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9 Ways Anti-Mormons Want You to Mistrust the LDS Church (7-9)

3 Jul

A while ago I came across this video that purports to reveal to the public Nine things about the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints that the church doesn’t want people to know. I have seen many such lists, and this, like all the others, is largely inaccurate or fails to support what they claim to be doing.

At the time I had considered doing a response to the video, but things got away from me and it never happened. But this video has recently been put up in another blog post and thus was brought back to my attention. So, I have decided to make a few comments on it.

 

To be clear, I am addressing the claim that the church doesn’t want you to know what the video portrays. I will not be addressing the accuracy of any point except briefly, unless doing so is necessary to the main claim of the video. Also, since I don’t like my posts to be too long, I will be separating this into three posts, each addressing three points from the video.

 

Temple Worthy Members wear Sacred Temple Garments

Anyone who thinks the church is trying to conceal this is crazy. The Temple Garment is an integral part of the faith and anyone who has worked with a member of the church will learn about them eventually. The church itself has, on various occasions, published information regarding the Temple Garment. On lds.org there is a brief explanation of the Garment under the Gospel Topics section. In 1997 there was a lengthy essay published in the church magazine the Ensign, which was reprinted in the Liahona magazine for the youth in 1999. Every member learns of the garments in the church’s Temple Prep classes, and in the Mormon News Room was recently published this article and video.

 

Practice of Spiritism (Deuteronomy 18: 10-12)

First, the maker of the video makes an error in definitions. Spiritism claims to be a science that studies the relationship between spirits and humans. Spiritualism is a religion based around contacting the dead.

However, in either case it doesn’t apply to the church. The church does not engage in scientific studies of spirits, nor has any leader in the church, past or present, attempted to contact the dead.

Now, it is true that the dead have appeared to some in the past, and likely will continue to do so, but that does not mean it is spiritualism. When Joseph Smith was visited by Moroni he was not seeking contact with the dead, but was praying to God, who then sent Moroni in answer to the prayer.

The same is true of every angelic visitation, and is in perfect agreement with the Bible. After all, we read that Moses and Elijah appeared on the Mount of Transfiguration to Peter, James, and John (Matthew 17:1-3). We also read that after the resurrection many of the ancient saints rose from the grave and appeared to faithful members of the church (Matthew 27:52-53).

The church has always spoken against the use of mediums or other devices to contact the dead and seek knowledge. But they acknowledge that God at times sends the dead in answer to prayers.

So, no, the church does not want anyone to think that we believe or practice either Spiritism or Spiritualism, but neither is true and thus to believe this is to believe a lie.

 

Mormon – r = Moron

Of course this is just thrown in to be silly, but also as a personal attack and mockery. Anyone with two brain cells to rub together can make that deduction. But it has nothing to do with the church, except as a way to belittle and mock it. Honestly, this should show anyone who watches this video that it is all a bunch of hogwash.

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9 Ways Anti-Mormons Want You to Mistrust the LDS Church (4-6)

3 Jul

A while ago I came across this video that purports to reveal to the public Nine things about the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints that the church doesn’t want people to know. I have seen many such lists, and this, like all the others, is largely inaccurate or fails to support what they claim to be doing.

At the time I had considered doing a response to the video, but things got away from me and it never happened. But this video has recently been put up in another blog post and thus was brought back to my attention. So, I have decided to make a few comments on it.

 

To be clear, I am addressing the claim that the church doesn’t want you to know what the video portrays. I will not be addressing the accuracy of any point except briefly, unless doing so is necessary to the main claim of the video. Also, since I don’t like my posts to be too long, I will be separating this into three posts, each addressing three points from the video.

 

Life on the Moon and Sun.

I will be brief on this point, as it is an obscure idea that is based on a single quote from Brigham Young and a third hand claim of what Joseph Smith might have taught fifty years after he died.

I just don’t see the evidence that the Church is attempting to conceal anything. The Journal of Discourses, which is the source of the Brigham Young quote, is printed and is available online. It just isn’t that important, except as an interesting historical snippet.

 

Polygamy practiced for 40 years.

Again, there is no proof that the church is attempting to hide or conceal this fact. The practice is recorded in section 132 of the Doctrine and Covenants, and is standard reading for all members and investigators. It was discussed in the institute manual Doctrine and Covenants Student Manual. Also, in the Encyclopedia of Mormonism we have a detailed essay on the matter. And, more recently the church has published four essays on the subject that can be found at lds.org. These essays deal with the practice in general, during Kirtland and Nauvoo, in Utah, and then the ending of the practice.

So, where is the attempt to conceal this information?

 

Joseph Smith will judge people.

Again, to be brief, there is no attempt to prevent people from learning this. It is also very misunderstood, but that is beside the point. Just like the concept of Life on the Moon, this idea is primarily mentioned in the Journal of Discourses, which is readily available and which the church acknowledges has benefits to reading and studying, but is not recognized as official doctrine. So again, there is no

 

9 Ways Anti-Mormons Want You to Mistrust the LDS Church (1-3)

3 Jul

A while ago I came across this video that purports to reveal to the public Nine things about the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints that the church doesn’t want people to know. I have seen many such lists, and this, like all the others, is largely inaccurate or fails to support what they claim to be doing.

At the time I had considered doing a response to the video, but things got away from me and it never happened. But this video has recently been put up in another blog post and thus was brought back to my attention. So, I have decided to make a few comments on it.

 

To be clear, I am addressing the claim that the church doesn’t want you to know what the video portrays. I will not be addressing the accuracy of any point except briefly, unless doing so is necessary to the main claim of the video. Also, since I don’t like my posts to be too long, I will be separating this into three posts, each addressing three points from the video.

 

Joseph Smith was a Mason.

Far from not wanting people to know that Joseph Smith was a mason, this little fact was included in the Institute manual for college students. The title of the manual is Church History in the Fullness of Times. In chapter 21 of this manual is the following quote:

As early as October 1841 some Masons who were members of the Church obtained permission to initiate a Masonic lodge in Nauvoo. Joseph Smith could see advantages in belonging to this fraternal order. Presumably it was felt that other Masons in the state and nation, many of whom held prominent positions, would look more kindly upon the Church. Joseph Smith and many others in Nauvoo were formally introduced into the order in March 1842.

It is also true that in 1938 the church published a book called Scriptural Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith which is a collection of quotes from Joseph Smith. On page 255 there is a brief mention of him and other church members attending the formation of the Montrose, Iowa lodge.

As to the similarities, in 1991 the Encyclopedia of Mormonism was published. It was a joint venture initiated by MacMillan Publishing in New York, but was approved of by the First Presidency of the Church. The Encyclopedia contains an article titled Freemasonry and the Temple. It makes a thorough comparison between the two from a scholarly perspective.

 

The Book of Mormon is completely unreliable.

I think the author of the video does not quite understand the meaning of the word reliable. It means to consistently give the same result over several trials or tests. So it doesn’t matter if the result is wrong, as long as you get the same result over and over it is reliable.

So, is the Book of Mormon unreliable? To determine this you have to show that over a period of time it has given varying results rather than consistent results. The test of reliability would be different for different aspects of the books.

Now the author of the video claims it is unreliable for two reasons. First, the translation cannot be verified; second it is inconsistent with historical knowledge. But neither of these actually tests reliability, but rather accuracy. The real truth is that the Book of Mormon reliably conveys the same story and message no matter how many times you read it, and whether that story is accurate or not has no effect on its reliability.

Of course, the church actually offers a test of reliability regarding the Book of Mormon, which is found in Moroni 10: 4-5. This is a spiritual test that, if followed, will reliably render the same result each time.

 

Racism against Blacks.

Actually, the church has always been fairly open about its policies regarding the African race. And please note that it was African and not black that the policy affected. Other black races, notably the aborigine of Australia, were unaffected by it. About 3 months after this video was put up on YouTube the church published an essay that gives all the details about the churches policy and the various theories surrounding it. Note that they were theories and not doctrine, and the church does not, nor has it ever actually subscribed to any of them. We simply don’t know the details regarding it.

Now, there are many quotes from earlier church leaders that many members are not familiar with. But there is no evidence that the church is trying to hide them. Far from it, they have continued to make them available to those who seek them. The Journal of Discourses, the Discourses of Brigham Young, the Scriptural Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, among other collections, have been published by the church for some time. More recently they have started the project called “The Joseph Smith Papers” as well as other initiatives to uncover as much as they can about the early church and its leaders.  While they have not paraded these things through the news, they have made no effort to conceal them either.

Response to CARM: Difficult questions, part 12

5 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.

 

Q. Why did the Nauvoo House not stand forever and ever? (Doctrine and Covenants 124: 56-60)

A. No quote is given, but I will here give the first verse in the citation given in the question.

And now I say unto you, as pertaining to my boarding house which I have commanded you to build for the boarding of strangers, let it be built unto my name, and let my name be named upon it, and let my servant Joseph and his house have place therein, from generation to generation.

This is not a prophecy or a promise being made by the Lord. It is a commandment to built the Nauvoo house and to give it to Joseph Smith and his family. Just previous to this the Lord tells us “when [He gives] a commandment to any of the sons of men to do a work unto [His] name, and those sons of men go with all their might and with all they have to perform that work, and cease not their diligence, and their enemies come upon them and hinder them from performing that work, behold, it behooveth me to require that work no more at the hands of those sons of men, but to accept of their offerings.” (verse 49)

The Nauvoo house did not stand forever because the enemies of the saints hindered the work and prevented the commandment from being fulfilled. As such, the saints were no longer under any obligation to build it.

This command was later fulfilled in the construction of the Hotel Utah in Salt Lake City.

*This question is answered in the response be S.H.I.E.L.D.S. I will address that in a later post, so keep an eye out for it.

Q. How did Nephi with a few men on a new continent build a temple like Solomon’s while Solomon needed 163,300 workmen and seven years to build his temple? (1 Kings 5: 13-18 and 2 Nephi 5:15-17)

A. No quote is given, but I think we need to see 2 Nephi 5: 16.

And I, Nephi, did build a temple; and I did construct it after the manner of the temple of Solomon save it were not built of so many precious things; for they were not to be found upon the land, wherefore, it could not be built like unto Solomon’s temple. But the manner of the contruction was like unto the temple of Solomon; and the workmanship thereof was exceedingly fine.”

Nephi states clearly that his temple “could not be built like unto Solomon’s” because the material was not available. However, the manner, or style of the construction was patterned off Solomon’s. So, Solomon’s temple was 60 cubits long, and Nephi’s was also 60 cubits; Solomon’s was 20 cubits broad, and so was Nephi’s; Solomon’s was 30 cubit high, and so was Nephi’s.

However, Solomon’s was constructed party using the Cedars of Lebannon, which had to be transported over great distances. This wood was not available to Nephi, so he used indigenous wood that was likely closer to the construction site (cutting down time). Solomon also used olive-wood and cypress. He also overlaid everything in gold, including the walls. These adornments may likely have been lacking when Nephi built his because he could not gain access to sufficient quantities at the time.

Finally, we are given no indication of how long it took Nephi and his people to construct their temple. From the time Lehi’s family arrived in the New World there is a space of 20 years that we are given no information as to the timeline, then another gap of ten years. It may have taken Nephi seven years, or maybe more. We simply don’t know. What we do know is that sometime after they arrived Lehi died, and shortly thereafter Nephi led the faithful members of the family away. It was after this that he built the temple. Since we don’t know how long it took, or how many people were involved, trying to make a comparison like this is impossible.

*This question is answered in the response be S.H.I.E.L.D.S. I will address that in a later post, so keep an eye out for it.

Q. Why was Joseph Smith still preaching against polygamy in October 1843, after he got his revelation in July, 1843, commanding the practice of polygamy? (Doctrine and Covenants 132, and History of the Church, vol. 6, p. 46, or Teachings of the Prophet, p. 324)

A. No quote is given, though I think quoting the section of church history would do us some good.

Gave instructions to try those persons who were preaching, teaching, or practicing the doctrine of plurality of wives: for, according to the law, I hold the keys of this power in the last days; for there is never but one on earth at a time on whom the power and its keys are conferred; and I have constantly said no man shall have but one wife at a time, unless the Lord directs otherwise.

As one can clearly see here, Joseph Smith was not preaching against the practice of Plural Marriage. He was condemning the unauthorized practice of it. As there is only one person at a time who can authorize such marriages (D&C 132: 7), as Joseph Smith rightly states in the above quote, those who are preaching, teaching, or practicing plural marriage without that person’s permission are in violation of the laws of the Lord. Thus those people are to be tried in the courts of the church and dealt with accordingly, just as Joseph Smith says.

*This question is answered in the response be S.H.I.E.L.D.S. I will address that in a later post, so keep an eye out for it.

Response to CARM: Difficult questions, part 11

5 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.

 

Q. If Mormons can become gods why does Isaiah 43: 10 say, “You are My witnesses,” declares the LORD, “And My servant whom I have chosen, So that you may know and believe Me And understand that I am He. Before Me there was no God formed, And there will be none after Me.”

A. No quotes are given. While I prefer the KJV I see no need to give it here as it will not affect my answer.

This verse must be considered in proper perspective. God, as a title for the Supreme Being, is applied only to the Father. For us there is no other God. There was never one before Him, nor will there be after. We have but one, and always will. But this does not mean that others do not exist in a state of godhood, or Celestial perfection.

It is just like our earthly fathers. I have only one Father. I never had any other, and I never will have any other. So, before my father there was no father for me, and there will be no father for me after him. That does not preclude others from having their own fathers.

See my post regarding the Godhead for more information.

Q. Why do Mormons emphasize part of the Word of Wisdom and ignore the part forbidding the eating of meat except in winter, cold or famine? (Doc. & Cov. 89:12, 13).

A. No quote is given.

I like my mother’s answer to this question. It is always winter in my fridge.

People who ask questions like this are trying to “make a man an offender for a word” as they demand the letter of the law as the Pharisees did. Yet, they do not understand the spirit by which the law was given.

The Word of Wisdom is, first and foremost, a health code. The spirit of that law is to live well and eat healthily. When the revelation was given they did not have refrigeration. Meat putrefies very quickly when not frozen. So, in the 1830’s people were counseled by God not to eat meat except in dire need (famine) or when it could be effectively preserved (winter). In our day we have refrigeration and meat can be preserved very effectively for extended periods of time, even in the heat of summer. As such, in keeping with the Spirit of the law, we eat meat only in dire need (famine) or when it can be effectively preserved (refrigerated).

*This question is answered in the response be S.H.I.E.L.D.S. I will address that in a later post, so keep an eye out for it.

Response to CARM: Difficult questions, part 10

5 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. Why is the French word “adieu” in the book of Mormon in Jacob 7:27?

A. No quotes are given, and it is not needed to quote Jacob. We concede that the word is used.

Adieu carries a special connotation of fondness; it is a fond farewell. In the early to mid 1800’s it also took on the connotation of a final farewell. So, Jacob, who knew he was making his last record on the plates and would likely die soon, was bidding a final and fond farewell to the Nephites and to whomever would later read his record.

Again, this word would have been a logical choice to convey the meaning of Jacob’s words for the time in which Joseph Smith lived. It is simply a good translation.

Q. Why should I become a Mormon if when I die, I go to the middle level of heaven when that is where most Mormons will go anyway?

A. No quotes are given.

That is like asking why you should get a Masters degree when most people will only graduate with a bachelors. Yes, most people will only attain the Terrestrial World, but is that any reason not to strive for the greater rewards of the Celestial?

Q. If the veil is rent by God after Jesus was crucified (Matt. 27:51), why do the Mormons put it back in their temples?

A. No quotes are given, and I do not feel the need to quote the verse in the scripture. The veil in the temple was rent.

When I read the rending of the veil at Jerusalem, I see God’s rejection of the Jews and thus their temple. He would no longer dwell among them, and thus that structure was no longer sacred.

Also, we build the temples according to the commands of God. It may have been God that tore the veil in the temple of Jerusalem, but it was also God that commanded us to build temples with veils.

See my longer reponse to this question here.

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.