I think this is one of the best Book of Mormon videos on YouTube–certainly, it gives the most information in the shortest time, and with great visual aids. Yes, this is a greatly improved version of a video I did in June. Please enjoy and share!
Posts Tagged ‘Book of Mormon’
My new video: an introduction to and performance of one of my favorite poems.
I put this video on YouTube this morning. I don’t think there were already any there that summarized a lot of Book of Mormon evidence quickly and with visual aids. I hope this gets circulated widely, because I think it will help a lot of people understand the Book of Mormon better. Enjoy!
Does the Book of Mormon make sense as a hoax? Compare it to the 1969 moon landing.
I just saw about the billionth joke on TV about the moon landing being a hoax. This old conspiracy theory is usually referenced as a crackpot belief these days, and rightfully so.
Consider all the logical problems with the moon landing being a hoax:
- Motive. Beating the Soviets in the space race? Couldn’t it have been achieved with far less effort and risk in many other ways?
- Benefits. What did we really get out of this? A brief bump in pride and some cool photos? Again, these could have been achieved in far easier ways.
- Costs. Absolutely staggering amounts of money were sunk into building and executing this project over many years. Not sensible if it was fake.
- Means. Did we really have the ability to pull off this scam? It would have required tons of complicit agents, sets and props, bribes, image effects, and a host of lying witnesses, to say the least. The whole scheme seems very implausible.
- Secrecy. With all that would have been involved, nobody blew the lid on this hoax, ever? Even when there would have been huge financial rewards for doing so?
- Odds. What are the chances that all this worked out, if wasn’t real? History shows that such attempts fall apart. The singular legacy of this project attests to its reality.
- Repetition. Where else has our government pulled off a hoax on this scale? If they were able to do it once, they would have done so again.
Of course, each of these seven things also testifies of the reality of the Book of Mormon as an ancient document, divinely delivered to and translated for the modern world, and not as a 19th century hoax by Joseph Smith: (more…)
The book of Mosiah starts with a testimony of three important things, and a wonderful observation about the nature of faith.
In Mosiah 1:3-5, King Benjamin refers to his family’s copy of the Hebrew scriptures, and he teaches his children about how crucial the scriptures are in preserving spiritual culture. In the next verse, he says:
O my sons, I would that ye should remember that these sayings are true,
and also that these records are true.
And behold, also the plates of Nephi, which contain the records and the sayings of our fathers from the time they left Jerusalem until now, and they are true;
and we can know of their surety because we have them before our eyes. (Mosiah 1:6)
Here, Benjamin testifies of the truth of three things: his own teachings to his children, the ancient scriptures, and the collected teachings of recent prophets.
It happened again last night, and not for the first time: I re-read a familiar section in the Book of Mormon and noticed something that had never arrested my attention before.
In King Benjamin’s classic speech, a major landmark in the Book of Mormon, he tells the people this about the the coming change of leadership from himself to his son:
…if ye shall keep the commandments of my son, or the commandments of God which shall be delivered unto you by him, ye shall prosper in the land… (Mosiah 2:31, emphasis added)
Benjamin wasn’t the only Book of Mormon leader to teach about the reason for faithfully following the prophet; Lehi explained it twice:
And now, behold thy brothers murmur, saying it is a hard thing which I have required of them; but behold I have not required it of them, but it is a commandment of the Lord. (1 Nephi 3:5, emphasis added)
And it must needs be that the power of God must be with him, even unto his commanding you that ye must obey. But behold, it was not he, but it was the Spirit of the Lord which was in him, which opened his mouth to utterance that he could not shut it. (2 Nephi 1:27, emphasis added)
Nephi’s brothers, you may remember, resented being ordered around, against their natural inclinations, by a bunch of old white men in Salt Lake City…oops, I mean, by their younger brother. (/sarcasm)
And thus the face of the whole earth became deformed, because of the tempests, and the thunderings, and the lightnings, and the quaking of the earth. 3 Nephi 8:17, the Book of Mormon
The huge, destructive storm described in 3 Nephi 8 has long been mysterious to some and derided by others, but in recent years, some scholars have shown that the features described there (wind, earthquakes, darkness, and lightning) fit a volcanic eruption. (See here and here, for example.)
Certainly, Joseph Smith knew nothing about volcanism. The existence of this storm narrative makes far more sense as a summary written by those who experienced it.
The photo above, one of NASA’s Astronomy Pictures of the Day from last week, dramatically illustrates the plausability of that story. Volcanic eruptions do produce lightning. Pretty cool lightning at that!
A scripture study exercise: if we wanted to summarize the overall message of major collections of scripture, what might they be? We’re probably familiar with the “missions of the Church” formula–preach the gospel, perfect the saints, redeem the dead, care for the poor and needy–so, can we find similar missions communicated in books of scripture?
Here’s what I’ve come up with so far, with comments below:
Old Testament : Obey the law
New Testament : Perfect the saints
Book of Mormon : Learn the gospel
Doctrine and Covenants : Build the kingdom
Pearl of Great Price : Seek the Lord
Old Testament: I also considered “keep the commandments” and “follow the prophets.” The first is similar to “obey the law,” but not as inclusive–there’s more to the Old Testament than the “thous shalts” and “thou shalt nots.” Saying to “follow the prophets” resonates with us today, and certainly encompasses a major theme, but the largest idea in the Old Testament is that conforming to God’s whole system of living will bless us.
The New Republic just published a long article which includes a summary of LDS history. While repeating many expected errors (why is Mormonism apparently so hard to research and fact-check?), one passage about the Book of Mormon especially stood out to me:
By the 1820s, the jeremiad had long been a pervasive rhetorical form among American Puritans and their republican descendants. Nor was that the only connection between this supposedly timeless text and its early American context. There were references to debates over infant baptism, church government, and revivalism, allusions to fears of secret societies, and other evidence that marked the book as a product of its historical moment.
This flavor of brusque dismissal has been around since the book was published: if some fraction of the text can be interpreted as similar to some elements of the environment at the time of publication, then it must have been written at that time.
Such a myopic approach leaves out the majority of the text, evidences in its favor, and alternate explanations. It’s a desperate attempt to come up with an easy origin for the book—any explanation other than Joseph Smith’s will do—and then forget that the whole issue ever existed.
It’s ultimately a lazy and disingenuous endeavor, one completely divorced from intellectual honesty.
Imagine that after Jonathan Swift wrote his satirical masterpiece Gulliver’s Travels in the early 1720s, he took it to the American colonies and buried it instead of publishing it. (more…)
As the world continues to scrutinize the LDS Church during this election season, there are plenty of would-be experts ready to share some weird and scary nuggets of what Mormons “really” believe. Besides almost always being bizarre, disingenuous distortions, these “shocking secrets” never seem to be considered by those who “reveal” them—or by those who reads them—with the only important question in mind: are they true or not?
Secular America prides itself on being scientific, a bastion of the reason bestowed by the Enlightenment; only an extreme irony can account for this myopia. Yes, a lot of the supposed facts out there about Mormons are, as Christopher Hitchens put it, “weird and sinister.”
But why stop at pointing that out? Plenty of things that are weird and sinister are also true (any number of strange historical occurrences and scientific findings). If those who would criticize the LDS Church have any real intellectual honesty, why not definitively expose the errors in its claims? Or, more objectively, investigate those claims to see if they’re true or not?
In short, it seems that a bureaucrat at BYU has railroaded out a whole generation of scholars from their formerly-fine Book of Mormon studies publications. The era of faithful apologetics at BYU may be over, replaced by some vague desire to go in an as-yet undefined direction.
Daniel Peterson, a great advocate of the Book of Mormon, has been unceremoniously given the boot, apparently along with a host of other scholars. I don’t want to rehash the whole sordid affair here, but here’s a brief intro from a longer and excellent summary:
This article made me sad. Not because it mischaracterizes my church, which it does, and not because I think Maren Stephenson, the author, is an awful person, which I don’t, but because I think she totally misunderstands what she rejects and needlessly misses out on something wonderful because of it, even though she must have been so close to it.
The author writes about how her husband, and then she herself, became intellectually disillusioned with the LDS Church, and became happier after leaving it.
For someone who calls herself a “scholar” in her own article, she doesn’t seem to know the difference between doctrine and urban legends, and she seems ignorant of some obvious facts that contradict her new worldview. It isn’t the factual errors that are heartbreaking, though–it’s the personal drama that accompanies (and perhaps fuels) the skepticism, which seems to lead her to a badly warped view of the LDS Church:
“Virtually all Christian churches teach some kind of doctrine regarding the Atonement of Christ and the expiation of our sins that comes through it. But the Book of Mormon teaches that and much more. It teaches that Christ also provides relief of a more temporal sort, taking upon himself our mortal sicknesses and infirmities, our earthly trials and tribulations, our personal heartaches and loneliness and sorrows–all done in addition to taking upon himself the burden of our sins….”
“That aspect of the Atonement brings an additional kind of rebirth, something of immediate renewal, help, and hope that allow us to rise above sorrows and sickness, misfortunes and mistakes of every kind. With his mighty arm around us and lifting us, we face life more joyfully even as we face death more triumphantly…”
“So Christ came to earth, lived his thirty-three years, then fulfilled the ultimate purpose for his birth into mortality. In a spiritual agony that began on Gethsemane and a physical payment that was consummated on the cross of Calvary, he took upon himself every sin and sorrow, every heartache and infirmity, every sickness, sadness, atrial, and tribulation experienced by the children of God from Adam to the end of the world. How he did that is a stunning mystery, but he did it. He broke the bands of physical death and gained victory over the grasp of spiritual hell. A God himself came down and made merciful intercession for all the children of men.”
–Jeffrey R. Holland (LDS apostle), Christ and the New Covenant, 223, 224, 228
Last Sunday in Gospel Doctrine, we discussed Jacob chapters 1-3 in the Book of Mormon. I noticed that Jacob says that his sermon in chapters 2-3 was given “in the temple” (1:17). I looked through the sermon to see if perhaps that setting influenced the content of his message. Jackpot.
Consider just the broadest outline of the address. Jacob begins his sermon by telling the people that he was fulfilling his duty as a servant of the Lord (the “all-powerful Creator of heaven and earth,” he takes pains to note from the start, in 2:4) by bringing them an authorized message (2:2-11, especially verse 11).
The first major doctrinal topic that Jacob broaches, in 2:12-22, is the necessity of giving up our worldly gain and selfish desires for the good of others and the work of the Church. Look at some of the Topical Guide subjects listed in those verses: almsgiving, generosity, welfare, worldliness, good works. Jacob ties these themes of sacrifice in to a general command to obey the commandments (2:21), and, being the Book of Mormon, warns against pride.