Proving the Book of Mormon

by Rusty Lindquist on February 7, 2008 · 17 comments

First, I’ll say that no matter how much effort you invest into proving the Book of Mormon to be true, whether through research, archeology, or discussion and debate, there’s only one way to REALLY know, and that’s through a confirmation of the Holy Ghost.  That kind of confirmation comes subsequent to sincere supplication, inquiring of the Lord directly of its truthfulness (Moroni 10:3-5 | James 1:5), for whereas “facts” and “evidence” is always subject to dispute, a divine testimony is inarguable to him that receives it.

Still, there’s a certain amount of entertainment value in discovering evidence of the remarkable events described in the Book of Mormon, and certainly an increased validity to the Book of Mormon itself, along with Joseph Smith, who found, translated, and died for it.

Such a discovery came to light recently, as reported by the Nephi Project, whose mission it is “to discover Book of Mormon archaeological sites relating to Nephi’s writing” (from their website).

On February 3rd, 2008, an iron ore mine was discovered in Nasca Peru.  That might seem trivial, but it just so happens that this particular mine is believed to be at least 2,000 years old, placing it squarely within the timeframe the Book of Mormon places the Nephites and the Lamenites at that same time.  Historically, critics of the Book of Mormon have used the lack of such a discovery to dispute the validity of the Book of Mormon.

From the Nephi Project’s recent newsletter:

“The discovery is gratifying to George Potter, since his new book (which will be available in the fall of 2008) proposes that Nasca was the possible site of the Book of Mormon’s city of Bountiful.”

You can read about the discovery here.

Still, it surprises me how much dispute there is about the Book of Mormon, not because there are some bits of evidence here and there that it was true, but because if someone really wanted to know, all they’d have to do is read it and ask, with sincerity and faith. 

It’s my testimony that the Book of Mormon is true.  I know it with complete certainty.  Not through any physical evidence or extensive archeological research, but simply because I asked.  And that testimony is galvanized daily as I to study its teachings and can be yours by doing the same.

Rusty

{ 17 comments… read them below or add one }

1 kelly miller May 27, 2008 at 9:58 PM

i love your blog

Seek Learning by Faith

As we look forward and anticipate
An ever confused and turbulent time
It becomes essential to seek learning by faith
Where there is spiritual strength and protection in life
And direction in the knowledge that we obtain

Learning by faith opens the pathway into the heart
Hoping for things which are not seen but are true
All that the teacher’s spiritually prepared to impart
To demonstrate, persuade and testify anew
Through the Holy Ghost, if we would but do our part

Faith in action enables us to press forward
Assured that we’ve found the correct understanding
Though we’re uncertain and where we are going is hard
We step into darkness from the light where we’re standing
Soon, we’ve new evidence of faith and coil upward

In God’s grand division of all His creations
They’re things to act and things to be acted upon
We have been blessed with the power to be agents
The Lord safeguards us from Lucifer’s rebellion
And we learn to be more morally obedient

When we’re receptive our learning is not passive
We become actors and doers of the word
Our pondering invites learning in the process
The Holy Ghost whispers truth of what is heard
And faith opens the hearts pathway for a witness

In Joseph’s time ministers told him what to do
In the midst of this war of word and tumult of thought
He went to a grove to pray so he could act on truth
He sought learning by faith, he wanted to be taught
Through faith, the Word of God, spoke to him in his youth

To answer a deep question, no matter what it is
The Holy Ghost is a teacher from the Father
As a member of the Godhead it witnesses
As it enters into the heart of the learner
As a sacred Gift, to the faithful, it blesses

In 2005, we were invited to grow
To read the Book of Mormon, in a matter of months
To act and not be acted upon, while here below
The world is trouble, what is it one really wants?
The faith to step in the dark, and trust where to go

thoughts on a talk by
-Elder Bednar

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2 Rusty Lindquist May 28, 2008 at 12:53 PM

Wow, I love it! Nice work (send more!)

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3 Nephi July 22, 2008 at 11:10 PM

Although only the power of the Holy Ghost can truly convert someone, if you are interested in a daily post supporting the validity of the Book of Mormon, please visit my blog at realmormonism.blogspot.com

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4 Jim B. August 2, 2008 at 6:23 AM

How exactly does this discovery prove anything?

A hematite mine was discovered in Peru, therefore… what? Joseph Smith claimed the Nephites and the Lamenites used iron, an iron ore mine was discovered in Peru, therefore… everything Smith wrote in the Book of Mormon is true? I don’t follow the logic.

Smith also claimed silk, horses, steel, cattle and grain were in the Americas at this time. I’m sure you know there is ZERO historical/archaeological evidence of this.

“During our evening conversations, Joseph would occasionally give us some of the most amusing recitals that could be imagined. He would describe the ancient inhabitants of this continent, their dress, mode of traveling, and the animals upon which they rode; their cities, their buildings, with every particular; their mode of warfare; and also their religious worship. This he would do with as much ease, seemingly, as if he had spent his whole life among them.”

– Lucy Mack Smith (Joseph’s mother), History of Joseph Smith (p.85)

Lucy recounts these stories as being told years before Smith supposedly discovered the golden plates. Odd…

I’ve never understood the plea to bypass one’s mind by “asking God” if the BoM is true. Are we not to love the Lord our God with all of our heart, soul, mind and strength? Would God ever require or intend for someone to believe something that is demonstrably false?

And James 1:5 (“If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.”) has nothing do with asking God to tell us if a particular thing is true or false. God is not a magic 8-ball.

While we should certainly ask God for the characteristic or virtue of wisdom, we should not bypass our God-given intellect and reason in making decisions. I don’t need to ask God if I should imbibe poison, if I should commit adultery, or if the earth revolves around the sun.

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5 Rusty Lindquist August 2, 2008 at 11:38 PM

As I said in my post, historically, critics of the Book of Mormon have used the absence of such a mine dating back to the time of the Book of Mormon to refute the book. More and more archeological finds, such as this, continue to erode the foundation upon which critics of the book base their arguments. There have been a number of these, I’ll post more.

But in regards to the other claims of Joseph Smith, he had right to claim these things. He was a prophet, seer, and revelator. If indeed he was a prophet of God, then we should be no more surprised to see him make such statements then we are to find prophets of old describing things that they have seen spiritually.

Obviously, that’s the million dollar question – was Joseph Smith a prophet? If he was, then the Book of Mormon is true, and the claim that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the only true church upon the face of the earth, and the only one with the proper authority to conduct ordinances that will be accepted by God, becomes pretty important. Therefore it behooves every individual to find out for themselves, in spite of what others believe (for OR against).

Will many NOT believe? Certainly. Does that have any indication of its truthfulness? None. If it is true that the pathway to salvation is straight and narrow, and few there be that find it (as the bible says), then that means when we DO find it, we’ll also find more people speaking out against it, than we will for it. So the simple fact that some doubt, or spend their time attempting to refute it, should in no wise sway our own decision, which we’ll each be accountable for.

In regards to the plea to bypass one’s mind by asking god if the Book of Mormon is true, I’ve never understood where people outside the LDS church get that either, certainly not from Mormons. Mormons actually encourage the opposite; it’s in our doctrine that we must study it out first in our own minds, that it is improper to invest no effort save it is to ask. Only when we have first studied it out in our own mind are we properly positioned to go to the Lord in prayer for an answer. And while God, as you suggest, is no “magic-8 ball” (cool analogy), he’s also not lying when he says that if you lack wisdom, you should ask him.

It would be both irresponsible and unfortunate for us to dismiss that verse simply because someone came up with a trite analogy to a magic 8-ball. Our ability to “go to God” is not to be limited by the understanding of man, he makes available to us the vast wealth of his wisdom, that can distill upon our souls as the dews from heaven, line upon line, precept upon precept, and in a more practical way, we can similarly approach him in times of need, or when we have questions, or decisions to make in our life. God is there, he cares, he listens, and he will respond.

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6 Jim B. August 3, 2008 at 8:07 AM

Randy,

It’s Rusty, but that’s okay, I’ve been called worse 😉

“But in regards to the other claims of Joseph Smith, he had right to claim these things. He was a prophet, seer, and revelator.”

Aren’t you putting the cart before the horse here? This is entirely my point: Joseph Smith, like all supposed divine emissaries, must prove in some manner to his hearers that he speaks for God. And this is where the distinction I was attempting to make between evidences and signs/miracles comes in. (I was likely not as clear as I meant to be.)

First, that assumption is not true (nor biblically founded). Did Noah prove that he spoke for God before the flood came? Nope, the people either believed, or they didn’t. But there are numerous other instances in the Bible when a prophet offered no “evidence” for their divinity, but the people were forced to use a witness of the Holy Spirit and their own faith to follow.

Secondly, Joseph had countless times in his life when it was clear to those who observed him that he was called of God, evidences, fulfilled prophecies, etc. that are beyond the scope of this thread (or at least my time to recount them all), but all are available to those who wish to learn more of them.

I concede that Jesus performed miracles to establish His divinity (and fulfill prophecy). And I concede that these miracles were evidences of His claims to divinity. However, there is a difference between an individual want to see miracles and signs from a man claiming to be God (or a prophet of God), and an individual 100 or 1000 years later wanting to see some historical and archaeological evidences that a supposed Holy Book is not merely the outworkings of an imaginative mind.

Even the mere suggestion that the Book of Mormon could be conjured up by an uneducated boy like Joseph, shows that you’ve neither read it, nor understood much about Joseph. It would be a great work for even a team of scholars to create such a work, not to mention in the time in which he did it. I challenge you to read it, and ask yourself if you think it seems like the mere result of an imaginative mind.

When I, as a Christian, plead with an unbeliever to believe that the Bible is God’s Word, I can point to it’s historical reliability and accuracy. Egypt was (and is) a real kingdom with a real king (Pharoah), located in a real place precisely as described in the Old Testament. The same is true for Babylon, Persia, Philistia, Palestine, etc. Pontius Pilate and Herod were real people, verified by historical and archaeological instruments outside the Bible. Jesus and His disciples can likewise be identified as real people from sources outside the Bible.

That works well, for evidence that the book has many historically proven facts, but does nothing to show of it’s divinity. Again, clearly, otherwise why would there be so much question and debate if the evidence was so inarguably profound?

So, I don’t approach an unbeliever with a Holy Book that describes peoples, places and events that are demonstrably fantastical. E.g. I don’t ask someone to believe in a Clark Kent who saved an ancient city called Metropolis, though there is no evidence that either existed in the places they were supposed to have been.

How can you not believe in Superman?!? But in all seriousness, you still talk about the complete lack of evidence, when in actuality that evidence exists. Just look. I’ll include it here eventually, but I’m one busy beaver and am having a hard time keeping up with just the comments, let alone continuing to post all the topics I’ve promised. The evidence is there and available in many locations, if you’re impatient I encourage you to simply invest some of your time in finding it out, rather than simply saying there is none when you’ve exerted no effort to see if that’s actually true or not.

It seems the BoM lacks even the most fundamental aspects of being legitimate history. Do Mormons even agree on the general geographical area where the events of the BoM allegedly took place? I’ve read different Mormons argue for New York (in the area where Smith found the plates) and others for South/Central America. We’re talking about thousands of miles here. I can’t see how an argument could exist between two such disparate locations if even the most basic historical and archaeological evidences existed to demonstrate the authenticity of the BoM. (And I mean authenticity in a secular sense – I don’t expect history and archaeology to confirm the miraculous or supernatural, but it certainly should confirm the time, place, etc. where these miraculous events supposedly occurred.)

Again, my comment above should suffice, other than to address dissagreements among Mormons of geographical locations. To their defense (although I encourage all Mormons to do their own homework and know of such things) why does it matter where Hill Cumorah was? How does that add-to the value they take from the teachings in the Book of Mormon. Indeed, it doesn’t, and so many spend little time even wondering, sufficient are the principles contained within it to occupy the entirety of our minds and attention that we would spend little time wondering over such things. These things are important only to those seeking to “prove” the book by evidence, rather than embarking on the real work of studying it out yourself and asking God.

“…was Joseph Smith a prophet? If he was, then the Book of Mormon is true, and the claim that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the only true church upon the face of the earth, and the only one with the proper authority to conduct ordinances that will be accepted by God, becomes pretty important.”

I appreciate your honesty here. I’ve encountered many Mormons recently that contend the LDS faith is a Christian church like any other Christian denominational church. Of course, as you’ve stated here, this isn’t true. The LDS claims to have revelation beyond the Christian Bible that is necessary for salvation/exaltation. Necessarily, all professing Christians outside the LDS faith are apostate.

We’re Christian, but we’re certainly not a Christian church like any other Christian church. Indeed, we’re peculiar in many regards. About as peculiar, in fact, as a Christian would be if we could somehow use time travel to bring him back from the first century before all the creedal changes to doctrine, before the apostasy, before doctrine became decided by man in comitte rather than given by God through revelation. Bring an early Christian back today, set him before you and you’d find him about as peculiar as we are, and with the same beliefs.

“In regards to the plea to bypass one’s mind by asking god if the Book of Mormon is true, I’ve never understood where people outside the LDS church get that either, certainly not from Mormons.”

Uh… Actually, that is ALWAYS the default argument when a Christian questions a Mormon about the legitimacy of the BoM or of Smith’s role as propeht: “just ask God to tell you if this is true.”

I’m sorry to hear that. I can’t help but wonder, however, if they simply meant to infer that you’d first have to learn exactly what it is you’re asking about, and took that as a foregone conclusion, and not even worth mentioning.

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7 Rusty Lindquist August 4, 2008 at 12:49 AM

Jim B.

Thanks for your post. Because there were so many parts, I elected to simply add my comments above amongst yours. Thanks for your comments.

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8 Bob Loblaw September 14, 2008 at 9:43 AM

Just a couple of points. First, to compare historical validity of the Bible to the BOM requires one to ignore the fact that the people writing the BOM were all killed around 1600 years ago. This includes the destruction of many of their cities. The group of people responsible for writing the Bible were not massacred to the point of extinction, though some tried. Second, to assume that historians and scientists know and understand everything that happened in our Earth is a large assumption that most Christians are unwilling to make, especially when considering the Big Bang theory of creation. The fact is, many historians are still trying to comprehend the people who inhabited South and Central America. There remains much to be learned about them. Our level of knowledge may current not correspond to some things written in the BOM; however, time will prove the accuracy and authenticity of its authorship. Besides, those writing the BOM were not trying to leave an accurate and historical account of the people. Their attempt was to include many spiritual lessons taught at the time. Moroni and Nephi (two prophets who wrote in the BOM) asked the reader to excuse insignificant mistakes in the text, recognizing their weakness at writing. The BOM provides an account of Christ’s teachings to the House of Israel that existed on the American Continent. If you want to point to the current lack of historical evidence that horses existed before Cortex to discredit the message of Christ, you are missing the purpose for which the book was written. Should one discredit the entire Bible because there is no “scientific or historical data” that a man can actually live in the belly of a whale? Or that a man can actually part the Red Sea? Please don’t fall into the trap of pious intellectuals and assume that because we can’t understand something, it must be a lie.

Rusty is accurate, there is a spirit element to conversion. Hopefully a “Christian” would recognize that one cannot simply read the Bible from an intellectual perspective and know its true and proves God’s existence. In order to gain a belief or a conversion in Christ, His teaching in the Bible one should pray for that faith. Mormon’s asking others to read and study the spiritual messages in the BOM and pray to God for faith and belief in their authenticity is not ignoring common sense and logic. Rather, it is applying the process of conversion. If you disagree, I would question your conversion to the teachings of the Bible, because faith is a necessary component for one to believe in God.

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9 Jim B. September 15, 2008 at 11:44 AM

Mr. Loblaw,

“Should one discredit the entire Bible because there is no “scientific or historical data” that a man can actually live in the belly of a whale? Or that a man can actually part the Red Sea? Please don’t fall into the trap of pious intellectuals and assume that because we can’t understand something, it must be a lie.”

In my comment immediately above yours, I said we should not “…expect history and archaeology to confirm the miraculous or supernatural, but it [history/archaeology] certainly should confirm the time, place, etc. where these miraculous events supposedly occurred.” The critique, from a Christian perspective, of the BoM is not that there is not historical or archaeological evidence to support its miraculous or supernatural claims. The critique is of a complete absence of such evidence for the non-supernatural elements of its narrative: people groups, places, events, etc.

An example from the Bible: While I would not expect scientific evidences of Moses parting the Red Sea or of the signs and wonders previously displayed in Egypt, I certainly would expect some kind of evidence that Egypt was an actual nation, Pharaoh was its king, the Israelites were a real people enslaved there, etc. Otherwise, there is not rational basis for belief. God does not ask us to believe in fairy tales – stories lacking ANY legitimate historicity or foundation in reality.

“Rusty is accurate, there is a spirit element to conversion. Hopefully a “Christian” would recognize that one cannot simply read the Bible from an intellectual perspective and know its true and proves God’s existence.

…faith is a necessary component for one to believe in God.”

On a different thread, I’ve been engaged with Rusty on this very topic. I have argued that conversion is wholly spiritual – that God is the sole actor in regeneration. Again, my argument is not against faith; it is against irrational faith. Believing that God, through Moses, parted the Red Sea requires faith. Believing all the above I mentioned vis a vis Egypt, Pharaoh, Israel, etc. does not. Believing Christ died on a cross and three days later resurrected requires faith. Believing that Jesus Christ existed, that Rome and Palestine are historical places, that Herod, Pontius Pilate and the Sanhedrin were actual historic people and associations does not.

And regarding the history and archaeology of the Americas prior to the European conquests, much is known. Perhaps, not as much as we know about the ancient Mediterranean world, but there is certainly vast body of history known to us. Is it complete? No. But again, we are not talking about a particular item here or there that does not stack up with the accounts of the BoM (e.g. horses). We are talking about a COMPLETE ABSENCE of any historical evidence that ANY of these peoples, places and events EVER EXISTED ANYWHERE.

A related side note: I find the idea that God allowed His people to be completely exterminated at odds with His covenantal working. God regularly disciplines His people, wiping out large numbers of them, exiling them , etc. But He ALWAYS promises to keep a remnant for Himself. He never completely annihilates them.

Yet, in LDS theology, God completely abandons His American people for 1600 years (allowing the people and their habitations to be exterminated), and abandons His New Testament Church for approximately the same number of years to an abominable apostasy before “restoring” it under Smith.

If find it odd, anyway.

God Bless

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10 Jason Wright September 15, 2008 at 7:56 PM

Beloved, while I was making every effort to write to you about our common salvation, I felt the necessity to write to you appealing that you contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints. (Jude 3)

In the Greek text the definite article preceding “faith” points to the one and only faith: “the faith.” There is no other. Such passages as Galatians 1:23 (“He who once persecuted us is now preaching the faith”) and 1 Timothy 4:1 (“In latter times some will fall away from the faith”) indicate this objective use of the expression “the faith” was common in apostolic times. Greek scholar Henry Alford wrote that the faith is “objective here: the sum of that which Christians believe” (Alford’s Greek Testament, 4:530).

Note also the crucial phrase “once for all” in Jude 3. The Greek word here is hapax, which refers to something done for all time, with lasting results, never needing repetition. Nothing needs to be added to the faith that has been delivered “once for all.”

George Lawlor, who has written an excellent work on Jude, made the following comment:

“The Christian faith is unchangeable, which is not to say that men and women of every generation do not need to find it, experience it, and live it; but it does mean that every new doctrine that arises, even though its legitimacy may be plausibly asserted, is a false doctrine. All claims to convey some additional revelation to that which has been given by God in this body of truth are false claims and must be rejected. ”

Also important in Jude 3 is the word “delivered.” In the Greek it is an aorist passive participle, which in this context indicates an act completed in the past with no continuing element. In this instance the passive voice means the faith was not discovered by men, but given to men by God. How did He do that? Through His Word—the Bible.

And so through the Scriptures God has given us a body of teaching that is final and complete. Our Christian faith rests on historical, objective revelation. That rules out all inspired prophecies, seers, and other forms of new revelation until God speaks again at the return of Christ (cf. Acts 2:16–21; Rev. 11:1–13).

In the meantime, Scripture warns us to be wary of false prophets. Jesus said that in our age “false christs and false prophets will show great signs and wonders, so as to mislead, if possible, even the elect” (Matt. 24:24). Signs and wonders alone are no proof that a person speaks for God. John wrote, “Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world” (1 John 4:1).

Ultimately, Scripture is the test of everything; it is the Christian’s standard. In fact, the word canon means “a rule, standard, or measuring rod.” The canon of Scripture is the measuring rod of the Christian faith, and it is complete.

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11 Rusty Lindquist September 16, 2008 at 12:00 AM

Jim B.

There are serious flaws here.

The first, and foremost, is that it’s a gross misstatement to say that there are absolutely no physical evidences (archeological or otherwise) confirming the history as set forth in the Book of Mormon for indeed they are numerous.

Are they as prevalent as those in the eastern hemisphere, surely not, for the history of this western hemisphere is, as Bob expressed, still widely unknown. In fact, it was interesting, while I was in San Francisco a couple months back I had a rare opportunity to turn on the TV. To my great interest, the program (NOVA I believe) was exploring the still unknown origins of the ancient American people. To this day, scholars face quite the conundrum. The skeletal record suggests these ancient Americans had multiple origins, but not those you’d expect (the ones likely to have occurred because of some ice/land bridge), but rather would have required great sea voyages in ships that we would have expected unlikely to have been possible. Yet the book of Mormon describes, in great detail, how two of the primary inhabitants of this continent got here – both of which were by boat, and both from very far away (perhaps just a good guess by Joseph Smith).

But, the point is, the level of understanding that exists today about the ancient American people is so very incomplete. Yet as more is discovered, oddly enough, it seems to confirm, and certainly not contradict, the historical account of the Book of Mormon. And as Scholars continue to uncover history, they shall yet reveal many additional evidences vouching for the authenticity of the Book of Mormon.

But to what avail?

This brings me to the second serious flaw. At what point does that evidence become incontrovertible? How much must be uncovered before you believe the Book of Mormon to be the Word of God? Let me know, so that at that time I can send you an email and say “okay, here we are”. The problem is, even in spite of a mountain of evidence supporting its historical authenticity, you still would be no nearer to accepting it as the word of God. Therefore it’s folly to claim that such physical evidence is enough proof for you to discount it, if it’s also insufficient for you accept it.

As I’ve said elsewhere, it’s pretty much unanimous that the Bible is historically accurate, there’s more evidence than you can shake a stick at. Yet does everybody believe in it? Why? Because evidence does not beget faith. Acceptance of something spiritual must come from a spiritual witness, not a physical one.

I’ll address this further in an additional post, for it warrants further exploration and discussion.
Also, you say “… otherwise there is not rational basis for belief. God does not ask us to believe in fairy tales – stories lacking ANY legitimate historicity or foundation in reality.” But I say yours is therefore an extremely limited view of the power of faith.

What is the distinction you make between faith that is rational versus irrational? Walking on water, is that very rational? How about parting the red sea – does that sound like the stuff of reality, or the stuff of fairy tales? Certainly not any reality that any of us have ever witnessed. But am I to believe it? You bet.

How about being raised from the dead? Rational? My faith is not restricted to the limitations of what man might see as “reality”, for I know that with God, all things are possible, even the most implausible “fairy-tale” like hopes can be made real, if we will but believe.

Therefore, should I not believe in something, such as the Book of Mormon, even if it did fly in the face of all conventional wisdom (mans assumed “reality”)? Fortunately, I don’t have to, but even if I did, I could.

Lastly, you say “I find the idea that God allowed His people to be completely exterminated at odds with His conventional working”. What about Sodom and Gomorrah?

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12 Rusty Lindquist September 16, 2008 at 12:13 AM

Jason

As a matter of fact, the word “canon” does nothing to connote completeness, and as you suggest, scripture is the test of everything. The Book of Mormon can stand alone in testimony of its divine origin as another witness of Jesus Christ.

The bible itself prophesied that Christ would go to another people, and teach them the gospel. How trite and obtuse it would be for man to imply that these other people were somehow incapable of recording his words and teachings just as was done in the Bible.

Even worse, how unconscionable it would be for us to somehow “decide” that he is incapable of further communication. For as long as he is capable of communicating, and man is capable of recording it, then to say that the canon is closed is simply to say “I’ve had enough”.

As long as you believe in revelation, then the canon is open, and if you’ve somehow stopped believing in revelation, then we need to be having an altogether more fundamental conversation.

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13 Jim B. September 16, 2008 at 8:48 AM

Rusty,

Regarding evidence: I know you SAY there is evidence, but I have yet to see ONE legitimate and particular evidence confirming the unique historical claims of the BoM. And please don’t tell me to “just look for yourself”, because I have.

And we’ve been over the argument on “how much evidence would I need to believe…” Honestly, if historians and archaeologists suddenly began discovering evidences that confirmed unique and particular claims of the BoM that Smith could not have known of (apart from some supernatural revelation), I would have to give the LDS a very serious second look.

I wait with bated breath.

And regarding rational vs. irrational faith: I don’t know how many times I have to make this distinction explicit: I fully recognize that faith is required to believe the SUPERNATURAL. This is entirely beside my point. I am arguing that a faith should have some historical basis in reality if its adherents expect others to believe.

E.g. Scientology – Why should I believe Xenu was the ruler of a Galactic Confederacy millions of years ago? Why should I believe he killed billions of people by placing them near earth’s volcanoes and detonating hydrogen bombs? Why should I believe the spirits (thetans) of these people haunt us today?

There is no foundation in reality for any of these claims. While I will concede Smith’s claims are not quite this extravagant or absurd, there is a similar dearth of evidence that these things actually happened.

I am not arguing against the necessity of faith. I am arguing against a blind and irrational faith.

And regarding Sodom & Gomorrah: God’s only covenant at this time was with Abraham and his descendants. The inhabitants of S&G were not His covenant people.

In fact, this story goes exactly to my point (and against the LDS notion of God utterly destroying His covenant people). The only inhabitants in S&G that had a tangential relationship to God’s covenant WERE SPARED – Lot (Abraham’s nephew) and his family.

God Bless

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14 ryan September 16, 2008 at 5:06 PM

Jim,

This may not persuade you–in fact it likely won’t–but I’ll throw it out there just the same.

When Cortez came to South America back in the 16th century, He was mistaken as “Quetzalcoatl”–a light-skinned bearded God-king who was prophesied to come again. This legend was part of the Aztec civilization for over a thousand years. History books describe the respect the Aztecs gave Cortez (mistaking him for “the Winged God”) “just as Christians revered Jesus Christ.”

In the Book of Mormon, Christ visits the Americas after his Resurrection. He descended from heaven, stayed with them for over a week, established His church, and left with the promise that He would come again. If this indeed happened, I’m sure it was the “talk of the town” so to speak. This may have been passed down from generation to generation as many legends have already, and it’s conceivable that the legend continued until Cortez’ arrival.

Proof? No. But those who have ears to hear, let them hear.

ryan

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15 Jason Wright September 16, 2008 at 5:48 PM

“But those who have ears to hear, let them hear”

“Beloved, while I was making every effort to write to you about our common salvation, I felt the necessity to write to you appealing that you contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints.” (Jude 3)

Every time somebody comes along and says that they have a new revelation, you can tell them, “It isn’t of God because we believe in the once-for-all-delivered-to-the- saints faith.” The word “delivered” is in the aorist tense, which can signify action that happened once in the past. Divine supernatural revelation was once for all delivered to the saints. That’s why we’re defending the faith against all the new “truths” that people keep coming up with. There are no new doctrines. There are no new theological trends that God has invented for certain periods of time. Christianity is historical, objective revelation, and it is complete. That rules out everything from Mormonism to people who think they are having individual revelations from God. I thank God that the Bible is all we need. We don’t have to check out everybody’s vision to see if God has given us something else.

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16 Rusty Lindquist September 18, 2008 at 9:43 AM

I’ve decided to go ahead and do a post “fully” covering some of these evidences. I haven’t wanted to, because there are so many of them that it’s a daunting task, and in order to not plagiarize, I’ll need to write them all to make them my own. Still, I think it’s a worthy endeavor. It’ll certainly be my longest post, in fact, I’ll probably break it up into several posts (20-30), so that discussions of each can be appropriately isolated. And besides, it’ll be fun, and valuable for MANY visitors, now and in times to come. Thanks for prompting it.

Jason Wright,

There are no new doctrines? I can’t see how realistically the bible can contain the sum-total of all eternal doctrine of God? I daresay he has a bit more to offer, which might be why he tells us in Ephesians that we are to be built upon the foundation of apostles and prophets”. Latter-day prophets are able to reveal unto us truth and instructions specific to our needs in our times. It’s a marvelous gift of God, this continuation of his pattern of prophets.

It’s also curious to me, how you can believe that God does not continue to speak to man. What is it that he means when he says “ask and ye shall receive, knock and it shall be opened”, or when he says “if a man lack wisdom, let him ask God”. Why would he suggest we ask, if he intends not to answer?

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17 AlexAxe May 29, 2009 at 2:30 AM

Amazing! Not clear for me, how offen you updating your rustysblog.com.

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