Dear Reader,


A Latter-day Saint who believes that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and its leaders are authorized of God doesn’t necessarily accept whatever the church puts forth as “gospel.” On the contrary, anyone who wants a better church tomorrow really ought to speak up today. We aren’t potted plants. Let's face it: Theological malarkey will continue to thrive in the church if members say “amen” to it all.

That is the main reason this site exists.

It also exists because I want to encourage wavering Latter-day Saints not to leave the Lord's restored church merely because of its flaws and the errors of its leaders.

Each article is listed below with a title, short synopsis and a link. They were written by Steve Warren (bio below). Articles by others may be added.

Keep the faith.

Steve Warren
West Valley City, Utah

“God is actually trying to create a much more profound relationship with us. We can only do that if we are actually wrestling with issues at hand.”
--Fiona Givens

Christ moves closer to us as we move from dogma toward truth.

Steve Warren was raised in Heppner, Oregon, and has lived in Utah for 44 years. He attended Ricks College for two years, served a mission to Colombia and Venezuela, and graduated from BYU in 1973 with a degree in communications. He and his wife, JaNiece, have two sons and a daughter. He wrote and published Drat! Mythed Again, Second Thoughts on Utah in 1986 and was a copy editor at the Deseret News from 1988-2008. He wrote and printed 100 copies of a novel, Beyond the Finish Line, but has yet to find a real publisher. (2018)
Knowing, believing, seeing Insights into our borderline dysfunctional LDS relationship with the word “know.”

Pathway to heaven The Scriptures show one sure way to return to God’s presence: possess a heart that pleases him.

Obedience gone awry Strictly following the prophet is an excellent idea—at least as long as he’s right.

Falling short, staying put Living prophets constantly err, but that’s not a good reason to leave the Lord’s church.

What in the world? Certain strange features of the Book of Mormon add to its credibility.

Some kind of miracle Fiction. An invitation to speak in sacrament meeting begins a Utah couple’s wild ride.

The cross = victory The cross is a worthy, positive symbol because it reminds us that it is the dying Christ who saves us.

Pilate tried Jewish religious leaders sought to kill Jesus; Pontius Pilate sought to set him free, so let’s give the man a break.

Father, Father, Father Why do we repeat the name of Deity so often in prayers these days?

Witnesses Multiple witnesses provide a compelling reason for anyone to ponder the claims of Mormonism.

Who is God? The Book of Mormon and other scriptures clearly teach that Jesus Christ is God and that Heavenly Father is God the Father.

Creation stories Teachings about the Creation tend to turn wobbly when they go beyond “God created the earth.”

Short takes Brief quotes, comments and reflections on a variety of gospel topics.
A few heresies... that would make for a more interesting sacrament meeting.
Oopsy-daisy 40 foul-ups by top LDS authorities.
Appreciating Christ



Thursday, October 22, 2015

What in the world?


On closer examination, certain strange features of the Book of Mormon seem to add to its credibility. Following are 10 examples.

Was Jesus born in Jerusalem?

We all know Jesus was born in Bethlehem.  But the Book of Mormon says “he shall be born of Mary, at Jerusalem.” (Alma 7:10)  The book never mentions Bethlehem.  Why didn’t Joseph Smith or his scribes or the printer catch this mistake?  A serious blunder, say critics.  Translated by the power of God?  Hrrumph, hrrumph.

A closer look shows nothing amiss in this passage.  It merely says Jesus was born “at” Jerusalem, not “in” Jerusalem.  The full passage refers only to the “land” of Jerusalem rather than the “city” of Jerusalem: “he shall be born of Mary, at Jerusalem which is the land of our forefathers.”  (Bethlehem is five miles from Jerusalem.)  This city-land approach is consistent throughout the Book of Mormon.  Only a few pages earlier, for example, adjacent verses distinguish between “the land of Zarahemla” and “the city of Zarahemla.”  (Alma 5:1,2) 

A 584-page paragraph!

The 1830 printed text of the Book of Mormon ran 584 pages.  Printer J. H. Gilbert observed that the handwritten manuscript he received “was one solid paragraph, without a punctuation mark, from beginning to end.” 

Although this apparently surprised Gilbert, it was consistent with Egyptian historical texts, which break up the text with stock words such as “and,” “behold,” “now,” “and it came to pass,” etc., but no punctuation marks.  (The book claims to be in “the language of the Egyptians.” Nephi 1:2)

Forgetting to mention camels

If a Westerner—Joseph Smith, for example—writing in 1829, or today, were to spin a tale of travelers in a Mideastern desert, he would not fail to mention if they rode on camels.  For 41 pages, Nephi tells of his people traveling for years in the desert wilderness, with their tents, provisions, “seeds of every kind,” weapons, grain, children and more.  Yet he never mentions the mode of travel.  Why not?  Here’s an explanation: “When the Arab reports that he has journeyed in the desert he never adds ‘on a camel,’ for in his language ‘to travel’ means to go by camel. . . . when the camel is the only means of travel, it is as unnecessary to mention camels in describing a journey as it would be to specify that one sails the seas ‘in a ship.’ ” Lehi in the Desert, by Hugh Nibley, p.63.

Odd behavior in the desert

As Lehi's party moved through the desert wilderness, they renamed streams, valleys, the sea and other places to suit themselves. “No westerner would tolerate such arrogance. But Lehi is not interested in western taste; he is following a good old Oriental custom. Among the laws ‘which no Bedouin would dream of transgressing’ the first, according to Jennings-Bramley, is that ‘any water you may discover, either in your own territory or in the territory of another tribe, is named after you.’ . . . Even more whimsical and senseless to a westerner must appear the behavior of Lehi in naming a river after one son and its valley after another. But the Arabs don't think that way.” Moreover, Lehi yearns for one of his wayward sons to be “like unto this valley, firm and steadfast, and immovable.” An immovable valley? Who ever heard of such a thing? “The Arabs, to be sure. For them the valley, and not the mountain, is the symbol of permanence. It is not the mountain of refuge to which they flee, but the valley of refuge. The great depressions that run for hundreds of miles across the Arabian peninsula pass for the most part through plains devoid of mountains.”  Nibley, pp. 85, 86, 105, 106

An ancient writing form

In the 1960s, scholars discovered that the Book of Mormon contains a pattern of ancient Mideast writing called chiasmus in which word patterns are repeated. It is certainly not the type of writing structure anyone would have expected from Joseph Smith, who in 1829 “could neither write nor dictate a coherent and well-worded letter; let alone dictating a book like the Book of Mormon.”  (Emma Smith)  Chiasmus pops up a number of times in The Book of Mormon.  Following is an example from Mosiah 5:10-12. The letters in parenthesis have been added to highlight the abcde/edcba pattern of repetition.

(a) And now it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall not take upon him the name of Christ must be called by some other name;

(b) therefore, he findeth himself on the left hand of God.

(c) And I would that ye should remember also, that this is the name that I said I should give unto you

(d) that never should be blotted out,

(e) except it be through transgression;

(e) therefore, take heed that ye do not transgress,

(d) that the name be not blotted out of your hearts,

(c) I say unto you, I would that ye should remember to retain the name written always in your hearts,

(b) that ye are not found on the left hand of God,

(a) but that ye hear and know the voice by which ye shall be called, and also, the name by which he shall call you.

Problems with the plates

“The knowledge and use of metal plates for the keeping of important records is beginning to emerge as a general practice throughout the ancient world. It will not be long before men forget that in Joseph Smith’s day the prophet was mocked and derided for his description of the plates more than anything else.” Nibley, p. 122

The Book of Mormon’s credibility was also once attacked for the claim that it was recorded in its entirety on plates that measure just 6 by 8 inches with a depth of 2 inches.  It is now widely accepted that such a thing would have been easy, especially if the writing were in small characters.  Joseph Smith and Orson Pratt both stated “the characters on the unsealed part were small.”

Another complaint regarding the plates is that if they were indeed made of gold, Joseph Smith wouldn’t have been able to run while carrying them.  Whether the plates were gold or merely golden is an unsettled question.  Some scholars suggest they were an alloy.  However, witnesses consistently put their weight at 40-60 pounds.  And it should also be remembered that Joseph Smith was a large and strong man.  Luke Johnson gives an idea of the prophet’s strength in his description of a mob forcibly hauling the prophet from his home:  “Waste, who was the strongest man on the Western Reserve, had boasted that he could take Joseph out alone. . . . Joseph drew up his leg and gave him (Waste) a kick, which sent him sprawling in the street.  He afterward said the prophet was the most powerful man he ever had hold of in his life.”

The most boring verse of scripture

When Mark Twain described the Book of Mormon as “chloroform in print,” perhaps he had just finished reading verse 6 of 4th Nephi.   It is a verse that most readers pass over quickly and that modern editors would surely have trimmed from 57 words to eight or nine if they had been composing a book aimed at selling well.  Fourth Nephi 6 may be more boring than any other verse of scripture.  Here it is:

“And thus did the thirty and eighth year pass away, and also the thirty and ninth, and forty and first, and the forty and second, yea, even until forty and nine years had passed away, and also the fifty and first, and the fifty and second; yea, and even until fifty and nine years had passed away.”

Unless he wanted readers to doze off, it is unimaginable that anyone in America in 1829 would have come up with such writing.  And if it was indeed written by the ancient prophet Mormon, what in the world was he thinking?   In reality, however, when it comes to the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon, this verse may be a diamond masquerading as a chunk of coal.

Remember, the Book of Mormon is so named not because Mormon wrote it but because he abridged thousands of pages of other people’s writings into what came out as 584 pages in our 1830 edition.  In our mind’s eye we can see him seated at a table around 385 A.D.   In front of him are the golden plates upon which he is writing his abridgment. To his left are centuries of written records.  He reads one page after another from the records on his left and, when he finds something noteworthy, he turns back to the golden plates to jot it down, using a metal writing instrument.  In the five previous verses he has already recorded several important occurrences.  But in verse six, as he turns back to his left to read records of the next couple of years, he finds nothing significant, makes a note of it, turns back again, finds nothing significant, notes it—pretty soon he has scanned an uneventful  21-year period. He is reading these original records for the first time and has no way to know that the 38th through the 59th years will be virtually identical.

Yes, it is a boring verse.  But it offers a powerful confirmation of the writing process that the Book of Mormon suggests.

The most boring chapter of scripture

When it comes to an entire chapter of scripture, Jacob 5 would be a great candidate for the most boring, at least to the average modern reader.  This chapter, an allegory about olive trees, is the longest in the Book of Mormon.  It tells of a master of a vineyard and his servant repeatedly grafting, pruning, plucking, digging, etc.  On the surface it seems to be about people struggling to grow olive trees well.  A more studious reading, however, reveals it to be a complex but understandable parable that both recounts and prophesies God’s dealings with Israel and the Gentile nations.  Its complexity and out of time/out of place feel (it is said to have been written by an Old Testament-era prophet named Zenos) hardly read like something any Westerner would have composed in 1829.  Even in its Book of Mormon context, this olive-tree chapter sticks out like an orange in an apple orchard.

Errors and all

Book of Mormon writers employ what seems to be an odd way of correcting an obvious mistake.  Instead of starting the sentence over, they continue writing while saying, in effect, “what I meant to say was . . . ”

Examples:

“Yea, even the very God of Israel do men trample under their feet; I say, trample under their feet but I would speak in other words—they set him at naught, and hearken not to the voice of his counsels.” --1 Nephi 19:7

“and thus we see that they buried their weapons of peace, or they buried the weapons of war, for peace.” --Alma 24:19

“And now, my son, all men that are in a state of nature, or I would say, in a carnal state, are in the gall of bitterness” --Alma 41:11

“And behold, the city had been rebuilt . . . Behold, I said that the city of Ammonihah had been rebuilt.  I say unto you, yea, that it was in part rebuilt."
--Alma 49:2,3

“the people who were in the land Bountiful, or rather Moroni”
--Alma 50:32

Others:  Mosiah 7:8; Alma 9:30; 22:19; 40:2; 43:38; 45:13; 52:25; 53:10; 63:15

Errors on metal plates can’t be corrected by erasing or whiteout or deleting.  Multiple drafts were out of the question because plates were too valuable to discard and start over.  Squeezing a few extra words of correction between lines wouldn’t have been tidy because individual lines were close together to maximize the amount of text that would fit on each valuable plate.  And scratching through the offending words would have been unsightly.  So, the writer simply made the corrections as his narrative continued.

In other words, the existence of these frequent mistakes seems to affirm the use of metal plates and the antiquity of the text. 

Lemme go—you can trust me

When Zoram, Laban's servant, discovered that he was in the presence of Nephi rather than Laban, Zoram was terrified. “In such a situation there was only one thing Nephi could possibly have done, both to spare Zoram and to avoid giving alarm—and no westerner could have guessed what it was. Nephi, a powerful fellow, held the terrified Zoram in a vice-like grip long enough to swear a solemn oath in his ear, ‘as the Lord liveth, and as I live,’ that he would not harm him if he would listen. Zoram immediately relaxed . . . The reaction of both parties makes sense when one realizes that the oath is the one thing that is most sacred and inviolable among the desert people ‘Hardly will an Arab break his oath, even if his life be in jeopardy.’ ”  Nibley, pp. ll7, ll8

P.S.  Certainly the Book of Mormon contains puzzling aspects.  For example, why do the Isaiah chapters and other passages so closely follow the King James Bible? And why do we read about elephants and horses? But those wrestling with whether the Book of Mormon is of divine origin would do well to ask:  Which is more likelythat the entire book is illegitimate if it has content viewed as questionable OR that it is legitimate if it has content no one could have written in 1829?

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