The Bible VS Joseph Smith DVD

Hi all just a quick recommendation, I have just watched the excellent The Bible VS Joseph Smith DVD by Source Flix.

This is a conversation between a Christian and a Mormon, comparing the claims of the Prophets in the Book of Mormon and the claims of the Prophets in the bible, as well as a Prophecy Joseph Smith made.

Containing actual evidence and discussions with non Christian Scholars and Archeologists as well as Christian ones it looks at the issues of evidence and how the Bible and Book of Mormon compare.

Many of you may know the Mormon church claims the bible has been corrupted hence the need for the Book of Mormon, this DVD shows the huge problems with this claim, as well as the issue of the Book of Mormon having no evidence to support its claims.

This dvd is available at http://www.sourceflix.com and I would very much recommend it, It is just 7 Dollars plus postage and is a multi region DVD.

Just as a Christian watching this it was overwhelming just how much support the bible we use today has for its authenticity when comparing it with very early texts.

I would challenge any Mormon watching this with saying I literally dare you to watch it,  and if you do, I will let you have public dialogue with me about what you think about its claims. And I will post on here anything you want to say about it.

And to Christians reading this please give it a try and you will learn a lot, I did!!

140 thoughts on “The Bible VS Joseph Smith DVD”

  1. I watched about 15 minutes of this DVD a few months ago, and I was immediately suspicious that the “Mormon” in this video was just a paid actor and was not really a believing and active Mormon. The dialogue seemed scripted and fake. What do you think?

    I didn’t bother to watch the rest of it because I highly doubt that they present any new information that hasn’t already been touched on in other anti-Mormon DVD’s. There is an older DVD called “The Bible vs the Book of Mormon” that I suspect is largely the same material. What do you think?

    FAIR is very slowly putting together an internet response to this video, but efforts have slowed down because we never get questions about the DVD in our “Ask the Apologist” service. Apparently nobody is watching it. It doesn’t appear to me that many people are watching this DVD, much less being impacted by it.

    If there are any specific portions of the DVD you would like me to try to address it might make for a good conversation.

    James

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    1. I agree James if there was one area of concern I had in this its that the Mormon guy did give in very easily, however there was some tough stuff put his way, I would love to chat to the Mormon guy myself, looked on facebook and could not see Him, his name is Greg Gifford, I would definitly hope he was not acting as a Mormon if you could show he was I would happily remove my recommendation of it.

      However there was some great stuff on it, one thing the Mormon guy said was that he was taught the bible was corrupted by their only being one copy of it being passed down the line which was re wrote out by Monks when it faded, the corruption came into play as they changed bits while recopying it.

      Is this accurate as being what is taught in the Mormon church about the bible?

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      1. no this is not what Mormons are taught in Seminary—that there was only one manuscript! they are taught that the corruption came from all the translations over the centuries but most especially when King James put together a final copy for the world to accept or reject. this is what i have heard.

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  2. Back when I first saw this video I also tried to look up Greg Gifford, but I couldn’t find him anywhere. I suspect his name is invented.

    The LDS Church doesn’t promulgate any detailed explanation of the transmission of the Bible. Remember, all of our local Sunday School lessons are taught by amateurs who usually prepare for their lesson the night before (for better or worse). We don’t have a professional clergy trained in these sorts of things who teach everyone. So the result is that simplistic and often incorrect understandings get passed around and become popularly believed. But it would be wrong to mistake this for any sort of “official” LDS teaching.

    I realize that the issue of biblical transmission is much more complex than what you’ve described above.

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  3. For the record. Greg was not a paid actor. Just becasue he doesn’t “Facebook” doesn’t mean he’s not a real person.

    He’s a very honest man stuggling with the reality of zero eveidence for the validity of the Book of Mormon, Joseph Smith failing the test of a prophet, and the weight of being confronted with what he and his generational family have embraced as truth.

    Many LDS people have responded much the same as James. Trying to dismiss this man’s weak spirit and timidity. Some have stated they would have put the interviewer in his place. Truth is, that is exactily the contentious defensive attitude that is filled with mockery that is often the obsticle to honest non-combative dialogue.

    Fortunately Greg had developed a friendship with the interviewer, Joel Kramer, and gueninely wanted to examine the evidence. He was confident that everything he had been taught and studied in Mormonism was true.

    Dismissing his potential Sunday school instruction was faulty is faulty. The LDS church prints and distributes the educational material that they want taught. The paid personnel are the ones writing the Sunday school manuels that can easily be taught word for word.

    My encouragement to James would be to watch the rest of the film. I’m confident that you will find exception to the material, but we would welcome hearing your scholarly response supported with evidence. Please refrain from waiting for someone else, a missionary or FARMS to do the work that needs to be done by every LDS member. Paul’s writing is clear, “Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dviding the word of truth. But shun profane and vain babblings: for they will increase unto more ungodliness. ”

    My hope is that we can honestly deal with the issues presented by LDS doctrine, teaching and history. Fearing putting the evidence of faith to the test of truth invalidates the confidence of ones proclamation of truth. More simply put, “A faith that can’t be tested is a faith that can’t be trusted.” (Adrian Rogers)

    Hopefully we can have agreement about the definition of faith, Hebrews 11:1 says, “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. ”
    Therefore to align our definition of our faith it should have two important components;
    1. Substance and evidence. Both are required when presenting arguments in a court of law that will eventually get a verdict.

    For Greg, he’s is wrestling with the confidence and evidence of a verdict he was hoping would have proved something else, namely Mormonism to be truth.

    Is the documentary being watched? Fervently.
    Is there much influence? Every time it is watched.

    A final thought from the book of Proverbs 28:26, “He that trusteth in his own heart is a fool: but whoso walketh wisely, he shall be delivered.”

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  4. Earl,

    Assuming you know Greg Gifford personally, I’ll take your word for it.

    I happen to wonder why sourceflix chose someone like Greg Gifford, who obviously is not well informed on LDS scholarship, to be the LDS representative in this film. Most church goers, including mainstream Christians and Mormon Christians, do not spend very much time studying out the evidences or challenges for their respective faiths. For the purposes of this discussion lets divide all church goers into three categories, A, B, and C.

    We might say that 90% of church goers, regardless of denomination, are not well informed on the evidences or challenges to their faith. They are group A. Another other 8% of church goers, regardless of denomination, might be somewhat familiar with the evidences and challenges to their faith. And finally, perhaps 2% of church goers are very familiar with the evidences and challenges to their faith.

    I think we’d agree that the sourceflix team is composes of people from group C. They are very familiar with the issues. My feel is that Greg Gifford belongs to group A. I haven’t watched the whole video, but I’m willing to bet that Gifford doesn’t know a whole lot, if anything, about the evidences and challenges to his faith.

    So we have a situation in which an interview between someone from group C interviews someone from group A, and it is presented as if it were a fair and balanced discussion!

    Earl, you said that you hope we can honestly deal with LDS doctrine. I ask you, was the LDS side of the story honestly presented in this video? Why wasn’t someone more familiar with LDS scholarship interviewed? Was the best of LDS scholarship discussed? Or, was it ignored (as it was in “The Bible vs the Book of Mormon”)?

    And, I stand by my earlier comments regarding Sunday School material. The Church is not teaching detailed explanations of the transmission of biblical texts. Greg’s comments on that matter can’t be traced to any official LDS Sunday School manual.

    James

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  5. James,
    We would all love for the LDS leaders to step forward and be interviewed on this or any other LDS doctrine. They won’t do it. Not one “official” word about anything or to anyone. Why is that????

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  6. Kate, the ecclesiastical leaders of the LDS Church are spiritual leaders, not scholars. They are not specialists in Mormon scholarship, but they are specialists in faith, righteousness, and in following Christ.

    The video being discussed here concerns scriptural and doctrinal scholarship. The ecclesiastical leadership of the LDS Church would be poor representatives for that. But, if the video was about following Christ or strengthening relationships with God, the ecclesiastical leaders of the LDS Church would be perfect.

    You don’t ask a plumber to do a carpenter’s job.

    Critics, such as yourself, constantly insist on “official” comments from the LDS Church. But that is simply not how it works. We are not a creedal church. We take firm “official” doctrinal stances on only the bare bones essentials of the gospel. Our membership is invited to study things out and form their own opinions on everything else. For example, LDS debate amongst themselves about Book of Mormon geography. But that issue is not pertinent to making and keeping covenants with God, and so the Church stays out of it.

    Sincerely,
    James

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  7. James,
    So you are telling me that Mormons follow a prophet that doesn’t know what it’s all about??? That the prophet Thomas S. Monson would be a “poor representative” for the Mormon Church??? That is the lamest thing I’ve ever heard James. It’s not what the leaders of the Church would agree with either. You basically just said that the prophet of the Mormon Church doesn’t know a thing about Mormon doctrine. He only knows how to be spiritual. Huh??? So Elder Packer shouldn’t have talked about homosexuality at Conference then? That wasn’t very “spiritual”. I could list so many others, but quite honestly, there’s no point. What you just said is not true. The leaders don’t make official statements because they don’t want to keep repeating the same mistakes that they are dealing with now because of the past leaders “visions” and “revelations” that were made publicly, like say, the Adam-God doctrine, Blood Atonement, Polygamy…..people are leaving the Church in droves because of this and the fact that there is no evidence to prove the Book of Mormon is true, DNA evidence that proves it’s not true and so on. The fact that the leaders of the Mormon Church won’t dispute this and try to prove that this stuff is true, is sending a message to the world.

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  8. Kate,

    Please don’t misrepresent what I’ve said. I didn’t say that the ecclesiastical leaders of the LDS Church don’t know their doctrine. They do. They are the authorities on the doctrines of salvation.

    But I’m carefully distinguishing between doctrines of salvation and all other teachings. The DVD we are discussing pits biblical scholarship against Joseph Smith. In order to have an intelligent conversation on those topics we need people who are versed in biblical scholarship *and* in Mormon scholarship. It is a conversation about scholarship. It is not a conversation about the doctrines of salvation.

    For example, I’m confident that the apostle Paul (every Evangelical’s favorite apostle) was more than capable of holding a rigorous discussion on matters of doctrine. He did so in his letters. But what if a sophisticated scholar of biology had approached Paul and challenged him to explain how Jesus’ could possibly be resurrected in biological terms? We both know that Paul would then be out of his element. It isn’t his specialty. Paul’s specialty is in declaring truth and bringing souls to Christ. He would not be an adequate voice in a debate about the biological possibility of Christ’s resurrection. That isn’t his job as an apostle.

    Do you agree with that?

    The same principal extends to modern apostles. Elder Packer was more than qualified to declare God’s will concerning homosexuality. But he is *not* qualified to hold an in depth conversation exploring the science behind homosexuality. That isn’t what apostles are for. It is directly analogous to Paul’s situation.

    And don’t delude yourself into thinking people are leaving the Church in droves. Kate, you are clearly very unfamiliar with LDS scholarship and apologetics, and so you make very incorrect assertions regarding BoM evidence and DNA issues.

    Sincerely,
    James

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  9. James,

    And don’t delude yourself into thinking people are leaving the Church in droves. Kate, you are clearly very unfamiliar with LDS scholarship and apologetics, and so you make very incorrect assertions regarding BoM evidence and DNA issues.

    People are leaving in droves. I know many. You can also check out the internet to verify this. Tons of ex-mormons. I’ve also learned that even though they may remove my records, they won’t subtract me from the 12 or 14 million they claim as members. People are leaving.

    I’m not stupid James. I’m very familiar with it all now. No offense, but I was a Mormon for a lot longer than you’ve been alive. I KNOW what is taught. I also know the Church is changing dramatically from it’s original teachings. You don’t confuse me with your spinning or as my friend Shawn calls it, “twistianity.” I’ve studied the evidence. Where are the lands of the Book of Mormon? I know Mormon apologists say it’s in Mesoamerica. Why did Joseph Smith say in the Book of Mormon that there were horses and elephants? Copper? Ore? Wheat, Barley? None of that existed in Mesoamerica at the time the Book of Mormon says. I know LDS apologists are trying to say that the Mayans are the descendants of Lamen. Even though the “Lamanites” that Joseph Smith was familiar with were clearly the Natives of the United States. By the way, have you been to the Yucatan yourself? I have. We spent an entire day with a private tour guide who educated us on the Mayans while touring Chitchen Itza. Their history and traditions absolutely do not nor have ever matched the Book of Mormon. An interesting little fact that she told us was that Mayans are born with a half moon shaped birthmark on their lower back. The ONLY other people in the world to have this are the Mongolians. Clearly Asian. Clearly not from the middle east.

    Please don’t misrepresent what I’ve said. I didn’t say that the ecclesiastical leaders of the LDS Church don’t know their doctrine. They do. They are the authorities on the doctrines of salvation.

    You’re spinning James. The prophet is the authority on ALL doctrines. If they know their doctrine, then why don’t they stand up and shout it out? Lay to rest all of this?

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  10. I was not involved in the making of this documentary other than praying for the Sourceflix.com ministry. I personally know the interviewer, Joel Kramer, and the folks who went to Israel with the Giffords, Chip and Jamie Thompson. (Author of The Mormon Scrapbook).

    Two summers ago, Greg Gifford and his wife had contacted the Thompson’s and wanted to go to Israel to meet Joel and explore the archelogical sites. Greg nor the Thompson’s disclosed anything about Greg being LDS. About 10 days or so into the trip, being shown all over Israel, examining site after site, Greg asked Joel the question, “So you don’t believe there is any archelogical evidience for the Book of Mormon?” Joel realized Greg was LDS. Obviousely, they had developed a relationship during the days traveling together and Joel asked Greg if he would consider being interviewed about the evidence or lack thereof of the Book of Mormon. The interview took place on Joel’s balcony in Jerusalem. The final shot of Greg decending from Cave #1 in the Qumran was filmed after the interview.

    Greg has struggled heavily. We must pray for him. He is wrestling with the purpose of his life if it is not about Mormonism. That is the issue. To truly know Jesus, it’s all about him and not how a church tells you to think. Once men demand we listen to them we do error.

    In Matthew chapter 17 Peter is given very clear instruction from the Father, “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased; hear ye him.”

    If we received instruction about Christ that is different from what He has said then we are disobeying the Father’s command.

    Jesus warns his disciples in Matthew 24:4, “And Jesus answered and said unto them, “Take heed that no man deceive you. For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and SHALL DECEIVE MANY. (emphasis added)

    The warning to the LDS and others is not “antiMormon”, it is pro Mormon, and exposes the false doctrine of men that is deceiving people. That is what this documentary is all about. Religious people have always contended with the truth, the Pharisees did with Jesus. They didn’t want to hear His message.
    Paul preached as recorded in Acts 13:40, “Beware therefore, lest that come upon you, which is spoken of in the prophets; Behold, ye desipisers, and wonder, and perish: for I work in your days, a work which ye shall in no wise believe, though a man declare it unto you. ”
    It is important to read this passage in context for the preceeding two verses say, “Be it known unto you therefore, men and brethren, that through this man is preached unto you the forgiveness of sins: And by him all that believe are justified from all things, from which ye COULD NOT BE JUSTIFIED BY THE LAW OF MOSES.” (emphasis added)
    Undeniably, the LDS doctrine demands that you live the law, the commandments THEN you might be saved, you must live a life repented of sin and never repeating that sin again. You must be perfect, then you have an opportunity to be exhalted. Alma 11:37, ” And I say unto you again that he cannot save them in their sins;…Therefore, ye cannot be saved in your sins.” This clearly states that a person must be out of their sin, or simply “sinless” in order to be saved. Who can be sinless? Christ alone. Romans 3:10, “As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one: … verse 23, “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God”

    The LDS doctrine stands in bold opposition to Christ and His teaching. The work of God, that Christ taught the people is found in John 6:29, “Jesus answered and said unto them, “This is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent.”
    JESUS also taught in John 3:18, “He that BELIEVETH ON HIM IS NOT CONDEMNED: but he that BELIEVETH NOT is condemned ALREADY, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.”

    Salvation is by faith alone. Back to Romans 3:27, “Where is boasting then? It is excluded. By what law? of works? Nay: but by the law of faith. THEREFORE, we conclude that a man is justified by faith WITHOUT the deeds of the law.”

    The 6th President of the “restored gospel”and prophet of the LDS Church, Joseph F. Smith, taught, “I do not believe that a man is saved in this life by believing, or professing to believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, but that he must endure to the end and KEEP the commandments that are given.” (Conference Reports, April 1915, p 119) The 2nd President Brigham Young taught, “Every ordinance, every commandment and requirement is necssary for the salvation of the human family” (Discourses of Brigham Young p. 152. See also Teaching of the President of the Church – Brigham Young, page 18)

    Greg Gifford was not personally selected by Joel or Chip, he came to Israel on his own accord and was not afraid to graciously dialogue about the validity of his doctrine that is the foundation or substance of his faith. How courageous, how humble, how honest.

    Jesus taught, Mark 2:17
    They that are whole have no need of the physician, but they that are sick: I came not to call the righteous , but sinners to repentance.
    KJV

    Before a person can be saved they must realize their need for salvation from their sin. If you say you have no sin, you deceive yourself, and the truth in not in you. (See 1 John 1:8).

    If you have no sin because you embrace the idea that you were favored in the pre-existance and now on a journey of learning to live a perfect life you fit the definition of the ones Christ did not come to save, and you have your reward.

    Acknowleding the truth about our sin condition will always be a battle of man’s until the 2nd coming of Christ.

    Therefore, we press on as directed by Jude 17-25. Amen.

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    1. I know Greg Gifford personally and consider him a friend. He and his wife have shown my wife and I great generosity over a number of years. Greg is struggling a lot with much inner turmoil. He has a big heart of compassion and would seek to no one any harm, but is on a journey for the truth.

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  11. Kate,

    (1) You’ll have to excuse me of “check the internet” is not a good enough explanation on your part to back up your assertion that people are leaving the Church in droves. You hang out on ex-mormon websites and blogs, and you may be forgetting that your angry little ex-mormon world is actually quite small.

    (2) Kate, I don’t know how old you are, and so you very well may have been LDS for longer than I’ve been alive. But, of course, that really doesn’t matter. What matters is who has the better evidence and arguments, you or I.

    (3) You’ve raised a host of questions about the Book of Mormon all in one breath. As I described in another discussion with Bobby, that is the “shotgun” approach. Multiple little darts are thrown all at once in the hope that one of them will land. If you want to discuss one single topic with me, I’d be happy to explore it in depth with you. But I refuse to try and cover a host of topics all at once. We can’t do justice to the issues that way.
    But, I doubt Bobby wants us clogging up his discussion about the DVD with that conversation. Feel free to email me, Kate, and we can discuss elephants or horses or copper or whatever you want. My email is lehislibrary@gmail.com

    (4) I’ve spent an entire day at Chichen Itza also, but I didn’t think about Book of Mormon peoples because Chichen Itza fall outside of the Book of Mormon timeframe. I also agree that Mesoamericans primarily are Asiatic in origin. No big deal.

    Sincerely,
    James

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      1. “Spin….” is not a response.

        Unfortunately, whatever civility you and I once shared is quickly slipping away. Let’s both take a deep breath and remember there is a person behind that keyboard!

        I wish you the best. Feel free to email me.

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  12. James,
    I understand why you would think my comments aren’t on your topic.
    Let me try to briefly explain.

    1. I needed to expose the deceptive acqusation claiming Greg was an actor, which inherently tries to discredit the validity of the documentary, and Greg as a true Mormon.
    2. It was also necessary to address the ridicule devaluing of the documentary and others like it, ie “The Bible vs The Book of Mormon.
    My claim is that the LDS teach “Another Testament of Jesus Christ” as proudly imprinted on the outside of Books of Mormon.
    Paul writes in 2 Corinthians 11:3-4 2 Cor 11:3-4
    But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtilty, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ.
    For if he that cometh preacheth another Jesus, whom we have not preached, or if ye receive another spirit, which ye have not received, or another gospel, which ye have not accepted, ye might well bear with him.
    KJV

    The LDS teach another Jesus, spirit and gospel than that of the Bible.

    I provided LDS authority quotes to validate this truth. I’ll give you another quote to clarify my point.
    15th President Gordon B. Hinckley said, “No, I don’t. The traditional Christ of whom they speak is not the Christ of whom I speak. For the Christ of whom I speak has been revealed in this the Dispensation of the Fulness of Times. He together with His Father, appeared to the boy Joesph Smith in the year 1820, and when Joseph left the grove that day, he knew more of the nature of God than all the learned ministers of the gospel of the ages” (Crown of Gospel is Upon Our Heads, Church News, June 20, 1998, p7)

    My hope was that you would agree to the differences of doctrine of the LDS and mainstream Christianity, and support the LDS prophet’s position.

    3. Finally, it is the responsiblity of the Bible believer in Christ to follow the advice of Paul to Timothy. 2 Tim 2:24-26

    24 And the servant of the Lord must not strive; but be gentle unto all men, apt to teach, patient,

    25 In meekness instructing those that oppose themselves; if God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth;

    26 And that they may recover themselves out of the snare of the devil, who are taken captive by him at his will.
    KJV

    James, according to the Bible, until you acknowledge truth you will continue to be in a snare.

    My hope for you is the same for Greg and ALL other LDS people is that they may acknowledge truth and be freed from the snare of the devil.

    Jesus teaches it is TRUTH that sets a person free, and He proclaims that He is TRUTH, and that if HE sets you free, then you are free indeed.

    Please understand that my hope for you is genuine, and that you’ll be able to set aside any prejudices and predeterminiations to look at the information given, put it to the test, without fear of the result. If we are wrong you could show us, but if we are right, you can know there are people who love you and will help you through a very difficult time. A time such as Greg is going through, realizing, he may forfeit all that he has, but gain all that Christ has to give.

    John 8:34b “Whosoever will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. For whosoever will save his life shall lose it; but whosoever shall lose his life for MY sake and the gospel’s, the same shall save it. For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?”

    This is the second admonition. (Titus 3:9-11)
    Earl

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  13. Earl,

    I was a little confused by your first long comment because you went on a little soteriological excursion. I’m not sure why you decided to start preaching about faith, works, and salvation. I don’t see how that fits into the context of the discussion here.

    Now, this last time you’ve gone off on another tangent with your (incorrect) opining about “another Jesus” of Mormonism. I’ve already addressed this silly and rather desperate attack here: http://mormonisminvestigated.co.uk/questions/#comment-262

    Good luck.

    James

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    1. James your address of the different Christ comment I would say was hardly useful, you just stated that many people consider themselves Christians, obviously including yourself and that you reject the Trinity. I think that is barely scratching the surface on the issue, however to avoid complicating this discussion further I will add it to my list of future posts and thrash it all out with you then if that’s ok.

      I think Earl has explained why He gave a good explanation about Salvation even if you are not happy with why that came up he has told you.

      I am at work this week hence why I am not getting too stuck into this conversation but lets try and avoid going in circles and getting personal!

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  14. James,
    I ask you to go back and read our dialogue. I have not attacked you personally the way you have attacked me. You have insinuated that I’m uneducated and stupid. That I hang out on anti Mormon websites and that is such a bad thing. I ask you, where are you hanging out? To be honest, I don’t consider Bobby’s website “anti Mormon.” I get what he’s trying to do and it’s out of love, not hate. I put the single word “spin” there on purpose. To prove to myself that it doesn’t matter what I say to you, even if it’s only one word, you come back negatively and ugly. I could put the word Santa there and you would do the same. I have asked you some questions about the Book of Mormon which this topic is about. I know you are an actual person on the other side of the keyboard. I think it’s you that has a problem with this. You’re even doing it to Earl, who seems like the nicest guy ever!

    Bobby,
    I apologize if I’ve been inappropriate in any way on your website. I understand completely what it is you are trying to do. I don’t want to get in the way of that.

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  15. Bobby and Kate.
    This was the first time I visited your site. I am blessed by the links and the “substance” to faith that it presents for people who are looking for truth.
    Substance has to be the foundation for faith, or it is blind faith.

    In Hebrews 11:1 the Greek word for substance is Hupostasis, which is the same Greek word that the writer of Hebrews uses in Chapter 1:3 as they describe the Son. Check this out, beginning verse 1, “God…hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds; Who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person (Huposatasos), and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, and sat down on the right hand (this is a place of recognition, not a literal hand) of the Majesty on high;… (verse 8) but unto the Son he saith, Thy throne, O GOD, is FOREVER AND EVER: a scepter of righteousness is the scepter of thy kingdom. ”

    YEAH! ( A little fist pumping excitement) Jesus of the Bible is my SUBSTANCE, my HUPOSATASOS, and I am looking forward to meeting you two in HIS kingdom and living with you for eternity with Jesus!
    Bless you both.
    Earl

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  16. Earl,
    Thank you for that! I was born into a Mormon family and started searching about 3 years ago. I am in the process of having my records removed. I’m thankful to Bobby and others like him that dare to show truth. I didn’t have this for the first year or so. It was a heart wrenching time. I feel for your friend Greg. I’ve been there. It’s really hard. I wish him the best and will be praying for him. 🙂

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  17. Kate,
    Bless you back! Wow, praise the Lord for your salvation! Thank you for your prayers for Greg, there are many who are praying for him. Practically every believer in Christ that has seen the documentary is praying for him. The wrestling is not easy, as you described, (Ephesians 6:10-20) nor is the clearing of confusion infected through a false doctrine. I would encourage you to:
    1. Confront each thought about your understanding of truth. Essentially saying to yourself, “Am I thinking of this subject according to LDS doctrine or Biblical doctrine?” As you may already know, they don’t agree on anything. Bobby’s web site has some excellent resources to bring clarity. Thanks again Bobby.

    2. Encourage you to get a copy of Carma Naylor’s books, there are two volumes, titled, “A Mormon’s Unexpected Journey, Finding the Grace I Never Knew” (winepress publishing)

    It’s a great read of the story of struggling with the issues. I’ve talked with her, she is one of the sweetest humblest persons I’ve met over the phone. The story is humorous. Carma being LDS begins witnessing to a “gentile” who is also being visited by the Jehovah Witnesses. As Carma’s friend would bring up the questions posed by the JW’s Carma was forced to study the Bible to respond. You have to read it to see what happens, but you may relate to many of Carma’s struggles. It’s also well documented.

    Bless you, I am thrilled to know you are getting free from darkness related to selfrighteousness.

    Bless you, bless you, bless you!
    Earl

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    1. Earl,
      Thanks for the help. I know I still have tons to learn. A few months ago, I was talking to a friend who is also leaving Mormonism, and she was telling me that nowhere in the Bible does it mention Cain being Black. I always thought that was biblical. I have been attending a Christian Church and the Pastor is really showing me some things. Who knew there was so much freedom in Christ! You are right about the different Jesus. Jesus is not my brother. He’s my God! I’ll surely read the book you recommended!

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  18. Kate,
    I am rejoicing with the angels in heaven over your freedom in the Biblical Christ! Yes, He is God, not an elder brother progressing to godhood.

    Many LDS run in fear when confronted with truth, resort to mockery, contentions, and stiving about the law (rightheous living that it must be kept to earn salvation). Paul describes such as “unprofitable and vain”

    But to those who acknowledge truth, they are set free from the snare of the devil. I commend you for your courage to confront issues that didn’t add up. You reflect Proverbs 27:12 “A prudent man foreseeth the evil, and hideth himself; but the simple pass on, and are punished.”

    Something else that may bless you while you wait on Carma’s book is a great message about the glory of God and the gift of grace through Jesus is the passage found in Romans 5:12-21. Greg Fadness of http://www.lighthousetwinfalls.org does an excellent job of teaching this passage. It’s about 43 minutes long.

    Bless you Kate, it is a joy to celebrate with you your freedom in Jesus.
    Earl

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  19. I’ve been pretty busy all day, and it looks like I’ve missed quite a bit of the conversation.

    I’m outnumbered here, and this discussion has grown increasingly frustrating for me. More often than not we are debating about the debate, and not actually debating the evidences. I just want to talk about the issues! It is always unfortunate when conversations devolve into an argument about who isn’t playing nice or who isn’t being kind. One of the drawbacks of internet conversation is that tone and facial expressions are not present, and so very often we misinterpret a harmless remark as something more insidious than it really was. I’m guilty of it.

    How I’d love to simply discuss one issue at a time! Unfortunately, with so many voices that usually becomes impossible. I’m really not interested in debating just for the sake of debating. I’m far more interested in an exploration of the issues, seeking to understand the other side rather than (or at least before) trying to tear it down. I certainly don’t expect to persuade any of you guys (let’s face it, all of our minds are already made up!) but I would hope to make you see that Mormonism has a stronger position than you are giving it credit for.

    I apologize to any who feel I may have been offensive or rude. I promise you that it was not intentional. As I’ve done many times already, I’m leaving my email address here in the hopes that someone will be interested in a private dialogue. I much prefer private dialogues because in that setting nobody feels like they have to pander to the audience and “one up” the other guy. It is much easier and much more productive to have a friendly one-on-one chat.

    My email: lehislibrary@gmail.com

    With that, I’m going to bow out for a while.

    Blessings,
    James

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    1. Thanks for saying that James, I don’t want you to be ganged up on in here, I have been in LDS forums before and know what its like.

      Please keep an eye on my future posts and comment as you see fit, I would certainly be happy to do some private discussion. Currently I have 3 discussions ongoing that are quite in depth, so will drop you an email when I have not got all 3 going on.

      Bless you mate I love having you here and I know you are not trying to stir up arguments.
      Sent from my BlackBerry® smartphone

      Like

  20. James,
    You’re right. If you and I were sitting face to face, it would be a much more pleasant conversation. It’s hard to tell what the other person is really meaning on here. I know you have offered me your email several times but I’m not comfortable emailing you for 2 reasons.

    1) I have absolutely no clue who you are and I am uncomfortable, I’m not a very trusting person that way.

    2) I’m not sure how my husband would feel if I were emailing another man for any reason and I’m not willing to put him or myself in that position.

    It’s not personal. I’m sure you are a great person. Have a great day!

    Like

  21. James,
    Answer a question for me please.

    Joseph Smith stated as recording in Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p 370-3, “I will preach on the PLURALITY OF GODS… I have always declared God to be a distinct personage, Jesus Christ a separate and distinct personage from God the Father, and that the Holy Ghost was a distince personage of Spirit: and these three constitute three distinct personages and THREE GODS…”

    Apostle Bruce R. McConkie says, “Three separate personages – Father, Son, and Holy Ghost- comprise the Godhead. As each of these persons IS A GOD, it is evident, from this standpoint alone, that a plurality of Gods exist. To us (LDS)… these three are the ONLY GODS WE WORSHIP. But in addition there is an infinite number of holy personages… who have passed on to exaltation and are thus GODS.” (emphasis added) (Mormon Doctrine, pp. 576-7 & pp. 317-24)

    Isaiah 43 :10-11 records the God of the Bible, “Ye are my witnesses, SAITH THE LORD, and my servant whom I have chosen; that ye may know and believe ME, and understand that I am He: before me there was no God formed, neither shall there be after me. I, even I, am the LORD; and beside ME THERE IS NO SAVIOR.”

    These statements from prophet Joseph Smith and Apostle Bruce McConkie disagree with what the God of the Bible says about Himself. Which do you agree with?

    Earl

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    1. Earl,
      Let’s go to the ultimate Mormon source, shall we? In the Book of Mormon it says:

      Alma 11:26-29
      26 And Zeezrom said unto him: Thou sayest there is a true and living God?
      27 And Amulek said: Yea, there is a true and living God.
      28 Now Zeezrom said: Is there more than one God?
      29 And he answered, No.

      Alma 11:38-39
      38 Now Zeezrom saith again unto him: Is the Son of God the very Eternal Father?
      39 And Amulek said unto him: Yea, he is the very Eternal Father of heaven and of earth, and all things which in them are; he is the beginning and the end, the first and the last;
      Alma 11:44 Is too long and I don’t want to type it out, but it does say in it that everything will be restored to it’s perfect frame and brought to be arraigned before the bar of “Christ the Son, and God the Father, and the Holy Spirit which is ONE ETERNAL GOD”.

      Mormonism doesn’t teach this. They teach plural gods. I’m wondering why, if this is what is written in the “restored gospel.”

      I heard a saying once, “The more you torture the scriptures, the more it will tell you what you want to hear.”

      I don’t think the Bible is that hard to understand as a Christian, but Mormons have a heck of a time with it. Go figure.

      Just ONCE I would like for James to answer a question instead of demanding that everyone “define” words. It’s not that complicated James. 🙂

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  22. Earl,
    I disagree with the premise of your questions. Joseph Smith and Bruce McConkie do not contradict the Bible. The issue is one of definitions. In Mormonism there are a number of different uses of the word “god”, such that in the same sentence I could simultaneously say there is only one god and also that there are many gods. If I were to say that, I’d be changing the meaning of the word “god” in mid-sentence, but it would fit just fine into the LDS (and biblical) framework.

    Now, about that contact info for Greg Gifford…got anything for me?

    Thanks.
    James

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  23. FYI, any discussion will have to wait until after Thanksgiving for me. As much as I enjoy you guys, I enjoy spending time with my family much more 🙂

    Happy Thanksgiving

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  24. James,
    I will answer your request when we are on the same page as to the definition of God and His plan of salvation. Until then, I will not forward the requested information.

    BTW your avoidance of answering a simple question didn’t surprise me. I would hope that you would boldly proclaim, YES I believe I am going to become a god someday and you can too, and warn people who don’t follow your plan that they will be serving you.
    James, I am not being sarcastic, though it may seem so. I genuinely want LDS apologist to be bold. Say it like it is please! Man, you got a story to tell, tell IT! Shout it from the roof tops; We don’t agree with the Bible, God is not one, but many, you can be like me and become one too! A person must follow the “good works” that we’ve declared and you’ll be rewarded with exhaltation, where a MAN will have the power to call his wife(s) from the grave, (or not if they don’t serve you well enough on earth)you can resurrect people, you can have people serve you, you can populate a world with you many wives, your first born will have to save them all through some process in a garden… (but who says your children will rebel, they may not need a savior, maybe only elohim needed one, you could bring clarity to this subject for many)

    Joseph Smith and Bruce McConkie were bold. Come on man step up to the plate. To acknowledge truth is FREEDOM. Lead the way, pray that Monson will be bold, if he is to be like Christ with his message for the people, let him be so bold to risk being martyred, you too.

    Looking forward to your response. Please don’t request that I go elsewhere, this forum is just fine.

    Kate, thank you for sharing some of the truth that is printed in the Book of Mormon, you have studied. Bless you!

    Have a great Thanksgiving. Earl

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  25. Earl,

    You, sir, are being utterly ridiculous. I’m surprised Bobby is allowing you to post that sort of foolishness here. I have family who have flown in for Thanksgiving. The house is quiet and everyone is sleeping, so I’m online doing some Christmas shopping. I’m annoyed that I have to read your asinine comments in my inbox. I’ll try to get back to this next week, if I’m not too busy rearranging my sock drawer.

    In the meantime, Earl, if you sincerely want to discuss Mormonism with me you are invited to privately email me. There we can discuss whatever your heart desires. The advantage we will have is that you will no longer feel the need to play to the crowd, score cheap points, and constantly get in the last word for the sake of one-upmanship.

    Sincerely,
    James
    lehislibrary@gmail.com

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  26. James,
    Wow, you were right in a previous statement made to Kate, that it is often difficult to communicate behind a key board. Even though I stated I wasn’t being sarcastic, I knew there was a risk of being misunderstood.

    As gently and genuinely as I am able to write, please forgive me for offending you. I had no malice in my heart toward you, if there was something that I said that wasn’t true, then I’ll accept the correction.
    My position is not spoken harshly, but genuinely. When in business I dealt with competitors, who continually sowed doubt in the customers mind about our product, by saying, “let them sell their product and I’ll sell mine, and let the consumer choose.”

    The same with Mormonism, I’m saying, “stop selling it as something it isn’t and sell it for what it is, embrace it full on for it’s claims.”

    Mormonism teaches man can become God, Christianity teaches God became a man.

    If this is incorrect strike me with my approval, but if it’s correct then do not criticize me for plainly speaking the truth. If my error is in my communication not being filled with enough love, please forgive me, and I promise to fill my words with more love.

    True love is not what we think we need, but what is best for us, and what is best for us is the unconditional love of God. His love commendeth toward us through His Son’s death on a cross while we were yet sinners, much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him!

    Beginning and end, that is Christianity, it is finished from the Cross.

    “1 Corin 1:17 For Christ sent me not to baptize, but to preach the gospel: not with wisdom of word, lest the cross of Christ should be made of none effect. For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God.”

    Everything between Christianity and Mormonism is distinctly different.

    There is no commonality. Mormonism should teach it’s distinctives, that is what seperates it from all of the other faiths of the world. Again, if I wrote something incorrect, then show me plainly. I did not say them carelessly. I have given sources for all my positions until the last comments. I will be happy to provide them for each statement made, using LDS records and passages from the Bible.

    Might I remind you that you requested information from me. I ask you, “would you hire a thief to watch your home while you were away?” No, none of us would. Why would I entrust that information to you if I don’t trust you? Your responses communicate to the truth of my concerns.

    Bobby, if I have errored, please correct me, and I’ll respectfully follow your lead.
    Earl

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  27. I’m not sure why some here believe that in having a conversation about Mormonism, some of us are trying to “one up” or “play to the crowd” or “score cheap points”, Mormonism is what it is. I’ve not played to anyone, but just stated my experience in the religion and asked some questions about Mormon doctrine. Oh and I have given Earl a little background on myself. We should stop complaining about who isn’t playing fair and just discuss the issues, TRULY DISCUSS THE ISSUES, not define words. Which is what this blog is all about!

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  28. Hello folks. I’m back from a wonderful Thanksgiving break, and I have some thoughts to share. I want to tell you why I was so unimpressed with Earl’s comments. After this I’m going to discuss the issue of “gods” in Isaiah and how it relates to Mormonism.

    Earl was calling upon me to boldly declare my beliefs without fear of man’s opinion. That is fine. But Earl provided a short list of beliefs that he thinks I should be declaring, and unfortunately that list is not representative of what I believe, and at best is a caricature of Mormonism. Earl has isolated what he considers the most sensational aspects of Mormon thought, and, instead of focusing on what is truly at the heart of Mormonism (salvation through Jesus Christ), has instead tried to swing our focus to the periphery of Mormonism.

    Just as an example, Earl notes that I should declare with gusto that all men can become gods, and if they don’t they will have to be my servants. This not something that Latter-day Saints regularly think about or believe. I realize that something along those lines is hinted at in D&C 132:16-17, but it is not the sum and substance of Mormonism. I personally don’t believe it. It is a peripheral idea that I have NEVER heard discussed in any Latter-day Saint meeting in my entire life. It is something that could be taken many different ways, and Latter-day Saints haven’t put any thought into it because it simply isn’t important to us.

    I am not in the least bit timid or nervous about declaring what I believe, but I refuse to allow others (ie Earl) to set up straw men in the place of the real message of Mormonism. An analogy would be if I called upon Earl (or any of you) to embrace and shout from the rooftops the message of Proverbs 21:19.

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  29. OK. I’m going to try to discuss the issue of Isaiah’s monotheism and Mormonism. I hope this discussion will have a focus on understanding, and not on tearing down our respective faiths. Let’s face it, I think you are wrong and you think I’m wrong. Now that we are past that let’s just try and understand how we read this passage differently. We don’t have to agree. It’ll never happen.

    This could potentially be a lengthy discussion because there are many ways of approaching it. LDS scholars and thinkers have developed a variety of astute ways of framing this issue. Also, the work of non-LDS scholars in the academic realm has been incredibly helpful. I think a good place to start is to clearly differentiate between our respective concepts of “monotheism”. Once you understand the framework through which Latter-day Saints approach this topic we can then discuss how these passages in Isaiah fit into that framework.

    I realize Kate and others are not interested in taking the time to define words and to identify conceptual “frameworks”. But that is simply what must be done. To illustrate this, consider the time we would waste if we had a debate about whether or not aliens existed if all the while I was talking about little green men in spaceships and you were talking about undocumented workers crossing the border from Mexico to Texas, and we never took the time to define what we mean by “alien”! We could round and round in circles and never get anywhere until we stopped to define our words.

    Without further ado:

    *Metaphysical Monotheism: This is the position of mainstream Christianity, and has been for many centuries. In this view, God is the only member of his “species”, for lack of a better term. He is metaphysically unique. There is no other being in existence who is of the same species as him. He is like a human king ruling over a kingdom of beings, but he is the only human.

    *Kingship Monotheism: This is the position of Mormonism. In this view, God is not metaphysically unique, as he is not the only member of his species. We are the same fundamental species as God, though we do not match him in power and glory. Continuing with the analogy, this is like a human king ruling over a kingdom of other humans. The king, in this analogy, is the most powerful and most righteous of all the other humans. Another way to conceptualize “Kingship Monotheism” is to regard God, angels, pre-mortal spirits, mortal human beings, and resurrected beings to all be the same fundamental species but scattered across a spectrum of glory. The analogy between a caterpillar and a butterfly is apt. They are the same species, but one is clearly more mature and glorious. That is how Mormons conceptualize God and humans. That is our anthropology. Humans, whether pre-mortal, mortal, or post-mortal, are all “gods” in the sense that we belong to the same species. But we are all scattered across an eternal spectrum of glory, in which God the Father is at the very top.

    Miscommunication arises when we argue over what Isaiah means without stopping to recognize the different conceptual frameworks we are respectively approaching the text through. I read Isaiah from the perspective of Kingship Monotheism, while you read Isaiah from the perspective of Metaphysical Monotheism. When Isaiah says, “There is only one God”, we both agree on that statement even though we have very different conceptual frameworks through which we read that statement. That has to be recognized.

    More to come.

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  30. If we have to “define” things, I would prefer to do it with the Word of God. I believe God is who he says he is. We need to check out some Bible verses.

    Isaiah 43:10
    Ye are my witnesses, saith the LORD, and my servant whom I have chosen: that ye may know and believe me, and understand that I am he: before me there was no God formed, neither shall there be after me.

    Isaiah 45:5
    I am the LORD, and there is none else, there is no God beside me: I girded thee, though thou hast not known me:

    Deuteronomy 4:35
    Unto thee it was shewed, that thou mightest know that the LORD he is God; there is none else beside him.

    Psalms 100:3
    Know ye that the LORD he is God: it is he that hath made us, and not we ourselves; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture

    Mark 2:5-7
    5When Jesus saw their faith, he said unto the sick of the palsy, Son, thy sins be forgiven thee.

    6But there was certain of the scribes sitting there, and reasoning in their hearts,

    7Why doth this man thus speak blasphemies? who can forgive sins but God only?

    Revelation 1:17-18
    17And when I saw him, I fell at his feet as dead. And he laid his right hand upon me, saying unto me, Fear not; I am the first and the last:

    18I am he that liveth, and was dead; and, behold, I am alive for evermore, Amen; and have the keys of hell and of death.

    John 1:1-3
    1In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.

    2The same was in the beginning with God.

    3All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made.

    John 1:14
    14And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us

    Colossians 2:8-9
    8Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ.

    9For in him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily.

    I could go on and on! There are so many places in the Bible where the true God is found!

    James, I just have a question that is bothering me. How do you reconcile the Book of Mormon? It clearly teaches the Holy Trinity.

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  31. OK, I just took the time to look up Proverbs 21:19….LOL!!!! Actually, I think we could maybe…..say the same to you 🙂 I wasn’t meaning that rudely either, I’m joking with you!

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  32. Kate,

    I’m fine with defining God by looking for clues in the word of God. I encourage it. But there are three problems with this:

    (1) Mainstream Christianity embraces a definition of God that is *not* found in the Bible, namely the Nicene Creed. The Nicene formula is nowhere found in the Bible, much less words like “Trinity” and “homoousios”.

    (2) None of the passage you pasted defines what “God” means. Try this exercise. Substitute the word “karbunkle” (a made-up word) in every one of those passages for the word “God” and then come back and tell us what a karbunkle is. What you will end up with are insights into the characteristics of karbunkle (loving, kind, powerful, forgiving, etc) but you still won’t know what a karbunkle really is.

    (3) I could paste a pretty lengthy list of passages from the Bible that clearly teach that there are more than one god. What would you do then? Do you want me to paste it? Just for grins, check out my list here: http://lehislibrary.wordpress.com/2007/12/16/trinity-godhead-passages/

    Regarding the Book of Mormon’s theology of God, I’d argue that it is perfectly in line with modern LDS beliefs, as well as with the Bible and other LDS scriptures. You cited Alma 11. I don’t find anything in there that is contrary to current LDS teachings. You have yet to realize, Kate, that the word “god” has varying meaning in LDS parlance. You should have figured that out in all your years as a Mormon. Let me help:

    (A) “god” in some situations can refer to any individual member of the Godhead (the Father, the Son, the Holy Spirit).

    (B) “god” in some situations can refer to the members of the Godhead collectively.

    (C) “god” can refer to any person who has entered into a perichoretic relationship of indwelling love with the Father, and thereby has received all that the Father has (theosis, a very traditional Christian belief).

    (D) “god” can refer to the species of beings that includes God the Father and all spirit children of God the Father, no matter where they are at in their eternal progression.

    There are other definitions, but I think these are main ones. Understanding Alma 11 is as simple as realizing that definition (B) is being employed. It is a fascinating chapter that could be explored more in depth, but I don’t think we need to right now.

    James

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  33. I want you to all consider this quote from Evangelical Old Testament scholar Michael Heiser. I could quote a plethora of other scholars saying the exact same thing, but I figure you might just blithely brush them off as “liberal” scholars:

    “Analysis of the Hebrew text demonstrates that several of the most common phrases in the Hebrew Bible allegedly used for denying the existence of other gods (e.g., Deut 4:35,39; 32:12,39) appear in passages that affirm the existence of other gods (Deut 4, 32). The result is that these phrases express the incomparability of Yahweh among the other elohim, not that the biblical writer contradicts himself, or that he is in the process of discovering monotheism. The situation is the same in Isaiah 40-66. Isaiah 40:1-8 is familiar to scholars (via the plural imperatives in 40:1-2) as a divine council text (Cross, Seitz). Isaiah 40:22-26 affirms the ancient Israelite worldview that described heavenly beings with heavenly host terminology (Heiser, “Divine Council,” 114-118). That Isaiah’s “denial statements” should be understood as statements of incomparability, not as rejections of the existence of other gods, is made clear in Isaiah 47:8, 10, where Babylon boldly claims, “I am, and there is none else beside me.” The claim is not that Babylon is the only city in the world, but that she has no rival.

    Some would argue that the descriptions of a divine council are merely metaphoric. Metaphoric language, however, is not based on what a writer’s view of reality excludes. Rather, the metaphor is a means of framing and categorizing something that is part of the writer’s worldview. When the biblical writer asserts, “Who is like you, O Lord, among the gods (‘elohim, ‘elim; Deut 10:17; Ex 15:11)?” these statements reflect a sincere belief and are neither dishonest nor hollow. Comparing Yahweh to the ancient equivalent of an imaginary or fictional character cheapens the praise. The Psalms contain many exclamations of the incomparability of Yahweh to the other gods (Ps 86:8, 95:3, 96:4, 135:5, 136:2). David (Ps 138:1) proclaims that he will sing the praise of the God of Israel “before the gods” (neged’elohim), a declaration that makes little sense if lesser ‘elohim did not exist.”

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    1. Now then James great discussion, I hope you enjoyed your thanksgiving break,

      I am in the middle of my working week so not masses of time to get stuck into this but I just have a couple of quick points and a question.

      1, Regarding the Nicene Creed though Christians (mainstream) accept this and I am not trying to backtrack from it I would say that we do not believe things in the bible because of it. It was a number of years into being a Christian before I even heard of it and I dare say many Christians I know will have never heard of it. I can honestly say I believe what I believe because of what I see in the bible, the discussion as to whether my take on the bible is right is obviously something to discuss and I respect you saying we obviously all think we are right. I would also say the Creeds were there not to change Christian belief but to define what was already there. I believe this is not unknown in Mormonism as in the early days members actually voted on what would be counted as scripture. I can get a quote on this if you wish but to me that has elements of a double standard if past Mormon scripture was actually voted in but this is ok because its by the people with authority, maybe thats for a later discussion.

      2, I am interested in that list of verses you quoted I may do a post on those at some point if you dont mind.

      3, So cutting to the heart of some of your responses are you saying then that our God is over all of the other Gods in existence?

      Thanks James

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  34. Hello Bobby.

    (1) Regarding the Nicene Creed, I realize that most Christians are pretty uninformed as to its history and the influence it has had on Christianity. Many Christians like to think that given a cultural vacuum they would still arrive at the Nicene Trinity if all they had were a Bible. Frankly, I find that to be wishful thinking at best. The Nicene Creed partly was developed to define “what was already there”, but only because a significant theological opponent was thriving alongside it (Arianism). The Nicene Creed was basically a way of saying “This is what orthodoxy is going to be from now on”. Interestingly, it still took many years before that theological war was over, and Arianism still almost won.
    I don’t see any double standard in regard to Mormonism. We believe in continual revelation, you don’t. We believe in adding to the scriptures, you don’t

    (2) Feel free!

    (3) I believe there is strong scriptural support, in both the Bible and other LDS scriptures, for believing that God the Father, along with his son Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit, reign over all other “gods” in existence. That is Kingship Monotheism.

    There are many Mormons who would argue that everything handed down to us through scripture (via prophets) pertains only to this “sphere”, meaning it only pertains to the realm over which God the Father presides. This implies that there are spheres or realms out there somewhere in the universe over which God the Father does not preside, and which are inhabited by independent divine beings. This may be, but it is all speculation and doesn’t have scriptural support. Either way, it doesn’t affect our salvation in the least bit.

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      1. I see no reason why that should demand that God the Father has a “god” over him in the same sense that we do. Certainly, while he was mortal (and I do believe he once was) there was someone taking the reigns up in heaven. I think it was undoubtedly the pre-mortal Jesus Christ, who could easily have filled in the position in the Father’s absence.

        Again, there is a diversity of thought among Mormons on these topics. We have a few glimpses into these matters from God’s prophets, but we have to use logic and good sense to fill in some of these holes. I represent but one LDS perspective on it, though I think it is the most reasonable.

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      2. This in a way is where the problems come in on talking about these subjects with Mormons. The church is so careful not to have an official position on so many things they don’t have to be accountable for anything.

        Many current mormons believe God the Father had sex with mary, I know this is not official doctrine but past leaders have in the least alluded to it, thus some people believe it. This goes on into many areas.

        I have never heard what you said before about The Father being a man and Jesus taking the reigns. This is obviously one of many ideas within the mormon church and many as you have said say it is not that important. However as the bible says eternal life is to know God, so the issue of whether God was a sinner, whether He was a man whether He still progresses is vital however the lds leaders simply let old quotes from the days when leaders actually taught on this float around and leave the supposedly not so important issues to people that are actually vital issues.

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  35. James,
    Really the only thing that I was taught in all my years as a Mormon is that the Godhead are three distinct gods. That’s it. I was well into my 30’s when a friend of mine called me upset because she was new to the faith and the Sunday School teacher had given a lesson on how Mormons believe they are going to be a god of their own world and he couldn’t wait to die so he could get on with being a god. I use lower case for “god” because to me, God is one being. Three in one. He’s the ONLY one I worship. I had to admit to her that I wasn’t sure and pulled out my Mormon Doctrine by Bruce R. McConkie. Sure enough it was in there. I think this is the reason that I’ve been posting on here. I represent what Mormon’s are actually being taught. Maybe your experience is different, but I have been fed the “white washed” version of Mormonism all of my life. So has everyone I know. Consider what Gordon B. Hinckley said in a public interview about God once being a man:

    “I don’t know that we teach it. I don’t know that we emphasize it. I haven’t heard it discussed for a long time in public discourse. I don’t know. I don’t know all the circumstances under which that statement was made. I understand the philosophical background behind it. But I don’t know a lot about it and I don’t know that others know a lot about it.” – Gordon B. Hinckley, Time Magazine, Aug 4, 1997

    If the Prophet of the church doesn’t even know who God is, then how can it’s members possibly know? I personally think he was lying. He knew full well that this is Mormon doctrine.

    Now about the Nicene Creed. Christians had been worshiping Jesus as God since the first century. But in the fourth century, a church leader from the east, Arius, launched a campaign to defend God’s oneness. He taught that Jesus was a specially created being, higher than the angels, but not God. Athanasius and most church leaders, on the other hand, were convinced that Jesus was God in the flesh.

    Constantine wanted to settle the dispute, hoping to bring peace to his empire, uniting the east and west divisions. Thus, in 325 A.D., he convened more than 300 bishops at Nicaea (now part of Turkey) from throughout the Christian world. The crucial question is, did the early church think Jesus was the Creator or merely a creation—Son of God or son of a carpenter? So, what did the apostles teach about Jesus? From their very first recorded statements, they regarded him as God. About 30 years after Jesus’ death and resurrection, Paul wrote the Philippians that Jesus was God in human form (Philippians 2:6-7, ). And John, a close eye-witness, confirms Jesus’ divinity in the following passage:

    John 1:1,14
    1In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
    14And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us

    This passage from John 1, has been discovered in an ancient manuscript, and it is carbon-dated at 175-225 A.D. Thus Jesus was clearly spoken of as God over a hundred years before Constantine convened the Council of Nicaea. This shows that Jesus divinity was not a fourth century invention.

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  36. Bobby,
    Here are some things to consider about Mary and the Mormon belief:

    “When the time came that His first-born, the Saviour, should come into the world and take a tabernacle, the Father came Himself and favoured that spirit with a tabernacle instead of letting any other man do it,” (Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses, vol. 4, p. 218).

    “The birth of the Savior was as natural as are the births of our children; it was the result of natural action. He partook of flesh and blood — was begotten of his Father, as we were of our fathers.” (Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses, vol. 8, p. 115)

    “I have given you a few leading items upon this subject, but a great deal more remains to be told. Now, remember from this time forth, and for ever, that Jesus Christ was not begotten by the Holy Ghost.” (Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses, vol. 1, p. 51).

    “We are told in the scriptures that Jesus Christ is the only begotten son of
    God in the flesh….how are children begotten? I answer, just as Jesus was
    begotten of his Father. The Christian denominations believe that Christ was
    begotten not of God, but of the spirit that overshadowed his mother. THIS IS
    NONSENSE. Why will they not believe the Father when He says that Jesus Christ
    is His Only Begotten Son? Why will they try to EXPLAIN THIS TRUTH AWAY and
    make mystery of it?” (as quoted from Joseph F. Smith, ‘Box Elder Times,’ Sep.
    22, 1914).

    “The fleshly body of Jesus required a Mother as well as a Father. Therefore,
    the Father and Mother of Jesus, according to the flesh, must have been
    associated in the capacity of husband and wife; hence the Virgin Mary must have
    been, for the time being, the lawful wife of God the Father: we use the term
    lawful wife, because it would be blasphemous in the highest degree to say that
    He overshadowed her or begat the Savior unlawfully……..He had a lawful right
    to overshadow the Virgin Mary IN THE CAPACITY OF A HUSBAND, and beget a
    Son…….Whether God the Father gave Mary to Joseph for time only, or for time
    and eternity, we are not informed. It may be that He only gave her to be the
    wife of Joseph while in this
    mortal state, and that He intended after the resurrection to again take her as
    one of his own wives to raise up immortal spirits in eternity.”
    Apostle Orson Pratt, “The Seer,” Oct. 1853, p. 158

    Before James tells me that new prophet trumps old, consider the words of Brigham Young:

    “I say now, when they [his discourses] are copied and approved by me they are as good Scripture as is couched in this Bible . . . ” (Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses, vol. 13, p. 264; see also p. 95).

    “I know just as well what to teach this people and just what to say to them and what to do in order to bring them into the celestial kingdom…I have never yet preached a sermon and sent it out to the children of men, that they may not call Scripture. (Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses, vol. 13, p. 95).

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  37. Quick comment on this:

    Interestingly, it still took many years before that theological war was over, and Arianism still almost won.

    From what I’ve studied and looked up, the vote was a landslide: only two of the 318 bishops dissented. Whereas Arius believed that the Father alone was God, and that Jesus was His supreme creation, the council concluded that Jesus and the Father were of the same divine essence.

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  38. Here are my latest comments:

    (1) Bobby mentioned that it is difficult to nail down precisely what LDS doctrine is. There is truth in that. The reality is that there is very little in the way of “official” LDS doctrine. We don’t have a systematic theology or a creedal environment that delineates exactly what is correct to beleive and what is not. Instead, we have a few very basic and simple things that we agree on (faith in God, faith in Christ, repentence, baptism, belief in the Restoration, support for current leaders). The rest is a complex web of revelations, ideas, speculations, scholarship, inspiration, and folklore. We are constantly sifting through it all. In this respect we are more like Judaism than like Catholicism or Protestantism. I’d paste a link to a great essay by an Evangelical author explaining how Mormonism differs from Protestantism in this regard, but I think that links are what are keeping my comments from being posted. The summary of that article is that when an Evangelical disagrees with his pastor on something like predestination, he simply moves to another church. When a Mormon disagrees with his leader on any particular topic, he has nowhere to go. Thus we end up with a multitude of strains of thought all bouncing around. I find it to be wonderful, and I love the conversation it invites. It would be better to refer to it as “Mormon thought” instead of “Mormon doctrine”.

    (2) Regarding the idea that God the Father has sexual intercourse with Mary, this is one of those ideas that falls under “speculation”. I agree that past LDS thinkers sometimes “alluded” to the idea, but we need to be clear that it was never, ever, explicitly taught nor was it ever considered a normative revelation that everyone had to agree on. The message was not “God had sex with Mary.” Instead, the message was “God the Father is the literal biological father of Jesus Christ, and we don’t know of any other method other than sex for conception, and so that must have been what happened.” Obviously today with our advances in science we are able to artificially conceive without sexual intercourse, and so that sort of speculation has ceased.

    Kate pasted a bunch of quotes from Brigham Young, but I fail to see how any of them contradict anything I’ve said. Brigham was speculating. If people are misled by his opinions, they are not misled to the point of losing salvation. In Evangelical parlance, it is not an “essential” for salvation.

    (3) Bobby mentioned the fact that eternal life is to “know God”. I believe that we don’t need to know the particulars of God’s past in order to “know God” sufficiently for salvation. I realize that in mainstream Christian soteriology it would be devastating if God was ever a sinner, but within the framework of Mormonism it really doesn’t matter. It doesn’t affect our salvation either way.

    (4) Kate, regarding your exit from the LDS Church, I can only say that it is too bad you didn’t discover LDS apologetics, or that you had better studied the issues, before you made your choice. Most people don’t need it, but for many it is helpful.

    (5) Regarding the Nicene Council, it was convened and presided over by Constantine, famous for not even being a Christian at the time. He placed his throne higher than the seating of the rest of the bishops as he conducted the council. He referred to himself in this meeting as the “bishop of bishops”. The council lasted about 2 months. There were 318 bishops in attendance, and 28 of those were clearly Arian from the outset. It is probably that the vast majority of the bishops had little knowledge of issues they were discussing. For most of them it was the first time they had ever had to seriously deal with it. The number of bishops already committed to Athanasian Trinitarianism is unknown, but likely not much more than the Arians present. Interestingly, Arius himself was not allowed to come. He was not a Bishop. To bring the significance of that closer to home, it would be like a bunch of Catholic bishops in the 1520’s debating Lutheranism without inviting Luther to come and defend himself.

    The of course ended up penning the Nicene Creed. They introduced new words in order to get just the right result, but even that didn’t work. One of the biggest supporters of the word “homoousios” was Marcellus of Ancyra, a Sabellian (Modalist). The Modalists present at the council were perfectly happy with the end result, because the creed didn’t condemn their views.

    Constatine, the president of the council, required all bishops to sign their names to the creed. If they did not, they would be deposed and exiled. That hardly amounts to a fair debate. Most of the Arians signed it, not because they agreed with it, but because they would rather remain safely at home with their families and friends than be exiled. Two Arians didnt’ sign it, Eusebius and Theognis. This was a great blow to the Emperor because they were both considered very important and influential.

    That didn’t end the debate. Evangelical historian Roger Olson said, “The final and definitive condemnation of Arianism that truly ‘stuck’ was at the Council of Constantinople in 381 [56 years later]. During the intervening half century, various Arian and semi-Arian bishops and emporers helped subordinationism [Arianism] make a comeback, and at times the entire Christian church seemed on the verge of rejecting the Trinity completely and establishing as orthodox doctrine something akin to what modern-day Jehovah’s Witness believe.”

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  39. I certainly don’t know all there is to know about the council of Nicea, but like Bobby, I had read and studied the Bible before I learned about it. I love researching stuff. I take the Bible as the literal Word of God. I think that’s where James and I differ. I believe it is translated correctly. I would dare say that James does not think it’s translated correctly if it doesn’t fit Mormonism.

    I’d like to make a few comments on what James has said:

    1) This may be how Moromonism is today, but from the beginning until about the 1960’s or so, Mormons followed a prophet who was not afraid to stand up publicly and shout the Mormon doctrines out to the world. They were proud of their religion and beliefs and set themselves apart from the beliefs of all other religions. They truly LED the church. I agree with Bobby, the LDS leaders today are silent on most issues and basically are leaving the Mormon members to defend the faith on their own with no help from the prophet. (like you are doing) When a Mormon disagrees on something he does have somewhere to go, I am just such a Mormon. I disagree with MANY different things that are taught in Mormonism and I do have somewhere else to go….the loving arms of my Savior! That’s where I choose to go. Not a “church” but to Christ, which is where I should have been all along.

    2) How does that fall under “speculation”??? I quoted Brigham Young and others. Did you not see where Brigham said that his Journal of Discourses were scripture? Or that he hasn’t sent out anything to the children of men that can not be called scripture?? To say he was wrong is to call him a false prophet.

    3) It affects your salvation if you are worshiping a false God. It is very important to know who God is. Are you worshiping “Father, Son and Holy Spirit, which are one eternal God” Or are you worshiping an exalted man in the name of your spirit brother Jesus?

    4) James I have been to your blog and to FAIR and FARMS and to be honest, if I had been there before I left the church, I would have left sooner. None of the stuff I’ve read on these sites was EVER discussed in church. It all seems to me to be a desperate attempt to “torture the scriptures” (Bible) to make it fit Mormonism. There was a hymn that we sang in church all the time and it said ” Follow the prophet, he knows the way”. I don’t believe the prophet is leading the Mormon church anymore. If he was, he’d stand up like prophets before him and put an end to all the “speculation”.

    I don’t see any double standard in regard to Mormonism. We believe in continual revelation, you don’t. We believe in adding to the scriptures, you don’t

    This is why I don’t believe in adding to the scriptures:

    John 19:30
    30When Jesus therefore had received the vinegar, he said, It is finished: and he bowed his head, and gave up the ghost. (He fulfilled the prophecy)

    Galatians 1:6-9

    6I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel:

    7Which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ.

    8But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed.

    9As we said before, so say I now again, if any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed.

    What is the Book of Mormon? “Another Testament of Christ” as proudly printed on the cover. Who brought it??? An “angel of light”. Pretty straight forward. I would say that if the BoM is another “gospel” then so are the rest of the Mormon scriptures and continuing revelation.

    Bobby,
    Have you ever heard of the hepatic structure in the Bible? FASCINATING!!

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  40. Kate,

    (1) Latter-day Saint prophets still, today, declare without reservation our unique Mormon beliefs. The only difference is that they have learned to be more careful because critics (like you guys) are now scrutinizing every word they say in an effort to catch them in a snare. There was a time when the LDS Church was largely confined to the western United States, and when our leaders could speak more freely about such topics. But today we are a global church and communication travels around the world in the blink of an eye. There is no reason to criticize LDS leaders for being more careful with their words. Furthermore, being a global church the LDS leaders simply don’t have time to run around and respond to every foolish blogpost that attacks our faith. They have made some modest attempts though in the new LDS Newsroom. General Conference is also a time when our core beliefs are boldly declared to the world.

    I think you misunderstood what I meant when I said “there is nowhere to go”. When a LDS has a different opinion on a “non-essential” they don’t get up and go to another denomonation. We stay in our wards and stakes. Protestants, on the other hand, can get up and switch denominations whenever they want.

    (2) Kate, I think you misunderstand what the Journal of Discourses is. It isn’t a book by Brigham Young. It is simply a record of addresses by various LDS leaders. You can’t seem to wrap your mind around the idea that LDS prophets are not infallible. God can have a prophet who doesn’t get everything right all of the time. A prophet can only know what God reveals to him, for everything else the prophet is left to himself to figure it out the best he can. That is how it works. Brigham stated that his words were “scripture” but not in the sense that they are the infallible word of God. You are projecting your Protestant assumptions onto Young’s words, and that is a problem. Brigham Young also said, “I have known many times I have preached wrong.”

    (3) Again, one doesn’t need to know all the details of God’s past in order worship him and to be saved by him. Similarly, one doesn’t need to know all the details of higher calculus in order to understand and benefit from basic arithmetic.

    (4) Much of the content on FAIR, FARMS, and elsewhere definitely are not discussed in Church. There are two simple, and logical, reason for this.
    (A) At Church our discussions are largely aimed at the “least common denominator”. We want the stranger off the street to feel comfortable there. We want the new convert to feel comfortable. We want the little old lady to feel comfortable. We want the young child to feel comfortable. If we spend all day at church talking about irrelevant mysteries and scholarship we will be talking over the heads of those who aren’t as well versed.
    (B) We go to church to be spiritually edified, not to be intellectually stimulated. We go to church to help each other repent and turn to God. Discussing the mysteries of God’s past won’t help us accomplish that.

    (5) The “hymn” you quoted is actually a children’s song. It discusses many prophets including Adam, Enoch, Noah, and Moses, as well as modern prophets and admonishes us to follow God’s prophets. Do you have a problem with following God’s prophets? Why did God send prophets if not for us to follow them?

    (6) I’m not sure how John 19:30 could possibly indicate a closed canon. As for Galatians 1:6-9, the key phrase is “another gospel”. The Book of Mormon is another “testament” of Christ, not another “gospel”. Those are two very different things. I also ask you to consider the fact that after Paul wrote these words an angel of light appeared to John and taught him new things about Jesus Christ that were never known before. Do you consider the Book of Revelation to be scripture?

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  41. James,

    1) I don’t agree with that. No one is trying to catch them in a snare. There is so much confusion about which prophets to believe and which ones to forget about because they have all taught different things all claiming revelation. The church teaches that a prophet can never lead the church astray. Look at the past, was polygamy, the Blacks, Blood Atonement, Mary not a virgin, etc. really revelation? Opinion? Babbling? The point is it is all “confusion”.

    (1 Corinthians 14:33 )
    (33) For God is not {the author} of confusion, but of peace, as in all churches of the saints.

    I did not misunderstand what you meant about “nowhere to go” I made my point exactly. When I was a Mormon, life revolved around “the church” an organization, not Christ. I never knew Christ as a Mormon. I turned to Christ. Gave myself to Christ. As a Mormon I thought “churches” because that’s what I’d pretty much associated myself with. As a Christian, I now know that no “church” is the one and only true one. Christ’s church is “made up of believers”.

    2) I have never heard this before. I was always taught to follow the prophet no matter what. He will never lead you astray because he has direct revelation from God and talks to him regularly. He is passing on what God wants us to believe and do. I know exactly what the Journal of Discourses is, and what it was used for.

    3)You really do need to know who God is. How do you expect to be saved, and by whom???

    4) Milk before Meat? I actually call this “Bait and Switch”. Just my opinion.

    5) Yes I know this is a primary song. I was a primary teacher more than once. The difference between the prophets of old and Mormon prophets is this:
    In the past God spoke to us through his prophets, now he speaks to us through his Son. We no longer need prophets, we have something better.

    6) He came bringing salvation to ALL who believe on his name as prophesied in the Old Testament. He came, set up his Church with Apostles and he himself as the chief cornerstone and he said that not even the gates of hell would prevail against it. It is finished! I didn’t say that every angel of light is wrong. Just the ones bringing another gospel. The BoM , PoGP, D&C and “other” revelation and adding on to the scriptures IS “another gospel” because it changes the nature of Jesus.
    I don’t think that John changes the nature of Jesus in Revelation.

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  42. As is so often the case, our attempt to discuss a single issue has evolved into a beastly conversation in which a myriad of topics are being brought up at once. This simply isn’t efficient.

    Bobby, could you please choose the topic you would like us to discuss? Let’s encourage each other to remain on topic. I just can’t keep up with so many tangents at once, and I doubt you can either.

    James

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    1. Sorry james I am interested in the brigham young issue however to be fair this was supposed to be a discussion on God, so forgive my tangents and feel free to stick with that, I think this issue of what is mormon doctrine and isn’t is worthy of a post soon so we can always discuss it then.

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  43. Sorry, I’m a great “multi tasker”! I forget sometimes that not everyone can do it. I sometimes confuse my own family because my brain goes a mile a minute!

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  44. Thank you Bobby.

    Now, as I mentioned earlier there are a number of ways to go about understanding Isaiah’s monotheistic rhetoric from a faithful Latter-day Saint perspective. I’ve already begun exploring one way, which includes framing the issue in terms of “kingship monotheism”, which I’d argue is basically the view of most biblical authors (including Isaiah).

    I’d like to briefly discuss another perspective on this, one that I hope will be more effective with this particular audience. It isn’t as much of a comprehensive approach (discussing “kingship monotheism” may have been too comprehensive of an approach for this discussion) but I think it will have a greater impact here.

    The key lies in the interpretation of two passages found within the same overall sermon in Isaiah (I’m only quoting the relevant portions of these verses). In Isaiah 47:8 & 10 the Lord quotes the city Babylon as saying the following about herself:

    Isaiah 47:8 “…I am, and there is none besides me…”

    Isaiah 47:10 “…I am, and there is none besides me…”

    And, in Zephaniah 2:15 the Lord quotes the city Ninevah as saying the following about herself:

    Zephaniah 2:15 “…I am, and there is no one besides me.”

    The question is: What exactly are these cities claiming for themselves? They appear to be claiming that no other city exists alongside them. They appear to be claiming that they are the only cities in existence. “There is none besides me.” This appears to be saying that no other city exists besides Babylon/Nineveh. Could that be what they are actually, literally, claiming?

    Of course not. That is ridiculous. Obviously there are other cities in existence, and Babylon and Nineveh aren’t literally claiming otherwise. But on the surface that appears to be exactly what they are doing. This is called an “idiom”, an expression that is particular to a certain language and in a certain time period. It is an idiomatic expression that means something slightly different than what it literally says.

    As an analogy, consider Michael Jordan hypothetically claiming, “I am the only basketball player, there is none besides me.” Obviously Michael Jordan isn’t really saying that nobody else in existence plays basketball. Nobody would think he is really saying that. We would immediately understand that Michael Jordan is “talking smack” so to speak. It is rhetoric. He is taunting all other basketball players claiming that they don’t exist. He is elevating himself as the very, very, very best basketball player.

    I’ll stop here for now, and see what you think. I’m sure by now you can see where this is going.

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    1. Hi there James thanks for that, I have not heard that before.

      Zephaniah 2:15 as a whole says this

      This is the rejoicing city that dwelt carelessly, that said in her heart, I am, and there is none beside me: how is she become a desolation, a place for beasts to lie down in! every one that passeth by her shall hiss, and wag his hand.

      This is a sinful desolate city that while being described as dwelling carelessly, the city itself says in its heart there is none besides it, this says that this is not a realiable heart to be listening to. Interestingly you said God is quoting this verse when He makes the same statement about Himself.

      After a quick look around I have found that Isaiah was wrote between 701 and 681 B.C, and Zepheniah was wrote at approximately 640-609 BC. If this is the case then actually this city was quoting, and actually distorting Gods words about Himself, something you would expect something as horrible as how this city was described to do.

      As well as this there are many cases in the bible stating there is one God as well as Isaiah, though the Isaiah quotes are certainly reliable.

      James 2:19
      19Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble.

      1 corinthians 8:4
      As concerning therefore the eating of those things that are offered in sacrifice unto idols, we know that an idol is nothing in the world, and that there is none other God but one.

      And probably the most clear

      Isaiah 44:8
      Fear ye not, neither be afraid: have not I told thee from that time, and have declared it? ye are even my witnesses. Is there a God beside me? yea, there is no God; I know not any.

      I would say if this statement in Isaiah is wrong then God would be a liar, I would also say the statement in Zepheniah is also wrong and that city is a liar.

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    2. I’d like to briefly discuss another perspective on this, one that I hope will be more effective with this particular audience. It isn’t as much of a comprehensive approach (discussing “kingship monotheism” may have been too comprehensive of an approach for this discussion) but I think it will have a greater impact here.

      It’s not too comprehensive of an approach, I just simply don’t believe it, so I don’t really care to discuss it with you. Knock yourself out with Bobby though! 🙂

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  45. Bobby,

    Neither the cities nor God are lying. They are not lying any more than Michael Jordan was lying in my hypothetical. This has nothing to do with the righteousness or wickedness of the speaker, or with whether or not their statement is true or false. This is simply an attempt to understand *what* they are claiming.

    You are misreading what God/Babylon/Nineveh are claiming for themselves when they claim “I am, there is none else besides me.” It is not a claim to exclusiveness or uniqueness, but rather it is a claim to superiority over others. Those cities are not actually claiming that they are the only cities. Rather, they are claiming that they are the best cities. Same with God. He is not claiming to the the only god. Rather, he is claiming to be the best god.

    It doesn’t work to simply dismiss what Babylon/Nineveh say simply on the grounds that they are wicked cities. That isn’t the point. We are trying to interpret an idiomatic expression, and it doesn’t matter who says it. Let me give another example.

    A modern idiomatic expression similar to the one we are discussing is “Our team mopped the floor with the other team!” I don’t know if people say that in England or not, but we say that over here in the states. It isn’t literally a claim to have mopped the floor with the members of the other team. Rather, it is a claim to have beaten the other team really badly. And, it doesn’t matter how wicked or righteous the person is who makes the claim, the phrase means the same thing. The Pope could say it or Osama bin Laden could say it and it would mean the same thing. It is an idiomatic expression.

    So these monotheistic statements in Isaiah are not statements of exclusiveness, but rather are statements of incomparability and superiority. It is the only thing that makes sense in light of how Babylon and Nineveh use the expression.

    And lest you think I’m making this all up for the first time, go double check the quote I pasted from Evangelical Michael Heiser earlier in this discussion where he says the exact same thing. http://mormonisminvestigated.co.uk/2010/11/07/the-bible-vs-joseph-smith-dvd/#comment-423

    Let’s stick to Isaiah before moving to other passages (like the ones from the NT you cited).

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    1. I think the logic you are using here James is not the logic the bible is using. You originally said God quoted zepheniah however I have shown isaiah was wrote first so it is the other way around.

      Your michael jordan example is fine but there is no biblical evidence other than your logic to say it applies here.

      This city falsely claims to be the only one, God truthfully claims it.
      Sent from my BlackBerry® smartphone

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  46. Let me clarify one more thing. I am *not* claiming that God is quoting Nineveh or Babylon when God says “…there is none else besides me.” God isn’t quoting them, and they are not quoting God. What is going on is each of these entities (God/Babylon/Nineveh) are employing a common Hebrew idiomatic expression.

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  47. Bobby,

    You said: “…I see no reason to not think His word stand.”

    I agree. His word stands. Nobody here is questioning that. The question we are asking is, “What exactly is God saying?”.

    We gain insight into what exactly the expression God is using means by looking at how the biblical authors apply the same expression to other entities. Isaiah uses the expression in reference to Babylon, and Zephaniah uses the expression in reference to Nineveh. We can look to see how they are using that expression, and that helps us better understand what it means when Isaiah uses it in regard to God.

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    1. Looking at the zepheniah comment and the context with which that is wrote compared to the statements by God I see them as totally different, however if you have other verses you feel back this up I would be happy to look at those as I am far from saying I have everything right. However from what you have said so far it seems speculation at best to say what you are saying about God.

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  48. Yes. That is basically correct. But it isn’t just Zephaniah that uses this expression for a city. Isaiah also uses the expression for a city (Bablyon) in Isaiah 47:8 & 10. So that is three separate verses that use the expression in reference to a city.

    Do you think those cities (Bablyon and Nineveh) are actually claiming to be the only cities in existence, and that no other cities exist “besides” them? Is that a tenable interpretation of those passages?

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    1. I think we have already covered the point in zepheniah and I cannot seriously accept your point there at all given how the city is described, and then to say its word means Gods word should be viewed in light of it.

      However if you have any in isaiah I am happy to look at those

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  49. Bobby,
    I already showed you the ones in Isaiah in my introduction to this issue. I’ll copy and paste them here again.

    In Isaiah 47:8 & 10 the Lord quotes the city Babylon as saying the following about herself:

    Isaiah 47:8 “…I am, and there is none besides me…”

    Isaiah 47:10 “…I am, and there is none besides me…”

    And, as we’ve seen, Zepheniah says the same thing about Nineveh. You keep objecting to this on grounds that Nineveh was wicked. That is not a reason to reject this. You are missing the point if you think you can dismiss these simply because the cities (Bablyon & Nineveh) are wicked cities. It has nothing to do with being wicked or righteous.

    I’ve given plenty of analogies to try to make this clear, and I’ll try another. An example of a modern English idiomatic expression is “kick the bucket”. In America we use this expression as a way of saying someone or something has died. Let’s imagine two very different people using this expression:

    R.C. Sproul (noted calvinist theologian): The old man finally kicked the bucket.

    Richard Dawkins (noted atheist): The old man finally kicked the bucket.

    One of these is a righteous God fearing man. The other is a blasphemer. They both use the same idiomatic expression and in each case it means exactly the same thing. It doesn’t matter who is saying it, what matters is what the expression means. This is analogous to the case we are discussing:

    God: “…there is none besides me.”

    Babylon: “…there is none besides me.”

    In each case the expression means the same thing. Neither of them are being dishonest. They are each claiming the same thing for themselves. Obviously Bablyon is wrong in its claim, but that is not the point. The point is “what is Babylon saying?” When we understand what Bablyon is saying then we know what God is saying. He is making the same claim that Babylon is making.

    You don’t have to publicly agree with me here. But I do think you should at least concede that this is a logical, biblically based argument.

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    1. James mate, I have briefly looked over the article you quoted and that in the least looks interesting, it is printing as I am writing this and I am going to take my time on it and I think a full post on this blog about my belief on there being one God may be in order, not just to refute Mormonism but just for the sake of defending that belief of mine. One of the things I want to do on this blog is not just problems with Mormonism but declarations of what I see as biblical truth, so watch this space for that.

      Regarding the Isaiah verses which I now realize you had already quoted sorry about that I have looked over them.

      So Isaiah 47:8-10

      8 “ Therefore hear this now, you who are given to pleasures,
      Who dwell securely,
      Who say in your heart, ‘I am, and there is no one else besides me;
      I shall not sit as a widow,
      Nor shall I know the loss of children’;
      9 But these two things shall come to you
      In a moment, in one day:
      The loss of children, and widowhood.
      They shall come upon you in their fullness
      Because of the multitude of your sorceries,
      For the great abundance of your enchantments.
      10 “ For you have trusted in your wickedness;
      You have said, ‘No one sees me’;

      Your wisdom and your knowledge have warped you;
      And you have said in your heart,

      ‘ I am, and there is no one else besides me.’

      First thing I would say and I am sure you know this is verse 1 states who this is talking too.

      Come down and sit in the dust,
      O virgin daughter of Babylon;
      Sit on the ground without a throne,
      O daughter of the Chaldeans!
      For you shall no more be called
      Tender and delicate.

      This is talking to the sinful daughter of babylon.

      Verse 11 goes on to say

      Therefore evil shall come upon you;
      You shall not know from where it arises.
      And trouble shall fall upon you;
      You will not be able to put it off.
      And desolation shall come upon you suddenly,
      Which you shall not know.

      The chapter ends with this

      No one shall save you.

      I again am sure you know all this however this daughter of babylon is clearly sinful, separate from God and not in anyway reliable in the sayings she brings. So again to say that because the daughter of babylon says something the words of God should be looked at in light of her words seems silly. And interestingly verse 11 starts with therefore, which means the point being made is in light of the last point made. So verse 10 says ‘ I am, and there is no one else besides me.’ and then verse 11 says Therefore evil shall come upon you……..

      The example you gave of two people of different beliefs saying the same thing about one person does not work either as this is two people saying the same thing about different people it does not work. Regarding logic I can see how its logical to you, I had another LDS apologetic before saying the Old Testament should also be looked at in light of heretical texts from that time, which to be fair was a lot worse than this.

      Anyway I think there are points I will consider in the article you have quoted and spend a lot more time on it, however what you are showing me here I would guess is not the official Mormon belief (if there is such a thing) but an LDS apologetic attempt to reason points in the bible in the favour of Mormonism. Its understandable but I do not buy into this thinking at all unless you can indicate from the bible that God or other biblical authors have come to this conclusion.

      Like

  50. Bobby,
    I fully realize that Babylon (in Isaiah) and Ninevah (in Zepheniah) are described as being sinful. I agree completely with you on that. No question about it.

    But for some reason you seem to think that being wicked somehow makes them unreliable sources for understanding ancient Hebrew expressions. How so? Just because someone is sinful doesn’t mean they don’t know how to use idiomatic expressions.

    You objected to my analogy (of Sproul and Dawkins) on grounds that they are talking about the same person. It just seems to me that you are skirting the issue. It doesn’t matter if they are talking about the same person or different people. If you want we can tweak the analogy. Here are two very different people talking about Jesus’ death in three days:

    Jesus: “In three days I’m going to kick the bucket”.
    Judas: “In three days Jesus is going to kick the bucket.”

    It doesn’t matter one bit that Judas is a wicked person. He still knows how to use the expression correctly, and he uses it in the exact same way that Jesus is. You are basically trying to argue that because Judas is a wicked person he doesn’t know how to use the expression correctly and so we can’t trust him for insight into ancient expressions. That is simply wrong.

    Again, you don’t have to agree with me, but I think you should agree that this is a solid biblically based argument I am making.

    Maybe another time we can talk about using other non-biblical ancient texts to illuminate the Bible. I imagine we differ significantly on that.

    Like

    1. I had a feeling you would be in line with the other texts thing.

      Anyway no james I think this is a completely wrong way of interpreting the bible, as I showed in Isaiah it even seems that this daughter of Babylon is being punished for her statements of saying she is the only one and their is no other, however I appreciate that one is open to interpretation.

      However both of the examples you have shown are uses of this statement in deceptive ways, God uses it in a true way. I would love it if anyone else is readhing this LDS or Christian who hasn’t heard all of this before can give their view from fresh eyes?

      However again as I have said even from the Mormon perspective this is not doctrine and could be heresy next year if the right announcement comes from above, but most importantly it appears to me to be twisting the bible rather than letting it speak for itself. God says He knows of no other God as I showed earlier, because the daughter of babylon made a similar statement does not take away from that.

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      1. I see James point very clearly and I believe it is very possible that he is correct that when God says (and I paraphrase horribly) there are no other gods before me – it is meant to indicate superiority over other non-human entities that we as humans might view as gods. But God refers to himself with one hebrew word & the “other gods” with another so I also think that the argument, though valid, does nothing to support or refute the Mormom or Christian positions of the plurality or lack thereof of gods.

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  51. Bobby,
    I’ve never heard of this before either. I think James likes to take liberties….:)
    I have read all of your discussion with him and all I can say is he is “torturing” the scriptures to fit his beliefs. The fact that James is so willing to use non biblical texts to look at the Bible is a HUGE red flag to me. I would like for you to consider Issaiah chapter 41 through chapter 44. The entire thing is all about the ONE TRUE GOD against all other gods. I think that “gods” in Issaiah are referring to idols or false gods. Issaiah testifies to the truth of only one God. What James is doing in my opinion is “cherry picking” one sentence, twisting it, and taking it completely out of context. Which actually isn’t new to Mormonism. Please read the ENTIRE book of Issaiah to take it in context. You also have to remember that James is looking at it through “kingship monotheism”, I find it so sad and quite disturbing that some people can not take God at his word and have to constantly twist what he says. I would imagine God would have this to say (again)

    Isaiah 41:21-24 (King James Version)

    21Produce your cause, saith the LORD; bring forth your strong reasons, saith the King of Jacob.

    22Let them bring them forth, and shew us what shall happen: let them shew the former things, what they be, that we may consider them, and know the latter end of them; or declare us things for to come.

    23Shew the things that are to come hereafter, that we may know that ye are gods: yea, do good, or do evil, that we may be dismayed, and behold it together.

    24Behold, ye are of nothing, and your work of nought: an abomination is he that chooseth you.

    You know, I’m not trying to be rude here, but I no longer wish to dialogue with James. I don’t see anything from him that is anything close to what I have learned or been taught in Mormonism. I’m not sure if he is really defending true Mormonism or his own beliefs. Quite honestly, I’m a bit bored. So Bobby, good luck with your site, I may check back from time to time to see what’s up! Take care.

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  52. Bobby,

    (1) I don’t know how many times I can say this. It doesn’t matter that Babylon/Ninevah were being wicked. It doesn’t matter if they were being deceitful or not. You keep bringing that up as if it solves your problem, but it doesn’t. You are just skirting the fact that Babylon and God are speaking the same language and using the same words and speaking within the same ancient culture. The both use an expression in the same way. We have to examine them both in order to get the most amount of insight into what the expression means.

    (2) You claim I’m twisting the Bible and not letting it speak for itself. Kate says I’m “torturing” the scriptures to fit my beliefs. Kate also accuses me of cherry-picking and removing things from their contexts. The fact is that the exact opposite is true. I am examining the entire context. I am reading the entire sermon in Isaiah and interpreting it comprehensively. It is you guys who are just copying and pasting “soundbites” that suit your needs. I’ve been trying to interpret the message as a whole by looking at how Isaiah uses the expression “…none besides me…” elsewhere. That is called exegesis. What you guys are doing is simply ignoring the parts that don’t help your cause. That is “torturing” the scriptures.

    (3) Bobby, you mentioned something about how a revelation could simply overturn my interpretation here. From my perspective you are just trying to change the subject. We are not discussing how the LDS Church reads this text. The LDS Church doesn’t have a single “official” statement on any particular verse in the scriptures as far as I’m aware. Instead, the LDS Church constantly, *constantly*, encourages its members to study the scriptures on their own (and we do study the Bible more than Protestants do).

    (4) Kate is complaining that what I’m presenting here isn’t what she learned while she was a Mormon. We’ve talked about this before, and it all boils down to the fact that we don’t discuss biblical scholarship very much in church. Neither to Protestants. Instead, we focus on faith, repentance, and keeping our covenants. This is just another example of you guys trying to change the subject.

    (5) Kate, I’m not sad that you are bored. Good luck with all you do.

    (6) Regarding the use of ancient literature as a window into the world of the ancient Israelite scriptures, I haven’t even begun to explain my thoughts on that and yet you guys are already criticizing me for it. Maybe someday we will get around to that discussion, but we haven’t even begun yet.

    (7) Returning for a moment to the topic, I think I’ve demonstrated quite handily that Isaiah’s monotheistic rhetoric is couched in an idiomatic expression that is tantamount to saying, “I am the best.” It is not a literal statement of “I am the only one of my species.” Isaiah is not exploring metaphysics or ontology, which is what you are forcing him to do. Instead, Isaiah is boasting about the superiority of Jehovah over all other gods….as a Mormon I totally agree with that. The God of Israel is the best, he is number one, and when it comes to what is important (the salvation of the world) Jehovah is the only god, and there is “none else besides [him].”

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    1. James I would simply say you have very far from shown that and I do not have time to carry this one on, as you have already said your view here does not represent mormonism, this blog is here to engage with mormonism and what day to day mormons are dealing with, not the LDS apologetics latest way of trying to explain why their belief in many Gods does not fit with the bible.

      That said I still think the article you quoted from the evangelical interested me and I will be spending some time on it.
      Sent from my BlackBerry® smartphone

      Like

      1. Huh? I never said that I don’t represent Mormonism. I’m giving you a solid biblical argument, and you are just trying to poison the well now.

        (If you don’t know that phrase, you can look it up. It is another example of an idiomatic expression. Even an apostate Mormon [in your view] can use idiomatic expressions correctly, which goes to the point I’ve been trying to make.)

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      2. The main point I am making james is I do not accept at all your logic regarding the use of these verses in Isaiah therefore I have no desire to discuss them further.

        I will discuss anything the bible actually says, which means I am very interested to discuss the gods passages. However I am going to save that for another day and do a full post on it, and will discuss that with you all you like.

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  53. Here are a few quotes by biblical scholars on this topic…

    “[The divine council of deities] is a fundamental symbol for the Old Testament understanding of how the government of human society by the divine world is carried out.”
    “Cosmology and World Order.” Patrick D. Miller, in Israelite Religion and Biblical Theology: Collected Essays (JSOTSup 267; Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press, 2000), 422–432.

    “What did it mean, in ancient time, to ‘believe’ in one god? Such belief did not entail doubting the existence of other gods.”
    Paula Fredriksen, “Gods and the One God: In Antiquity all Monotheists were Polytheists,” published in Bible Review, Feb. 2007, pg. 12

    “The Bible calls the assembled beings the ‘host of heaven,’ it is widely understood [however] that these were the gods who made up the heavenly court in Judah and Israel.”
    Lowell K. Handy, Among the Host of Heaven: The Syro-Palestinian Pantheon as Bureaucracy (Winona Lake: Eisenbrauns, 1994), 120.

    As a result, monotheism has apparently achieved a status in modern discourse that it never held in ancient Israel, where it functioned as a rhetoric expressing and advancing the cause of Israelite monolatrous practice. The specifics of the practice and the accompanying dimensions of belief were considered every bit as important, if not more so, as the monotheistic rhetoric.
    Smith, Mark S. The Origins of Biblical Monotheism: Israel’s Polytheistic Background and the Ugaritic Texts. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2001. (pg. 12)

    At first glance, Israelite monotheism would seem theoretically to stand at odds with the imagery of Israelite assembly with its multiplicity of divinities, even if they are minor or subservient to Yahweh as their absolute king. In fact, the divine assembly is not oppositional to monotheistic statements in biblical literature. For example, it is commonly held by biblical scholars…that the opening of “Second Isaiah” (Isaiah 40) involves a divine council scene, yet this chapter is part of a larger work that contains the greatest number of monotheistic statements in the Bible….Divine council language and scenes also appear in the “priestly work” of the Pentateuch and post-exilic books (Zechariah and Daniel), which assumedly are monotheistic. In other words, monotheism requires one divine assembly headed by one divine ruler, but it makes little or no impact on the language of the assembly in itself.
    Smith, Mark S. The Origins of Biblical Monotheism: Israel’s Polytheistic Background and the Ugaritic Texts. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2001.(pg. 51)

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      1. If you can quote a load of biblical scholars who are respected in the academic world, and not just in Evangelical seminaries, who deny the presence of the divine council in the Old Testament, that would definitely be interesting.

        But that isn’t the point. The point is that what I’ve described is a tenable and mainstream view of biblical scholarship. You are welcome to disagree with it on theological grounds, but you will not easily get away with calling Mormons unbiblical when the worlds experts on the Bible support the Mormon position far more than your position.

        Like

  54. There are numerous places throughout the Old Testament where Jehovah is described as the “god of gods”. We won’t bother to count them because there are so many. This description generally comes in the form of praise.

    What do you make this? Is this hollow praise? Are these biblical authors, inspired by God to write those words, saying that God is a god of non-existent things? That isn’t praise at all!

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  55. I watched a portion of it when it came on TBN (Thanks to my wife for informing me about this), however, I was not able to make it all the way through since it was showing late in the evening (around 11-11:30 pm) and I was fading pretty fast.

    From what I have seen of it (and I am trying to find a way of getting a hold of a free copy of this dvd to properly answer the claims made), much of the video is made up of straw-man argumentations.

    For one, I am not a casual apologist of the Mormon Faith. Two, I read up on Archaeology (I read the Biblical Archaeological Review – BAR, and search various Archaeological Databases and Reputable Magazines via online when accessible)., Three, I used to be a Latter-day Saint Apostate and much of the rhetoric that is used is always ever changing, but the same strawman arguments.

    From the outset, the DVD is very susceptible. Not once in my time growing up in the LDS Faith was I ever personally taught that the Bible came from one main copy. This statement the supposed “Mormon” made is very inaccurate. There is no source for his statement, and therefore unable to accurately verify the reliability of such a statement. I challenge the producers to produce veracity and evidence for who “Greg Gifford” is.

    Secondly, the DVD presents so-called Scholars, yet I have not personally heard of these individuals.

    One thing that truly concerns me is the who premise of the “test of a Prophet” and how it is employed to disprove Mormonism. By this very same logic, Jeremiah, Isaiah, and Ezekiel are false prophets, and if they are false prophets, then their record (scripture) is suspect and considered false.

    The Test of a Prophet (according to the DVD and the Producers of said DVD):

    “But the prophet, which shall presume to speak a word in my name, which I have not commanded him to speak, or that shall speak in the name of other gods, even that prophet shall die. And if thou say in thine heart, How shall we know the word which the LORD hath not spoken? When a prophet speaketh in the name of the LORD, if the thing follow not, nor come to pass, that is the thing which the LORD hath not spoken, but the prophet hath spoken it presumptuously: thou shalt not be afraid of him.” Deuteronomy 18:20-22″

    According to the strawman argument that is established by the DVD – The Bible vs. Joseph Smith, we have to objectively apply the same rules of logic that the producers use. After all, they are the ones that established the sufficient “test for a prophet” based on Deuteronomy 18:20-22. So, let us apply the same test and see if critics of the LDS Religion will accept the reality that Jeremiah, Ezekiel and Isaiah are truly Prophets of God or are False Prophets. Why? Because that is exactly what the premise is in this DVD and we must be objective in looking that the evidence right?

    Isaiah –
    Isaiah 7:1-7 Failed because of II Chronicles 28:1, 5-6

    Isaiah 17:1-2 yet Damascus still stands today

    Isaiah 19:5-7 Drying up of the Nile – there is no archaeological evidence (and not talking about the Exodus).

    Ezekiel 26:7-14 claims to prophecy of the fall of Tyre to Nebuchadnezzer, yet it did not fall under Nebuchadnezzer and existed until Alexander the Great laid seige and conqured Tyre.

    Ezekiel 29:17-20 Desolation of Egypt prophecied – where is the archaeological and historical evidence that Egypt was laid waste and desolate as prophesied?

    Ezekiel 29:20 Nebuchadnezzer would conquer Egypt, yet he never did from historical accounts.

    Jeremiah 36:30 prophecies that no one will sit on the throne who was a descendant of Jehoiakim, yet according to another Bible passage – II Kings 24:6 – Jehoiakim had a son take his place on the throne –

    So, based on the same logic and the same method of testing to see if a Prophet is a prophet of God or a false prophet based on Deuteronomy, then we have to conclude that Isaiah, Ezekiel, and Jeremiah are false Prophets, and just as much as we have to discount and declare Joseph Smith a false prophet and the Book of Mormon false, so also do we have to come to the same conclusion that the Book of Isaiah is a false record, Ezekiel is a false Record, and Jeremiah is a false Record. And, if they are a false record, their testimony is suspect.

    So, are you – as a Christian – willing to declare Isaiah, Ezekiel, and Jeremiah False based on the same test of a prophet?

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    1. Hey Timothy thanks for commenting good to have another LDS voice on here, your arguments about the Old Testament Prophets are not ones I have heard before, someone else may comment but give me a few days on it as in the middle of my working week at the moment, just so you know why if you get a slow response.

      thanks

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    2. Timothy I have looked through some of these supposed failed bible prophecies you have said and to be honest I have no idea about historical Israel and so to save myself possibly hours of reading I am going to accept that whether you are right and wrong on this I dont have an answer, I will simply say I trust that this is Gods word and I have found in my life and many others and through what evidence i have seen that the bible is reliable, however if anyone reading this knows better please do chip in.

      What got you into Apologetics?

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      1. Bobby –

        How then can you say that Joseph Smith is a False Prophet when the test of a prophet that is used is based on Deuteronomy 18:20-22? Does it not say that if a prophet comes in the name of the Lord, and that what they say does not come true they are to be considered a false prophet?

        The problem here is that when the same logical reasoning is used in the same context and same application, critics of the LDS Faith backpeddle because they can’t answer the question. They are left scratching their heads and even doubting their own belief and testimony.

        Now, you and I would agree that Isaiah, Jeremiah and Ezekiel are not false prophets. There are many reasons how and why these things were written and how we have them today. They were written and understood by men – are Men infallible? No, even if they were called of God (Elijah is an example of this, so also Peter). Yet, that does not mean we discount them on a simple “Test” when that same test being applied shows the same thing the critic is attempting to show.

        So, if the Test of a Prophet is being deceptively used and grossly used against Joseph Smith and the Book of Mormon, does that say something about the foundation for the DVD’s argument as being suspect and bring it into question under appropriate criticism when we actually analyze the argument itself and see whether it holds weight or not.

        The end result – Joseph Smith could no more be a false prophet than that of Isaiah, Ezekiel, and Jeremiah if we were to use the same logic, the same interpretation and test their prophecies as the DVD attempts to present against Joseph Smith and the Book of Mormon.

        Where does that leave us? The Test of a Prophet is not the “end all be all” prooftext we have to solely rely on.

        A second reason is because God does and has changed his mind in the way he commanded his people to worship him. Think about it, he commanded people to present burnt offerings. Does he command you to offer up the first lamb of your flock today? No, why? Because it was fulfilled. Secondly, God stated that unto the third and fourth generations were children cursed because of the sins of the father, yet later in the Old Testament (Jeremiah by the way) he changes and says that the children would not be punished for the sins of their parents, but everyone will be held accountable for their own actions.

        Thus, the argument the DVD presents is based on a logical fallacy known as a strawman argument when the simple premise of that foundation is even suspect – being that of the Test of the Prophet and the very logic employed to show the difference between the Bible and Joseph Smith.

        So, here is your choice, you either have to accept Joseph Smith as a false prophet and therefore also have to use the same test of a prophet to analyze, examine, and conclude that Isaiah, Ezekiel, and Jeremiah are false prophets and therefore suspect (and by saying Isaiah is a false prophet, you inevitably have to discount all of the messianic prophecies, because after all, according to the argument presented, if one prophecy fails, it does not matter if twenty others come to pass, the person is a false prophet).

        However, if the critic can’t apply the same rules of logic, the same test against Biblical Prophets, and only limit it to the scope of Joseph Smith, then the argument and criticism is already false and built upon a false analogy and pretense.

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      2. To be fair Timothy I can understand your point more than many, however I cannot how Joseph Smith can be seen as a prophet in many ways at all, to me false prophecies are the least of the reasons why I see him as false, I do not even know off the top of my head the false prophecies he gave.

        Joseph Smith conned young girls into marrying him, turned funeral texts into scripture, and turned many sources into the book of Mormon so his false prophecies are just one of many pieces of the puzzle.

        An interesting difference between any supposed errors in the bible and any errors of Joseph Smith is that changes have not been made to cover them up, which again within Mormonism is something that has happened a great deal, my next post which is changes in the doctrine and covenants is an interesting subject to say the least.

        However regarding this dvd I have to say fair points are made and your side stepping these issues does not make them go away,

        But to be fair given my response to your challenges I would not press that last point too hard, I would still be interested to know what got you into apologetics.

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  56. Hi Bobby. The reasons you’ve listed above for why Joseph Smith is a false prophet are fine, though I think you’d find it extremely difficult to apply that same standard to the prophets of the Bible and come out OK. A double standard is unacceptable…I’m sure you’d agree.

    For example, somewhere within our discussions here I’ve pointed out that Matthew deliberately alters the text of Micah because it doesn’t fit his story very well. Does that mean Matthew is a false prophet? I think you need to be more careful and aware that within the Bible we find precedence for just about everything you can hurl at Joseph Smith.

    James

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  57. Bobby –

    False, if anyone is side-stepping these issues, you are.

    Question:

    Does the DVD present an investigation of the difference between the Bible and Joseph Smith, based on the “Test of a Prophet” as prescribed in Deuteronomy 18:20-22? Yes or No?

    The answer is obvious – Yes, they build an argument on the Test of the Prophet

    Question:

    If we apply the same standard and logic as to the Test of a Prophet as presented by the DVD with those of Isaiah, Ezekiel, and Jeremiah and we find that they also have failed the test, then are we to also conclude in like manner that they are just as false as Joseph Smith? Yes or No?

    The reason you are side-stepping this issue is because you know that if you were to apply the same arguments against Joseph Smith, the Book of Mormon, Doctrine and Covenants, et all, then you have to apply the same criticism, and arguments against the Bible, the Biblical Record, and the individuals portrayed in the Biblical Record.

    Book of Mormon and Doctrine and Covenants have been changed. Fine, I agree

    So also has many of the Biblical texts been changed significantly so to render the text to render a different interpretation than the original source had intended Where are these examples?

    Deuteronomy 32:8-9 is one example where the text was changed by the Masoretes from its original rendering of the “sons of God” to the “sons of Israel”. Don’t believe me, research Ugaritic Text, Divine Council, and Deuteronomy 32:8-9 and you will find a shattering reality that conservative evangelical Christians are refusing to reveal the reality of this blatant and obvious error that was discovered through archaeology (discovery of the Ugaritic Text that predates the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls).

    How about researching the Long Ending of Mark where the later manuscripts of the Gospel of Mark had an addendum to Mark 16, whereas the earlier Markian Gospel variants do not include verses 9 to the end of the chapter. Again, this is evident through Textual Criticism and Archaeological evidence.

    How about researching the doctrine of Subordination of the Early Christian church and how this doctrine was replaced by the more predominate acceptance of the Nicene Trinitarian creed.

    How about modern Evangelical Christians using Paul to interpret Christ instead of Christ interpreting the apostle Paul?

    For instance, do you believe that baptism is not only symbolic, but a necessary ordinance for the remission of sins? If you say no, then you disagree with Peter where he spoke to those who were “pricked in their hearts” and asked “what then shall we do to be saved” and Peter spoke, saying: “Repent, be baptized, and receive the Gift of the Holy Ghost”. How does Acts show how converts to Early Christianity receive the Gift of the Holy Ghost? Well, none other than the laying on of hands of course – when did this change and by what authority did this fundamental principle changed? Can you answer that?

    If you seriously want to talk about the many changes to scripture that affected doctrinal influence in how God’s word was affected, then look not to the Mormon Church and Joseph Smith, but look to the historical facts pertaining to the formation of the many schisms of Christendom, many of the various doctrines espoused by men, and the variant interpretations of Holy Writ where there is evidence that many “plain and precious” parts of God’s infallible word were discarded for the beliefs of men’s philosophy and traditions.

    Christianity believes that God is not a being of personage but an impersonal being who is without body, parts and passions, and yet this reasoning is not based on scripture, but it is based on second century Gnosticism from Valentinius who was considered a Heretic by the Early Church in his time – how convenient that a Heretic was declared false, yet his fundamental teaching is not widely accepted by modern Evangelicals as that pertaining to the nature of God.

    Do not go there if you are not prepared to answer the questions. Do not go there with your criticisms if you are unwilling to back up your presumptions, and assertions because if you are not willing to go there and yet make claims that will be proven false, then the false teacher and heretic and the one that needs to re=examine their faith and who they are truly putting their faith in is not me, but the you.

    So, going back to my original post that you responded to, your excuse not investigating these things are unacceptable and you are the one falsely accusing me of side stepping the issue because you are not able to answer the questions presented.

    So, like you stated, stop side=stepping the issue and address the questions.

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    1. Timothy

      I have been thinking a lot about your list of supposed bible contradictions and while some of them were easy to deal with some were not, I will be honest and say I do not have all of the answers to those and do not have the time to put into learning the background to it all, as I think a lot of it will require more of an understanding of ancient Israel than I currently have, this may sound dismissive but you can be assured it is something I will look at over time and may even email you when I have done that if this is ok.

      The Deuteronomy 32:8-9 issue you have presented interests me a great deal, again I am not going to respond to it now as this is out of my depth however in the very near future I am going to put a lot of time into this as is something I have not heard before and does not deserve to be ignored.The ending of Mark is not such an issue as in most if not all bible versions it is stated in the footnotes that this is not in all manuscripts and so it is left to the individual how seriously to take it. A problem I have with the changes in LDS scriptures is that most members do not even know about them, and they are certainly not marked on the texts as far as I am aware. For this reason I will not be deterred in working on my post on Doctrine and Covenants changes.

      I think Baptism is not just symbolic but is a requirement, not of salvation but of obedience, I believe Jesus said if you love me You will keep my commandments Baptism is an amazing public way to carry this out right at the start of the Christian life, but in the context of the bible genuine life submitting faith is the only requirement for salvation, however this can not possibly be left at that.

      The issue of God having a body I do not see even Joseph Smith coming up with till later and regardless of your creed I can see no backing for it in the bible.

      I will carry on with my posts and I do back up what I say however maybe I am unique in being able to admit when I am wrong and when I simply do not know answers. The truth is not found in who has the most intellect or best arguments its found in Christ, with that in mind I am not worried about looking right all the time but I will carry on doing what He has called me to do.

      So I dont know how satisfactory that answer will be but I am trying to be as honest and vulnerable as possible, you are welcome here and I welcome people disagreeing with me a great deal, the only time I have deleted comments on this blog has actually been when people have been overly disrespectful to Mormons, I have not deleted a Mormons comment yet unless it has been down to a technical error.

      And James I still love you, and our relationship I hope is still good, Mike was just in his own way expressing his opinion and it was not necessarily 100% the same as mine.

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  58. This has to be the most comical discussion with a Mormon I have read in an age. He insists that the “anti-Mormon world” is so small as to be insignificant, that people are not leaving the Mormon Church in any significant numbers, so such ministries are ineffectual, and yet he rails against these apparently ineffectual ministries for causing so much harm. He challenges just about everyone’s honesty, integrity, intelligence and sanity yet complains bitterly about being treated badly.

    He repeatedly demands that folk stick to the point and discuss the subect in hand yet talks about anything else but the DVD that he has unilaterally decided never to watch because, he assure us, he just “knows” it must be full of the same old stuff, the Mormon in it must be an actor and the makers less than truthful. He doesn’t know these people, nor anything about the making of the movie but he just “knows.”

    Then he goes off on a long and convoluted diatribe about obscure ideas and wacky interpretations, rail-splitting, offering false examples and quoting “Christian scholars” to back up what he apparently believes because he has worked it out for himself. But who is interested in what he believes? This discussion is about Mormonism, the official doctrine of the Mormon Church.

    Nevertheless he fails to quote official sources claiming that his leaders aren’t trained to know these things (I will remember that the next time a Mormon insists that I “follow the prophet”), because they are not scholars and because, bless their hearts, when they have spoken out in the past they have faced questions and criticism. What delicate flowers they are these Mormon prophets. But since when have prophets been called to be diffident and reserved? Where are prophets commanded to stay on the right side of the world and not rock the boat for fear they might attract the wrong sort of attention?

    Jesus didn’t say, “I’ll not go up to the temple today in case people get the wrong impression.” When Peter was told, “you will be brought before kings and governers and all on account of my name” (Lk.21:12) he didn’t say, “blow that for a game of diplomats. I’m going fishing.” When Peter wrote, “Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone…” (1 Pet.3:15) he didn’t qualify it with, “but don’t risk criticism and always pass it by the correlation committee first.”

    Joseph Smith said, “It is the first principle of the gospel to know for certainty the character of God.” He went on to teach that God was not always God, that he was once a man and achieved godhood by obedience, that men may become gods in a literal sense. Brigham Young goes on to affirm that there is an infinite regression of gods “without number”. This is your starting point and it is no use yapping on about “some have thought” and “earlier generations believed” and “there have been hints and speculations.”

    Thet teaching is clear and unequivocal and the choice before the inquirer is stark: either Mormons are led by prophets who have brought this as a true teaching, or they are full of speculations and theories about what this one or that one might have meant when he said…In which case why on earth would anyone join a church built on such frail and brittle speculation?

    How can meaningful comparisons be made between Mormonism and the Bible if Mormonism is as slippery as an eel, as evasive as a politician and as speculative and inconclusive as a report on UFOs? How can people have confidence when Mormons insist “follow the prophet” and go on to say that those prophets don’t really know diddly-squat about much of what Mormons are supposed to think and believe? This isn’t the danger and challenge of prophetic ministry, this is the safety and comfort of middle-management; keep your head down, say nothing and collect your pension. James you are a riot.

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  59. Hello Mike Tea.

    I confess to being perplexed by your response. Though I do give you kudos for being a clever wordsmith. I probably can’t match you there. But when I take moment to examine your accusations against me I am left astonished and disappointed.

    Can you help me by showing me where I rail against anti-Mormon ministries because they do so much harm? You also accuse me of insulting the honesty, integrity, etc. of my hosts here. I don’t profess to have behaved Christlike in every moment of this incredibly drawn out discussion, but I don’t think your accusations are warranted. Bobby and I have a fine relationship and I don’t think he feels insulted by me.

    I’m also left curious by your complaints of my insistence on not straying too far from whatever the current topic of conversation is. I’m perfectly happy to talk about the DVD, and it simply hasn’t been a major focus of this discussion for a very long time (until Mr. Berman recently arrived). Since this discussion began I’ve managed to watch the opening 30 minutes of the video, and I made a transcript of that portion. I’ve no problem with watching the rest of it…I’m just not confidence yet that it would be worth my time. Have you never put down a book, or turned off a movie, when after the opening scenes you decided it might not be worth the time?

    Your sweeping judgements of my comments regarding LDS prophets and leaders are simply unfair. My comments were given in a somewhat nuanced context and I tried multiple times to carefully clarify my message. You’ve unfairly characterized my position as being on in which the prophets are fragile and must be kept away from the microphones. That is not at all my position, and readers are invited to go back and review that part of the discussion and see for themselves.

    You mentioned that this discussion “is about Mormonism, the official doctrine of the Mormon Church.” I totally agree. Let’s discuss what the LDS Church officially endorses and teaches as normative doctrine. Let’s not dwell on speculations, unofficial comments, philosophical meanderings, and ideas of the past that are now discarded. Let’s stick to the bare bones of official Mormon belief.

    Ironically, in the next breath you bring up those old chestnuts that Evangelicals are so fond of: Joseph’s Smith’s late preachings on the nature of God and subsequent elaborations by LDS prophets. I implore you, Mike, to follow your own advice and stick to official LDS doctrines. Those things largely fall outside of such.

    I for one am grateful for modern living prophets. They guide us in righteous living and bolster our faith in Jesus Christ. They dictate the “official” doctrines of the Church. Perhaps most importantly, they hold the keys to administering Christ’s gospel on the Earth.

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  60. Timothy

    It is distressing to see with what enthusiasm and glee you set out to prove God’s prophets false. Let us take your claims one-by-one:

    Isaiah 7:1-7 Failed because of II Chronicles 28:1, 5-6

    I can see why you think this a failed prophecy but had you been a better Bible student you may have understood the text differently. Chronicles is clear enough about Ahaz:

    “Ahaz was twenty years old when he began to reign, and he reigned sixteen years in Jerusalem. And he did not do what was right in the eyes of the LORD, as his father David had done, but he walked in the ways of the kings of Israel. He even made metal images for the Baals, and he made offerings in the Valley of the Son of Hinnom and burned his sons as an offering, according to the abominations of the nations whom the LORD drove out before the people of Israel. And he sacrificed and made offerings on the high places and on the hills and under every green tree.
    Therefore the LORD his God gave him into the hand of the king of Syria…”

    God had promised David, “If his children forsake my law, I will chasten their transgression with the rod; but my loving-kindness will I not utterly take away” (Ps.89:30-33) and this is a chastening because Ahaz had forsaken God and sacrificed to Baal. This chastening is foreshadowed in God’s instruction to Isaiah to take his son with him (Is.7:3). Isaiah’s children are said to be for signs (Is.8:18) and this son’s name was Shear-jashub – a remnant shall return. And this is what happened, the exiles returned (2 Chr.28:15)

    The phrase, “It shall not stand, and it shall not come to pass” in Isaiah 7:7 is not a promise that Ahaz would not be defeated by the armies coming against him. Clearly, he deserved to be because of his idolatrous ways. The alliance armies had said, “Let us go up against Judah and terrify it, and let us conquer it for ourselves, and set up the son of Tabeel as king in the midst of it.”

    It was for David and in keeping with God’s promises to him that Isaiah was sent to speak to the King. Ahaz was of the line of David and the promises were only to the house of David. “It shall not come to pass” that Tabeel would be set on the throne of David; he was not.

    Isaiah 17:1-2 yet Damascus still stands today

    Not so! Damascus was destroyed by the Assyrians in 732 BC in fulfillment of Isaiah’s prophecy. It stands today but no one said it wouldn’t be rebuilt.

    Isaiah 19:5-7 Drying up of the Nile – there is no archaeological evidence (and not talking about the Exodus).

    Now that is audacious, a Mormon demanding archaeological evidence. You show me Zerahemla and I will show you a dry Nile.

    Ezekiel 26:7-14 claims to prophecy of the fall of Tyre to Nebuchadnezzer, yet it did not fall under Nebuchadnezzer and existed until Alexander the Great laid seige and conqured Tyre.

    Mormons do thump on about context – when it suits them. The reference given here is a development of verses 1-6 giving greater detail. Read the prophecy in context and look at the history of Tyre and you have a fulfilled prophecy:

    “In the eleventh year, on the first day of the month, the word of the LORD came to me: “Son of man, because Tyre said concerning Jerusalem, ‘Aha, the gate of the peoples is broken; it has swung open to me. I shall be replenished, now that she is laid waste,’ therefore thus says the Lord GOD: Behold, I am against you, O Tyre, and will bring up many nations against you, as the sea brings up its waves. They shall destroy the walls of Tyre and break down her towers, and I will scrape her soil from her and make her a bare rock. She shall be in the midst of the sea a place for the spreading of nets, for I have spoken, declares the Lord GOD. And she shall become plunder for the nations, and her daughters on the mainland shall be killed by the sword. Then they will know that I am the LORD.” Eze.26:1-6)

    Note the Lord said he would bring against Tyre “many nations.” This was to be a wave of conquests resulting in final ruin. By the time Nebuchadnezzer conquered the city much of its wealth had already been carried away by sea during a 13 year siege. When Alexander the Great conquered the city he built a 2,600 foot causeway, fulfilling the prophecy “your stones and timber and soil they will cast in the midst of the waters”. Tyre today is a major city in Lebanon but nothing has been built on the site of the ancient city since its final destruction and her ruins can be seen today http://www.lgic.org/en/photos2_tyre.php

    Ezekiel 29:17-20 Desolation of Egypt prophecied – where is the archaeological and historical evidence that Egypt was laid waste and desolate as prophesied?

    Ezekiel 29:20 Nebuchadnezzer would conquer Egypt, yet he never did from historical accounts.

    Again I find this appeal for archaeological evidence quite impudent. Show me Zerahemla! Nebuchadnezzer conquered Egypt in 568 BC and this is described in Jeremiah 43-44 and in Josephus, Jewish Antiquities, 10:,180-182. If you knew your history you would know that following King nebs conquest Egypt was subject to Persian rule (beginning 525 BC), was conquered by Alexander the Great (332BC) and conquered by Rome (31 BC)

    Jeremiah 36:30 prophecies that no one will sit on the throne who was a descendant of Jehoiakim, yet according to another Bible passage – II Kings 24:6 – Jehoiakim had a son take his place on the throne –

    You are reading this prophecy wrong. It is not about whether a descendent of Jehoiakim managed to get his backside on the throne but about whether he would rule and reign. After the death of Jehoiakim his son Jehoiachin (Coniah, see 37:1) attempts to rule but is deposed in three months and his place is taken by Zedekiah the son of Josiah (37:1). This prophecy is fulfilled.

    What is most disturbing about your remarks is that, faced with the charge that Joseph Smith is a false prophet because his prophecies failed you don’t refute the argument but seek to dismiss it by questioning the record of God’s prophets. Your saying, “I know Joseph Smith failed to bring reliable prophecy but then so did these people so that’s alright then.”

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  61. Self examination need not be accompanied by spiteful and angry dialogue. I request that you to give me the benefit of the doubt and not assume at the outset that I don’t continually examine my beliefs.

    I’ve studied and discussed just about every topic related to Mormonism. I’ve documented much of what I’ve learned on my personal blog. I’ve tried to be a responsible student, admitting when I don’t know something and representing my faith honestly. My perspectives have changed during this process and I’ve come out feeling stronger and happier for the things I’ve learned. Please don’t make the mistake of believing that any Mormon who honestly examines his faith must a priori abandon Mormonism.

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    1. The Biter bit I think James. You wrote:

      “I request that you to give me the benefit of the doubt and not assume at the outset that I don’t continually examine my beliefs.”

      Well let’s see if you live by the standard you think reasonable to expect from others. Here are some of your responses to this DVD and discussion:

      “I watched about 15 minutes of this DVD a few months ago, and I was immediately suspicious that the “Mormon” in this video was just a paid actor and was not really a believing and active Mormon. The dialogue seemed scripted and fake.”

      You “assume” that the Mormon is a fake, that the dialogue was scripted and that the whole enterprise is deliberately deceptive.

      “I didn’t bother to watch the rest of it because I highly doubt that they present any new information that hasn’t already been touched on in other anti-Mormon DVD’s. There is an older DVD called “The Bible vs the Book of Mormon” that I suspect is largely the same material.”

      You ascribe to the makers of the DVD the sobriquet “anti-Mormon”, a name routinely used by Mormons to put in a bad light anyone who dares question Mormonism no matter how honest their questions, and you “assume” the producers of the DVD are reworking the same material (yawn) as they have seen before.

      “FAIR is very slowly putting together an internet response to this video, but efforts have slowed down because we never get questions about the DVD in our “Ask the Apologist” service. Apparently nobody is watching it. It doesn’t appear to me that many people are watching this DVD, much less being impacted by it.”

      You presume to know that the whole enterprise is ineffectual, not because of any hard evidence but because it suits you to think this.

      “Back when I first saw this video I also tried to look up Greg Gifford, but I couldn’t find him anywhere. I suspect his name is invented.”

      You “assume” Greg Gifford doesn’t exist, further impugning the motives and integrity of people you have never met over a DVD you have never seen.

      “Assuming you know Greg Gifford personally, I’ll take your word for it…I happen to wonder why sourceflix chose someone like Greg Gifford, who obviously is not well informed on LDS scholarship, to be the LDS representative in this film.”

      Having received assurances from Earl that, from personal experience, he knows Greg Gifford exists, you grudgingly accept his word and change tack. Now you know Greg does exist you question the competency to take part in this project of a man you know so little about that five minutes ago you thought he was a fiction.

      “Earl, you said that you hope we can honestly deal with LDS doctrine. I ask you, was the LDS side of the story honestly presented in this video? Why wasn’t someone more familiar with LDS scholarship interviewed? Was the best of LDS scholarship discussed? Or, was it ignored (as it was in “The Bible vs the Book of Mormon”)?”

      You then, still having never seen the DVD and not knowing the story behind its making, question the integrity of those making it in that they haven’t invited onto it those people you think should have been there; I wonder who you have in mind?

      “Critics, such as yourself, constantly insist on “official” comments from the LDS Church. But that is simply not how it works. We are not a creedal church. We take firm “official” doctrinal stances on only the bare bones essentials of the gospel. Our membership is invited to study things out and form their own opinions on everything else.”

      Having been critical of the work for not having a more competent source to represent honestly the LDS view, and having been told that ministries like this would be delighted to meet a person with such competence, you proceed to say that no one from the LDS Church leadership is up to the task anyway. But the vast majority of Mormons, by your own admission, are ordinary members and surely this makes Greg not the unfortunate exception but the rule. Who better to take part than an ordinary Mormon knowing what ordinary Mormons know? Then Earl posted:

      “I was not involved in the making of this documentary other than praying for the Sourceflix.com ministry. I personally know the interviewer, Joel Kramer, and the folks who went to Israel with the Giffords, Chip and Jamie Thompson. (Author of The Mormon Scrapbook).
      Two summers ago, Greg Gifford and his wife had contacted the Thompson’s and wanted to go to Israel to meet Joel and explore the archelogical sites. Greg nor the Thompson’s disclosed anything about Greg being LDS. About 10 days or so into the trip, being shown all over Israel, examining site after site, Greg asked Joel the question, “So you don’t believe there is any archelogical evidience for the Book of Mormon?” Joel realized Greg was LDS. Obviousely, they had developed a relationship during the days traveling together and Joel asked Greg if he would consider being interviewed about the evidence or lack thereof of the Book of Mormon. The interview took place on Joel’s balcony in Jerusalem. The final shot of Greg descending from Cave #1 in the Qumran was filmed after the interview.”

      Having learned from Earl the details of this project, that sourceflix did not approach a Mormon but a Mormon approached them; that Greg wanted to investigate further the issues discussed in the DVD as a member in good standing in the LDS Church, you say nothing. There is no apology for making those scandalous assumptions about a DVD you can’t even be bothered to view and discuss, for impugning people with the worse of motives, the lowest of methods and the meanest of deceptions.

      “I’m outnumbered here, and this discussion has grown increasingly frustrating for me. More often than not we are debating about the debate, and not actually debating the evidences. I just want to talk about the issues! It is always unfortunate when conversations devolve into an argument about who isn’t playing nice or who isn’t being kind.”

      You then have the audacity to complain about the conduct of others, moaning that “we are debating about the debate” when it is about all you have done from the beginning! It is what Mormons are good at, i.e. telling people how to talk about and to Mormons. You have made ad hominem attacks at every turn, have ascribed to people you have never met the meanest of motives and the worse character flaws. You have called their work phony, their efforts worthless and their words simply dishonest and deceptive; and you are in no position to know because you don’t know the people involved and refuse to watch the DVD. And then you have the temerity to complain that the conversation has devolved into “an argument about who isn’t playing nice or who isn’t being kind!”

      James, you are not playing nice, you are not being kind. You ask for the benefit of the doubt when I accuse you of evading self-examination but show me I am wrong. You refuse to give others the benefit of the doubt and have failed to see in yourself the very faults you so easily ascribe to others that you have never met and know nothing about.

      It is dishonest to express views about a work you have never examined; low and mean-spirited to accuse people you don’t know of lying and cheating; unchristian to so readily see in others who don’t agree with you the meanest of motives and the lowest of methods. Examine yourself James and stop lashing out at anyone and everyone who doesn’t suit you. I was a Mormon and I know many Mormons and you are doing them and your church no favours conducting yourself in this way.

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  62. Hello Mike. You sure are determined to impugn my character aren’t you?

    I raised the possibility that Greg Giffords was a paid actor, or perhaps a made up name entirely, but I also asked, “What do you think?” to my friends here at Bobby’s blog. I was genuinely interested to know if anyone had any information about Greg Gifford. His role in the film does seem scripted, and he seemed to cave in incredibly easily. My friend Bobby, whose blog this is, agreed with me. You accused me of assuming that LHM is less than honest in its portrayal of the discussion between Kramer and Giffords….I submit to you that my “assumption” was not conjured out of thin air but was based on my perception from watching the film. I had reasons to think what I thought.

    Earl set me straight on that point. Also, in a private email with Jerry from LHM I was assured that Gifford is who the film says he is. It appears you are correct that I didn’t apologize for questioning the existence of Greg Gifford. In the rush of the debate I failed to do so. For the record, I am sorry.

    You’ve complained about my use of “anti-Mormon”. I’m not going to back down from that one. LHM is an anti-Mormon ministry. Elsewhere I’ve articulated how I define the word “anti-Mormon” and I think it fits here. I don’t throw that word around casually.

    I have good reason to think that “The Bible vs Joseph Smith” is not effectual. Despite your accusations to the contrary, I’m not making that up simply to suit my claims. I’m privy to the sorts of questions that flow into FAIR, and this just isn’t on the list. I realize that it isn’t a terribly scientific measurement, but it offers some insight.

    I’ll simply repeat what I’ve written before here. It isn’t fair for someone who is obviously more informed on LDS scholarship to stump someone who obviously is not as well informed and then to imply that this is representative of Mormonism. That is perhaps my biggest complaint about this film. Greg Gifford is supposed to represent the LDS side of the story, while Joel Kramer represents the Evangelical perspective. Kramer invites scholars and has reams of research in his back pocket. Gifford isn’t prepared for that sort of thing, and he never really critically examines Kramer’s arguments. Gifford’s perspectives are knocked down as a straw man of LDS scholarship.

    I’ve also explained that you can’t expect official LDS leaders to be prepared to deal with the sorts of issues raised in the video. They simply don’t have time to dig into every criticism of the LDS Church. They have more important things to do like preach the gospel and guide the Church. I think that, if this video was meant to be fair and balanced, they should have invited LDS scholars to participate in the discussion instead of Greg Gifford.

    You complain of my ad hominem attacks, Mike, but I submit to you that the questions I’ve raised are relevant and important. I’m not raising questions about the film’s production as a mechanism for avoiding the doctrinal issues raised by the film. I’m happy to discuss whatever content is in the film. As I’ve said, I’ve watched about 25 minutes of it. I’ve also read the transcript for the rest of it.

    I also should point out that since the moment you entered this discussion it has been nothing but a constant stream of ad hominem attacks against my character as you’ve desperately tried (and failed) to impugn my character. I hope we can all learn a lesson about not attributing the worst motives and characteristics to our theological rivals. We are all striving in our own way to follow Christ, and we are not deliberately intending to do wrong.

    Once again, this has devolved into a debate about the debate. I don’t make any pretenses to being a flawless and Christlike representative in every moment. I apologize for those times when I’ve been less than congenial. My only desire is to have cordial discussions with those of other faiths. I think I’ve behaved perfectly reasonable despite your attempts to show otherwise. I detest when such things spiral out of control and fingers begin to be pointed and calls to repentance begin to be shouted. Let us all (me included) take a deep breath, step back a moment, and rest from this strife.

    James

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  63. Just for clarification, I don’t know if I’m “qualified” to address these things. I don’t know what exactly it would take to be “qualified”, but I do think I’m a bit better prepared than your average LDS. I assume you are also a bit better prepared to deal with the challenges of your Evangelical faith than most Evangelicals are. We internet chatters tend to be that way.

    Regarding Moroni 8:18, I recently became aware of the effort at “Mormon Coffee” to push that angle upon the saints through a new website and video. Aaron Shafovaloff seems to never be lacking in energy and creativity in his mission to the Latter-day Saints.

    Moroni 8:18 comes in the midst of a discussion by the prophet Mormon about the practice of baptizing infants and little children. Mormon argues that such a practice is wrong because little children have no need of baptism because baptism is the fruit of repentance and little children have nothing to repent of. Mormon then argues that if God required little children to be baptized than God would be a “partial God, and a changeable God, and a respecter of persons” (vs 12).

    After explaining that little children are all alike in the eyes of the Lord (vs 17) Mormon than goes on to explain (vs 18) that “God is not a partial God, neither a changeable being; but he is unchangeable from all eternity to all eternity.”

    So the context of the statement is that of God’s impartiality in saving little children. He doesn’t discriminate against little children who are not baptized, because they simply don’t need baptism in the first place. In this sense, God is not partial and does not change his mind. He is constant in his loving acceptance of little children.

    Now, there are a few ways one could choose to go from here. The first way is to keep in mind the context and the reasons why Mormon uses adjectives like “unchangeable” in his description of God. This methodology is exegetical, because we are not trying to read more into Mormon’s words than he meant. We are using the context to understand what specifically he means. We aren’t stripping the passage from its context in order satisfy an agenda. Using this method, we realize that the word “unchangeable” is in reference to God’s impartiality towards little children.

    A second way we could go is to participate in eisegesis. Instead of keeping in mind Mormon’s context and the thrust of his message, we could ignore all of that and instead introduce a different, foreign, context. We could take the passage and isolate it from the broader discussion it is found in and pretend that our modern sensibilities about God’s nature have a greater weight in how we should interpret Mormon’s words. We could momentarily forget that Mormon is a 4th century American (or an 19th century New York farmer, depending on your view) and pretend that he is a colleague of Athanasius or St. Augustine who were enamored with Hellenistic dogmas regarding God’s static nature, or his inability to learn or to grow in any way. We could pretend that this passage has anything at all to do with God’s possible history as a mortal. This method obviously comes at great sacrifice to the text itself.

    It is up to to each reader of the text to choose how they are going to interpret Moroni 8:18. I choose the first.

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    1. Well that was a discussion between you and Timothy Berman. I don’t have time to pick up that baton right now. Perhaps another time and place it would be fun to discuss the nature of prophets and prophecy.

      I’m in my (hopefully) last semester as a graduate students of geology, and so I’m already spending too much time on these silly (but fun) discussions. I’ve got a lot of work to do on my graduate thesis still, so I can’t afford to take on too many apologetic fronts at once.

      James

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  64. I wasn’t getting at you particularly James. I was simply observing that a Mormon has come here confident that there are failed prophecies in the Bible and offering “evidence” of such in support of the track record of failed prophecies of Joseph Smith only to go quiet when his argument is based on wishful thinking than sound biblical exegesis. I wouldn’t say it has nothing to do with you however since everything in this thread is driven by the JS v the Bible DVD, a subject on which you have, yourself, proved forthright.

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  65. Hi Mike. I myself have often been guilty of commenting in a blog discussion only to forget all about it and only remember many days (or months) later. I don’t always remember to “subscribe” to the comments feed. I suggest we not pass judgement on Timothy or on his arguments until we hear from him again.

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  66. At FairLDS.org you can read a very detailed, well documented rebuttal to the Kramer film. Read the document and see who looks foolish. Mr. Kramer should get his facts straight..

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  67. @John I am currently reading the rebuttal you recommend. It is very long isn’t it? I am reminded that a man who does a lot of explaining has a lot of explaining to do. What I have read so far is heavy with tautological statements, making the text longer than it needs to be and irritating to read. The same tired old rebuttals that are no rebuttals at all are trotted out (so far. who knows, he may say something new later on but I doubt it). In the familiar ad hominem style typical of FAIR, people are neatly categorised, castigated, misrepresented and dismissed as cultural Mormons, ex-Mormons, anti-Mormons as though the fact of their having doubted Mormonism ipso facto dismisses their evidence and views as suspect, worthless. The one that most impresses me though is “professional anti-Mormon”, which is a mean-spirited ad hominem attack suggesting that tthis work is bound to be biased because it is produced by somone playing to the gallery for money. I wonder how much lower this “scholarly rebuttal” can get.

    Having dismissed remarks critical of the Mormon faith as untrustworthy because coming from such people he goes on to remark – often – that no effort is made to elicit the views of “people familiar with the issues”, by which he means True Believing Mormons, as though people in this category are just bound to be unbiased. We are talking about folk who believe because it feels right and who are taught to have an unquestioning attitude to what they believe. No bias there then.

    The representation of Greg Gifford as a dupe is rich indeed. I would appreciate the calls for a better informed Mormon participant, for the involvement of a more accurate representative of Mormon scholarship if I hadn’t seen so many gross misreprepresentations in Mormon print and media of Christian leaders. From the grossly dishonest account of Christian churches in the so-called first vision, through the inexcusably foul caricature of a Christian minister in the pre-1990 temple film (I speak from personal experience), to the dishonest special pleading of “we don’t tear down your religion, why must you tear down ours” Mormonism constantly puts up dupes, sets up straw men arguments for their empty claims of restorationism.

    When true experts express their views they, too, are dismissed, not because they don’t know what they are talking about but becuase they, inconvenienty, happen to come down on the side of Joel Kramer. They simply don’t agree with the conclusions put out there by Mormon scholars and somehow this wrong? I challenge you, as I so foten do any Mormon on these issues, to put up one non-Mormon scholar who takes seriously the claims of the Book of Mormon and I will reconsider my own position. But your position, and that of FAIR, will always be compromised, no matter how fine your language or long your explanations, because of the total absence of such an unbiased witness.

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  68. As the author of the irritating, mean, nasty, and ad hominem drenched article “Joel Kramer Vs. The Bible and Joseph Smith”, I find it only appropriate to devote a few moments of my time to answering the criticisms leveled at my review by Mr. Thomas. Pending Mr. Thomas’ reaction to my post, I may or may not contribute anything more to this discussion than what I post here.

    Mr. Thomas’ first complaint against my article is that it is too long, forsooth, it is “heavy with tautological statements, making the text longer than it needs to be and irritating to read. The same tired old rebuttals that are no rebuttals at all are trotted out.”

    Well, there is not much I can do in response to those who are pained by my verbosity. I had many things that I wanted to address with regard to Kramer’s dreadful DVD, and felt it necessary to devote as much attention to the subject as I did. In short, my response to this accusation is what Dean C. Jessee once famously quipped, “I think they would be okay if they were more inclined to read.”

    Mr. Thomas is likewise positively mortified by my continual hurling of ad hominem attacks against Kramer and his cadre of interviewees. “In the familiar ad hominem style typical of FAIR, people are neatly categorised, castigated, misrepresented and dismissed as cultural Mormons, ex-Mormons, anti-Mormons as though the fact of their having doubted Mormonism ipso facto dismisses their evidence and views as suspect, worthless.” Actually, I dismiss their evidence not because of their being disaffected with Mormonism, but based on the fact that these individuals have put forth fallacious arguments that don’t withstand scrutiny. Playing the victim won’t do much to help these individuals who have no substantive criticism against Joseph Smith. You may holler “ad hominem” all you like, but that doesn’t change the fact that Kramer et al. has offered no cogent argument against the Mormon position.

    Mr. Thomas presses on with his wholly feeble critique by insisting that “it is produced by somone playing to the gallery for money.” For money, you say? That is a surprise to me. I have yet to receive a single dime from FAIR for my review. Perhaps my parents have been absconding with the checks coming into me.

    This claim is demonstrably false. Not only that, but it smacks of desperation.

    Moving on. “Having dismissed remarks critical of the Mormon faith as untrustworthy because coming from such people he goes on to remark – often – that no effort is made to elicit the views of “people familiar with the issues”, by which he means True Believing Mormons, as though people in this category are just bound to be unbiased.” Actually, I mean scholars who have devoted careful attention to researching these issues and have arrived to their conclusions through critical analysis of the salient evidence. Not pseudo-scholarly polemicists who are taking their talking points from Jerald and Sandra Tanner. And since when did I ever claim that these Mormon authorities were unbiased? Besides the fact that true objectivity is impossible, as Peter Novick helpfully demonstrated in 1988 with his book “That Noble Dream: The ‘Objectivity Question’ and the American Historical Profession”, the scholars solicited by Kramer are far from unbiased themselves, as is manifest with their palpable disdain for Joseph Smith and Mormonism. .

    Thus, the question of who is “unbiased” is a red herring that Mr. Thomas has thrown into the ring in an attempt to salvage the arguments of his beloved Kramer, whose arguments have been torn to shreds by those actually in a position to offer any substantive analysis of these issues.

    “We are talking about folk who believe because it feels right and who are taught to have an unquestioning attitude to what they believe. ”

    Said the man who accuses me of ad hominem attacks.

    Actually, these authorities I cited believe what they do because they have carefully analyzed the data and have arrived to informed opinions. Your claim that the scholars I cited are biased hacks who are dogmatically clinging to their fundamentalist assumptions is bereft of any merit. (By the way, do those “folk” include the twenty some-odd non-Mormon scholars I cited in my review?)

    “The representation of Greg Gifford as a dupe is rich indeed. I would appreciate the calls for a better informed Mormon participant, for the involvement of a more accurate representative of Mormon scholarship if I hadn’t seen so many gross misreprepresentations in Mormon print and media of Christian leaders. From the grossly dishonest account of Christian churches in the so-called first vision, through the inexcusably foul caricature of a Christian minister in the pre-1990 temple film (I speak from personal experience), to the dishonest special pleading of “we don’t tear down your religion, why must you tear down ours” Mormonism constantly puts up dupes, sets up straw men arguments for their empty claims of restorationism.”

    I hope that Mr. Thomas recognizes that this is a textbook example of the Tu quoque fallacy. Even if Mormons have habitually caricatured and misrepresented mainstream Christian denominations (which I believe is highly questionable) that does not give Kramer and Mr. Thomas license to do such against the benighted Mormons.

    Mr. Thomas maintains that “When true experts express their views they, too, are dismissed, not because they don’t know what they are talking about but becuase they, inconvenienty, happen to come down on the side of Joel Kramer.” Actually, you were right with the first statement. I dismiss the claims of Kramer and the scholars he interviewed precisely because “they don’t know what they are talking about”. They made demonstrably untrue or misleading statements, thus, I arrived to the conclusion that they were ignorant of the facts surrounding these issues. Furthermore, Mr. Thomas asks, “they simply don’t agree with the conclusions put out there by Mormon scholars and somehow this wrong?” No. They are not automatically wrong because they disagree with the Mormon scholars. They are wrong because they disagree with the plain facts.

    Finally, a challenge from Mr. Thomas: “I challenge you, as I so foten do any Mormon on these issues, to put up one non-Mormon scholar who takes seriously the claims of the Book of Mormon and I will reconsider my own position.”

    Does Margaret Barker count?

    Margaret Barker, “Joseph Smith and Preexilic Israelite Religion”, in John W. Welch, ed., The Worlds of Joseph Smith: A Bicentennial Conference at the Library of Congress (Provo, UT: Brigham Young University Press, 2006), 69-83.

    So will you now reconsider your position? No? Well, I expected as much.

    Furthermore, for someone who is horrified by my continual sloughing into ad hominem attacks I must ask whether you recognize that your challenge is, naturally, an ad hominem circumstantial fallacy?

    Finally, Mr. Thomas ends his screed with this dire pronouncement: “But your position, and that of FAIR, will always be compromised, no matter how fine your language or long your explanations, because of the total absence of such an unbiased witness.”

    As opposed to, say, your undoubtedly unbiased witness? Or that of Kramer’s? Again, please consult Novick.

    Finally, I wish to point out to any intrepid reader who has come this far that Mr. Thomas’ critique never once addressed any of the following points I raised in my review:

    1. Kramer’s habitual misrepresentation of the Mormon position. (Not only in this DVD but in his past productions.)
    2. Kramer’s distasteful well poisoning against Joseph Smith.
    3. Kramer’s fundamentally flawed approach to the JST.
    4. Kramer’s fundamentally flawed approach to the textual transmission of the biblical texts.
    5. Kramer’s markedly eisegetical (mis)reading of Deuteronomy 18.
    6. Kramer’s unfortunate disinterment of the pathetic Alma 7:10 argument against the Book of Mormon.
    7. Kramer’s evisceration at the hands of Gutman Locks.
    8. Kramer’s stupendously shallow comments on the LDS doctrine of deification.

    Actually responding to 34 pages and 129 footnotes is easily averted by Mr. Thomas, on the grounds that:

    1. I am a mean, nasty, biased Mormon apologist who can do nothing better than hurl ad hominem attacks.
    2. My arguments are “the same tired old rebuttals that are no rebuttals at all.”

    Does Mr. Thomas bother to actually engage my evidence? No. Does he actually provide any real example of an ad hominem attack? No. Does he provide any justification for Kramer’s errors and distortions? No. Does he bother to do anything other than dismiss the Mormon scholars out of hand? No. Does he do anything in his rebuttal (I am using that word generously here) other than merely assert the ignominiousness of my review and triumphantly announce he is the victor? No.

    I have now wasted a perfectly good hour or so of my time responding to this drivel. Hopefully any further comments regarding my review of Kramer’s ignoble DVD will be more substantive.

    From your favorite Mopologist knave,

    Stephen O. Smoot

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  69. Mike,

    You requested the name of an non-LDS scholar “who takes seriously the claims of the Book of Mormon”. The problem with this claim is that it assumes that someone can take the Book of Mormon seriously and remain a non-Mormon. I don’t think that that assumption is a good one.

    The temptation is to say, “Plenty of atheists take Biblical history seriously, but no non-Mormons take Book of Mormon history seriously.” I realize you didn’t specifically say that, but that is the underlying thought for a lot of people. The problem is that you are comparing apples and oranges. It is entirely possible to take Biblical history seriously and remain a non-believer in the theology of the Bible. But it is entirely impossible to take BoM history seriously and not convert.

    The reason is because of how the Book of Mormon purports to have come into the world. You can’t accept the historical claims of the Book of Mormon without also accepting the claims of Joseph Smith. You can’t accept the claims of Joseph Smith without becoming a Mormon. However, you can easily accept the historical claims of the Bible without being a believer in the theology of the Bible. That is because it came into the world by a different path, a path that allows it to be taken seriously without believing. The same is not true of the Book of Mormon.

    But if you want the names of some non-LDS scholars who read the Book of Mormon and converted, I submit the names of Kim Goldsmith and her husband Alejandro Sarabia Gonzalez. Both were directors of archaeology at Teotihuacan, a major ancient Mesoamerican center. The last I heard Goldsmith now works at BYU, but her husband remains the director at Teotihuacan. They both converted to the gospel in 2002.

    Many other names of scholarly folks who have converted to Mormonism could be found. These are two of the most interesting.

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  70. I like the film, but it’s obvious that the “life long Mormon” isn’t a Mormon from the very beginning of the movie, and is just pretending to be one. The purpose of the deception of the view is to move the movie along the plot which is explaining to a Mormon and have him gradually realize the mistakes of Mormonism. All of his “Hmm, let’s see, the is difficult. Let me think. (pause) I guess you’re right. I guess Joseph Smith is a false prophet.” are so obviously an act. They should say it’s fiction and the man is acting to dramatize a conversion to Christianity. To put it out as real and deceive the viewer is Satanic. I pray that they will repent. If a viewer saw this obvious and intentional deception, she or he would think the Christian message is a deception too. They are lying and casting shame and lies on the cross of Jesus. How could they lie. I’m so ashamed. They will rot in hell. They wrap the Christian message in an obvious cheap deception. A deception is a lie, something that deceives. And the father of lies is Satan. Why borrow tricks from Satan to bring people to Christ. Be honest! That will shine out as a light. Don’t be a cheap swindler and prankster and bring shame to Jesus.

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    1. Eric,
      Greg Gifford is actually a Mormon. I’m a faithful LDS believer, and I have first hand knowledge that Greg Gifford is an actual, believing Mormon. Nonetheless, Greg is a very uninformed Mormon, and the movie is completely disingenuous in its attempt to “lead” Gifford to see the light. Gifford serves as a strawman Mormon that Kramer can pretend is the only Mormon response to his arguments.

      Do a Google search for “Joel Kramer vs The Bible and Joseph Smith” and you will find the review of the video by my friend Steve Smoot at FAIRlds.org.

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      1. I met Gregs wife at Utah last year, apparently the stuff he heard in this dvd did affect him and he was currently going through some kind of faith/family crissis down to this and other things, however I have no idea where he is at now. If I remember rightly they met out where the dvd was filmed and Greg agreed to be in it, I totally agree that Greg does not come across as a very knowledgeable Mormon however that was just the luck of the draw of the Mormon they met as it were.

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