Episode 166: Articles of Faith for Dummies Part 3

39 comments on “Episode 166: Articles of Faith for Dummies Part 3”

    • Kevin Reply

      Welcome back, Glenn! And any of us who has ever visited the lovely city of Bloomington, Indiana would never refer to it as the “nether regions.”

  1. Megan Reply

    John – maybe you should have specified the top ten revelations that have not been rescinded or disproved. Because ‘man will never reach the moon’ is definitely one of my favorites but I’m not sure that a faithful member would put it on your 150-years-of-God’s-living-word list.

      • Megan Reply

        Was it Joseph Fielding who did that one? And who was the quakers-on-the-moon because I love that one too.

        Man, I’m an idiot because I just figured out why those weird revelations are even out there – isn’t it because the sun, earth and moon are 3 degrees of glory? So we have an inhabited moon and, if I remember correctly, BY riffing on an inhabited sun as well?

        • Kevin Reply

          The quakers-on-the-moon revelation was supposedly from Joseph Smith. But I heard a Sunstone talk by a guy who had traced it to a church magazine that wasn’t published until the 1880s, so the whole thing is of questionable provenance.

          Also, BY is indeed reported to have said that the sun was inhabited. But this was not an uncommon belief in the nineteenth century, even among some scientists. 

          Following the improvement of telescopes in the late 1700s, people began to think of planets as other worlds like Earth rather than simply as lights in the sky. And since Earth was populated, it was widely assumed that all or at least many other heavenly bodies must also be populated.

          The fact that this belief was incorporated into Mormonism gave it a sort of scientific credibility (e.g., John Widtsoe) that it seems to have retained until the late twentieth century when the historicity of the BoM was shown to be extremely improbable.

          Mormonism has lots of other echoes of nineteenth century science. My favorite is in the BoM when Nephi “shocks” his naughty brothers, apparently by zapping them with electricity. Electricity was a new and mysterious force that drew great public curiosity in the Prophet’s day.

  2. Kevin Reply

    Wonderful podcast, as usual.

    I especially appreciate John’s mention of the belief that Joseph Smith was the incarnation of the Holy Ghost. I’ve heard that shortly after his murder the church issued a statement saying this was not so. Anybody know where this could be found?

    On p. 91 of Todd Compton’s “In Sacred Loneliness,” he quotes an 1847 letter from President Henry Jacobs that refers to “our god Joseph.” And there’s that mysterious comment to the effect that “I wish I could tell you who I am, but you would kill me for blasphemy.” Could it be that Smith was considering announcing his godhood, and maybe even focus-grouping the idea among church leaders at the time of his death? 

  3. Anonymous Reply

    When I was a younger teenager (13-ish) a family in my ward moved to Missouri because the father had a revelation that the second coming was near.  They were asked to speak in Sacrament Meeting right before they left to say goodbye.  They talked about how grateful they were that they decided to move there now, while modern conveniences made the move comfortable.  They also said they were sad to know that we would all have to trek back in wagons or on foot.  But, they promised to take us all in and help us get settled when we arrived.

    I remember telling my friends that they were kooky weirdos.  But, on the inside, I was secretly nervous that they’d made the right decision and that my parents’ lack of foresight would result in me having to endure the hardships faced by my pioneer ancestors as I walked back to Zion.

    True story.

    • Elder Vader Reply

      Heather, my family is one of those families.  My parents moved back to Independence when I was 18.  In fact, if the podcast about Jackson county ever materializes, I would love to be on it.  You can go back to the kooky mormon legend well many, many times when you’re in the center stake of zion. 

      • Anonymous Reply

        I’ve been thinking a lot about the apocalyptic culture of Mormonism lately.  It’s pervaded my entire life.  Mormonism is so awesomely weird.  It kinda makes me sad that the church inc. is downplaying all the things that make Mormonism so interesting. 

        • Megan Reply

          Yesss… Except the apocalyptic culture caused me no end of worry as a kid. I remember hearing my friends talk about what they wanted to be when they grew up and I was thinking, grow up! Don’t they know the End is Near?? Seriously – didn’t think I could plan for anything because Jesus Was Coming (with smitage), worried all the time about global wars (nuclear, natch) and plagues and famines and… yeah. Some of the kookiness I find interesting, even endearing (from a distance), but the eschatological mind-set is definitely not one of ’em.

          I was glad to see that at least one speaker backed off that last conference!

          • Anonymous

            And NOT the speaker you would expect to back off that issue.  Talk about a surprise.

          • Elder Vader

            I think that’s one of the reasons for the Kansas City temple being built.  “Get off our backs about the second coming.  We don’t know when its going to be either.” 

            I know more than one individual in Independence who has had that mindset.  Why worry about the future if the millennium is coming any day now?  Don’t bother learning calculus.  Here, memorize all the chapters in Isaiah. 

        • Elder Vader Reply

          When I stumbled on mormon expression after my crisis of faith I listened to the interview with John Larsen over and over and over.  One of the statements from that interview was when John said that he really wants to de-claw the church. 

          There are all these super nice people in the church who, frankly, are limited by the institution.  They do things while identifying with the institutional church that they would never do in the normal course of their life.  

          The apocalyptic stuff, the fantasy space stuff, is all cool mormon stuff.   For example, I think a lot of young aaronic priesthood holders secretly wondered if they would be one of the two prophets in Jerusalem in the last days. 

          I think it would be cool if a couple of things happened.  First, expand the tent so that the cool healing / science fictiony stuff would include women.  Second, contextualize the cool science fictiony stuff into myth sufficiently so that where it obviously crashes into reality, it wouldn’t matter. 

          Like, recontextualizing the entire Book of Mormon, or vision of Moses in the Book of Moses to being like Star Trek’s ‘holodeck’, or a simulation within the matrix.  — I don’t know.  It feels like I’m rambling.  It just seems like there are a bunch of cool mormons who are locked down by a fictional reality, and the right dose of the truth would set them free. 

  4. KC Reply

    John you make a valid point that mormon doctrines aren’t much weirder than some of the views held by other religions. But the huge difference is that mormons take their doctrines, revelations,  and leaders words so literally. So much of the mormon  past gets thrown in the memory whole and whats so unique is that none of it seems to matter nor does it discredit those leaders in the minds of believing members, that was then, this is now, God must have changed his mind. Mormons hang on every word of their leaders even if it contradicts what  previous leaders have said. If there is anything “cultish” about the Mormon church, that is it.

    Evangelicals have it wrong. They say Mormons are a cult because of our devotion to Joseph Smith, but its the unwavering devotion  and acceptance of every word of the current Prophet and leaders that could be seen as cultish.

  5. Hermes Reply

    Zilpha et al., the red robe is red with the blood of the nations, which the Lamb will tread out upon the winepress of the wrath of God.

    • Buffalo Reply

      I have a distinct memory of my mom talking to me about this when I was really little – little enough to be in bed with her for story time. I thought it was weird and scary. 

  6. ff42 Reply

    I think you missed a point that I’d like to harp on:”We believe the Bible to be the word of God as far as it is translated correctly…”

    Many places in the D&C The first president of the LDS church, Joseph Smith, claimed the keys of ‘translator’ (along with seer, revelator, and prophet).   If we accept the story  of Joseph Smith then we must accept that either these translator ‘keys’ were 1) removed by God from all other presidents of the LDS church or that  2) God allowed the translator keys to belong to each succeeding LDS president (along with the prophet, seer, and revelator keys).

    We know from history that Joseph Smith claimed to at least start a translation of the Bible (I am unaware – but it matters not to my point – if he claimed to complete the translation).    From these two claims – 1) Claim of Priesthood power to translate and 2) A Claim of (at least partial) translation – we can deduce that any other LDS president could have finished a correct translation of the Bible or rather that we COULD have a correctly translated Bible (i.e., word of God) in our hands instead of a manuscript that contains errors.

    The Bible, particularly the Old Testament, contains descriptions of a petty, angry, jealous, murderous, lying deity; A deity totally unworthy of worship or devotion.  Let us assume that as least some of these descriptions are ‘not translated correctly’ and seek to understand why they are not corrected:

    1) There is no God to transmit the correct words to ‘his’ prophets. [God doesn’t exist]

    2) God does not know that we have ‘not translated correctly’ information. [God is not all knowing]

    3) God is unable to transmit the correct words to his prophets. [God is not all powerful]

    4) God doesn’t care to transmit the correct words to his prophets. [God is not all loving]

    5) ‘His’ prophets can’t or won’t respond to God transmission of the corrected word.

    TR;DR.  If the Bible contains errors then hasn’t a LDS president correctly translated the Bible and if one has why are Mormons still using the KJV (containing translation errors)?

    PS.  Why did none of Joseph Smith Bible translation correct the bad descriptions of deity?

  7. Nathan R Kennard Reply

    I agree that the phrase “as far as it was translated correctly” discounts the validity of the Bible. That understanding allowed me to be certain God was not the author of, did not require, and probably was not pleased by the widespread practice of partial penile amputation practiced on infants.

  8. Chuck Borough Reply

    At the Church of Christ, there was a sign out front exclaiming, “Where the Bible is the inerrant word of God.” After my visit, the minister and I talked. I asked him which version of the Bible was inerrant. He said it didn’t matter. “Then,” I siad, “it does not have to be the King James version?” He said no. I asked, “If I put together a version of my own, will that one be inerrant?” I have many things I would like to put in there.

  9. Chuck Borough Reply

    We see, put this way, they will have to answer, “Only if you do it right,” which is substantively the same as in the article of faith. Otherwise I can write in my version of the Bible, “There will be a great movement come in the latter days calling itself “The Church of Christ,” and it will be a false church.” Would they accept my version as inerrant? Of course not. They will accept it only if the “translation” is “correct,” and thus in accord with their interpretation of things. Joseph could have saved a lot of grief if he had simply included the same words for the Book of Mormon, that it was correct so long as it was translated correctly. By setting that book apart as “more dependable” than the Bible, he made a great social error; it is perceived an attack on the Bible. (God should have given him some lessons in tact.)

  10. Anonymous Reply

    Speaking of Noah’s Flood and Adam on , it is interesting how so few Mormons fail to see the fundamental and intractable contradiction between their belief that there was a literal, world-wide flood on the horrific scale described in Genesis and the belief that they have found the literal remains of Adam’s altar.  As Duane E. Jeffery pointed out in his article, Noah’s Flood: Modern Scholarship and Mormon Traditions (http://www.sunstonemagazine.com/pdf/134-27-45.pdf),’For instance, scripture makes clear that Adam blessed hisposterity in a specific small valley before his death; otherLDSLDSscripture indicates very strongly that this event took place inDaviess County, Missouri, and that Adam will one day returnthere.40 Tradition further states that the very altar that Adambuilt upon leaving the Garden of Eden was still standing on topof the ground in Missouri in the 1830s. Clearly this topographyand altar could not have survived a massive, planetary Flood. Ifwe wish to maintain the altar story, one highly treasured insome quarters of Mormonism, we must face squarely that therewas no worldwide Flood. Either that, or we must become veryinventive indeed to square our own theology.“40 Tradition further states that the very altar that Adambuilt upon leaving the Garden of Eden was still standing on topof the ground in Missouri in the 1830s. Clearly this topographyand altar could not have survived a massive, planetary Flood. Ifwe wish to maintain the altar story, one highly treasured insome quarters of Mormonism, we must face squarely that therewas no worldwide Flood. Either that, or we must become veryinventive indeed to square our own theology.“ORMON TRADITIONShttp://www.sunstonemagazine.com/pdf/134-27-45.pdfORMON TRADITIONShttp://www.sunstonemagazine.com/pdf/134-27-45.pdf

  11. Jason Reply

    Hey Zilpha, can you give me the reference to the JS quote about taking the lamanite women to wife??  It might help me out with my first wife!!!  😉  thanks  Keep it up guys!!!!

  12. Amber Reply

    To add to the Left Behind Series for Mormons, there is this collection: http://www.amazon.com/Seventh-Seal-Jessica-Draper/dp/1591561906/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1322593811&sr=1-1

    I downed these books as a teen because, hell, I read anything that said “LDS fiction” on it.  Horribly written, you know, but as close as I’ve ever seen to the Left Behind series.

  13. Elder Vader Reply

    I’ve been waiting for this one to come out. Now I await the sequel.

    Its difficult to express how much of a dilemma this has been for me since my mental apostasy. I really love my friends and family within the church. I initially wanted to just flip the switch and say I’m out. Not that I had any particular desire to leave, but when I concluded that it wasn’t true the dynamics all changed.

    When my oldest son was baptized, I wasn’t allowed to perform the ordinance, because although I was participating, I openly expressed disbelief. I was trying to do the whole middle way thing. It was miserable. My dad ended up baptizing my son, and I gave the talk. Rather than communicating that I was a loving father, tolerant of others’ beliefs, it communicated that I was flawed and that I had some things to work out personally. It was painful.

    • Blorg Jorgensson Reply

      Vader, your painful experience at your son’s baptism is precisely what I hope to avoid. How sickening that the church so visibly punishes those who are actually willing to be honest about their doubts.

      I am unwilling to “go along” with what I consider wrong and dishonest by pretending enough that I can perform the ordinance. Least of all “for the sake of my children,” who will certainly not be better served by me facilitating their indoctrination.

      I have the right and parental responsibility to impart my perspective to my children. I will not tell my children what a great “choice” they are making, nor will I dissuade them from being baptized. I will vaguely and innocuously congratulate them for their moment. But I will explain to them ahead of time exactly why I will not be performing the ordinance, and warn them that any other reason that anyone tries to tell them is bunk.

      In short, I will oppose any efforts to paint me as “weak” for not baptizing them and for not believing in the church. The church controls so much of its members perspectives, as John writes. The only way to shake that up even a little bit is to provide a stark contrast to the church’s memes.

Leave A Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *