Response to CARM: Difficult questions, part 9

4 Sep

I have recently been pointed to a website called Christian Apologetics & Research Ministry as an excellent location to learn LDS doctrine. On this website they have many pages dedicated to what they call exposing the truth of Mormonism. Most of what they present is well thought out, and they use many quotes and documents to support it. When they are simply giving a list of quotes they don’t do too bad. When they try to interpret those quotes and explain doctrine they fail almost completely. So I am starting a new series in which I will address a selection of pages from that website.

This next page is titled “Difficult Questions For Mormons to Answer.” It is a series of questions that are supposed to stump members of the LDS church. There are 32 questions total. Most are followed by a few quotes that try to establish the subject in question. The first part of my response will be a comment on the quotes given, and this will be in green.

Now, since there are so many questions and responding to all of them will take a long time, I will be dividing this into many separate posts, each answering 1-3 questions.

 

Q. If the book of Mormon is true, why have both National Geographic and the Smithsonian Institute rejected it as being archaeologically reliable?

A. Each organization cited in the question is quoted by the author.

Who cares. These groups are mortal scholars. They are not infallible, but are frequently guided and influenced by popular theories and trends. One might ask why they orient everything they do with evolution, since that is not true? The answer would be the same and just as meaningless.

Of course, one can take a religious point of view and say that they are being influenced by Satan. The devil will try everything he can to keep people from the truth. One of the best ways is to convince men that they are intelligent enough to know the truth themselves, and thus they reject God’s word as it doesn’t align with what they have decided is true. Then, in their pride, they set themselves up as the only authority and deride anyone who would seek truth from any other source. I have met people like this. I once had a friend who decided not to speak to me again because I told him I did not believe in evolution.

It is a common flaw of our modern age for people to think themselves too enlightened for religion or the truth that it contains. And, as the prestige of the person increases their rejection of the truth becomes more firm. There are few organizations that carry greater prestige in the world of the natural sciences than National Geographic and the Smithsonian, so is it any wonder that these organization would fall prey to this all too common temptation of Satan.

 

Q. Why is it that there have been no archaeological discoveries at all that demonstrate what Joseph Smith said is “reformed Egyptian”?

A. A quote is given, but it is not necessary to repeat it for the purpose of the question.

I am wondering what one would be looking for as a demonstration of Reformed Egyptian. Are you expecting to find Egyptian Heiroglyphics in America? Are they looking for a library of ancient records?

Mormon tells us that what he called Reformed Egyptian had been “altered by [them], according to [their] manner of speech.” (Mormon 9: 32) He also mentions that he could have written in Hebrew, but that that language had also been altered. He also says that “the Lord knoweth the things which [they had] written, and also that none other people knoweth [their] language.” (Mormon 9: 34)

So, I see three different languages here. Reformed Egyptian and the Reformed Hebrew being written languages that were used for the keeping of sacred records. Then there is the common language of the people. The written Egyptian and Hebrew were altered to match this common language to allow for better and more accurate records, with the Hebrew being more accurate than the Egyptian, but the Egyptian being simpler and thus taking less space.

Now, Mormon tells us that the Lamanites had a habit of destroying sacred records (Mormon 6: 6) and we know from history that the Catholic monks had a habit of destroying the records of other civilizations, including those of the America’s (only three records of the Aztecs survived). We then consider that God commanded Mormon to protect the sacred records (Mormon 6: 6) and that there was a divine protection on the Gold Plates.

As it is likely that Reformed Egyptian was used mainly, if not exclusively for the sacred records, and those records are hidden and protected by God, or destroyed by the Lamanites or others, it is not unlikely that we will never find another sample of reformed Egyptian until God wants us to.

 

Q. What is the book of Mormon contain the word “church” in 1 Nephi 14:3, 9, 10, 12 which was set around 600 BC, yet the word church was not used until the time of Jesus (Matt. 16:18)?

A. No quote is given, and I do not find it necessary to give the scriptures referenced.

The word church is a translation of the Greek word ‘Ecclesia’ which means “an assembly called together.” This is the same meaning of the word ‘Congregation,’ which is the word used in the translation of the Old Testament. It appears primarily in the books of Moses, but is also used twice in the Psalms (89: 5; 107: 32).

Today, the word church is more commonly used for the organization of faith and its adherents, such as the LDS church, or the Baptist church, etc. This was also the case in the 1800’s. The word congregation more commonly refers a local division of such an organization, and then only when they are actually gathered together.

So, when Joseph Smith was translating the Nephite record and came across a reference to the organization of faith and its adherents it would have been proper for him to use the word church.

Remember, this is a translation, and so the use of common words at the time of translation should come as no surprise.

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