The Book of Mormon: Paving the Way for the Doctrine & Covenants

February 11, 2008
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In my last post I discussed one possible view of the Book of Mormon as a basic doctrinal text and thus a foundation for Mormon doctrine. Having covered this topic in a Gospel Principles class, I then noted to the class that the Doctrine and Covenants was the “advanced doctrine” book. Consider the following paritial list:

Doctrines of Exaltation (i.e. highest degree of the Celestial Kingdom)
1. Need for temples (D&C 109; Kirtland Temple Dedication; See also D&C 84)
2. Washing and Anointing (D&C 88:139; D&C 124:37,39)
3. Temple endowment (D&C 105:12)
4. Celestial marriage (D&C 131:1-4)
5. Exaltation is progressive/progression (D&C 131:4)
6. Exaltation is Godhood (D&C 76:58; D&C 132:20)
7. Exaltation as “Eternal Lives” or continuation of seed (D&C 132:20-24)
8. Salvation of the dead (D&C 128; See also D&C 137)
9. Two types of priesthood (Aaronic and Melchizedek) (D&C 107:1)
10. Calling and election made sure (D&C 132 may cover this; D&C 131:5 is more direct)
11. Priesthood keys restored (D&C 110)

Other Advanced Doctrines
1. Plan of salvation / Three degrees of glory (D&C 76)
2. True nature of hell (D&C 19)
3. Nature of Christ’s Sacrifice (From His point of view!) (D&C 19)
4. Salvation for those that didn’t have a chance to know (D&C 137)
5. “Lineage” of the priesthood important (D&C 84)
6. Word of Wisdom (D&C 89)
7. Physical nature of God / Godhead – Separateness of Godhead (D&C 130:22-23)
8. Millennium (D&C 43:30; D&C 130:16)
9. Age for baptism (D&C 68:27)
10. Plural marriage (D&C 132)

It was easy to see that the Doctrine and Covenants was our advanced doctrines book and that it went on to describe how one receives exaltation: the highest reward possible in the Celestial Kingdom.

But I wasn’t done. At the end of class I gave out one more handout that explained that the Book of Mormon was more than a basic doctrinal text, for it anticipated advanced doctines that came later.

The following was the handout I had prepared:
The Book of Mormon Bridges Basic and Advanced Concepts

Please note how The Book of Mormon prepared the way for the Doctrine and Covenants. The following doctrines are strongly hinted at:

  • Salvation of those that didn’t have a chance to know – 2 Nephi 9:26-27
  • Word of Wisdom – Mosiah 11:15
  • Physical nature of God / Godhead (not just a Spirit – has a finger) – Ether 3, 1 Nephi 11, Alma 31:15
  • Holy Ghost is a personage – 1 Nephi 11:11
  • Separateness of Godhead – 2 Nephi 31:14-15; compare with 1 Nephi 11:11 and Ether 3 also
  • True nature of hell – Alma 36, Alma 11:43, Alma 12:17, Mosiah 3:27
  • Age for baptism – Moroni 8
  • Importance of temples – 2 Nephi 5:16, Mosiah 2:1, 3 Nephi 11:1
  • Plural marriage – Jacob 2 (see v. 30)
  • Salvation for the dead – 3 Nephi 25 (Malachi 4)
  • Becoming like God – 3 Nephi 28:10

If you review the above passages, you’ll find possible hints to the later advanced doctrines that now seem prescient but at the time didn’t mean much to the first converts to Mormonism. Was God preparing the way for future revelations?

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107 Responses to The Book of Mormon: Paving the Way for the Doctrine & Covenants

  1. February 12, 2008 at 12:14 am

    Isn’t it interesting that many of the principles outlined in the Doctrine and Covenants have a relationship to the temple? As you have pointed out, the Book of Mormon was a kind of preparation to receive those revelations. Even in the Book of Mormon we start getting hints and shadows of the temple importance and symbolism.

    I have recently wrote about a few of these on my blog Temple Study, showing that temple imagery certainly appears more in the Book of Mormon than we usually think. The explicit references to the temple are few, but the implicit references are many if we are willing to look for them.

    I believe that the Book of Mormon was definitely a preparatory book that preceded the higher and more advanced doctrines that the Lord gave later in the Doctrine and Covenants. Line upon line, precept upon precept. That is how the Lord reveals His word.

  2. Dude
    February 12, 2008 at 9:37 am

    I’d say that there is a ton of advanced doctrine in the PofGP too.
    I think that there are allusions to advanced things in the BoM all over the place that you only notice when studying the other texts.

  3. David
    February 12, 2008 at 10:29 am

    I reviewed the passages in the Book of Mormon that you found prescient. To be honest, I didn’t find any of the Book of Mormon passages strongly hinting at any of the future doctrines you suggest. I didn’t find them hinting at all, in fact they all look unrelated. Actually, some are related, but they are contradictory.

    Jacob 2 takes a pretty negative stance towards polygamy, while D&C 132 is very positive. Jacob 2 sees David and Solomon’s polygamy as fundamentally wrong (Jacob 2:24), while D&C 132 portrays their polygamy as fundamentally OK, except for Bathsheba/Uriah (D&C 132:38). When they use the same example in two different ways, you have a contradiction on your hands.

    3 Nephi 25/Malachi 4 didn’t prepare the way for D&C 127/128, there is really no way you can get from one to the other unless you are just told there is a connection. By that I mean no one would read 3 Nephi 25 and see Baptism for the Dead as following from that, unless you are explicitly told the connection.

    I don’t see how Mosiah 11:15 prepares anyone for the Word of Wisdom. If anything, Mosiah 11:15 leads you to drink in moderation (which Joseph Smith did), while the Word of Wisdom forbids alcohol entirely.

    I think trying to make these connections is really stretching it.

  4. Bruce Nielson
    February 12, 2008 at 12:05 pm

    David,

    Let’s see if anyone else agrees with you. Well, I admit that even I think Malachi 4/2 Nephi 25 is a bit of a stretch… but I was only promising “hints” so I thought it was appropriate. The very fact that it got included in the Book of Mormon by Jesus Himself is in and of itself a point of interest on that one. Why? What was the purpose? What was Jesus driving towards? The very fact that this scripture shows up in the Book of Mormon and later goes on to be the basis for huge numbers of doctrines is itself prescient in my view. (side note: that’s the only scriptural passage that shows up in all four of the standard works that I know of.)

    But I really see your other two examples very differently than you. Almost to the point of thinking you didn’t read them very carefully. But that’s probably not the case, we probably preceive them differently for some reason. Maybe later, if you are interested, I’ll give you a full explanation. Particularly on Jacob 2, which I just have to outright disagree with your reading on.

  5. David
    February 12, 2008 at 12:17 pm

    Jacob 2:24: Behold, David and Solomon truly had many wives and concubines, which thing was abominable before me, saith the Lord.

    D&C 132:39: David’s wives and concubines were given unto him of me, by the hand of Nathan, my servant, and others of the prophets who had the keys of this power; and in none of these things did he sin against me save in the case of Uriah and his wife…

    Please, give me a full explanation of how the first quote leads to the second quote.

  6. Bruce Nielson
    February 12, 2008 at 12:33 pm

    David,

    I will later, I promise. Let’s see what others say first.

  7. Steve EM
    February 12, 2008 at 12:50 pm

    Hey, Great Site. I concur with comment 3, except for “……the Word of Wisdom forbids alcohol entirely.” Section 89 makes many suggestions, but doesn’t forbid anything. Movreover, it encourages beer (mild barley drinks). The WofW we’re asked about in baptismal and TR interviews is a policy instituted by Pres HJG and is a very narrow and odd interpretation of Section 89.

  8. Dude
    February 12, 2008 at 1:00 pm

    David # 5: “Please, give me a full explanation of how the first quote leads to the second quote.”

    I have always had a hard time with the language of these two quotes, not that I am assuming that there is a contradiction. But there seems to be an apparent paradox. But the truth is found in the “marriage” (pun intended) of the two ideas.

    We have to take this one step by step. First, we study 2 Samuel chapter 12, which harmonizes with the D&C quote. 2 Samuel 12:8 says that the Lord indeed give these women to David, and indicates that the Lord would have given him more were it not for his sin, and the rest of the chapter does indeed show that the Lord is giving his wives unto another. So, clearly, the Lord’s condemnation of them having “had” many wives and concubines in Jacob 2:24 does not refer to the Lord himself having given them many wives and concubines. Yes, I know that sounds contradictory, but it really isn’t. The answer lies in what these men did in those plural marriages. They weren’t faithful in their marriages because the scriptures demonstrate how Solomon went after foreign women that turned his heart away from the Lord, and slept with women he wasn’t married to, etc. So, it was only in the things that they weren’t faithful in, and the things they received not of the Lord where there was a condemnation. So the answer lies in the Lord’s condemnation of plural marriage that isn’t strictly lived according to how he directs. The Lord has never condemned plural marriage that the Lord himself has instituted where those involved are living properly. How can he and why would he, when he commanded it and when he is obeyed?

  9. John Nilsson
    February 12, 2008 at 1:21 pm

    Bruce,

    As far as 2 Nephi 9 acting as a bridge to our doctrines in the D and C about work for the dead, I can see where you’re going with this. The verses you indicate allow for salvation of those without the law, but indicate the atonement satisfies the demand for justice with them. So there’s hope, but no indication the living will participate in the atonement.

    What many of the verses you cite do is leave space for future doctrines to be added. I’m not sure how many early Mormons heard or read a revelation to be included in the D and C and had a light bulb go on that said, “Hey, I was reading about this in the Book of Mormon the other day!” Not the least of which was widespread illiteracy in American society in general and a lack of emphasis on the contents, rather than the fact of, the Book of Mormon with the early Saints.

    The kind of reading you’re advocating is fine retroactively in a 21st century context where we are looking for these connections at our leisure instead of, as the early Saints often were, expecting the Second Coming to occur next month.

  10. John Nilsson
    February 12, 2008 at 1:22 pm

    By the way, Bruce, are we meeting for lunch today? :)

  11. Bruce Nielson
    February 12, 2008 at 1:25 pm

    John,

    Sorry, couldn’t make lunch. I’m in Magna without a car. If you guys want to pick me up or come to Magna for lunch, let me know. :)

    I also agree with you that the early Saints missed the connections I’m suggesting. Actually, Joseph Smith seemed to miss connections like these all the time. I really get the feeling that Joseph Smith didn’t know the Book of Mormon very well, which is a bit odd if you think about it. Actually, I find Joseph Smith’s Book of Mormon knowledge to be seriously lacking. Nowadays people outside the Church sometimes even go so far as to claim the the Book of Mormon didn’t teach Mormon doctrine (my last post proved that wrong) or that Joseph lost interest in it and that is why he ignored it.

    Or perhaps another explanation is in order: Joseph just didn’t know the Book of Mormon very well because he wasn’t the author of it and was too busy to really study it himself during his relatively short life.

  12. Dude
    February 12, 2008 at 2:01 pm

    Bruce #11: “Or perhaps another explanation is in order: Joseph just didn’t know the Book of Mormon very well because he wasn’t the author of it and was too busy to really study it himself during his relatively short life.”

    I tend to agree with this, and I really think that this is one of the best evidences for the divine authenticity of the Book of Mormon. I mean, you can’t prove it, but I believe it. So Bruce, what do you do in Magna. Do you live there or what? I don’t mean to bring this personal question up, its just that I have no other way to contact you to ask you.

  13. February 12, 2008 at 2:17 pm

    “2 Samuel 12:8 says that the Lord indeed give these women to David, and indicates that the Lord would have given him more were it not for his sin, and the rest of the chapter does indeed show that the Lord is giving his wives unto another.”

    When we say “women” and “wives” we are talking about female human beings, a.k.a. daughters of God, right? Does this kind of language strike anyone else as odd? Keep in mind, its not saying that people objectified women like cattle, its saying God did, and then I’m getting the impression that we are now justifying that by demonstrating that women continued to be God’s cattle in 1840.

    “I really get the feeling that Joseph Smith didn’t know the Book of Mormon very well, which is a bit odd if you think about it.”

    That’s quite a statement, Bruce. Joseph seemed to demonstrate an intellect for scripture that would indeed make it very odd for him not to know the BoM very well. I recently stumbled on a paper suggesting Sidney Rigdon was the chief author of the BoM, not Joseph. I’m sure that’s been rehashed in apologetic circles, but I hadn’t heard it before. The paper pointed to the way that the doctrines in the book are very consistent with the teachings of William Cambell (Rigdon’s mentor), and it only differs in the areas Rigdon was known to disagree with Cambell. Of the several BoM authorship theories, the Rigdon theory would probably most support the feeling that Joseph wasn’t as familiar with the teachings of the BoM as one would expect. I’m not going to link the paper, as I’m not endorsing it. I just found it interesting, and I’m sure you could find it if you Googled enough.

  14. February 12, 2008 at 2:23 pm

    “Or perhaps another explanation is in order: Joseph just didn’t know the Book of Mormon very well because he wasn’t the author of it and was too busy to really study it himself during his relatively short life.”

    Maybe I’m wrong, but it always seemed like Joseph knew the bible really well. If the Book of Mormon is the most correct book of any on the earth, and the bible is so flawed that Joseph had to re-translate it, why would Joseph not study the Book of Mormon? I guess its all a matter of perspective. Some folks see that as more evidence of its divinity, and for me its just another inconsistency that adds to the pile of complications.

  15. Bruce Nielson
    February 12, 2008 at 2:30 pm

    Clay,

    The Rigdon-as-Book-of-Mormon-Author theory was very common back in Joseph Smith’s day. It’s more or less died out since then with the occaisional die hard still stumpping for it. The Solomon Spaulding theory also has a very popular variant where Rigdon got the Spaulding manuscript and wrote the Book of Mormon from it and then arranged for Joseph Smith to pretend to produce it and then he pretends to be converted by it later.

    The theory was around and prevalent enough that one of Rigdon’s own sons interviewed his mother and father to determine if there was any chance his father had written the Book of Mormon. He was convinced his father wasn’t lying and his mother had never seen Sidney write it and had never heard of it prior to Parley Pratt bring it to them.

    Oh, and I would have to concur with you that Joseph’s knowledge of the bible was tremendous, making his lack of knowledge of the Book of Mormon all the more puzzling.

  16. Dude
    February 12, 2008 at 2:37 pm

    “When we say “women” and “wives” we are talking about female human beings, a.k.a. daughters of God, right? Does this kind of language strike anyone else as odd? Keep in mind, its not saying that people objectified women like cattle..”

    My word. What brain surgery did you pull that out of, judging me in this assinine way as if I’m trying to treat daughters of God as cattle by my mere use of some word in a way that doesn’t fit your pro-feminist bullcrap use of it. Get off it.

  17. Bruce Nielson
    February 12, 2008 at 2:49 pm

    Dude, Clay didn’t mean you. Keep the posts cordial, please.

  18. David
    February 12, 2008 at 2:50 pm

    Dude,

    2 Samuel 12 does not harmonize D&C 132. Quoting the NRSV 2 Samuel 12:8:

    “I gave you your master’s house, and your master’s wives into your bosom, and gave you the house of Israel and of Judah; and if that had been too little, I would have added as much more.”

    He would have given David more if he wanted more, not he would have been given more if he didn’t sin. The later reference in verse 11 of “I will take your wives before your eyes, and give them to your neighbor, and he shall lie with your wives in the sight of this very sun” is a clear allusion to Absalom’s rape of David’s wives/concubines in plain sight of all Israel in 2 Samuel 16:22. More generally the punishment for David’s sin was very clearly to be a civil war, which takes up 2 Samuel 13-19; this is from the first part of verse 2 Samuel 12:11 where Nathan says, “I will raise up trouble against you from within your own house,” a clear reference to Absalom trying to usurp the throne.

    The argument that the harmonization occurs because what the LORD is condemning is unfaithfulness in plural marriage is just plain silly. If that were the case 2 Jacob would condemn them for adultery, and not say, “many wives and concubines, which thing was abominable before me.” I don’t know how you get that adultery was the problem out of that. The bottom line is that I think that the proposed harmonization only succeeds if you flat out ignore what the scriptures are saying.

  19. David
    February 12, 2008 at 2:53 pm

    Joseph just didn’t know the Book of Mormon very well because he wasn’t the author of it and was too busy to really study it himself during his relatively short life.

    I have to admit, saying that you know the Book of Mormon better than the guy that translated it is borderline silly at best, smug at worst.

  20. Dude
    February 12, 2008 at 2:58 pm

    “2 Samuel 12 does not harmonize D&C 132.”

    Sure it does.

    “He would have given David more if he wanted more, not he would have been given more if he didn’t sin”

    Uh, yeah. That’s essentially the same thing. More blessings would have been available. So what? Now he forfietted all. Effectively the same.

    “clear allusion to Absalom’s rape of David’s wives/concubines in plain sight of all Israel”

    No its not.

    “More generally the punishment for David’s sin was very clearly to be a civil war”

    Yeah, that’s certainly one of the punishments, aside from him losing his wives.

    “The argument that the harmonization occurs because what the LORD is condemning is unfaithfulness in plural marriage is just plain silly.”

    No its not. You’re being silly by not seeing it. LOL

    “I don’t know how you get that adultery was the problem out of that.”

    Because it was, and it says it was, because in Jacob, the Lord says he delights in chastity, and calls unchaste behavior an abomination.

    “The bottom line is that I think that the proposed harmonization only succeeds if you flat out ignore what the scriptures are saying.”

    Uh, no, it only results in your thinking it doesn’t work when you flat out ignore what the scriptures are saying, because they are saying what I said they are saying.

  21. February 12, 2008 at 2:59 pm

    2 Samuel 12:8 “And I gave thee thy master’s house, and thy master’s wives into thy bosom, and gave thee the house of Israel and of Judah; and if that had been too little, I would moreover have given unto thee such and such things.”

    I was talking about the scriptures. I’m asking people how they feel about Holy Scripture saying the God gives wives to people like livestock. You don’t have to be a feminist to be uncomfortable with that.

    Maybe its feminism to extend that out to be uncomfortable with explaining that the Book of Mormon was only speaking against the kind of polygamy where you take wives God didn’t give you, simply because it doesn’t speak negatively in the direct terminology of the Lord giving them the wives.

  22. Dude
    February 12, 2008 at 3:00 pm

    “I was talking about the scriptures. I’m asking people how they feel about Holy Scripture saying the God gives wives to people like livestock. You don’t have to be a feminist to be uncomfortable with that.”

    I have no idea what you are talking about. God never treats his daughters like livestock.

  23. Bruce Nielson
    February 12, 2008 at 3:06 pm

    David,

    I know so little about you. What is your religious background and what is your interest in the Book of Mormon.

    In any case, it’s hard to even know what you are getting at without really understanding what your position is. Do you believe in the Book of Mormon? If you don’t (and I’m assuming you don’t based on your comments so far) then I have to wonder about the inappropriateness of your last comment.

    If you do in fact believe in the Book of Mormon, then I can understand your last comment as at least not being intellectually dishonest. But then I’m going to be very interested in your explanation of why Joseph seemed to know so much more about the bible than the Book of Mormon. It just an observation and not an uncommon one. You would do well to let observations come out and then address the observation with your counter observations instead of using personal attacks.

    If you believe in the Book of Mormon, I’m also going to be interested in your own attempts to reconcile Jacob 2 to the Bible (and also to the D&C).

  24. NM Tony
    February 12, 2008 at 3:11 pm

    Just out of curiousity, why do folks think that that Joseph Smith was ingnorant with regards to the Boof of Mormon? I never heard this before. Is it because he didn’t emphasis it as much as his revelations or did he actually state he was lacking in knowledge?

    If it is simply becuase he didn’t emphasize the BoM, then that would seem indicative of his concerted efforts towards establishing the church, its doctrines, leadership, and his role as prophet. The BoM would seem to be only the hook to bring in the fish and assert Joseph’s divine calling.

    RE: #16

    “judging me in this assinine way”

    Dude, I think you need to realize that people aren’t judging you, simply the idea. It is important to understand the necessity of seperating yourself from the ideas, especially in a forum where the ideas may not be popular and rightfully challenged. I think Clay was conscientious enough to even put “we” in reference to this idea of polygamy. Unless someone actually says, “Dude, you so and so!” or something equally personal, then assume that the idea is attacked and defend it or acknowledge possible flaw.

  25. Bruce Nielson
    February 12, 2008 at 3:15 pm

    >>> Just out of curiousity, why do folks think that that Joseph Smith was ingnorant with regards to the Boof of Mormon?

    Your alternate explanation is possibly correct and strikes me as valid, NM Tony. Yes, it may be that there was just so much more to come. My observation was that Joseph seems to, at times (in Church History), give explanations for things where the Book of Mormon did a better job of explaining and he could have just quoted. One could say that he just didn’t have time to look up the quote, I suppose.

  26. David
    February 12, 2008 at 3:17 pm

    Clay,

    It was a different time and a different place. Women were more or less chattel property and 2 Samuel is in that context. However, I would say that 1 & 2 Samuel have to be read in their context and in their entirety, because there are hints that what was going on in David’s life may not have been the norm for all of Israel. Check out 2 Samuel 3:16. Here Paltiel/Phaltiel is crying when he his giving his wife, Michal, to David since she was originally David’s wife. The point is that for Paltiel, losing his wife was grievous. My guess is that loving marriages were more common among the lower classes (where a man would likely only have one wife) than among the upper classes.

    Also, don’t forget that some women in 1 & 2 Samuel use men for their own purposes. In 1 Samuel 25 Abigail manages to get rid of her horrible husband and willingly takes up with David because she can probably tell that he is going places. The story of Bathsheba and David is not quite as clear as one would think. It is likely that she was just as treacherous as David. She was capable of playing politics; in 1 Kings 1 it is Nathan and Bathsheba who manage to get Bathsheba’s son, Solomon, seated on the throne.

    The bottom line is that one of the overarching themes of 1 & 2 Samuel is a lesson on the consequences of selfishness and playing realpolitik. Unfortunately we tend to just read it for David/Goliath and David/Bathsheba. Granted, the treatment of women, at least in the royal court, was horrible. For me, the main lesson is a warning to those involved in this type of lifestyle, men and women.

  27. Dude
    February 12, 2008 at 3:18 pm

    NMTony #24: “Dude, I think you need to realize that people aren’t judging you, simply the idea.”

    See, that’s the whole problem. Clay decided to be brain surgeon and attribute to me an idea that didn’t originate from me. He came up with it. It originated from him. My use of the word didn’t convey the idea he attributed to it. That’s partially what I take issue with. So secondly, I guess I reacted too much, but firstly, I never conveyed the idea, and it was Clay decided to attribute it to me.

  28. February 12, 2008 at 3:30 pm

    David,
    I was expecting the time and context argument. I agree that historical context can explain the actions of human beings, even prophets. But the scripture that was referenced to justify polygamy was not simply narrating the actions of men. It said the Lord gave “thy master’s wives into thy bosom”. Why should culture or context have anything to do with how The Lord treats women? Did the wives have a choice in how they were passed around from master to master, supposedly by God himself?

    I’m just not a fan of face-value scripture reading. Its been used for centuries to justify all kinds of things. We are reading the words of men supposing to represent the word of God, yet the words attribute what seem to be unGodly attributes to God. For me, there is a massive disconnect in that.

  29. David
    February 12, 2008 at 3:45 pm

    Clay,

    Read 1 & 2 Samuel in their entirety, using a modern translation, and with a good commentary. A good “all in one” for this is Robert Alter’s “The Story of David.” The story of 1 & 2 Samuel is much more complex and nuanced than you can hash out on a blog. My point was not to justify this behavior, but to explain why it happened. The LORD did not directly give David wives and territory, he went out fought, raided, pirated, and conquered. The LORD simply allowed it to happen. The LORD allows all types of bad stuff to happen in this world, but you cannot saddle God with all bad things. Let’s face it, an all powerful God can stop ANYTHING, but he usually just allows humans to play things out according to their desires. Unfortunately this leads to wars, death, intrigue, and women being treated as chattel (all of which occur in 1 & 2 Samuel). The overall picture of 1 & 2 Samuel, in my opinion, is a warning against this type of behavior, because it gives a realistic portrait of what one can expect by engaging in this sordid behavior. By the way, this is unique in the ancient world where a king was god and he could do no wrong. In this context the Israelites wrote a remarkably “modern” treatment of kingship, its highs, and its really low lows.

  30. February 12, 2008 at 3:57 pm

    David,
    I agree with your ultimate point and interpretation of the whole situation, but I still think you are ignoring the implications of the language in the scripture. The LDS church doesn’t support new world translations of the bible as far as I know, and I’m talking about how things look from a Mormon perspective, yet… even in the new language version you quoted, its still says I gave you your master’s wives in the voice of God.

    “I gave you your master’s house, and your master’s wives into your bosom, and gave you the house of Israel and of Judah; and if that had been too little, I would have added as much more.”

    Again, I think we agree in the final gist of it, but I’m just saying that the scriptures shouldn’t be able to claim unholy behavior while speaking for God, but in a case like this they do. Its just something you have to reconcile. When I read it, I just can’t accept that God actually said that, or else I am not a fan of that God.

  31. David
    February 12, 2008 at 4:06 pm

    The LDS church doesn’t support new world translations of the bible as far as I know

    Does that really stop you from reading them?

    In any case, if you take that one verse out of context then yes it does look like God paraded women into David’s harem where he promptly married them. The books of Samuel go to great pains to explain how he got at least three (Michal, Abigail, and Bathsheba), and neither God nor Nathan the prophet was anywhere to be seen. If you read the verses in that context, it is just God allowing people freedom to act. My point is this, if you take it out of context God becomes a horrible being. Read in context, God is a neutral bystander, just like he is in almost every time and place. It sucks that people behave horribly, but when you are given freedom to act it is going to happen.

  32. Moey
    February 12, 2008 at 4:09 pm

    RE: “When I read it, I just can’t accept that God actually said that, or else I am not a fan of that God.”

    If you would simply accept plural marriage as a holy behavior sanctioned by God when commanded, and you wouldn’t have to accuse God of sanctioning something unholy. God sanctions plural marriage throughout the scriptures. Giving women to men as a blessing isn’t treating them as livestock. It’s a blessing to the man as well as to the woman.

  33. John Nilsson
    February 12, 2008 at 4:31 pm

    Whoa-boy, Moey. Are you trying to recruit for a Mormon splinter group? If you’ve read the post, you’ll know that Jacob in the Book of Mormon makes clear that having more than one wife is not pleasing to God, and lists only one very strange exception.

    Clay,

    I wonder why we find it hard to say as Mormons that the author of the books of Samuel, assuming there is only one, mistakenly attributed an action to God? I have no problem with that at all. That may be because I was raised with a book by Lowell Bennion called “Understanding the Scriptures” (published by Deseret Book, I might add) where that argument is carefully and politically made.

    That’s the only way I can make sense of huge chunks of the Old Testament.

  34. Moey
    February 12, 2008 at 4:36 pm

    RE: “Are you trying to recruit for a Mormon splinter group?”

    Holy Cow! Sounds like you are doing the same thing that this Clay guy did do this Dude guy. Where the heck in my statement did I say that God sanctions it today? I said that throughout the scriptures the Lord sanctions it. I didn’t say he sanctions it now. I think everybody should take a step back and really read what they are replying to.

  35. NM Tony
    February 12, 2008 at 4:39 pm

    “God is a neutral bystander”

    Then God isn’t benevolant and can be argued to be an immoral god of inaction. This would then fit with the idea that God allows these women to be treated as chattel, and by his inaction did indeed give the women to David. If he can stop whatever he wants, then by his inaction, one can surmise that it is by his approval for it allows free choice. Yet, this inactive god exists throughout the Bible, for it was by his name and command that the Israelites massacred thousands. By account of the scriptures, he actively approved of the slaughter of innocents. If this be the case, why is it anymore inappropriate for God to give numerous women to a king? If one is to accept the Bible as the literal word of God, then one must also accept the idea that he is a cruel and vengeful god (which is not taking scripture out of context), regardless of translation. What really sucks is that people justify cruelty to women through religion and God’s command or inaction. The idea of one male to many females resonates of herd behavior and dynamics. I see this more in line with evolution than with the decrees of a god.

    Just my opinion, wrong or right.

  36. John Nilsson
    February 12, 2008 at 4:44 pm

    Sorry if I misrepresented your intentions, Moey. I just can’t see a statement like “God sanctions plural marriage throughout the scriptures” as tenable given Bruce kicked off this discussion with the Book of Mormon, where one searches in vain for a sanction given by God.

    (I’ve heard fundamentalists try to explain this passage in Jacob away as mistranslation, you see). No offense meant, just honestly surprised.

  37. Bruce Nielson
    February 12, 2008 at 4:59 pm

    >>> If you’ve read the post, you’ll know that Jacob in the Book of Mormon makes clear that having more than one wife is not pleasing to God, and lists only one very strange exception.

    John, while I can’t say if Moey is from a fundamentalist Mormon group or not :) I can say that his interpretation of the situation is at least not at odds with Jacob 2. Jacob 2 gives an exception but doesn’t say why. Moey is suggesting a possibility as to why. He may or may not be correct, but there is no contradiction here, as you were suggesting, because Moey specifies only the exception where God commands it. (God never commands it in the Book of Mormon, the Book of Mormon simply says God can command it – prescient of what was to come.)

    I actually think everyone that has expressed a view is at least partially correct, personally.

    I agree with Clay that the scriptures do indeed attribute to God things that he didn’t do. (A point David carefully avoided and I’m predicting will continue to avoid as I’m going to guess he’s a conservative protestant with no Mormon background. If I’m right, I don’t foresee him addressing this problem in the Bible because that would go against his religion. He’s apparently hiding his beliefs to be able to explain his concerns with Mormon beliefs but to keep anyone from examining his own beliefs.)

    I agree with Moey that it’s possible that in some cases plural marriage, if ordained of God, could be a blessing. I know of cases from my own family’s history, so I will not deny that it could be true in some cases. I do not believe this was true in every case.

    I agree with Dude that there is no contradiction between D&C 132 and Jacob 2 because of verse 30 and think his explanation was pretty good.

    And I agree with David that scriptures have to be taken in context and one has to be flexible and creative with its interpretation to really get at what the original intent was. One must avoid an over literal reading, as David suggests.

    Jacob 2′s context was men deciding for themselves to take plural wives without sanction from God while D&C 132 was a different context all together and thus warranted a greater explanation.

    If David had simply applied his own creative and flexible understanding of the Bible to Mormon scripture he would have thought of this own his own. The fact that he was capable of great creativity with the Bible (as in #29 and #31) but none whatsoever with Mormon scripture was what tipped me off that he perhaps wasn’t Mormon and presumably never was or was only for a very short time or when very young. The fact that he didn’t respond to my query about his religion tipped me off that he was hiding this fact.

    David, I personally think it’s unfair for you to not tell people about your own religious beliefs but to only attack other people’s beliefs. Every time a Mormon posts here, they stick their neck out and take a chance. You have some guts and do the same. How can simply explaining why you disagree with someone else ever be dialog? Dialog is two ways, my friend. You need to stick your neck out too and explain your own beliefs. Tell us what your religion is and explain your stance on issues in a full religious context for us. Allow us to explain our own concerns with your beliefs back to you. This is what dialog is. What you are doing isn’t dialog.

  38. Moey
    February 12, 2008 at 5:05 pm

    RE #36:

    D&C 132 is an absolute sanction of plural marriage when God commands. It is the law of plural and celestial marriage in its plainness. It doesn’t matter what ambiguity exists in the rest of the scriptures, because that is the part that is plainly revealed. Things only matter when given in plainness. Trying to split hairs over parts that are not so plain in the scriptures versus the parts that are plain on the matter is not a good practice. D&C 132 says what it says what it says.

  39. John Nilsson
    February 12, 2008 at 5:10 pm

    Moey,

    So is Official Declaration 1 in the D and C plain as well?

  40. Moey
    February 12, 2008 at 5:15 pm

    #39:

    Yeah, because it says that the time had come to stop. And the second Manifesto which I think should be in the scriptures is even plainer, because it is the one with true effect!!

    Yeah yeah, I know all about New Plural Marriages. Effectively, for most of the Saints, the first one brought a hault to the practice of any new plural marriages, and it is the law by which we live now.

    I have no idea why the second manifesto and the proclamation on the family aren’t Official Declarations. They absolutely affect policy.

  41. John Nilsson
    February 12, 2008 at 5:23 pm

    It sounds better to other Americans to hear that we stopped practicing plural marriage in 1890 instead of 1904, for starters.

    I agree with you about including the second Manifesto in the D and C. It is much plainer than Official Declaration 1 in my opinion.

    In a less-related vein, I have heard some speculation that the Proclamation on the Family may be added someday, we shall see.

  42. David
    February 12, 2008 at 5:29 pm

    Bruce,

    For what it’s worth, how’s this for identification: I am a believing Mormon. I attend church every week, pay a full tithe, and can give you the serial number on my temple recommend if you really want it. I served a mission in Nicaragua, married in the temple, and have 3 kids. My current calling is seminary teacher, teaching Old Testament this year. I can give you my Bishop’s name and phone number if you would like to tattle on me for whatever I said that irked you.

    By the way, you are a very presumptuous individual to assume I am not a Mormon. Just because I disagree with you does not mean that I am not a believing Mormon. I find you to be a very disrespectful and rude person. Have a nice day.

  43. Doug G.
    February 12, 2008 at 5:55 pm

    RE: “If you would simply accept plural marriage as a holy behavior sanctioned by God when commanded, and you wouldn’t have to accuse God of sanctioning something unholy. God sanctions plural marriage throughout the scriptures. Giving women to men as a blessing isn’t treating them as livestock. It’s a blessing to the man as well as to the woman.”

    I’m sorry, I’ve just got to step in here and support what David is getting at. Men, throughout history have justified horrible things in the name of God. The polygamy thing is just one of many, I get worried when good people find ways to justify immoral and murders acts because they can find a scripture to back it up. The Old Testament is full of that kind of thing and it should make you cringe.

    Polygamy was never justified by God. (Just my opinion, but reasonably supported) It is an immoral and abusive practice that only brought about misery and heartache to all those who tied to live it and it nearly destroyed the church. (That is factual, I would be happy to site literally hundreds of cases supporting this statement)

    I think it’s fair to say that the church would never have become a worldwide organization had we continued the practice. Even if the congress of the United States were to reverse itself and allow these type of marriages again, the church would run from it. There has been a concerted effort to make the church much more mainstream in the last 40 years and nobody is going to move us back toward being a cult.

    I’m sure some of you are going to have issues with my strong feelings on this subject. That is your right and there are plenty of statements made by past Presidents of the church establishing polygamy has doctrinal and making it, or at least a belief in it, necessary for exaltation. The fundamentalist groups have had some success in converting Mormons to polygamy based on well supported statements from prophets. Post manifesto polygamy is well documented and therefore gives credence to the critics who say it was never revoked by revelation. So why doesn’t the modern church petition congress to restore this treasured practice? Because the brethren know what an immoral and abuse thing it is and they want nothing to do with it. Perhaps it’s time we as members let go and admit that it was wrong and a mistake instead of continually trying to justify it. Confession is good for the soul and for the church in this case…

  44. Kent
    February 12, 2008 at 6:04 pm

    Doug: “It is an immoral and abusive practice that only brought about misery and heartache to all those who tried to live it and it nearly destroyed the church.” All who tried to live it experienced heartache and misery as a result of polygamy? Speaking in absolutes as did you, I would say that polygamy is absolutely what saved the church from imploding. Your turn.

  45. Moey
    February 12, 2008 at 6:05 pm

    RE: “Because the brethren know what an immoral and abuse thing it is and they want nothing to do with it.”

    As soon as God commands it again, they will change their tune instantly, and be all for it again, and won’t stand for abuse of it! When it is abused, that is called unrighteous dominion. When lived properly, thats called LOVE, when a man loves his wives and could never think of not wanting what is best for them, and to see to their needs and wants. Its a just and holy principle when a man practices it with the love of Christ in his heart and wants nothing but to put his wives up on pedestals and shower them with jewels and kiss the ground they walk on. The brethren changed their tune instantly on blacks and the priesthood when that revelation came, and they will on this as well, as soon as the time comes. If God commanded us to paint ourselves all blue the brethren would be all over that, and be defending the merits of that which is blue incessantly.

  46. Moey
    February 12, 2008 at 6:10 pm

    RE: “Speaking in absolutes as did you, I would say that polygamy is absolutely what saved the church from imploding. Your turn.”

    Amen, my brutha frum anutha mutha!

  47. Moey
    February 12, 2008 at 6:18 pm

    “And in that day seven women shall take hold of one man, saying, We will eat our own bread, and wear our own apparel: only let us be called by thy name, to take away our reproach.” (Isaiah 4:1)

    And I quote from the footnote:

    “1a IE because of scarcity of men due to wars.”

    http://scriptures.lds.org/en/isa/4/1c

    From the looks of it, when that situation presents itself in the future, women will also be all over that principle just for the sake of having any husband. Ask any of them at that time in the future if they think it’s a holy principle that would allow them all to have a husband and children at all when not many men are left, and they would be all over it and defending its merits too! It reminds me of this one Sliders episode I saw once where they went to a world where all the men were killed off, and women were begging for the dude to just please sleep with them and just give them a child, because they were desperate. I think everyone will change their tune in that day.

  48. Bruce Nielson
    February 12, 2008 at 6:49 pm

    David,

    So let me get this straight: you feel you can take my observation that Joseph Smith seems to know less than one would expect about the Book of Mormon and turn it into me saying I know more than Joseph Smith and you think that isn’t presumptuous or rude on your part? But when I ask you nicely for your own position on the subject, and you refuse to answer, so I make a guess at your religious affiliation, you take that as rude and presumptuous? Just what exactly is it about my guess that made you mad, David? Guessing your religion makes you mad? Why?

    You also presumed that I was “irked” because we disagreed… right after I said I agreed with you on what you were saying. Funny thing, isn’t it? Since I already explained in full that I was irked at you for avoiding dialog by failing to explain your own position all the while taking pot shots at others…

    Oh, and look, you still didn’t answer my questions about what you believe about the Book or Mormon or how you reconcile it to the D&C! Telling me that you are a practicing Mormon was avoiding the questions, no? Hmm… may that be significant? And now I’m going to venture another guess: that you are using anger to avoid having to answer.

    Sorry guy, I believe in honest dialog, not in having someone just take pot shots at others but avoid explaining their own position so no one can respond to them. If you never speak to me again, it will be fine with me as it was all just you monologuing at me anyhow.

    Personally, I think it’s possible to openly discuss just about anything so long as both participates are willing to stick their necks out and explain their positions respectfully. I do not believe dialog is possible when a person hides their beliefs but shoots at everyone else’s.

  49. NM Tony
    February 12, 2008 at 8:00 pm

    So Moey,

    First off, so there is no confusion, I am a non-believing Mormon, so my comments may come off as biased. :0)

    Will polyandry be appropriate? I mean what’s good for the gander is good for the goose, right? Or do we just concede to the patriarchy and follow whatever decree is set out without making a determination as to it true moral implications and how it does indeed affect those that have to live it? I still think Clay’s argument hold merit in that fact that scriptures still holds female in lower esteem than the male. This is typical male-dominated rhetoric that many find offensive regarding the issue of polygamy. Why is it that according to “revelation,” only appropriate for males to have multiple partners? If it is for the sole purpose of raising a “righteous generation unto the Lord” than we revert back to the idea of women being chattel whose worth is how many children can be produced. This can, by supernatural means, be by passed with the simple process of twins, triplets, quadruplets, etc. If woman wants to have a child, she no longer needs marriage to the male, but the money to get artificially inseminated if she wants a child.

    I find that many of the arguments presented for why God needs polygamy (or why humanity needs polygamy) to be groundless other than accepting a decree from a man claiming to speak in God’s behalf for the needs of other men. Rarely is this talk about the needs of the women. How fulfilling can it be for ten women (let alone 52 women) to have to share the affections of one man? I tell you what, place yourself in the position of the woman and see how glorious it would be to have to share your wife with nine other guys. I would suppose it not a pleasant thought, regardless of how the decree came.

    I admire the idea that you hold women to high regard and feel that even in polygamous relationships a man should dote on his wives, but that is not reality as can be seen with the wives of many poor polygamists of the past (e.g. Heber C. Kimball). Regardless of intent, the practice will always be abused by someone or many someones. It is human nature that if one participates in the subjugation of another group, regardless of intent, that eventual abuses will occur, often egregious abuse.

    So regardless of Jacob 2 (which I feel condemns polygamy more than promotes it), Samuel 18, or D&C 132, polygamy is still a practice that devalues a woman.

  50. Dude
    February 12, 2008 at 8:12 pm

    “Will polyandry be appropriate? I mean what’s good for the gander is good for the goose, right?”

    Polyandry isn’t the law of the Celestial kingdom. Its an allowance for something that happens in mortality for whatever reason. Its the exception when there is some reason that a woman’s eternal companion would be different than the man she is married to. A woman never has more than one eternal companion. A man can have multiple. I submit to you that all women who remarry after the death of a husband, having been sealed to the previous one, are living in Polyandry.

    “I still think Clay’s argument hold merit in that fact that scriptures still holds female in lower esteem than the male.”

    I think that you are trying to do the typical thing of trying to say that there is no equality when men and women do not have identical roles. Men and women have never been identical. Their roles have never been the same. Their privileges in eternity will be the same in that they will share in eternal glory and have eternal increase. They will be required to obey the same law, and will be EQUALLY YOKED by it, as I like to say. The women will be the blessing to the husband, and the husband will be the blessing to the wives. And the wives will be blessings to each other.

    “Regardless of intent, the practice will always be abused by someone or many someones. It is human nature that if one participates in the subjugation of another group, regardless of intent, that eventual abuses will occur, often egregious abuse.”

    I find your lack of faith in the genuine goodness of the majority of men more than a bit sad and stupid. You sound like a typical liberal Democrat whiner to me that is trying to force the commie type of equality on things that were never identical.

  51. Moey
    February 12, 2008 at 8:14 pm

    Dude, that was awesome! Another brutha frum anutha mutha!

  52. Bruce Nielson
    February 12, 2008 at 8:17 pm

    Moey,

    I can appreciate the amount of thoughtfulness in your answers. You’ve thought this through very carefully.

    NM Tony,

    Come to think of it, you’ve put a lot of thought into this to and your answer is thoughtful too.

  53. Doug G.
    February 12, 2008 at 8:40 pm

    Kent and Moey,

    “Doug: “It is an immoral and abusive practice that only brought about misery and heartache to all those who tried to live it and it nearly destroyed the church.” All who tried to live it experienced heartache and misery as a result of polygamy? Speaking in absolutes as did you, I would say that polygamy is absolutely what saved the church from imploding. Your turn.”

    Gentlemen, I think it would be counterproductive to engage in this debate about the ugliness of polygamy and for that matter polyandry. Numerous books have been written about Joseph’s wives, Brigham Young’s wives, documentation showing marriages between Uncles and Nieces, 40 and 50 year old men being married to teenagers etc. I will concede the point that my statement was far too absolute. As with anything in life, nothing is absolute and the exceptions prove the rule. In the society that existed in the Utah territory, a woman would have been labeled an apostate for even hinting that polygamy wasn’t divinely inspired. I guess you can believe the majority of Saints were just thrilled with the practice. I chose not to…

    As for my point about it nearly destroying the church, I would simply point you at the manifesto and ask you to read it again. I think that document speaks for itself…

    I think we can agree to disagree here and neither of us will be in trouble with the brethren. President Hinckley was clear about it not being doctrinal despite what earlier church leaders taught. I think he was a pretty smart fellow…

    P.S. Thanks for not making fun of my poor writing skills, I messed up the “abuse” “abusive” thing in my original post.

  54. February 12, 2008 at 8:41 pm

    I don’t recall any converts of the church claiming they were converted by the D&C.

    The Book of Mormon comes with a promise from God (Moroni 10:4-5), therefore it stands preeminent among our standard works, in my opinion.

    I recall the power that came into my heart and mind as I read the Book of Mormon over a 3 month period. By the time I completed it I had experienced a number of spiritual manifestation regarding the truthfulness of it.

    Nowadays, I love to read how nearly very writer in the Book of Mormon appears to have received the 2nd comforter and invites us to know the Savior as they did. I would say the Book of Mormon can be the keystone of our spirituality, just like Joseph Smith taught.

  55. Bruce Nielson
    February 12, 2008 at 8:46 pm

    Can we at least agree that we all believe that 99.9% of the time we are all in agreement. As I understand Jacob 2, polygamy is an abominiation in almost all cases. It’s that last 0.01% that we’re arguing over, right?

    And there’s the rub. The counter arguments seem to boil down to an assertion that because polygamy was wrong in 99.9% of cases that it must also be wrong in that last 0.01%. But that strikes me as a absolutism; and also as logically invalid. How in the world could it be true that in the history of the world there has never even once been a woman that benefited from plural marriage compared to her next best alternative? This stance is so absolutist, it’s hard for me to even wrap my mind around it.

    I think if you see Moey’s arguments from that view point you’ll see where he is coming from. Polygamy is generally, almost always, a horrible thing. Even when it’s better than the alternative, it’s still not ideal. (An analogy here might be divorce. It’s never really “ideal” but it can be better than any other alternative. I’m intentionally avoiding advancing a theory as to why the Church praticed it. I have to agree that most of the theories NM Tony mentions have huge holes.)

    I’m not convinced the Church did the best job practicing it either. Actually, according to the history I’ve studied, apparently many of them thought they did a poor job at it too and they thought that was one of the reasons God ended it. (I’m not saying this is true, I’m just trying to get into the minds of those that practiced it and trying to see things as they would have seen it — right, wrong, or indifferent. Apparently some of them were convined they didn’t practice polygamy according to God’s will.)

    I don’t know the mind of God so I can’t really say when polygamy was “done according to God’s will” or not. That is really going to be up to God to decide and I won’t judge it. But I hope you can appreciate the strong logical issue I have with taking a absolute stance against it in absolutely all cases. I find that stance very hard to believe, personally.

    Update: I wrote this before Doug G. had made his post where he basically said the same thing. Oh, and Doug G. I agree with you that polygamy is not “doctrinal”… of course I have no idea if you define that term the way I just used it or not. :) Because in another sense, perhaps it is “doctrinal.” It depends on what you mean by that word.

  56. Moey
    February 12, 2008 at 8:54 pm

    “As I understand Jacob 2, polygamy is an abominiation in almost all cases. It’s that last 0.01% that we’re arguing over, right?”

    No. If the Lord commands, then its not an abomination 100% of the time!

    “Even when it’s better than the alternative, it’s still not ideal.”

    No. If the Lord commands, then it is the ideal! I didn’t say that the Church did the best job practicing it. I’m talking about a future time when it will be commanded, when people will be purified and more Christlike, and able more fully to keep the commandments when Satan is bound. Then it will be the ideal. Not before.

  57. NM Tony
    February 12, 2008 at 8:56 pm

    RE: #50

    “A man can have multiple.”

    Why is that? Why is it a celestial law for only the males? Why is it that women are unable to have multiple husbands? What is the valid argument in this other than “God said so”?

    “Men and women have never been identical. Their roles have never been the same.”

    I never stated that men and women were identical, nor is that my argument. To me that is a straw man argument. But I do express equality and I ask where is the equality for the women in polygamous marriages? Do you dispute the fact that women are held to a lesser degree than men in a patriarchal society as is found in the scriptures? Not all laws are just regardless of its supposed source. If you want to use the yoke analogy, then I see it this way: the women are yoked to the plow in the polygamous relationship and the man is the driver. He has the authority and the power. Women must be obedient to the whims of the man. This is enforced with the idea that is it comes from the ultimate authority of God. So, I do not see it as equal.

    “I find your lack of faith in the genuine goodness of the majority of men more than a bit sad and stupid. You sound like a typical liberal Democrat whiner to me that is trying to force the commie type of equality on things that were never identical.”

    This is a simple ad hominem attack that shows a lack of faith in your argument. I’m not trying to force anything onto anyone but simply supplying an alternative viewpoint. Furthermore, in what way do I show a lack of faith in humanity? I am simply stating the obvious that in every case a minority or a group of people has been subjugated abuses occur. Show me where I am wrong and I will reevaluate my stance. So are you saying that my stance for the equality of other human beings, specifically women in this case, is misguided and inappropriate? That I should concede to your point of view because you call me names? Finally, I never equated identity with equality. Nonetheless, it should not matter as to one’s identity, they should have the equal rights regardless of gender, belief, race, etc. That is what I advocate. So let’s see if you can debate the issue without resorting to name-calling and snide remarks.

    RE: #52

    Thanks, Bruce.

  58. Bruce Nielson
    February 12, 2008 at 8:58 pm

    >>> “As I understand Jacob 2, polygamy is an abominiation in almost all cases. It’s that last 0.01% that we’re arguing over, right?” No. If the Lord commands, then its not an abomination 100% of the time!

    LOL Moey. That’s what I just said. I just didn’t say it as starkly as you did. That 0.001% I’m refering to is when the Lord commands it and it’s practiced according to his laws.

    >>> “Even when it’s better than the alternative, it’s still not ideal.” No. If the Lord commands, then it is the ideal! I didn’t say that the Church did the best job practicing it. I’m talking about a future time when it will be commanded, when people will be purified and more Christlike, and able more fully to keep the commandments when Satan is bound. Then it will be the ideal. Not before.

    We might even be saying the same thing here. I was speaking from an earthly point of view, as were all the people you were arguing with. If I understand you correctly, you are saying you agree that it wasn’t done in an ideal way here on earth (or if it was, cases were rare due to our human-ness.)

  59. NM Tony
    February 12, 2008 at 9:10 pm

    RE: #55

    “I have to agree that most of the theories NM Tony mentions have huge holes.”

    Please point out to me the huge holes in my arguments. I am seriously curious and would like to know. I am not saying that because I think I am right; I’d just like to know your thoughts. Or do I not warrant that sort of respect? You can even email me if you have access to emails that are required in order to post if you’d like to limit this thread. Or direct me to where I can email you.

  60. Bruce Nielson
    February 12, 2008 at 9:13 pm

    NM Tony,

    I didn’t mean your theories have holes, I meant the ones you’ve heard from other people about the reasons for polygamy. i.e. “I find that many of the arguments presented for why God needs polygamy (or why humanity needs polygamy) to be groundless…”

    I am *mostly* agreeing with you on this statement.

    >>> Or do I not warrant that sort of respect?

    Anyone that is willing to stick their neck out and state their beliefs and accept criticism (as you do) warrants respect. I hope you see that I am trying to be respectful of your beliefs, even though I do not ultimately agree with you.

  61. Moey
    February 12, 2008 at 9:16 pm

    “If I understand you correctly, you are saying you agree that it wasn’t done in an ideal way here on earth (or if it was, cases were rare due to our human-ness.)”

    No, I’m saying that a good amount of men out there right now who have integrity and love the Lord could do it just fine if:
    (1) They had the means
    (2) Women would not make their lives impossible by incessantly filling their ears full of how unfair they feel it is,
    and (3) society was more stable and just

  62. Bruce Nielson
    February 12, 2008 at 9:19 pm

    Moey, I hope we can at least agree upon the first half of what you said.

  63. Moey
    February 12, 2008 at 9:26 pm

    “Why is that? Why is it a celestial law for only the males?”

    Because the revelation says so, and by nature, men have a tendency to be polygamous. That is the nature of the universe. I’m just a guy with an opinion. If you don’t agree, then I guess we will disagree.

    “and I ask where is the equality for the women in polygamous marriages?”
    They were all equally having to obey the law, and if they were converted, then they wouldn’t murmur. But most of the time they were all equally murmuring. There’s equality.

    “the women are yoked to the plow in the polygamous relationship and the man is the driver.”

    I wonder, are you actually a man, and you see yourself practicing unrighteous dominion in your household? I certainly do not see myself as an unrighteous dominator.

    “This is a simple ad hominem attack that shows a lack of faith in your argument.”
    AHAHAHAH. No, actually you really are arguing like a liberal Democrat commie.

    “I am simply stating the obvious that in every case a minority or a group of people has been subjugated abuses occur.”
    Yep. See. There is the commie in you talking again. Fighting for the downtrodden, subjugated poor people that are dominated by the evil people taking advantage, wanting to throw off the evil opressor. I don’t see it that way when those who are called to preside do so in righteousness.

    “Show me where I am wrong and I will reevaluate my stance.”

    I already have, but you don’t see it as convincing, so I see, so what else can I say? Do you want a scripture? How about D&C 121: When a man takes it upon himself to excercise unrighteous dominion, AMEN to the priesthood of that man. Do you seriously think that the principles in D&C 132 could be exercised without the principles in D&C 121? They cannot. But you obviously don’t accept those principles in 132 anyway, so what would you like me to show you that you would actually accept as convincing?

  64. NM Tony
    February 12, 2008 at 9:27 pm

    Sorry, Bruce. I just misread your sentence. Thanks for clarifying and I do appreciate the kindness and respect I’ve found, for the most part, on this board. This is a good place for the exchange of differing viewpoints, which is why I visit. It’s no fun really “preaching to the choir.” Again, my apologies for the misunderstanding.

  65. Bruce Nielson
    February 12, 2008 at 9:44 pm

    >>> Again, my apologies for the misunderstanding.

    No problem at all. No need to even apologize. It’s impossible for everyone to understand everything on their first try. I wish people would keep this in mind. Do unto others and all that.

    People that are obviously trying to understand others, as you have on this post, deserve wide lattitude. You immediately accepted my follow up statement and re-read what I said in a new light. What could possibly be wrong with that?

  66. NM Tony
    February 12, 2008 at 9:46 pm

    Re: #63

    Okay, so what if I am arguing like a “commie.” How does that diminish the argument? It is still ad hominem if the focus is taken off the argument and place your emphasis on the debator’s preceived shortcomings. So what if I speak out for the down-trodden, I find no fault in that and would gladly continue to argue in their behalf. This still does not address the issue nor the questions I have asked. My political affliations do not come into play unless I bring them up as justification for the argument. No to mention, I am not a democrat nor a communist/socialist.

    Furthermore, isn’t the concept of Zion based in fundemental communism, and I am not speaking of Soviet communism but tribal communism. Law of consecration? So, is speaking for equality in all things an inappropriate venture?

    Finally, you’re right. I do not accept the “God said so” explanation as neither evidence nor support. So, I guess we will have to agree to disagree because I do see polygamy as unrighteous dominion. Males call the shots, females dutifully follow. So, in essence, there is little to debate. I repectfully step down.

  67. Bruce Nielson
    February 12, 2008 at 9:50 pm

    >>> I don’t recall any converts of the church claiming they were converted by the D&C

    You know Jared, that’s a really good point. The more I think about what you just said, the more I have to agree with you.

    Wow! I can’t believe one of my posts actually generated enough controversy to get 60+ posts. Guess it was the whole polygamy angle. Oh, and like half the posts were my own, so they don’t count. :P

  68. Moey
    February 12, 2008 at 9:55 pm

    “This still does not address the issue nor the questions I have asked.”

    What questions have you asked other than finding fault with polygamy and imposing your notion of equality on it, and finding that it falls short of your notion? What can I tell you other than you don’t agree with how it could ever be justified, so what can anybody say to you to convince you that it ever would be? Its you that won’t open your mind to it. Its you that are trying to impose a notion of unrighteous dominion on it, and that there could never be a case that it is not unrighteous dominion. What else can I say? Its you that have a head like you have that won’t let ideas in other than what you have preconcieved. i cant drill a hole in it or anything.

  69. Doug G.
    February 12, 2008 at 11:08 pm

    Moey,

    You don’t happen to already be a fundamentalist are you? I mean your posts are so I line with the teaching of those groups. If you’re not, perhaps you should be…

    Bruce,

    My definition of “doctrine” is probably the same as yours. Doctrines are principles of salvation needed by each of us to return to our God. The word doctrine also implies absolute truth…

  70. Dude
    February 12, 2008 at 11:17 pm

    “You don’t happen to already be a fundamentalist are you? I mean your posts are so I line with the teaching of those groups. If you’re not, perhaps you should be…”

    I uphold the counsel that Monogomy is what we are commanded at this time. I will uphold counsel on polygamy if it is ever restored by revelation. If it is never restored, I know it was a holy principle when it was practiced. How is that in line with those groups? You must be on weed or something to think that.

  71. Dude
    February 12, 2008 at 11:23 pm

    RE: #70-

    Woops. I just realized that you were posting that in response to Moey.

  72. Doug G.
    February 12, 2008 at 11:27 pm

    Dude,

    Now you see, you and I have totally different ideas on what the word “doctrine” means…

    Best of luck man… I didn’t realize you were posting under two names.

  73. February 12, 2008 at 11:37 pm

    ““I find your lack of faith in the genuine goodness of the majority of men more than a bit sad and stupid.”

    We have learned by sad experience that it is the nature and disposition of almost all men, as soon as they get a little authority, as they suppose, they will immediately begin to exercise unrighteous dominion.
    - D&C 121:39

  74. Bob Whipple
    February 12, 2008 at 11:39 pm

    As I read through this I’m amazed that you guys can’t just stick to basics. I mean I can hardly believe how far this has gotten off track the original point.

  75. John Hamer
    February 12, 2008 at 11:46 pm

    Wow! I can’t believe one of my posts actually generated enough controversy to get 60+ posts. Guess it was the whole polygamy angle. Oh, and like half the posts were my own, so they don’t count.

    It still counts, congrats. :)

  76. February 12, 2008 at 11:53 pm

    Bruce, we’ll count your comments, but I’m not so sure about Dude/Moey/Bob Whipple who are all the same person (trust me). Nice job, Dude, on really doing a great job defending your position with mature comments and behavior. You crossed a line, bro.

    For anyone who might agree with the core position put out there by our resident Sybil, please do not be discouraged. All viewpoints are welcome when they are expressed with respect and maturity.

  77. Bruce Nielson
    February 12, 2008 at 11:58 pm

    >>> My definition of “doctrine” is probably the same as yours. Doctrines are principles of salvation needed by each of us to return to our God. The word doctrine also implies absolute truth…

    Doug G: let me take this as a jumping off point back to the original point of the post. I believe that the “doctrine” of the Church on polygamy is exactly what is laid out in Jacob 2. I believe it’s wrong except in the very rare case were God commands it. It was originally taught as an exception, was practiced as an exception, and is now again not commanded.

    So I do not see the “doctrine” on this topic as ever having changed at all. Nor do I see President Hinckely as denying this. I believe he understands that concept exactly as I do and I think any intepretation of Pres Hinckley that does not attempt to understand it this way is ignoring the plain evidence of what he believed.

    Yes, I know that the 19th century Mormons didn’t always understand it that way. But their failure to understand the plain teachings of Jacob 2 does not override Jacob 2. It’s the scriptures I believe on this subject, not the theories of individuals.

    And yes, Jacob 2 was very prescient of all that was to occur, from the practice to end of polygamy. During it all, Jacob 2 continued to be the doctrine of the Church on this subject. The church’s doctrine has always been that plural marriage is an exception only if commanded by God, just as Jacob 2 teaches. This does not seem to have changed to me.

    I also except the logic that plural marriage will exist amongst the exalted. This is just pure logic to me. If one believes in sealings, then only a unjust God would not allow for plural marriage of some sort. It would be unfair not to allow it. A good God would be incapable of not allowing it if he allows for sealings and requires this for godhood.

    What I do not claim to understand is why plural marriage existed on earth during any period of time. This is a much harder question to answer and I have no particularly good theory to explain it.

    I should probably add that I would not practice plural marriage myself. But I am equally unwilling to lock, stock, and barrel reject it as never being a positive or good thing.

  78. Dude
    February 13, 2008 at 12:51 pm

    “Bruce, we’ll count your comments, but I’m not so sure about Dude/Moey/Bob Whipple who are all the same person (trust me). Nice job, Dude, on really doing a great job defending your position with mature comments and behavior. You crossed a line, bro.”

    And what line would that be?
    I have been trying to retire this stupid psydonym gradually, and accidentally didn’t switch to my new guy. Doesn’t “Dude” sound like a real stupid name to you? I’m tired of it.
    So then I tried a third guy to try again. Now I can’t even use any stupid guy to retire this one.

    What do you have some sort of cookie tracking junk or some kind of big brother bullcrap on here?
    In preserving my anonymity, what line has been crossed? Aren’t you concerned about ideas, or identities? I’m concerned about identities, because then I can’t express myself if I use my actual identity.

  79. Mike Jones
    February 13, 2008 at 1:13 pm

    There, here’s my new guy with a better sounding name. Now you know its me, as if it matters who “me” is.

  80. Mike Jones
    February 13, 2008 at 1:58 pm

    Na. Better yet, I think I’ll just retire myself and stay off of this blog. I feel like Clay and others here think they own the world anyway, and I don’t feel like my contributions are of worth to people here anyway, so I’m blowing this joint. Laters.

  81. February 13, 2008 at 2:45 pm

    “have been trying to retire this stupid psydonym[sic] gradually, and accidentally didn’t switch to my new guy.”

    Not quite. You spoke in the alternate personalities as if they were separate people. (Moey #39 said “Sounds like you are doing the same thing that this Clay guy did do this Dude guy.”, for example) Maybe to generate a false sense of support for your position, I don’t know. Its pretty silly. Please, contribute to the conversation, but using a cute nickname or not, be a real person and be respectful of other people. Its not a high school message board.

  82. Bruce Nielson
    February 13, 2008 at 3:14 pm

    Mike/Dude,

    I personally really appreciate the content you bring to the discussion. You are a very well studied and thoughtful person.

    It’s your tone that I find troubling. I really wish you would fix that and then come back and continue to share your excellent content. I do feel that pretending to be more than one person crosses the line for me. I suspect you did it more as a joke, but it really wasn’t the right thing to do. (Or at least not without immediately admitting it was just a joke.)

    In any case, since I suspect your decision to not return is made at this point, I just wanted to sincerely say thank you for your content. I really appreciated it. To be honest, I sometimes feel like one of the very few “orthodox” Mormons (whatever that label means) here.

  83. Mike
    February 13, 2008 at 3:30 pm

    “You spoke in the alternate personalities as if they were separate people.”
    No kidding. I was phasing the guy out, to make it seem like a new person, so I could get a fresh start. Come on.

    “Maybe to generate a false sense of support for your position, I don’t know. Its pretty silly.”
    No, to create the impression that the guy was a new guy, to start over again. Its pretty silly that you’re making such a fuss over it. Why did you think I felt like leaving. I take offense at the Sybil comment, and I take offense at you, treating me as if I have multiple personality disorder, and you not being able to get over a common thing people do online. I aint in high school. I’m 35 frikin years old, and this didn’t become an issue till you made it one.

  84. Terry
    February 13, 2008 at 7:50 pm

    Everyone needs a “fresh start” now and then. I believe there is a word for that…repentance? I wonder why we cannot “have lively and provocative discussion on our differences” and have those interactions without them being “threatening, offensive or damaging to our relationships?” (Robert L. Millet) I hope that we can in this forum.

    Bruce,
    I have been reading your comments on this website for a few weeks now, and have been impressed with how well you articulate your ideas. I really appreciate your posts, too and look forward to reading more of them. This is the first time I’ve commented because I want you to know that there are readers out here that agree with your “orthodox” views, but just don’t comment. I’m not fast enough on the draw to get my ideas in print, and someone always posts it before I get a chance to gather my thoughts.:)

  85. Bruce Nielson
    February 13, 2008 at 8:35 pm

    Terry,

    Thank you for commenting. It’s easy to forget that many people just read. Actually… I had pretty well forgotten about it until I just read your post. So again, thank you for giving me a reminder.

    I have never read that quote from Millet before, but I must say I rather like it. I too wish for a world where we can discuss openly our differences without people (including myself) feeling threatened.

  86. Terry
    February 13, 2008 at 8:42 pm

    I found it on “What Mormons Believe About Jesus Christ” newsroom.lds.org

    “…excerpts are taken from an address to the Harvard Divinity School in March 2001 by Robert L. Millet. It is an interesting read.

  87. February 13, 2008 at 8:51 pm

    “And I gave thee thy master’s house, and thy master’s wives” nothing about concubines there, btw.

  88. Doug G.
    February 13, 2008 at 8:58 pm

    Bruce,

    First let me add to Terry’s comment about my appreciation for your posts and comments. Even though we don’t agree and probably won’t on many issues on this board, I enjoy the interchange and the respect you show.

    “Doug G: let me take this as a jumping off point back to the original point of the post. I believe that the “doctrine” of the Church on polygamy is exactly what is laid out in Jacob 2. I believe it’s wrong except in the very rare case were God commands it. It was originally taught as an exception, was practiced as an exception, and is now again not commanded.”

    I’ll concede your point that President Hinckley understood the principle as you’ve written. At least as it applies to polygamy, however I believe this same understanding doesn’t apply to polyandry at all. As the two are linked, it should make one question its authenticity.

    To get back on subject, the whole problem here is that your examples may serve to show that the BoM was the school master to bring us the Doctrine and Covenants, but it’s more likely that Joseph’s understanding of the doctrines you’ve listed above evolved over time. I believe this can be well documented and goes to show that where the BoM may have been inspired on some level, it most likely is a 19th century work.

  89. Bruce Nielson
    February 13, 2008 at 9:53 pm

    >>> however I believe this same understanding doesn’t apply to polyandry at all. As the two are linked, it should make one question its authenticity.

    Some day, if I work up the courage, I might even attempt to tackle what is modernly called “polyandry.” It’s such a hot button, it’s hard to imagine an honest exchange on the subject considering how very little is actually know about it and how high feelings run over it.

    To be honest, this is probably my biggest concern in Mormon history… maybe my only concern. But once I studied it out, I felt very differently about it then the way it was portrayed in books like Todd Comptons or Fawn Brodies. Still, there are a lot of bad feelings over this so it’s hard to figure out how to address it at all at the moment except in a one-on-one type setting. So I may never actually tackle this question except if someone contacts me directly and asks me.

    As I said elsewhere, it takes a lot of courage to advance one’s own beliefs and then take critism. I think this is why I have so little patiences for people that avoid discussing their own beliefs but feel free to take pot shots at others.

    >>> but it’s more likely that Joseph’s understanding of the doctrines you’ve listed above evolved over time

    Of course, logically, this is a possiblity. I could hardly logically deny this might be the case. (I’m saying logically to avoid refering to any sort of spiritual witness, which I personally take as evidence but I understand if you or others don’t.)

    However, I want you to think carefully about the list above and really pretend like you are me and try to see it the way I am seeing it. Which theory fits the evidence better from someone with my worldview?

    For example, does it make more sense that Joseph Smith was smart enough to think through the future of polygamy well enough to write Jacob 2 with it’s absolute denial of polygamy, followed by a sudden exception that allowed for a practical temporary reversal? That’s a lot of fore thought going on there. And how likely is it that Joseph was smart enough to notice that Abraham and the patriarchs weren’t examples of unauthorized polygamy but David and Solomon were and to uses only David and Solomon in Jacob 2 and then a decade and a half later be able to explain the difference in D&C 132? You have to admit, it’s pretty smart stuff we’re talking about here. Very very savvy. (And for the moment I’ll not address the issue that Joseph’s own explanations for polygamy to people pale in comparison to the revelations on the subject. I just don’t personally believe Joseph ever really understood the full significance of how Jacob 2 and D&C 132 combine together so nicely.)

    And it’s pretty dang smart to specify the “Spirit of the Lord” (1 Nephi 11) as a person and then apparently fail to see the Holy Ghost as a personage for years (as scholars of Joseph now claim at least), until the 1840s where suddenly it’s announced that the Holy Ghost is in fact a person.

    And you have to admit it was pretty dang smart to portray the pre-mortal Jesus as having a bodily form while a spirit in Ether 3, including having the prophet in the story be shocked by this fact so that attention is drawn to it, and then end up creating a whole theology later around God having a human form because “gods” are exalted people. Yet in between the Book of Mormon and the King Follet discourse, never really addressing this doctrine again. This is dang good forethought we’re talking about here. If it’s not revelation, it’s pure genius.

    And what incredible luck or foresight allowed Joseph to write the very unorthodoxly worded 3 Nephi 28:10 (some might even same blasphemously worded) but then end up teaching that we can in fact become “gods” by the end of his life.

    Could it be developing thought of Joseph? I suppose it could. Could it be just lucky? Like maybe he just happened to write the Book of Mormon in such a way that it can be read retroactively like this? Certain, it could be. I couldn’t rule out the possiblity. But is that the best or easiest explanation? I don’t think it’s very likely, personally.

    I have to admit, though, that how one “follows the evidence” depends a lot on their world view. With a less believing world view, I suppose I can see how someone might feel very justified in dimissing all of this “evidence” as a lucky coincidence or foresight by Joseph Smith.

    You suggested that the Book or Mormon might be inspired “on some level” but still see it as a 19th century work. May I ask you if by “inspired” you mean “inspired by God” or do you mean it more in the sense of “inspired poetry” i.e. Joseph was a genius but it was his work, not God’s.

    >>> but it’s more likely that Joseph’s understanding of the doctrines you’ve listed above evolved over time

    Actually, I believe I’m saying that the Book of Mormon foresaw the doctrines to come better than Joseph did. So in that sense, I believe Joseph’s understanding did very much evolve over time. For example, I don’t think Joseph understood the Holy Ghost to be a person at first even though the Book of Mormon taught (or at least strongly hinted) that this was the case. I don’t believe Joseph Smith believed in polygamy before his “bible translation” even though the Book of Mormon taught that God could command it. I also don’t believe Joseph believed in salvation for the dead (in any form) at first even though the Book of Mormon strongly suggested it, or at least stated that unbelievers don’t get judged by the law (and don’t go to hell presumably) as in 2 Nephi 9. For that matter, I don’t believe Joseph believed that we become “gods” even though 3 Nephi 28:10 was worded in such a strange way as to suggest the possibility that maybe such an idea wasn’t blasphemous after all.

    And while I didn’t mention this in my post above, I don’t believe Joseph Smith, at first, had any concept at all that God subjected Himself to Eternal laws even though Alma 42:22 requires this understanding to make sense of it. And then by the end of Joseph’s Life we find him teaching a plurality of Gods that suddenly makes Alma 42:22 take on a whole new meaning.

  90. Doug G.
    February 15, 2008 at 12:15 am

    Bruce,

    I don’t believe you’re giving Joseph Smith near enough credit. He was raised in a very religious home with parents who didn’t just read from the bible but studied it in depth. Add to that his father (a teacher by trade) home schooling his children and you have a far savvier individual who was free to make his own conclusions about many of the doctrines you’re inferring he either got very lucky on or was inspired by God.

    I actually believe it was his unorthodox beliefs that inspired him to reinvent Christianity in the first place and allowed the evolution of those basic principles as he went. I also think you’re assuming that the BoM today is just like what was first published in 1830. I won’t get into the over 4,000 changes that have occurred over the years has we both know a good majority were simple punctuation and grammar corrections. However there were also some significant doctrinal corrections as well. For example, even with today’s version of the BoM, it’s hard to figure out the nature of the Godhead. The original 1830 edition plainly was pushing the trinity concept of God. If you want references, I would be happy to provide them to you. With that version, there is no ambiguity as to a monotheistic God. Obviously, has Joseph’s understanding of the Godhead evolved he felt free to make correction to the next printing of the BoM. Other points of doctrine have evolved from one printing to the next as well, good subject for another post if you’re really interested…

    Sorry for the short answer here. Your post contains many good points that deserve more time than I have to give this evening. My point is this, there are two sides to this story and the evidence is not nearly as clear cut as your comments would seem to purport. Having said that, I’m not saying that your insights don’t have merit and that Joseph may very well have been inspired on some important truths which seem to have gone missing from Christianity. As I’ve stated all along, there can be inspiration without actual revelation… In other words, the BoM really can be inspired fiction…

  91. Doug G.
    February 15, 2008 at 10:00 am

    “You suggested that the Book or Mormon might be inspired “on some level” but still see it as a 19th century work. May I ask you if by “inspired” you mean “inspired by God” or do you mean it more in the sense of “inspired poetry” i.e. Joseph was a genius but it was his work, not God’s.”

    Sorry Bruce, I completely missed this question in your post and it deserves an answer. First, the BoM is not very poetic so I certainly wasn’t meaning inspiring in that way. Second, I have always believed the book contains a certain amount of inspiration from God. This has never been an issue for me, although I know for many others he was a complete fraud. As with most things, the truth lies somewhere in the middle. Having grown up in upstate NY and having spent a considerable amount of time studying his life, I honestly believe he was sincere in his attempts to contact a higher being and get inspiration. Unfortunately, as that methodology is not an exact science, people can get things very wrong as well and justify horrible things in the name of God.

    On this same line, I can believe sincere people of other faiths can get inspiration from God and do great things as well. One of my biggest problems with Mormonism is our very narrow view of God’s love for everyone and therefore His ability to inspire many people toward him. The church tries to push the concept that somehow we’re the only ones who actually get His priesthood and therefore the only authorized representatives. Our brand of religion has just as many trouble spots as most of the others and therefore we shouldn’t be throwing these kinds of stones…

    Well now I’ve really went off the subject…Thanks for listening

  92. Bruce Nielson
    February 15, 2008 at 10:22 am

    Doug G:

    Good posts. And thank you for explaining your position on the Book of Mormon.

    >>> The original 1830 edition plainly was pushing the trinity concept of God.

    I’m actually shocked that you said this. Are you sure you understand the trinity concept of God? Since you have a Mormon background I think you must realize that most Mormons (and a good deal of non-Mormons) don’t even know what the Trinity concept of God is, but think they do.

    Now if you had said that the 1830 edition was pushing modalism, I would have at least understood where you were coming from, even though I disagree. But Trinitarianism? Goodness, the BoM doesn’t even come close to pushing it in any edition.

    Incidently, are you aware of any changes to the BOM on the references I made above showing how the BoM neatly folded into the current Mormon concept of God?

    I do agree with you (or with what I think you are getting at anyhow) that The Book of Mormon is certainly vague about God’s metaphysical substance. I take this at face value to mean that this isn’t as important as Christians (and even Mormons sometimes) think it is.

    And the BoM clearly emphasizes the oneness of God, to the point of at times seeming almost modalistic (Mosiah 15) at times. But this doesn’t shock me either because the oneness of God is a HUGELY important point in Mormon doctrine. The entire concept of the plurality of gods falls apart without this.

    The truth is, that I take the Book of Mormon at face value on these points.

    I should probably note that the Book of Mormon, as a whole, denies modalism based on the references I mention above. But Mosiah 15 alone sounds very modalistic, to be sure.

    But Mosiah 15 is nothing like actual Trinitarianism. I think the better non-believing argument would be that Joseph, assumed author of the BoM, didn’t understand Trinitarianism and thought it was modalism (a common mistake as I just mentioned).

  93. Doug G.
    February 15, 2008 at 1:47 pm

    Bruce,

    To my way of thinking, the BoM references all three of the Godhead in one part or another. In the 1830 edition it seemed to make them all the same Great Spirit. To me, combining this with what Joseph was teaching in the “Lectures on Faith” (Lecture #5) seems to support the notion that Joseph was thinking along trinity type lines with his own twist. So in a sense, you are correct, Joseph Smith was not a true Trinitarian but then again he certainly wasn’t teaching that God and Jesus were resurrected beings of flesh and bones either. That understanding seemed to come much later…

    For reference, please see some of the changes below that I’m referring to from the 1830 and currect BoM:

    1 Nephi 3, p. 25 And he said unto me, Behold, the virgin whom thou seest is the mother of God, after the manner of the flesh
    1 Nephi 11:18 And he said unto me, Behold, the virgin whom thou seest is the mother of the Son of God.

    1 Nephi 3, p. 25 And the angel said unto me, behold the Lamb of God, even the Eternal Father!
    1 Nephi 11:21 And the angel said unto me, behold the Lamb of God, even the Son of the Eternal Father!

    1 Nephi 3, p. 26 And I looked and beheld the Lamb of God, that he was taken by the people; yea, the Everlasting God, was judged of the world.
    1 Nephi 11:32 And I looked and beheld the Lamb of God, that he was taken by the people; yea, the Son of the Everlasting God, was judged of the world.

    1 Nephi 3, p. 32 These last records … shall make known to all kindreds, tongues, and people, that the Lamb of God is the Eternal Father and the Savior of the world.
    1 Nephi 13:40 These last records … shall make known to all kindreds, tongues, and people, that the Lamb of God is the Son of the Eternal Father and the Savior of the world

  94. Bruce Nielson
    February 15, 2008 at 3:32 pm

    Doug,

    I am well aware that the Book of Mormon teaches that Jesus is the Eternal Father, as it did in the Mosiah 15 quote I mentioned previously. In fact that Mosiah 15 quote is far stronger than the changes you mentioned.

    I was also aware of the changes you mentioned. Believe it or not, I don’t see your point of view as being an “invalid” way to read the Book of Mormon. One could certainly read in a modalistic/semi-Trinitarian view in the Book of Mormon, as you are doing and I don’t blame anyone that does. (And in fact I believe this was quite intentional, but I don’t have time to explain that at the moment. Short version: I don’t believe the Book of Mormon so much supports a modalist/Trinitarian view as it doesn’t deny *any* view of God’s metaphysical nature: including the D&C 130 view.)

    I should probably add that I don’t feel that the changes you mentioned are in any way significant precisely because there were plenty of references to Jesus being the Son of God in the 1830 BoM and there are still, in the current verison, plenty of references to him being “the Eternal Father.”

    To use a simplified example: If I take 50 references to Jesus as Son of God and 50 references to him being “God himself” and I change it to be 55 references to Jesus as Son of God and 45 as “God himself” I don’t really feel that changes the message at all. I still have to accept that both positions are in some sense true. (Which I do.)

    And I’d think you’d be hard pressed to come up with an explanation as to how it does make a difference other than a sneaking suspicion that maybe Joseph decide to partially cover his trail. Why not just change all the references if that was the case?

    >>> In the 1830 edition it seemed to make them all the same Great Spirit

    But this is where my original point in my original post gets me excited. I’m not expecting you to agree with me on this, by the way. I’m just trying to see if you can see it from my point of view. To me, at least, it makes little sense for a man, Joseph Smith, to start out teaching a modified Trinitarian view or modalist view but to still include 2 Nephi 31:14-15, 1 Nephi 11:11, and Ether 3. In fact, thats just really really wierd that he’d do such a thing. Why? It makes no sense at all. Why emphasize the bodily nature of Christ prior to his birth if you think he’s just a form of God? Why emphasize the bodily nature of the Holy Spirit if he’s really just Jesus or another manifestation of the same God? Why have two beings talk from heaven in two different voices?

    So I see those as hints of what was to come in a way that your explanation (which I do see as a valid possible explanation) doesn’t really fit with. Thus I see my explanation as fitting the facts better.

    But of course, I’m biased (I will admit this) so there is always the possiblity that I’m retroactively fitting things. But then you are also biased (I hope you’ll admit this because it’s true) so you may be retroactively fitting your theory to it.

    Is there a way to know who is right for sure? Nope.

    In any case, I can’t forsee you suddenly agreeing with my explanation. But can you see why I might find such hints as exciting and worth sharing? Certainly they represent, at a minimum, incredible luck.

  95. Kent
    February 15, 2008 at 3:49 pm

    At newcoolthang.com we discuss these kinds of things at length (or I should say I observe and others more intelligent discuss). I’d love to see you both posting over there more often. By the way Doug, have you read Blake Ostler’s paper on the Book of Mormon being both an ancient and a modern document? It is called The Book of Mormon as a Modern Expansion of an Ancient Source and you can find a link for it at his website BlakeOstler.com

  96. Doug G.
    February 15, 2008 at 6:31 pm

    Bruce,

    Thanks for the post and your insight. I certainly can see the point you’re making about all the places in the BoM that weren’t changed regarding the Godhead and why you find it significant that despite this confusion, there are a couple of scriptures which do hint at our current understanding. My explanation for this is actually very simple and as been stated before. Joseph was inspired at times…

    I think you also must admit that without the use of a computer it would be difficult to find all the passages talking about Jesus being the Eternal Father in the book for Joseph. If he had had a computer, I personally think he would have changed them all. In my line of work I write lots of reports. For me, it seems that no-matter how many times I proofread something, I still miss important things. I don’t believe Joseph was any different.

    It’s funny how one’s world view effects what they see. I find my explanation perfectly logical and a better fit to explain why Joseph would bother to change those verses and why he missed others. I also believe he was inspired at times while writing the book or someone was inspired anyway.

    The old Sidney Rigdon thing seems to be gaining some ground again with new evidence pointing at him as the author. I don’t know much about the evidence except to say that with modern computers it is now possible to feed them known writings from authors and then feed it an unknown text and have it accurately identify the writer based on a whole list of style things. Kind of like a finger print…

    I’m not asking for discussion on this new piece of evidence as what I have is just hearsay at the moment, but it could have some devastating consequences for the church if it proves true. Oh, who am I kidding, as Mormons we have a full proof way of disregarding any evidence that doesn’t fit our paradigm. We just bear our testimony and put the evidence on the shelf…

    Kent,

    I haven’t read Blake’s stuff yet, but it’s on my to-do list…Thanks for the link.

  97. Bruce Nielson
    February 15, 2008 at 11:48 pm

    >>> Oh, who am I kidding, as Mormons we have a full proof way of disregarding any evidence that doesn’t fit our paradigm

    I can’t say I have a problem with this tactic. Apparently, neither do you. Isn’t that what you just did? If the evidence doesn’t fit the paradigm, you can always declare it inspired, right? Sounds foolproof to me.

    I would daresay people of all belief systems, including yours, rely on foolproof systems like this. Should this be held against the “believing” Mormons then? I’m not sure I see the idea of bearing testimony and putting the evidence on the shelf as inferior to declaring counter evidence as inspired.

    I’m not trying to attack your view here. I’m just pointing out the commonalities I see.

  98. Doug G.
    February 16, 2008 at 1:34 pm

    Bruce,

    “I can’t say I have a problem with this tactic. Apparently, neither do you. Isn’t that what you just did? If the evidence doesn’t fit the paradigm, you can always declare it inspired, right? Sounds foolproof to me. I would daresay people of all belief systems, including yours, rely on foolproof systems like this. Should this be held against the “believing” Mormons then? I’m not sure I see the idea of bearing testimony and putting the evidence on the shelf as inferior to declaring counter evidence as inspired.”

    I’m actually fairly shocked by this admission from you. First, you are absolutely correct in stating that we all do this including me. If you check back through the many posts I’ve put here on Mormon Matters, I think you’ll see that I’ve always taken the middle road with respect to the BoM. In other words, I didn’t just say it was inspired 19th century fiction for this thread. That has always been my stance.

    What I find truly interesting is the apparent black and white view held by many in the church in regard to our scripture. It’s either all 100% true and historical, or the greatest fraud ever perpetrated on mankind. Of course, it is neither and thereby a wonderful shade of gray. I’m trying hard not to deal in absolutes as I was counseled in the early part of this thread…

    Just one other correction, I have never claimed counter evidence as inspired. History is just what it is and can’t be changed, but is certainly open to be interpreted by all of us based in our particular world view. I don’t, and never have faulted TBMs for taking the fairly naïve view of believing correlated history taught in church. I realize that like them, I use my “foolproof” system to make sense out of all the information out there as well. I’m just a notch or two down the spectrum in the gray area so to speak. The alternative is to become an atheist, not something I’m willing to accept at this point in my journey.

    Thanks Bruce, always a pleasure…

  99. Bruce Nielson
    February 16, 2008 at 2:40 pm

    Doug,

    >>> Just one other correction, I have never claimed counter evidence as inspired

    I wasn’t sure if you understood what I meant here, probably you do. Just to be sure, I wasn’t making a general statement about your approach, I was refering to a specific tactic you just used in your previous post: i.e. “I certainly can see the point you’re making about all the places in the BoM that weren’t changed regarding the Godhead and why you find it significant that despite this confusion, there are a couple of scriptures which do hint at our current understanding. My explanation for this is actually very simple and as been stated before. Joseph was inspired at times…”

    Don’t get me wrong, this is very much a possible explanation of the facts. There are undoubtedly an infinite number of possible explanations of the facts. But if any time a fact (such as Ether 3, 2 Nephi 11, 1 Nephi, etc.) runs against a theory (such as Joseph was originally pushing for a modified Trinitarian view) we declare it “inspired” as an explanation to let the theory hold… well, I can hardly argue your point because you basically have a foolproof way or explaining the counter evidence. It’s certainly a logically sound point of view, I admit.

    Because I don’t think foolproof explanations are necessarily bad, I am certainly not suggesting I have a concern over you doing this. My only point was that you and the TBMs both have foolproof systems, so this isn’t a reason to “look down upon” (not saying you were, but certainly some do) TBMs. A secondary point that I didn’t make, but will now, is that the TBMs view of the Book of Mormon isn’t necessarily more naive (or less naive) than your view of the Book of Mormon… or anyone’s view for that matter. Since your view requires explaining away counter evidence just like their view requires explaining away counter evidence… Well anyhow, I don’t expect you to agree with that last statement. If I’m sure that you agree with the general point but still feel your theory fits the facts better, just as I feel the same way about my theory.

    You state that you do in fact use your own foolproof systems. I’ve admited I do. (Well, that was implied.) You are very open minded that way. (As a side note, most people see “open minded” as a compliment and “closed minded” as an insult. I see neither as neither. I’m just stating a fact. You are willing to see things from another point of view even if you disagree with them. Thus you are opened minded, at least on this point.) I think this is the first time in my life I’ve talked to someone that admits they use “foolproof” systems to shore up their beliefs other than myself. Obviously everyone does this, not just us. But it’s weird to meet someone that recognizes this quality in themselves.

    Thanks for the conversation. It was quite enlightening, as always.

  100. February 16, 2008 at 3:05 pm

    with modern computers it is now possible to feed them known writings from authors and then feed it an unknown text and have it accurately identify the writer based on a whole list of style things

    Err, much of that early work was done using the Book of Mormon, which has a bundle of different styles, as one might expected of a text that has multiple authors edited into a final volume.

    That is one of things that Arthur Henry King liked about the book, that texture and style, combined with the poetry in it.

  101. Bruce Nielson
    February 16, 2008 at 3:51 pm

    >>> with modern computers it is now possible to feed them known writings from authors and then feed it an unknown text and have it accurately identify the writer based on a whole list of style things

    Re: Stephen Marsh’s comments about this:

    You are talking about Alvin Renchers “word print” study, and the follow on studies done after that. Alvin Rencher was the head of the stats department at BYU and happened to by my Book of Mormon teacher. I intentionally avoid talking too much about this as I feel things like this get overused. Rencher covered the topic fully in class on the final day of class and I was able to ask him hard questions, etc, because I’m so suspicious of things like this. I later read his study and also the BYU counter study suggesting possible problems (which were fixed in the follow up study, which I haven’t read.)

    The biggest problem I see with word print tests is that, frankly, I can’t really wrap my mind around them enough to even get a feel as to whether or not they are worth mentioning. Probably thousands of these tests need to be performed before we really know for sure what we are measuring.

    I should probably also note that Royal Skowsen didn’t think much of “word prints”, even though it comes down so strongly in favor of the Book of Mormon as being authentic and in support of Skowsen’s personal pet theories. (e.g. that the Book of Mormon isn’t a modern expansion on an ancient text, as Ostler believes, but is in fact an ancient text given by God word for word to Joseph Smith.)

    Still, I wouldn’t rule out the possiblity that there is something to “word prints” but I am ready to reserve judgment for now one way or the other. I will probably die still reserving judgment.

    >>> If he had had a computer, I personally think he would have changed them all.

    I wasn’t going to bring this up, because frankly it doesn’t matter; you either, on faith, accept that Jesus is in fact God and the Book of Mormon was intentionally teaching this or you, on faith, accept that Joseph changed his mind and made an attempt to edit this out and missed some places.

    But for those that are interested, one of the places that Joseph “missed,” if the above theory is correct, was, um, the title page: “And also to the convincing of the Jew and Gentile that JESUS is the CHRIST, the ETERNAL GOD.”

    Personally I’d find the “missed” theory a bit more believeable if in fact Joseph had changed most of the references but forgot a few. But it’s actually the other way around. He changed 4 and “missed” the vast majority, like 16 or so.

  102. Doug G.
    February 17, 2008 at 2:29 am

    “But for those that are interested, one of the places that Joseph “missed,” if the above theory is correct, was, um, the title page: “And also to the convincing of the Jew and Gentile that JESUS is the CHRIST, the ETERNAL GOD.””

    Bruce, you and I know that even in Mormonism Christ is thought of as an eternal God. There is a big difference between Eternal God and Eternal Father. As James E. Talmage stated, “Eternal” is a name for God and not necessarily a period of time. I don’t think this argument holds much water, how many of the 16 misses you referenced are stated as God instead of Father?

  103. Bruce Nielson
    February 17, 2008 at 9:54 am

    >>> Bruce, you and I know that even in Mormonism Christ is thought of as an eternal God.

    Of course I know this… I wasn’t trying to be tricky here. I was responding to your specific examples. You used two examples of Joseph “retrofitting” Book of Mormon theology that were identical to the Title page that you now are claiming didn’t require a change because it already was Mormon theology. You can’t have it both ways.

    You quoted –

    1 Nephi 3, p. 25 And he said unto me, Behold, the virgin whom thou seest is the mother of God, after the manner of the flesh
    1 Nephi 11:18 And he said unto me, Behold, the virgin whom thou seest is the mother of the Son of God.

    1 Nephi 3, p. 26 And I looked and beheld the Lamb of God, that he was taken by the people; yea, the Everlasting God, was judged of the world.
    1 Nephi 11:32 And I looked and beheld the Lamb of God, that he was taken by the people; yea, the Son of the Everlasting God, was judged of the world.

    You must have seen these changes as significant in some way back when you posted them in #94 or you wouldn’t have posted them to support your theory of a retrofit to the Book of Mormon doctrine of deity.

    Just like the title page, these references only refer to Jesus as God, not “The Eternal Father.” Thus, according to your argument in 03, there was no reason for changing them at all. So these two changes do not fit your theory, as per your own statements in 03, that Joseph was trying to make these changes to retrofit the Book of Mormon doctrine of deity. They were actually, again by your own admission in 03, non-doctrinal changes from a Mormon point of view.

    But back at 94, you were listing them as evidence that Joseph was trying to make changes to cover his trail and that Joseph must have originally been modalistic/Trinitarian and then later changed his mind. Given what you just said in 03, you must now eliminate those two verse — half of your evidence. These verse, as per your own argument in 03, actually don’t make the Book of Mormon any more or less “Mormon” at all. Am I misunderstanding your point? If I am, please feel free to clarify. I’m just trying to apply the evidence consistently.

    But this is where I think your argument in 03 really becomes important, because the fact is that even in Mormonism Christ is thought of as our Eternal Father too. Thus your remaining two changes are no more doctrinally significant.

    >>> I don’t think this argument holds much water, how many of the 16 misses you referenced are stated as God instead of Father?

    The answer is only 6 of them. The rest are “Father” references.

    Consider this list from the Book of Mormon. Could Joseph have missed ALL of these? Please read every single one of these and keep asking yourself that question.

    Mosiah 7:27, Mosiah 16: 15, Alma 11: 38-39, Mosiah 3: 8, Mosiah 15:1-4 (this is the strongest reference that sounds Modalistic to many people’s ears. It’s very hard to miss because it’s so long, so I don’t believe Joseph was trying to retrofit the Book of Mormon based on this reference alone.), Hel. 14:12, Hel. 16: 18, Morm. 9: 12, Ether 3: 14, Ether 4: 7, Ether 4: 12, 2 Ne. 25: 12

    With thanks to Fair for finding these for me so I didn’t have to:
    http://en.fairmormon.org/Book_of_Mormon_textual_changes:_%22the_Son_of%22

    So now what? Before I said you had 4 changes out of 20. Did Joseph miss 16? Given what you said in 03 about changes to Jesus being “God” not mattering, now you are even worse off. Now you have only 2 significant changes out of 14.

    This is what I was getting at back at 95. The textual changes you are referring to do not material change the overall teachings of the Book of Mormon and it seems very unlikely to me that Joseph decided to change his view on God away from modalism and so he made 2 full changes and left 12. So I assert that the reason for the changes were apparently not to change the doctrine of the Book of Mormon. The apologists say it was to clarify which member of the Godhead/Trinity was being referred to. This strikes me as a better theory in that it at least fits all the current facts, though I wouldn’t say that’s the final word either.

    The truth is that the Book of Mormon *does*, even today, come across to many people as modalistic or Trinitarian — particularly if they exclude or miss 2 Nephi 31:14-15, 1 Nephi 11:11, and Ether 3.

    The changes you listed do not really make the Book of Mormon more or less Trinitarian/Modalistic. The Book of Mormon already avoids any strong denial of Trinitarian or Modalistic views of God. It very strongly asserts, in both the 1830 edition and the modern edition, that Jesus is OUR ETERNAL FATHER!

    I would suggest that your preconceived notions (we all have them) that Joseph changed his understanding of the nature of God over time have caused you to impose a meaning on the four textual changes you mentioned that really aren’t supported by the facts. If Joseph wanted to make those changes for the sake of retrofitting Book of Mormon doctrine, then he screwed up royally by only getting 4 out of 20 or 2 out of 14 references, depending on whether or not you want to count only “Father” references or “Father” and “God” references.

    By the way, I believe Joseph *did* changes his understanding of deity somewhat over time, exactly like you believe. I have no reason at all to believe Joseph had a fully correct understanding of the doctrine of deity from 1830 on.

    But I do not believe the Book of Mormon changed its view. I believe the Book of Mormon took an intentional path of not strongly denying any view. If one views the Book of Mormon as a basic doctrinal text and sees D&D 130:22 as an advanced doctrine, then this might make good sense. And it might just be that Mormonisms doctrine of deity is far more “Trinitarian” than you are assuming. (In fact, it is very Trinitarian. The only part of the doctrine of Trinity that we reject is substance theology, which is not found in the Bible at all and actually isn’t even defined.)

    I have to admit, Doug, that as a believer, the more important questions to me are what I can learn about God from these questions:
    “What is the Book of Mormon really teaching about deity?”
    “What can I learn from it’s insistence that Jesus is our Eternal Father?”
    “What can I learn from it’s insistence that Jesus is both Father and Son?”
    “Why is it so insistent that Jesus, the Father, and the Holy Ghost are all one God? Why does this point matter so much that it comes up over and over in both the Book of Mormon and the Bible — more so in the Book of Mormon?”

    I believe that the real message of the Book of Mormon about deity is unattainable by someone imposing meaning on it as I believe you are doing.

    Do this as an experiment: try sitting down and reading everything the Book of Mormon teaches about the nature of Jesus and the nature of deity without imposing meaning and let the evidence take you where it does. Do this prayerfully and I think you might be shocked at what the Book of Mormon was actually saying.

    For example, try not imposing any meaning on Mosiah 15:1-4 and instead ask the question “what was the point Abinidi was contextually making here?” Try doing this prayerfully. You will be really shocked to realize just how important of a point Abinidi (and thus the Book of Mormon) was actually making. Mosiah 15:1-4 is an incredibly important doctrine to Mormon theology. I don’t want to spoil this for you, so I won’t give it away. Besides, I don’t want to impose meaning here. You may very well come up with a slightly different view than I did if you try this.

    Do this prayerfully or it won’t work. Since you already told me you do find the Book of Mormon inspired by God, if not historical, I’m reading into that that you have no objections about praying over the Book of Mormon and believe you can learn something about God from it. I’m just asking you to apply that idea to the Book of Mormon’s teachings about the nature of deity.

    Update: Oh, if you do decide to do this experiment, Doug, please do it with the BoM only at first. But then after the fact, add in D&C 19 (note that Jesus here speaks as if he is the Father. Note the date of this revelation.), D&C 76 especially v. 20 and 71 (note the date on this revelation), D&C 93 (especially v. 4. Notice the date on this revelation. Also note the similarity of langue to Mosiah 15:1-4), read D&C 130 last of all, as this is the final point, not the first point chronologically. Given some thought to why D&C 130:22 even matters and how it ties into LDS Doctrine as a whole.

    Take these passages at face value rather than imposing the view that they are a shift away from a doctrine to a new incompatible one. Are any of these verses, taken as a whole, incompatible?

    Now try to put yourself into the shoes of an early Mormon that started out believing in the doctrine of Trinity, including substance theology, and then slowly had these revelations (starting with the Book of Mormon) revealed to them in the order they were received. How might you, over the years, these revelations slowly change your views?

  104. February 17, 2008 at 6:34 pm

    Bruce Nielson, I was just responding to Doug G. who was certain that word print studies were the definite answer ;)

  105. Doug G.
    February 17, 2008 at 8:54 pm

    Bruce,

    Wow, you really put a lot of work into that answer. I will concede your point on the feeble attempt to change the BoM into a more polytheistic view of the Godhead. Obviously, as you rightfully stated, the changes did nothing to clear up the confusion. I also still rely on prayer for helping me find truth as you surmised. I just refuse to turn my mind off in the process…

    I realize this may be a silly question, but if as we agree, the changes in these verses don’t help with the book’s teachings about God, why did Joseph change them at all? I think it’s a fair question; there must have been a good reason as he would know that people would eventually question the changes.

    Thoughts?

    Stephen Marsh wrote,
    “Bruce Nielson, I was just responding to Doug G. who was certain that word print studies were the definite answer”

    I said nothing about “word print” studies in my post. If you go back and look, I think you’ll find that I said what I wrote was hearsay and was simply trying to make the point that no matter what evidence appears on the horizon, we always find ways to explain it away. Some of us are just tired of explaining…Thanks

  106. Bruce Nielson
    February 17, 2008 at 9:25 pm

    >>> I realize this may be a silly question, but if as we agree, the changes in these verses don’t help with the book’s teachings about God, why did Joseph change them at all?

    Ah, now that’s a good question! One worth asking! One worth pursuing! I already stated the standard apologist answer to this: “The apologists say it was to clarify which member of the Godhead/Trinity was being referred to. This strikes me as a better theory in that it at least fits all the current facts, though I wouldn’t say that’s the final word either.”

    As you can see, I think this answer works pretty well (it might help to read the entire link I gave above because it does a better job of explaining this view than I do) but I’m not convinced it’s the right answer, at least not by itself. What do I think is the right answer? I’m still working on that. I do think *a* purpose for the changes was to clarify something. I have a pretty good theory on the changes to 1 Nephi 11, which is 3 of them. I can’t yet explain the 1 Nephi 13 change. I’ll have to get around to looking at that harder. Do you live in Utah? Maybe someday we can get together for lunch and I’ll share all my findings and you can roll your eyes at me (as most people do). :P

    And since we’re asking “why?” let’s ask the other obvious questions. Was Joseph Smith correct to make these changes at all?

    (A sub question: did he intend all of them? According to the Fair link, one of the changes wasn’t what Joseph actually wrote down. But it seems to be written wrong as it’s not meaningful as he wrote it, so the editors probably asking him later what he meant and it was probably printed as intended. But of course, I’m just guessing at that. So who knows?)

    Not that I think the changes harms any doctrine in any way — as we just discussed it didn’t affect doctrine at all. But as I noted earlier, I’m not sure Joseph Smith always understood the Book of Mormon. Royal Skowsen makes the case that Joseph systematically removed hebrewisms from the Book of Mormon in his 1837 revision because he had no idea that they were authentic touches of a translation. He just thought they were bad grammar and got rid of them. I’ll have to find a copy of Royal’s work and also read the Evangelical counter evidence and post it sometime.

    Doug, personal question for you: Do you still study the Book of Mormon as scripture? Do you still study the Bible? I, again I’m assuming, believe you do because you refer to it as inspired of God and you mention you are a practicing Mormon.

    I ask because of my “experiment” above. I’m actually asking a lot of you if you tried to do it in one sitting. But it’s not that much if you just do it 15 minutes a day over the course of a month in scripture study.

    I know this is going to sound weird, but I remember how exciting it was to do that above experiment for myself! I later asking two others to try it and they got excited too. One later came back and started telling me about his new found views about Mosiah 15:1-4.

    If this just isn’t your cup of tea (herbal of course) I’ll understand. But if it is, I really recommend trying it. It a fancinating thing to do.

    >>> I just refuse to turn my mind off in the process…

    I hope you can appreciate the fact that I have never even once asked you to turn that brain of yours off, for even a moment. Try out the experiment I’m suggesting. It’s brain food.

    Stephen,

    I didn’t misunderstand your point… I guess I was just adding my unneeded and unwanted $0.02. :P

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