Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Book of Mormon, Part II

I am reminded of my youthful years when I was quite ignorant and very briefly questioned the truth of the Bible when I discovered the word "corn" within its pages. Any American schoolboy/girl knows that corn was an American crop, unknown to the Hebrews. Of course, corn is actually an old English word for any grain, not just maize. How foolish I was!

What of the Liahona-compass? God created a director-ball, the Book of Mormon says, and God had no need, any believer in Him must agree, to borrow the idea from ancient China. "Compass" is a good English translation-word that helps us understand the concept. But notice that no magnetism is ever mentioned, the device worked by faith, not science, and no Nephite copies of the thing were ever made. Why should they have been? How could they have been?

Shame on never-Mormons who knowingly perpetuate a lie in order to catch a man in what they suppose a lie, as God Himself warns them not to do! And double-shame on anyone who has known the light of the Gospel but throws it away over such trifles as barley, steel, whatever. How do you feel learning that massive, pre-Columbian iron slag heaps have now been found? Do you feel silly when you realize that your quotation of "an endless number of horses and chariots" from 2nd Nephi, rather than being an anachronism of the New World, is actually a direct quote from the Biblical book of Isaiah, and thus perfectly in place amongst a group of Hebrew emigrants, whether there were an endless number of horses upon the land or not?

There is an LDS chapel somewhere in your city -- you are welcome, or welcome back, next Sunday.

Book of Mormon

The Book of Mormon is truly a complex, beautiful work of scripture. (Computer programs are not; Blogger has twice deleted this post).

If you intended to start a new religion, you might draw up a list of rules and find support for them in current scripture. You might even dare to claim direct revelation from God and write them down, or publish an edifying book of inspired thoughts. But who would be so insane as to thrust upon the world an entire volume of purported sacred history -- and even worse, make itg more than 500 pages long? Why work so very hard? Joseph Smith could simply have scribbled out the Book of Nephi and called it a day -- why pile upon himself a second Book of Nephi, and a Jacob, and an Alma, and a Helaman, etc? Why such overkill?

The Book of Mormon has withstood more than a century of unabated attack but what puzzles me is that the critics never admit defeat on any point. You will still find websites gloating, for example, about the loss of testimony of the late B.H. Roberts, an LDS General Authority. In truth, that great man kept his belief in the Book of Mormon to his dying day -- whatever unanswered questions about the Book he may have had at some point in his life.

One by one, we find answers for the supposed anachronisms within its pages, but the critics never listen. If the King James version of the Bible can have dragons and unicorns, which any Bible scholar knows are merely English approximations for original Hebrew words that have no connections to mythical beasts, then we can certainly agree that Hebrew immigrants to the New World who found and grew wild American relatives of Old World barley, could call it something that translates to barley in English!

What, for another example, about another howler, houses of cement? Pray tell, if you did not have the word adobe in your vocabulary, as the Prophet Joseph did not, what word would you use to describe a structure made of that material? Moot point, since ancient Native American cement architecture has now been discovered anyway. Acknowledgement by the critics? I hear crickets chirping.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Bad Medicine

I have on my shelf an old medicine bottle, a 19th-century artifact. Its contents supposedly purified the blood and gave new life to the imbiber.

In the old days, the purveyors of such quackery often had to be quite mobile, ever seeking out fresh, vulnerable prey.

I see the same phenomenon with those sad people whose goal in life is to destroy the LDS Church. Everlastingly, restlessly, they roam the Internet, they drop off pamphlets in classrooms, they seek to shake faith. Everlastingly, they pretend as if their arsenal of cherry-picked old quotes torn from the Journal of Discourses or other obscure writings of the early Restoration prophets, are something new and shocking. Usually, they are utterly silent on whether any attempt at refutation has ever been made of their claims.

What is the result? Most Latter-day Saints ignore them. A few have their faith shaken. Of those, a handful may then move on to some other Christian church. The attackers must hope and pray that the methodology they used to poison the testimony of such people will not in turn, be used by them, in time, against whatever other brand of Christianity they embrace.

Others drop into numbed inactivity or even embrace atheism. What then, has been the gain for Christ?

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Council in Heaven

Unique to the Restoration understanding of the Plan of God is that we, His children, were there! We were those "morning stars" that sang with joy at the day of Creation, as Job wrote. And we were there when our Savior accepted His Father's will to fulfil His role in the Plan.

About the other guy... Satan, the "old dragon" of Revelations 12, never presented a viable alternative in the Premortal Council. We must be clear in our understanding of that. He was not a valid candidate. He was an unauthorized write-in, of sorts, and what he suggested was not a plan but a mutiny.

Saturday, January 9, 2010


Some of the ills which beset us in this life, are just part of the mortal experience. The holiest of men and women still suffer aches, pains and sorrows.

Other miseries we bring upon ourselves. These adversities result when we turn from God and pull out from beneath the shelter of His protection. It is then that the consequences of our foolishness can be described as divine chastening.

"Chasten" in Hebrew transliterates to "yacar" and can carry the meaning of not just punishment but instruction. God never lashes out in blind rage as we mortals sometimes do. He wants to teach us, that we might choose to return to Him. As scripture says, He takes no pleasure in our death. Therefore can the Psalmist sing, in great relief:

"The Lord hath chastened me sore but he hath not given me over to death." (Psalms 118:18).


As good a place as any to start, with a topical, alphabetical exploration of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Aaron, brother of Moses. Hebrew, Aharown.

One might say the Restored Gospel brings his name into more prominence than was typical in the rest of Christianity. Other Christians tend to consider the priesthood of Aaron as an Old Testament relic, fulfilled along with the rest of the Law.

But modern revelation in the Doctrine and Covenants goes into some detail about that priesthood and its relevance in the Church. I will treat that priesthood in a separate blog entry.

It is interesting that although the resurrected Moses appeared to Joseph Smith, no mention is made of Aaron having done so.

Aaron and Moses form one of the more positive sibling pairs in the scriptures, as opposed to Jacob and Esau, Joseph ben Israel and his brothers, Nephi and Laman/Lemuel, and Rachel and Leah. A model for Joseph Smith and his brother, Hyrum.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Got to do better

I have not given this blog the attention that I need to give it. I resolve to do better.

Today I encountered a horrible anti-Mormon website -- detailed, well-organized, a true labor of hate. I've seen plenty of such sites but this was truly the worst. I resolve, not to emulate in any way such a bitter sowing, certainly never to waste my time and quench the spirit by attacking some particular church, but at least to do a better job of learning about and explaining my faith via this blog. I am thinking of proceeding in some sort of alphabetical order, topically.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Of the ites

As I was reading scripture today, I had a flash of insight:

There is no such thing as an Israelite. Nor an Ammonite, Canaanite or Geshurite.

At least, not linguistically.

--ite is an English suffix. Not Hebrew.

Odd that I had never realized that before.

The original Hebrew suffix would be in some cases "-i" or, as per the masculine plural ending in Biblical NW Hebrew, -ima.

So there were actually no Book of Mormon Nephites or Lamanites either. They would have called themselves Nephi-i and Laman-i, or Nephima and Lamanima. One LDS apologist has conjectured that the Pima tribe of Native Americans might derive their name from that background.

Little hard to get used to.