An Existential Crisis?

A guest post by Mike Turnlund.

Being a non-Mormon and an outsider to the LDS faith has not kept me from studying the Latter-day Saint system of belief. I am not a seeker, as I already know Jesus Christ – the Jesus Christ of the Bible, not of the Book of Mormon. There is a difference. The reason I study (perhaps research is a better word) the Mormon religion and its scriptures is because I want to better understand their religious paradigm. As I work with many Mormons and live in an area that is heavily populated by them, it behooves me to “understand their world” if I am to reach them for the real Jesus.

So for the past couple years I’ve been trying to self-educate myself on all things Mormon. This includes perusing Internet sites of all persuasions (especially apologetics), reading the Mormon canon, reading extra-canonical Mormon writings, and visiting personally with Mormons. Here are my observations.

CommunityFirst, what I’ve discovered – and what surprised me – is that ultimately the LDS religion is not about truth; it’s about community. Mormons will, on occasion, engage me in discussions about their faith and how it contrasts with orthodox historical Christianity, but rarely at a meaningful level. They typically don’t seem to be interested in doing so. Not even their missionaries. Yes, the missionaries will discuss this or that, and even spar with me to a certain point, but none of this seems to be of the defining essence of their faith. Instead every conversation always seems to come back around to, or end in, an invitation to visit their stake house. I have been invited to countless Sunday services, potlucks, special meetings, and so forth. In a nutshell “come meet some really nice people and maybe you will want to become part of our family, because we really care about you” and that sort of thing.

And you know what? They do. They really do care. And perhaps this is what makes their religion so attractive to so many folks. Indeed I think that this is what makes the Mormon religion so attractive to Mormons. In a fashion, this ability to generate a genuine caring community of mutual support and concern legitimizes the faith in its members own eyes. It surely does in the larger community. I rarely hear people, especially those that would not know the difference between a Baptist and a Mormon, speak ill of Mormons. Instead I frequently hear things about how nice Mormons are, how they have such good families, and that they look out for one another. Mormons have undoubtedly been successful at selling their brand, in part because they have found that in a sense community sells. They are true believers in community – religious beliefs sometimes become secondary and, while proselytizing, are often not even part of the sales pitch.*

Second, I’ve learned that, at the end of the day, truth does matter. For many people, community, while important, will never trump truth. One can push it aside for a while, but inevitably truth will rear its head again and again and require attention. Subsequently I’ve observed that all is not well in the Church of Latter-day Saints. There is a quiet hush-hush dissention in the ranks and I would not be surprised if we are witnessing the early tremors of an existential earthquake.

It appears to me that the Mormon Church has painted itself into a rhetorical corner in regards to three doctrinal issues; issues that are logically and intellectually untenable and which no amount of “faith” will fix. These three are:

• The Book of Abraham
• The Book of Mormon as a historical record
The Bible and its integrity as a sacred text

Perhaps there are more. But while it might not matter that I, as an outsider of the Mormon faith, struggle to get my mind around these doctrinal positions, it does matter that rank-and-file Mormons do. And they do, in apparently increasing numbers.

walking awayI will not list the recent examples of high-ranking life-long multigenerational Mormons that have lost faith in their church and left. Nor will I explore how church rolls greatly exaggerate membership, nor how young Mormons, especially men, are independently ascertaining facts about the church and voting with their feet. These are all well documented and a brief Internet search will quickly locate the pertinent information. But let’s see how these three doctrinal issues cannot be successfully resolved status quo ante. Indeed, the Church can now only rely on appeals to faith or to logical fallacies.

First issue: the Book of Abraham – even Mormon scholars admit that this canon text is nothing more than an Egyptian funeral text. Nothing sacred here! This fact is obvious to anyone who cares to examine the issue with sober honesty. Recognizing that they cannot defend against the obvious the Church will insist that it is Joseph Smith’s interpretation of the text that is divine, not the text itself. In other words, if a defense cannot be made in an appeal to reason, it will be made in an appeal to faith – a non-thinking, non-critical type of faith. Indeed, the Church’s published analysis on the historicity of the Book of Abraham is a fabulous effort in obfuscation!

Unfortunately for the LDS Church, the simple fact that the Book of Abraham exists in the Mormon canon is a significant reason many current Mormons begin to question their faith.

Second issue: the Book of Mormon as a historical record. Again, this one does not need any elaboration – this is thoroughly documented. Even average Mormons recognize the inconsistencies between what the Book of Mormon teaches as historical fact and the historical realities. For the simple fact that even Mormon researchers have practically thrown in the towel trying to find any archaeological evidence of the ancient empires, let alone the cattle, sheep, horses, goats, elephants, pigs, steel and bronze tools, and wheat that the Book of Mormon attests as existing in pre-Columbian North America. Add to this the problem of the lack of genetic or linguistic evidence that connect existing Native Americans populations with the ancient Jews, their alleged forebears. Again, these discrepancies have proven to be enduring stumbling blocks to an increasing number of Mormons, young and old. Backed into a corner, Mormon apologists appeal to either ludicrous evidence as proof of the historicity of the Book of Mormon or, typically, appeal to faith.

BibleCorrectedThird issue: the integrity of the Bible as God’s word. The Bible seems to be a conundrum for the LDS Church. This is demonstrated in the oxymoronic eighth Article of Faith: “We believe the Bible to be the word of God as far as it is translated correctly.” It is God’s word, but it requires the lens of the Church to understand it. It is not safe on its own. After all, other LDS scriptures complain that “many plain and precious things” have been removed from the Bible. And church prophets have uttered their own criticisms of the Bible. Unfortunately, the LDS Church doesn’t know what, when, where, or why anything has been either added or removed. They just know it.

While this last issue may not drive Mormons from the faith, as do the two other issues described above, it definitely undermines Mormon confidence in the Bible. Typically Mormons are trained to distrust the Bible, as well as Bible-believing Christians, so that if and when they do leave the Mormon faith they tend to not cross-shop Christian churches. Atheism or agnosticism is the more probable post-Mormon outcome.

In the end I am encouraged and discouraged at the same time. It appears to me that truth is finally winning the battle with Mormons who wrestle with the incongruities of their faith. In this information age we live in, there are few hiding places. Even the deepest secrets of the Mormon Church are seeing the light of day. This is good. Truth is liberating Mormons from the bondage of false teachings. On the other hand, too often when Mormons abandon the Jesus of their LDS faith, they also abandon the chance to come to know the authentic Jesus. And it is this true Jesus that will truly set them free (John 8:31-32).

* Perhaps this foremost concern with community (and inclusion into that community) can explain why many Mormons responded with such energy toward their church with its newly clarified position on homosexual families. The recent ruling to even exclude the children of gay couples from church baptism and membership is a last straw for many otherwise conforming Mormons. This step is too exclusionary. It keeps others from enjoying and embracing that essential character of Mormonism: community. If the religion is first about community and only second about truth, this fits my argument above.

Visit Mike’s blog, A Post-National Christian, or reach him at [email protected]

About Sharon Lindbloom

Sharon surrendered her life to the Lord Jesus Christ in 1979. Deeply passionate about Truth, Sharon loves serving as a full-time volunteer research associate with Mormonism Research Ministry. Sharon and her husband live in Minnesota.

This entry was posted in Bible, Book of Abraham, Book of Mormon, D&C and Pearl of Great Price, LDS Church, Mormon Culture, Mormon Scripture, Truth, Honesty, Prayer, and Inquiry and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

48 Responses to An Existential Crisis?

  1. falcon says:

    Mike
    You did a really first rate job with this article. Now allow me to rip it apart! 🙂 That’s a joke….sort of.
    You wrote about the LDS community:
    “They really do care. And perhaps this is what makes their religion so attractive to so many folks. Indeed I think that this is what makes the Mormon religion so attractive to Mormons. In a fashion, this ability to generate a genuine caring community of mutual support and concern legitimizes the faith in its members own eyes.”
    First of all they really do care, until a member leaves the church. Then this kind, caring, inclusive community brings out the long knives. The whole purpose of John Dehlin’s “Mormon Stories” I think, was to bring about some reconciliation with those who do leave and to get this community to lighten up. It was to point out that the reason many, most perhaps all of the folks who leave don’t do so because they were offended or want to party down.
    This gets me to my next point. The “community” has a way of “love bombing” seekers to draw them in. This is cult tactic 101. The prospect is made to be the center of attention. But what happens when the prospect doesn’t join-up? It’s the cold shoulder. The freeze out.
    Lastly, there are deep sociological problems within this caring and loving community. It’s the type of community that requires that everything look good on the outside. It’s big on the “no talk” rule. People stuff their personal problems because everything has to be seen as happy and perfect within the one true church. I’m sure you are aware of the little blue pill syndrome with women that is rampant in the LDS community. This community does not lack for all variety of social problems.

    Anyway, over all I think you’ve done an excellent job with your article. It’s very insightful and provides a very good summary of some of the issues within the LDS church.

  2. falcon says:

    Staying with my theme.
    Andy Watson saw a flyer for an open house on a Saturday at an LDS ward. So he goes in and in the gym are all sorts of tables set up with displays of all of the ward’s activities. So Andy starts cruising around scoping out the various clubs, associations and service organizations for the ward. Well he decided to start asking some questions at one of the booths and the person behind the table signaled to have the boy missionaries come over and answer Andy’s question. Now it should be pointed out, Andy wasn’t asking about the requirements to become a tender foot scout. He was asking about specific aspects of Mormon doctrine. It wasn’t long before Andy had the boy missionaries tied in a knot so the alarm goes off and the bishop hustles into the gym to confront Andy. Andy, as it turned out, was the skunk at this LDS garden party.
    The idea behind the open house was quite obvious. It wasn’t to talk about the LDS faith and present it to “seekers”. It was to blow a bunch of blue smoke around the room and try to lasso some folks who really had no idea what Mormonism is all about.
    Isn’t it funny how Mormons have worked into their narrative the “milk before meat” concept to justify lying to people by omission?

  3. falcon says:

    The fact is that while LDS may appear to be monolithic, there are different “types” within the group. The group that grabs my attention are the “chapel” Mormons as opposed to the “internet” Mormons.

    “A spectrum of belief is probably common in most religious traditions, but within the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints a different dynamic is at work: Both Internet Mormonism and Chapel Mormonism have each taken on independent lives of their own. The most interesting aspect of this dichotomy is that each group claims that its views are the “true” Mormonism. For example, exmormons (who were almost invariably Chapel Mormons before they left the church) are routinely castigated by Internet Mormons as having never understood their religion in the first place, while Chapel Mormons often tell apologists that they were never taught such radical notions in their ward or branch.”

    That’s what I find to be an interesting facet of Mormonism. While there are some articulated doctrines, so much of Mormonism is a blank canvas upon which individual Mormons paint. So when, for example, an LDS begins to learn about the Book of Abraham the type of Mormon the person is will influence what they do with the information. Some of the more simple souls will just accept what they are told, out of hand. I call it the “all better now blankie” because the explanation is warm, cozy and brings comfort to the believer.
    There’s no doubt that the LDS church is having a crisis of members leaving.

  4. mturnlund says:

    Mike,
    I appreciate your comments. Obviously, being a “Gentile,” how Mormons treat each other when one walks away from the faith is outside of my personal experiences. I can only imagine. But that has been a consistent theme in the websites I visit where many current, but disbelieving, Mormons are too afraid to leave the community because of the horrors you describe. I suppose it is a form of control, as you allude to. But I am also reminded of Luke 14:26, “”If anyone comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters–yes, even their own life–such a person cannot be my disciple.”But, of course, that doesn’t mean its easy.

    That being said this behavior suggests how fragile the faith of many Mormons really is. The courage of one to leave the flock only generates disdain or resentment from those lacking the courage. Sheeple. Undoubtedly it can be a cult tactic, as you suggest, though it also might suggest a low-intensity siege mentality.

    Thanks for the nice words.

  5. mturnlund says:

    Oops, the above comment was meant for Falcon! A long day…

  6. falcon says:

    mturn
    I don’t underestimate the cost that many LDS perceive leaving will accrue to them. First of all they have to get past the fantasy that they will become gods, have a forever family, have their own planetary system to rule and on-and-on. Then there is the notion that the Mormon god will bring vegence and all sorts of nasty things upon them for breaking their covenants which they swore a blood oath to in the faux temple.
    Once they come to the conclusion that those promises are a total fabrication and a farce and that the curse that will fall upon them isn’t real, then they have to count the cost of losing friends and family. On top of all of that is going through the emotional stages, the process, of leaving what many of us would consider an aberrant religious sect if not a cult.
    I ran into a guy yesterday, as solid of Christian as you can find, that had a very bad religious experience about a year ago. The church he had been a very active member had been pastored by a very clever sociopath. The damage this guy caused will take years to repair. Anyway I could still see the wounds in my friend and he and his wife are trying to put themselves back together emotionally. His faith in God hasn’t been shaken, which is good.
    It’s not that easy to get over spiritual abuse, mental manipulation and the conclusion you have been deceived. As Christians, especially those who live in areas where there are a lot of LDS, we can help by providing some sort of support for those who are leaving.

  7. historybuff says:

    Mike —

    One of your first statements was, “First, what I’ve discovered – and what surprised me – is that ultimately the LDS religion is not about truth; it’s about community.”

    That is an absolute truth. I have known many, many LDS who consider truth to be irrelevant. In fact, they will actively avoid any discussion of truth out of fear that it might somehow persuade them to abandon the LDS Church. And abandoning the Church would be a suicidal act for many Mormons, especially in LDS communities, because it would mean cutting oneself off from spouse, family, friends, business associates, even employers.

    One key to dealing with Mormons is to somehow get them to value the truth, and that is definitely not as easy as it sounds. There are a few quotes from Joseph Smith and Brigham Young about the importance of the truth, but those are easily rationalized away once a Mormon starts thinking about how his/her life will unravel once he discusses the matter with his/her spouse.

    Still, truth is the best antidote for Mormonism. It can be a bitter medicine at first, but in the long run it’s the best medicine.

  8. falcon says:

    buff
    It’s sort of like, “I don’t care if it’s true. I like the way it makes me feel.”
    Boy, how many people have gone down that road in various endeavors of life and ended-up on a scrap heap or in a ditch along side of a road (metaphorically speaking). It could be with a relationship or mood altering substances, a get rich quick scheme, or spending money one doesn’t have on an item because it produces a buzz. I know a woman who was basically addicted to buying products on line because of how it made her feel. We’re heavily into the political election season and how many people place all of their hopes, dreams and aspirations on a candidate for office?
    For LDS, contemplating leaving the sect; I suppose it would be much more difficult for someone raised in the program rather than a convert. A convert has had experience outside of the LDS community. They know the reality of having friends, family and a community not connected to the LDS sect. But if the LDS experience is all a person has, they are locked in emotionally.

  9. Mike R says:

    Mike ,
    You made some observations about Mormonism that are important to remember and which can help
    those ministering to LDS . Historybuff , being an ex-Mormon has also reminded us of some of these same things .

    I personally have been intrigued by the Mormon people for a long time , and I spent a lot of money on Mormon books , talking with many Mormon Missionaries . This was before the Internet was created .
    I spent several years studying Mormon doctrine , talking with Mormons ( corresponded with Mormon apostle LeGrand Richards ) , and as a result became thoroughly convinced that Mormonism was a false prophet led organization ( in the same class as Jw’s ) . I also became convinced that the vast majority of Mormons were decent sincere people striving to serve God .
    So it breaks my heart to see people like them fulfilling the very reason why Jesus pre-warned everyone about being aware of latter days false prophets — Matt 24:11 .

    Thank fully there have been ministries like MRM arise to help LDS know about the predicament they’re in by following their leaders ( Matt 24:11) but also to inform Christians about Mormonism so as to not be fooled but also to reach out to the Mormon people in love and respect with the true gospel of salvation .

  10. mturnlund says:

    Historybuff,

    You’re absolutely right. I’m personally amazed at how non-intellectual is Mormon engagement in regards to the discussion of LDS Church teaching vs. historical Christianity. Most Mormons simply don’t want to go there. This tells me that many (most?) Mormons are uncomfortable about the uncertainties of their church doctrine so they bury their heads in the certainties of their community. Still, I’m reminded of Luke 14:26 “If anyone comes to me and odoes not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, pyes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple.”

    But that is a difficult bridge to cross for many folks.

  11. mturnlund says:

    Hey Mike R,
    I see Satan’s hand here. It seems that the LDS Church has so convinced is members of the waywardness of orthodox Christians and the Christian churches, that too often when they do become sufficiently disillusioned to actually leave Mormonism they don’t attend other churches, they go down the path of atheism or agnosticism. Not always, but too often. Yes, I’m thankful for MRM and their work.

    I’d be curious to know how fruitful their ministry has been. How about it Sharon? Any numbers?

  12. falcon says:

    I often wonder how many LDS are led to faith in Christ by the personal witness of a Christian. What I’m talking about is an LDS praying to receive Christ as a result of someone sharing the gospel with them. I’m afraid it’s more complex than that. There are many layers to peel back when it comes to recognizing what Mormonism is and how a person can receive the gift of eternal life that God is offering apart from this religious sect.
    There seems to be a pattern for those who leave Mormonism. It takes time and diligent study to examine the problems associated with this sect. I’ve often observed that husbands and wives seem to go at this separately many times without knowing what each other are up to. It’s funny, but when I started being involved with apologetics, all I thought a person would have to do is point out the obvious to an LDS and he/she would get it.
    It doesn’t work that way.

  13. falcon says:

    I was just watching a recent interview on “ExMormon Files” with Earl Erskine (on YouTube). The person being interviewed was saying that the response by some very intelligent members he knew was that their “testimony” was of the LDS organization. In-other-words, these folks recognized all of the problems associated with Mormon history, doctrine and practice, but liked the club.
    These folks obviously haven’t looked too seriously into how someone obtains eternal life. I know enough about the average LDS member to be able to conclude that they don’t think there is any difference between the Mormon “gods” and God. They don’t see a difference between the Mormon Jesus and the Jesus revealed in the Bible.
    It is a big deal. In order to make the perfect sacrifice for the sins of mankind, the (sacrifice) had to qualify. The Mormon Jesus, who is a created being, not God incarnate, doesn’t qualify.

  14. mturnlund says:

    Hi Falcon,
    I agree. There is only one Jesus and he has to be whom he says he is (the incarnate God) or his sacrifice is insufficient. A man can only die for his own sins; God can die for all peoples’ sins. That is one reason the Bible makes sense: it is God’s reveal word, but you see how reasonable and coherent that it is. But it seems to me that many Mormons don’t “do down that path,” In other words, they don’t test the coherency of LDS doctrines when they encounter inconsistencies with historical Christianity. At least no overtly. You’re right, belonging to the “club” is important. It is the most important thing. After all, how could all these wonderful people a typical Mormon meets at his or her ward or stake house be wrong? How can grandma be wrong? Just believe!

    But for many that only works for so long. The internet allows curious questioning Mormons to get the facts that they can not get from their church. That is why I described the current state of affairs in the LDS Church an existential crisis. When some of the best and brightest start to question and leave, others will too. But the question is, will they find the authentic Jesus?

  15. falcon says:

    I found it sort of shocking, as reported by the Salt Lake Tribune, the number of young men in Utah dumping the program. Actually, it was about the difficulty young women have in finding a qualified LDS man to marry. They talked to one young women who said that going to “singles” activities or wards was a waste of time because the demographic was a lot more women looking for less and less men.
    But the interesting thing was that the competition for men was so great that the guys wouldn’t connect with an “8” because a “9” or “10” might come along. That’s not only a social problem but a spiritual problem for a woman who wants a forever family and to be a goddess. But then think about what the single women are told. The Mormon god won’t abandon them in eternity but will make provision for them to be a plural wife out there in the Celestial Kingdom.
    Something like this could be the impetus for a woman to begin asking some questions and looking into the facts regarding the religion they are devoted to. And here’s another thing. I believe that the LDS are sincere and devoted folks when it comes to their religion and their god. They pray to “heavenly father” and see him much like they see their biological fathers. They get feelings. The feelings provide their connection to “god”. Then they find out this “heavenly father” is a manufactured fantasy. Talk about getting jilted.
    If these LDS folks can transition into faith in God and the Lord Jesus Christ, then they have a spiritual bridge to get themselves over the chasm of anger, disappointment and fear.

  16. historybuff says:

    I was just talking the other day with an LDS man who was having serious doubts. Polygamy, polyandry, Joseph Smith and 14-year-old girls (at least two of them), the Book of Abraham, “lying for the Lord”, the usual reasons.

    He said he had a surefire way to resolve the problem: he would live the Mormon gospel completely for two months and then see how he felt. How he “felt”… So he did. He went to all his meetings, and there are plenty of those. He prayed, he accepted a church calling, he bore his testimony.

    This last one is interesting. Mormons are instructed to bear their testimony of the truth of the gospel especially if they don’t have a testimony. I kid you not. They are told that if they bear their testimony of the gospel enough, they will eventually believe it. Of course they will: Political parties down through the ages discovered that psychological fact and used it to their advantage. I won’t mention which political parties I’m thinking of, because that sounds too harsh, but ponder a minute about guys with bushy mustaches…

    So he paid a full tithing, repeated the mantra, thought only good thoughts, repressed all doubts, and after two months he said he felt much better and happier. He said that was his answer from God, and now he only thinks good thoughts, keeps busy in the Church, and bears his testimony often. Problem solved. It’s kind of sad: He was following the same program a drug addict follows but he doesn’t know it. He just replaced heroin with Mormonism.

    By the way, I mentioned that Mormons are trained to bear their testimony especially if they don’t have one. I realize that’s difficult for reasonable people to believe, so here’s the proof for any who care to look. They actually do teach it:
    L. Whitney Clayton, “Choose to Believe,” Ensign or Liahona, May 2015, 36–39
    Jeffrey R. Holland, “Lord, I Believe,” Ensign or Liahona, May 2013, 93–95
    https://www.lds.org/youth/learn/ss/self-reliance/overcome?lang=eng

    Or this:

    “President Boyd K. Packer, President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, said: “It is not unusual to have a missionary say, ‘How can I bear testimony until I get one? How can I testify that God lives, that Jesus is the Christ, and that the gospel is true? If I do not have such a testimony, would that not be dishonest?’ “Oh, if I could teach you this one principle: a testimony is to be found in the bearing of it!”
    https://www.lds.org/youth/article/questions-about-bearing-your-testimony?lang=eng#4

    My colleague who “chose to believe” is very happy now. He reminds me of a “Stepford wife”, but he is happy. Some LDS will do just about anything to stay in the club, including drugs, which explains Utah’s tremendously high rate of prescription drug abuse and other associated problems.
    Utah is the most stressed out state in the United States. http://www.gallup.com/poll/147767/hawaiians-least-stressed-residents-utah.aspx
    Utah has the most use of anti-depressants in the United States. http://articles.latimes.com/2002/feb/20/news/mn-28924
    Utah has an extraordinarily high suicide rate.
    http://www.standard.net/Preventing-Teen-Suicide/2015/02/14/Too-many-young-lives-lost-to-suicide-Utah-ranks-fifth-in-nation

    All we can really do is make the truth available to them and pray they will seek it out. After that, we can pray they will come to Christ rather than rejecting all religion.

  17. falcon says:

    The LDS do seem to run about with their collective hair on fire if someone leaves the “community”. It’s like rejection going both ways. So it is a fair question to ask regarding whether or not a person leaves because they are fed-up with the community or the religion? Perhaps it’s some of both. There are those who leave because they are just not into the LDS culture. The features of this culture are well documented and so I can see why someone would want to get free from it. But there is a particular form of thinking that permeates LDS style Mormonism.

    “It may come as a surprise to many Latter-day Saints, but Mormonism psychologically wounds people with its fear-, guilt-, and shame-inducing teachings and beliefs. Unfortunately, the core message of Mormonism is a fearful one: Obey or the quality of your mortal life will suffer and you will suffer for eternity because you were not faithful to the teachings of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints during your mortal probation.”

    “Many Latter-day Saints do not trust their mind, at least not fully. Why? Because of how they’ve been psychologically conditioned by Mormonism. Mormonism ‘programs’ Latter-day Saints to mentally flee from, trivialize, and condemn facts/truths/realities that do not support the LDS Church’s doctrines, teachings, and foundational claims. When confronted by faith-disrupting facts, Mormons have a choice: Either they acknowledge the facts and question and doubt what they’ve been taught, or they ignore or trivialize the facts that conflict with their religious faith.”

    “The psychological result of doing the latter is developing a reputation with one’s mind that the individual (you?) cannot fully trust it. If a person won’t allow their mind to acknowledge and accept facts/realities that conflict with church teachings and widely-held Mormon beliefs, the individual ends up experiencing/feeling a lack of confidence in their mind, its cognitive processes (e.g., their critical and rational thinking), and the judgments and conclusions that their mind produces. Religious people who do not fully trust their mind typically become psychologically dependent on authority figures (parents, church leaders, etc.) to tell them what is true, right, the will of God, how they should behave, etc. ”
    http://www.blairwatsontribute.net/Psychological/Effects_of_Mormonism.html

  18. Ralph says:

    Mike,

    Your comment the Book of Abraham – even Mormon scholars admit that this canon text is nothing more than an Egyptian funeral text.” and referring to the publication on the Church website is wrong. If you read the publication, this is what they actually said Only small fragments of the long papyrus scrolls once in Joseph Smith’s possession exist today. The relationship between those fragments and the text we have today is largely a matter of conjecture.” The LDS scholars agree that what is in existence can be part of an Egyptian funerary text, however, it mentions that even this is debated by the experts (though there is not unanimity, even among non-Mormon scholars, about the proper interpretation of the vignettes on these fragments”). So you misrepresented the opinion of the LDS Church in this article – it still holds that the BoA was found in the papyri that JS had, but is not found in the small fragments that are left in existence today.

    My thoughts are – fact is, we have at the most one eighth to one tenth (this is realistic, some people conjecture we have less than this) of what JS had in his possession. This is not enough to say that his interpretation of the text was wrong and there was no BoA written within the papyri in his possession.

    Don’t get me started on DNA and the BoM. Any rational person would see that those arguments also prove the Bible false.

  19. mturnlund says:

    Hi Ralph,
    I appreciate your thoughts and taking the time to share.
    Your reasoning betrays you as an LDS member. How so? Because the pat Mormon position is to always argue from an appeal to ignorance. That is, a statement is true because it cannot be proven false. And this was employed three times, once in reference to the formal church position on the Book of Abraham, “Only small fragments of the long papyrus scrolls once in Joseph Smith’s possession exist today. The relationship between those fragments and the text we have today is largely a matter of conjecture;” 2) “fact is, we have at the most one eighth to one tenth (this is realistic, some people conjecture we have less than this) of what JS had in his possession;” and 3) “Any rational person would see that those arguments also prove the Bible false.” All three of these statements are logical fallacies.

    First, the LDS Church has been all over the map in regards to the Book of Abraham. I quoted the reference because it is a magnificent study in obfuscation. Magnificent! Second, your statement simply a supposition. The Book of Abraham is nothing more than an Egyptian funeral text and its origins are well known. You can argue what you want and restate the “party position,” but it doesn’t change the facts. And many, many Mormons know this — and they leave the church. Third, any rational person can see that you cannot prove the Bible false through DNA.. The Bible never claims that American Indians are descended from the “lost” 10 tribes of Israel.

    Sorry Ralph, but your statements hold neither water nor logic.

  20. historybuff says:

    Ralph –

    You have a valid point when you say that most of the original Book of Abraham papyrus is not in the Church’s hands so nobody can check all of it against the translation by Joseph Smith.

    However, look closely at the Facsimiles. Each one of them has the text from the papyrus paired with Joseph Smith’s translation. With the Facsimiles, it’s easy to compare the papyrus with the translation and see that Joseph’s translation was completely erroneous.

    And worse, check out Figure 7 in Facsimile 2. It’s upside down in the Facsimile so you’ll have to look carefully. Joseph Smith describes it as –

    “Represents God sitting upon his throne, revealing through the heavens the grand Key-words of the Priesthood; as, also, the sign of the Holy Ghost unto Abraham, in the form of a dove.”
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Book_of_Abraham

    Now, remember: this is in canonized LDS scripture.

    If you look carefully at Joseph’s drawing of the papyrus at Figure 7 of Facsimile 2, “God sitting upon his throne”, you’ll see that Joseph has portrayed Elohim as having an erect phallus. Some of the less charitable among us – perhaps yourself included — might consider that blasphemy.

  21. Mike R says:

    mturnlund,
    Yes Ralph is a Mormon . he’s been a long time guest here on Mormon coffee , though in recent months he’s been absent . His job keeps him busy down under ( Australia ) .

    Ralph,

    It appears you have’nt dismissed your leaders from your life yet , and traded their counterfeit gospel for the true one Jesus’ apostles preached . We will keep praying for you to make that liberating step soon . Meanwhile I hope your family is well and that all of you are having a joyful holiday season .

  22. falcon says:

    WOW!!!! The return of Ralph. Buddy have I missed you.

    Now you posters who weren’t around during the hay day of Ralph must know that what we love about Ralph is that he is an uber true believer in Mormonism. Dig back into the MC archives and you will be able to get a sample of what Ralph has offered over the years. I know Ralph hates this when I bring it up, but in response to my query as to his faithfulness to the prophet if he would kill or steal upon being directed by this LDS leader, said yes in deed he would. Ralph confirmed that he would in latter posts but qualified his response by saying the prophet would have to order him directly, face-to-face so to speak, and not through other means say, e mail.

    So why do I bring this up? Well as in a court of law it goes to “state of mind”. It digs down into motive and Ralph’s demonstrating this rather unique form of thought process and logic that is so prevalent in those who have embraced Joseph Smith’s religion. No one could ever doubt Ralph’s devotion or sincerity when it comes to his commitment. It’s fueled and sustained by spiritual experiences he feels he has had. All of the evidence in the world is not sufficient in order to break through to Ralph’s inner spirit. That’s something only God can do.

    I’ve prayed fervently for Ralph and his family. He’s really a nice guy who will accept just about any explanation in order to maintain his “faith”. As always, I pause today to ask God to influence Ralph through the Holy Spirit that (Ralph) will come to a saving knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

  23. falcon says:

    Those of you who get to encounter real live Mormons in their element on a daily basis have no doubt run into “Ralphs”. It just blew my hair back the first time I encountered this “type” of Mormon here on MC. We use to get them showing-up in droves in the good old days. It was a real head shaking experience for me during these initial encounters. But it was all very helpful to me in getting into the mind of the true believing Mormon. I came to the conclusion that it’s the emotional hook of the supposed spiritual experiences that drives and sustains the true believer in Mormonism.
    Watchman Nee wrote a book called “The Latent Power of the Soul”. In his book he draws a distinction between spiritual experience that come from God and those which are produced within the soul of man. Of course there are also those spiritual experiences that come from the enemy and we are reminded in God’s Word about Satan disguising himself as an angel of light.
    But here’s the thing, when the Spirit of God comes upon a true believing Mormon, no amount of faux spiritual experiences or connection to the community can withstand God’s conviction. How do I know this? Well I’ve watched endless videos of former faithful true believing Mormons who literally got their minds and spirits flipped by God’s miraculous intervention.
    Ralph has had the opportunity to hear the Gospel of Jesus Christ presented and the false religion of Mormonism exposed as he’s interacted here on MC. Mormonism is a spirit and this is a spiritual battle. I remember clearly how God, through His Holy Spirit, led me to the Lord Jesus Christ where my salvation was secured through faith in what He had done for me. I didn’t put my faith in a religious system but in the Person and work of Our Lord, the Savior.
    I do carry a burden for Ralph and sometimes I almost ache for folks like him. They sincerely believe they have the truth and that’s the power of the spiritual deception. May God, through the power of His Holy Spirit move upon Ralph to break the power of this spiritual force that entangles him.

  24. historybuff says:

    Just a quick word to Ralph if I might —

    Ralph —

    I’m new to this blog and new to traditional Christianity, so I’m speaking partly out of ignorance. It just seems to me, though, that with all we actually know about LDS history, we can all confirm a few basic facts.

    First, the Mormon Church definitely has many elements of truth in it, including its strong emphasis on family, its doctrines on health and on a personal God, and many more.

    Second, most reasonable men would agree that LDS prophets have made some serious mistakes. For example, I think we would all agree that Brigham Young made some doctrinal mistakes even when he was declaring that what he was saying was scripture. I also think we can conclude that Joseph Smith made some doctrinal mistakes, too, especially when he declared as scripture in the D&C that he was not practicing polygamy, and when he incorrectly labeled the Facsimiles in the Book of Abraham.

    If this second conclusion is correct, and I think you might agree that it is, then individual members of the Church are faced with a choice: they can either blindly accept Mormonism, while knowing in their hearts that some of it is wrong; or they can resolve to use their spirit of discernment
    https://www.lds.org/scriptures/gs/discernment-gift-of
    to discern which doctrines are correct and which are incorrect. The first option, blind obedience to someone who may be wrong, is imprudent and goes against God. John 8: 32 The second option, testing the prophet’s teachings, while judicious and helpful, compels one to accept the fact that LDS prophets make serious mistakes from time to time and that we cannot rely on them for absolute truth.

    The problem arises if one decides, wisely, to test the LDS prophets’ teachings while knowing that they have made serious mistakes in the past. It’s a problem because LDS prophets have counseled us that they do not make doctrinal mistakes. “The prophet will never lead the Church astray.”
    https://www.lds.org/liahona/1981/06/fourteen-fundamentals-in-following-the-prophet?lang=eng

    Right there we are faced with an impossible situation: If we are to obey God and seek the truth, then we must disobey his LDS prophets who have instructed us that they do not make mistakes. Do you want to live in that kind of state of uncertainty? Do you think God wants that?

  25. Ralph says:

    mturnlund,
    You say – ”The Bible never claims that American Indians are descended from the “lost” 10 tribes of Israel.”

    I know, but it does claim that everyone on this whole earth comes from 2 people – Adam and Eve. So to an extent it claims that the Amerindians are cousins to the Israelites if not siblings.

    Now for this we need to establish some ground rules so we are on an even footing.

    1) You are using scientific evidence about genetics and mutation family trees so these must concur with the Bible if you want to use them against the BoM.

    2) Any proof must be from proper scientific research in peer reviewed journals, not off the internet from somebody’s personal ‘research’ or scientific theories whether they are or not peer reviewed or sanctioned (eg, a faster than normal mutation rate that some Christian scientists are trying to claim).

    3) Anything from the Bible must be plain and clear to anyone and not of any individual denomination’s interpretation (including LDS from my side).

    Any other stipulations you want to put in here?

    From the Bible we know that death came to the human race through The Fall of Adam and Eve; ie before then nobody died. This means that any fossil record about humans must be no older than this.

    From the Bible we read that Adam was 109 years old post Fall when Seth was born (Genesis 5:3), and if we follow the ages throughout the Bible we find that The Fall occurred about 4000 years before Jesus Christ was born; thus about 6000 years ago. So any human fossils CANNOT be more than 6000 years old according to the Bible. Already you can see science and archaeology do not concur with the Bible.

    But shall we go on? In most research papers I have seen, scientists state that the last major somatic DNA (ie genetic DNA including the Y-chromosome) mutation to form a major distinction between groups in the human race (ie negroid, asian, caucasian, etc) occurred between 50,000 and 100,000 years ago, while the mitochondrial DNA underwent its last major mutation between 15,000 and 28,000 years ago. If this is the case, and the Bible states that the human race originated about 6,000 years ago with Adam and Eve, then why do we have the different races and markers? The time frame in the Bible is too short and does not fit the scientific evidence. So your arguments about the use of genetic markers disagreeing with the BoM also does not fit the Bible.

    Scientists also agree, tracing the mitochondrial DNA ‘family tree’ back that there was one female human progenitor who lived about 200,000 years ago towards lower Africa. They state that although they can prove from their studies that it was only one female as the originator, they do not know how many male partners she had or if all her offspring were ‘human’. The Bible again states that Eve lived about 6,000 years ago and in the region of Ethiopia and the Arabic Peninsula, she only had one partner and all of her offspring were human (as most Christians believe). Again, a discrepancy between scientific data and the Bible. (I will need to go through my files to find these papers if you want me to reference them, or I will just look up others.)

    Finally in The Scientific American July 2008, it discusses the science and archaeology of the major migrations around the world and the last ones to America were roughly 15000-18000 years ago. Now I have placed this in as I don’t know if you believe that Adam and Eve had children before The Fall. If you did then this can be a moot point as we wouldn’t know how many people were on the earth and for how long and if they migrated out of The Garden of Eden. But the Bible does not mention anyone else on this earth until after The Fall, so I don’t believe (and the LDS church teaches) that there were none.

    Historybuff,

    You said – “However, look closely at the Facsimiles. Each one of them has the text from the papyrus paired with Joseph Smith’s translation.”

    The only facsimile that we have any portion of from the original JS papyri is figure 1. The other 2 figures have not been recovered so the only way people are coming up with what facsimile 2 and 3 look like is comparing what we have in the BoA to other similar pictures. So we have no text and no facsimile for number 2 and 3 to compare as you have written.

  26. falcon says:

    Ralph,
    Can I bottom line this for you?
    We can debate these topics with you endlessly but in reality, we’re doing you a disservice. The Gospel is revealed in God’s Word the Bible. There is nothing for you to earn via the LDS system of Mormonism.
    I would suggest you open the Bible and your heart to what God has revealed regarding his plan of salvation for mankind.
    I will continue to be in prayer for you and your family. May God reveal Himself to you and bring you and your family to eternal life through Christ Jesus Our Lord.

  27. historybuff says:

    Ralph —

    I really don’t know how to respond. I’ll try to make this as simple as possible.

    1. Joseph Smith drew a copy of Facsimiles 1 to 3 and put them in the Book of Abraham, so we DO know what all the papyrus Facsimiles looked like.

    2. None of those Facsimiles match the translations given by Joseph Smith adjacent to those Facsimiles.

    3. In Facsimile 3, Joseph Smith portrayed God (Elohim) with an erection.

    Please tell me how I am mistaken.

  28. historybuff says:

    Ralph –
    Concerning your assertions on the accuracy of the Bible genealogies and timelines, please remember that not all Christians believe mankind to be just 6,000 years old, nor do all of us believe the Bible timelines to be precise. The scientific data you quoted may very well prove correct.

    Concerning Biblical inerrancy, it is my personal belief that we cannot presume the Bible to be literally inerrant, and many Christians would agree. If we claim the Bible to be inerrant then we must explain how God would wager with Satan over Job’s faithfulness, or how “the sun stood still, and the moon stopped” rotating around the Earth for a full day (Joshua 10:12-14). Or we would need to explain whether the infant Jesus was taken to Egypt (Matthew 2: 14-23) or not (Luke 2: 22, 39). Or whether both thieves on the cross reviled Jesus (Matthew 27:44; Mark 15:32), or just one of them did (Luke 23:39-40). Nor should it adversely affect our faith in Christ if the Bible is ambiguous about whether He was to spend two days (Mark 15:42-46) or three days (Matthew 12:40) in the tomb. Simply calling these inconsistencies “metaphors” is absurd.

    And then there are the UNICORNS Unicorns are mentioned in the King James Version of the Bible 9 times, in 5 different books, by at least 5 different authors: by Moses, David, Isaiah, and even Solomon or God himself in the book of Job. These are the verses that mention unicorns:
    • Numbers 23:22 “God brought them out of Egypt; he hath as it were the strength of an unicorn.”
    • Numbers 24:8 “God brought him forth out of Egypt; he hath as it were the strength of an unicorn: he shall eat up the nations his enemies, and shall break their bones, and pierce them through with his arrows.”
    • Job 39:9 “Will the unicorn be willing to serve thee, or abide by thy crib?”
    • Job 39:10 “Canst thou bind the unicorn with his band in the furrow? or will he harrow the valleys after thee?”
    • Psalms 29:6 “He maketh them also to skip like a calf; Lebanon and Sirion like a young unicorn.”
    • Psalm 92:10 “But my horn shalt thou exalt like the horn of an unicorn: I shall be anointed with fresh oil.”
    • Deuteronomy 33:17 “His glory is like the firstling of his bullock, and his horns are like the horns of unicorns: with them he shall push the people together to the ends of the earth: and they are the ten thousands of Ephraim, and they are the thousands of Manasseh.”
    • Psalms 22:21 “Save me from the lion’s mouth: for thou hast heard me from the horns of the unicorns.”
    • Isaiah 34:7 “And the unicorns shall come down with them, and the bullocks with the bulls; and their land shall be soaked with blood, and their dust made fat with fatness.”
    http://biblehub.com/psalms/29-6.htm
    https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Isaiah+34%3A7&version=KJV
    https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Job+39%3A9&version=KJV

    (Your version of the Bible may refer to these unicorns as oxen, which only highlights the variations between translations.)

    So you definitely have a point when arguing with people who believe in the inerrancy of the Bible. Remember, though, that proving that the Bible contains errors does not prove that the Book of Mormon is correct.

  29. falcon says:

    Buff
    You hit on a very important point and that is, “Who did Joseph Smith reveal as the Mormon god?” The Mormon god is the Egyptian fertility god depicted sitting on a throne with an erection. So that’s what Joseph Smith thought of the Mormon heavenly father. Isn’t that about as demeaning as it gets? Truth be told, Smith was working on mysteries without any clues. This Mormon god has a name. It’s Min. So the Mormon god is the Egyptian fertility god Min. The whole thing is disgusting.
    But let me tell you something. I’ve witnessed Ralph defend and deflect for a long time. This is what Mormonism does to those who embrace the false prophet Smith. It reminds me of the stories drug and/or alcohol addicted people tell themselves. There is no end to the rationalization that is done.

  30. historybuff says:

    Ralph seems to be having a lot of fun playing word games and flashing historical and scientific facts that may be correct but are somehow irrelevant to the question being discussed. Someone should explain to him that life is not a game of “Gotcha”. The purpose of this life is to search for the truth about God, not to turn it into a game. We’re looking for truth, not gaming points, not credits for using wordplay or irrelevant factoids to deflect important questions.

    It’s a simple choice, really: games or truth. But it’s a deadly serious choice, as Joshua suggested:
    “Choose ye this day…”
    Joshua 24: 15

  31. makeitshine says:

    Ralph.
    Historybuff is so right. MOST Christians are not Bible literalists. We also don’t believe in any sort of automatic Holy Spirit dictating word for word scripture as do Mormons because that is what Joseph was doing when he was “translating” and also he believed God was speaking to him in this way through his rock by divination.

    The prophets were illumined by the Holy Spirit and used the language and science of their times to convey spiritual truths. Therefore it doesn’t matter how old the earth is or whether or not the fossils are 200,000 years old or people evolved or came from 2 initial beings named Adam and Eve. (which is more of a mormon idea) None of those things mean the Bible is less true because the Bible is not presenting itself as a science book nor does the Church teach it as one. (though there are some literalists out there with these ideas) Biblical numbers are symbolic anyways and that is how the Jews and most Christians today understand them. The story of Adam and Eve I believe is more of a temple narrative and not the story of the science of the creation of this fallen world. What good would it have done for Moses to start talking about quantum physics? He wouldn’t have had the language for it even if he wanted to. There is a HUGE problem with literalism and I don’t believe it’s something that even existed until fairly recently.

    Also we do have evidence for real historical events of the Bible, not to mention the Israelites were an actual people who kept their own records of their history and passed them down. It is a genuine sacred tradition. How much of it ACTUALLY happened the way it says is of no consequence to me because some of the stories are actually about Christ and not historical events. Mormonism isn’t a sacred tradition, it starts and ends with Joseph Smiths claims.

    Now you can also say that the Book of Mormon and the Book of Abraham is ONLY teaching spiritual truth since there is no evidence that anything in them actually happened. Sure I could accept that and did go through a phase where I thought this could possibly be true. Now the LDSChurch and Joseph himself did not present these things as simply spiritual truths so that is a problem, but I suppose I am probably one of the most open minded people on here. However when the LDS claims to be the true Christianity that was lost and there is overwhelming evidence against this and no evidence for it, then we have a problem. There is also a pretty big problem with the “spiritual truths” being presented by Joseph vs ancient Christianity mainly that Josephs god the father IS just like the god Min in the BOA. A being among beings, and Mormons don’t understand why Christians call them pagans.

    Mormonism teaches things about Christianity that most Christians don’t even believe to keep their members thinking that Christianity and the Bible has some of the same “problems” as mormonism and the Book of Mormon from an apologetic standpoint. Mormonism and Joseph have so so so many problems. This was one of the first things I discovered as I started learning about the Ancient Church. So much of what I thought that most Christians believed just simply wasn’t even true. It’s so much work trying to defend Joseph and Mormonism (because you can’t), but when I started studying ancient Christianity, the church fathers and the Bible, it came to its own defense.

  32. historybuff says:

    If Ralph will give it a chance, he will discover that Shakespeare was right:

    “Truth will out.” — Shakespeare, The Merchant of Venice

  33. Ralph says:

    Wow, this says a lot. Many of you believe the Bible to be more allegorical including the creation, even though Jesus and His apostles believed in and taught it. Even though there are exact years and generations indicated in the Bible from Adam to Jesus (again from His apostles as well as prophets). Even though it is taught that through Adam death came to the human race (1 Cor 15:22). These are just stories or guesstimates made up for a lesson in something.

    OK, thanks.

  34. Mike R says:

    As one of the “old timers ” on here ( falcon has me beat ) I would like to say a couple of things . First, concerning the DNA evidence issue with the Book of Mormon , this involves some deep reading which I for one can not do at this time . MRM has some info on this .
    Second , the way that Mormon leaders have handled the Book of Abraham issue since 1967 when Joseph Smith’s collection of the papyri surfaced and was given to the Church has been fickle . In no way could I trust their alibi’s for defending the Book of Abraham as being holy scripture from the God of Israel .
    Third, those of us who know Ralph can count on him to deflect from Mormonism’s claims of authority over to an attack on the Bible’s trustworthiness . This is a common strategy with him . It gets old .

    I need to mention that it is extremely important to articulate well what we may say about the Bible containing ” errors ” . Otherwise we can cause someone to hold the Bible at arm’s length and not embrace it as God’s message to man which contains the truth about our Creator , the Savior of mankind, how to be reconciled to Him , and after death be allowed to live with Him in His home
    above forever .
    If we’re not careful we might cause a person listening to us to come away with the same ideas or worse about the Bible which Ralph displayed in his last post , ( Although Ralph to often loves to exaggerate anything we say if he can in order to use it to his advantage . )

    This thread has the makings of that type of rabbit trail which Ralph is well known for .

  35. makeitshine says:

    No Ralph, I am not saying the Bible is “mostly” allegorical but it does contain some allegory, some history, some poetry and TONS of symbolism which Mormons do not learn about or teach. Joseph started learning Hebrew and thought he knew better than anyone before him what the Bible meant including the people who wrote it!

    The Book of Mormon and Abraham came from 1 man as far as anyone can prove (or possibly a combination of him and his closests confidants). Now you can believe Josephs claims that they were written by ancient people, but where is there any evidence FOR this. I know there is tons against it. This is why the necessity for the “spiritual witness” -aka openining yourself up to possible delusion by asking for signs as any monastic will tell you. They were not written by preserved by and passed down by a body of people as was the Bible. The Bible is the Churches book to be interpreted by the Church, within the church, as necessary for the Salvation of its members. If you want to believe what Joseph claims about his books you are putting all your faith in 1 MAN (who doesn’t have the best reputation for honesty)

    I would suggest doing some deeper digging about what scripture is and how it comes about. Its not safe or healthy to let one group of people tell you how to think.

    Here is a good place to start and below the link I posted a little from it addressing paradise and Adam and Eve –

    http://www.greekorthodox.org.au/general/resources/publications/articledetails.php?page=177&article_id=13

    “Paradise

    The mythopoeic allegory of the Garden of Eden reveals both God’s intention for humanity, and explains why that intention has been thwarted. The allegory tells us that God created humanity in His own image and likeness. But as the Fathers teach, while the image cannot be obliterated by sin, the likeness, the beauty of spiritual perfection, is something that is only achieved through baptism and the life in Christ. Moreover, its realisation involves ascetic struggle. According to the Genesis narrative, God’s intention for humanity is plain. We should live in perpetual communion with Him, and we should desire freely to choose the good, as Anselm, Archbishop of Canterbury (c.1033-1109) put it, just because it is the good (a pretty good characterisation of what it means to enjoy perfect freedom through servitude to Christ).

    Paradise, depicted as a state of blessedness in which human beings dwell in harmony not only with God and their fellow human beings but with the whole creation, is achievable only through the Paschal Mystery of Christ. Paradise is to come, yet it is already realised in Christ in the Church. But this Paradiseto- come, but which now is, is not equatable with the primeval state of humanity. Rousseau’s noble savage never existed.

    Adam as every human being

    Before the creation of Eve, within the allegory, Adam exemplifies the fullness and integration of humanity per se – remember St Paul’s, in Christ there is neither male nor female (Galations 3:28). For a fleeting moment, Adam is revealed as archetypal humanity as God intended us to be. But it is an indistinct foreshadowing of the incarnation, when Christ, the prototype of humanity in all its perfection, became flesh. Christ is the New Adam who will redeem the Old Adam of Genesis; that is, each and every one of us because Adam is not an historical person but every human being, Everyman.

    It is in this sense, not the Augustinian, that we should understand St Paul when he says “as in Adam all die…” (1 Corinthians 15:22) and “sin came into the world through one man … ” (Romans 5:12). St Paul is writing within the allegory in order to make an important theological point, not making assertions about the historicity of the narrative. Even if he did take it to be basically historical record, that is irrelevant. Further, Paul is certainly not asserting that Adam’s sin was inherited. This becomes clear from the full text of Romans 5:12: “Therefore as sin came into the world through one man and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all men sinned” (RSV). “

  36. historybuff says:

    That description of “the mythopoeic allegory of the Garden of Eden” may be a little too highbrow for the casual reader — I know it is for me — and it’s also a bit confusing. Are they saying that Adam and Eve are a fictitious parable? How about Cain and Abel, are they fictitious, too? How about the entire Book of Genesis? The Book of Job? The entire Old Testament? Is Elvis still alive?

    Sometimes we can take one fact and carry it to a non-factual extreme. This probably isn’t the right blog for existential discussions of Greek Orthodox theology or anything else that deep, and I for one have absolutely zero expertise on the subject. I’m willing to accept that the Bible contains some errors, that the Book of Job may be one big allegory, and that the Bible authors mistakenly believed in unicorns, but I’m not quite ready to take the concept too far beyond that.

  37. makeitshine says:

    oh haha sorry historybuff, not wanting to get into deep theology here, but just trying to point out that you can’t lump all Christians together as believing one literal interpretation of every biblical story so showing there are other perspectives within Christianity for any Mormons who might be interested in exploring that. I believe st. Ireneus (circa 202) read genesis this way but probably many of the Church Fathers read it as more literal. I dont believe there is any Christian Dogma on whether Adam and Eve were really 2 people so I dont think there is anything a Christian HAS to believe about them.

    I’m not posting this for discussions with the believing Christians on the board, but if its not ok to post I wont.

  38. makeitshine says:

    Wanted to add also that My dad and all my brothers have all left the mormon church and become athiest or agnostic due to thinking they needed to see the Bible as very literal and because they lumped it together as being the same kind of text as the Book of Mormon and Josephs other writings. They are very intellectual and they like science and have only been exposed to Mormonism and very very limited Christianity (learned within mormonism). They just cant swallow it. I’m was the same way until I learned there were other ways to intepret it. I also stopped believing in Santa by the time I was 4 or 5 lol. I have only talked to one of my brothers about some of my new views and he was very surprised and interested to hear some things he had never heard of before.

  39. falcon says:

    Isn’t it strange that after all of these months Ralph shows up here??
    It’s like that line out of the movie Casablanca; “Out of all of the gin joints in all of the world, why did she have to show up in mine?”
    I suppose I’m reading way too much into this but it does seem a bit strange to me. Did he get hit with a sudden rush of LDS fever and feel he had to come and spread the bad news of the restored gospel of Joseph Smith? Maybe the guy just has been too busy. But then you figure with the huge stream of LDS members quitting the organization, maybe Ralph decided to try and put his finger in the rather large hole in the dike.
    But then I think, perhaps God is tapping on the door of Ralph’s heart and is leading him here as another mile marker on the road to coming to faith in Christ? It’s hard to tell but I find it informative that most of you figured out the strategy that TBMs like Ralph use to try and win the argument that Mormonism is the real deal. Mike called it a rabbit trail. These were techniques Mormons use all the time. One of the favorite tactics is to try and establish the BoM by attacking the Bible.
    Here, again, is the bottom line. No matter how convoluted and bizarre an idea, the more those trapped in cults will embrace it.

  40. makeitshine says:

    Something is bringing him back for sure Falcon.. could it be the Holy Spirit? 🙂

    Back to the initial blog post on truth….I can’t remember where I heard this but it really stuck with me and the question and answer was regarding what is Truth. The same question Pilate asked Jesus, THE Truth incarnate stood in front of him and remained silent.

    From a spiritual perspective I would say something would be considered true if it leads us to Christ. If it leads beyond Christ or away from Christ it is not considered true. This is the most basic basis that I critique the mormon doctrine with and on this basis I can say that most of Josephs teachings are not true because they do not lead to the real Christ and god, but a false one. It’s pretty simple. I can read the book of Abraham and Pearl of Great Price and the king follett discourse and plainly see he is not preaching Christ as revealed in the Bible or ancient church as he claimed to be. I avoid most ex-LDS material and stick with mainly doctrinal/theological studies and comparisons.

    I found a good quote about truth from another article I was reading on Adam and Eve

    “In today’s culture, we tend to confuse truth with fact. If a particular event could, at least in principle, have been tape-recorded or photographed, then we consider it to be true. This, though, is a very limited understanding of “truth.” It would exclude from the realm of truth such realities as love and spiritual longing, since these cannot be empirically verified.” http://oca.org/reflections/fr.-john-breck/on-reading-the-story-of-adam-and-eve

    I will be sure to teach my children these principles as I am more concerned now with them studying science and becoming atheist than I am them becoming Mormon. I don’t study the Old testament much but what I do understand about it is that it should be interpreted Christocentrically and typologically.

  41. MistakenTestimony says:

    …Ralph…

  42. historybuff says:

    “Christocentrically and typologically” ? … “Saint Ireneus” ?

    Ouch, my teeth are starting to hurt again. You guys are way too educated for me. And what’s this about there not being a Santa Claus?!

    Well, regardless, Merry Christmas, guys!! (That’s a generic “guys”, meaning girls, too…)

  43. falcon says:

    buff
    They’re just words.

  44. historybuff says:

    Falcon —

    I’ve seen words before! I know what words look like! Those aren’t words! Those are something else! I don’t know what they are but they’re scaring me….

  45. Mike R says:

    makeitshine ,

    I am blessed to see that you have faith in Jesus , and that you as a ex Mormon have not chucked the Bible out the window and became an atheist like your brothers . I hope that one day they will come to discover that the Bible is not the source of their rejection of God , rather it is the latter days false prophets they followed who have caused them to distrust the Bible , and turn from God .
    I appreciate that in your study of the Bible you have found an anchor from which to feed your soul . I love reading God’s Word , spiritual food in abundance !

    historybuff , don’t feel left out , I too am not in a hurry to read about ” the mythopoeic allegory of the Garden of Eden ” . I’ve been a Christian for many years and while I realize that the Bible contains some allegory it’s too easy to take it to far when interpreting the Bible . For me the Bible is mostly history , the unfolding story of God’s dealing with mankind , unless the immediate context dictates otherwise .

    We should’nt assume that just because the Bible is inspired , and God’s word , that it must have been written in only one literary way . Humans are not limited in their everyday communication by using only one literary mode , why would God limit His prophets , especially in the O.T. to use one literary style in recording events ? So in the Bible we find : parables ; allegory; metaphors; similes;
    poetic ; and hyperbole used . The Bible is truly an amazing document . What’s unfortunate though is that since all these figures of speech are used in the Bible by it’s writers , that can cause a person to over use them in interpreting scripture , and as a result some rather strange doctrines can and have been created by persons who ignore the context .

    The Bible is mostly history , and Christians proclaim that their Creator stepped into this world , into history in the person of Jesus Christ . Theology is connected to a real Christ who performed some real deeds ( death on the cross — 1Pt 2:24; Heb 9:11-14 ; rising from the dead — Acts 2:22-32 ) , therefore true beliefs cannot be separated from history .

    The Bible is God’s Word and can be trusted to contain the truth about mankind and our Creator .
    There are certainly perplexing and baffling things we encounter in it ( especially the O.T. ) but there is a wonderful journey awaiting all those who want to not just know about God and His plan for mankind , but also to know God — in a personal way . Jn 20:30-31 .

  46. falcon says:

    I must admit I watch a lot of videos on YouTube of former Mormons telling their stories. What’s interesting is that Ralph has been exposed to much if not all of the information that caused these formers to leave the LDS fold and it appears not to affect his testimony in the slightest. He seems even more committed to Joseph Smith and the restored gospel than he was when he first showed up here several years ago.
    For many Mormons, knowing the evidence and still clinging to faith in Smith and the one true church is a badge of honor. In fact some will repeat the sentiment that, “I knew all of that a long time ago and it hasn’t affected my testimony one iota.” Makes me wonder. Why is that? I’ve seen Ralph try to provide explanations for things that most of us would find revolted. In particular Smith’s seduction of a couple of adolescent girls.
    I think many of the former Mormons who speak about their reasons for leaving, can relate to Ralph’s mind-set as they were where he is right now, at some time in the past. What finally cracks their testimony? Some of these folks become Christians so we can attribute the process to the enlightening influence of the Spirit of God. Others though become atheists and because of their experience in Mormonism don’t want anything to do with God.
    I’m sure Ralph is proud of his unwavering “faith”. I’ve often been reminded of what happens in some families when it’s discovered that the patriarch has been sexually abusing his own children. The thought of such abuse is so traumatic that it’s not unusual for other family members to blame the victim(s) for revealing what has taken place. They steadfastly refuse to blame or even acknowledge what the patriarch has done.
    There’s a psychological dimension to cult thinking that having not experienced it, is hard to understand.

  47. mturnlund says:

    Falcon,

    A question. Why would any Mormon visit Mormon Coffee? If they were comfortable in their faith, would it ever enter their mind to visit a site whose express purpose is to bring such people out of the lie of Mormonism and to the truth of the Biblical Jesus?

    I think that any Mormons coming here are seekers. Perhaps not defined as such in their own minds, but true nonetheless. The Spirit works in his own ways, leading unbelievers to sites such as these.

    By the way, I’ve enjoyed reading your insightful comments on Mormon Coffee. I’m fairly new to MC, but you’re an old time regular, it seems. Always enjoy reading what you have to say.

    Mike

  48. falcon says:

    mturnland
    Yes I’ve been here forever. I think I came on-board about the time MC was launched. I just found it by accident. In the early days we had a lot of Mormon posters and most came here because they liked to argue, I think, and defend the LDS religion. It was, for me, a real lesson in a certain type of Mormon. There were those who got tossed off the blog because of their incendiary rhetoric. Occasionally we’d get a “chapel” type Mormon but most were arrogant true believers.
    You were recently treated to “Ralph” who I’d say is a combination chapel Mormon and a naive true believer. Let’s face it, any member who’d go as far as Ralph said he would in devotion to the current prophet is going to need special attention from the Lord.
    Anyway, because of my time on MC I was well prepared for a couple of the MM boys when they came up my driveway last summer. They showed up due to some pretty heavy back and forth interaction I had on fb with a young Mormon who lives in my area. It was quite illuminating since I rarely if ever run into any Mormons. I was pretty exhausted by the end of it. I’ve continued to pray for the young Mormon man who was the impetus for the visit.
    I don’t know if I get official visions from the Lord but it’s happened to me a few times since I’ve been doing this; a clear picture will come into my mind with an interpretation. For this young Mormon man I saw the Tree of Life growing in his heart and it bearing fruit. The message was that he’d come to Christ and be an influence to bring other Mormons out also. So time will tell if this was a real vision from the Lord or not. I’ve had another such vision regarding Ralph.
    I think God allows these so that I don’t get discouraged.

Leave a Reply