Thursday, November 27, 2008

A Timely Reminder from King Benjamin

The righteous King Benjamin, towards the end of his reign, taught a group of Nephites gathered at the Temple important principles relating to the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Topics of his discussion included repentance, faith in Jesus Christ and baptism by both water and the Holy Spirit (i.e. being born again). 

As Thanksgiving comes again, let us all, as children of God, remember well this timely reminder by the King found in Mosiah 2:19-25: 

[19]And behold also, if I, whom ye call your king, who has spent his days in your service, and yet has been in the service of God, do merit any thanks from you, O how you ought to thank your heavenly King!

[20] I say unto you, my brethren, that if you should render all the thanks and praise which your whole soul has power to possess, to that God who has created you, and has kept and preserved you, and has caused that ye should rejoice, and has granted that ye should live in peace one with another --

[21] I say unto you that if ye should serve him who has created you from the beginning, and is preserving you from day to day, by lending you breath, that ye may live and move and do according to your own will, and even supporting you from one moment to another -- I say, if ye should serve him with all your whole souls yet ye would be unprofitable servants.

[22] And behold, all that he requires of you is to keep his commandments; and he has promised you that if ye would keep his commandments ye should prosper in the land; and he never doth vary from that which he hath said; therefore, if ye do keep his commandments he doth bless you and prosper you.

[23] And now, in the first place, he hath created you, and granted unto you your lives, for which ye are indebted unto him.

[24] And secondly, he doth require that ye should do as he hath commanded you; for which if ye do, he doth immediately bless you; and therefore he hath paid you. And ye are still indebted unto him, and are, and will be, forever and ever; therefore, of what have ye to boast?

[25] And now I ask, can ye say aught of yourselves? I answer you, Nay. Ye cannot say that ye are even as much as the dust of the earth; yet ye were created of the dust of the earth; but behold, it belongeth to him who created you.

Let us all remember that which the Lord has given us this Thanksgiving. Let us all remember how blessed we, as children of God, are to have a loving Heavenly Father who not only gives us life but sent his Son to pay our debt so that we may have eternal life. 

Let us be thankful for the Atonement of Jesus Christ and the eternal Plan of Salvation. 

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

An Anthropologist Looks at the Bible

This hilarious spoof shows that, if nothing else, FARMS scholars still have a sense of humor.



Dr. Key, a biologist, has written a book entitled, A Biologist Looks at the Book of Mormon, the 15th edition (revised and enlarged) of which has been renamed The Book Of Mormon InThe Light Of Science.  It is sold by Utah Missions, Inc. (UMI).  John A. Tvedtnes (FARMS) has written a spoof on Dr. Key's booklet.

Disclaimer:  This is a spoof I wrote in March 1996 and sent to Tom Key, after he had sent me a copy of the 14th edition of his A Biologist Looks at the Book of Mormon.  Because my BA is in anthropology, I used the term "anthropologist" in the title instead of "biologist."  Neither term is relevant to either Key's work (most of which does not deal with biological issues) or mine.  Tom and I get on quite well and he enjoyed the laugh.  He wrote brief responses to each item on the following list, and guess what.  Many of those responses were very much like the kinds of responses "Mormons" give to criticisms of the Book of Mormon.  For some reason, it never occurred to him that responses he considered valid for the Bible could also be valid for the Book of Mormon(e.g., miraculous events).  As you read through the spoof, you will consider many, if not all, of the criticisms to be ridiculous, because of your faith in the Bible.  Those are the same feelings we have when reading the kinds of criticisms found in Tom Key's booklet.  Neither list of criticisms is to be taken seriously.

The following is Mr. Tvedtnes' spoof.

An Anthropologist Looks at the Bible
by B. Ware Kee

For centuries, people have gullibly believed that the Bible was divine in origin.  Some have even believed it to be inerrant.  But does the Bible stand up under the scrutiny of modern science?

The Bible speaks of mythological creatures that never existed, such as the satyr (Isaiah 13:21; 34:14), the cockatrice (Isaiah 11:8; 14:29; 59:5; Jeremiah 8:17), and the dragon (Deuteronomy 32:33; Job 30:29; Psalms 44:19; 74:13; 91:13; 148:7; Isaiah 13:22; 27:1; 34:13; 35:7; 43:20; 51:9; Jeremiah 9:11; 10:22; 14:6; 49:33; 51:34, 37; Ezekiel 29:3; Micah 1:8; Malachi 1:3).  In ancient mythology, the satyr is a creature that is half man (the upper half) and half goat, with horns on the head.  The laws of genetics make this combination of two species impossible.  The cockatrice was believed in medieval Europe to be a serpent hatched from a cock's egg.  It impossible for the egg of one species to produce an animal of a different species.  Besides, cocks don't lay eggs; hens do.  Dragons, of course, have never existed except in the imagination of primitive peoples.  Not a single dragon skeleton has ever been excavated by archaeologists.

The Bible speaks of a bowel disorder that causes the bowels to fall out (2 Chronicles 21:15, 19).  There is no known disease that could cause the bowels to simply fall out of the body.

According to the Bible, king Hezekiah was healed of a boil by placing a lump of figs on it (2 Kings 20:7).  There are no curative powers in figs such as that described here.

According to 1 Corinthians 11:27-30, illness is caused by partaking unworthily of the sacrament of the Lord's supper. But we know that illness results from infection of microorganisms such as bacteria and viruses.

The Bible says that people can be healed by laying hands on them (Matthew 8:14; Mark 16:18; Luke 4:40; Acts 28:8) or simply by speaking a word (Matthew 8:6-13; 9:2-7; Luke 5:24-25).  Sometimes, people were healed merely by touching Jesus' garment (Matthew 9:20-22; Mark 6:55-56).  Acts 19:12 indicates that sick people are possessed by evil spirits and that they can be healed by being touched with handkerchiefs or aprons touched by someone who has healing powers.  Even more fantastic is the story in Acts 5:15, where we read that people were healed when the shadow of Peter fell on them.  It is naive to believe that one could cure illness by magical gestures such as these.  Many illnesses must be treated with strong antibiotics, which were not available two thousand years ago.

The Bible claims that a man could be cured "of whatsoever disease he had" by going into a pool of water "at a certain season" (John 5:4).  While water can prevent disease by washing away germs found on the skin, it is foolish to believe that any and all diseases can be healed simply by taking a bath.

The Bible indicates that the sins of parents can cause blindness in their children (John 9:2).  While the causes of blindness can be either pathological or psychological, it is illogical to assume that the sins of parents could bring the curse of blindness on their offspring.  In another Bible story, a child died because of its parents' sin (2 Samuel 12:14-18).  Such superstitious beliefs have no basis in scientific fact.

The Bible speaks of a boy whose "sickness was so sore, that there was no breath left in him" (1 Kings 17:17).  If he could no longer breathe, the boy was not simply sick, but dead!

A number of Bible passages speak of the "shadow of death" (Job 3:5; 10:21-22; 12:22; 16:16; 24:17; 28:3; 34:22; 38:17; Psalms 23:4; 44:19; 107:10, 14; 139:23; Isaiah 9:2; Jeremiah 2:6; 13:16; Amos 5:8; Matthew 4:16; Luke 1:79).  This, of course, is sheer fantasy.  Since death is not a substantive thing, it cannot possibly cast a shadow.

The Bible says that the heart is the center of thought (Genesis 6:5; Deuteronomy 15:9; Judges 5:15; 1 Samuel 1:13; 2 Samuel 13:33; 1 Chronicles 28:9; 19:18; Job 17:11; Esther 6:6; Psalms 33:11; Proverbs 23:7; Isaiah 10:7; Jeremiah 23:20; Daniel 2:30; Matthew 9:4; 15:19; Mark 7:21; Luke 2:35; 5:22; 9:47; 24:38; Acts 8:22; Hebrews 4:12), while, in fact, we know that thoughts result from the functions of the brain.  The Biblealso sees the bowels as the seat of emotion (Genesis 43:30; 1 Kings 3:26; Song of Solomon 5:4; Isaiah 63:15; Jeremiah 31:20; Lamentations 1:20; 2:11; Philippians 1:8; 2:1; Colossians 3:12; Philemon 1:20; 1 John 3:17).  The bowels are, in fact, for digestion and elimination of waste.  In Psalms 16:7, we read that the reins (kidneys) instruct a man at night, which is obviously too fantastic for comment.

The Bible indicates that the semen that produces children comes from the bowels of men (Genesis 15:4; 2 Samuel 7:12; 16:11; 2 Chronicles 32:21; Isaiah 48:19).  This is not true; semen originates in the testes.  But the Bible goes even farther by stating that the fetus is carried in the bowels of the woman (Genesis 25:23; Psalms 71:6; Isaiah 49:1) when, in fact, it is in the uterus.

The Bible says that if a man's wife cheats on him, the priest should mingle dust from the floor of the tabernacle with holy water and make her drink it, causing her belly to swell and her thigh to rot (Numbers 5:12-27).  The only "rot" is the story itself, which cannot possibly be true.  While the woman might become ill because of microorganisms in the dust from the floor, there is no known disease that would make both her belly swell and her thigh rot.

The Bible has a very unrealistic view of death. In one case, a dead man is brought back to life simply by coming into contact with the bones of the dead prophet Elijah (2 Kings 13:21).  In another case, Lazarus rises from the dead after four days, when decomposition had already set in (John 11:39-44).  While recovery from the state of death is known to happen on rare occasions, it is impossible for a decomposing corpse to be revived.  Moreover, if the dead person is not revived within a short period of time, the lack of blood circulation deprives the brain of oxygen, resulting in severe brain damage.

In one Bible story, fire consumes not only the sacrifice and the wood, but also the stones, the dust, and the water surrounding the altar (1 Kings 18:38).  This is totally contrary to the laws of physics.  Stones, dust, and especially water cannot be burned by fire.

The concept of seasoning one's speech with salt, found in Colossians 4:6, makes absolutely no sense.

Salt does not lose its savour (Matthew 5:13; Luke 14:34) or its saltiness (Mark 9:50).

The Bible speaks of "rivers in the desert" (Isaiah 43:19-20).  By its very definition, a desert is a place that has no waters.

The Bible says that a flood of water covered the entire earth, including the mountains, drowning every living creature except those on Noah's ark (Genesis 6:17; 7:19-22).  But there is no evidence of such a universal flood and, in any event, there is not enough water on the earth to cause a flood that would cover all the mountains.

The Bible claims that the walls of Jericho were made to fall down flat after the Israelites had walked around them for a week and then shouted and blew ram's horns (Joshua 6:1-20).  The resonance of sound may cause a champagne glass to shatter, but it is physically impossible for mere shouting and blowing of trumpets to make a thick defensive wall fall down.

Genesis 41:3-4 speaks of kine (cattle) eating other cattle.  Since cattle are herbivores, this is, naturally, an impossible situation.  But it is no more impossible than what we find in the next few verses (Genesis 41:5-7), where we read of corn eating corn!

The Bible tells us that Samson's great strength derived from his long hair and that when the hair was cut, he immediately became weak, but regained his strength again after his hair grew back (Judges 16:6-30).  This story describes an impossible situation.  We know that physical strength depends on such factors as proper nutrition, exercise, and rest, and that one's hair length plays absolutely no role.  If long hair makes men strong, why did so many circus strong men shave their heads?

The Bible talks about a virgin conceiving and bearing a child (Isaiah 7:14; Matthew 1:23).  This is, of course, utter folly.  Unless impregnated by male sperm, the female ovum cannot produce a child any more than you can build a house without materials and construction workers.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Are All Evangelical Critics Anti-Mormons?

I have communicated with a number of Evangelicals who, by their own admission, are critical of the Church and its teachings. In our dialogues together, I have at times used the phrase "evangelical anti-Mormons" to which some of my corespondents have taken umbrage. They say that they are not anti-Mormon but instead anti-Mormonism, or something similar. Others have at times expressed their view that Mormons can be too dismissive of critical voices by just labeling them as "anti-Mormons".

I would like to discuss the question as to whether or not any Evangelical[1] critical of Mormonism is an anti-Mormon.

In response to this inquiry, I would have to affirm that indeed not all Evangelicals who are critical of Mormonism constitute an anti-Mormon. Many of them have sincere questions and doubts as to the validity of the truth claims of Joseph Smith and the Church. Just because they have questions, that does not mean that they are "anti-Mormon". The Prophet Lehi affirmed that opposition is needed in all things, and I see this fulfilled in part by the role of apologists vs. critics for or of the Church. We all, as humans, have our questions and point of view; none of us, after all, are perfect in knowledge and objectivity. Therefore, to question things is a natural part of life.

On this blog and elsewhere, I have challenged conventional Christian doctrines and expressed my disbelief in the theories of those critical of Joseph Smith and the Book of Mormon. In my view, apart from my spiritual conviction that the Book of Mormon is true, I see the evidence in favor for Joseph Smith and the Book of Mormon. Does that make me "anti-Christian" because of such? No. No more than an Evangelical disbelieving in the claims of Joseph Smith automatically becomes an anti-Mormon.

However, why then do I use that phrase and to whom am I applying it to? When I mention "Evangelical anti-Mormons" I am most of the time speaking specifically of men and women such as Jerald and Sandra Tanner, Ed Decker, Joel Kramer and others; all of whom are Evangelical Christians and all of whom are staunch opponents of the Church. These individuals have devoted their entire lives and ministries to combating Mormonism. It is not just a question of disagreeing with Mormonism; these individuals are fighting Mormonism. They have produced an endless stream of books, articles, newsletters and DVDs criticizing the claims of the Church. It cannot be denied, therefore, that these individuals, who have focused their entire efforts on debunking Mormonism with great hubris (usually mixed with some vitriol and virulence) and loud declarations, are not just critical of Mormonism but decidedly opposed to it[2]. Hence the name "anti-Mormon".

Therefore, in my future dialogues with you, let me state for my Evangelical friends and associates that, unless your words and or actions speak contrary, I will try to not assume of the bat that you are an anti-Mormon. This is something I have been guilty of in the past, and I am sorry for such. I will in all ernest try to respectfully dialogue without any snarkiness or triumphalism unbefitting a Latter-day Saint.

And what do I ask in return? Only that you provide the same courtesy for me and my fellow Latter-day Saints. Lets us both approach the table in a feeling of mutual trust and respect for each other, so that, in the end, we can discover the truth.   


[1]: While this post is speaking specifically of Evangelicals, other religious, or areligious, individuals can apply themselves to this situation.

[2]: Bill McKeever, for example, brags that his organization has been "challenging the claims of Mormonism since 1979." 

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Alma 32 - How To Know Whether the Book of Mormon Is Revealed Scripture

Listen now!About nine years after his preaching to the people of Zarahemla as recorded in Alma 5, Alma the Younger went to teach the wicked and apostate Zoramites. This branch of Nephi and Lehi's people had descended from Zoram, whom they brought with them to the promised land. They had built a tower upon which they sanctimoniously proclaimed their chosen status and gave hypocritical and ostentatious prayers to God, thanking Him that they were better. more chosen of God than other individuals within their neighboring faith communities.

While Alma taught them, a small group had also gathered there to listen. They were the poor in substance and spirit and sought truth, but had been turned out of these places of worship because of their poverty. Alma, seeing that these individuals were humble and, unlike their counterparts, were prepared and eager to receive more truth and wisdom, turned his focus completely to them and taught them to experiment upon the word as if it were a seed, inviting them to test what they have heard and to righteously judge whether it was of God or of man.

Anyone can use this same test to determine whether the Book of Mormon is truly scripture revealed of God.

In Alma 32, we read (my emphasis and [notes] added):

26 Now, as I said concerning faith—that it was not a perfect knowledge — even so it is with my words. Ye cannot know of their surety at first, unto perfection, any more than faith is a perfect knowledge.
27 But behold, if ye will awake and arouse your faculties, even to an experiment upon my words, and exercise a particle of faith, yea, even if ye can no more than
desire to believe
, let this desire work in you, even until ye believe in a manner that ye can give place for a portion of my words.
28 Now, we will compare the word unto a seed. Now, if ye give place, that a seed may be planted in your heart, behold, if it be a true seed, or a good seed, if ye do
not cast it out by your unbelief, that ye will resist the Spirit of the Lord
, behold, it will begin to swell within your breasts [archaic "chest"] ; and when you feel these swelling motions, ye will begin to say within yourselves—It must needs be that this is a good seed, or that the word is good, for it beginneth to enlarge my soul; yea, it beginneth to enlighten my understanding, yea, it beginneth to be delicious to me.
29 Now behold, would not this increase your faith? I say unto you, Yea; nevertheless it hath not grown up to a perfect knowledge.
30 But behold, as the seed swelleth, and sprouteth, and beginneth to grow, then you must needs say that the seed is good; for behold it swelleth, and sprouteth, and beginneth to grow. And now, behold, will not this strengthen your faith? Yea, it will strengthen your faith: for ye will say I know that this is a good seed; for behold it sprouteth and beginneth to grow.
31 And now, behold, are ye sure that this is a good seed? I say unto you, Yea; for every seed bringeth forth unto its own likeness.
32 Therefore, if a seed groweth it is good, but if it groweth not, behold it is not good, therefore it is cast away.
33 And now, behold, because ye have tried the experiment, and planted the seed, and it swelleth and sprouteth, and beginneth to grow, ye must needs know that the seed is good.
34 And now, behold, is your knowledge perfect? Yea, your knowledge is perfect in that thing, and your faith is dormant; and this because you know, for ye know that the word hath swelled your souls, and ye also know that it hath sprouted up, that your understanding doth begin to be enlightened, and your mind doth begin to expand.
35 O then, is not this real? I say unto you, Yea, because it is light; and whatsoever is light, is good, because it is discernible, therefore ye must know that it is good; and now behold, after ye have tasted this light is your knowledge perfect?
36 Behold I say unto you, Nay; neither must ye lay aside your faith, for ye have only exercised your faith to plant the seed that ye might try the experiment to know if the seed was good.
37 And behold, as the tree beginneth to grow, ye will say: Let us nourish it with great care, that it may get root, that it may grow up, and bring forth fruit unto us. And now behold, if ye nourish it with much care it will get root, and grow up, and bring forth fruit.
38 But if ye neglect the tree, and take no thought for its nourishment, behold it will not get any root; and when the heat of the sun cometh and scorcheth it, because it hath no root it withers away, and ye pluck it up and cast it out.
39 Now, this is not because the seed was not good, neither is it because the fruit thereof would not be desirable; but it is because your ground is barren, and ye will not nourish the tree, therefore ye cannot have the fruit thereof.
40 And thus, if ye will not nourish the word, looking forward with an eye of faith to the fruit thereof, ye can never pluck of the fruit of the tree of life.
41 But if ye will nourish the word, yea, nourish the tree as it beginneth to grow, by your faith with great diligence, and with patience, looking forward to the fruit
thereof, it shall take root; and behold it shall be a tree springing up unto everlasting life.
42 And because of your diligence and your faith and your patience with the word in nourishing it, that it may take root in you, behold, by and by ye shall pluck the fruit thereof, which is most precious, which is sweet above all that is sweet, and which is white above all that is white, yea, and pure above all that is pure; and ye shall feast upon this fruit even until ye are filled, that ye hunger not, neither shall ye thirst.
43 Then, my brethren, ye shall reap the rewards of your faith, and your diligence, and patience, and long-suffering, waiting for the tree to bring forth fruit unto you.
So, as you can see, knowing the truth of something is not simply hearing it, finding it agreeable, and moving on. If you do only that, you will have neglected to grow that truth by nourishing it as you would a tree seedling. To make it grow within you, you have the responsibility--the imperative--to be humble, and to keep wanting more and learning more to get perfect knowledge of God's truth.

Similarly, if you neglect to even try the experiment, you can't possibly expect any fruit to come of it. That doesn't at all mean that the seed is bad, just that you didn't try the experiment.

It's one of the simplest laws of the harvest: From that which we sow and tend to and provide favorable conditions for, we can expect to reap something beneficial if the seed is good. If it is not, it simply won't grow no matter how much we nourish it. Conversely, from that which we do not sow, or that which we sow and then neglect, we cannot expect to reap anything at all.

Alma 5 - Alma the Younger and Salvation by Grace...and Works

Listen now!I felt impressed tonight to post about Alma Chapter 5 in the Book of Mormon. I realize I'm skipping ahead in my long neglected, chronological, chapter-by-chapter posting regimen, but this particular chapter has been on my mind.

Lately, there have been some interesting individuals with whom I've had conversations about whether we're saved by works or by grace--the very topics leading up to and culminating in Alma 5.

This chapter is one of the most classically Christian parts of the Book of Mormon and supports the Bible's teachings 100%, yet I am told by various traditional / protestant / fundamentalist / evangelical Christians (the vast majority of whom have never read beyond the Book of Mormon introduction page) that my belief in the Book of Mormon as Christian scripture is unfounded. I find this attitude both troubling and puzzling. I often want to ask them to try a little experiment--come to an LDS Sacrament meeting and ask any random member this question: "How are you saved?" The answer they get will be very much the opposite of what they've read in anti-Mormon literature.

Yet they continue to fail to explain adequately the provenance of the Book of Mormon, simply preferring as the basis for their arguments the regurgitation of anti-Mormon statements about (debunked) Spaulding manuscripts, (inconsequential) seer stones, and other (irrelevant) tangential topics. Quite often, when they don't have an answer to counter reasonable replies, they change the subject in an attempt to put the balance of the conversation back in their favor. They are ever learning, but never able to come to a knowledge of the truth. In doing so, they habitually refuse to ever read the book, or even accept the minutest possibility that God might be lovingly offering additional wisdom from on high tailored to the complex times in which we live.

Alma the Younger was, obviously, the namesake son of another man--a prophet, actually--named Alma. Unlike his righteous father, Alma the Younger was once a very rebellious person, given to fighting with all his might against the Church over which his father was a high priest at the time.

Alma the Elder had prayed mightily that his son would stop destroying the Church from within with his exceedingly wicked behaviors and false teachings. His righteous prayer was answered one day when an angel appeared suddenly to Alma and his apostate companions, who were sons of the also righteous King Mosiah, and commanded them to stop persecuting the Church or be destroyed. Alma was in a catatonic or "near death" state for two days while he suffered the most excruciating spiritual experience of being shown all of his sins, their consequences, and all of his inadequacies. At "rock bottom" during this experience, he called on Christ and was saved--by grace, and not by any merit of his own--from his evil works.

A beautiful hebraic poetry form called "chiasmus" was later written by Alma the Younger in order to describe to one of his sons his experience with salvation through and by the grace of Christ alone, conditional upon his work of calling upon Jesus and by sincere repentance.

After his full repentance and restoration to good standing within the Church, Alma's repentant companions left to serve a mission among their enemies, the Lamanites. Alma went to a city called Zarahemla to teach the introspective that we find in Alma 5.

Read that chapter, then ask yourself the following questions as if Alma were speaking directly to you.

Fifty Questions to Ask Yourself After Reading Alma 5
  1. Have you sufficiently retained in remembrance the captivity of your fathers?
  2. Have you sufficiently retained in remembrance God's mercy and long-suffering towards your fathers?
  3. Have you sufficiently retained in remembrance that He has delivered their souls from hell?
  4. Were your fathers destroyed?
  5. Were the bands of death broken, and the chains of hell which encircled your fathers about, were they loosed?
  6. On what conditions were your fathers saved?
  7. On what grounds had they hope for salvation?
  8. What is the cause of your fathers' being loosed from the bands of death, yea, and also the chains of hell?
  9. Did not my father Alma believe in the words which were delivered by the mouth of Abinadi?
  10. Was Abinadi not a holy prophet?
  11. Did Abinadi not speak the words of God?
  12. Did my father Alma believe them?
  13. Have you spiritually been born of God?
  14. Have you received His image in your countenance?
  15. Have you experienced this mighty change in your heart?
  16. Do you exercise faith in the redemption of Him who created you?
  17. Do you look forward with an eye of faith?
  18. Do you view this mortal body raised in immortality, and this corruption raised in incorruption, to stand before God to be judged according to the deeds which have been done in the mortal body?
  19. Can you imagine yourself that you hear the voice of the Lord, saying to you, in that day: "Come unto me you blessed, for behold your works have been works of righteousness upon the face of the earth?"
  20. Or do you imagine to yourself that you can lie unto the Lord in that day, and say--"Lord, my works have been righteous works upon the face of the earth"--and He will save you?
  21. Or otherwise, can you imagine yourself brought before the tribunal of God with your soul filled with guilt and remorse, having a remembrance of all your guilt, yea, a perfect remembrance of all your wickedness, yea, a remembrance that you have set at defiance the commandments of God?
  22. Can you look up to God at that day with a pure heart and clean hands?
  23. Can you look up, having the image of God engraven upon your countenance?
  24. Can you think of being saved when you have yielded yourself to become subject to the devil?
  25. How will you feel if you shall stand before the bar of God, having your garments stained with blood and all manner of filthiness?
  26. What will these things testify against you?
  27. Will they not testify that you are a murderer?
  28. Will they not also testify that you are guilty of all manner of wickedness?
  29. Do you suppose that such an one can have a place to sit down in the kingdom of God, with Abraham, with Isaac, and with Jacob, and also all the holy prophets, whose garments are cleansed and are spotless, pure and white?
  30. If you have experienced a change of heart, and if you have felt to sing the song of redeeming love, can you feel so now?
  31. Have you walked, keeping yourself blameless before God?
  32. Could you say, if you were called to die at this time, within yourself, that you have been sufficiently humble?
  33. Could you say that your garments have been cleansed and made white through the blood of Christ?
  34. Are you stripped of pride?
  35. Is there one among you who is not stripped of envy?
  36. Is there one among you that doth make a mock of his brother, or that heapeth upon him persecutions?
  37. If you are not the sheep of the good shepherd, of what fold are you?
  38. The devil is your shepherd, and you are of his fold: and now who can deny this?
  39. Do you not suppose that I know of these things myself?
  40. How do you supose that I know of their surety?
  41. Can you withstand these sayings?
  42. Can you lay aside these things and trample the Holy One under your feet?
  43. Can you be puffed up in the pride of your heart?
  44. Will you still persist in the wearing of costly apparel and setting your heart upon the vain things of the world, upon your riches?
  45. Will you persist in supposing that you are better than another?
  46. Will you persist in the persecution of your brethren, who humble themselves and do walk after the Holy Order of God, wherewith they have been brought into this Church having been sanctified by the Holy Spirit, and they do bring forth works which are meet for repentance?
  47. Will you persist in turning your back upon the poor and the needy, and in withholding your substance from them?
  48. The names of the righteous shall be written in the Book of Life, and unto them will I grant an inheritance at my right hand. What have you to say against this?
  49. What shepherd is there having many sheep doth not watch over them, that the wolves enter not and devour his flock?
  50. If a wolf enter his flock doth the shepherd not drive him out?

If you want a quick check of where you stand before God with respect to salvation and exaltation, answer these questions for yourself, whether you're LDS or not. These are universal truths that apply to all men and women. And, that is exactly why the Book of Mormon is considered by members of the LDS Church to be an additional witness of Christ.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Hebraisms in the Book of Mormon

This video series discusses hebraisms in the Book of Mormon and the significance of such for Book of Mormon historicity.


Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4

Monday, November 3, 2008

Ancient Writing on Metal Plates

These new videos I made discuss writing on metal plates by ancient peoples and the significance of such for the Book of Mormon.


Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Top 5 Arguments Evangelical Anti-Mormons Can't Use Against the Book of Mormon - Video Additions

In a previous post, I outlined 5 arguments that Evangelical anti-Mormons cannot use against the Book of Mormon because of the fact that these arguments are a double standard. I have produced a series of video follow ups to this previous post which elaborates on these arguments a little further.


Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4

The Book of Mormon and Democracy

In 1977, then Elder Ezra Taft Benson (later to become the 13th President of the LDS Church) gave a unique speech denouncing Communism as a potential form of government in the United States. In doing so, and with right authority, he momentarily departed from the Church's reticence to engage in discussing political philosophies as a matter of doctrine to issue a stern warning about where our nation would find itself should we continue to tolerate Socialistic and Communistic policies then beginning to take root.

See the video embedded below (on the blog if you're reading this in email).

What does this have to do with the Book of Mormon? Just about everything.

You see, if President Benson could be remembered for anything, it was his denouncement of Communism and his love of the Book of Mormon. When I left on my mission, I did so with his invitation ringing in my ears to share it early and often with as many people as possible. He said it contained the key to righteousness, liberty from sin, and freedom and equality for all. I have always found that to be the case. Undoubtedly, his strong views on the Book of Mormon fueled his strong passion for promoting liberty over tyranny.

From his 1979 Conference talk entitled "A Witness and a Warning", here are a few verses from the Book of Mormon that bear out his teachings.
Ether 2:10,12
10 For behold, this is a land which is choice above all other lands; wherefore he that doth possess it shall serve God or shall be aswept off; for it is the everlasting decree of God. And it is not until the bfulness of iniquity among the children of the land, that they are cswept off.
12 Behold, this is a choice land, and whatsoever nation shall possess it shall be afree from bondage, and from captivity, and from all other nations under heaven, if they will but bserve the God of the land, who is Jesus Christ, who hath been manifested by the things which we have written.

Ether 13:1-3
1 And now I, Moroni, proceed to finish my record concerning the destruction of the people of whom I have been writing.
2 For behold, they rejected all the words of Ether; for he truly told them of all things, from the beginning of man; and that after the waters had areceded from off the face of this bland it became a choice land above all other lands, a chosen land of the Lord; wherefore the Lord would have that all men should cserve him who dwell upon the face thereof;
3 And that it was the place of the aNew Jerusalem, which should bcome down out of heaven, and the holy sanctuary of the Lord.

2 Nephi 10:10-12
1 And now I, Moroni, proceed to finish my record concerning the destruction of the people of whom I have been writing.
2 For behold, they rejected all the words of Ether; for he truly told them of all things, from the beginning of man; and that after the waters had areceded from off the face of this bland it became a choice land above all other lands, a chosen land of the Lord; wherefore the Lord would have that all men should cserve him who dwell upon the face thereof;
3 And that it was the place of the aNew Jerusalem, which should bcome down out of heaven, and the holy sanctuary of the Lord.
President Benson also taught us that there are three things that we must do to avoid destruction in this land ordained for freedom (links added for additional study):

First: We must return to worship the God of this land, who is Jesus Christ. He has promised that the righteous will be preserved by His power (see 1 Ne. 22:17). But we must keep the commandments of God. We must pay our tithes and offerings, keep the Sabbath day a holy day, stay morally clean, be honest in all our dealings, and have our family and personal prayers. We must live the gospel.

Second: We must awaken to “a sense of [our] awful situation, because of this secret combination which [is] among [us]” (Ether 8:24). We must not tolerate accommodation with or appeasement toward the false system of Communism. We must demand of our elected officials that we not only resist Communism, but that we will take every measure to prevent its intrusion into this hemisphere. It is vital that we invoke the Monroe Doctrine.

Then we must put our trust in Him who has promised us His protection—and pray that He will intervene to preserve our freedom just as He intervened in our obtaining it in the first place.

Third: We must do as the Lord commanded us by revelation in 1833: “Wherefore, honest men and wise men should be sought for diligently, and good men and wise men ye should observe to uphold; otherwise whatsoever is less than these cometh of evil” (D&C 98:10).

Men who are wise, good, and honest, who will uphold the Constitution of the United States in the tradition of the Founding Fathers, must be sought for diligently. This is our hope to restore government to its rightful role.

Last: We must study the inspired Constitution and become involved in the political process ourselves. I quote the First Presidency statement that was read in sacrament meetings on Sunday, 1 July 1979: “We encourage all members, as citizens of the nation, to be actively involved in the political process, and to support those measures which will strengthen the community, state, and nation—morally, economically, and culturally” (Letter from the First Presidency, 29 June 1979).

November 4th is our opportunity to assist in God's will for this land: that it remain free and prosperous based on sound Gospel principles. We will do this by voting in what we hope to be a fair and free election. If it is not free and fair, we must make sure that this and future elections are to the best of our ability. Whether Democrat or Republican, we each have the duty and responsibility to exercise that right to elect our electors and representatives and to maintain the course that God has already expressed for us if we are to remain free.

Please don't forget to vote. Please don't listen to negative voices telling you your vote doesn't count or that your particular cause is lost. This year, more than ever, it does count. Our cause is not lost.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Top 5 Arguments Evangelical Anti-Mormons Can't Use Against the Book of Mormon

Evangelical critics of the Book of Mormon use many arguments to call into question the validity of the Book of Mormon. However, many of them are double standards. Evangelical critics usually throw out these arguments against the Book of Mormon while they ignore the fact that these same arguments can and have been used against the Bible. Here is a sampling:

5. The Book of Mormon has textual changes.
While this is true, it is even truer for the Bible, which, over the centuries of transmission and translation, has accumulated hundreds of thousands of textual variations in between manuscripts.

4. We Don't Have the Gold Plates to the Book of Mormon

Neither do we have the original manuscripts to the supposedly inerrant, complete, perfect Bible. 

3.  DNA Disproves the Book of Mormon

Many genetic scientists have also been using the exact same DNA data and methods to call into question the veracity of the fundamentalist Protestant interpretation of the opening stories of the Book of Genesis, such as Adam and Eve and Noah's Flood covering the entire world.

2. Archaeology Disproves the Book of Mormon

There is a popular, albeit false, notion amongst some Evangelical critics of the Book of Mormon that the Bible has been proven by archaeology and that the Book of Mormon has been disproven by archaeology. However, many of the historical claims of the Bible (such as the Israelite captivity in Egypt, the exodus from Egypt in the wilderness for 40 years and the Israelite conquest of Canaan, to name only a few) have been questioned by top biblical archaeologists. 

1. The Bible is Sufficient and Disqualifies the Book of Mormon as being Scripture.

The current Bible as we have it now did not spring up automatically but was compiled and edited over a course of many years. The passages used by Evangelicals to somehow prove that the Book of Mormon cannot be scripture because there cannot be anymore scripture could easily be applied to the Bible in its current form. For example, the Gospel of John is believed by many biblical textual critics to have been written after the Book of Revelation. If Evangelicals insist on using those verses from Revelation 22:18-19 and apply it to the Book of Mormon because the Book of Mormon came after the Book of Revelation, then, for the sake of consistency, they too would have to use it against the Gospel of John because it too postdates the Book of Revelation.

Please note that I do not bring up these points because I am "bashing" the Bible. I affirm the Bible as the Word of God as far as it is translated correctly. I love the Bible and its teachings have had a deep impact on my life. However, I do bring up these points to show that the Evangelical critics of the Book of Mormon should be careful in their criticisms of the Book of Mormon because many of their arguments could be used against the Bible. In other words, I am trying to show that these arguments are double standards and cannot be used by Evangelical critics.