What would be a problem?

Guest post

I often ask people of other faiths, “What would be a problem for your belief system?” It is a question that gets to the heart of the matter quickly. For many people, there is nothing that could assail their faith; for many more, they have not even thought of their faith in that way. I ask this question because many will try to assail my faith when nothing would change their minds’ about their own. This seems a bit disingenuous to me.

I once had a friend recommend the movie The Body, with Antonio Banderas. In the movie, a tomb (with a body) in Israel is found that is possibly the burial place of Jesus of Nazareth. The Roman Catholic church dispatches a priest (Banderas) to ascertain if indeed the tomb is that of Jesus. A struggle ensues between Palestinians and the Israeli government to try gain the Vatican’s support; each side wants to use the dead body of Jesus as tool to black mail the largest religious body in the world in order to gain a political advantage.

The film hits on an important point. If Jesus did not rise from the dead then all stripes of Christianity are meaningless. It doesn’t matter if the religion works for you or not, it doesn’t matter if you want it to be true, the whole thing is a fraud.

The “what would be a problem” question is an epistemological one. It shows how an individual gains and uses the knowledge he/she has. I have found that with all religious groups, and especially Mormons, it is important to nail them down to something. I must confess I am frustrated at the lengths to which I see Mormons go in order to bail out their church. It seems as though nothing – not the Book of Abraham, Adam-God, polygamy, historical problems, doctrinal inconsistencies, etc. would be a problem for Mormons. I have seen the arguments presented to defend Mormonism and if they were applied consistently – no prophet, book, or religion could be demonstrated to be untrue.

Faith must me anchored in reality or else it is not true. Merely using the word “religion” does not mean one should use an entirely different lens for understanding truth. If historical sources can demonstrate that the Jewish holocaust did indeed take place then they can demonstrate that Jesus of Nazareth claimed deity (contra the claim of Islam).

So what would be a problem for me as a Protestant? If someone could show me from the Bible and church history/tradition, that Jesus did set up a church who’s authority solely rested in its institutional structure and that God granted absolution solely through the hierarchy of this structure, then that would be a problem. Indeed, any “priesthood” in the primitive, Christian church would be a problem.

Having a faith grounded in truth means that one is open to the possibility that his/her faith is untrue. The object of our faith matters as much as the faith itself. Wanting something to be true does not make it so. A faith without truth is not true faith. What would be a problem for your faith?

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67 Responses to What would be a problem?

  1. I hope everyone takes some time to think through this. Important stuff.

    If someone could show compellingly that the body of Jesus had been found, I would no longer be a Christian. If someone could show me in a compelling way that fundamental, distinctive Mormon teachings had been systematically removed from the New Testament manuscripts, I would reconsider everything. If someone could show me that the God of Israel never intended to promote strict monotheism, I would abandon my Trinitarianism. If someone could show me that the 11 apostles only saw Jesus in a supernatural, visionary fashion, then I would no longer be a Christian, because their plain eye-witness testimony is more foundational than that of Paul’s testimony of a visionary experience.

    I find it helpful also to consider what kinds of significant things would not be a problem. If someone could show me that the translation of the Book of Mormon was indeed a supernatural process, I wouldn’t necessarily become a Mormon, because it would beg the question of which supernatural kingdom was directly at work. If someone could find conclusive evidence to support a significant historicity of the Book of Mormon, I wouldn’t necessarily become a Mormon, because it would still beg the question of whether the book is inspired of God or of Satan. If someone could show me that supernatural beings clothed in splendor visited Joseph Smith in the Grove, I wouldn’t necessarily become a Mormon, because it would beg the question of whether those were Satanic beings.

    David, I hope your post sparks some deep reflection. Thanks for posting it. The only possible disagreement I have with you is how much of a deal-breaker early church history should play. If someone could demonstrate that first-century Gentile Christians exercised what they thought was the Aaronic or ordained Melchizedek priesthood then it wouldn’t necessarily be a deal-breaker for me, because it would beg the question of whether such early Christians were being obedient to inspired commandments. As a parallel, you can find a lot of archaeological evidence showing Hebrews worshiped pagan idols and false gods, but that doesn’t mean they were obeying the revelation of Yahweh.

    Grace and peace in Christ,


  2. mrgermit says:

    DavidAARON well thought out piece……

    DAvid wrote:
    So what would be a problem for me as a Protestant? If someone could show me from the Bible and church history/tradition, that Jesus did set up a church who’s authority solely rested in its institutional structure and that God granted absolution solely through the hierarchy of this structure, then that would be a problem. Indeed, any “priesthood” in the primitive, Christian church would be a problem.

    for ME, this would be a problem, but my solution would be to go with some form of religion that had the priesthood, yet held to “orthodox” historical christianity: one of the catholic groups, or perhaps the Anglican tradition….. there would still be too much extra-biblical stuff to consider Mormonism….

    Good thread……….. GERMIT

    PS: if somehow I could be shown that current LDS temple practices were indeed RESTORED from the Jewish ancients………that’s what we are blogging about over at “I Love Mormons” by the way…… this kind of historical step would be a big wrench in my “protestant” package….

  3. faithoffathers says:

    Interesting thoughts. But central to any faith is faith. God could show some grand sign or miracle for all the world to see that would in theory convince everybody of his existence. Most of us who frequent this site believe He will do this when Christ returns. But until then, this is simply not how God works. I believe what God loves is a person who steps forward in faith in a spot where they could choose to doubt instead. This is the ultimate expression of a great soul- a person who carries out great action or behavior based on simple faith and little worldy evidence that they will be sustained. Rather, the only evidence they have is from heaven.

    Knowing something for certain- 100%- does not necessarily translate into righteous behavior- “devils also believe and tremble.” While physical or historical evidences can have a confirmatory effect on our faith, it will never generate the type of faith that translates into sustained, righteous behavior.

    So what does translate into such God-directed behavior? Hope and faith, and the wonderful, miraculous, cyclical process of acting on faith, and being blessed with more faith, and the resultant ability to do greater things.

    I do not claim that there is nothing that would shake my belief- I hope nothing could. But I do not know what that would be. The most real thing I know in this world is the cycle of faith and action and the fact that the Holy Ghost has never let me down. I have not always been true to the Holy Ghost, but He has ALWAYS been true to me.

    If we place our trust in worldy evidences, we are setting ourselves up to fall. If our evidence comes from heaven, we are building on the same rock Peter did.

    In saying this, I do not mean to say I pay no attention to physical or historical evidences. I am actually extremely interesting in such things, and believe if pursued completely, the evidences support the LDS faith. But ultimately, it is faith that God desires of us.

    keep the faith


  4. Brian says:

    Dear David,

    Thanks for your article. In response to what would be a problem for me, I would have to agree with your example:

    1. If the body of Jesus Christ were found buried, then it would mean that Jesus had not been raised to life. The Bible looks at such a hypothetical, and it concludes that my faith would then be in vain.

    2. Another problem for me would be if God were to reveal that I could become righteous in his sight by what I did. That would actually overturn nearly all I believe. That may be a surprising statement for some. So I should explain why that would be so important for me.

    If I could make myself righteous in God’s sight by my efforts, then the following would also be true:

    a. It would be within my power to stand before God at the Great White Throne judgment with confidence, with head held high. If I had been good enough I would pass judgment. If I were to pass, no condemnation. Certainly no need to look to another to stand in my place, to be judged in my place. No, I would not consider it necessary to have anyone save me from judgment. A savior? From what danger?

    b. “There are many paths to heaven.” This popular idea would also then be true. For there are many fine moral codes espoused by many different religions. For instance, Islam has a huge number of laws. Its followers are sincerely trying to make themselves righteous. And the same is true of lots of other religions. Jesus’ statement that he is “the way” to heaven would be replaced with “I am my own way.”

    The Bible looks at my point #2 in Galatians 2, and concludes that if one can make themselves righteous in God’s sight by what they do, then Jesus Christ died in vain.

    In summary, if #1 and #2 were the case, then the Bible itself says that my faith would be in vain, and Jesus would have died in vain.

  5. Linda says:

    Excellent blog.

    David Whitsell said: I must confess I am frustrated at the lengths to which I see Mormons go in order to bail out their church. It seems as though nothing – not the Book of Abraham, Adam-God, polygamy, historical problems, doctrinal inconsistencies, etc. would be a problem for Mormons.

    I agree, it’s so frustrating. You can’t argue matters of faith or fact. So why do we bother? All we can do is try to protect our loved ones and our communities from cult tactics. And teach our children to respectfully question authority.

    We’re to love the Lord our God with all our hearts, with all our mind, and with all our strength. And our minds enable us to question and to hold onto what is good. So to not question things is to not use your mind. You have to question, otherwise you are too gullable.

  6. mrgermit says:

    Linda: thanks for the post.

    why do we bother? I can quickly think of two reasons….I think they’re pretty good: 1) these LDS folks are living souls….that means they, as well as ourselves, last forever. 2)if Jesus would “bother”, maybe I should….I say “maybe” because GOD has all of us doing different works, different gifts, etx…..this isn’t for everyone…neither is medical missions, or urban missions. or doing VBS….we’ve all got something to do.

    blessings on you and your family: teach ALL your kids to LOVE, WORSHIP, and THINK as best you can…..while it’s still called TODAY


  7. Linda says:

    Thank you for the encouragement.

    I was afraid the Dead Sea Scrolls would disprove the Bible but that has not turned out to be the case.

    I think a problem for me would be if God stopped answering my prayers. But then I would still have faith in His love and wisdom. I can’t even think of what would shatter my faith. I only know how devastated I would be. I would cease to function. I don’t think I would be able to show love toward anyone or have any desire to learn or do good. Maybe this is why Mormons hold so tightly to what they are taught. I’m sure it would devastate them too to find out unflattering truths. That must be why they work so hard to suppress them.

  8. Enki says:

    Yes, that would be a problem for a christian, if the body of christ was found. How would you identify the body? What would you consider good evidence? The lack of a body is less of a problem. However, is that really good evidence? There is a possibility of the body being completely distroyed in some way, either purposely or by accident. There is also the possibility that the person Jesus never existed. Yet this actually is not a problem for at least one branch of christianity. (although this is also considered a cult by some) Mary Baker Eddy, still believed if Jesus existed or not.

    From Christian science, Mary Baker Eddy:
    “If there had never existed such a person as the Galilean Prophet, it would make no difference to me. I should still know that God’s spiritual ideal is the only real man in His image and likeness.”(Eddy, The First Church of Christ Scientist and Miscellany, pp. 318, 319)

    Sources for teachings and practices are important. In my view its completely possible that the BOM is from the same source as N.T. christianity, as well as Christian Science, Jehovah’s Wittnesses, Catholics, Evangelical movement, Mormons, even the Aquarian Foundation. (spiritist) On the surface these appear to be so different, but I am convienced that they all have something all very much in common. Its something to consider, what do you have in common? You can find something if you really look at it.

    The question of spiritual forces of Christianity and the forces outside is another important question. I don’t know if anyone here has ever questioned the spiritual forces of Christianity, Islam, Judaism. The Inuit introduction to Christianity is a pretty good example. Umik’s sermon to Inuit 1922 is shrill and abusive in tone and body language. The two Inuit ‘pastors’ challenge the group to eat organs of animals forbidden by shamans, as a rite to become christian. I’m not sure what is the basis for this challenge, maybe someone can help me out on this. I think its intended as a test of faith.

    Its important to note that eating one particular organ, the polar liver is very likely to cause death by vitamin A toxicity. Eating as little as 30 to 90 grams can cause fatal toxicity. So this challenge is a very real one, and a difficult one, not to be taken lightly. Its possible that other organs of other animals could cause similar or other problems, depending on the time of year, or other conditions. The limitations on their consumption are culturally determined. I can only speculate that there could also be more subtle effects from eating forbidden organs which could cause disharmony in a person or the group. But I don’t have direct experience with those.

  9. Michael P says:

    Thank you for this post. Great ideas.

    Haven’t had much time to dedicate to this discussion, but the questions presented are fantastic, and I have stated to Mormons that if certain things are shown to be true/false, I would alter my faith. No such reciprocal comment from them. And this has troubled me because it indicates a wild eye fantasy that must be true. It rings of something wrong, because we call our faith, faith. We believe it to be true, but it is based on faith. That was discussed in the post, so I don’t want to harp on it. But when presented with something that would severely discount your faith, you have to question it. Mormon’s only look at such items as faith affirmers, in that if you can still believe in the Mormon god even after all the contrary evidence, you really do believe. In the end, and pardon the colloquial term, it jsut comes across as, well, stinky, like something is wrong…

  10. Michael P says:


    A quick reflection on your post, though– does God expect us to believe when the physical evidence we see is contrary to what our faith tells us?

    This is why if Christ’s body were found it would destroy our faith. The Bible tells us that Christ was resurected, but if he in reality did not, we would not have a leg to stand on.

    Or how if there were evidence to suggest the early Christians practiced what Mormons say they did, how that would change many minds on the subject.

    Make sense?

  11. Linda says:

    Enki and FoF,
    Your faith always goes back to trusting Joseph Smith. If leaders of LDS started asking you prove your faith by eating dangerous things, would you do it?

  12. chanson says:

    Re: If historical sources can demonstrate that the Jewish holocaust did indeed take place then they can demonstrate that Jesus of Nazareth claimed deity (contra the claim of Islam).

    That doesn’t follow at all. The Jewish holocaust was an event that happened within the past century, involved millions of people, and for which there is tons of physical evidence. Jesus of Nazareth lived two thousand years ago, and contemporary evidence of him is somewhere between shaky and non-existent. You can’t be certain of what He taught from physical evidence alone because relevant the physical evidence (contemporaneous accounts/records of His sermons) doesn’t exist. That’s the nature of history — relevant evidence can get lost or never recorded, so not everything that is true (not every event that actually happened) is equally demonstrable through historical evidence.

    Your example of finding the body of Jesus is a little disingenuous because there is absolutely not enough known physical evidence of this person to ever positively identify His body (or even identify it with a reasonable degree of certainty).

  13. mrgermit says:

    CHanson: welcome to MC, you sound/seem like an apologist in the making, hope you find your stay here worthwhile………you wrote

    so not everything that is true (not every event that actually happened) is equally demonstrable through historical evidence.

    I think most all of us would conced that point, I know I would, but you make too much of the word “equally”…… sure some things are easier to verify that others, but I THINK the point that some were making was that there are SOME historical evidences for christianity, some believe these, some do not……and that IF these were overtuned (purely hypothetical, just a “what IF” scenario) by demonstrable proof, that would be trouble for a faith that makes a strong historical statement as does christianity (at least the brand that most here confess to)

    hope this helps

    again: a hot or cold cup of something to ya….relax a little

  14. faithoffathers says:


    My faith goes back to the Holy Ghost. And it goes back to the Book of Mormon. And in a sense you are right about Joseph Smith, but it is not a man I am trusting, but God to reveal the truth of that man.

    Others who will not read and pray about the BOM are trusting historical and scriptural interpretations from mortal individuals with their own grudges and biases (all people have them).

    You said “Maybe this is why Mormons hold so tightly to what they are taught. I’m sure it would devastate them too to find out unflattering truths.” I know at least as many “facts” as you about the church and its history, flattering and unflattering. And guess what- I am not “devastated” in the slightest. Please do not make blanket statements that LDS do not know the things you know about our own religion

    Michael P- I don’t think I completely understood everything you said and for that I apologize. But as for your first question, yes, I believe there are times when following God requires us to have faith in Him despite there being no worldly evidence to support us and maybe even some evidence to suggest we are not being “reasonable.” Again, in saying this I do not suggest that accepting the BOM, etc. requires such a step.

    If claims were made that the body of Christ had been found along with strong evidence that it was His body, I don’t think it would change my faith. Why? Because the Holy Ghost has a more impressive and lasting effect on a person’s spirit than physical senses or evidences. There is always some way of manipulating physical evidences or appearances. As I have said before, the Holy Ghost is the most reliable, dependable conveyer of truth there is.

    Again I refer you to Peter- The Father revealed to him the fact that Jesus was His Son, and that is the greatest source of truth we should seek. Otherwise, we are in a position of having to determine who has the best intellectual argument- in essence who is the best debator. Not that the intellect or evidences are bad- they just should not be the primary reason a person believes something.

    In my opinion, It is arrogant for a person to claim “mormons are so backward” or “intellectually blind” just because they do not accept your conclusions. No person has a monopoly on truth or THE “right perspective.”


  15. chanson says:

    Thanks, It think… 😉

    However this post highlights one point I find amusing in the Mormon vs. Christian debate. At least there’s concrete evidence that Joseph Smith really existed — for Jesus, it’s debatable. So when Christians point out that there’s physical evidence discrediting Joseph Smith (whereas there isn’t corresponding physical evidence discrediting Jesus) they’re not really playing fair to claim that means that the Jesus story is more trustworthy than the Joseph Smith story.

    I wrote a post about this a while ago for Main Street Plaza: The double-standard of evidence in the trial of Jesus.

  16. Mike Peterson says:

    What would be a problem for my faith?

    1. If it was 100% proven that Adam and Eve weren’t the first 2 people on earth and that the Garden of Eden never existed.

    2. If it was 100% proven that Noah did not build an ark as commanded by God and that the coresponding flood did not occur.

    3. If it was 100% proven that Jesus did not exist, did not perform miracles, did not suffer and die for my sins, and is not my savior.

    4. If it was 100% proven that Joseph Smith did not see God and Jesus Christ in the first vision.

    5. If it was 100% proven that the Bible, Book of Mormon and other scriptures are not the word of God.

    Those 5 are a good start for me. But even as I write them I am wondering what could be considered 100% proof or even an undeniable arguement for any of them. I mean, what is required to prove that any discovered body in actually that of Jesus Christ? DNA? A drivers license in His back pocket or other photo ID? I am fairly certain that all of the “What If’s” posted under this blog entry will never be proven sufficiently to change anyone’s mind on these matters. Very rarely is evidence perfect and u

    This goes for both Mormons and Evangelicals. Any so called “proof” that is shown to you will eventually be dismissed. It will likely be considered and reviewed, but ultimately, it comes down to faith for all of us. After all, the Athiests think there is insufficient proof that even God exists.

  17. David Whitsell says:


    As pointed out before, the post is a hypothetical question. It is meant for the reader to supply the answer to what would be a problem. As far as Jesus existing and claiming deity, that is something that both Mormons and Christians believe; There is no debate (between us) there. Also, there are people who do in fact deny the holocaust despite the mountains of evidence for it. They have a messed up epistemology. Many people do have a messed epistemology all around, and many more use an entirely different lense for evaluating truth once the word “religion” is used. This post tries to counter that.

    Yes, I do agree that it would near impossible to actually convince billions of people that the body of Jesus had been found. How would one do that? The question of identity would always be an issue and one could never be sure if said body really was Jesus of Nazareth. It is a hypothetical question aimed at prompting discussion.

    I take issue with your assertion that the evidence for the existence of Jesus is shaky to non-existent. There is more evidence for the for the existence of Jesus than any other fact in history. Many of the things we know from history are contained in one or two sources. Numerous secular and religious confirm the existence of a controversial Jewish teacher in 1st century Israel who was killed for his controversies. For most apologists (even atheists and agnostics) the assertion that Jesus never existed borders on the laughable. “The Jesus Myth” was popular about 30-60 years ago (especially in the former U.S.S.R. if I recall correctly) but it has been debunked as well as anything can be. The issues are what Jesus taught and if he rose from the dead – not did he ever exist. Many well known attackers of Christianity, like Bart Ehrman, never question the existence of Jesus or even the his execution.

    Also, the issue you raise in the post from the link you gave – “My suspension of disbelief starts getting a little shaky around the part where they say “Then answered all the people, and said, His blood be on us, and on our children.” Um… yeah, right. Sure they said that.. ” – is easy to answer. The Talmud actually owns up to the killing of Jesus throughout Mishnah Sanhedrin. Most people, even some Jews accept that the Talmud is talking about Jesus of Nazareth here. Even if it is not the Talmud is owning up to taking the life of some Messianic figure.

    There are mountains of evidence for the existence of Jesus. Many people, in times past, have raised the same issues you are raising now. I would love to get into this with you but that is not the direction of this thread plus a blog is not the ideal forum for that. Suffice it to state that in academic circles the existence of Jesus is not an issue.

  18. mrgermit says:

    CHanson: you might be confused as to what most ev’s are claiming regarding this evidence thing…….I dont’ know of anyone who would claim that there is MORE historical evidence for the Jesus story, or any biblical story than the JS and BofM story…that would be an absurd claim (I think) given the obvious: we are comparing 1830-ish NY and U.S. areas versus much longer ago and thousands of miles away (from us, at least)

    the claim is not MORE evidence, I think the claim is that of what we do know (with less than certainty, that’s the way history is) the life of Jesus holds up under scrutiny better than the life of JS…..or Brigham as far as that goes…… you seem unconvinced that we can know anything historically about Jesus, and that is an interesting viewpoint, but I thought I’d put the major claim, as I see it, out on the table. And yes, there’s always some amount of subjectivity when it comes to history, whether its circa 1830 or 30ad.

    have you decided on your drink of choice ??


  19. Ralph says:

    Evidence (or lack there of) does not make one a believer. Just look at how many doctors out there smoke when they know its not good for them. Same with alcohol consumption – how many imbibe to extreme knowing all the while the effect its toxicity has on their internal organs and brain. I also know a few who do drugs even though they are aware of the side effects.

    The best and only true evidence/witness comes from the Holy Spirit as Germit pointed out in a post on another thread (Fruits of the First Vision). Even if there is some so-called physical and historical evidence out there saying something totally different to the Bible (eg evolution of life on this earth), if the Spirit has said that the Bible is true, then it is true and this evidence is false or has a different meaning than that given.

    I believe that Satan can and does cause things to come up in the way of ‘evidences’ to try and get people to turn away from God. And God allows it because this life is all about faith not knowledge. That is why I believe that the only way to know the truth is to rely on the Holy Spirit. As Jesus said to Thomas – he (Thomas) was blessed because he saw and recognised AND THEN believed in a resurrected Jesus, but those who do not/have not seen Him (Jesus) but still believe are more blessed.

  20. mrgermit says:

    Ralph: so good to hear from you.

    My book budget is meager these days….maybe Barak can get me a book bail out….why not, I can throw good money after bad with the best of them….I’m hoping to carve out some time this long weekend (Mon is Presidents Day, a holiday for some) to catch up with the William Lane Craig excerpt at a large bookstore. In the meantime, here’s how I’ve processed the WLC idea:

    Personal spiritual experience is not necessarily BETTER evidence, or even more TRUE, but because of its nature, it SEEMS (I would say FEELS) to be the truest kind of information and operates at a level that is either difficult or impossible, to examine in light of other evidence. It just seems “truer” even if it isn’t.

    I don’t think he was saying that these kind of things are self-vindicating, or self-evidently authentic. Like I said, I’m going to check this out at a bookstore and report back.

    I’m of the opinion that life is about FAITH AND KNOWLEDGE, and if I were to make a priority, actually LOVE would trump them both….. there are times when GOD asks us go BEYOND what we can think or imagine…..but I don’t see faith as “contra” knowledge”, but occaisionally “ABOVE” or “superceding” knowledge. God is very mind-friendly, but can go BEYOND our minds, as HE wishes. I’d say it’s a case of know our limits, and the limits of each: faith, knowledge, emotions, etx

    I dont’ think Thomas’ hangup was knowledge, his hangup was trust, and that can pop up for a variety of reasons: some people put their faith in their faith, and end up burned out when their faith goes weak for a season….and I could go on…there are 1000’s of reasons not to trust, it would be simplistic to make the mind/knowledge the fall guy for each instance (though for some linear thinking type “A”s, the mind is “the usual suspect” for good reason.

    Evidence does not make a believer, but evidence of the truth, any truth, is a good thing, and useful for SOME things: God will always take us farther, but if HE put this much effort into making us thinking creatures, it would be a shame not to put HIS ideas to work.


  21. Enki says:

    You said,
    “Your faith always goes back to trusting Joseph Smith. If leaders of LDS started asking you prove your faith by eating dangerous things, would you do it?

    I never said anything on this webpage that suggests that I trust Joseph Smith. I did say that there is a possibility that his work is inspired by the same source that created christianity, and the many branches of christianity that exist. These various branches might be labled as cults, and they may appear to be very different by way of many particular teachings. But I do believe they all share a lot in common.

    I wouldn’t eat dangerous things to prove or test my faith. I did point out in an earlier post that non-Mormon christians were asking that to potential converts who were Inuit. There are some christian cults which do ask people to partake of poisons, and handle deadly snakes. More often they ask people to make sacrifices of various types, usually of money, and time. Some people say they find this very rewarding, others have had the shirt taken off their back only to find that the cult leader was a fraud. Others have literally taken their own life at the request of the cult leader.

  22. Michael P says:


    In other words, if we found physical and verifiable evidence that proved our faith wrong, like the body of Christ, then our faith would be meaningless. This is because what the Bible said happened didn’t happen.

    If it cannot be trusted on that, it cannot be trusted on anything, including spiritual matters.

    Further, since our salvation, and yours, is based on Christ’s triumph over death, if we find him dead, then he did not triumph over death, and thus cannot save us.

    I wish I could say it was honorable that you stick to your faith so strongly and against such evidence, but I can’t. God did give us reason, and we are to follow that. Believing in a dead god will only leave you dead, too, no matter how much faith you have.

    Is this more clear?

  23. Enki says:

    Mike Peterson,
    Thats a great list of 5 problems. Its really unlikely that you would find all 5 disproven 100%. You may have one or more, or even all disproven to various degrees. For example, what would you think if the great flood story was a modified story taken from a gentile nation?

    David Whitsell,
    You said:
    “I would love to get into this with you but that is not the direction of this thread plus a blog is not the ideal forum for that.”

    I think its fully appropriate, this thread is investigating problems, so why not provide evidence which counters problems? Not ideal? For me it is, as this is currently the only way I can read your opinion. There are other options which can advance from here, but for the time being this works for me. You don’t have to write up a huge volume, and actually there is a limitation on the number of words. If you find one or two links you feel are compelling please do post them. Feel free to state what you feel are the strongest points, and if you disagree with anything on the link. I would enjoy hearing from you.

    There are a number of committed christians and mormons that fully accept evolution. I don’t know how they reconcile that with their faith, but they do. I even met a pastor of a church which is atheist. Thats right, he fully believes in the bible and in jesus and hes and atheist.

    You said,

    ” I believe that Satan can and does cause things to come up in the way of ‘evidences’ to try and get people to turn away from God. And God allows it because this life is all about faith not knowledge.”

    Do you have a specific example of an evidence provided by satan to cause disbelief? Faith and knowledge, this might be how you see things, but I don’t know if thats representative of the christian faith or of mormonism.

    D&C 131:6 “It is impossible for a man to be saved in ignorance. ”

    “There could not anything be given, pertaining to life and godliness, without knowledge . . . Salvation is for a man to be saved from all his enemies; for until a man can triumph over death, he is not saved. A knowledge of the priesthood alone will do this . . . Knowledge is the power of salvation” (History of the Church 5:402-3).

    D&C 130:18-21″Whatever principle of intelligence we attain unto in this life, it will rise with us in the resurrection.
    19 And if a person gains more knowledge and intelligence in this life through his diligence and obedience than another, he will have so much the advantage in the world to come.
    20 There is a law, irrevocably decreed in heaven before the foundations of this world, upon which all blessings are predicated—
    21 And when we obtain any blessing from God, it is by obedience to that law upon which it is predicated.”

  24. Enki says:

    Michael P,
    I’m glad you feel that way about your faith. If a christ’s body was found however, I doubt that would be the end of christianity, it would probably just transform. Evolution has been a challenge to the faith, and that hasn’t kept people from believing. They either ignored or discounted it, or reconfigured what they believe about the process of creation. Mary Baker Eddy has stated that she would still believe if jesus never existed. So for whatever reason people retain their belief, even in light of contradictory evidence. I have heard one mormon say that she knows that the BOM doesn’t have tangible evidence, but that its ‘spiritually true’ and thats good enough for her to keep the faith.

  25. chanson says:

    Re: “There is more evidence for the for the existence of Jesus than any other fact in history.”

    Are you kidding? There’s more evidence for the existence of Jesus than, say, the existence of Abraham Lincoln? More evidence for the existence of Jesus than evidence for the fact that JFK was shot? Just to pick a few historical facts at random off the top of my head…

    I happen to believe that there is enough written evidence of the life of Jesus that the most reasonable conclusion is that He actually existed. There’s a list of written sources who noted the existence of Jesus’ followers not long after His death, but if there’s documentation of His personal existence — written during His lifetime or within ten years of it, and not just reporting second-hand what His followers claimed — then tell me the name of the source. There’s no reason to overstate your case to such an absurd degree — all that does it make it appear that you’re not familiar with the definitions of words like “evidence” and “more.”

    Re: the life of Jesus holds up under scrutiny better than the life of JS…..or Brigham as far as that goes…… you seem unconvinced that we can know anything historically about Jesus,

    Maybe the life of Jesus does stand up to scrutiny better. But only in the same way that if two employees are suspected of embezzlement, the one whose documents and memos have all been shredded will likely hold up to scrutiny better than the one whose documents weren’t.

    I don’t claim that nothing can be known about the life of Jesus. However, if we’re talking about historical evidence, we have to take into account the fact that for J.S. and B.Y. we have their own personal writings, we have journals and other signed statements of numerous people who knew them, newspaper articles written about them during their lifetimes, government records, etc., etc., and we have absolutely none of that for Jesus. So their lives and Jesus’ life don’t “hold up to scrutiny” in quite the same way. Talking about historical evidence alone, it’s a little like comparing apples and oranges.

  26. David Whitsell says:

    “At least there’s concrete evidence that Joseph Smith really existed — for Jesus, it’s debatable.”

    No, it’s not. And if the existence of Jesus is debatable then one could consistently debate the existence Joseph Smith. To doubt either is absurd.

    The point of this post was to circumvent this type of exchange. I know you feel there are double standards applied to Mormonism but the point of the post was for you to supply “the problems” and not merely argue against problems presented by others. I would kindly ask that you put your gun away and not get too hung up on the specific examples. I am not putting Joseph Smith on trial here (though I have no problem doing so).

    I still stick by the claim – “If historical sources can demonstrate that the Jewish holocaust did indeed take place then they can demonstrate that Jesus of Nazareth claimed deity (contra the claim of Islam).” If you feel there is more historical evidence for the holocaust than the existence, crucifixion, or claim of deity by Jesus then fine. But the principle is sound that sources can be used to verify/discredit secular, historical events as they can for historical events that have a religious significance.

    So Chanson, what would be a problem?


    Ask and you shall receive. I would submit the writings of the early church fathers as my first evidence for the existence of Jesus. They are not not scripture but they are “religious” (which could be good or bad in terms of proof). Some of the writings date before the turn of the 2nd century A.D., more even before A.D. 150. They affirm the existence of Jesus, the reliability of the N. Testament (they quote from it), and many of their beliefs flatly contradict Mormonism. If there was a great apostasy then it happened even while some of Jesus’ apostles were still alive. It is possible that a few of the earliest church fathers actually saw Jesus, and even more likely that they met some of the apostles. To view there writings (apostolic fathers) go here:


  27. VWBrown says:

    It is interesting to read some of the comments that infer that IF Jesus’ body were found that Christianity would just ‘evolve’ and continue. Perhaps, I see similar evolutions in JW’s and Mormonism when factual evidences of their faith have fallen apart.

    Paul summarized the truth for Christians very plainly –

    1Co 15:14 And if Christ be not risen, then is our preaching vain, and your faith is also vain.

    Remember, Christians were lead to their deaths on the basis of that faith. Ours is an objective faith – grounded in reality. From Pentecost on the Apostles preached the empty tomb – forcing the Jewish leadership to come up with alternative stories.

    As an objective faith, we can point to real evidences that support it. A subjective faith like mormonism must point away from real evidences because they either do not exist or do not support the ‘faith’.

  28. chanson says:

    Re: If you feel there is more historical evidence for the holocaust than the existence, crucifixion, or claim of deity by Jesus then fine.

    So you’re granting that the statement that “There is more evidence for the for the existence of Jesus than any other fact in history” is false, right?

    I agree that “the principle is sound that sources can be used to verify/discredit secular, historical events as they can for historical events that have a religious significance.” I’m not trying to pick on you guys, it’s just that we’re all part of the community of Mormon-related discussion in the Internet, and if you guys make questionable assertions, I’ll come around and question them. 😉

  29. mrgermit says:

    CHanson: you started one of your posts above with:

    Re: “There is more evidence for the for the existence of Jesus than any other fact in history.”

    hey, I don’t know who said this….but they didn’t have enough expresso, or they inhaled something…..I know for a fact that I said the exact OPPOSITE in my post, that was a direct response to yours. I’ll ask you directly: did you read all of it….you act like you did not.

    there is of course MUCH more historical evidence for …..make the long list HERE: including virtually everything related to AnYONE as famous as JS or BY in the 1800’s. As I said in my post, this is self-evident. , and because it’s self evident, proves or disproves NOTHING for ANYONE.

    As to the documents being shredded, well your bias concerning the NT documents is showing….yes, they are NOT originals, they are not what I think are called AUTOGRAPHS. You are a smart person, so you are probably up to speed with the fact that in dealing with the works of antiquity, this is par for the course, it’s always a copy of something that gets preserved. If they are GOOD copies, and numerous, then HOT DOGGIE, we’re in luck, and we TEND to trust them…..I won’t bore you with lots of NT manuscript facts (you might already know them) but F.F. Bruce’s “The New Testament Documents: Are they Reliable” is an excellent and SHORT book on the topic.

    turns out the manuscript evidence for the NT is somewhere between EXCELLENT and OH-MY-LORD. If you catch my drift……NOTHING in antiquity comes close to being as firmly established…..

    Now you can always go the route of saying that ‘yeah, there are LOTs of copies, but they are copying a STORY, a MYTH…” that’s a thread all its own, but you’d have a LOT of defending to do if that’s YOUR story….pardon the pun. Not saying that’s your position, you haven’t said one way or another on that.

    you might want to slow down and read posts a little more carefully

    again: welcome to MC


  30. mrgermit says:

    I caught up with Mr.Whitsell’s comment above, and I guess he said “more evidence for Jesus…etx…” I guess I agree to disagree with the AMOUNT of historical evidence goes the NT way….though his point about Jesus being a WELL ATTESTED HISTORICAL figure is correct.

    I think we are quibbling, or maybe just GERMIT is, with the word MORE. Let’s get past that and agree (or not, a la Bart Ehrman) that Jesus was an historical figure…..again, if you don’t want to believe that the NT can be believed as accurate historically, that’s it’s own problem….

    I’ll try to slow down and read posts other than my own more carefully…..lOL

    CHanson: there is no getting JS off the hook for how he lived by appealing to the scant evidence for someone ELSE: if the evidence for JS and BY and others is good, then you’ll just have to defend them the best you can…..so “Jesus this” and “Jesus that” in ONE sense, is really a non-issue….I could be a secular skeptic, and totally reject JS for the way he lived, according to history….I think Jon Krakauer would fall in this category….I dont’ think he cares much for the history of Jesus either.

  31. David says:


    Let me clarify. I should have added the word “ancient” in there – as in before the printing press. There is more evidences (as in raw number) for the existence of Jesus as say compared to the existence of Winston Churchill . . . however – historical persons, places, and things that have taken place in the last 100-200 years have the advantage of technology (photographs plus video and sound recordings) and in that way the evidence could be considered more “weighty”. So the existence of Jesus is the most attested life/event of ancient history. How about that? If you challenge that then the various events of ancient history are up for grabs.

    Do you care to retract this statement? – “At least there’s concrete evidence that Joseph Smith really existed — for Jesus, it’s debatable.”

    If we doubt the existence of Jesus of Nazareth then we doubt the existence of Lao Tzu, Homer, Salaadin, etc. Your assertion is not only questionable it has brought up and shot down long before this post . It is laughable to question the Jewish holocaust or the existence of Jesus or Joseph Smith. All of these have reached the level of what can be called historical “fact”. So back to the original question Chanson. What would be a problem?

  32. I’m somewhat behind here (per usual), so I’ve only scanned the above posts.

    I think David Whitsell asks an excellent question, but its only part of the story.

    There’s a scene in the film “Black Hawk Down”, after the carnage of a major gunfight, in which Eric Bana’s character talks about why he can’t explain to the folks back home what keeps him a soldier. The quote (if I can remember correctly) is “Its all about the man standing next to you”. He’s referring to his comrades and his concern about what would happen to them if he weren’t there.

    I suspect that most people with a commitment to a church (including Evs and LDS) would identify with this mind-set. Like Bana’s character we’d ask something like “we could question US foreign policy and why we’re camped out in Mogadishu in the first place, but what would happen to our mates if we left?”

    This issue of loyalty to the tribe should not be under-estimated. Its part of our human condition, and it can work for the good. After all, the Gospel of Christ calls us to a reconciled community. My impression is that LDS are particularly good at fostering a sense of a loving community, though they over-play this at the expense of truthfulness and integrity.

    The Bible acknowledges this tension between the testosterone-fuelled, confrontational, sword yielding warrior of truth and the affirming, embracing and fleshy mother of love. Curiously, Zephaniah 3:17 describes God as being both at the same time…

    “The LORD thy God in the midst of thee is mighty; he will save, he will rejoice over thee with joy; he will rest in his love, he will joy over thee with singing.” (KJV)

    (…or in the NIV…)

    “The LORD your God is with you,
    he is mighty to save.
    He will take great delight in you,
    he will quiet you with his love,
    he will rejoice over you with singing.”

  33. Enki says:

    David Whitsell,
    Thank you for the information, the writings of the apostolic fathers is very extensive. I imagine that I will not be able to comment upon them for some time, possibily years. It feels pretty overwhelming by sheer volume. One could spend years reading and research. I would give you a large amount of respect if you have read them all, for your effort to make an informed opinion on matters of faith.

    And what of evolution? Thats not an article of bible literalism, yet it is the consensus of biologists that it happened. It also connects together a large amount of science in other areas, such as geology, chemistry, environmental sciences, anthropology. Yet, there are christians that are doing some very good work in evolutionary sciences. Devoted to biology and the christian faith, they don’t see any contradictions.

    You said, “…It is laughable to question the Jewish holocaust…” Yet, I have listened to some holocaust doubters present some very good skepticism. Most of the skepticism was around the work, “A YEAR IN TREBLINKA” by Yankel Wiernik. A few months ago I never questioned that it happened, but after hearing a critical presentation about it online, I am not as sure that happened. In some countries you might end up serving jail time for expressing doubts about it. For me thats a little odd. It might be socially misfitting to express an opinion like that, as people might view you as insensitive, but jail time? What is the reason for such a penalty for presenting an opinion?

  34. David says:


    Thanks for the response. I have not read all the writings of the early church fathers. I am up to Justin Martyr, but I have read portions of others before and since undertaking to read them all.

    I agree that questioning the holocaust should not be a criminal offense. Also, it should be noted that anyone who questions the accepted narrative about the holocaust (usually the 6 million number) is labeled a holocaust denier. The people who question the number and nature of the victims of the holocaust get lumped in with those who deny the holocaust all together.

    However, the evidence for the Jewish holocaust is strong to say the least. So many people from so many different countries (both axis and ally) have given oral and/or written testimony to verify the general narrative of the Jewish holocaust. This is not to mention the physical evidence such as the instruments and compounds used to kill Jews, numerous corpses, and photos/video evidence . I only went down this rabbit trail because it does have bearing as to how one views historical sources in general and that includes “religious”, historical sources. I must admit I am not all that surprised, though I am a little fearful, at the responses given by Mormons to this question. It seems as though evidence, any evidence, simply would not matter. And yes Martin is right – tribal loyalty is a big factor for many people. I just wonder how Mormon parents would react if one of their children did something that went against established LDS convention/beliefs and said that the “Holy Spirit/Ghost told him or her to it.

  35. falcon says:

    The troublesome nature of religion often comes down to the concept that something was revealed to the adherent by God. If the possibility is open that maybe God didn’t reveal something but that the person conjured it up in their own imagination or during an emotional flight of fancy, that could pose a problem to that person’s faith or at least their practice of it. That’s the problem I see with any religion, actually. The “God spoke to me claim” makes the peson feel super spiritual and connected to a higher power. If a person is not open to the possibility that they got it wrong, that God didn’t actually speak to them, a big “Closed” sign will have to be hung on their mind. This is a reflexive protection move. This is especially true for a “true believer” if they are following an infallable prophet who is receiving “revelation”. That’s how people end up following guys like Jim Jones, David Koresh and yes any number of Mormon prophets. To follow these “prophets” and their revelations, is to close ones mind to the possibility that they got their “revelations” wrong. Because if the possibility exists that they were wrong, than the house of cards may come tumbling down and where does someone go when that happens? For many Mormons, unfortuately, it ends up in unbelief that there actually is a God. What they don’t understand is that their problem came in putting their faith and trust in either their own revelatory experiences or the pronounced revelations of very flawed men rather than in God.

  36. Michael P says:


    You are probably right to suggest there are people who will continue to believe in spite of finding a dead Christ. However, I agree with the quote of Paul’s posted above, that if our faith is meaningless and hopeless without a risen savior. However, I fully recognize that the reality is that there wil be people who believe regardless.

    But the post here suggests that most Mormons view believing with a lack of evidence as a badge of faith, something to be commended. For Christians, the problem is not viewed in the same manner, and is viewed as a problem, not as evidence of God’s testing our faith that is only overcome by faith.

  37. jackg says:

    WWBrown and Falcon,

    Excellent posts!! Keep up the good fight!

    Grace and Peace!

  38. Pingback: Sunday in Outer Blogness: Lifestyles Edition! | Main Street Plaza

  39. falcon says:

    I had a crisis of faith when I was twenty years old. I was raised in the Catholic faith and attended Catholic school through the eigth grade. I was indoctinated in the faith and learned to parse the “law” within my religion. For example, we were not allowed to eat meat on Friday. So, what if you were at a football game on Friday night and it slipped your mind that it was Friday. You ordered a hot dog and half way through eating it, you suddenly remembered it was Friday. What do you do? To throw the hot dog away would be sinful because you were wasting food. On-the-other-hand if you continued to eat the hot dog you would be committing a mortal sin. What do you do? You throw the hot dog away because the venial sin of food wasting would be much less than the mortal sin of eating meat on Friday.
    Foolish? Of course, but that’s legalism. When I was a sophmore in college I got to thinking about all of these types of things that permeated my religion and came to the conclusion that it was all a farce. I became a heathen. It took some real big time independent thinking and courage to walk away from the Catholic religion. It was immaturity, however, to conclude there was no God.
    It took me about six years to loop on back and begin to consider the existence of God again. So, what drove me out of religion, was religion. What brought me back was the miraculous power of God, the witness of believers and finally the confirmation of the truth within the Bible, the Word of God. I still question everything and I avoid religion while at the same time maintain a vibrant faith in Jesus Christ. I don’t shut-off possibilities, but I investigate and hold suppositions up to scrutiny. It stregthens rather than threatens my faith. I have yet to find a better explanation for God in any religion other than Biblical Christianity.

  40. chanson says:

    Look, I’m sorry if my embezzlement/shredding metaphor comes off as negative, but it was the clearest metaphor I come up with off the top of my head. After all, Jesus’ own followers report that He was tried and executed by the state and that an angry mob wanted Him dead. Similarly, Joseph Smith was killed by an angry mob while in jail (though, unlike Jesus, not for a capital offense).

    Since you guys brought up historical evidence, this is a glaring difference between the two cases:

    In one case we have writings from the defendant himself, from lots of his friends, from lots of his foes, and from disinterested parties such as newspapers and official court records. In the other case, we have hearsay, reported a generation or more later, mostly by or filtered through His followers; nothing written by Him, nothing written in real time during His natural lifetime, nothing written by anyone who actually met Him in the flesh — only reports that are second-hand at best. And here I’m not complaining about the fact that the reports are copies (as opposed to originals that obviously would have disintegrated in that amount of time). I mean that they’re not copies of things that were written during Jesus’ lifetime — they’re things that were composed later by authors who hadn’t met Jesus in the flesh. Even if lots and lots of copies were made of these reports by early Christians, the fact that the originals were hearsay when they were first written (long after Jesus’ death) matters quite a lot when assessing their credibility. So even if you add the word “ancient,” the “more evidence” claim is still false: There’s more evidence for the existence of, say, Caesar Augustus than of Jesus.

    So, sure, perhaps I’m biased. But regardless of my bias, what I’ve written here is a list of facts that are either true or false. Do you dispute them?

    And I’m not trying to defend Joseph Smith — I think it would probably be accurate to call him a criminal. I’m just saying that when assessing historical events, you need to take into account the quality of your evidence when you’re deciding the degree of certainty of your conclusions.

  41. Michael P says:


    Question: when were the gospels written? Is it possible the authors could have seen Christ himseld or talked directly with those who knew him best?

    Second question: even with the evidence we have of Smith, is it not possible that a myth has developed around him rendering him, to some, as ‘uncritiquable’?

    How do you reconcile these differences in wieghing thier histories?

    I am happy to provide my answer but am curious to see yours before I from the outset give the direction of the answers.

  42. DaveyMike says:

    falcon wrote:

    “So, what drove me out of religion, was religion. What brought me back was the miraculous power of God, the witness of believers and finally the confirmation of the truth within the Bible, the Word of God. ”

    This one is a keeper. I’ll file this one away under great testimonies. Praise God.

  43. falcon says:

    There are some folks that are trained that when they feel uncomfortable, they should flee the scene. It’s a flight response. We see the same thing in relationships when something is hitting too close to the truth that one of the parties will take off rather than confront whatever is causing the uncomfortable feeling. It’s a very clever tactic, within religion, to train people to do this same thing. I can’t begin to express how uncomfortable I felt in the days before I committed my life to Christ. At the time, my belief system was being challenged severly. One evening, I felt a heaviness that I can only explain felt like a big bolder in my chest. Now, I could have interpreted that feeling as a threat because it was challenging my thoughts about God, Jesus Christ and anything dealing with spiritual matters. Instead of running away from the feeling, I ran to the feeling and assessed and questioned my point-of-view. There is something in the dynamics of the Spirit that’s called “conviction”. It’s not the kind of conviction that relates to how strongly one feels about something. It’s the kind of conviction that says I need to take a closer look at what’s making me feel so uncomfortable. God leads people to Himself through a process whereby the person feels a disequilibrium. It comes out as an emotion but it’s really a spiritual prompting. It affords a couple of different opportunities or types of responses. One is flight! I believe it’s a much more healthy response to ask questions and dig for answers.

  44. David says:


    I honestly have to ask – Where are you getting your information? Judging by what you wrote it really seems like you have not read any relevant information on the issues involved. You are right than in the case of Joseph Smith we have writings of the man himself and this cannot be said of Jesus. The rest I dispute.

    The claim is made by the NT that several of the NT authors physically met Jesus. The idea that the NT (especially the gospels) were written much later, like hundreds of years, was popular in NT textual studies about 60 years ago. Bultmann’s ideas were big and he said things similar to what you do (even Bultmann did not go as far) and also that Gnostic thought influenced the NT. Bultmann has largely been rejected even by liberals. Many liberal scholars (I am thinking of Ehrman and John Dominic Crossan from the Jesus seminar) would probably not go as far as you are going now.

    This just deals with the “religious” evidence. There is secular evidence that confirms some of the details of the NT (again many liberal scholars admit to these). The Roman historian Tacitus and the Jewish historian Flavius Josephus counter what you are saying. There is much much more but this just a start.

    I really have to ask – what is your point? Caesar Augustus is an historical figure, so is Jesus, and so is Joseph Smith. Mormons here would not challenge the existence of Jesus so why are you doing so now?

    Honestly, you are more than just biased. You are on the very far left of the spectrum. Again, many liberal scholars who have a naturalistic world view would not make the challenges you are making. Pardon the pun – you really are in left field on this one. I am not stating this to be antagonistic but you are not even near center in your approach. Much of what we know of history is established by just a few accounts and some written much later after the fact (and not by direct eye-witnesses). Yet, they are accepted as true without much hoopla. If one were to be consistent then the existence of Jesus is a “fact” as well. I dare state that everyone who visits this blog accepts the existence of Jesus as truth. Even you have admitted that you think Jesus existed so, again . . . What is the point?

    Your silence on the question at hand is telling. Why delve into the evidence when we have not even established what would constitute evidence? Are you Mormon, Agnostic, or just like to cause trouble (don’t worry I like to do that myself sometimes:) )? It would be nice to know so we know where you are coming from.

  45. mrgermit says:

    CHanson: your “embezzlement records that get shredded” picture make no sense to me at all

    Jesus was tried for blasphemy and claiming to be “a KING”…since HE was in fact BOTH GOD and King, HE had nothing to hide, nothing to give someone reason to “shred the account” Also , the account itself would not have been written down, even in the original autograph, for some time, correct ?? In the meantime, HE rises from the dead, making a pretty solid case that HE was not a liar or criminal…..the writer would have seen HIM in this light….so who was shredding a document here ?? the Jewish authorities would have loved to, but by the time their opposition is organized, there are MULTIPLE copies of the “good news”…….it’s called “good news” and not just “good doctrine” or “good belief” because it’s the EYEWITNESS ACCOUNTS OF PEOPLE WHO SAW STUFF. Maybe they were lying…..a possibility, but they sure got there story “orchestrated” with MAnY different people from many different angles. Doubtful. At least to me, and I say that from a strength of evidence standpoint.

    As to Caesar Augustus,, do you want to flesh out that claim with just a few sentences? Why would his story be so much more reliable ??



  46. rebecca says:

    David, you wrote (to chanson): “Many liberal scholars (I am thinking of Ehrman and John Dominic Crossan from the Jesus seminar) would probably not go as far as you are going now.”

    Just FYI (I have zero stake in the discussion, just thought it was relevant) – Ehrman actually does say what chanson is saying – that no one who wrote the gospels of the NT ever met Jesus Christ.

    And for those of you who think chanson is trying to get your goat – I think her point is simply to say that, in order for your arguments to make sense and hold up well, you just need to be more accurate. That’s what I’m getting from her comments – that she’s neither being negative or positive, just pointing out the holes so you can either close them up or reconsider your points. I don’t think she’s trying to attack anyone here.

  47. Michael P says:


    If Chanson can deny the closeness of the writers of the gospels to Christ, he/she has not sufficiently studied all the appropriate material.

    There is much evidence to suggest they were very close to him, relatively speaking.

    I have also questioned an aspect of Smith that needs to be considered in the discussion. He has developed some mythical qualities of his own, and historically then, how does that play into the discussion?

    Further, while we do have much of what he wrote, we do not have a shred of anything to suggest what he ‘revealed’ is based on anything historical. And he based his ‘revelations’ on historical claims, ie that the events he spoke of are historically true.

    So, really, we have two issues to deal with in comparing Chris and Smith. First is the ‘mythologial’ nature they have developed. Second, the historicity of what they spoke of and represent.

    Saying there is more evidence to suggest Smith lived is a bit misleading and too simple to get to the issues that are really in question.

    And that (what is really in question), by the way, is the truth of their theology and its application to our salvation. In simple terms, who do we trust more?

  48. Ralph says:

    History and biographies are always skewed, biased, inconsistant and inaccurate. Also proof and testimony are the same.

    I was in a court as jury once and 3 eyewitnesses gave differing descriptions of the person and events of the armed robbery that was commited. The only person who could specifically place the accused as the robber was his ex-wife who was in gaol in New Zealand for armed robbery herself. We could not really rely on her testimony for a number of reasons but after the case was finished we were told that she was in gaol for a robbery they both commited while they were together – he was smart enough to pin it on her and get out of the charges. So we realised then that we definately could not use her testimony anyway. We had to find him not guilty because there was no irrefutable evidence because there were no corroborating eyewitnesses. One said he had a plain white motorbike helmet – another said it had a pattern on the sides and the third said it was burgandy. One said he had blue eyes, another said green the third did not see his eyes. One said he left on a motorbike, another said they could not tell if a motor bike was used as there was a lawn mower near by making too much noise and the third said there was no motorbike at all. And so on.

    That an armed robbery occured is fact. That it was a male perpetrator is fact. That he wore a motorbike helmet is fact. So there are some factors that were the same, just not enough.

    That is the same for histories and biographies. Some things do have evidence enough to say that we can be 99.99% sure of the details, but most others are not as sure. For instance the Lusitania; JFK’s assasination; Azaria Chamberlain; man on the moon (:p); Bombing of Pearl Harbour.

    That Jesus Christ was a living person is usually not called into question even by non-believers – that he was a teacher of sorts is not questioned. What is questioned are the miracles He performed and His resurrection. As we all know, just recently someone found a grave with a very close resemblance to Jesus and family. They are trying to show that it is Him – this is feeding the critics who do not believe in His resurrection as well as swaying the agnostics more to the side of non-believing.

    So what am I saying? Proof is usually in the eye of the beholder when it comes to historical things that we only have snipets of facts and evidence (mainly on paper). This even pertains to things that have recently happened, such as the ones I mentioned above.

  49. David says:


    Actually, Ehrman doesn’t say what she was saying. He affirms the existence and crucifixion of Jesus of Nazareth. If I understand him right, he has issues with the reliability of the NT due in part to textual variants which is not the problem Chanson has. Chanson goes farther than either Ehrman or Crossan in that both affirm the existence of Jesus. Thus, I was right to state so. I know both scholars assault the historicity of the NT all over the place but even for them Jesus is a real historical person. Her claim that the mere existence of Jesus is “debatable” is quite frankly absurd and a red herring given the original question posed (which she has yet to answer).

    I did not attempt to make an argument in this article. I was merely trying to find common epistemological ground which is obviously a very difficult task. It seems disingenuine to challenge claims that even Mormons here readily accept. What in the article is so inaccurate? (Other?) Mormons have been straight forward in answering the question posed (thank you all BTW) and to take issue with it when no argument has been made (except maybe arguing for an epistemological viewpoint) comes across as being highly defensive. Who is being inaccurate here? Consistency, would demand that if the existence of Jesus is “debatable” then the Battle of Marathon is “debateable” as well (and just about every historical “fact” of the ancient world). Seriously, this is why I wanted to establish common epistemological ground before (key word there) I move on to a polemical/apologetic point. Lastly, it truly is hard for me to take her seriously when she cavalierly challenges a fact that 99% of secular academia accepts.

  50. Michael P says:

    Ah, but Ralph, some things are subject to interpretation. Some argue anything is subject, but I think it is clear that others are not, and that is what is in question here.

    So, if it is proved than Jesus did in fact die, that will shake the faith of millions, and rightfully so.

    I am sure that in the event some ‘proof’ is shown, there will be some who fight and excuse it away, much the way Mormons do. But there will also be those that truly and openly investigate it. If the claim if found true, Christianity will effectively be destroyed in terms of what it is today.

    My old pastor says, ‘Follow me a dead savior, then you’ll end up just like him.’

    As to that oscuary, I find it shaky for several reasons, least of all its simple timing (given the one found saying it was James (i think it was), brother of Jesus). But, it is am important issue to follow.

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