The LDS (Mormon) Church, Part 3 : Determining Truth

Okay gang. My last followup post brought about some interesting comments, so I've been thinking a lot about how we are to determine Truth. We agree on one thing at least... someone is deceived. Naturally, we all think it's the "other" guy who's deceived! I guess that's the nature of deception, isn't it?

Instead of continuing the conversation through yet another followup post or by going round and round in the comments section, I thought I'd start an entirely new thread on the topic of Determining Truth.

That's Truth with a capital "T". God's Truth. The Truth that is 100% applicable all of the time. The Truth that doesn't change because it's author doesn't change. Humans sometimes don't like or understand or care about it...but none of that changes God's Truth one little bit. It will stand firm for all of eternity with our without our approval or acceptance.

We all agree that it's pretty important to know God's Truth, so just how do we go about doing so?

Again, the LDS church has (in my opinion) a unique teaching in this area, so I thought I'd look at it a little closer.


Section 1: What the LDS (Mormon) Church teaches about Determining Truth

"As taught in the Bible, “The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, [and] temperance” (Galatians 5:22–23). These feelings from the Holy Ghost are personal revelation to you that the restored gospel of Jesus Christ is true." (Mormon.org)

You can discover for yourself that what you’ve been learning is true by:
- Sincerely praying to your Heavenly Father and asking Him if what you are learning is true.
- Continuing to study and give thoughtful consideration to what you are learning.
- Listening with your heart for the Holy Ghost to whisper the truth to you.
- Following God’s commandments so you can feel the influence of the Holy Ghost. (Mormon.org)

“And when ye shall receive these things, I would exhort you that ye would ask God, the Eternal Father, in the name of Christ, if these things are not true; and if ye shall ask with a sincere heart, with real intent, having faith in Christ, he will manifest the truth of it unto you, by the power of the Holy Ghost” ( Moroni 10:4).


Section 2: What the Bible teaches about Determining Truth

"Now the Bereans were of more noble character than the Thessalonians, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true." Acts 17:11

"Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God." Ephesians 6:14-17

"The Jews were amazed and asked, "How did this man get such learning without having studied?"

Jesus answered, "My teaching is not my own. It comes from him who sent me. If anyone chooses to do God's will, he will find out whether my teaching comes from God or whether I speak on my own. He who speaks on his own does so to gain honor for himself, but he who works for the honor of the one who sent him is a man of truth; there is nothing false about him." John 7:15-18 (we must take a critical look at the messenger)


We are also called to be on the lookout for deception. I wrote a post about it...click HERE if you'd like to read it.


Section 3: My thoughts & comments on Determining Truth

The difference is subtle, but it's there. Do you see it? The LDS church asks you to determine truth based on a feeling. The Bible calls us to look critically at scriptures and compare what you're hearing to God's Word.

So, let's apply this method to determining if the Book of Mormon is true.

My LDS friends tell me that all I must do is to read the BoM with an open mind, ask the Lord if it's true, and then He'll reveal the truth to me based on a feeling (sometimes physical, sometimes emotional as far as I've heard).

But the Bible tells me to read what the BoM says and compare it to Scriptures. Both of us (LDS and non LDS) agree that the Holy Bible is God's Word - God's Scriptures - that is what we are to compare it to.

Although I haven't touched on it with "evidence" in the above sections, it also makes sense to compare what we're reading to what we already know from other sources. Say, archaeology, history, science. We can use these tools to determine if a particular writing is fiction or non-fiction. Is there archaeological evidence to prove that what a book says happened, actually happened? Are there other documents describing that period in history? From what we know of a particular time period, does the writing make sense?

For example, if I were to write a book today about how they were traveling to the moon 300 years ago, you'd be able to quickly determine that what I wrote was fiction. It's well established that the technology for space travel was simply not available 300 years ago. No matter my good or bad reputation...no matter how adamant I was in saying that my book it non fiction...you can use your intelligence to determine if what I'm saying is true.

The same goes for the Book of Mormon. I won't go into detail right now...I'll save it for a post devoted to the Book of Mormon. But I can say with confidence that the evidence that is independent of Joseph Smith's testimony simply does not confirm Smith's claims.

Bottom line...God does not ask us to check our brains at the door when we determine Truth! It's not only about our feelings. It's also about good solid proof. Take the Bible for example. I admit that every miracle and every sighting and every claim of the Bible can not be backed up by "solid proof". But at least the anthropological study of the things described in the Bible can be confirmed. We have tools, buildings, documents... all confirm and "jive" with what the Bible says of that time.

Okay, so where does that leave me? That leaves me here: I'm not going to read the Book of Mormon as you suggest. Here's why...

Although I've not read the BoM from cover to cover, I've read bits and pieces of it. The Book of Mormon, and the resulting documents like the D&C and the Pearl of Great Price just does not pass the test when I compare it to Scripture. And it's author, Joseph Smith, does not pass the "prophet test" either.

Knowing that, along with the fact that the "scientific" study of the BoM shows that it's a work of fiction, I can not simply read it with an "open mind and heart" as is called for by the LDS church.

And frankly, even if I was still open to the possibility of the Book of Mormon being true, I could still not read it with a fully "open mind and heart"...because God's Word tells me to do just the opposite! It tells me to read critically.

So what if I read it and didn't have the "witness" or "testimony"...the feeling that the BoM is true? You'd say it was because I didn't read it with an open mind and heart. But asking me to do so in the first place is asking me to deny what God's Word says about testing prophets and reading critically!

And what if I DID have some supernatural experience that seemed to be telling me that the BoM is true? Well, then I'd have to ask myself if my feelings were of God or of Satan. Am I being deceived? The only way to know for sure is to compare what's happening and what I'm reading to God's Word...and by my analysis, the LDS beliefs have already failed that test!

So sorry for the long-winded explanation. I just wanted to make it clear that I don't take this lightly. I prayed about it a LOT. I'll continue to pray about it. In the mean time, I have some...

Questions To Think & Pray About:
1. You've asked me to read the Book of Mormon with an open mind and heart. Along those same lines, I'd like to ask you to read it with a very critical eye while always comparing what you read to Scripture.
2. Aside from a feeling that what you're reading is true, how else can you determine if it's true?
3. Do you think that God's Truth ever changes?
4. Do you believe that the Bible is God's Word?
5. If you only believe the Joseph Smith Translation of the Bible, why?
6. When we search for Truth, how can we know that we've found it?
7. When we search for Truth, how can we know if we're being deceived?


*PLEASE READ* A NOTE ON COMMENTS:
I appreciate this conversation, I really do. But please, for the sake of keeping us on topic and making this dialogue easier to read, please keep your comments to the discussion at hand. Although I believe that you've had powerful experiences, this is not the place to share your personal testimonies or witnesses. If you'd like to share more than the topic allows, please do so at your own blog. I hate to be a dictator about this, but if it's gets long winded and off topic, I'll delete the comment.

New to this series of posts? Get caught up on the discussion:
1. Introduction & Intent
2. Format
3. Part 1: Joseph Smith
4. Part 2: God and Jesus
5. Part 2: Followup
6. Part 2: Another Followup

Daiquiri  – (9/11/2008 10:39:00 PM)  

I'm closing comments on earlier posts to keep our conversation focused in one place.

Just wanted to say something for clarification...

I hope I haven't misled you. I tried to be very clear in my very first "can we talk about this" post. I am not considering converting to Mormonism.

To answer some of your questions...I HAVE read some of the Book of Mormon, just not from cover to cover with the "open mind and heart" that you all suggest. And yes, I've fasted and prayed...no more than in regard to this series of posts.

Mormon Soprano  – (9/12/2008 05:05:00 AM)  

Daiquiri, you so ask many questions and then desire short responses!!. I will strive not be voted off your island! ;)

Question #1: I have read the Book of Mormon numerous times throughout my life and continue on a regular basis - I have already received many personal and powerful holy witnesses from God that it is truth, and each time I read it I have peace in my soul. By "comparing to Scripture" I will assume you are speaking of the Bible. Of course, we do this continually!! Latter-day Saints read the Book of Mormon and Bible side-by-side – they are cross-referenced to each other in the index, and they compliment and testify of each other beautifully. One book of scripture cannot be complete without the other book. (The Book of Mormon does NOT replace the Bible – you have been grossly misinformed if told otherwise)

Question #2. By putting the teachings into daily practice in my life, and seeing the great good it brings.

Question #3. God is the source of all truth. He has much more truth than we can comprehend. Our puny brains certainly cannot handle it all at once, so he teaches us a little at a time. I believe all the truth God has revealed, all He is currently now revealing, and all he will reveal in the future.

#4. YES, Of course! (see #1)

#5. Latter-day Saints believe in the Bible and use the standard King James Version.

#6. You said: “The LDS church asks you to determine truth based on a feeling.”
Correction: This is certainly not the only way we determine truth! We believe in every scripture you have quoted (remember: Latter-day Saints believe in the Bible) The Book of Mormon and Bible scriptures are in complete harmony. We must first do work and put forth effort to find the truth, through study, pondering, and seeking before we receive an answer through the Spirit. To know the truth of something ultimately comes by a witness to our soul from the power of the Holy Ghost. Each person will then have an individualized manifestation and witness of the spirit. It can be through thoughts, impressions, experiences, miracles, etc. All witnesses would also include the fruits of the spirit (feelings):“The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance” (Galatians 5:22–23).

7. Opposite of #6
_____
OK - I apologize if this is considered too long - however I have tried to answer all of your questions honestly and thoroughly. You have expressed a desire to "talk about this" [Latter-day Saint belief] and you have requested specifically that LDS converse with you and correct you when you are mistaken. I have interpreted that this means you honestly want to learn what Mormons believe. You do not have to be interested in conversion. That’s fine! However, in order to continue a serious and respectful study and dialog of our beliefs, I encourage you to shun materials, which "interpret" Mormonism for you. I urge you to consult official LDS material, and read the Book of Mormon so that you can come to your own personal conclusions.
Please go to Book of Mormon: http://scriptures.lds.org/en/bm/contents
Your assignment is to Read “Introduction” and “An Explanation of The Book of Mormon” (important facts to begin with – and only 2 pages)

To read about Jesus’ visit to the people of the Americas Click on “3 Nephi”, chapter 11

Rachel  – (9/12/2008 08:01:00 AM)  

Daiquiri

I appreciate and share your beliefs. Thank you for searching our scriptures on both sides and putting them here, side by side.

In Him (and Him only)
Rachel

Hot Air  – (9/12/2008 08:23:00 AM)  

Proof. If anyone had the kind you're talking about, we wouldn't be here. We wouldn't need testing, we wouldn't need faith.

And when you said we all agree on one thing, that one of us is being deceived...

When I look at you, I don't see someone who is being led around by the hand by the devil. I just see someone who trying to come across humble and ready to find truth- but not really. You tell us to study the Book of Mormon and compare it to the Bible in the same post that you say you're not going to.

Until you have read the Book of Mormon, it is impossible to take the rest of this discussion seriously.

It kinda seems like you believe you can think your way to the truth. No action required. What does James 2 mean to you- personally? Do you believe you have all the answers and you are done? You are saved, book closed, God silent, end of story? After you read the Book of Mormon, you can say you have done what is required for the knowledge you profess to have already, but don't.

No excuses!! No fortune telling!!

I'm not worried about you. I've explored your blog, and been impressed by your iron will. You're doing the best with what you have. But that's all you're running on- will. Sounds condescending. I don't believe I'm better than you. I don't believe I'm smarter, wiser than you. I just know this church is led by Jesus, and you, and everyone else in the entire world, would be closer to "THE TRUTH" if you did the work, asked God, and knew it too. I don't feel like I have to prove anything, pick a fight, distinguish right person vs. wrong person. I simply have knowledge I want to share, and protect.

Read it. Read it! What are you so afraid of?

(Them's not fightin' words... them's a challenge! ;)

With LOVE, and best regards, Summer

Hot Air  – (9/12/2008 08:54:00 AM)  

I'm sorry- I just thought of one more thing. It's not something everyone in the church will tell you, because everyone's different. But for me, personally, the way the Lord's spirit reveals truth is not a warm and fuzzy feeling. In my experience, I study something, ask if its true, and my mind just gets more organized, and things seem like common sense. Peace comes when my thoughts flow clearly and easily, I guess. When the spirit is present I feel grateful, loving, and... not chaotic. That's as close as I can describe it.

When God is speaking to us we feel peace, not confusion. You believe that, right? I think that peace manifests differently to different people. For some it is just a feeling.

Random, I know- hope it's not too off topic... seems like it's part of what you were talking about.

Zicker  – (9/12/2008 09:38:00 AM)  

I would just like to say that Science does not lead to truth. It leads to theory. Using a scientific approach to discovering truth doesn't work. Science changes all the time. (ie The earth was flat, now it is round;) Science can lead to some pretty darn good theories but ultimately God is the source of Truth. You alluded to the idea that you have conducted scientific study of the Book of Mormon and also that modern evidence doesn't support its claims. That is still theory and not universal Truth. Not all of the American continent has been excavated and you cannot say with surety that there is no evidence of its proof. I just wanted to establish the difference between the philosphy of scientific theory and God's Truth.

Big Daddy –   – (9/12/2008 09:41:00 AM)  

Why should she read a document that has already not passed the tests the Bible requires? There are no sources outside the LDS faith that can corroborate anything the BoM says. Feelings do not equal Truth.

Dawnita –   – (9/12/2008 09:54:00 AM)  

I do find it quit interesting/disturbing how one can hold the Bible in one hand and when it does not "mesh" with the flesh of man they lift the other hand with the Book of Mormon and testify that this book holds the truth to what they claim!

And Summer... I believe you need to re-read James 2 and then read Genesis 15:6 and even Romans 3:28 and Galations 2 15-16... And then read John 3 3:21... Galations 2 17-21

I believe Summer that you are misled/lost and that your church is not lead by Jesus... I will STAND FIRM on my beliefs and will continue to believe and know where the TRUTH truly comes from, in the Word of God, the Bible, and in my personal relationship with Jesus Christ!

Uplifting you Daiquiri in prayer!
Dawnita~

ldsneighbor  – (9/12/2008 09:57:00 AM)  

Daiquiri, I think your Section 1 is a pretty fair statement of some of the LDS church teachings. Although Section 2 also encompasses LDS church teachings too. But the Section 3 seems to come to some misguided conclusions, based on some subtle strawman assumptions. It isn't a question of "study the scriptures" vs. "a feeling". And it isn't a matter of "emotion". The LDS view is to study it out, then go to the source of Truth, which is God. He lives. He will answer you, by the power of the Holy Ghost. When the Holy Ghost speaks to your heart, it comes as a feeling (not just an "emotion"). If you are reading things from sources that specifically try to discourage you from listening to answers from the Holy Ghost, then that should be a red flag that those sources are not of God.

On the topic of "archaeology, history, science" disproof and supposed anachronisms of the Book of Mormon, I have seen all those criticisms, and they do not disprove the Book of Mormon. Neither do they disprove the Bible. If you DO have evidence that disproves either the Bible or the Book of Mormon, I would be very interested in hearing it. But there isn't any. Even the long list of original anachronisms in the Book of Mormon has been steadily shrinking as archaeology catches up with Truth. Here's a brief video that illustrates that in summary:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D6bgHHm_Ubc

I agree we should not check our brains at the door, which also includes not blindly buying into polemic strawman arguments against the Book of Mormon just because they pretend to sound objective scholarly and scientific, when really they distort and mislead. See the following videos on that:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5lUP69la1sE
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XhbMtiHH008

Even though nobody ever gained a testimony of scripture by study of archaeology, let me just show one example of where a recent archaeological find of the place called "Nehom" in the low humidity of the Old World supports an account in the Book of Mormon that Joseph Smith almost certainly could not have guessed right:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nifxp0VCTog

I hope you reconsider your decision to not read the Book of Mormon. Some are afraid to read it because they don't want to be in a position of having received a confirmation that it is Truth, and then not be willing to act on it. I understand that. I am guessing Saul/Paul felt the same way about not wanting to consider the truth of christianity of the 1st century when he was convinced they were wrong and he worked tirelessly to oppose them. Daiquiri, one of these days I pray that you will find your "road to Jericho" too. In any case, though, I appreciate you and think of you as my sister.

Daiquiri  – (9/12/2008 10:00:00 AM)  

Hot Air-
I'll read the BoM, just not with the "open minded ready to believe anything" attitude that the LDS church wants me to.

I'll use my mind and reason. I'll compare it to Scriptures that have not been conveniently "retranslated" by the BoM's author. I'll look to historical documents and science to see if what the BoM proposes at truth is even possible.

I'm doing my homework. Are you? Really? Or are you basing your beliefs soley on a feeling?

ldsneighbor  – (9/12/2008 10:59:00 AM)  

Daiquiri, I want to make sure I made it clear that referencing the existing word of God is a good thing when it comes to gaining a testimony of the Book of Mormon. This two-part video shows the true story of how Wilford Woodruff came to know the truth of the restored gospel by comparing and studying the Bible:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ueQfOYOVfD4
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SC3cjZI2kaw

This two-part video shows the true story of how Parley P. Pratt was lead by God to read the Book of Mormon and how he came to know it is true:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rKbbghDl7f8
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c5FVDG5AGxc

And finally here is a brief video of the personal experience of several people with the Book of Mormon and how it helps them in their everyday life today:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DXZ2bJBjvs8

Thank you for this two-way discussion Daiquiri. I am so thankful that you are willing to discuss this most important topic in an honest and open way.

Anonymous –   – (9/12/2008 11:19:00 AM)  

I am glad that Christ will judge us and not Dawnita. She is quick to condemn others to hell.

Hot Air  – (9/12/2008 11:39:00 AM)  

Okay, cool. I obviously don't want you to be ready to believe anything. But there is a difference between asking God about something with your own answer firmly in place, and asking Him to instruct you, right?

Keep in mind while referencing historical documents, that God knows whether or not they're true, too. Opinions written by men are different than prophecies written by men, don't you agree?

This isn't just a Book of Mormon promise. I've learned the Book of Mormon to be the true word of God the same way I learned the Bible to be the true word of God.

I'm still confused as to what evidence you have that I do not. You interpret the Bible differently than I do. I threw out James 2 because I genuinely want to know how you interpret it, not to get someone's undies in a bunch and throw a bunch of verses back. How does that get anyone anywhere? We could use the same exact verses to argue the exact opposite points. That is just one more reason I believe the Book of Mormon to be true. God uses more than one witness to get His message out. One book from one nation, one book from another. Wow- the whole world testifying of Christ and trying to get closer to Him. Why is this so awful to non-LDS people? What is it about my life that worries you?

I seriously don't get the contentious side of this conversation. We don't believe in living any differently than you do. We don't really believe much differently at all when it comes to "how to live as good a life as possible." Golden Rule...etc... We just believe there's more, I guess.

ldsneighbor  – (9/12/2008 12:14:00 PM)  

Daiquiri, To follow up on another one of your thoughts:

"And frankly, even if I was still open to the possibility of the Book of Mormon being true, I could still not read it with a fully "open mind and heart"...because God's Word tells me to do just the opposite! It tells me to read critically."

I humbly and respectfully submit that it is possible to do both. You can read it critically AND you can open to whatever answer God reveals after you have read it. They are not mutually exclusive. The "open mind and heart" does not mean blindly accept, it means be willing to accept what God reveals to you.

Here is one technique of reading critically: Read the Book of Mormon and stop after each page and ask yourself critically this question: Could the spirit of what I am reading on this page have been fabricated by a fraud? If you will do that and read through the entire Book of Mormon, you will discover something you are not expecting. I hope that you or honest seekers of truth will try that experiment, study it out from the scriptures (and not from extra-scriptural commentary), and then ask God to reveal it directly to your spirit. Don't prejudge the answer. And don't be afraid of the answer.

Hot Air  – (9/12/2008 12:36:00 PM)  

Here I go again. I promise to shut up after this ;)

I know how long a serious study of the Book of Mormon takes. I just want to say- I don't think anyone expects you to do this within a week or two. Once, as a kid over Christmas break, it took me two days of straight reading (no cross-referencing- nothing. I thought I'd read it like a novel for a change,) and I finally finished it. Didn't leave the house, my mom was the dinner-fixer, I just sat reading. Probably doesn't say much about my speed reading skills- ha.

But really- I'm sure everyone is willing to put this on hold for awhile. I'll be checking back every so often, and wouldn't mind if you alerted me on my blog as to when your next post was.

Anonymous –   – (9/12/2008 12:50:00 PM)  

I just wanted to mention that Joseph Smith is not the author of the Book of Mormon. He was just the translator. I am not sure what you qualify as a "prophet test" either.


You might be interested in the LDS church as obviously you are, but you aren't going to find the truth and I'll tell you why; you are looking for it NOT to be true. Your mind is set that it is false. Stop being so darn critical of it. That's not to say don't study, pray , and study some more... because that is needed with any faith. But I'm not going to find truth in the Catholic church or any other church for that matter, because I am looking for it NOT to be true. and I would be too critical of everything. (just like you are being)

All I can say is I know in the end our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ knows what is truly in our hearts, and he is the only one who can judge us on what is right and wrong.

Good luck with your "searching".

Anonymous –   – (9/12/2008 01:38:00 PM)  

Give Daiquiri a break. She's searching, and will follow what she knows and feels to be right for her.

I do agree with what one poster said about reading the Book of Mormon and asking if it could have been fabricated. The depth and complexity in no way could have been conjured up, it's just not possible. As well, it testifies of Christ all over the place. I too want a little "proof", but I have faith that I'll find it as I keep searching.

Dawnita –   – (9/12/2008 01:39:00 PM)  

Oh my... my undies are no where in a bunch... you will know when they are!

Mormons view James 2 differently than Christians do... and the versus I was "thrown back at ya" are verses for you to view and see that the Mormon church has taken James 2 out of context and how we Christians view faith and deeds. So when you "throw out" a part of scripture and are wondering what we believe... don't get all upset when one comes back with the true answers!

You ask what about your life that worries us non LDS? It is your personal relationship with Jesus Christ and when you die... I want to see you in heaven!!!

In His Grace,
Dawnita~

Dawnita –   – (9/12/2008 02:01:00 PM)  

To the one that is "hiding" behind the name Anonymous...

Is that all you got? It is one of the oldest lines a non-believer can think of saying to a believer! I know, I have been there!

I just know and believe what the Bible says... heaven or hell?

Dawnita~

Daiquiri  – (9/12/2008 02:27:00 PM)  

Dearest Anonymous,

Fist, it's perfectly okay with me if you'd rather not share your name. These conversations can get a bit...touchy. I don't blame you.

Second, thanks for bringing a bit of a sense of calm to the converstion :)

Third, you bring up a good point. The BoM is very complex and intricate - very impressive, indeed. But for me, just because a big book exists doesn't mean that it's the very Word of God as the LDS faith proclaims.

Could it have been conjured up? I don't know. Why not? People conjure up stories for books all the time, right?

As for it testifying of Christ...does it? Does it testify to the real Christ? The Christ of the Bible? Those are the kinds of things we need to look critically at.

Peace,
Daiquiri

Daiquiri  – (9/12/2008 02:40:00 PM)  

Summer,

To answer your question about James 2...

I believe that genuine saving faith will produce good deeds...but those good deeds do not save. Clear as mud?

It is faith in Jesus that saves. Nothing more, nothing less. Think about the man on the cross next to Jesus. He expressed his genuine faith, and Jesus promised him paradise. That man didn't have time to be baptized, to do good deeds, to have the laying on of hands, etc. It was is faith that saved his eternal soul. So it is for the rest of us.

Daiquiri

Fern RL  – (9/12/2008 02:41:00 PM)  

Daiquiri, are you familiar with the NT scripture found in Luke 24:13-32? I (like typical LDS) use the King James version of the scriptures, but please compare it in your version, so there will be no mistake. I would like to draw your attention especially to verse 32, the rest is included only for context. "Did not our heart burn within us,...?" This is the feeling we are talking about when we say we are given to know by the power of the Holy Ghost the Truth (God's Truth, if you will) of a certain matter. It is my understanding that this is the main way in which God answers prayer. I believe this can also verify a True and important statement that is made: for example, saying, "Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the Living God," being a True and important statement, it would be witnessed by that "feeling" that it is undeniably true.

I believe the Bible, in spite of archaeological evidence to the contrary. The evidence I speak of is mostly the overwhelming evidence scientists point to: that peoples and civilizations dotted both the old world and the new, thousands of years before the time that the Bible had its "beginning", before Adam and Eve.

The scientists are wrong. Even with their findings in the Americas, they won't recognize a Book of Mormon artifact if it stares them in the face. They would rather discredit anyone who makes such a claim than to find out if it is really true or not. Check out what is written in wikipedia about "stele 5" which seems to many of us to picture Lehi's dream.

Incidentally, they also go against traditional Indian stories about their origin, because there is also some mythological component.

neutralbeliever –   – (9/12/2008 02:53:00 PM)  

You can look in the Book of Mormon index under Jesus Christ, or go to http://scriptures.lds.org/en/contents
and search "christ" or "jesus" or "savior", etc. and you will find all the references to Christ in the Book of Mormon. You can then study out if it is the real Christ or not. From what I've read, I haven't seen anything that would lead me to believe that it is not the same Christ.

It is my personal opinion that only by reading a book in its entirety, whether the bible or any other book, can you come to find the "truth" of it.

Real truth is absolute, and can only be given by God, not man--whether scientifically or otherwise. If you're not in line with truth in some way, even if you don't yet 'know' that truth, you will be unsettled and not at peace.

ldsneighbor  – (9/12/2008 03:38:00 PM)  

Dawnita, I just wanted to comment on your statement "when you die... I want to see you in heaven!!!" That truly is sweet of you. I really appreciate the spirit in which that was intended. I feel a kinship and love for all of you that have been commenting and reading this series of threads of Daiquiri. And Daiquiri, I thank you for the kind and generous person you are. You seem to be a wonderful Christian who follows the example of Jesus Christ, and you are obviously a great mom and wife as can be seen by the rest of your blog. I thank God every day for good neighbors and fellow-citizens such as you. I truly mean that. I appreciate hearing how other people feel about Jesus Christ and their personal relationiship with him. I too cherish my relationship with Jesus Christ and Heavenly Father. I am so thankful that Jesus loved me enough to suffer and die for me that I might be able to live again. I love him with all my heart, might, mind, and strength, and I try to love my neighbor as myself. So because of my relationship with Jesus Christ, I love you as my sister.

Hot Air  – (9/12/2008 06:54:00 PM)  

Thanks! Curiosity appeased. ;) Don't worry- it was clearer than mud, LOL!

Patrick –   – (9/13/2008 11:00:00 PM)  

Daiquiri,
Wow.... my head hurts from reading all of this! So many things to think about and such passion from both "sides".
A couple of quick questions for the LDS faithful reading:
1. Why do you only use the King James version of the Bible?
2. Can anyone describe to me how to recognize a prophesy vs a command while I read through the BoM?
3. Where does current LDS thought place the land of the Nephites/BoM/et al?
4. How much weight is given a prophet of the church in respect to his explanation of LDS theology and prophesy? (I.e. when can we separate the prophet's opinion from Truth?) That probably doesn't really explain what I'm looking for... for example if there was prophesy "X" in the scriptures, and the prophet gave a sermon explaining this prophesy and its meaning in detail, would the explanation be merely the prophet's opinion? Or would it also now carry the weight of scripture? When do the prophet's words become "law" (for lack of a better word)

That's all for now. Thanks in advance for the answers.

BTW: off the topic of Truth, but relating to ldsneighbor's youtube/archaeology clips: I watched them, but the presenter (Clark?) seems to refer to "possible" rather than "actual" evidence for the BoM. Is this an old video? Are there now current peer-reviewed archaeology videos or articles which might better make the case for the BoM?
Thanks,
Pat

ldsneighbor  – (9/14/2008 12:40:00 AM)  

Pat, thank you for your interest. Here are some thoughts on your questions:
1. Mormons like to use the King James version of the Bible because it contains many scriptural truths. We love the Bible. It is interesting though to consider that there are so many different versions of the Bible, when some claim it to be absolutely inerrant as compared to The Book of Mormon. I find that ironic.
2. Not sure what you are getting at. Are you setting up a syllogism, or are these random thoughts? Prophesy vs. a command in the BoM. Well, a pretty good way to tell a command is if it says "thou shalt", but I'm sure there are exceptions. And prophesies are things like when Joseph Smith prophesied of the civil war "beginning at the rebellion of South Carolina" about 30 years before it happened, just like he said (unless you don't count the Fort Sumter thing as "South Carolina").
3. Current LDS thought places the land of Nephites/BoM/et al somewhere in the Western Hemisphere. We don't know where. We do however have a better clue on the location of Lehi's initial exit from the Old World: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nifxp0VCTog
4. Not everything uttered from the mouth of a prophet is infallible scripture. It has a lot more weight when it is added to the cannon of scripture. Also, the words of the living prophet have special priority and weight for us in our current day. I am thankful for living prophets and an open cannon of scripture: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Tz3rggCnhxQ

Re archaeology. As I said before, the BoM is not "proved" by archaeology. Neither is it disproved by archaeology. For example, a couple of years after the Book of Mormon was first published, critics came up with a list of 60 supposed "anachronisms" in the book, or in other words things mentioned in the book that had no evidence in the archaeological record then. But archaeology is not static, it changes with each shovel turn. As archaeology catches up with Truth, more and more of the supposed anachronisms are being resolved:

By 1842:
8 confirmed (13%)
52 unconfirm (87%)

By 2005:
35 confirmed (58%)
10 possible but unconfirmed (17%)
15 unconfirmed (25%)

You get the picture. I mention this to show that critics who say "archaeology disproves the Book of Mormon" are incorrect. Having said that, neither the Bible nor the Book of Mormon as a book of scripture can ever be "proved" by archaeology. That's not how it works. God reveals the truthfulness of scripture through his Holy Spirit, not through secular studies.

Patrick  – (9/14/2008 09:14:00 PM)  

ldsneighbor,
Thanks for the reply. First, I don't know what a syllogism is, therefore, I don't know if I'm setting one up or not. As far as archaeology "proving" a theological concept, you are correct, it can not. But, I don't think that's what people mean when they speak of the archaeological record vs. the Bible vs. the Book of Mormon. I can only speak for myself, but when I read something in the Bible, I then look at both secular and non-secular references and find that particular object or place. This, in turn, strengthens my belief that the Bible is true. (That of course assumes,as you correctly point out, that the item has been discovered). For example the Bible mentions Bethlehem, I can find it on a map. It mentions the temple, I see the Western Wall etc. So in that sense then, yes, the Bible has been "proved" in a strictly historic sense. The problem many have with the Book of Mormon is that nothing (to date) has been found to "prove" the historical content. For example, I watched the video links you provided and the presenter mentions things that "may" be parallel to the items mentioned in the Book of Mormon, but never says 'in Alma 1:7 this coin is mentioned, and here is a picture of the coin (hypothetically speaking - I have no idea what Alma 1:7 says :)... I hope I'm being clear. Surely you will concede this to be the case?

As Daiquiri has stated, as a Christian, I don't have to "check my mind at the door" and follow the Bible by blind faith. Faith yes, blind faith, no.

Erika  – (9/15/2008 04:56:00 AM)  

I'm LDS. I have had similar discussions with one particular non-LDS friend and it always saddens me that she feels that I am not a Christian. When I tried to explain to her that I know that the LDS church is the true church because I have received a witness from the Holy Ghost she practically scoffed at me. Granted this was through email, so I may be misunderstanding, but she seemed to think it was laughable that I felt like I even needed to ask if my Church was true (since she doesn't feel like she needs to ask if the Bible is true) and she felt like my faith wasn't based on anything firm. (Do your feelings echo hers?) When I read that I was taken aback!
What could be more firm than to have your faith based on a confirmation of truth from God Himself??? No, I didn't SEE God, but I felt His Spirit within me and in my mind I KNEW more than I can ever know anything else that Joseph Smith was telling the truth about his vision of God and Jesus Christ. I guess you can't understand the "feeling" or "emotion" that is evoked by God Himself until you have felt it. This feeling is almost tangible and pretty indescribable. Have you had feelings from the Spirit like this? Feelings that you can't deny, that stick with you for YEARS beyond the experience? These feelings from the Spirit are much more than what you are imagining if it seems like a faulty foundation. They are sacred and are messages from God Himself and should not be discounted.
Just so you know, I'm not offended by what you have written. It's been a good discussion.

And to answer your 2nd question, how can you know aside from the feeling? As Christ said "Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them." (Matt 7:20) The things that the Book of Mormon teaches are good and righteous things. It reaffirms many Biblical teachings, such as the 10 commandments and the Sermon on the Mount. Christ is prophesied of and repentance is preached on practically every page.

Also with number 6, I know when truth is found when I feel peace with the answer. I don't feel the need to search any further.

ldsneighbor  – (9/15/2008 09:21:00 AM)  

I will concede that more of the Bible historical context has continually existed until today; e.g. modern city of Bethlehem built on top of the site of the ancient city. For example, you can go to Israel today and see a road sign in Jerusalem that says "6 miles to Bethlehem". Book of Mormon critics say, show me a road sign in the western hemisphere that says "6 miles to Manti"; and if you don't then that's proof the Book of Mormon is false.

The archaeological record for things discussed in the Bible is just the tip of the iceberg of what is in the Bible. Archaeology does not back up everything mentioned in the Bible, even though most of the events in the Bible (outside of the creation of the world in Genesis) happen in a very small area, essentially what is modern-day Israel. And even though archaeology focus has been going on for a much longer period of time in that area. And even though the low humidity of the Old World makes archaeology preservation much more possible in the Old World. And even though continuous habitation of thoses areas have preserved their historical names. Having said that, part of the Book of Mormon starts in the Old World, where we do have a better coordinate reference point of the geography in the text. In a relatively recent find, archaeologists have found the place "Nehom" mentioned in the Book of Mormon right where they would expect to have found it according to the text of the Book of Mormon:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mjDAu8PZRco

By the way, the example of "coins" you mentioned is a strawman argument that you obviously picked up from an anti-mormon source. That strawman argument goes something like this: The Book of Mormon mentions "coins", but everybody knows that coinage was not invented until later, and no coins have ever been found in the archaeological record in the New World; therefore, unless you can show me a "coin", then that proves the Book of Mormon is false, according to archaeology. There are many problems with that strawman argument. First, the text of the Book of Mormon doesn't mention stamped "coins" as we know them, they were likely just weighted pieces of metal. Second, archaeology HAS found 12,000 pieces of metal money in the New World. Third, even if things aren't in the known archaeological record yet doesn't mean they didn't exist.

Again, all of this is fun and interesting, but it does not answer (prove or disprove) the core question: Is the Book of Mormon the word of God? For that we will need to leave archaeology and get our answer from a study of the text of the book and ask God for a confirmation from the Holy Ghost. God knows way more than archaeologists.

Patrick  – (9/16/2008 01:25:00 AM)  

ldsneighbor,
I agree, this is all fun and interesting. As far as "strawman" arguments & me using "anti-mormon" sources, this is not correct. Why?

First, because the scenario you set up does not describe a "strawman argument" - you're using this terminology incorrectly. Your scenario more correctly points to the logical fallacy of Argumentum ad ignorantiam (Argument from ignorance). More specifically, arguing that the story in the Book of Mormon is false simply because coins mentioned in it have not been found to prove it's true. Fortunately, I never made this statement. The coin example I made was merely a continuation of the concept I'd presented. (i.e. a city, a wall... a coin). It was an easy to understand, palpable object which the reader should have been able to pick up on and relate to my historical evidence train of thought. I never asserted that the lack of evidence necessitates that the premise is false. But rather, my point was that the existence of evidence helps to show that something is true.

Secondly, please be careful of throwing out the "Anti-Mormon" card. I'm no more "Anti-Mormon" than you are "Anti-Pat" (at least I don't discern that you want to hurt me). The fact that someone may disagree with LDS theology and gives reasons why should not be construed as "Anti-Mormon". Civilized people can disagree.

At one point in our nation's history, there were people who persecuted Mormons. These people were murderers, violent and sought to destroy anything and everything LDS. Those who weren't violent were scornful, verbally hostile, disrespectful, slanderous, and rude etc. to Mormon's. That is truly "Anti-Mormon". I don't believe I (or anyone else on this blog) have been any of these things. Please be respectful of us as we are of you.

Yes, I've studied material which refutes LDS theology (if that's what you meant by "Anti-Mormon"). I've also studied material from LDS apologists - does that make me "Pro-Mormon"? Nope, it just means I like to study both sides of an argument.

Wow! Sorry to be so long! I've got a couple of other things and I'll stop.

Along the lines of truth and logical fallacy, you've presented one yourself:

"Is the Book of Mormon the word of God? For that we will need to leave archaeology and get our answer from a study of the text of the book and ask God for a confirmation from the Holy Ghost."

This statement assumes that archaeology, history, and faith are mutually exclusive when they don't have to be. If a team of archaeologists discovered the location of the Nephite/Lamanite civilization tomorrow, then you would most certainly use this information to bolster your faith wouldn't you?

Finally (it's 1:00AM - my mind races a little when I'm sleep deprived), to Erika. Just a word of caution about "feelings". There are many people in the religious world who profess that a "feeling" has validated what they believe and how they act. They are no more, or less, sincere in their beliefs than you or I. Radical Muslims will strap explosives around themselves and blow you and me up, all because of a "feeling". They will also talk of hearing the voice of Allah. (this is not to imply in ANY way that LDS are akin to terrorists!) I don't deny that God speaks to people, nor that believers experience the fruits of the Spirit. I simply caution that even absent these things, the Truth still stands.

End of rant. (Sorry Daiquiri!)

ldsneighbor  – (9/16/2008 03:17:00 AM)  

I'll say it again. Archaeology does not answer (prove or disprove) the core question: Is the Book of Mormon the word of God? For that we will need to leave archaeology and get our answer from a study of the text of the book and ask God for a confirmation from the Holy Ghost. God knows way more than archaeologists.

That is not a logical fallacy. That is the Truth. God does know. And he can let you know, if you ask him in faith. He will let you know by the power of the Holy Ghost. "Trust the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding." (Prov 3:5). Study it out... ask him... and listen.

Daiquiri  – (9/16/2008 09:09:00 AM)  

Yes, God does know the truth. Indeed, he is it's author.

And I agree (and I think Pat would too) that regardless and independent of our "proof"...God is God and the Truth stands. Period.

And I also agree that God speaks to us through his Holy Spirit. I feel the Spirit speaking to me, convicting me, guiding me, healing me, giving me peace and joy...all the time. Thank God!

But...BUT...the Bible tells us to test all things. And when I feel God speaking to me, I have to compare what I'm "hearing" to what Scripture says to avoid being deceived.

It is Gods "pattern" his "MO", if you will, to give us opportunity to test all things. As Pat said...faith, yes...blind faith, no.

As a way of comparison, let's look at the Bible since we all agree that it is Holy Scripture - God's very Word.

First, let's look at one of the best examples in the Bible - when God first presented Moses with the law. Did God tell Moses the law, and ask him to pass it on to the people...asking the people to simply believe what Moses said? No. God knew they'd need more than that. He litterally wrote them in stone for the people to see for themselves. And when the stone tablets were broken? God gave new ones...they were that important. God knew that people would need something tangible.

And when he was guiding his people through the desert all that time? Was he a "feeling" in their hearts? No. He was a pillar of fire by night, and a pillar of smoke by day (or the other way around, I'm not sure). Again, something tangible.

Or how about when Jesus rose from death? Thomas (poor "doubting" Thomas...I prefer to think of him as "critical thinker" Thomas!). But Thomas...he had doubt. And what did God do? He presented himself in physical form to him. He said, "Look, here I am. Put your finger in my hand, inspect the wound in my side." Again...physical, tangible proof.

And the Bible itself...we have tangible items that we can hold in our hand, see pictures of, study. They are NOT items that are "proof positive" that the Bible is God's Word...but they ARE evidence that the basic stuff taught in the Bible at least makes logical sense.

So why would God change his ways with the Book of Mormon? Why are there no gold plates that we can see today? Why can we find no tangible evidence that the stories of the BoM are anything more than from someone's imagination? Yes, there are lots of Mormon scholars that can point to things and say "this might be...this could be...". But nothing more? This just doesn't seem to fit with God's way of doing things.

Is my faith weak? Maybe.

Am I "doubting Daiquiri" maybe. But even if I am...God's way of doing things would be to then give me proof that would change my too-critical mind.

I'm not looking for God to become my personal circus act. God doesn't "perform" for us just because we want him to. And God does not OWE me some sort of proof...but historically speaking, God has loved me enough to win me over. He's always done everything He could to to capture my heart, sould AND mind. Why not now? Why not with the Book of Mormon?

Daiquiri  – (9/16/2008 09:10:00 AM)  

By the way, my fingers are feeling much better today. Lucky you! ;)

ldsneighbor  – (9/16/2008 06:26:00 PM)  

Daiquiri, I'm glad you are feeling better. Welcome back! We ARE lucky. I was beginning to miss you. I like your comment this morning. We have much common ground, such as the following: We are to test all things. The Bible is the word of God. God is the author of truth. He speaks to us through his Holy Spirit. We have alot of these things in common, which is great.

I agree that God does help us to believe. He gives us different things that encourage us to seek the truth. For example, when he appeared to Thomas (as you mentioned) and when he appeared to the Nephites in the western hemisphere, he invited them to "arise and come forth unto me, that ye may thrust your hands into my side, and also that ye may feel the prints of the nails in my hands and in my feet, that ye may know that I am the God of Israel, and the God of the whole earth, and have been slain for the sins of the world." Also, he performed many miracles. But those who were just converted by "the miracles" were not strong in the faith. Others, such as the Pharisees, demanded "signs". "Sign seeking" shows up in the scriptures alot, and never in a positive way. One person, Korihor, who was an anti-christ demanded "show me a sign, that I may be convinced that there is a God, yea, show unto me the he hath power, and then will I be convinced of the truth of thy words... except ye show me a sign, I will not believe." One thing is for God to give things to help encourage us to seek truth. But it is another thing altogether to have our focus on "seeking signs".

God has given us many things to encourage us to seek his truth in the restored gospel. The Book of Mormon itself is one such tangible thing. It is not theoretical. It exists. You can hold it. You can heft it and weigh it. You can read it and ponder its message and pray about it. And concerning the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon, he has given witnesses. I and millions of others today are a witnesses of the book. Joseph Smith is a prophetic witness of it. The introduction of the book includes 8 witnesses who saw the held the golden plates and turned the leaves of the part that was not sealed. It also contains the testimony of 3 witnesses who saw the plates and saw and heard the angel Moroni. Even though some of these witnesses fell away from the church and were no longer connected with it, they never denied their witness, even when it would have benefited them to do so. Those are real people, real witnesses, testifying of things they saw. Read them. That is very similar to what happened in christianity when the gospel rolled forth unto the Gentiles. The witnesses and testimonies of those early members of the church are what helped spread the word.

As with the Pharisees, God does not often give evidence to satisfy the secular carnal mind for sign seekers. He knows that that would not help develop faith. He does give some, though, to those who aren't focused on seeking a sign. The Book of Mormon itself is that evidence. Read it. Compare it to the Bible. Feast upon the words of Christ.

These are some of the prophet Nephi's final words in the book:

"And now, my beloved brethren, and also Jew, and all ye ends of the earth, hearken unto these words and believe in Christ; and if ye believe not in these words believe in Christ. And if ye shall believe in Christ ye will believe in these words, for they are the words of Christ, and he hath given them unto me; and they teach all men that they should do good.
And if they are not the words of Christ, judge ye—for Christ will show unto you, with power and great glory, that they are his words, at the last day; and you and I shall stand face to face before his bar; and ye shall know that I have been commanded of him to write these things, notwithstanding my weakness."

An invitation in the prophet Moroni's final words in the book:

"And when ye shall receive these things, I would exhort you that ye would ask God, the Eternal Father, in the name of Christ, if these things are not true; and if ye shall ask with a sincere heart, with real intent, having faith in Christ, he will manifest the truth of it unto you, by the power of the Holy Ghost.
And by the power of the Holy Ghost ye may know the truth of all things."

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