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10 years ago  ::  Apr 08, 2008 - 11:45AM #11
Posts: 27
Hi everyone,

For me, there is a huge difference between the history of the Bible and the history of the Book of Mormon.  The Bible, written over a long period of time, with lots of symbolism etc. could definitely be looked at in the terms of meanings rather than actual facts.  The Book of Mormon, on the other hand, was written (or translated) by one man who claimed to be a prophet and claimed it was factual.  It is either true or false - and if it is false, I would not want to follow a lie. 

I can follow the principles in the Bible and still maintain my independent thought and interpretation, but if I follow the Book of Mormon, I have to submit my interpretations to a group of people who claim to speak for God. 

There's a huge difference to me.  If you disprove facts in the Bible, you can remove that part of it and the rest could stay in tact.  But if you disprove the Book of Mormon, the whole book becomes a huge fraud.  I do not want to have faith in a lie no matter how good it makes me feel nor how good of a person it makes me. 

The Book of Mormon and its history, do not claim to be parables.  If I were to begin thinking of them that way, that would definitely affect my view of the LDS church.
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10 years ago  ::  Apr 08, 2008 - 3:49PM #12
Posts: 5,277

christmasrainbow wrote:

Hi everyone,

For me, there is a huge difference between the history of the Bible and the history of the Book of Mormon. The Bible, written over a long period of time, with lots of symbolism etc. could definitely be looked at in the terms of meanings rather than actual facts.

I have a problem with this:  It has been claimed that the Bible is also factual and yet  much of it can be viewed symbolically.  There is much symbolism in the Book of Momon and yet  you are being insistent that it be judged solely on the basis of being factual.  The difference between the two being that less latitude is allowable with a shorter span of time and a single author. 
Shorter time and single authorship are thus set up as valid criteria for truth or falsity  when, in reality,  they  do not possess that distinctive ability.

Cry Heaven and let loose the Penguins of Peace
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10 years ago  ::  Apr 08, 2008 - 4:51PM #13
Posts: 1,451
With the Bible, you can take it all as symbolic, but at some point you have to decide if Jesus realyl was/is the son of God.  If he is not, then it's just a nice book of stories, but if he is, it is much more important than that.  It's the same with the Book of Mormon.  You have to decide if Smith was a prophet of God, and that this book brings you closer to Jesus Christ.  It was written to help convince you that Jesus is the Christ, and that the Bible is not just a story.  It's ironic that finding the truth of the Book of Mormon confirms the truth of the Bible.
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10 years ago  ::  Apr 09, 2008 - 5:14AM #14
Posts: 3,242
"For me, there is a huge difference between the history of the Bible and the history of the Book of Mormon. The Bible, written over a long period of time, with lots of symbolism etc. could definitely be looked at in the terms of meanings rather than actual facts . . . . "

"I can follow the principles in the Bible and still maintain my independent thought and interpretation . . . . "

"If you disprove facts in the Bible, you can remove that part of it and the rest could stay in tact. . . . "

This view of the Bible, as allegory, is a modern one.  For most of the last two millennia, the vast majority of its readers have considered it as factual as the phonebook.  While common sense ought to tell us there are no talking snakes, fruit that makes you wise or waters above the sky, the Bible never separates the factual from the figurative.  In fact, throughout most of those two millennia, to question the literal truthfulness of the Bible was to betray a damnable lack of faith.  Copernicus hid his findings - that it's the earth that revolves around the sun - in the appendix to his book.  When Galileo went out of his way to publicize the contents of that appendix, he was nearly tortured by the Inquisition (and spent the rest of his life under house arrest).

In the West, we cringe at the barbarity of Islamic Fundamentalism and its effect on Islamic theocracies.  But it wasn't that long ago when Europeans were burning witches, beating up on Jews, torturing heretics and waging Crusades.  Even on this continent, Christianity - the same Christianity that gave us "love thy neighbor" and "turn the other cheek" - was used to justify invasion, occupation, enslavement and - in Puritan New England - the Salem Witch Trials.  If you compare the Qur'an to the Bible, it's not the texts that differ so much as the attitude of the reader.  In the West, scientific and political revolutions have changed the way we see the world.  Where once it made perfect sense to assume that whatever we found in the Bible must be - ipso facto - a literal fact backed up by the Bank of God, that view has been modified by the Renaissance, the Reformation, the Scientific Revolution, the Enlightenment, the Glorious Revolution and the American Revolution.

Even today, in the dawn of the 21st Century, we still have people working their way through the halls of government, trying to get Creation Science turned into part of the required curriculum in public school.  In fact, until recently, science teachers in Florida were to avoid using the term, "evolution," and replace it with the phrase, "change over time" - so as not to offend those who still believe that the Bible is the infallable, inerrant Word of God.

The only reason people today look at the Bible as allegory is that they've done the math and it's the only way to retain any faith in the text.  We know today that neither snakes - nor donkeys - can talk.  Even if they had enough brains to speak, they lack the rest of the hardware to pull off much of a conversation in Hebrew.  We've seen what's above the sky, and it's not "upper waters."  We know the water is blue because it reflects the sky, which is blue because of what the atmosphere does to white light.  Unlike the author of Genesis, we see no reason to link fish and fowl, nor is there a biologist alive who thinks that birds existed before there were worms a/k/a "creeping things."  One of the more amusing things we now know is that the kind of wind tunnel it would take to part the Red Sea would not be one you'd want to walk through.  We also know that no star could literally fall to earth.  Lambs do not beget spotted offspring by looking at spotted things.  It's unlikely that Noah found every land creature on seven continents and stuffed that animal into an ark that size, let alone that each migrated through hostile biomes to return to his place of origin. 

In his day, Joseph Smith took a lot of heat for saying, "We believe the Bible to be the Word of God AS FAR AS IT IS TRANSLATED CORRECTLY."  Back then, it was widely considered heresy to suggest that any part of the Bible was anything less than a crystalline miracle of perfection, God's infallible and inerrant Word.  If Joseph Smith ended up rewriting various passages, it was in a good-faith attempt to save the Bible from itself.  Just as Joseph dropped to his knees in the Sacred Grove - to ask which church he should join (not whether any church was true or whether life has any meaning) - Joseph continued to believe that the Bible, as originally drafted, was the "Word of God," but that there had to have been mistranslations along the way in order to create a document so rife with issues.  For Joseph and others, it was easier to believe in a monk on the grassy knoll than to believe that, perhaps, the Bible was no better than the people who wrote - none of whom were perfect.

In fact, if you look closely at the Bible, you end up with anything but a monolith.  The Documentary Hypothesis, itself, is based on the idea that variant names for God, along with redundant passages and conflicting accounts, are the result of the pooling and ultimate redaction of at least four sets of rival scripts.  Why do some portions of the text refer to God as Elohim while others refer to him as Jehovah?  Why do some passages go into great detail while others are loosey goosey?  Why do the rival histories of 1 and 2 Samuel, along with 1 and 2 Kings, differ from 1 and 2 Chronicles?  Whether it was the famed Ezra or someone else, it's evident that the Old Testament, in its current form, is a redaction, a redaction that probably doesn't date back as far as one might think. 

The same goes for the New Testament.  Upon closer inspection, the Four Gospels are not four witnesses to the same events but four different versions of those events, four competing visions of the original Christian message, as if Christianity had lent its name out to four competing marketing firms.  The accounts don't just differ.  Their contradictions, as well as their exclusives and their omissions, show selective spin.  None of them are eye-witness testimonies - as their scope inevitably exceeds anything a single witness could have experienced.  Was Matthew really there when Mary and Joseph were dating?  Why don't we have a gospel from either of them?  If Jesus went into the wilderness for 40 days and 40 nights, who was there when he met the Devil?  Who was at the court of Herod when Salome dance for him and ordered the head of John the Baptist?  If Jesus's disciples fell asleep while he was praying, who recorded what he prayed?

If you look closely at the New Testament authors, there are divisions between them.  Paul has a very different idea of salvation from that of Peter, James and John.  In arguing that salvation is "by faith" and "without works," Paul seems to contradict the words of Jesus when he said, "Not everyone who says Lord, Lord shall enter into the Kingdom of Heaven but he that does the will of my father."  Either way, Paul takes bragging rights for standing up to Peter, when the latter hesitated to fraternize with uncircumcised Christians in front of his Jewish peers.  Peter, on the other hand, warns his readers that some of the things Paul wrote about were hard to be understood, so hard in fact that if you didn't already know the Gospel, you could end up losing your salvation.  James was a bit more blunt about it.  "Believest thou that Jesus is the Christ?" he asked in his general epistle, "Thou doest well.  The devils also believe, and tremble."  To James, "faith without works is dead."

To Joseph Smith and his generation, it was easier to accept the Bible as "the Word of God"  - but one whose message and purity had been altered by its later handlers - than to attribute any errors to the original writers.  It's only with the distance of time - and the realization of gaps between the ancient record and the results of modern science - that we begin to wonder if the "Word of God" isn't truer in spirit than in letter.  Knowing what we know now, we're forced to either deny its flaws, deny the conclusions of science or find a compromise between blind faith and disillusionment.  But look how long it has taken to come to terms with the third solution.  St. Paul had his moments but he also thought that women should cover their heads, keep quiet in church, look to their husbands to explain the hard stuff they couldn't understand and otherwise remain subordinate to the man - for it was Eve who was first deceived by the serpent.  And while that hardly makes St. Paul a gangsta in sandles, b-slappin' his way Heaven, it also explains why St. Paul considered it better to be celebate and single.
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10 years ago  ::  Apr 09, 2008 - 5:44AM #15
Posts: 3,242
Freed from the pressure to see things through the right pair of spectacles, I call 'em like I see 'em.  St. Paul was an obvious sexist.  He was gentler than others but his attitude toward women reflected the values of the day and not necessarily the "Will of God."  Given the number of times Jesus appeared with women (Mary, his mother; Mary Magdalene; Mary, the sister of Martha) - it's unlikely that Jesus would have sanctioned some of St. Paul's more prudish utterances.  I have no problem reading a text - like Romans 9 - and concluding that St. Paul was speaking out of turn.  I'm not a Protestant, reading every passage with an eye toward how it can help me or hurt me in a running firefight with all of my Protestant - or Catholic - rivals.  When scripture violates reason, I go with reason.

This ability to pick and choose what I'll believe has some people foaming at the mouth.  If I were Catholic, they'd call me a "cafeteria Catholic" because I don't force myself to approve every utterance from on high, simply because it was an utterance from on high.  As often as I can, I give every voice the amount of thought I think it deserves.  But at the end of the day, I'm the one who has to decide whether this faith or that one will help me build paradise or simply entertain me along the way to nowhere.  Purists conceive of religion as a straitjacket, one that binds the individual to the will of God, the most obvious example of which is Islam, which literally means "submission."  More often than not, it's more of an ornamentation, a style, a logo people wear, a flag people fly, that expresses their desire to live a better, classier, more wholesome life. 

People adopt a religion as a system of belief and practice, one that organizes their little familial tribe into a coherent working group, one that brings them into a community of likeminded believers.  It would be nice to say that people pick religions for purely intellectual or spiritual reasons, but that's obviously not the case.  In many parts of the world, religion has traditionally been decided by where you live.  Even in America, where religious choice is fundamental, people choose on the basis of such factors as family background, worship style, relative coolness or where their friends go.  In other words, while people like to say that God is in charge, the truth is just the opposite.  They pick their own faith, one that reflects the ideals they want to champion and the lifestyle they want to live.

Joseph Smith claimed to see Heavenly things.  That gave him license to reinvent and reform by way of "restoring."  The "Restored Gospel," in many respects, is a rebuilt gospel, one that reassesses where things went wrong - from the death of Christ to the here and now - and tells a story, one that connected 19th-Century seekers to the ancients.  It was certainly more inspiring to Joseph Smith and his generation than the tortured branches of Protestantism, encumbered with endless sectarian wranglings.  This "Restored Gospel" also fixed a lot of interesting theological knots that "traditional" Christianity had tied itself into over the centuries.

It's a typically Protestant mindset to treat the Bible with awe while treating everything else with studied skepticism, but that merely reflects a fundamental bias.
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10 years ago  ::  Apr 13, 2008 - 1:11PM #16
Posts: 1,020
Mormon culture would be the same with or without the book, so no, it would not change my view of the church at all.

The Bible is a pretty decent roadmap for life.  It's got its problems, but the intent seems generally good.  I know the Bible, but I don't need the Bible in order to be a decent person.  Likewise, I don't need the Book of Mormon either. 

That said, many TBMs and TBM-wannabes (they're a large part of the church membership, so let's not discount them at all) do cling to the Book of Mormon and to the many tales of Joseph Smith and his friends and early followers as a necessity for their belief in the church system.  They will maintain that none can exist without the other and in order to have a valid 'testimony', they must believe that Joseph Smith was a prophet of God and that he alone was inspired to write/translate the Book of Mormon, without which the faith would have no core.

One of my big problems with the faith is the amount of praise, worship, and adoration heaped upon the men they refer to as 'prophets'.  My wife wrote a talk for my daughter today on 'following the Prophets' and she made a point to capitalize 'Prophet' in the same way others would capitalize 'God' or 'Jesus Christ'.  TBMs will deny that they worship any mortal man, but the subtle examples like this one are too numerous to dismiss for those of us who have the ability to be objective.
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10 years ago  ::  Apr 16, 2008 - 12:50PM #17
Posts: 1,334
[QUOTE=enoch123;414590]MysticWanderer, yours is indeed the response of a new believer (in my opinion) ;o)!
I read from you that indeed the Book of Mormon is foundational to your faith-if it were false, there would be no way to reconcile your faith with a faulty premise-do I understand you correctly?

Thanks, I look forward to the responses![/QUOTE]

Actually you do misunderstand me.  My approach to the Church as a human, political entity would depend upon how and why the Book of Mormon was proven false and the role of the Church in such falshood.  For instance if it could be shown that the Book of Mormon was deliberatley faked by Joseph Smith and the Church had knowingly suppressed such information, my attitude toward the Church would definitely change.  At the same time my knowledge and belief in and about God, Heavenly Father, The Christ and the Holy Spirit would not change as these come from internal knowledge from the testimanoy of the Holy Spirit.
"Not all who wander are lost" J.R.R.Tolkein
You can safely assume that you've created God in your own image when it turns out that God hates all the same people you do. ~Anne Lamott
"Against stupidity the gods themselves contend in vain."
Friedrich von Schiller
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10 years ago  ::  Apr 16, 2008 - 4:43PM #18
Posts: 2,352
I am pretty new to this forum, so I want to announce my intentions with starting this thread.

I am not a member of the LDS church nor do I have an interest in becoming one. As I ask questions on this board, I do hope to be respectful in what I ask and the way I ask it-if I am not, please forgive me and if necessary, please point it out to me (unless the mods do so beforehand, in which case again, I apologize in advance).

That said, can I ask some questions of all who choose to answer:

If you were to receive irrefutable proof that the Book of Mormon (this is a hypothetical-I'm not making any references in any form whatsoever to the veracity of the Booki of Mormon) was false, would that change your view of the LDS faith?

Why or why not?

Would the scripture of the Bible be adequate to sustain your faith or is the doctrine as taught in the Book of Mormon inescapable in the LDS life?

Why or why not?

In advance-while I have not read a great amount of it, I have read some of the Book of Mormon for context in trying to understand the LDS faith.

If the Book of Mormon was false, or proved false beyond all measure, would I still adhear to LDS Church or change my views of the Church.

OFCOURSE!  The way my testimony would be altered to accomodate the lack of "truth" in the BoM.  However one would have to also consider this take... Does it really matter if the "Stories" in the BoM are true stories that actually happend.  Awhile back I would say that mattered.  Now, I don't think so.  I like what the messages convey.  When I was in college, the professor would always tell stories about people, places and things to teach us, world history, or philosophy, or what have you.

I could careless about Dr. Weiss's cousin Ardith, but I still remember the information contained in the story and how to apply that information in my daily life.

The scripture in the Bible would be enough, however even if the Book of Mormon were "written" by  Brother Joseph rather then Translated, I would still respect him as a Prophet, because if you have read the BoM, you would still have to be inspired by its contents.  In many ways it would validate Bro. Joseph even more. 

Then you have to ask your self weather Translated or Written, could a man like Joseph Smith have accomplished something like that with out devine help or guidance?

God Bless
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