christ to believe His word instead of their inferior “logic” and reason that relies on their finite perception of their finite experiences rather than the infinite knowledge and wisdom of God Almighty and His son Jesus Christ. In who’s name I humbly say these things that they may testify to your heart of their truth. And I pray satan doesn’t stir up your heart to contention by hardening your heart and causing you to revile these words to trembling and anger and anxiety. Amen. And again, may peace be with you in your heart as you read this testimony with an open heart. I love you.

November 13th, 2014 at 3:05 pm
Brandon.R
 4 

8 But, behold, I say unto you, that you must study it out in your mind; then you must ask me if it be right, and if it is right I will cause that your bosom shall burn within you; therefore, you shall feel that it is right.

D&C 9:8

November 13th, 2014 at 3:14 pm
Brandon.R
 5 

NOTE: This was a reply I (Rob Bowman) sent privately to Brandon. He sent it back as a comment, so I assume he wants everyone to see it.

Brandon,

Are you sure you want me to allow your comment to be posted? You make all
sorts of snide comments about me and then conclude “I love you” when
everything else you said shows you don’t. If you really loved me, you would
respond respectfully to specific points in my article, instead of making
smug judgments about me being worldly or refusing to believe God’s word.

If you really want me to allow your comment to be posted, I will, but then I
will explain in my response the problems with your comment. The choice is
yours.

In Christ’s service,
Rob Bowman

November 18th, 2014 at 4:03 pm
Brandon.R
 6 

Claiming to be in Christ’s service and actually being in Christ’s service are not the same. You don’t glorify Christ in seeding and spreading doubt over His word. if we don’t truly know Christ than we won’t recognize His name, by which we will be called judgement. I feel comfortable defending truth. I hope you receive a confirmation of your misconceptions by a feeling of unrest, which comes not from God. And that will confirm when something isn’t good. Please post my comment I fear no rebuttal from you because you represent failed carnal knowledge not Gods wisdom in your points. And you can’t stand truly against the word of God. You can only deceive or distract with exhausted rhetoric, the only way untruth is spread. Which source is Satan

November 18th, 2014 at 4:03 pm
Brandon.R
 7 

And I do love you despite publicly confounding your false teachings. I wouldn’t expect you to do any more than angrily reject it (a feeling from satan) but I leave this humbly (yet confident in the truth I’m defending) despite that expectation.

November 18th, 2014 at 4:03 pm
Brandon.R
 8 

We’ll see which of these are approved for moderation by the AUTHOR lol

November 18th, 2014 at 4:04 pm
 9 

Brandon, I am traveling today, so I can’t respond immediately, but I have allowed all of your posts to appear.

November 18th, 2014 at 7:31 pm
 10 

Brandon, You wrote: “You really think you’re so smart and the world has wisdom to offer you not deception.” How smart I am, and how smart I think I am, has nothing to do with the issues here. I could be as dumb as a turnip and the problems with the arguments Greg Trimble presented would be the same. On the other hand, if my responses are in error, you would do me and everyone else a service by explaining those errors, rather than just criticizing me personally.

I don’t know what you mean when you claim I think “the world has wisdom to offer” rather than deception. I base my beliefs on the word of God in the Bible. Is that a worldly source of information, in your opinion? Do you think the Bible offers deception?

You wrote: “And all others who use hope and faith in Christ to believe His word instead of their inferior ‘logic’ and reason that relies on their finite perception of their finite experiences rather than the infinite knowledge and wisdom of God Almighty and His son Jesus Christ.”

Mr. Trimble, the Mormon to whom I was responding, tried to use logic. Was that wrong of him? Or is it only wrong when non-Mormon Christians use logic?

I do believe God’s word. If God said something, I want to base my life on it. However, not everything that claims to be God’s word really is. The Qur’an, for example, claims to be the word of God. You don’t believe the Qur’an. So you see, you and I agree on two things: (1) We should believe God’s word, and (2) Not every book that claims to be God’s word is. If the Book of Mormon were God’s word, I would want to know that. I read the Book of Mormon and sincerely asked God to illuminate my mind to know if it was his word or not. I am convinced it is not. That is my sincere conclusion. I respect your right to disagree with me, but you are mistaken when you impugn my motives and intentions.

You also wrote: “Claiming to be in Christ’s service and actually being in Christ’s service are not the same.” I’m so glad we agree on that point. Some people claim to serve Christ but don’t really. Now let’s apply that to someone more significant than Rob Bowman. Let’s apply it to Joseph Smith. Was he really a faithful servant of the Lord? Did he speak for God, as he claimed? I want to know the truth about Joseph Smith and the Book of Mormon. So I have examined the evidence and come to the sincere conclusion that Joseph was a false prophet and that the Book of Mormon is a modern fiction.

Finally, you mentioned Satan several times. I am sure you would be offended if I suggested repeatedly that you might be blinded by Satan. Even if it were true, telling you that would probably not help you. I know you saying that about me does not do anything to make me think Mormonism might be true after all.

November 20th, 2014 at 8:48 pm
Carl Brines
 11 

Mr. Bowman,

Thank you for your insight and, obviously, learned discussion. As an ex-mormon I welcome such ACTUAL scholarly dissertations rather than the hot-air fueled ramblings of the so-called disciples of “The True Religion,” i.e. Mormonism.

December 3rd, 2014 at 11:18 pm
SunsetRose
 12 

Hi Rob!

I respect that you have read the Book of Mormon and I know and believe you have sincerely and fervently prayed for enlightenment regarding the authenticity of the Book of Mormon and Joseph Smith. I’m sorry you didn’t receive the same feeling as I did 16 years ago. I hope that you can continue to ask diligently, as sometime answers are not given straight away. It took years for me to receive a true confirmation. It took even longer for me to convert. As a matter of fact, I continuously convert everyday. True and perfect conversion takes a lifetime, it’s not a one time thing. It’s life-long, it’s continual. I am very sorry for some of the comments of those who are Mormons, like myself, who may have made you feel possibly inferior for your commitment to read and search. Sometimes we forget that what may come easier for us, such as finding the truth, may take more time for others. I commend you for even reading the Book of Mormon cover to cover and doing even more by researching and cross referencing. Indeed, that is no easy task.

I would like to bare you my witness, with no disrespect to you. I’m not a scholar by any means. I’m not a prodigy and I’m no prophet. I truly have read the Book of Mormon quite a few times and only on the 4th time, did I really start to feel and know it is true. Now, I haven’t done cross-referencing nor have I picked scriptures apart, but for me, the feeling of uneasiness and confusion that I used to have were gone. I started to understand. We learn line upon line… Precept upon precept. Knowledge is not given all at once.

Please allow me to start by giving you a little background of myself. I apologize now for the length.

I was born in 1978 in Florida, to good parents. My mom is Thai and she practices Buddhism. My father is Puerto Rican and was in the military, the USAF. He is a non practicing Roman Catholic. I grew up in the Philippines, an Air Force brat. I have never been to church ever in my life until my nanny took me to a Catholic Church in 1988. I was 10 and very impressionable. I wanted some sort of religion as I watched movies about kids going to “Sunday School” and such. I was excited to go. Sitting in the pews, I listened as a priest spoke in Latin and people were standing and sitting and standing again. I had no clue what the rituals were nor did I understand the value of what I was seeing. I was confused. But I attended church most of my childhood because I really wanted to be at a church and learn about God. My desire was strong and I tried to get with the program. It didn’t last long…

At age 12, in 1991, a volcanic eruption in the Philippines forced my family and I to leave. I was sad, of course, my life was changing. I was no longer going to church with my nanny. I relocated to Guam with my mother. My parents divorced not long after that sudden change. Sent me in a downward spiral to self destruction. No more church for me.

In Guam, I had led a different life. I was in high school and I was always getting myself into trouble. Not big trouble, small things like truancy, breaking curfew and the like. I was not into church anymore. I was doing things my way. Because of all the trouble I was getting into, I had moved to Hawaii with my father, who my mother felt would have a better handle on me.

In Hawaii, at age 17, I met a bunch of kids at a local ice skating rink. They were nice and respectful unlike some other groups I’ve met who loves fighting and gang banging. I was introduced to their church called Grace Bible. I was uncomfortable at my first attendance, but then again, who isn’t? I became comfy after a few meetings, I sang with them, danced with them. I enjoyed the fact that the Pastor spoke English and we weren’t standing and sitting and standing etc… But, what we did at church and what we did on our own time was contradictory. We were getting drunk after church, smoking weed and really not doing “Christian” things after church. I started to ponder while in confusion, once again, about my choice of religion. In this wonderful and fun Christian church, We had no sacrament, no repentance, nothing what the Bible says we should do. It was all fun and games. I thought church should have been more serious than that. After all, this is the most omnipotent God. He should be met with reverence and respect, right? So I left the church.

At age 21, of course, I was partying, clubbing. What else does a typical legal aged person do? I was a mother of 2 boys, left them home with their dad and went out often with friends. Again, I had lost sight of my desire to have some sort of religion in my life. I didn’t get into trouble legally, but my life was not as straight as I wanted it to be. I was getting a divorce, my marriage was not working. I was hurt, became a little bitter and cynical about marriage ever again until I met a man. He was nice and polite. He was unlike anyone I had ever met. I invited him to go to the movies with my sons and I on a Sunday. He respectfully declined, stating that he doesn’t do much on Sunday’s but go to church. I thought he was weird and peculiar. Then he invited me to church. I thought “Wow! He must really care for me to invite me to church, where his family attends. Cool!” I accepted. He gave me the address and I was excited!

Sunday arrived and I drove to the address. You would not believe what I was wearing… Think of a dress where the back is showing, nose piercing and makeup for days. Yep, I stuck out like a swollen sore thumb. But I was met with people who made no mention of my apparel or looks. Rather, they embraced me, welcomed me and asked who I was and who I was meeting. I felt out of place because they were dressed so decent, men in suits, women in long skirts and dresses. I almost thought they were Amish.

I met my friend, finally, and we sat together in Sacrament meeting. The Bishop spoke English, awesome! I understood what everyone was saying. I was sitting, listening as people testified of some book and some prophet. I had thought prophets were gone and apostles were no more. I was confused. After that meeting, I was taken to Sunday School class for beginners (Investigators class or Gospel Essentials). The lesson was about baptism. I had never been baptized before. I was excited that this church does it. After church I met 2 Elders who took my name and address. They visited me often. They sang to me, brought members to my home to help me feel more comfortable, they also fed me and my sons. I was challenged to read the Book of Mormon. I took on the challenge. I didn’t feel anything for awhile. As a matter of fact, I understood NOTHING.

I continued on my quest to finding out what those people who testified about the authenticity of the Book of Mormon. Why would they say it’s true? How do they know? Who told them? I asked the missionaries. They pointed me to James 1:5. I read and understood that if I lack wisdom, I ask God who gives knowledge freely and that I must be sincere. I read and I asked. The first few months, I had no answer. I still had many questions such my purpose in life, where did I come from, where was I going??? I read and ask and still, no answer. This will happen for many years.

Now that man who invited me to church? I married him years later and of that marriage came forth 4 children. I had joined the church about 2 years before the marriage and I joined it because I wanted to marry that man. He had strong desires to marry a woman of his faith. He would have married me otherwise, but then it would have been a hard marriage to have. Latter-day Saints truly practice their religion every single day of their lives, at least those who are truly converting do. I still had no faith of my own or my own convictions for that matter. I was living on someone else’s faith, my husband’s. This went on for a few years until I turned 25.

One day, I was extended a calling in church to teach Primary (children aged 4-11). I felt like I should not be chosen to teach children when I know nothing. I felt inadequate and not worthy enough. I didn’t know the scriptures well and I still was unsure of myself. But I accepted, because God called me right? Before a person is extended a calling, the Priesthood members of the Bishopric must pray and ask God. If they feel good about it after prayer, they extend the duty to the individual.

So I reported and I taught. It was almost a disaster. I had no understanding. I thought that maybe I should quit because all my fears of inadequacy were manifesting itself to me, or was it?

I saw my weakness and decided to pray sincerely for guidance. I figure, if I was going to quit, I should probably run it by God first, right? If the Lord did not want me to teach, then somehow, without my power, something or someone will release me of my calling. Nope. No release, nothing happened to take me away from teaching. I decided maybe I’m asking for the wrong thing. I was. Then I decided to ask if I could understand more, learn more so I can teach what I have learned. I learned to apply the principles I read in my life. To live it! To be it! It worked! I knew and I added more experiences to testify about. I now had a testimony of my own. I felt ecstatic and finally satisfied. It took me 5 years to find what I was searching for. The light bulb finally went on in my head. I saw the world and every situation I found myself in, in a very different way. I was more humble, I was more loving of others, more courageous, more responsible for my sayings and doings. I became a better version of myself. I finally went to the temple with my husband and children to seal ourselves for time and eternity. The wonderful happy feeling I had that day continues with me til now.

Just recently, I realized that, although I have converted to being a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, I continue to convert everyday as I learn new things revealed unto me as I continue reading the scriptures and pondering and praying. And I can say that I bare witness to the divinity and authenticity of the Book of Mormon. I know that Christ did visit the people of America. I know that Lehi took his family from Jerusalem to the promised land to preserve the word of God as Jerusalem was being destroyed. I know that a young boy has found the record of those prophets Lehi, Nephi, Alma, Mormon, Moroni etc.. And translated the plates with the use of the Urim and Thummim and the Holy Ghost. Once again,I apologize for the length of my story and testimony and I leave this with you in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

July 10th, 2015 at 5:50 pm
 13 

Dear Sunset Rose, thanks for sharing your story with me. I’d like to respond.

Your story about hearing the Catholic priest talking in Latin in 1988 is interesting; by that time the Catholic Church had long abandoned the practice of holding Mass in Latin, except in special services. They made that change in the 1960s. I know this because I am a former Roman Catholic myself; I lived through the change. So whatever you experienced in 1988, it wasn’t a normal or regular Catholic Mass.

The part of your story involving “Grace Bible” church is also odd. Churches with that name would never condone members getting drunk and using illegal drugs. I don’t think you can fairly characterize churches of that type based on the behavior of a single group of teenagers you happened to encounter.

If that was the sum total of your experience with Christianity prior to meeting a Mormon man you liked, no wonder you thought the LDS religion was superior!

By your own account, you joined the LDS Church because you fell in love with a Mormon man and because you felt comfortable in his church. Those aren’t evil motivations, of course. But you committed yourself to the religion first and then afterward went searching for a religious experience that would make you feel that it was true. It isn’t surprising that you found what you wanted to find. To be frank, though, this doesn’t do anything to show that Mormonism is true.

At the very end of your comment, you stopped telling me your story, and in a way you stopped being yourself (and you are a very interesting and nice person, from what I have seen), and you simply parroted the standard “testimony” discourse that the LDS Church has taught you to use. You told me that you bear witness to the Book of Mormon, and you “know” that it is true, that its historical claims are true, that Joseph’s claims about how he produced it are true. My dear, with all due respect, and out of friendly concern for you, I must tell you that you don’t “know” any such thing. You have accepted it as true and learned to affirm it in the LDS way, but you still don’t really know that these things are facts. To give just one simple example, the witnesses who actually watched Joseph Smith dictating the Book of Mormon report that they never saw him using the so-called Urim and Thummim. Instead they saw him using the same seer stone that he had used for several years hunting for buried treasure. The official website LDS.org last year published an article all but admitting this was true (they suggested he might have used both at different times). In fact no one ever saw the instrument Joseph called the Urim and Thummim.

If you would like to discuss this or other factual matters concerning the Book of Mormon, I would be happy to do so. Thanks again for sharing your very intriguing personal story.

July 12th, 2015 at 5:29 pm
Edward
 14 

I apologize for the length of my discourse, but I am interested in how it will be perceived. I also wonder whether one such as yourself can exercise a modicum of empathy for those individuals who understand the ministry of the Holy Ghost and have truly experienced such a manifestation.

I disagree with you on almost all aspects of your rebuttal. I have been a LDS member for almost 41 years. I was an avid student of the Bible from an early age before I ever became a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. As a student of the Bible I never bought into the so called Holy Trinity espoused by the Nicene Creed. As I read the scriptures as a child and teenager, I received the distinct spiritual vision that Heavenly Father, Jesus Christ and the Holy Ghost were 3 distinct beings that where of one mind and one purpose. So as a young person I was not integrated into the sophistries and precepts of men. I read the Bible as one who sought the will of God concerning my life and how he would have me live it. Prayer became a means to ever decrease my distance from my Heavenly Father and develop a real dynamic relationship with Him. My Lord and Savior became my role model as I strove to bring my life in line with Christ’s perfect example.

Wanting to better understand religion during my mid-teenage years, I had joined a church in our neighborhood. Soon afterwards I had a falling out with the pastor as he tried to convince me that the Gifts of the Spirit were no longer in force and had vanished with the death of the Apostles. I left his office dispondent because I knew the Gifts of the Spirit innumerated in the New Testament were real, because I had experienced them for myself. At that time I had some very close heart to heart talks with God, and asked him for guidance in finding the truth and His Gospel. The next five years were spent reading the Bible, and exploring religions in all their variety and diversity. I even examined the Middle Eastern and Asian religions for any truth that they might contain. As I recentered my attention on
Christianity, it amazed me how so many Christian churches could evolve from one Bible and the Gospel it proclaimed.

So at the age of 19 years, I was discouraged as I had not yet been led to find the church that taught what was revealed to me as I read the scriptures. I decided I would rejoin the Southern Baptist faith that I had embraced as a young teenager. I would continue to read the Bible and strive to internalize what I was learning through the ministering of the Holy Ghost. Hopefully, the Lord would guide me to his church that taught all of the Gospel of Jesus Christ with the organization that He had established during His ministry.

About this time I was working on reestablishing my relationship with a young woman who I had estranged due to being an inconsiderate and insensitive young man. At
this time in her life, she was actively involved in structured discussions with two mature women who were missionaries of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. I learned from this encounter that they were commonly known as Mormons. Up to this time the only thing I knew about this religion was the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, my family had acquired a collection of their work from Reader’s Digest, and a history tidbit about Brigham Young and his visionary layout of Salt Lake City with roads that where wide enough to turn about a horse and carriage. That was all I knew about this unique and American denomination. While endeavoring to rebuild what my girlfriend and I once had, she would relate to me what she was learning as she met with the missionaries. I was intrigued as she shared with me the basic
doctrine and principles of the Mormon faith. How do you think I felt as I learned that what they believed aligned with had had been revealed to me as I had read the Bible in my youth?

At a certain point during my friend’s discussions with the sister missionaries, they gave her a challenge to be baptized and become a member of the Church. She
accepted, as her prayers had been answered that she should join. As a friend she asked if I would attend her baptism and to which I agreed. On the evening of her baptism, I observed that they baptized her by immersion which was in accordance with New Testament teachings. She returned soon after dressed in dry clothes, and two young men, also missionaries, then proceeded to lay their hands on her head. My interest was piqued as I had never witnessed an ordinance performed in this manner. With my eyes closed I listened as they confirmed her a member of the church, and uttered the injunction “Receive the Holy Ghost.” Immediately on the heels of this declaration I received an overwhelming feeling that I had never experienced to this degree. It felt like I was floating. Opening my eyes confirmed I was still seated, but upon closing my eyes once again I heard a distinct still and small voice within my mind declare, “This is my Church for which you have been searching.”

Imagine my joy as the Holy Ghost filled me from the top of my head to the souls of my feet. My search was over. The Lord in His mercy had finally answered my prayers. Like the Israelites of old my wandering in the wilderness was now at an end. Over the next three weeks I learned that the Lord had prepared additional scripture to come forth in these latter days. As I read the Book of Mormon, it felt like an old friend whose voice I once knew and recognized as familiar. The
principles and doctrine of this sacred book plaited with the Bible in remarkable form. While I read of ancient prophets, civilizations in recognizable spiritual cycles, and the visitation of the Savior to the people on this continent, my heart was moved as the Holy Ghost whispered that the truths I was receiving were of God. I discovered additional pieces of the puzzle as the Plan of Salvation was fleshed out with more revealed words of the Lord. I also learned that in the future He would yet again bring forth additional knowledge from the Heavens when the Latter-Day Saints were living in accord to what has been revealed.

I am a humble man who daily engages in keeping the commandments of God as revealed both anciently and in this dispensation. I have taken upon me the name of Jesus Christ. I strive to remember the Lord always and His great sacrifice in our behalf. I live to love and serve others as exemplified by our Savior. I am not perfect nor will I ever be in this life, but I endeavor towards excellence in all things that I embark to accomplish. My goal is to serve my Heavenly Father, and assist him in bringing to pass the marvelous work and wonder of bringing souls unto Christ.

My dear friend, whether you want to accept it or not, ridicule me or not, I “know” that God the Father, Jesus Christ and the Holy Ghost are real and exist. I “know” and testify that Jesus Christ, the Only Begotten of the Father, is the Savior of the world and performed the work of the Atonement for all humankind. As I “know” the above, I also “know” that Joseph Smith was and is a prophet of God, like unto the prophets of old and so are the men of faith that followed him. I “know” that the Bible is the Word of God, as is the Book of Mormon, the Doctrine and Covenants and the Pearl of Great Price. I know these things of my own free will and choice, because I asked of God, the source of all true knowledge, and the Holy Ghost, who testifies of God’s truth, has witnessed of such in my heart and mind. I have a knowledge of these facts both spiritually and intellectually because God has testified to me of their authenticity. Everything upon examination testifies of God and His creations.

Our church embraces modern-day revelation, and is held in contempt by most other Christian religions because of it. To make light of my testimony and the testimonies of millions of others because you have never experienced it for yourself, is to put yourself in a place of judgement based upon your limited view and perspective. Scripturely speaking, be careful, for the same judgement you exercise upon others will be meted out to you in same measure. The work of God in spreading the Restored Gospel in its fullness is like unto the stone cut out of the mountain without hands which will roll forth until it fills the whole Earth. As described in the Doctrine and Covenants, “How long can rolling waters remain impure? What power shall stay the heavens? As well might man stretch forth his puny arm to stop the Missouri river in its decreed course, or to turn it up stream, as to hinder the Almighty from pouring down knowledge from heaven upon the heads of the Latter-day Saints.” There have been and always will be those who criticize the Mormons for their strongly held doctrines and principles. You join your voice with many of the apostates of our church, who decry and persecute those who hold onto the iron rod. You are just one among many who have taken upon yourself the cause to prove to the world that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints is in error, spreading false doctrine and are not Christians. You condemn what you know not of. The day will come when you will realize your mistake, then it may be too late to retract your words and may the Lord show you mercy. I add my voice to the prophets and saints who have testified of the truths that have been proclaimed in these the last days. During the days that we stand at the feet of the Savior, my words will be vindicated by Him who sits in Judgement, I so testify.

July 15th, 2015 at 1:16 am
dlightnhswd
 15 

Brandon R, you are not representing your Christlike love very well. Do you not have anything better to do? What are you even doing on this site that is so clearly threatening to your beliefs. Thank you for your thoughts, Rob. I found this to be a nice calling out of sorts. I am a firm believer in faith, however faith without some reasonable facts to stand on is just ignorance. I’m happy to listen to a logical position from anyone, but I have little tolerance for the simplistic rhetoric the church has been pushing down my throat for years. And his article was just more of that. Faith promoting faith can never be wrong. Technically. It can, however, be idiotic.

July 15th, 2015 at 1:29 am
SunsetRose
 16 

Hi Rob,

Thanks for your respectful response. That was a long story and I apologize for having written all that. It is very personal and I’m thankful that you have treated me with respect.

I definitely did join the church in a rather unconventional way. It’s not usual for someone to join a religious organization based on infatuation. It is rather odd when I objectively look at it.

As you know I am a female. We females, at least myself and some I know, make a lot of decisions based on our feelings and emotions. How we feel about something is what motivates us to action. I didn’t stay in the church because of my love for my husband. I have searched many in my life, even after joining the LDS church. I’ve tried out Buddhism because my mother is Buddhist. Btw, in my comment above, I don’t mean to condemn any church or religion. I think religion is great if it makes someone a better person. Even some Mormons don’t practice the belief exactly, we are all humans and we all make mistakes.

I’m afraid I can’t speak factual things about any religion. All I can say is that a belief in something or Faith doesn’t always come from logic. I can’t pretend to be some religious scholar. Frankly, I find it interesting when I hear about scholars of religion and their theories and such. Faith and belief, to me, is a feeling. I can’t logically explain the feeling I have inside when I pray. Matter of fact, I can’t even show physical proof that God hears my prayers, but I know he does when a miracle happens. A feeling is not something tangible to show. It’s like having a conscience. How do we know right from wrong? Can we show proof that something is right or wrong? That is how I feel about all religions. They are nothing tangible. It’s a feeling we have, a spiritual connection unseen. I truly hope you find what you are looking for., if you haven’t already found it. I respect you and I love you already for being the person you are, respectful, kind and cordial. This thread is very interesting and I thought I share my feelings with anyone willing to read.

Have a good night Rob and take care!

With Aloha,
Sunset

July 29th, 2015 at 2:31 am
urvinald
 17 

I was raised in the LDS Church, but, fell away as I entered my teens. In the early 1970s I hitchhiked across the USA and back twice. I dabbled in the counterculture and reveled in the drugs, sex, and rock & roll culture of the time. I actively searched for a spiritual belief or organized religion that made more sense than that into which I had been indoctrinated by my parents. I didn’t find it. I became an accomplished musician and rubbed elbows with poets and philosophers. I studied at universities and earned three advanced degrees, one a terminal degree which allowed me the credentials to instruct at any university worldwide. I traveled extensively internationally and became familiar with foreign cultures and languages. Then on a beautiful, sunny day I found myself with an ice cold beer in one hand and a half burned reefer in the other on a beach where the women ran white and brown and beautiful and naked. I realized that all of my accomplishments, experiences, and travels had not led me to happiness. Advanced training in martial arts had not shielded my heart. I was not happy and I was not having real fun. As I pondered this realization a memory manifested itself to me. (James 1:5)
Feeling the need for wisdom, I took a moment and prayed. Now don’t misconstrue this statement. It was not the first time I prayed. In fact, as an exercise in habit, I always prayed when I found myself in imminent danger. This time I prayed to know the Lord’s will for me. With all sincerity I promised to do God’s will if it would just be revealed to me. I did not ask for prophecy concerning others, only that which concerned me. The speed at which my prayer was answered surprised me. Within a week, I was back in the USA, in a new state, with a new job, and with the support of people that truly cared about me. Within a year, I experienced personal revelation concerning my future on Earth and what was to come after my death. Nineteen years later I can state with all confidence, after having the realization of my deepest desires; the Book of Mormon is true. The gospel of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the gospel of Jesus Christ. It took me most of my adult to find true happiness, and I found it by following the word of God.
Now for just a bit of background:
I have studied, and not cursorily, most well known religions in the USA, Europe, Central and South America, not to mention the larger Oriental religions. You may try to dismiss my statements as those of one that cannot possibly “know.” I can see the similarities between the teachings of Christ and Eastern religions. I can chart the apostasies of the medieval popes. I can even discuss the apparent problems in the scriptures of the “Mormon” Church. None of these things hold any sway in a discussion of my walk with Christ. I am far from perfect and struggle with my humanity daily. What matters most, I prepared myself over the period of a year not knowing I was doing so. I lived as I was meant to live and prayed often. I was patient and contrite. In His time, God sent the Holy Spirit to me. A special message was brought to my attention in such a way that I can never deny it. Following that prompting I was led to my wife and children and the wonderful life I have come to enjoy. If battering the word of God makes you happy, by all means persist. I, for one, testify to you, God lives, Christ knows each of our names, and the fullness of the gospel is at your fingertips when you hold the Bible, the Book of Mormon, the Pearl of Great Price, and the Doctrine & Covenants in your hand. Of this I testify to you in the name of Jesus Christ!
AMEN

September 2nd, 2015 at 2:44 am
 18 

Dear sir: Sorry for the delay in your comment posting. We had some technical problems with the blog and they have just been fixed.

Thanks for sharing your story. Your experience may convince you, but others have spiritual or religious experiences that they claim validate their religion (and therefore invalidate yours). I don’t batter the word of God; I am simply following the warnings of the word of God to be discerning between true prophets and false prophets. I hope at some point you will be ready to consider the possibility that your spiritual journey is not over and that God wants you to take a hard look at the facts about your religion.

December 3rd, 2015 at 11:32 pm
 19 

Sunset, sorry for the delay in your comment posting. We had some technical problems with the blog and they have just been fixed. Thanks again for the interaction.

December 3rd, 2015 at 11:33 pm
 20 

Sorry for the delay in your comment posting. We had some technical problems with the blog and they have just been fixed.

December 3rd, 2015 at 11:33 pm
 21 

Edward, sorry for the delay in your comment posting. We had some technical problems with the blog and they have just been fixed.

I don’t think you had any cause to worry that I would “ridicule” you. I disagree with you, but I can do so without attacking you personally.

The fact that you found a religion that validated what you already believed on some issues, and the fact that a woman you cared for had joined that religion, makes your experience quite understandable. I’m not going to try to talk you out of your belief because you’ve made it clear you aren’t open to whatever I might say. I will simply point out that although you stated that you disagreed with almost everything I said in the article, you didn’t offer any reasons for your disagreement or comment on any of the specific factual issues. You’re under no obligation to do so, but it is telling. You’re not the only one. All of the Mormons who have responded to that article have borne their testimonies but ignored the factual, objective issues that are the focus of the article. Remember, my article was a response to a Mormon who tried to give factual arguments in support of LDS belief; I was simply responding to his arguments. The truth is that Mormonism cannot be successfully defended rationally or factually; that’s why Trimble falls back on his testimony at the end of his article, and that’s why you and all of the other Mormons here have ignored the factual problems and instead told your personal stories. This is worth recognizing, whatever one does with it.

December 3rd, 2015 at 11:49 pm

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