January 25th the LDS Newsroom did a press release called ‘Reverence For The Bible’ (see here) which I imagine was to let the world and other Christians know a number of important things:
It offers practical solutions and spiritual guidance that inspire us to overcome challenges and trials, its in the center of the Latter-day Saints’ spiritual lives.
I knew much of what was said in the press release but it was good to have it re-emphasised. The part that I found interesting coming from the church is the different approaches in how we perceive the Bible.
Biblical inerrancy maintains that the Bible is without error and contradiction;
Biblical infallibility holds that the Bible is free from errors regarding faith and practice but not necessarily science or history;
Biblical literalism requires a literal interpretation of events and teachings in the Bible and generally discounts allegory and metaphor;
The “Bible as literature” educational approach extols the literary qualities of the Bible but disregards its miraculous elements.
Number 1 and the first half of number 2 was answered well by the article stating that during the centuries-long process in which fallible human beings compiled, translated and transcribed the Bible, various errors entered the text. I think we all know that from our teachings around the 8th Article of faith.
“The Church has issued no official statement on the subject of the theory of evolution. Neither ‘Man, His Origin and Destiny’ by Elder Joseph Fielding Smith, nor ‘Mormon Doctrine’ by Elder Bruce R. McConkie, is an official publication of the Church”, said David O McKay. This quote answers the second half of number 2, which hasn’t been overturned by a succeeding prophet as far as I am aware.
It is number 3 and 4 where I wonder where we stand: The Church does not strictly subscribe to either of these interpretive approaches. Rather, in the words of Joseph Smith, it regards “the Bible to be the word of God, as far as it is translated correctly”.
What I would like clarification on is the part where it says, “not strictly subscribe”. Does this mean that we could partially subscribe to 3 and 4?
We believe the bible to be correct but we also believe that part of it may have:
Allegories – a story or visual image with a second distinct meaning partially hidden behind its literal or visible meaning, i.e. the allegory of the olive tree which is actually about the house of Israel, allegory of “the bride”, allegory of the lamb, allegory of the bread, allegory of the cup
Metaphors – an implied comparison is made between two unlike things that actually have something important in common. “Words are bullets, and should be used sparingly, aimed toward a target.” Jonah and the whale?
Bible as literature – educational literature but we may disregard some of its miraculous elements.
So If I am interpreting the press release right
What do we officially believe is real history?
What is fiction?
What is meant to be Allegorical or Metaphorical, which we interpret as literal?
My experience has been that the “Church uses the Bible only when convenient, while shrugging it off as an inessential part of scriptural canon.” I’ve got to hand it to the Church PR people–I couldn’t have said it better myself.
Mormons clearly believe in the literal nature of angels and miracles.
Thus while Mormons do believe that many things in the Bible are allegorical, we do not simply assume miracles must be allegories. In fact we tend to lean more literal compared to most people nowadays.
Of the pictures you give I would say that most Mormons believe the following are real literal history:
Samson (Porter Rockwell’s story has significant influence here)
Tower of Babel (The Book of Ether)
These other two Mormons lean towards literal interpretation, but might perceive some allegorical content:
Jacob’s Ladder is identified in text as a vision or dream and therefore obviously has some metaphorically content even within the strict literalism tradition.
Noah’s Ark (I suspect most Mormons accept a pretty literal interpretation, but there might be some room for argument on the margins- did every animal survive on the Ark? Or did this just mean every animal that man considered important?)
I believe there are many events in the Bible that we don’t have to read literally, but I’d rather not share them, since I really don’t pretend to any authority to declare such things in behalf of the Churhc.
We are on strongest ground where we have the Bible doctrinally confirmed by the BofM and the D&C (which is a lot of doctrinal ground, by the way). The Bible is still filled with inspired words that help us understand the dealings of God with his covenant people. Understanding requires the Spirit.
I am waiting for the “great and important things” yet to come. I love the fact that we have *living* prophets. They speak to our time.
Noah’s Ark -Thoughts from Time and Seasons
–The big question is: Did the flood really happen?
–Good reasons to believe it was universal:
(1) more natural reading of Genesis 7:19-21
(2) better to err on the side of literal readings
(3) traditional reading; no church leader has taught otherwise and most seem to assume that it is literal
(4) issue of earth’s baptism
–Poor reasons to believe it was universal:
(1) because the scriptures must always be read literally
(2) because traditional readings are always right
–Good reasons to believe it was localized:
(1) ‘earth’ in Heb. Also means ‘land’ (cf. Genesis 4:14—Cain wasn’t kicked off the planet!)
(2) Nibley said that the story was literally true from Noah’s perspective, which explains above data points
(3) Moses 7:52 makes no sense unless people besides Noah’s lineage survived the flood because Noah is the great-grandson of Enoch
(4) several ‘parlor tricks’: extraterrestrial water, keeping those animals alive and fed, etc.
(5) Elder John A. Widstoe (an apostle and a scientist) suggested that a heavy, all-over rain could constitute immersion for purposes of flood and baptism, which suggests a willingness to tweak the story
(6) this story isn’t mentioned by prophets much at all, and the baptism angle gets very little attention; plus, would it have to be full immersion?
(7) it agrees with science
–Poor reasons to believe it was localized:
(1) Because it couldn’t have really happened. (I believe in a God who can raise the dead—a flood is small potatoes.)
Ummm– lets see here I have a few minutes before i have to go to church today..
In these things I am no longer capable of maintaining a literal believe in:
– any creation theory that does not take into consideration the most basic events from natural history, captured in the fossil record.
– that Adam and Eve were our first parents, and the single source of all mankind, everywhere.
– that Adam lived to the ripe old age of 930.
– the Noah & the flood myth.
– the Tower of Babel
– that in approx 2000 BC a group of Adamic speaking Hellenistic Christian/Jews were lead to the promised land in wooden, windowless ocean-craft that were lighted by God touched stones and “tight, like unto a dish”
– that Abraham was the father of 12 sons that became “Israel”, and they represent God’s chosen race of people, or that God has a tract of land set apart for just them…
– that millions of Hebrew slaves could have lived for generations in Egypt leaving no archeological evidence.
– the Hebrews were delivered from the hands of the Pharaoh by a man named Moses, who was raised a royal, after being abandoned by his Hebrew mother and found in the marshes….
– that jonah could have lived for three days in the belly of a fish.. or whale.
– Lot’s wife turned into a pillar of salt – Nope.
for the sake of beating a dead horse to death – I’ll stop there.
I believe the Bible is full of Myth and Allegory – there may be some actual historical facts here and there. To describe the bible as inerrant, is in my opinion naive and ignorant. To believe all of the stories are accurate records of historical events is again, in my opinion, borderline delusional. I choose to spend my free time learning the history of ancient cultures, I find their creation stories fascinating, I love learning how people relate to their “Gods” – and I love to find the parallel beliefs they share. With computers and the internet – We enjoy the power that no other culture has ever had, with a few clicks of a mouse, I can compare the most reliable Greek, Persian, Roman, and Egyptian creation stories(and see their evolution over time). I can read the many translations of the epic of Gilgamesh, and try to understand how it is related to the epic of Noah. Was Moses like Sargon or was Sargon like Moses??? or were both of them, heroes of cultural mythological stories captured and changed by oral tradition through thousands of campfire stories, later amalgamated into what we have in the Bible today.. Did the Mesopotamian, Egyptian and Greek Gods just die when the cultures that propagated their myth die? or where their stories just replaced with similar mythological stories that teach the same principle?
Cross the red sea
Crossing the Red Sea was understood as symbolizing a purifying baptism, which is the first stage of initiation on the path of spiritual awakening for those who are “conscious”. Explaining that Exodus should be understood “allegorically”, Paul writes:
“Our ancestors passed through the Red Sea and so received baptism into the fellowship of Moses” (I Cor. 10:1-6):
1 Cor 10:1-6 1 Moreover, brethren, I would not that ye should be ignorant, how that all our fathers were under the cloud, and all passed through the sea; 2 And were all baptized unto Moses in the cloud and in the sea; 3 And did all eat the same spiritual meat; 4 And did all drink the same spiritual drink: for they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them: and that Rock was Christ. 5 But with many of them God was not well pleased: for they were overthrown in the wilderness. 6 Now these things were our examples, to the intent we should not lust after evil things, as they also lusted. (KJV)
Because of the wickedness of the people, Isaiah and others often spoke in figures, using types and shadows to illustrate their points. Their messages were, in effect, hidden in parables. (2 Ne. 25:1–8.)
In the final analysis there is no way, absolutely none, to understand any scripture except to have the same spirit of prophecy that rested upon the one who uttered the truth in its original form. Scripture comes from God by the power of the Holy Ghost. It does not originate with man. It means only what the Holy Ghost thinks it means. To interpret it, we must be enlightened by the power of the Holy Spirit. (2 Pet. 1:20–21.) It takes a prophet to understand a prophet, and every faithful member of the Church should have “the testimony of Jesus” which “is the spirit of prophecy.” (Rev. 19:10.) “The words of Isaiah,” Nephi said, “… are plain unto all those that are filled with the spirit of prophecy.” (2 Ne. 25:4.) This is the sum and substance of the whole matter and an end to all controversy where discovering the mind and will of the Lord is concerned.
(1) ‘earth’ in Heb. Also means ‘land’ (cf. Genesis 4:14—Cain wasn’t kicked off the planet!)
I’ve made that point many a time, as it is also expressly stated in the Pearl of Great Price.
But, I’ve also made the point that we could all be children of Adam the same way that we are members of the twelve tribes.
Not to mention, we do know that the Habiru, Hiksos and other semetic peoples were in Egypt until the Egyptians took control of the country back.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hyksos Note thus accounting for the ruthless destruction of their monuments … which makes objecting to the lack of a record somewhat like the guy who claimed that Genghis Khan must not have had horses since the high plains have no evidence whatsoever of horses from even two hundred years ago, just now.
The Hyksos continued to play a role in Egyptian literature as a synonym for “Asiatic” down to Hellenistic times. The term was frequently evoked against such groups as the Semites settled in Aswan or the Delta, and this may have led the Egyptian priest and historian Manetho to identify the coming of the Hyksos with the sojourn in Egypt of Joseph and his brothers, and helped modern historians identify the expulsion of the Hyksos with the Exodus. Significant in this identification is the fact that some Hyksos pharaohs had names familiar from Israelite traditions, such as Jacobaam of the 16th dynasty. It may also indicate that the “expulsion” of the Hyksos reported in the Egyptian records mainly refers to the expulsion of the Semitic rulers and military/political elite and does not indicate a mass expulsion of the lower classes who, in the Ancient World, were traditionally exploited by their conquerors rather than expelled or massacred.
James — nice quote.
I often wonder how some things got retained while others got ditched (apocrypha). Clearly, Song of Solomon, which is mild erotica and not considered inspired by God (maybe by libido), doesn’t really belong.
The most controversial literalist interpretation I’m aware of is that we believe Job was an actual person, not just an allegorical poem. Many other churches disagree with that one. There’s also the question of exactly what happened since these are really old stories. I often think reality would not match our perspective. Even myth often has some sort of basis. Makes ya wonder what it is in some of these cases.
A case in point relating to what Hawk said is Jonah. The story is simple enough; Jonah is told to go to Nineveh, and he takes to the opposite direction; having gotten into trouble, he is swallowed up by a big fish (a whale in KJV, but fish is what the text has); he repents, goes to Nineveh, prophesies and the people repent; Nineveh is not destroyed, and Jonah is upset.
There are many aspects of this story that don’t fit the picture most people have about prophets. But to stick with the fish story, I have the following idea: Jesus refers to the sign of Jonah. This could be taken to mean that just as Jonah was *not in this world* for three days, so he would not be. And just as Jonah returned, he would, too.
Now, I’m open to explanations of exactly how Jonah was out of this world for those three days and how he returned. But at the face of it, it is no less unbelievable that it somehow happened than that Jesus died and then was resurrected. The details might be explained very much differently if that were to happen now. The way people expressed ideas was different and we shouldn’t judge these stories by the scientific standards of our day. The fish could be just a way to explain something to the people who wouldn’t have understood what really happened.
I have no idea what was literal and what was allegorical, so I pick whichever option I want that feels best and provides the greatest lesson. Generally, that is the allegorical option, since it gives me greater flexibility to find relevance for myself. (That way, I get to have my cake and eat it too – which is the best option anyway, since having a cake and not eating it is a lousy situation.)
At least I am open about what I am doing.
Velska – “The fish could be just a way to explain something to the people who wouldn’t have understood what really happened.” This is an interesting thought. He could have been abducted by aliens for all we know!
“But at the face of it, it is no less unbelievable that it somehow happened than that Jesus died and then was resurrected.”
I’d rather believe in ONE crazy, impossible thing (the resurrection) based on shaky evidence than in FIVE HUNDRED crazy, impossible things (most of the Old Testament when taken literally) with even less evidence.
That’s just how my brain works. But there are many Mormons I dearly love who take the attitude you do, and it seems to serve them well. For me that attitude is dangerous and opens a lot of floodgates.
A more interesting question is what is the mental payoff for a literal believer in the Noah story, or the Jonah story, or the Abraham story? What does believing that these tales literally occurred within history do for the religious life? For the resurrection of Jesus, it may help to provide comfort in a time of death, by holding out the hope of immortality. For Noah and the ark, the benefits are less clear to me.
Cicero, Velska, anyone?
From the church’s perspective, certain things in the Bible have to be literaly true for its claims to have any merit. The most obvious is the resurrection of Jesus. However, a literal garden of Eden is required for the revelations on Adam-ondi-aman to hold water. The confusing of the languages at the Tower of Babel also has to be literal for the BofM to be a true record. If it is not, then the story of the Jaredites is fiction, which means that the rest of the Book of Mormon is fiction which means that Joseph lied.
So it seems to me that there has to be a core of biblical stories that must be true, even if the version in the bible has been altered or embelished over the centuries, for the Church to be true.
Bob H, I disagree with everything you said in #14 except for the resurrection. The garden narrative only has to be literal if the Adam-ondi-aman revelations have to be literal (and, given Joseph’s own statements about likening all things unto himself and localizing Zion, that is open to honest disagreement); the Tower of Babel account doesn’t have to be literal just because those who actually compiled and wrote Ether believed it was literal (the confusion of languages alone has to be literal, but the story behind it could be mythical without affecting BofM authenticity in the slightest). Job doesn’t have to have been a real, living individual just because the Lord referenced the story in the revelation to Joseph in the Liberty Jail, and Jonah doesn’t have to have been swallowed literally by a whale simply because Jesus referenced that story in a comment to others to teach of his resurrection.
I understand your implication; I just think it is simplistic, anti-historical and an impossible standard. It’s simplistic leaps like this that cause people to swing from one believing extreme to the other disbelieving extreme.
“the Tower of Babel account doesn’t have to be literal just because those who actually compiled and wrote Ether believed it was literal (the confusion of languages alone has to be literal, but the story behind it could be mythical without affecting BofM authenticity in the slightest).”
Go back and read my post and you will see that I am specifically referencing the confusing of the languages with reguard to the story of the Jaredites. I also make the point that the biblical stories most likely have been altered and enhanced throughout the centuries. I do not see what you find so simplistic or anti-historical about that. I think you jumped to a conclusion without really reading what I wrote.
My basic point is that some biblical stories have to have some historical literalism at their origin in order for the church’s claims to be valid. My desire was to see if anyone smarter than me might be able to make a case for what the minimum set would be.
It’s funny how people will beliebe any thing on the internet or wikipedia and take it as gospel; yet they try to find fault in the gospel. If you pray, study and you are worthy you will probably learn something from these stories.
Bob, I didn’t misunderstand, and I read every word twice. My point is very simple, even if it takes me a while to say it:
There is absolutely no way to tell which things recorded in the Old Testament literally happened and which ones didn’t – and a reference to something in another scriptural record (or even a prophet’s belief that it was literal) doesn’t mean it has to be literal. Let me use the Tower of Babel as an example.
Who wrote the Books of Genesis and Ether, and how were they compiled? We don’t know about the author of Genesis, but Ether wrote the Book of Ether – which then was abridged by Moroni. Ether was at least 25 identified generations removed from Jared and his brother, but there are two instances where “descendant” is used instead of “son” – so we don’t know how many generations actually separated the first Jaredite and the last one who wrote the record. We have no idea what kind of detail Ether had at his disposal, if it was entirely a written record or partially an oral tradition, who selected the information to include and what interpretation to record, etc. All we know is that it covered a very long period of time.
We have no details in the abridgment by Moroni how Ether recorded his account or its length – or how radically Moroni himself edited Ether’s account. All we know is that Moroni’s account was even more selectively sketchy than the record Mormon compiled, since the Book of Ether is MUCH shorter than even the Book of Alma – while covering a time period that was multiple times longer than the entire book of Mormon.
We also have no idea whatsoever the details of what caused the scattering of the people and the confusion of languages mentioned in the Bible and the Book of Mormon; it could have been nothing more miraculous than a great natural disaster that scattered the people – and that scattering inevitably would lead to a divergence of languages among people who didn’t take written records with them. No matter what happened, the belief that the Lord was behind it could have been the assumption of a people who believed in that type of divine activity – whether or not they were correct.
Finally, Joseph obviously used his own language and understanding in translating the Book of Mormon. There is no way to tell if the description in Ether 1:33 (where the tower and scattering is mentioned) came from Jared (or his brother), some later descendant, Ether, Moroni or Joseph’s ready translation vocabulary. Given what we know of the general process of multi-generational record keeping and translation, the central theme could remain in tact even as many incidental errors and interpretations and allegories and myths crept into the record. Having later prophets reference the accounts codified into scripture says nothing about the literal or figurative nature of the stories – only the lesson that can be taken from them.
What I am saying is that much of the Old Testament past King David and almost the entire Book of Ether could be figurative, inspired mythology without invalidating any of the Church’s truth claims. It is not the responsibility of the believer to prove that point; it is the responsibility of the non-believer to give an example of something from the OT that MUST be literal to destroy truth claims. After all, if even Jesus could reference events that now are disputed and believed to be not historically accurate, why should the Church now be held to an even higher standard than the Savior employed? Personally, I have never seen something from those records that has to be literal for the Church’s current claims to be valid.
why should the Church now be held to an even higher standard than the Savior employed?
Ray and Stephen
Why hasn’t the church officially said whats allegorical and metaphor or didn’t quite happen the way most of us my imagine it too happen
“It could have been nothing more miraculous than a great natural disaster that scattered the people – and that scattering inevitably would lead to a divergence of languages among people who didn’t take written records with them.”
Great possible explanation – it even may help members who struggle with all the miracles in the bible to believe in it easier. I also think most member more orthodox could struggle with these natural kind of explanations.
I agree completely, James, that some members would struggle with “natural explanations” – while others would struggle with figurative explanations – and others would struggle with miraculous explanations. That is a very good point, and I think it answers your first question. I believe that is why the church officially doesn’t designate some as historical and some as allegorical or figurative, even if their is a consensus among the FP and the Q12 – and I am quite certain no such consensus exists.
Sometimes, we don’t know really is the best answer.
17 KING OF TEXAS
It’s funny how people will beliebe any thing on the internet or wikipedia and take it as gospel; yet they try to find fault in the gospel. If you pray, study and you are worthy you will probably learn something from these stories.
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. They fall into doubt after going on the Internet and finding shocking information about Joseph Smith based on documents and facts they had never heard before. A surprising number had not known about Joseph Smith’s plural wives. They are set back by differences in the various accounts of the First Vision. They find that Egyptologists do not translate the Abraham manuscripts the way Joseph Smith did, making it appear that the Book of Abraham was a fabrication. When they come across this information in a critical book or read it on one of the innumerable critical Internet sites, they feel as if they had been introduced to a Joseph Smith and a Church history they had never known before. They undergo an experience like viewing the famous picture of a beautiful woman who in a blink of an eye turns into an old hag. Everything changes. What are they to believe?
Well, much to say about nothing if you want my opinion.
I know from my own experience-ongoing-that when I go by the book and study the scriptures meaningfully, I get amazingly edifying stuff out of them. Moreover, doing so really does expand my mind and introduces me to new concepts and truths, confirmed by the Holy Ghost, that are so fine in their reality that only through the Spirit can they been accessed. I believe the Lord has always allowed material to create doubt in people’s mind. Always! It is a way to allow us to choose, to follow a road. And there must be more than one road as the most precious gift of free agency must be exercised in all things. These anomalies in Church history stand as other opportunities for us to choose a road, to listen to a different voice, perhaps a different Master. I have heard of a recent event, in the south of my beautiful country, where a man was called (in 2008) to the position of Bishop. Two men, long time friends, who happen to be in my parents’ ward, have known this man. One of these brothers has been aware that this very man had been involved in something very very unchristian, of a sexual criminal nature. The other brother, whom I know, happens to have an amazing gift of visions. He has very powerful such experiences. He has had one about this man, a very negative one. These 2 men approached the stake presidency, and despite pleadings, they have not taken any action. This Bishop soon was arrested for something nasty and within a few days, 100 members went COMPLETELY inactive. In my very deep belief, the Lord allows -doesn’t make- these things to happen (like the prostitutes brought by a high guy in the church in Salt lake City JO and many others) as they are an opportunity for choice.
To return to the topic of this blog, the Spirit of God doesn’t accompany the soul versed in destructive criticism and anchored in an attitude of cynicism. There is an amazing logic in the plan of salvation. As we strive to obey the first 2 great commandements, and endeavour to humbly follow our prophets, we approach the scriptures in a teachable disposition, inviting a more positive spirit.
Unlike the B of M, the Bible has not been compiled in an inspired way. Much is missing, such as many writings by the Essenians or Flavius Josephus (crucial writings to a better understanding of many many things in the Gospel). So the Bible leaves much room for Spirit-deprived interpretation as well as contains undefined and confusing passages. But as a whole, it is a book guiding us closer to God and contains many lessons that are pertinent and relevant to our day.
Wasn’t the great Nephi (for those who believe he existed!) an unconditional fan of the biblical prophet Isaiah? Hasn’t Joseph Smith (for those…)been led towards God through an inspired reading of the Bible?
I may sound preachy to some. But to those who self-reflect over their lives on a regular basis, can’t we make sense of the wonderful parables in the scriptures to new levels each time? While Christ taught to the doctors of the Law (guys whose job was to know the scriptures like the most fervent of evangelist pastor in Baton Rouge or Austin, it is said in the apocryphes that Christ expanded the scriptures to them in ways they had never imagined before. They asked him questions about the creation, to he the Creator, and he explained them the purpose, shapes and nature of each planet,etc. He elaborated on the parables in ways that no uninspired man could bring to be.
With the Spirit, my friends, with the Spirit only do these talents are given unto us.
Well, much to say about nothing if you want my opinion.
Mr X maybe its nothing to you but for many if it’s not true it’s a big deal to them.
1.First of all what they thought was real may now be fiction or an allegory.
2.If you felt that you felt the holy ghost about something you read in the scriptures, and envisioned it to be fact that could potentially be a huge problem to someone who found out it was fiction
3.Many people get confused when they read Harry Porter or Lord of the Rings they get that same warm fuzzy feeling, maybe because it’s a gospel truth even though its fiction
4.You maybe getting those warm feelings as you read the scriptures and it doesn’t’ matter to you if it happened or not because your being touched. But for many others they don’t want something they felt was real to now be fantasy or they would spend their time reading a Dan Brown novel.
Its great that you can tap into the holy ghost it sounds like with almost a sure knowledge of what is truth and what is false. I think you should be careful with that as you could alienate those that don’t have your powers of discernment. It could make them feel like what is wrong with me.
I’m quire rubbish with IT and related skills. If you follow that link you will be able to read/listen/watch a great talk by a 70 titled The Way.
There comes a time when we need to make a stand. I remember reading recently: “If you don’t stand for something, you might fall for anything.”
It is hard to understand the feelings of someone else. I manage this when I immerse myself in one’s situation. There are many of us who see our faith challenged. These are days of confusion. These are days when we must live by faith, when we must take that stand. If a story in the scriptures happens to be a fable, so be it. We must believe that Abraham was a good man and that he spke with God. We must believe, if the Red Sea stuff is just to big to swallow, that Moses was a good man and that God inspired him to lead the Jewish people. We must believe that Christ was born, and suffered for us, and loves us. We must believe that Adam perhaps made a mistake but ended up repenting and being the top guy.
We can’t sit on a fence eagerly waiting for an argument or a fact to offend us once and for all and push us on the side we deeply really wanted to go. We have been told that we would have the sealed part of the Book of Mormon when we are ready for it. Pdt Kimball used to tell us that we should pray for this to happen. Are we ready, when we already can’t digest the Bible and Book of Mormon?
A last point is that I feel that more and more a divide will separate those who have faith and those who have a decreasing faith. Those who have a solid enough faith ,and are pleased with the scriptures and the Church as a divinely guided organisation, may look more and more blind and unsensitive and offending to the others. Should the faithful apologize to the sceptic? Should Christ say sorry for requiring of us sacrifices and making spiritual treasures so hard to find?
I am joining this discussion a little late so i hope it is not wasted, but i was driving and thinking abou this topic and i had some thoughts. It seems that whether the stories in the scriptures are real is perhaps a misguided question. Not that it is not important but i guess i would re-form it slightly, or perhaps answer it differently. It is a question of how we read the scriptures rather than whether we think the are real. What i mean is that i think most people, an i maybe inserting my view onto othres here, do not struggle reading the scriptures as an allegory taking wha lessons they can from them and i think this is important and necessary. Yet, i think reading them as if they are history, as if Nephi or Moses were real challenges us in new ways. It can force us out of the casualness of merely likening unto ourselves in a positive way. The evidence fo this is prehaps a discusion like this, where we have been challenged by wha we read, its madeus think. In fact i would argue that, in answer to the questions raised at the beginning; that there is an intended ambguity in the churches approach to the scriptures because i think it wants to hold onto the realist and allegorical ways of reading these narratives. To kind of get what i mean i recommend a presentation at sunstone called ‘Post-Mortem Materialism: A Mormon Approach To Embodiment’ by R. Dennis Potter. My undestanding of this presentation is that Mormonism, and perhaps, religion in general provides us with new ways of talking through these stories that are incommensurable with histrical or scientific discourses. I think having both readings enables us to engage with God in new ways even if we eventually decide we do not take a particular narrative literally, the process of making that choice was a good one, and perhaps one we should revisit now and again. Its not whether these events happened that i important but the ways we read them and engage with them that is.
“It seems that whether the stories in the scriptures are real is perhaps a misguided question. Not that it is not important but i guess i would re-form it slightly, or perhaps answer it differently. It is a question of how we read the scriptures rather than whether we think the are real.”
I think I know what you’re saying that the principal out of what we read and living it is what makes the difference. Whether it is real or not is inconsequential. On the other hand you can get philosophies and principals from many good books.
I think your saying if its not real its especially inspired by god. But so are other stories modern day ones that may be more agreeable to readers in our time.
“Yet, I think reading them as if they are history, as if Nephi or Moses were real challenges us in new ways. It can force us out of the casualness of merely likening unto ourselves in a positive way. The evidence for this is perhaps a discussion like this, where we have been challenged by what we read, its made us think.”
I totally agree with you here if you are reading the scriptures and have in your mind this is fiction it will make us more casual and the impact will be halved. What advice would you give someone who’s genie so to speak has been let out of the bottle ie they don’t think of Nephi as being a real person but more of a fictional valiant super hero
I’m sorry you don’t believe. The faith you need to have a testimony comes from God. All I can say to you is it is true. I have seen the miracles and experienced many of the gifts of the Holy Ghost. As big of a sinner as I was and Heavenly did this for me. I know all you have to do is let go of the pride and ask in prayer in the name of Jesus Christ and you will know.
#28 – KofT, I wish it were that easy. I’m sure it worked for you, but our own D&C says that to some is given the gift to believe on those who know. I believe the Lord said that, so I believe there are some (probably many) who never will feel that they “know” in this life.
Also, Alma and Jesus both said that knowing follows doing and living – not just praying. There are those who have powerful experiences upon praying, but there are just as many (if not more) whose “knowledge” comes much more slowly.
King of Texas 28
You are fortunate to have a feeling /manifestation testimony. I have seen members that have afeeling based testimony. That feeling they had becomes blurry with time, they may read some history not published by the church, get in an argument with a member, or feel the gospel didn’t kick in sometimes the way they thought it should during a challenge.
The testimonies I hear and have the most respect for are life tested testimonies. They live and study a principal like patience or charity. When they stand up on the stand and talk about there is real depth in what they say. They are rock solid in the principles they have worked on.
“What advice would you give someone who’s genie so to speak has been let out of the bottle ie they don’t think of Nephi as being a real person but more of a fictional valiant super hero”
I am not sure that i have a good answer to that question. Personally the things in the scriptures i struggle with are those times when something happens, supposedly an act by God, like killing the firstborn in Egypt, where that action does not fit with my view of the God that I love. I have found that i want to read this story as an allegory because i don’t want to deal with it as a historical event (whatever that means). However, when i make the choice to read it as if it is real then it challenges me in the way i mentioned earlier. What i am kinda saying is that to some extent its a choice to read it as a fiction and a choice to read it as a history. A bad example is to compare how I read fiction where i would argue that those stories are most moving are those that i believe can be read in that way.
I agree with the testimony comments of both James and Ray. My experience tells me that spiritual experiences are complex and developing, for example an answer to Moroni 10:3-5 may be a testimony of the book of mormons truth, not necessarily its historicity. Moreover, James “They live and study a principal like patience or charity. When they stand up on the stand and talk about there is real depth in what they say. They are rock solid in the principles they have worked on.”, i agree with this, but how would this apply to scriptural historicity. How could we live with it and test it? I believe that a person who can say that scripture has changed their lives and brought them closer to God has lived with and worked with the scriptures rather than just saying they are true in some abstract sense of universal truth.
They live and study a principal like patience or charity. When they stand up on the stand and talk about there is real depth in what they say. They are rock solid in the principles they have worked on.”, i agree with this, but how would this apply to scriptural historicity.
I think we can only truly know if a principle works because you can quantify it. History will never no unless you have very strong powers of discernment as Mr X and King of Texas describe.