Should we have listened to BH Roberts?

James apologetics, book of mormon, christianity, church, Culture, curiosity, doubt, education, faith, Folklore, General Authorities, history, joseph, Leaders, liberal, Mormon, Mormons, orthodox, prophets, questioning, religion, tesimony, theology, thought 53 Comments

BH Roberts predicted that if church leaders did not address the historical problems of church origins and possible anachronisms in the Book of Mormon, these problems would eventually undermine “the faith of the Youth of the Church.

Increasingly teachers and church leaders at all levels are approached by Latter-day Saints who have lost confidence in Joseph Smith and the basic miraculous events of church history. They doubt the First Vision, the Book of Mormon, many of Joseph’s revelations, and much besides. Richard Bushman here

Roberts believed that Mormonism must “stand or fall” on the truth of Joseph Smith’s claim that the Book of Mormon was the history of an ancient people inscribed on golden plates and revealed to him by an angel.

The problems BH Roberts points out:

Origin of New World peoples

View of the Hebrews and the Book of Mormon claim that the Hebrews “occupied the whole extent of the American continents” and that this idea was “very generally obtained throughout New England.

Migration

Both View of the Hebrews and the Book of Mormon refer to a Migration of peoples to America. both journeys are religiously motivated, both groups enter valleys at the commencement of their journeys,· both apparently travel north between the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers, both cross water barriers, both trips take years, both groups travel to uninhabited lands.

Destruction of Jerusalem

’View of the Hebrews’’ describes the siege of Jerusalem by the Romans in A.D. 70. The Book of Mormon, Lehi prophesies of the destruction of Jerusalem prior to his departure circa 600 B.C.E.

Lost books

View of the Hebrews “an old Indian” said that his ancestors “had a book which they had for a long time preserved,” but that “having lost the knowledge of reading it…they buried it with an Indian chief.”· View of the Hebrews mentions a Jewish phylactery dug from the ground which “contained four folded leaves” of “dark yellow” parchment.

Compare this story with Joseph Smith’s retrieval of the golden plates in a New York hillock, and adds the question,· “Could all this have supplied structural work for the Book of Mormon?”

Breastplate and the Urim and Thummin

View of the Hebrews describes a breastplate “in resemblance of the Urim and Thummin” made of a white conch shell with two holes to which are fastened white buckhorn buttons “as if in imitation of the precious stones of the Urim.

Roberts compares this to the Urim and Thummin, which Joseph Smith said that he was given for the purpose of translating the plates.

“Egyptian” hieroglyphics

View of the Hebrews describes hieroglyphic paintings found in the American southwest. Roberts ask, “Was this sufficient to suggest the strange manner of writing the Book of Mormon…in an altered Egyptian?”

Barbarous versus civilized New World people

View of the Hebrews argues that the Hebrews who arrived on the American continents divided into two classes, most of them fell into a wandering idle hunting life”· But that “more sensible parts of this people associated together to improve their knowledge of the arts.” The more civilized portion of this society separated from the more primitive group, who “lost the knowledge of their having descended from the same family.”· As a result of “tremendous wars,” the civilized group “became extinct.

The Book of Mormon, the Nephites and Lamanites also split into two groups and have frequent wars, which ultimately result in the destruction of the more civilized Nephites.

Government

In both View of the Hebrews and the Book of Mormon, part of the ancient inhabitants of America changed from monarchical governments to republican governments, and the civil and ecclesiastical power was united in the same person.

Prophecy about the scattering and gathering of Israel

Roberts notes that in both View of the Hebrews and the Book of Mormon there are extensive quotations from Isaiah regarding the scattering and future gathering of Israel. Roberts asks, “Did the Author of the Book of Mormon follow too closely the course of Ethan Smith in this use of Isaiah would be a legitimate query.”

White god in the New World

Ethan Smith suggests he could have been Moses. Roberts asks rhetorically if “this character spoken of in the View of the Hebrews,” furnished the suggestion of Christ in the New World in the Book of Mormon.

Church leaders have addressed these questions indirectly through FARMS, which doesn’t commit the Church to any one resolution of these problems and also means the membership can continue to be troubled by these questions, as there is no authoritative answer, only a variety of possible answers from BYU professors and the like.

Questions:

Do you think Brother Roberts is reading too much into these anachronisms?

Are their more important historical problems to be looked at ie Richard Bushman’s statement?

Has BH Roberts prediction that if church leaders don’t address the historical problems of church origins and possible anachronisms in the Book of Mormon, these problems would eventually undermine “the faith of the Youth of the Church come true?

Mormonism must “stand or fall” on the truth of Joseph Smith’s claim that the Book of Mormon was the history of an ancient people inscribed on golden plates and revealed to him by an angel. Some active members may not believe the Book of Mormon is historical but inspired, do you think the statement “stand or fall” is to harsh of a phrase as their are a growing group who may not believe its historical put inspired?

Some apologists have claimed Roberts was merely playing devil’s advocate does that sum it up for you?

Notes

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Studies_of_the_Book_of_Mormon

Comments

comments

Comments 53

  1. B.H. Roberts clearly plays devil’s advocate quite a bit (a role I think is welcome, imo). When not playing the academician, he bore a fervent testimony until the end of his life. We shouldn’t take hia intellectual musings as fully representative of his convictions. If that were the case, I would come off as a raging leftist.

  2. On my mission I learned that not all was as it was taught to be. My mission president was far from truthful all the time. He taught me a valuable lesson that kept me from leaving the church later. Not everything that comes out of a church leaders mouth is true valid or even relevant.

    There is no physical evidence of the BofM and it doesn’t take an egyptologist to see that the facsimiles printed in the book of Abraham do not match the descriptions. Can anyone actually take everything Brigham Young said as gospel. What bothers me the most around all of this is that members often take everything a prophet ever said through his whole life to be direct from God as soon as he becomes prophet. We must find our way to Jesus and gain a very personal testimony if we are to survive our leaders insensitivity and be where we need to be. I have had a few quorum leaders and Bishops that were terrible and could have easily let them define my faith instead of doing it myself.

  3. Remember the original 12 with Jesus. They argued amongst them selves as to who was the best. One denied The Christ and one betrayed Him. I hope we can do better. We get our testimony by faith from God not man.

  4. I love BH Roberts. In Mormon History he is the character I identify with the most. What I love most about him is his belief system was never based on blind faith. He studied the gospel himself and when he had questions – he made them known. He had disargeements with Prophets of the Church and he rarely backed down from them.

    That said, he had a strong testimony of the Restoration. Critics who use his writings to question the Church’s claims rarely understand this. While he had questions and doubts, he was able to seperate them from his overall witness that the Gospel was true.

    The interesting thought I have about BH Roberts is that if he were alive today, would he not be excommunicated? His inability to restrain himself when he had questions surely would not sit well with leadership today. If he were against legislation of gay marriage for example, he wouldn’t just be responding on blogs. He would have marched into the Church offices and bore his soul to the brethren. Is it not sad that minds such as his probably wouldn’t last long in the Church today?

    I don’t agree with his predictions concerning the Book of Mormon. Any objective Bible scholar could write out a list of problems and historical inaccuracies. Yet that does not deter the faith of the billions of Christians today. Sure, one will stumble upon questions concerning the Bible and lost their faith. But overall, many simply don’t take the time to explore the history of their faith. The same can be said about the Book of Mormon.

    However, where I think the Church has made a mistake is presenting a glossy untrue tale of how the Book of Mormon was recovered and translated. To not focus on the origins of the Book of Mormon is one thing. But to focus on it as much as the Church does and not present an accurate history is dishonest.

  5. I read the Roberts study when it was published back in 1985. I’ve also read several discussions of the Roberts study by George D. Smith and Brigham H. Roberts. And I also have read a detailed paper by John W. Welch published by FARMS in 1985 titled “Answering B.H. Roberts Questions and an Unparallel.” I’ve noticed that most of those who offer up the Roberts Study do so without mentioning the detailed Welch response, or related, and subsequent material. Why not?

    In my view, the church leadership in 1922 responded properly to the Roberts study. They gave their testimonies, and dropped the subject. Brant Gardner has recently observed that the research necessary to place the Book of Mormon into a Mesoamerican context has only been available for the past thirty years or so. For me, reading the Roberts study is like dropping down a well 74 years deep and one scholar wide. From my perspective the most important thing about the Roberts study is that it is badly out of date.

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    1 Russell We shouldn’t take his intellectual musings as fully representative of his convictions.

    Mormon apologists have replied that Roberts must have been playing devil’s advocate because he continued to testify to the truth of the Book of Mormon until his death. As Marvin Hill has noted, however, “this contention seems strained considering his pleadings at the end of each section that church leaders must offer inspired help.”

    1. We know that he was playing devil’s advocate because the cover letter he wrote and put with the Book of Moron Study manuscript actually says that none of the things said in the study are his own conclusions but rather those that are or can be brought up by critics of the Book of Mormon. He also stated that they can be faced without fear because “our faith” in the Book of Mormon is “unshakeable.” Sorry, but that is an example in writing of classic B. H. Roberts’ devil’s advocate approach.

  7. dropping down a well 74 years deep and one scholar wide. From my perspective the most important thing about the Roberts study is that it is badly out of date. 😉

    We must find our way to Jesus and gain a very personal testimony if we are to survive indeed.

    Though, there is a lot more on some topics.

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    4 Captain Melody

    I don’t agree with his predictions concerning the Book of Mormon.

    Increasingly teachers and church leaders at all levels are approached by Latter-day Saints who have lost confidence in Joseph Smith and the basic miraculous events of church history.

    If Richard Bushman is telling us that increasingly teachers at the Y and church leaders at all levels are approached by Latter-day Saints who have lost confidence in Joseph Smith and the basic miraculous events of church history. Doesn’t this appear that
    these problems are undermining “the faith of the Youth of the Church right now or in our day?

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    3 King of texas I hope we can do better. We get our testimony by faith from God not man.

    I was taught mainly that God answers our prayers through others – Man!!

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    7 Stephen M Ethesis

    dropping down a well 74 years deep and one scholar wide

    Stephen Im not sure what your saying isn’t much of our history goes back way beyond 74 years but we don’t discredit it because its old. Isn’t one man or one scholars convictions important even though he is just one being open honest bold and candid?

  11. 8. James,

    I responded to the posted concerns BH Roberts had about the Book of Mormon. I completely missed the part about Church History! That is sad when I have read this quote before. Rereading it, I agree with the statement as a whole, definitely.

    My experience is there are younger members of the Church who lose their faith as they become acquainted with the Church’s history. The elements that disturb them the most are Joseph Smith’s conflicting accounts, polygamy/polyandry, politically incorrest (mainly rascist) quotes from Church leaders, and overall just realizing the Church’s history isn’t as sugar-coated as taught in primary.

    This could be just my experience, but it is rare that I have someone lose their faith based on the similarities between The Book of Mormon and View of the Hebrews. As Kevin stated (which I totally agree), BH Roberts concerns about the Book of Mormon are very outdated.

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    5 Kevin Christiansen

    I’ve noticed that most of those who offer up the Roberts Study do so without mentioning the detailed Welch response, or related, and subsequent material. Why not?

    Thanks Kevin what are some of those points you were impressed with?

  13. 10. James

    The reason BH Roberts concerns are outdated is because they have already been torn apart, analyzed, and explained in ways that either supports critics’ concerns or assures members they are not valid. It is not because BH Roberts isn’t important as much as there is not much else left to determine.

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    13 Captain Melody

    It is not because BH Roberts isn’t important as much as there is not much else left to determine. Thanks Captain Melody it would be interesting to have your links!!

  15. .2 Jerry “Not everything that comes out of a church leaders mouth is true valid or even relevant.”
    My mother told me many times this saying, “The devil will tell you 99 truths to get you to believe one lie.” What you are saying is the opposite, “The Brethren will tell you 99 lies to get you to believe one truth” which you must sift through and ponder over and HOPEFULLY come to realize there’s a truth in there somewhere.
    I totally cannot abide such hypocrisy from a church that says it’s “the one and only.”
    I’m convinced, now more than ever, there is nor ever has been, a ‘one and only.’ It has always lead to confusion, bias, hatred, wars, bigotry, denial of oneself, pride up the waazoo, backbiting, judgments against brother and sister, etc., etc., etc.

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    15 Captain Melody
    The reason BH Roberts concerns are outdated is because they have already been torn apart, analyzed, and explained in ways that either supports critics’

    Other links you may have to the above

  17. 18. James

    Most if the information from critics is found in small section of books on Mormonism. I tried to search the web to find snippets but the only snippets I could find are on apologist websites so they may be bias.

    Some books are –

    Becoming Gods: A Closer Look at 21st-Century Mormonism by Richard Abanes
    An Insider’s View of Mormon Origins by the infamous Grant Palmer
    The Changing World of Mormonism by the Tanners

    I wouldn’t suggest buying these books just to study the BH Roberts criticism because there is not a lot of information in the material specifically on that. I would just glean what you can from the apologists.

    NOTE: I say infamous Grant Palmer tongue in cheek, not being critical. I guess it would have been a lot easier just to delete “infamous” as opposed to writing this explanation. But now it would be more work to delete it all so nevermind.

  18. James, I was referencing Kevin Christensen’s comments and the fact that if you discuss Roberts in a vacuum, you have a story that is both old, (i.e. does not show any development since) and only one person wide (ignoring all the others who have developed the ideas).

    Hope that helps.

    Surely one person’s perspective has value. Given billions of people, each with valid perceptions, how do we choose what to look at, and who to take in isolation rather than in historical context and with reference to what has come after?

    I don’t see anything in B. H. Roberts that calls for taking him in isolation, without attention to later developments. Kimura is the only person I have heard it said, none before him, none after him.

    Everyone else, take them in context. Would you read the Gospel of Matthew and not take it in context with Acts? Of course not.

  19. It may be helpful to throw in By the Hand of Mormon, by Terryl Givens, into the mix. If I’m not mistaken (I read it about a year ago), he discusses Roberts’ critiques of a literal approach to Book of Mormon history quite well. It is probably the most scholarly, balanced treatment of the topic I’ve read. Ultimately, Givens is and apologist, but not you typical apologist. Cheers!

  20. I appreciate Marvin Hill’s work…he has offered some interesting explanations of First Vision descrepancies et. al.

    That said, “inspired help” is such a woefully vague use of words that I would quite easily see how the “devil’s advocate” approach fits as being inspired, as “studying it out in your mind.”

    Again, there’s no compelling reason to believe that B.H. Roberts saw these questions as deal-breakers and there’s all kinds of evidence to suggest his strong testimony of the BOM throughout his life.

  21. The pristine image taught in seminary set many LDS youth up for a fall. A few years ago my son went from seminary class president to ex-mormon. What was the event in his life that triggered this change? Two years at BYU where he was exposed to the ‘real’ story. He no longer believes what he calls ‘the big lie.’

    I strongly believe that the only stability in this whole situation is the core message of the gospel as explicitly defined in the scriptures. Sadly, I also believe that the scriptures predict the apostasy of the LDS church because the leadership has supplanted the gospel with the works of men as the measure of the condition of the church.

  22. What has really set some people up for a fall is believing false renditions of accounts.

    For example, the year difference in the Joseph Smith accounts. I’ve seen scans of the page at issue, and it is obvious that the accounts are the same and the only way you get the year to change is by willfully misreading a pen stroke from the line above.

    In that case, people are mislead by false data, willfully repeated. What inoculation is appropriate for that example?

    The list goes on. The Black Swan post, later at Mormon Matters, is a nice introduction for teaching people how to approach things.

    (The rest of the differences in the Joseph Smith accounts are less than the differences in the gospels in the Bible, and routinely end up being discussed in harmonies in our local Sunday School class or at seminars taught by our instructor for education week. The classes usually find them inspiring).

  23. I suppose have no sympathy for those who have gone through the gauntlet of Mormon history and then choose to leave. I have been through this same gauntlet. I have taken the blows…I was reading Bushman long before he was cool. So I tire of hearing what strikes me as whining by those who get upset by the realities of Church history without ever applying any interpretative rigor on their own. Maybe instead of pointing fingers at Church leaders we ought to point them at ourselves for believing that correlated history was ever meant to be the whole story. Maybe we should blame ourselves for not being intellectually resilliant enough to understand Mormon history in a faithful and honest way.

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    25 Russell

    I suppose have no sympathy for those who have gone through the gauntlet of Mormon history and then choose to leave.

    Russell did you word 25 the way you intended? Some members are deeply depressed over these issues it breaks up marriages and families people loose jobs over it some take anti depressants and much worse!! Are you saying they are some how intellectually inferior because they don’t get it!!!

  25. Spending so much time digging up dodgy second hand info through books here and hearsay there, as well as inexhaustible academic paraphenalia, many seem to miss out on spiritual nurrishment. Many have said much, and yes, we make our own way to God, sometimes through men. But is the sacrifice of Christ dodgy? Hasn’t he lived? Hasn’t he resurrected? It is in the nature of man to speculate and make comments in order to stand out of the crowd. Since the restoration, we haven’t been short of members attempting to enlight us their way. There are powerful forces raging against the truth and what is good. But never has it been intended that science of men would prove the scriptural canon true or validate prophetic comments. So keep digging the hill of Cumorah to find bones and arrows, keep the DNA tests coming in the laboratories for tests: God is not found in a test tube but in the humble exercise of faith and following of unique principles of personal growth and spiritual journey.

  26. I think Elder Roberts’ now antiquated study is an excellent example of a faithful member of the Church not being overcome by supposed problems with the Book of Mormon; the problems which now seem so much smaller given newer, better research. Like Kevin C. I too wonder why so many folks present the Roberts study as though no good answers have yet been given. That simply isn’t the case anymore.

  27. 25. Russell

    Do you really mean that? Some would challenge you as being intellectually inferior because you choose to follow the Church inspite of its history. I know that isn’t true, but when you bring the discussion to the level you did, that is reality. What about those that have applied “interpretative rigor” and still come to the conclusion that the Church’s history makes its claims too tough to swallow? Saying that they just don’t “get it” seems to take the discussion from a intellectual conversation to an ad hominim.

  28. James asked what has impressed me in the responses to the Roberts study? By the time I read the Roberts study, I had already read lots of Nibley, Ancient American Setting, Book of Mormon Authorship, and nearly everything FARMS had done by 1985 when University of Illinois Press published it. Even before reading the study, I had access to important material that Roberts did not. I had lots of powerful shoulders to stand on. Even when I read about the study in a pair of Sunstone articles on Roberts a few years previously, I had already seen huge changes in LDS perception of the text, and huge changes in the context in which the best scholars read it.

    For instance, James notes that Roberts says this: “View of the Hebrews and the Book of Mormon claim that the Hebrews “occupied the whole extent of the American continents” and that this idea was “very generally obtained throughout New England.”

    The first serious attempt to gather all the geographic statements in the Book of Mormon, and to create a comprehensive internal map based on them was done by the Washburns, and was first published in 1938, which was years after Roberts died. An implication is that the way that the early Mormons read the text was condictioned as much or more by ideas that were generally obtained in New England than by actually reading the text itself. So the history of LDS Book of Mormon interpretation explains the early misinterpretation, just as comprehensive reading of the text provides a viable alternative reading.

    Sorenson points out that the longest journey in the Book of Mormon, from Nephi to Zarahemla takes a mixed group of familes and flocks takes 21-22 days, and that most of the Book happens in that relatively small area. More recently Larry Poulson took all of the textual reference to the Sidon in the book, to come up with a comprehensive description of the Sidon. Then he fed that description into a program that could search a Satellite based 3D map of the entire western hemisphere. He found that only one river in fit the as the Sidon, and that is the Grijalva.

    Brant Gardner has recently shown what happens when, instead of looking for the Book of Mormon in Mesoamerica, we start looking for Mesoamerica in the Book of Mormon. He found that changes everything. That is the kind of approach being taken by the last two generations of LDS Mesoamericanists, from Sorenson and Clark, to Gardner, Wirth, Christenson, and Wright.

    Palmer, I noticed, thinks that to be an insider, all he needed to do was to offer a few choice quotes from Roberts. No mention whatsoever of Welch’s or any other response. I found that Palmer’s neglect of important sources and scholarship was typical of his approach. Every page annoys me.

    As an example contrast, Welch, as part of his detailed, point for point response to Roberts questions, looked closely at the important differences between Sherem (a religious conservative, spouting doctrines that turn out to correspond to the efforts of contemporary Deuteronomist reformers), Nehor and Korihor (an atheist). Roberts blurrs them together. Welch looks closely at the legal contexts that bring out the differences. The detailed reading exposes meaningful nuances that Roberts failed to see.

    Even in my own reading, I find the shallow picture of civilized Nephites versus un-civilized Lamanites breaks down when I read. When Alma brings in the only insider look at Lamanites we immediately find ourselves in a civilized culture.

    Regarding the two books describing the destruction of Jerusalem: ’View of the Hebrews’’ describes the siege of Jerusalem by the Romans in A.D. 70. … The Book of Mormon, Lehi prophesies of the destruction of Jerusalem prior to his departure circa 600 B.C.E.”

    These are two different destructions. The difference makes a huge difference. Indeed, Views proposes a different set of Hebrews (the lost 10 tribes) from a different era, coming in a different direction, and preserving, it turns out, an entirely different Judaism. Welch points out that none of the “proofs” of Hebrew origin from Views appear in the Book of Mormon. Alexander Campbell, immediately ridiculed the Book of Mormon picture as far too Christian before Christ. Yet, if you peruse the essays at http://www.margaretbarker.com on Barker’s reconstruction of Temple Theology, you should soon see very easily why even she is impressed with the fit between her reconstruction of religious practice in Jerusalem 600 BCE and the Book of Mormon.

    I personally think Roberts would have joyfully feasted on Nibley’s Lehi and the Desert and Gardner’s recent Second Witness commentary, and everything in between.

    Kevin Christensen
    Bethel Park PA

  29. I certainly was not attempting to convey that they were intellectually inferior. But I do want to convey that just because some people struggle over this doesn’t mean that these issues are *inherently* struggle-worthy…that even if “intellectual rigor” is not the cure-all (and it’s certainly not), it will not automatically lead to a loss of faith.

    Yes, very bright individuals can endure a great deal of pain over these questions, but I do tire of those who suggest that anyone who is capable of addressing these questions must be lukewarm in the faith (these things I have heard in my conversations more than I have on mormonmatters). Individuals who *do* struggle but still fight the fight…well, I support them tremendously. But individuals who either 1) raise an eyebrow at “too muck knowledge” or 2) assume that knowledgeable people who are still active must be indulging in cognitive dissonance do get on my nerves. #25 was intended to address such attempts to delegitimize conservative thought/scholarship.

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    “but I do tire of those who suggest that anyone who is capable of addressing these questions must be lukewarm in the faith2

    Good points Russell I’m getting the impression that more and more so to speak true believing Mormons are addressing these issues more frequently this last year or so.

    1) raise an eyebrow at “too muck knowledge” I’m 100% behind you again on this one!!

    2) assume that knowledgeable people who are still active must be indulging in cognitive dissonance do get on my nerves.
    I’m afraid I might get on your nerves!! I know a lot of people who are extremely more knowledgeable than I am on the tough issues and I wonder what they think or how they do it and still come out with their faith intact. My guess is maybe they studied 30% harder and have come out the other side- but many don’t!!

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    27 Oungawa Kamaniko
    “But never has it been intended that science of men would prove the scriptural canon true or validate prophetic comments. So keep digging the hill of Cumorah to find bones and arrows, keep the DNA tests coming in the laboratories for tests: ”

    Haven’t we as private individuals in the church and as a church put money into finding proof or some archaeological evidence? Do you think they had bad intentions or didn’t feel promptings to do this?

    That may even be why the Church/Joseph Smith purchased the book of Abraham was so it would unequivocally prove that our prophet was able to translate by the power of god and give us physical evidence of this!

    “Spending so much time digging up dodgy second hand info through books here and hearsay there, as well as inexhaustible academic paraphenalia, many seem to miss out on spiritual nurrishment. ”

    You should read Richard Bushmans article where it say here on the top here is an excerpt.

    Often church leaders, parents, and friends, do not understand the force of this alternate view. Not knowing how to respond, they react defensively. They are inclined to dismiss all the evidence as anti-Mormon or of the devil. Stop reading these things if they upset you so much, the inquirer is told. Or go back to the familiar formula: scriptures, prayer, church attendance.

    The troubled person may have been doing all of these things sincerely, perhaps even desperately. He or she feels the world is falling apart. Everything these inquirers put their trust in starts to crumble. They want guidance more than ever in their lives, but they don’t seem to get it. The facts that have been presented to them challenge almost everything they believe. People affected in this way may indeed stop praying; they don’t trust the old methods because they feel betrayed by the old system. Frequently they are furious. On their missions they fervently taught people about Joseph Smith without knowing any of these negative facts. Were they taken advantage of? Was the Church trying to fool them for its own purposes?
    These are deeply disturbing questions. They shake up everything. Should I stay in the Church? Should I tell my family? Should I just shut up and try to get along? Who can help me?

    At this point, these questioners go off in various directions. Some give up on the Church entirely. They find another religion or, more likely these days, abandon religion altogether. Without their familiar Mormon God, they are not sure there is any God at all. They become atheist or agnostic.

  32. Back in England, in Colne Lancashire in 1974, while doing a presentation at a middle school, I ran across information for which I had not been prepared. All that time in Sunday meetings, seminary, MIA, institute, and listening to conference, and I was flat-footed on a number of fairly trivial things, served up by kids who’d done nothing more than read their first anti-Mormon pamphlet. However, I soon found that if I sought I could find, if I knocked, I’d find that things soon opened up for me. In reading the scriptures, I’ve failed to come across a beattitude that says, “Blessed are they who sit like lumps, for they shall be spoon fed, and never caught off guard by anything, and never ever disappointed by anyone.” I’ve never come across any evidence of a Bishops or Stake Presidents Handbook and Training Course for Answering any and All Questions, and indeed Bestowing Omniscience. There is a scripture that says “seek ye out of the best books words of wisdom,” but not one that says, “Just ask the Bishop… he knows everything that could possibly matter.” What I have found is that those with the best books offered the best answers and wisdom.

    One of the other directions that some questions go is to devote themselves to learning, and when converted, to act to strengthen their brethren and sisters in the gospel. Mike Ash’s recent Shaken Faith Syndrome books is a good example of this other response. My essay in RBBM 7:2 is another attempt. Those involved with FARMS and FAIR provide more. Rather than become atheist or agnostic, some of us experience an expansion of the mind and soul, and deepening convictions, and an increased desire to serve.

    Kevin Christensen
    Pittsburgh, PA

  33. BHodges – “I think Elder Roberts’ now antiquated study is an excellent example of a faithful member of the Church not being overcome by supposed problems with the Book of Mormon” Or it’s a good example of how to say what you feel you need to say and still get away with it (e.g. not be ex’d) no matter how controversial it is.

    Love Kevin C.’s comments. Go, Kevin C.!

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    Kevin Christiansen
    Here is an approach from Richard Bushman that agrees with you or those who’s minds are capable of expansion

    “Rather than become atheist or agnostic, some of us experience an expansion of the mind and soul, and deepening convictions, and an increased desire to serve.”

    3. These newly revived Latter-day Saints also develop a more philosophical attitude toward history. They come to see (like professional historians) that facts can have many interpretations. Negative facts are not necessarily as damning as they appear at first sight. Put in another context along side other facts, they do not necessarily destroy Joseph Smith’s reputation.

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    Kevin C

    Here is an approach from Richard Bushman whom he quoted that for some reason who’s minds aren’t capable of dealing with their new insights

    “Due to the process of learning, which they have gone through, these [two-minded] LDS often no longer accept the church as the only true one (with the only true priesthood authority and the only valid sacred ordinances), but they see it as a Christian church, in which good, inspired programs are found as well as failure and error. They no longer consider inspiration, spiritual and physical healing, personal and global revelation limited to the LDS church. In this context, these saints may attend other churches, too, where they might have spiritual experiences as well. They interpret their old spiritual experiences differently, understanding them as testimonies from God for them personally, as a result of their search and efforts, but these testimonies don’t necessarily have to be seen as a confirmation that the LDS church is the only true one.

    “Since the social relationships between them and other ward (or stake) members suffer (avoidance, silence, even mobbing) because of their status as heretics, which is usually known via gossip, and since the extent of active involvement and range of possible callings are reduced because of their nonconformity in various areas, there is a risk that they end up leaving the church after all, because they are simply ignored by the majority of the other members.”

    I’m also with Hawkgrrrl – really have enjoyed your comments

  36. Look at how confused and argumentative everybody is! Are we really going to be condemed for eternity because we simply cannot make sense of all this theological contraversy?

  37. Can you imagine a city of 2 million not being located? me either thats the size of houston bigger than all but 6 cities in the us…How bout 200,000 dieing at Hill cumorahin N.Y.  but no eviedence????  God gave us common sense, get your head out of the sand!  10 teenage brides..14&15 year old? does that sound like GOD?       WAKE UP!!!

  38. You will discover the thruth as far as you allow yourself to. Once you are anchored and know the Church is true through the Holy Spirit the speculations of men will not easily sway you. To some it will seem like a storm hitting their life when they overfocus on some works which seem to suggest there is no evidence but the thruth is there , again firstly through the Spirit and if you allow him to lead you you will discover treasures of knowldege and evidence you might before believed did not exist.

  39. It looks to me, like the faith is continuing to rise. Much good & wholesomeness prevail with their people. By their fruits ye shall know them.

  40. “Not everything that comes out of a church leaders mouth is true valid or even relevant.” Christians call that FALSE PROPHETS! YOU will NEVER find your way to JESUS teaching he is Lucifers brother or a WORKS BASED SALVATION! cult 101

  41. In most cases there is a factor that the apostate is unwilling to disclose. Some use the old excuse for being inactive is the “tobacco use” excuse. Of course there are more serious excuses that will never see the light of day. They are too ashamed to admit and tell the truth. We tend to accept as truth the reason they give.

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