Little Known Propaganda: 17 – Life on the Moon

2 Apr

This is my continuing responses to the list of “little known facts” referenced at the blog Sound Doctrine. On this blog the author presents the list along with responses to each from a F.A.I.R. Mormon scholar, known only as CleanCut. In addition the author of this blog, known as Damon, gives a response to CleanCut. As I said in my introduction blog, I am writing a response to each fact in a lengthy series. I will not, however, comment on what CleanCut or Damon said.

See also Fact #1#2#3#4#5#6#7#8#9#10#11#12#13a#13b#14#15, 16

 

FACT #17. Joseph Smith taught the moon was inhabited by people who dressed like Quakers and lived to be about 1000 years old.

In the Mormon publication, The Young Woman’s Journal, pp. 263 & 264, O.B. Huntington gives this interesting information:

“As far back as 1837, I know that he [Joseph Smith] said the moon was inhabited by men and women the same as this earth, and that they lived to a greater age than we do – that they live generally to near the age of 1000 years. He [Smith] described the men as averaging near six feet in height, and dressing quite uniformly in something near the Quaker style.”

Now that man has walked on the Moon, there can be no doubt that there aren’t any 6 foot tall Quakers roaming its surface.

 

This one might have been little known before the age of the internet, and even in the early years of the internet. How well known it was when this list was first put together would be impossible to say, but of all the items on the list, it is likely the least well known. The reason for this is that it is stated in only two places, and both sources are fairly rare. The Young Woman’s Journal was printed from 1889 to 1896, when the New Era took its place. The fact that a single article from more than 100 years ago is not known to the general membership is hardly surprising. When you consider that it was an independent publication (meaning associated with but not published by the church) it is even less surprising. This journal did not, nor has it ever represented actually church doctrine, and anyone who says it does has no idea what they are talking about.

But, regardless of that, there is still the fair question of whether or not Joseph Actually said this. So, let us examine this from a historical perspective, rather than from a theological one.

 

First

Brother Huntington says that he knows Joseph taught this. He doesn’t say that he heard Joseph teach it. We know why this is by reading Brother Huntington’s journal. However, this journal was kept only during the years of 1880-1882. This means the entries in it for any period before that were recollections and not immediate accounts. Now, in these recollections Brother Huntington writes about the idea of life on the moon twice. The first time he says basically what is quoted here, without claiming to have heard Joseph say this himself. The second time he again gives the same details, but states that Joseph Smith had told a Philo Dibble the information, thus indicating that Brother Huntington received the information from Brother Dibble.

The acceptance that Brother Huntington got his information second hand is re-enforced when we look at his life and the life of Brother Dibble. Brother Huntington was 13 when he was baptized in 1836, and thus would have been only 14 in 1837; and only a member for a year. However, in this same year Philo Dibble would have been 31 years old and a member for 7 years. As this is the year that Brother Huntington claims the idea of life on the moon originated it is infinitely more likely that Joseph would have told an older and more established member of the church, who would relay the information years later to a younger member.

So what we have is the recollections of an older man (in 1880 he would have been 57) about something that another brother told him that Joseph Smith had once said nearly 45 years earlier. Regardless of what Brother Huntington believed, it is not compelling evidence to accept that Joseph Smith ever actually said this.

 

Second

If we accept that Joseph Smith did say this, then let us look at the historical context. Several decades earlier one William Herschel, a prominent astronomer and the discoverer of Uranus and infrared light on the sun, had published a paper in which he not only declared a belief in life on the moon but also the sun (see page 22 of the PDF document). Then, in 1835 a series of articles appeared in The Sun in New York purporting to give details of the life on the moon, and sited to John Herschel, William’s son, who was then a prominent astronomer as his father had been. These articles were revealed to be a hoax, but many people had already latched onto the idea and belief in life on the moon became strong and enduring, taking many decades to dispel.

It also seems that these articles were reprinted in a paper close to Kirtland, and thus it is perfectly reasonable to believe that the members of the LDS church in the area not only read them, but were also fooled into believing them as many others had been. The difference is that the saints had a prophet to whom they believed they could go to get the final answer. So it is also very likely that some of the saints asked Joseph Smith about this, including Brother Dibble.

We must also consider the personality of Joseph Smith. By all accounts he could be quite sarcastic when people were unwilling to listen and was willing to give people what they wanted (in a sarcastic way) if they persisted. For instance; when two sectarian preachers came to visit him in an attempt to trap him in his scriptural understanding he withstood their questions and trapped them with his. When they were about to leave in frustration he made a mark on the ground and took a leap, challenging them to a jumping contest. They went away insulted at such a challenge on the Sabbath, and yet Joseph had, in a sarcastic and mocking way, given them what they wanted; something to criticize.

Taking all this into account it is not unlikely that the members of the church had asked about life on the moon, to which Joseph Smith had not given an answer, or declared that he did not know. But, as he was the prophet, the members kept asking him, assuming (as many today assume) that as the prophet God had revealed everything to him. Getting tired of the constant questions he gave them the answer they were looking for, but with such sarcasm as to be rather ridiculous. But there were those in the church that took this sarcasm literally and chose to believe it to be a prophetic revelation.

 

So, we can reject that Joseph Smith ever actually said, as the historical evidence for it is not compelling; or we can accept that he did say it, but in the context of the time said it in sarcasm and some members foolishly took it as revealed truth. Either way it is at best an intriguing footnote on church history.

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Reply To A Video: 4 1/2 things Mormons believe that Christians don’t

22 Feb

I was going to comment on the blog that posted the video in question, but I found my comments to be far to long for a comment, so I decided to put this in my blog, mainly because I really wanted to.

So, this post is in reply to a video recently posted at Bearded Disciple titled “4 1/2 Things That Mormons Believe That Christians don’t.” This video was, in turn, a reply to a video that three Mormon men made titled “5 Things Mormons Believe that Other Christians Don’t.” There are several points I would like to make, and I will number them according to the video presentation.

But first, a brief mention of the introduction: You may notice the subtle difference in the titles of the videos. This is because the bearded one wants to deny that Latter Day Saints are, in fact Christian. This is, of course, false and misleading, but is a common point that has been addressed by many and I don’t think I need to go into full details here. I just wanted to point it out to the readers so that they will understand the man’s starting point when he makes his arguments.

I would also like to point out that the original video is not attempting to proselytize or convince anyone to join the church. The purpose is to simply provide information in a fun way. They are not saying “This is why you should should join the LDS church.” Rather they are simply saying “This is what the LDS church and its members believe that you don’t.” But the response frequently tries to dismiss the original with demands of proof or reasons why he should accept and believe these things as well.

1. Prophets

The three Mormons rightly stated that other Christians do not believe that God currently speaks through prophets. They also state that God always spoke through prophets, at least when he was speaking. In response to this is the claim that the first prophet was Samuel and that the only prophet in the New Testament was a woman. So, let us look at this claim briefly. Let us start with the Old Testament.

Genesis 20: 7 God calls Abraham a prophet. Deuteronomy 34: 10 No prophet greater than Moses, indicating that Moses was a prophet. Judges 6: 8 a prophet came to Israel. 1 Samuel 9:9 prophets used to be called a seer, showing that prophets existed long before this time.

In the New Testament, in Matthew 11: 9 John the Baptist was a prophet, and in Luke 7: 28 Christ declares that there is no greater prophet. Acts 11: 27 prophets came to Antioch from Jerusalem. 1 Corinthians 12: 28 in the hierarchy of the church Prophets were second to the apostles. Ephesians 3: 5 God was, at that time, revealing things to His apostles and prophets. James 5: 10 speaks of the prophets that spoke during the life of Christ.

Finally, to wrap it up, Luke 1: 70 God has been speaking through prophets since the world began. So, while many men are not directly called prophets in the scriptures, it is clear that from the time of Adam there were prophets on the earth.

So, while other Christians may not consider these men to be prophets, it is clear that those who wrote the Bible did consider them to be prophets, and not just having the gift of prophecy.

 

A final point here, in the original video they quote Mark 13: 22, which states “For false Christs and false prophets shall rise, and shall shew signs and wonders, to seduce, if it were possible, even the elect.” In the response the bearded one rightly acknowledges their point that this verse does not completely negate the possibility of future prophets, and then he focuses on Joseph Smith and asserts that there is still reason to reject him as a prophet. The problem is that many Christians deny the very possibility of modern prophets and have frequently said that the roll of a prophet ended with Christ and the early church. So, while the original video is made by Mormons, the point is that we believe in modern prophets. Rather than actually address this belief the response focuses on rejecting Joseph Smith. So, the real question is, if these three Mormons are right about what they say regarding the possibility of prophets, does the bearded one acknowledge the possibility of prophets.

 

2: Speaking Only to Ancient Israel

The three Mormons mention a common belief among many Christians that God did not speak to anyone outside of Ancient Israel. Now, the video does point out that this is not a universal belief, and so I think it should be amended to God has not revealed His Gospel to anyone outside of the Ancient Middle East. This is a better way of putting it because it is not only more in line with mainstream Christian beliefs, but because most of the Book of Mormon was God speaking to Ancient Israel, just a branch that was not in the Middle East.

However, I think that the main point that the three are trying to make is valid, though somewhat poorly worded, so let me re-iterate the basic meaning they were trying to get across. The LDS believe that God has visited members of many nations and revealed his gospel directly to them, calling prophets out of each nation to preach to the people of that nation. Again, it was poorly worded by the three Mormons in the video. However, they quoted 2 Nephi 29: 7-8 which does state this very clearly.

In the response the bearded first claims they are ignorant as to Biblical understanding and then points out times in the Bible when God spoke to non-Israelites. The problem is that none of his examples actually stand up against the point being made. The video did not deny that God, at times, sent prophets to preach to other people in the Middle East or Mediterranean areas. Rather they are saying that most Christians do not believe that God had an organized religion among these other peoples until an Israelite was sent to preach to them. God did not call a Ninevite to preach, but sent the Israelite Jonah. He did not call a Spaniard to be a prophet, but sent the Israelite Paul. And most Christians would say that God never called a prophet to preach to the America’s, but sent the European Christians.

Another topic on this point is Other Sheep: The original video quotes John 10: 16 and point out that it is talking about Christ personally visiting the other sheep, and thus the work of the apostles cannot be what the passage is talking about. The response wrongly claims that Christ taught the gentiles, as Christ never did. He blessed them at times, but he never taught them. In fact, in Matthew 10: 5 He tells the apostles not to go the the gentiles. Then in Mark 7: 27, when a Greek (gentile) woman approaches him to heal her daughter he calls her a dog and declares that the children must come first. Then there is the story of Cornelius in Acts 10, which is the first recorded baptism of gentiles and something that other leaders in the church (even some apostles) questioned. If Christ had been teaching gentiles all along why would the Apostles, all of whom had known and traveled with Christ, have been shocked at Peter’s actions.

As to the Samaritan woman, the Samaritans were of the House of Israel, though of mixed descent. Thus to teach the Samaritans was still to teach Israel.

On a final point the bearded one sets up a straw man argument with his saying that we don’t include the people of Asia and asking who is included in the other flock. This shows his ignorance, as we include every branch of Israel that was a separate nation at the time of Christ. Christ explained this to the Nephites. In 3 Nephi 16: 1 he declares “…I have other sheep, which are not of this land, neither of the land of Jerusalem, neither in any parts of that land round about whither I have been to minister….” So, clearly before Christ visited America He visited other lands as well, and yet more lands after He visited America. Many lands are included in this, and while we don’t know every place He visited, we are confident that He visited all the House of Israel. This would include those living in the East (where the Wisemen came from) as well as the Lost Tribes in the North, and likely others.

 

3: Eternal Families

I am not going to make any comments on the scriptural nature of the doctrine, or on the passage that is debated (you can read the passage here or here). So I make no other comment here, as this is all that the bearded one talks of in the video.

 

4. Degrees of Glory

On this point the original video kind of rambles and again fails to effectively portray the topic. But the response to this is only to say “You haven’t proved it so I won’t believe it.” Not really effective either.

After that the bearded one makes a reply to something that was said under the topic of eternal families, and it is something that needs to be addressed. That is the idea that Heaven would not be heaven without our families.

Now, in the video it is implied that to have this opinion is to not truly love God. After all, it says in Luke 14: 26 that if we are to come to God we have to hate everyone else. The problem here is that the the bearded one does not actually understand what Mormons mean when they say that heaven would not be heaven without our families.

First, please note that every member of the church, who takes their faith seriously, is willing to give up their family for Christ’s sake. Truly, many members have had their families break over their conversion and have lost loved ones to become a disciple of Christ. Christ is the most important and His gospel is the only way. If following that means losing our families than we are prepared to do so.

Secondly, there will be many who enter the Celestial worlds without all of their family. It will still be heaven to them, even without their families. However, at the same time we all love our families and want to be with them forever. It is not so much that we wouldn’t feel it was heaven without our families, but that we cannot believe that Heaven would not at least have the possibility of our families remaining together.
Heaven would not be heaven without families; that is true. God Himself recognizes the eternal nature of families when He asks us to refer to Him as Father. Individuals may not have all their family with them, and some very unlucky ones may have none of their immediate family with them. But families will exist, and thus there is the possibility and the hope that our families will be with us. That is what makes it heaven. None of this puts Christ as second in our devotions. Rather it strengthens our devotion to Him, as what He has made possible is truly glorious.

 

5: Baptism

If you noticed the response also altered it to 4 1/2 things on the list rather than 5. This is the one they want to cut in half. The bearded one says that most Christians agree with the point, but then states that they don’t.

Just to clarify, the original video listed number five as “Mormons believe you should get baptized in the same way Christ did.” That is the statement, which is then clarified as ‘full immersion’ and ‘by fire of the spirit.’

The response video says that most Christian are going to agree with this, and then immediately says ‘we look at it and say that ultimately the way and the method that that’s done isn’t really important…’ The problem here is that the way and the method are exactly the point of the original video. It has to be by immersion, in the exact manner that Christ was baptized. The 3 Mormons even discuss to some extent the different methods and ideas surrounding baptism, and point out that Mormons don’t agree with them. So while most Christians may agree that you should get baptized, they do not agree that it should be done in the same way that Christ was baptized.

 

Sorry this is so long. I really didn’t want to break it up and I had a lot to say.

FULL EFFECTS OF THE ATONEMENT: part 6 – Mercy

5 Sep

This is a talk I gave in Sacrament Meeting a few months ago, and thought I would share it with you. I am posting it in six parts, each being fairly brief, so have fun and let me know what you think.

Grace, Resurrection, Justification, Sanctification, Exaltation, Mercy

Bondage without Atonement

These stages of salvation are all brought about by the atonement of Christ. Nothing is possible without it. In the church we frequently talk about how children who die before the age of accountability are saved in the Celestial Kingdom, having no need for any of the ordinances. But we must understand that even children could not be saved in any measure without the Atonement. To understand this we must look back to the first stage; Resurrection. Without the Atonement no one could be resurrected, and thus at death we would return to being a spirit for all eternity. The pain and disappointment this would cause would be an eternal torment. The scriptures even refer to this condition as being in bondage. “For as ye have looked upon the long absence of your spirits from your bodies to be a bondage, I will show unto you how the day of redemption shall come, and also the restoration of the scattered Israel.” (D&C 45: 17)

“For the dead had looked upon the long absence of their spirits from their bodies as a bondage.” (D&C 138: 50). The thought of being without our bodies, even temporarily, is a terrifying thought to all who understand the truth.

 

The Mercy of God

When we understand this progression of salvation, and who is saved at each stage, we begin to see more clearly the true mercy of God. Many view God as punishing those who are cast out, or who do not attain all levels of salvation. But God does not really punish anyone. God loves us and does not want to see any of his children suffer. We know that for the wicked to be in the presence of God would cause them greater torment than to be cast out. The scriptures testify that the wicked will seek to hide from His face and would that the rocks would cover them rather than stand in God’s presence. So, in His infinite mercy God will draw us as close to Himself as He possibly can in order to cause us the least amount of suffering. To cast us farther would be unjust, but to draw us closer would be unmerciful.

FULL EFFECTS OF THE ATONEMENT: part 5 – Exaltation

5 Sep

This is a talk I gave in Sacrament Meeting a few months ago, and thought I would share it with you. I am posting it in six parts, each being fairly brief, so have fun and let me know what you think.

Grace, Resurrection, Justification, Sanctification, Exaltation, Mercy

Exaltation (Eternal Life)

But Sanctification is not the final stage. Once we are sanctified we must continue faithful in the gospel to attain the highest level of salvation. As Nephi wrote

“And now, my beloved brethren, after ye have gotten into this strait and narrow path, I would ask if all is done? Behold, I say unto you, Nay; for ye have not come thus far save it were by the word of Christ with unshaken faith in him, relying wholly upon the merits of him who is mighty to save. Wherefore, ye must press forward with a steadfastness in Christ, having a perfect brightness of hope, and a love of God and of all men. Wherefore, if ye shall press forward, feasting upon the word of Christ, and endure to the end, behold, thus saith the Father: Ye shall have eternal life.” (2 Nephi 31: 19-20)

This final stage Nephi refers to as Eternal Life, which is what it is commonly called in the church. However, I will refer to it by another name: Exaltation. This exaltation is attained by receiving every ordinance and entering into every covenant of gospel, the last being the eternal covenant of marriage. God has revealed that “In the celestial glory there are three heavens or degrees; And in order to obtain the highest, a man must enter into this order of the priesthood [meaning the new and everlasting covenant of marriage]; And if he does not, he cannot obtain it.” (D&C 131:1-3) This exaltation is to have everything that God has, to be like Him, having a continuation of lives, and thus is salvation from an eternally stagnant life.

FULL EFFECTS OF THE ATONEMENT: part 4 – Sanctification

5 Sep

This is a talk I gave in Sacrament Meeting a few months ago, and thought I would share it with you. I am posting it in six parts, each being fairly brief, so have fun and let me know what you think.

Grace, Resurrection, Justification, Sanctification, Exaltation, Mercy

Sanctification

We have seen that the first stage (resurrection and intersession) is given to everyone who lives on this earth. We have also seen how Justification is also given to everyone who does not come out in open rebellion. These are universal effects of the atonement. As the hymn says

No creature is so lowly,

No sinner so depraved,

But feels thy presence holy

And thru thy love is saved.

Tho craven friends betray thee,

They feel thy love’s embrace;

The very foes who slay thee

Have access to thy grace.

 

But, even though these things are universally given to all men, the last two stages of salvation are only made possible for those who properly seek them. We read in the Doctrine and Covenants “that justification through the grace of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ is just and true” which tells us that all are justified. But we then read that “sanctification through the grace of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ is just and true, to all those who love and serve God with all their mights, minds, and strength.” (D&C 20: 30-31) Thus we see that sanctification, unlike justification, is contingent on our personal worthiness, and it is this sanctification that is the third stage of our salvation.

To be sanctified means that one is set apart, or consecrated as being Holy unto God. The process of Sanctification is fairly well outlined in the Fourth Article of Faith, as it is these first principles that sanctify us. Jesus taught the Nephite Disciples that “this is the commandment: Repent, all ye ends of the earth, and come unto me and be baptized in my name, that ye may be sanctified by the reception of the Holy Ghost, that ye may stand spotless before me at the last day.” (3 Nephi 27: 20) So, those who believe in Christ must then repent, and be baptized. Then, when they are given the gift of the Holy Ghost, this gift sanctifies them and makes them holy.

This sanctification is the narrow gate that leads to the Celestial Kingdom and eternity with God the Father. It is salvation from endless separation from our Father. Only those who are born of water and the spirit will inherit this gift, and then only if they endure to the end.

FULL EFFECTS OF THE ATONEMENT: part 3 – Justification

5 Sep

This is a talk I gave in Sacrament Meeting a few months ago, and thought I would share it with you. I am posting it in six parts, each being fairly brief, so have fun and let me know what you think.

Grace, Resurrection, Justification, Sanctification, Exaltation, Mercy

Justification

After the resurrection and intercession of Christ, then comes the judgment. Here, again, I think many people miss the full scope of the effects of the Atonement. At the judgment all men will be justified, with the exception of those Sons of Perdition that come out in open defiance of God. Paul, in writing to the Romans, made this very clear. He writes “Therefore as by the offence of one judgment came upon all men to condemnation; even so by the righteousness of one the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life.” (Romans 5: 18)

Let that sink in for a moment. All men are justified, thus all men will have their sins forgiven them. That is a free gift of the Atonement. Nothing we do can ever earn us forgiveness of sins, nor can we in anyway pay for this forgiveness. It is a free gift to all, with that one exception of those who come out in open defiance against God, for Christ himself declared in Matthew that “All manner of sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven unto men: but the blasphemy against the Holy Ghost shall not be forgiven unto men…neither in this world, neither in the world to come.” (Matthew 12: 31-32) So, justification is a free universal gift to all men, and this is salvation from the Second Spiritual death.

Through this justification men are raised out of Hell and brought into either the Telestial or Terrestrial glories. Those who receive of the Telestial are they who are truly wicked. John describes them as “…fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars…” (Revelation 21: 8). They will be the last to receive this justification through the Atonement, as the Lord told Joseph Smith “These are they who shall not be redeemed from the devil until the last resurrection, until the Lord, even Christ the Lamb, shall have finished his work.” (D&C 76: 85). Those who receive of the Terrestrial the Lord describes as “honorable men of the earth, who were blinded by the craftiness of men…These are they who are not valiant in the testimony of Jesus; wherefore, they obtain not the crown over the kingdom of our God.” (D&C 76: 75, 79). These were good men in mortality, but did not follow the fullness of the gospel.

Again let all this sink in. All but one sin will be forgiven eventually. The vilest murderer will be forgiven and justified, saved from the second spiritual death. This is true for, even though they will never return to the presence of the Father again, they will be ministered to by the Holy Ghost (D&C 76: 86), who is God, or a member of the Godhead. Thus even murderers will not be completely separated from that Divine influence. And thus the only ones that will suffer the second death are those sons of perdition that I mentioned earlier. The Lord has told us that “These are they who shall go away into the lake of fire and brimstone…the only ones on whom the second death shall have any power; Yea, verily, the only ones who shall not be redeemed in the due time of the Lord…” (D&C 76: 36-38)

FULL SCOPE OF THE ATONEMENT: part 2 – Resurrection

5 Sep

This is a talk I gave in Sacrament Meeting a few months ago, and thought I would share it with you. I am posting it in six parts, each being fairly brief, so have fun and let me know what you think.

Grace, Resurrection, Justification, Sanctification, Exaltation, Mercy

Four Stages of Salvation

It is by the Atonement that salvation comes to mankind. So, to understand the full scope of the Atonement we must look at salvation and learn what it is. I find that this is easiest when we look at salvation as coming in four levels, or stages. I call the first Resurrection and Intersession; the second Justification; the third Sanctification; and the fourth and greatest Exaltation. These stages or levels are all made possible through the Atonement, and they come to us in the order that I have listed them. Each stage brings us salvation in some form, and each form is different. Let us look at each of these stages more closely.

 

Resurrection and Intersession

It is well known in the church that all who are born on this earth will be resurrected; that their spirit and physical body will be joined forever in immortality.  This is salvation from physical death, which is an effect of the fall of Adam.

It is less well known that the Intersession of Christ will bring all who are born on this earth back into the presence of the Father. This is salvation from the First Spiritual Death, which is defined as separation from God (Gospel Topics: Death, Spiritual at www.lds.org).

We know that both physical and spiritual death are the result of the Fall of Adam, as Alma tells us “the fall had brought upon all mankind a spiritual death as well as a temporal, that is, they were cut off from the presence of the Lord, it was expedient that mankind should be reclaimed from this spiritual death.” (Alma 42: 9) By this we also know that it was part of God’s plan to not only redeem us from the physical death, but from the spiritual death as well.

It is by the Atonement that salvation from these two deaths is made possible. While we all know everyone will be saved from physical death through the resurrection, Lehi taught us that “because of the intercession for all, all men come unto God; wherefore, they stand in the presence of him, to be judged of him according to the truth and holiness which is in him.” (2 Nephi 2: 10) Thus all men are redeemed from the spiritual death through the intercession of Christ.