The Prophet Matthew Gill

This video is an explanation of “The Book of Jeraneck” presented by the Prophet Matthew Gill. Prophet Gill was born into a Mormon family in the United Kingdom. He was presented with plates by a “translated being” that tell the story of Jesus’ visit to the inhabitants of Great Britain.

I’m curious how Mormons would go about evaluating “The Book of Jeraneck” and the prophetic authority of Matthew Gill. His story seems every bit as credible to me as that of Joseph Smith’s. The similarities of Matthew Gill and Joseph Smith should resonate with Mormons. So I’m interested to know if Mormons would investigate this new revelation as seriously as they would encourage non-Mormons to investigate the Book of Mormon.

If you are a Mormon, will you take the time to read “The Book of Jeraneck” and prayerfully consider its truth? Will you continue to pray until God gives you the answer that it is true? What sort of responses from God will tell you it is true? Also, are you comfortable with Matthew Gill claiming to be a Mormon prophet? At what point would it be inappropriate for him to call himself Mormon?

The first video is a non-Mormons overview of The Book of Jeraneck. The second video is the Prophet Matthew Gill himself clarifying some inaccuracies in the first video.

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187 thoughts on “The Prophet Matthew Gill

  1. I would appreciate a free version, and not have to fork over cash. Otherwise, he’s just doing this for money.

  2. One thing about Joseph Smith to keep in mind.

    He always shared his angels and visions with other men and women. You’re never just taking his word for it. There was always a theme of expanding the visitations from the heavens to every other person possible.

    Secondly, I find it interesting that the focus on questions of legitimacy is on Joseph Smith and whether he appointed a successor or not. One of the great strengths of the LDS Church is that it does NOT derive it’s authority or validity from Joseph Smith. We don’t care who Joseph Smith appointed, because he never had authority to appoint a successor in the first place.

    This isn’t an issue of inheritance, this isn’t a dynasty, this is not Joseph’s Church. We don’t worship him. We think he was pretty neat, but that’s about as far as it goes. Joseph had no authority to pass on sole legitimacy in the Church. It was out of his hands.

    But these are minor points.

    The main reason I don’t accept Matthew Gill’s claims is because I have no spiritual witness of him.

    Pretty simple really.

  3. Dan,
    They have supplied the Book of Jeraneck for free via online download. If Joseph Smith ever sold the Book of Mormon can we conclude he was “just doing it for money?”

    Seth,
    Prophet Gill appears to be sharing his spiritual experiences if you listen to what he says. Are you outright rejecting him or will you seek a spiritual witness of him?

  4. The main reason I don’t accept Matthew Gill’s claims is because I have no spiritual witness of him.

    Pretty simple really.

    Come on now. Have you prayed to know if it is true? Have you asked with a sincere heart, with real intent, having faith in Christ? Have you been as open to a possible answer as people who investigate the Mormon church are expected to be?

  5. Couldn’t watch the vids—too tedious.

    “If you are a Mormon, will you take the time to read “The Book of Jeraneck” and prayerfully consider its truth?”

    No.

    “Will you continue to pray until God gives you the answer that it is true?”

    Not applicable.

    “What sort of responses from God will tell you it is true?”

    Not applicable—unless God intervenes in some way to make me reconsider question 1.

    “Also, are you comfortable with Matthew Gill claiming to be a Mormon prophet?”

    Be my guest.

    “At what point would it be inappropriate for him to call himself Mormon?”

    When it’s deliberately deceptive on his part—but I’d have a hard time judging, so that’s really up to him.

  6. I’m pretty much in accord with BrianJ. Unless God somehow tells me I wouldn’t be wasting my time dealing with this guy, I have better things to do with my time.

  7. Thanks for the link to the free version. I don’t mind him selling his book, nor Joseph Smith selling the Book of Mormon, but when it comes to religion, if you’re not willing to offer it free, then you’re selling something, and I have no interest whatsoever.

  8. when it comes to religion, if you’re not willing to offer it free, then you’re selling something, and I have no interest whatsoever.

    I don’t know about that, Dan.

    I would say that the most compelling religions on the market are the ones that come at great cost.

  9. I’m pretty much in accord with BrianJ. Unless God somehow tells me I wouldn’t be wasting my time dealing with this guy, I have better things to do with my time.

    so this is an appropriate answer for those of us who do not yet buy into the Prophet Joseph Smith?

    I don’t understand why you guys are so dismissive. Is there some reason we should reject him without carefully considering his message? Is he just not what you expect? Does he not fit your preconceived notions of authority or religious significance?

  10. but when it comes to religion, if you’re not willing to offer it free, then you’re selling something, and I have no interest whatsoever.

    Awesome. So when will the tithing requirement for temple ordinances be dropped?

  11. This is a sticky, ‘damned-if-you-do-damned-if-you-don’t’, situation. I remember watching these videos a few months ago, thinking to myself how might devout mainstream LDS respond to this new prophet with his new revelations? I don’t claim to know every nook and crany of LDS belief, but Matthew Gill’s claims, I’m sure, are not too different from Joseph Smith’s – and the way in which he invites us all to know this truth is not too dissimilar a process from LDS elders’ (who come knocking at my door) invitation…

    Brian J, you shoot yourself in the foot with (as I imagine) your flippant answers. Each of one of them serve either to demean or exagerate the already questionable traits of your current beliefs…

  12. Tim: “so this is an appropriate answer for those of us who do not yet buy into the Prophet Joseph Smith?”

    Yes.

    “I don’t understand why you guys are so dismissive.”

    I’m not being dismissive, I’m being selective. As in, there are lots of great things for me to do with my time and Gill does not appear to fill some hole in my life, so I find nothing compelling me to his story. Might there be something amazing there? Sure. I may never know.

    “Is there some reason we should reject him without carefully considering his message?”

    I never rejected him. The real question is, “Is there some reason we should carefully consider his message?” I don’t see any reason for me to, but if you feel some need then I would encourage you to do so and to pray about it, etc.

    “Is he just not what you expect?

    I had no expectations.

    “Does he not fit your preconceived notions of authority or religious significance?”

    Authority for what? to receive revelation? Yes and no, but the bottom line is that I believe that this type of revelation (or rather, on this scale or for this wide an audience) would come only through LDS prophets.

    He definitely does not fit my preconceived notion of religious significance: that which I have found to be of greatest religious significance to me has come in and through my experience in the LDS Church (and its contexts). I frequently have meaningful religious experiences outside the LDS Church, but they are not even close to being the most significant in my life. I have no reason to think Gill’s would be any different.

  13. NM: “This is a sticky, ‘damned-if-you-do-damned-if-you-don’t’, situation.”

    I don’t see why. However, I think I can see why you and Tim (and others) might think it would be.

    “Matthew Gill’s claims, I’m sure, are not too different from Joseph Smith’s – and the way in which he invites us all to know this truth is not too dissimilar a process from LDS elders’ (who come knocking at my door) invitation…”

    I think you expect that to bother “devout mainstream LDS” (like me), and if I’m right in a few assumptions then it makes perfect sense coming from your perspective. The problem is (again, I’m assuming a lot here) that you view the ‘pray about it’ approach to testimony as a little trick I try to pull on my neighbors, but it’s something I actually believe in. I don’t see it as a trick that could backfire or be misused. I see it as a true principle—like “honesty is the best policy,” for example. I’d love it if more and more people spread it around as a means of gaining spiritual knowledge.

    “you shoot yourself in the foot with (as I imagine) your flippant answers.”

    First, I’m looking at my feet right now and they both look splendid. Second, I was being flippant for Tim’s sake because I felt that his post was calculated to probe a certain depth, but (as I mention above) I think it was miscalculated in general. (Note: that’s not a jab at Tim; I think his questions/concerns make perfect sense coming from his paradigm.)

    “Each of one of them serve either to demean or exagerate the already questionable traits of your current beliefs…”

    I’m not worried.

  14. I had a polygamous Mormon teenager bear his testimony to me tonight at Temple Square, of the truthfulness of his break-off group.

    It sounded word-for-word what mainstream Mormons tell me. One could hardly tell the difference.

  15. Some Latter-day Saints have the attitude that everyone ought to read the Book of Mormon and pray about it at least once. Others have the attitude that not only should you read the Book of Mormon and pray about it, but you should do it again and again until you know that it’s true. Answers in the negative are not even an option.

    It’s hardly a surprise that the Latter-day Saints who comment here are more sensible than that. And frankly, I think BrianJ and Eric are right. Life is too short to exhaustively examine every religion on the market. If a religion doesn’t offer compelling surface claims that make you want to take a closer look, you’re probably not going to give it the time of day. If that pass-along card that reads “The family can be together forever” or that tract that says “Are you going to heaven?” does not grab your interest, that’s probably where your investigation of that religion ends.

    Last night I listened to all 20 minutes of the videos Tim linked to, rummaged through the official Web site of the Latter Day Church of Jesus Christ, and read sections of the Book of Jeraneck. While I find the idea of splinter groups rising up to challenge the LDS church using similar claims to authority and revelation very fascinating, this one doesn’t seem particularly compelling.

  16. I think this kind of thing–Gill and the Book of Jeraneck–and the kind of response it generates among Mormons exposes a nasty, rank duplicity in Mormon narrative.

    It’s like how Mormons sing the praises of the integrity, courage and bravery of converts to Mormonism and the great personal sacrifices that they make in leaving the faith community they grew up in, but turn around and lash out at converts away from Mormonism for abandoning the faith they were raised with and betraying the Church.

    It turns out that Mormons never were really proud of converts’ integrity, courage and bravery at all, but merely proud of converts’ loyalty to Mormonism.

    It comes back to this sort of groundless exceptionalism every time. If Mormons meant what they tell converts about truth and prayer and the Holy Ghost, then they would have to prayerfully consider the Book of Jeraneck. But it turns out they don’t mean any of it, really. In the end, it’s just all about uncompromising loyalty to the institutional Church, and whatever logic and rhetoric will get you to that point and keep you there.

    Seth laid out a bunch of garbage about separating his religion from the authority of the Church, but his answers here show it was complete garbage. In the end, the only thing that matters is loyalty to the Church.

  17. And frankly, I think BrianJ and Eric are right. Life is too short to exhaustively examine every religion on the market. If a religion doesn’t offer compelling surface claims that make you want to take a closer look, you’re probably not going to give it the time of day.

    Of course they’re right, but in being right they are taking a position that is contradictory to the rhetoric of the Mormon missionary program.

  18. Also, contrary to the assumptions of any missionary program. Evangelical Christianity is hardly in a better position than Mormonism here.

  19. Is there some reason we should reject him without carefully considering his message?

    I think BrianJ’s answer was excellent.

    Look, I have plenty of things competing for my time and other resources. There are literally thousands of truth claims out there, and if I were to consider every one I’d never have the time left to live the life I should be living. I came across this guy’s writings about a year ago, and I saw nothing to suggest that he had anything to offer me. So why pursue the matter further?

    And, frankly, if you honestly believe that Jesus Christ, Mohammed, Joseph Smith, Mary Baker Eddy, Joel Osteen and/or Dada Jashan P. Vaswani have nothing to offer you, I’m not going to ask you to waste your time considering their claims either. The only thing I ask of you is to be open to the truth; I honestly believe that those who are open to the truth will find it, if not in this life then in the next. Of course, I will freely point out that I believe truth is to be found in the life and teachings of Jesus Christ, and I would hope that you would consider what he has to offer, but if you’re not ready to hear what he has to say then you’re not ready.

  20. It’s like how Mormons sing the praises of the integrity, courage and bravery of converts to Mormonism and the great personal sacrifices that they make in leaving the faith community they grew up in, but turn around and lash out at converts away from Mormonism for abandoning the faith they were raised with and betraying the Church.

    It turns out that Mormons never were really proud of converts’ integrity, courage and bravery at all, but merely proud of converts’ loyalty to Mormonism.

    Amen and Amen.

  21. Look, I have plenty of things competing for my time and other resources. There are literally thousands of truth claims out there, and if I were to consider every one I’d never have the time left to live the life I should be living. I came across this guy’s writings about a year ago, and I saw nothing to suggest that he had anything to offer me. So why pursue the matter further?

    And, frankly, if you honestly believe that Jesus Christ, Mohammed, Joseph Smith, Mary Baker Eddy, Joel Osteen and/or Dada Jashan P. Vaswani have nothing to offer you, I’m not going to ask you to waste your time considering their claims either. The only thing I ask of you is to be open to the truth; I honestly believe that those who are open to the truth will find it, if not in this life then in the next. Of course, I will freely point out that I believe truth is to be found in the life and teachings of Jesus Christ, and I would hope that you would consider what he has to offer, but if you’re not ready to hear what he has to say then you’re not ready.

    How do you not see how this is completely hypocritical?

  22. You ask people to be “open to truth,” when you are not yourself open to anything other than what you’ve already got.

    So when you say you are asking people to be “open to truth,” you are really only asking them to be open to your religion. The duplicity is staggering. And the result is manipulative: what is actually a sales pitch for your own religion is cloaked in attractive, noble terms about finding truth in general.

  23. Aaron: “It sounded word-for-word what mainstream Mormons tell me. One could hardly tell the difference.”

    That’s why we encourage people to rely on the Holy Ghost, who can tell the difference.

    Kullervo: “Mormons sing the praises…of converts to Mormonism…, but turn around and lash out at converts away from Mormonism….”

    Yep, people who lash out at others are dirtbags. And unfortunately, some of those dirtbags are also Mormon.

    “they are taking a position that is contradictory to the rhetoric of the Mormon missionary program.”

    No, but let’s look at that rhetoric (from “Preach My Gospel”):

    Your success as a missionary is measured primarily by your commitment to find, teach, baptize, and confirm people…. Remember that people have agency to choose whether to accept your message. Your responsibility is to teach clearly and powerfully so they can make a correct choice.

    You are surrounded by people…. Many of these people are searching for purpose in life….

    You are to build up the Church by finding “them that will receive you” (D&C 42:8). Such people will recognize that you are the Lord’s servants. They will be willing to act on your message…. [Others] may not immediately recognize that you are the Lord’s servants. They may not understand that greater peace, direction, and purpose in life will come through the restored gospel than from anything else…. For example, one convert said, “When I heard the gospel, it filled a hole in my heart that I
    didn’t know was there.”

    “How do you not see how this is completely hypocritical?”

    Because it isn’t.

  24. That’s why we encourage people to rely on the Holy Ghost, who can tell the difference.

    So why don’t you study the Book of Jeraneck and pray to see what the Holy Ghost says about it? Isn’t that what you tell other people they should do about the Book of Mormon?

  25. That’s silly, Dan. Early Books of Mormon were also sold for money, to offset the printing cost. It’s an economic reality.

    As far as successorship goes, I think Seth’s post is dodging the problem. Even if you don’t think Joseph Smith needs to have overtly appointed a successor, the problem still remains that the LDS church largely assumes, without showing, that Brigham Young was the legitimate successor. We pray to know the truth of the Book of Mormon, we pray to know about the truthfulness of the first vision, and when we’re done with that we just take the church’s word for it that the LDS church today is in fact the spiritual heir to those things. The link from Smith to Young (and consequently, to later prophets) is conspicuously absent in the textbook conversion process. And yet it is by no means clear that God contemplated an immediate successor to Smith at all, nor that we should legitimatize the LDS church on the basis of its size.

  26. Kullervo: I already answered that question. Did you not see it or did you just not like it? I’ll re-answer it if the former.

  27. The Momron missionary program insists that the way to know by the Holy Ghost whether the Book of Mormon is true is to read the Book of Mormon and pray about it for an answer. Plenty of LDS scripture indicates that this is the appropriate way to get HG confirmation of the truth of something/anything/everything.

    So how can you know by the Holy Ghost that the BoJ is not true unless you read it and ask God yourself?

    And how is your answer–“I already know by the HG that the BoM and the CoJCLDS are true, so I don’t have ask about other religions”–any different from the same or the theologically analogous answer given by people of other religions (or of no religion) who are not willing to consider Mormonism?

    And if you don’t think everyone should be willing to consider Mormonism, how do you reconcile that with Mormonism’s claims of universality and exclusivity?

  28. Kullervo, it seems like you’re making a pretty big logical leap to take my remarks about how legitimacy and authority should not be contingent on Joseph Smith and translating that into “Seth only cares about loyalty and doesn’t care about spiritual experience.”

    Sounds to me more like you’re just pissed off about something vague and I happened to be in the general vicinity.

    Let me know when you’re done with the little therapy session.

  29. At the end of the day, Mormons expect both members and investigators to consider Mormonism on its own terms but not to consider other religions on their own terms.

  30. I think Brian’s remark that the Book of Jeranack doesn’t fill any particular void in his life was important.

    I don’t think any book can claim to be worthy of our time unless it offers to fulfill some need in our lives. This is just as true of the Book of Mormon as the Book of Jeranack.

    The problem at present is that Gill’s account is all form and no substance. He has done a meticulous job of recreating the trappings of the Joseph Smith story. But what he does not do is state why anyone should care. Why is it vital to pursue this document? What present void does it fill? What theological blanks does it fill in? What problems with modern religion does it solve?

    Gill didn’t give us any of that. Until he does, why should I care?

    A Muslim who wanted me to drop everything and read the Koran would have to give me similar reasons. And I think that part of being effective in proselyting for the LDS Church is convincing people why they should care about the Book of Mormon.

    There may be a double-standard among other Mormons on this issue, but there is no double-standard here. I expect the same things of Joseph Smith and the Book of Mormon that I do of Matthew Gill and the Book of Jeranack.

    Joseph delivers on this score. Matthew does not.

  31. How do you not see how this is completely hypocritical?

    Because I’m not reading your caricature of my words into what I actually said.

  32. Seth,

    So you are saying that a claim has to meet some sort of basic threshold of relevance, importance, or likelihood before even an earnest seeker is obligated to investigate and evaluate it?

  33. For me, this episode (and others like it) highlight the fact that the LDS model of conversion–as taught to and by missionaries–is too simple. This does not mean that Mormonism is “false” (by which I mean “evil”– but what does it mean for the church to be “true” anyway?) or that no one should be Mormon or convert to Mormonism (of any kind). It does mean that trying to get people to join a group by promising them a simple, one-size-fits-all recipe for happiness (now and forever after) is naive (or manipulative, depending on your point of view) and ultimately not very helpful. It is like going around offering morphine to every sick person you meet: no matter how sincere your belief in the power of morphine, the fact is that your prescription will hurt as many as it helps, because (no matter what you think) morphine is not really a panacea. The LDS gospel is not evil; it is also not the final answer to all of life’s questions. We need to take President Hinckley’s invitation (“bring your good and let us add”) and flip it (“let us share some of the good you have, even if you don’t want or need any of ours”). We have as much to learn from others as to teach them, generally speaking, and there are many people who need nothing from us but could teach us a whole lot. (At the end of the day, I must admit I agree that most of us here have little to learn by becoming followers of the prophet McGill.)

  34. Kullervo: “The Momron missionary program insists that [the Holy Ghost is] the way to know…the truth of something/anything/everything.”

    Yep. I really am glad that that is so clear. And it doesn’t stop at conversion: we preach it to members too, about everything.

    “So how can you know by the Holy Ghost that the BoJ is not true unless you read it and ask God yourself?”

    I pretty explicitly said that I could not. Did you not see it, or did you choose to ignore it for some reason—some rhetorical device I’m not getting. Here it is again, in either case: “Might there be something amazing there? Sure. I may never know.”

    And I also implied that I’d encourage anyone and everyone who felt some kind of draw toward to the BofJ to study and pray in order to know whether it is true. So…you’re looking for a double-standard here, but I’m not providing it.

    “And how is your answer–”I already know by the HG that the BoM and the CoJCLDS are true, so I don’t have ask about other religions”–any different from the same or the theologically analogous answer given by people of other religions (or of no religion) who are not willing to consider Mormonism?”

    Did I say it was?

    “And if you don’t think everyone should be willing to consider Mormonism, how do you reconcile that with Mormonism’s claims of universality and exclusivity?”

    Mormonism’s truth claims are valid whether people consider them or not. And the “Church is true” whether it has half a dozen or half a billion members.

    If people want to know whether anything is true, including but not limited to the LDS Church, then I’ve stated how (in part) I believe they can get that answer. If they don’t want to know, then I can’t force them; I can try to provide reasons to want to know—like inviting a friend to church in the hopes that that sparks her interest—but I won’t try to force anyone. (I wouldn’t even know how to force someone.)

    “At the end of the day, Mormons expect both members and investigators to consider Mormonism on its own terms but not to consider other religions on their own terms.”

    I don’t know what you mean by “expect.” I suspect that you mean something like “insist.” We have a certain method for reaching truth that we really believe in, and we promote it to everyone.

    Are you upset or surprised that we encourage people to apply that method to doctrines that we hold as true instead of encouraging people to inquire down avenues that we believe to be dead ends? “Pray to know if batteries taste yummy.” It’s pretty absurd to expect us to promote investigation of doctrines we consider false, but we’re not prohibiting people from doing so.

  35. “So you are saying that a claim has to meet some sort of basic threshold of relevance, importance, or likelihood before even an earnest seeker is obligated to investigate and evaluate it?”

    Yup.

    Although likelihood would probably be the least important of these.

    An official biography of Mother Teresa would probably have all sorts of likelihood. But that doesn’t mean I’m going to read it.

  36. Joseph, on your claim that the LDS missionary model is possibly too simplistic, you’ll get no argument from me.

    The problem is – how to improve it?

  37. Mormonism’s truth claims are valid whether people consider them or not. And the “Church is true” whether it has half a dozen or half a billion members.

    But I’m not talking about validity of truth claims, at all. I’m talking about normative claims: Mormons teach that Mormonism is a message that should be carried to everyone so everyone can evaluate it and find the truth for themself. Although you recognize peoples’ freedom of choice in the matter, you do think everyone should put Mormonism to the Holy-Ghost-test, because you believe that God wants everyone to return to be with him in the Celestial Kingdom.

    It’s pretty absurd to expect us to promote investigation of doctrines we consider false, but we’re not prohibiting people from doing so.

    It’s not absurd at all. In fact, it would demonstrate powerfully that you believe that the Mormon way to truth is the correct way to truth. It would demonstrate that you believe that the process for discovering the truth of Mormonism is actually the correct process and will not lead to error.

    You believe the scientific method is the valid/true process to discover scientific truth, which means you believe it can be applied to any hypothesis, no matter how preposterous, and give correct results. In fact, applying the scientific method is a prime way to debunk wrong claims.

  38. The problem is – how to improve it?

    I have suggestions.

    Does anyone want to hear them, or would that be pretentious?

  39. “you do think everyone should put Mormonism to the Holy-Ghost-test”

    Nope.

    “In fact, it would demonstrate powerfully that you believe that the Mormon way to truth is the correct way to truth. It would demonstrate that you believe that the process for discovering the truth of Mormonism is actually the correct process and will not lead to error.”

    Kullervo, please apply the “Mormon method” to your religious investigations. And please tell your friends, too. There, I said it—but then again, I’ve been saying it all along.

    As far as the original post goes, it looks to me like we’re just talking in circles at this point. I’ve made my point and you disagree; I’m not sure what else is to be gained/learned. If you have a legitimate (i.e., non-rhetorical) question, I’m happy to respond—and forgive me if I’ve misread you.

    I will, however, comment on your new topic:

    “You believe the scientific method is the valid/true process to discover scientific truth, which means you believe it can be applied to any hypothesis, no matter how preposterous, and give correct results.”

    No, because some experiments cannot be designed properly within the framework of the scientific method (it cannot, for example, be used to test the validity of itself). Some experiments are too big, too costly, have no positive or no negative control, etc.

    Prayer (and any relationship between two free-willed beings) is a particularly difficult example of strictly applying the scientific method because it violates two of the most important aspects of any experiment: 1) remove yourself as much as possible from the experiment, and 2) control as many variables in the experiment as possible; in this case, the main variable is God’s free will to play null hypothesis games or not. Even if you could settle out those problems, you’d still have to address the third essential: reproducibility—and I’m afraid that in many cases that is probably contrary to faith.

    But then again, I’m only a scientist, not a philosopher of science….

  40. Criticizing members of the LDS church for rejecting Matthew Gill’s story when they accept Joseph Smith is absurd. The parallels are at best, topical.

    Should Evangelicals listen to the teachings of everyone who claims to be Jesus Christ? Didn’t the Reverend Moon once claim to be the second coming of Jesus? How many evangelicals rushed to his church to hear him preach? Why didn’t they? After all, Jesus promised to return. Shouldn’t Christians investigate and take seriously anyone who claims to be the second coming of Christ? What if they wear robes? Christ wore robes. What if they preach the gospel? Christ preached the gospel. What if they have marks on their hands? Evangelicals should take these claims seriously too, right?

    People can listen to and follow Matthew if they want. Some may even claim that the Holy Ghost told them to. If that’s their experience, good for them.

    After watching both videos, I am unimpressed and unmoved. I don’t need to read, ponder, or pray and more than an evangelical needs to attend the Unification Church to find out if Reverend Moon is in fact, Jesus Christ.

    Just as Evangelicals can and should not be expected to take seriously every false Christ, Mormons are under no obligation to investigate anyone who claims to be a prophet, regardless of how their story matches up with JS’s.

  41. Seth R:

    … on your claim that the LDS missionary model is possibly too simplistic, you’ll get no argument from me.

    The problem is – how to improve it?

    Jack:

    I have suggestions.

    Does anyone want to hear them, or would that be pretentious?

    I think the matter would be worth a separate post sometime. And while we’re at it, how about the evangelical missionary model? After all, it’s the evangelicals who have “evangelical” in their name.

  42. Racticas,

    That’s silly, Dan. Early Books of Mormon were also sold for money, to offset the printing cost. It’s an economic reality.

    of course they did. They still do (The BoM is for sale on Amazon). But they also gave it out freely right from the beginning.

  43. Kullervo Said:

    “And if you don’t think everyone should be willing to consider Mormonism, how do you reconcile that with Mormonism’s claims of universality and exclusivity?”

    Mormonism and its missionary program is not about converting everybody, its about gathering the “Elect”, which is essentially the same as Protestant Christianity, only a “few good Men” get to really know about this stuff.

    Mormons certainly invite everyone to investigate its claims but there is no real moral imperative to do so within the context of the religion.

    LDS obviously don’t have encourage people to investigate competing claims and its not really hypocritical to not encourage it.

    Of course Mormons and Protestant Christians can’t consistently claim that because something sounds outrageous or inconsistent with established science or traditional understand that it should be rejected out of hand.

    However it does not follow from the fact that everything has not been proven false that everything must be investigated.

    The point of the post seems to be an attempt to show that there are all kinds of people that are similar to Joseph Smith that Mormons dismiss out of hand. The dismissal of other theories and theologies does not actually have any bearing on the truth of the one. Nor does it have any bearing on the moral position of the believer in one.

    If the believer is actually correct, then he would be morally correct to dissuade people from investigating inconsistent positions and possibly being lead away from the truth.

  44. Coming in late, I think one has to evaluate the book of Jaraneck the same way you would evaluate any other religious claim.

    You can certainly say I don’t like the way it looks from based upon current biases of what is and isn’t correct/legitimate. In my mind, doing that really weakens the authority from which one can speak about their own religious claims, but hey, the practical world forces people to be picky about how much time and energy can be devoted to things. Heuristics make sense for a reason.

    I think strong religious claims are backed up by triangulation of practical utility – what potential is created –and factual/practical validity. I don’t think the Mormon prayer test is only about factual/practical validity, but that may just be me. I don’t think facts can be separated from the way they are used, and the way the are interpreted.

  45. I quite agree with Eric, BrianJ, and Jack. (Big surprise, I know.) Honestly, I have so many things to do with my time that I am not going to waste time on something that I feel has no relevance to me.

    And, honestly, I would expect anyone looking into any religion to do the same. Whenever I share my beliefs with others, I am not looking to convince everyone to listen to my message. I am looking for those who are looking for something in their lives. This is as true now as it was on my mission. My message is that Mormonism can fill the void that some of feeling in their lives. But if someone says, “Hey, I’m happy with my life” or anything along those lines, I will leave it at that, and, when I was on my mission, I would then leave them with a card if they ever needed help with anything or wanted to hear back from us. Sometimes folks would call us later. Many times they didn’t. If someone was interested, though, they were the ones I would invite to listen to our message and then prayerfully consider what had been shared.

    I admit that I didn’t watch the Matthew Gill videos. It falls under the category of things that I do not have enough time to do. I did read the summary found on amazon.com and felt no compelling reason to read more. So, to Tim’s OP, would I prayerfully consider Matthew Gill’s message? No, no, I would not. Do I expect everyone who is not a Mormon to prayerfully consider my message? Not at all. Do I expect those who are interested in Mormonism to prayerfully consider the message shared by those representing Mormonism? Yes, yes I do.

    I don’t see this as hypocritical. I see it as sensible.

  46. I watched the videos and read from his book. So as to not degrade someone else’s beliefs, I’ll just say that I was very unimpressed.

  47. Sorry to just now be jumping back into this conversation. My computer got sick and I’ve been busy trying to catch back up. I’ve been able to read the comments in my odd spare moments on my phone.

    I don’t really expect anyone to spend the next several months delving into the Book of Jeraneck and reading and pondering everything Matthew Gill has had to say. It’s a rhetorical question. But the reason I chose Matthew Gill is because his story and his message seems every bit as compelling as Joseph Smith’s. I don’t see any reason why I should be any more or less interested or convinced by Joseph than Matthew. Heck, Matthew at least still has the plates for us to heft.

    I recognize that the “Matthew Gill Challenge” runs into a problem in this particular forum because the Mormons here are typically “post-evangelistic” (for lack of a better term). Most of you really couldn’t give a flip if more people are reconciled to the Truth of Mormonism (as evidenced by your comments). You have a nuanced view of this truth that it may only pertain to you. This is different than two significant groups in our conversation, 1) Evangelicals 2) Mormon Missionaries. Evangelicals believe that Truth matters and it pertains to everyone. We believe it is our job to reconcile everyone to the truth of Jesus. It’s totally okay with me if you don’t think everyone should be reconciled to Mormonism but it is a significant difference in our approach. (I’m actually pleased to hear you guys say the things you said).

    This conversation goes back once again to Mormon epistemology (how we know what we know). Matthew Gill presents us with some apparent corollaries 1) Only if we find truth interesting 2) Only if it reinforces the truth currently found in the LDS church (Salt Lake City). I think it highlights a deficiency in the way Mormon epistemology is stated (but not lived out).

    People come to believe religious ideas based on three things 1)Reason 2) Experience 3)Authority. The ideal situation would rely on all three. “Preach My Gospel” tells us only to rely on experience (though it sneaks in the authority of the Book of Mormon as a justification for trusting our experience).

    I think it’s reasonable to reject Matthew Gill out of hand because he doesn’t overcome the “reason test”. His truth claims don’t hold up. He is untrustworthy, that’s why I won’t consider his spiritual message. He also fails the “authority test” because he undermines our trusted authorities so that he can replace them.

    If Matthew happened to be more dynamic and became a threat to the Brethren using the epistemology found in “Preach My Gospel,” I’m sure they would start introducing us to more ways to “know” the truth. They would not be content to let the elect expand their religious horizons right out of the church. Perhaps that would be a sign of their apostasy but I’m sure they wouldn’t regard it as such.

    Brian said:
    He definitely does not fit my preconceived notion of religious significance: that which I have found to be of greatest religious significance to me has come in and through my experience in the LDS Church (and its contexts).

    And isn’t this the very criticism that Mormons charge non-Mormons with? That we’re not willing to allow God to speak to us outside of our preconceived notions.

    Jared said:
    If the believer is actually correct, then he would be morally correct to dissuade people from investigating inconsistent positions and possibly being lead away from the truth.

    Thanks for that. I think you’re right.

  48. Tim, as I said, the “founding story” alone isn’t enough. Joseph Smith did two things that Gill did not:

    1. He answered a burning religious need and yearning of the time – Gill does not.

    2. He continued to produce compelling and powerful stuff. Gill has not.

    This is all assuming that the Book of Jeraneck is as deep and compelling as the Book of Mormon – which is quite an assumption (but one I have to make – having never read Gill’s book).

    Why are you assuming that the founding story of Mormonism is the only thing we are offering?

  49. Both of those things are debatable, Seth.

    Why are you burdening Gill with Smith’s lifetime of work in a few short years? Has Monsoon had to produce similar “deep and compelling” work for you to call him “prophet”?

  50. Monson, is simply carrying on what was already a great tradition so apples and oranges.

    I don’t blame Monson for not producing additional notable theological material any more than I blame Samuel for not doing the same.

    And I’d only be burdening Gill with item #2. And that can be solved with a wait-and-see stance.

    But you ignored item #1 Tim.

    What burning theological need is Gill meeting today? He actually SHOULD be expected to produce on item #1 – right now.

  51. That’s what’s up for debate Seth. I can easily say Joseph Smith didn’t answer any burning religious questions of his time. Mormons claim he did, but I don’t think he’s really asking any question I need a prophet for.

    And who says that God sends prophets to answer burning questions of the age? You’re back ending that function. There are plenty of Biblical examples of prophets who had other functions. There are plenty of examples from the Book of Mormon that have other functions. Thomas Monson has other functions.

    The only thing Matthew Gill and the Book of Jeraneck MUST offer us is the true voice of God. Is he really speaking for God? That’s the only thing that matters.

  52. You are asking Matthew Gill to fit your paradigm. That’s the VERY thing you condemn me for in rejecting Joseph Smith.

  53. What burning theological need is Gill meeting today? He actually SHOULD be expected to produce on item #1 – right now.

    The burning need for God to give his prophet actual revelations, for God to be actively in communication with his people. That was part of the appeal of Joseph Smith, that God was using a prophet who said “thus saith the Lord” every bit as much as Elijah or Amos did in the Old Testament.

    Since you already admit that Monson is not getting the job done on this count, it seems that Gill should at least be given some credit for trying.

  54. Trying what David?

    What is he even saying?

    He spent an entire YouTube video doing nothing more than barking at how the LDS Church really just a “splinter faction” and after that – goose eggs.

    What’s to get behind?

  55. Tim, if you don’t think Joseph was perfectly positioned to capture the hearts and minds of people in US Protestantism (and in northern Europe) at the time, then you haven’t really spent much time with the religious history of that time period.

    The loss of spiritual gifts, the lack of authorized authority, the absence of angels, the need for a restoration were kind of theological obsessions during that time period. Most of Joseph’s apostles came from men who were convinced that no authority existed on the earth and that the existing churches were pretty-much denying the power of God. Read the autobiography of Parley P. Pratt if you want one prominent example – whose thinking typified many who signed up in the early stages.

    Sidney Rigdon brought in an entire congregation of hundreds who had exactly these views. Joseph was in the right place, at the right time.

    Sure Joseph railed against the establishment religions – just like Gill – but he did more than that – he had a plan – he was going somewhere. Gill is so far – a complete dead end.

    Unless you’ve got some additional Gill material that shows otherwise. But I doubt you do.

  56. And honestly, I don’t care if he is speaking for God.

    If God has nothing to say, what’s to listen to?

    Again, what’s he offering, aside from a unique religious fashion statement?

  57. I think that Seth has a point.

    Aquinas and I were talking about this in chat the other day and comparing Matthew Gill to another recent would-be LDS prophet (so I’m about to swipe some of aquinas’s ideas without permission): Christopher Nemelka. Nemelka’s “Sealed Portion of the Book of Mormon” actually fills in some gaps in LDS theology and answers some questions that the LDS church is undecided on, such as endorsing viviparous spirit birth. In terms of a potential challenger to the LDS church, Nemelka is a much more intriguing figure than Gill.

    The theological gap in the Christian world that Joseph Smith filled was clear and decisive from the start: the heavens are not closed and God is speaking to the world through a prophet again. Agree or disagree, Smith took a definitive position on an issue that mainstream Christianity was fumbling with, and the pay-off was the religious tradition he started.

    With Matthew Gill, the question I have is, what gap is he filling? What theological questions is he answering that the LDS church has failed to answer? Why is God raising him up as a prophet now if he doesn’t have anything compelling to say? And I agree with Seth that there is a difference between a prophet who is initiating a new era or movement and a prophet who is just continuing an existing tradition. I do have greater expectations for the former than the latter.

    Then again, while I realize this may come off as harsh, I’m going to be honest here: lack of compelling and innovative insights concerning contemporary issues is precisely one of the reasons that I doubted the prophetic status of modern LDS prophets when I was investigating the LDS church.

  58. No. Only scanned parts of it, stopping to read a page here and there. I noticed that it seems to endorse female priesthood of sorts (yeah, we all know that’s my thing), but not in strong enough terms that I’m satisfied that it’s an egalitarian movement. See page 38 and do a word find for “priestess” to see the other relevant passages.

    I really did not see a lot of sermons or theological narrative.

    The words I used when talking with aquinas were, “Book of Mormon fan fiction.”

  59. If we’re going to play by “Seth’s Rules for Prophets” how about this; why has the LDS church’s revelatory well been seemingly dry since Joseph Smith died? If “thus sayeth the Lord” isn’t coming from Thomas Monson, where is God speaking? Where do angels reveal ancient records today? Can women have the priesthood? What can we know about Heavenly Mother? I could go on. There’s no lack of remaining questions in Mormonism.

    You might say that Matthew Gill may be perfectly positioned to capture the hearts and minds of Mormons worldwide.

    I’m well aware of the religious history of Smith’s time period. But just because Smith was the right kind of prophet for that day (which I’m not conceding) doesn’t mean we should be looking for the same kind of prophet today. We’ve already established that Thomas Monson is nothing like Joseph Smith, but you’re happy to call both men prophets.

    This really isn’t about Matthew Gill. Anybody claiming prophetic status can step up and say “God speaks”. Is experience enough? Or do reason and authority have some say in the matter?

    Seth said:

    And honestly, I don’t care if he is speaking for God.

    If God has nothing to say, what’s to listen to?

    Hey no reason to bring General Conference or the last 150+ years of Mormonism into this. 😉

    Jack said

    The words I used when talking with aquinas were, “Book of Mormon fan fiction.”

    Does that mean we can call the Book of Mormon “Bible Fan Fiction?”

  60. Now, if someone claimed to have been visited by the personage of the Holy Ghost and had a book revealed to her re-writing the heretofore suppressed divine feminine back into the scriptures, then you might have a bit more claim to my attention.

    You see, NOW you would be doing something useful rather than sitting in your living room saying “look at me – I look like Joseph Smith!”

  61. One more clarification here:

    Tim, where did you get the idea that I was laying out some sort of definitive test for whether someone gets to be a prophet or not? I made no such assertion.

    I pay attention to modern LDS leadership because they are reiterating powerful content from ages past. Thus they are worth a listen. I’d feel the same way about a good Evangelical sermon on the Bible. Worth a listen.

    I’ve always said that even if I wish modern prophets did have more new content – providing such is not a requirement for the job title.

    Otherwise we’d have to reject Nathan as a prophet – along with any other number of Old Testament prophets.

    What Gill is doing is not at all comparable to what Monson is doing. Monson is simply holding the course on tested and established powerful content from before.

    Gill claims to have come up with something entirely new – therefore the burden is on him to show why I should care.

    I can wait.

  62. Does that mean we can call the Book of Mormon “Bible Fan Fiction?”

    No. I think the Book of Mormon is to the Bible what Hannibal was to The Silence of the Lambs. It’s watchable with occasional glimpses of brilliance, and it has at least one actor from the original that you adored, but in the end, you know perfectly well that it’s not going to take home a single Oscar.

    Just my opinion, of course.

  63. No I have not read it. As I stated, it’s really not the point.

    Let’s just concede that it doesn’t have chiasmus or any other internal evidences found in the Book of Mormon. Who cares? Is that really what anyone was looking for before they became a Mormon? Does the d&c have those things? Does every new entry in the d&c bring forth new light and state something deep and compelling?

  64. Maybe it wasn’t the original point Tim. But it seems to indicate that your basis for comparison here is shallow at best.

  65. And I wasn’t even remotely talking about chiasmus, or Nahom, or any other stuff like that. I was talking about narrative and theological content. You don’t seem to have that great of a gasp of this aspect of the Book of Mormon. Have you read the Book of Jacob in the Book of Mormon like I recommended to you well over a year or two ago?

    It’s the entire narrative core of the Book of Mormon, and potent stuff.

    The last time I recall you talking about the Book of Mormon, the only thing you found of note was how 3 Nephi misuses the name Timothy. It wasn’t exactly what I would consider an in-depth review of the book. So, I find myself wondering what exactly your basis for comparison is.

  66. Regarding the LDS missionary program, I think we would all be better served if every missionary were a service missionary. Teaching theology (doctrine, correlation, whatever) would be allowed, of course, if people expressed interest, but the primary mission would be to show people the love of Christ in concrete, easily interpretable things (food, water, medicine, time, English classes, an exchange of ideas that does not end abruptly when one party refuses to get baptized for the other). I think we would offer a much more useful service if we tried to serve others on their own terms more rather than hunting numbers on mission reports (which the last century has proven are an ephemeral measure of reality anyway: how many of those baseball baptisms really amounted to anything?).

    In Mormon terms, I think we should stop playing Captain Moroni in the mission field and start imitating Ammon. Instead of hounding people on the streets and trying to pressure them into making commitments we can report to a local authority (“waving the right flag over their towers”), we should live among the people, adopt their lifestyle (without completely compromising our own), and share with them items of worth that both of us find useful. Instead of delivering God’s ultimatum (as priesthood holders with authority), we should offer some human charity (as faithful servants of our fellow man). I know from knocking around that some missionaries will have had an experience more like the one I am proposing: I think they will agree with me that it is better than the numbers-driven, oversimplified dogma-ridden crash course in snake oil salesmanship that others have had.

    Just so we are perfectly clear, I would scrap “Preach My Gospel” ultimately, since I think it focuses too much on eliciting intellectual assent to doctrines that I see largely as being either untrue or irrelevant. Why tell people to “follow the prophet” when what they need to do is cultivate and follow their own relationship with deity? For some the latter may lead to the former, and that is great, but assuming that we cannot interact usefully with others (the “eternal investigators” who will never convert) leads to missionaries wasting a lot of time. I spent hours walking around northern Spain unable to do much of anything by way of service because (1) my mission rules prevented me from hunting and finding opportunities to serve people on their own terms (I could help them, but only if it lead to quantifiable proselyting statistics: this almost never happened); and (2) people had the impression (correct, as it turned out) that I was there not for them, but for their baptism (or their tithing, or some other thing they had that my church wanted). I did what I could to be a charitable, serviceable human being on my mission, but (contrary to others’ experience elsewhere, yes) I found myself stifled at almost every turn by the church, which filled my life with useless “proselyting” activities enforced by strict rules (which my companions and I were actually very good at obeying–probably a little too good). I realize that these activities were conceived as means to bettering lives; what they translated to in fact, however, was me walking around for hours annoying people (church leaders, because I never got any good statistics; Spaniards, because I tried too hard to get those statistics: they did not appreciate the only love I was allowed to show).

  67. I have to say that “fills a perceived gap” or “speaks to current issues and concerns” is a pretty lame requirement for being a prophet and listening to him/her. It puts everything precisely backwards. We dictate to God what God is to say based on what we need and want? What perceived need or gap did Amos or Hosea fill?

    In fact, to get really pointed, what perceived need or gap did Jesus Christ fill at the time? Second temple Judaism was going along just fine. What the second temple Jews wanted and needed was a great high priest or political messiah who would throw off the Romans, restore the temple to a pristine state, and unify the Jews politically and religiously. Instead they got a hillbilly who did nothing politically and who was executed as a convicted criminal. The point was that Christ did not fill a need or desire that the people of the time knew about, He filled a gap in them that only He knew about.

  68. Oh, I don’t know about that Seth. His message of the British Isles being a promised land seems relevant for the residents of the UK. Their imminent eschatology would seem to be a very pressing message for the world today. As for the Book of Jeraneck not beating one over the head with didactic speeches and sermons embedded in the narrative, that strikes me as more OT-ish than the Book of Mormon is. OT authors of narrative rarely resort to those kinds of devices, prefering to keep interpretation open and the narrative flowing.

    In any case, perhaps Gill has a message and you are not looking hard enough or praying fervently enough. Did you read and pray with a sincere heart, with real intent, having faith in Christ? Probably not, so I am sure Gill would be completely unsurprised that you miss God’s message.

    However, the bottom line is completely unconnected to Gill. I just think the idea that one can judge God’s message based on what we perceived as needed is completely backwards.

  69. Seth said:
    But it seems to indicate that your basis for comparison here is shallow at best.

    OF COURSE IT IS. I don’t really expect you to vivaciously pursue Matthew Gill or even seriously read The Book of Jeraneck.

    And so what if the Book of Jacob has a rich narrative? The D&C doesn’t have that. Is that really a requirement for new scripture? (and yes I’ve read the Book of Jacob)

    I’m exploring to see if there is something more than praying about something that Mormons consider when evaluating new prophetic expressions. If there is, then perhaps Mormons should incorporate them into “Preach My Gospel” to give investigators a more well rounded picture of how to evaluate new religious claims.

  70. If you believe that God speaks to people and not AT people David, then the idea of him addressing needs is not at all odd.

    Which still evades the point that Gill doesn’t have any sort of message at all. The British Isles thing is interesting, but kinda weak sauce if that’s all you’ve got.

    Seems to me you just really, really want this to be a good argument, and it’s just not delivering for you.

    Tim, a book of scripture doesn’t necessarily have to have narrative – but it has to have something compelling. Otherwise, why care?

    If God cannot be bothered to reach out to people (I don’t care if it’s positively or negatively), then I don’t see why those people need be bothered with worshiping him. If he doesn’t care about the interaction, why should I?

    One more note to both David and Tim. Both of you seem really hung up on the question of whether this book really has it’s source with God. But to me that’s a rather irrelevant sideshow issue.

    What I’ve been arguing is that whether the Book of Jeraneck bona fide came from an angel or not – it isn’t really being presented as having any sort of message anyone needs to care about.

    Kind of like if the angel Gabriel appeared to me tomorrow and showed me a hill with a buried scroll containing an inventory of what Paul had for dinner every time he visited Athens.

    Kind of cool, but ultimately, who cares?

  71. And if I tried to start a church based on my translation of the scroll, well, I shouldn’t be surprised if all I got were raised eyebrows and shoulder-shrugs.

  72. What’s compelling about the Book of Mormon? What’s the important message of the Book of Mormon that’s not in the Bible?

    Isn’t the real compelling aspect of the Book of Mormon supposed to be that it is evidence of the prophetic calling of Joseph Smith and the restoration of the Truth, as opposed to any particular theological principles it teaches? That’s the way the missionaries present it, at least.

    That’s why you only need to have read like one chapter of it–a chapter that hardly tells a novel message–in order ot be able to pray, know its true, and be baptized. Because regardless of the message, the fact that the Book exists is compelling evidence of the restored gospel.

    How is that not exactly the same with the Book of Jeraneck?

  73. Tim I kind of wonder what the point is of a back-and-forth like this anyway. You say you’d like some objective criteria for judging the Book of Mormon here (taken as a whole on some meta level) – I say this is a hopeless pipe dream with not just the Book of Mormon – but the Bible as well – or any holy book.

    Because the cold hard reality is that there isn’t a single objective person here on this blog.

    You are approaching the Book of Mormon from the angle of “let’s see if I can find any weaknesses here to shoot this book down” and it alters how you read it, view it, and feel about it.

    I approach the book from the angle of “I know this book is worthwhile – how can I buy some space for people to take it seriously.” And that view alters how I read it.

    David and Kullervo approach the book from the perspective of “I bought into this book once – now I need to find credible reasons to justify my subsequent rejection of it.” Which in turn prejudices their view of the book.

    Now, we all try to be objective and can protest a lot about how objective we all are – but not one of us really is.

    Tim, you haven’t read the Book of Jeraneck and I frankly don’t really trust your reading of the Book of Mormon. I found it highly opportunist – like you read it hoping it would fail. I don’t trust David’s read on the Book of Mormon either – which I see as highly cynical, bitter, and overly concerned with saving face and propping up his own exit story.

    And neither of you trust my read of the Book of Mormon, because you think I’m drinking the cool-aid and trying to save my own face.

    And since none of us have even read this Book of Jeraneck, none of us really have any basis for comparison anyway.

    So how about we put this charade to rest? If you have something specific about each book’s content to compare, maybe we’ll have something useful to talk about.

    Or would you prefer to continue fishing for Mormons to present each of their subjective reasons for belief in the Book of Mormon so you can shoot down each of them by stating the obvious – that they are subjective?

    This may make for good Evangelical drama for people already in your camp, but I don’t really see it as advancing dialogue anywhere.

    Now, did you have anything specific in mind here about the two books? Or would you rather take this vague meta-conversation to it’s logical conclusion where ultimately, the Mormons start turning it around and bad-mouthing the Evangelicals for being hypocrites, and believing in the Bible for exactly the same reasons Mormons believe in the Book of Mormon, while Kullervo sits back and snickers at both of us?

  74. Because really this whole argument is just boiling down to how much you think the Book of Mormon is either cool or sucks.

    Is there really any point to boiling this discussion down to that point?

  75. Or would you rather take this vague meta-conversation to it’s logical conclusion where ultimately, the Mormons start turning it around and bad-mouthing the Evangelicals for being hypocrites, and believing in the Bible for exactly the same reasons Mormons believe in the Book of Mormon, while Kullervo sits back and snickers at both of us?

    Just thinking of it warms my dark heart. I vote yes.

  76. I’m exploring to see if there is something more than praying about something that Mormons consider when evaluating new prophetic expressions. If there is, then perhaps Mormons should incorporate them into “Preach My Gospel” to give investigators a more well rounded picture of how to evaluate new religious claims.

    This. The problem is that every Mormon’s face-value rejection of the truth-claims of Matthew Gill without giving them the same level of study and prayer as they think is appropriate for the Book of Mormon shows that not even Mormons believe that Moroni’s promise is really a reliable way to find out what is true.

    The way to truth that the missionaries present to investigators is not by itself as valid and true as the missionaries make it out to be, or Mormons would be just using it on everything.

    Face value rejection of Gill by Mormons reveals that there is actually something else embedded in there, some unsaid assumption. For believeing Mormons, that’s fine, just adjust your rhetoric to match reality please. For the missionary program, it reveals missionary tactics to be deceptive because they conceal necessary assumptions and logical steps.

  77. By “Moroni’s Promise” do you mean the entire chapter, or just that one scripture mastery verse everyone likes to take out of context?

  78. By “Moroni’s Promise” do you mean the entire chapter, or just that one scripture mastery verse everyone likes to take out of context?

    Just that one scripture mastery verse everyone likes to take out of context.

    But I’m using it as a shorthand for the intensely Mormon process for evaluating truth: “But, behold, I say unto you, that you must study it out in your mind; then you must cask me if it be right, and if it is right I will cause that your bosom shall burn within you; therefore, you shall feel that it is right.”

    Whether or not you I am giving a correct interpretation of this scripture, that is definitely the basic way-to-truth narrative in Mormonism: investigate and then pray, and God will reveal whether or not something is true by the power of the Holy Ghost. It is completely central to the basic Mormon testimony, and to the missionary program.

    But you don’t really believe that it is the way to evaluate whether something is true, or you would have no problem couplinng it with Paul’s exhortation to “prove all things things,” such as the Book of Jeraneck.

    So Mormons have confirmation bias: no big deal. Everyone does. It’s part of having a worldview, and everyone has a worldview, whether they admit it or not. The problem lies not in applying a double-standard to your own truth claims, but in attempting to deceptively fast talk investigators and members who question into applying your double-standard to your truth claims. Especially when you present it as not double-standard. That’s slick.

  79. Seth,

    This is NOT about the Book of Jeraneck or the Book of Mormon. It’s about Preach My Gospel and the way Mormon missionaries are taught to use Moroni’s promise.

    I’ll emphasize the things Kullervo said that are exactly in line with what I’m trying to address.

    Face value rejection of Gill by Mormons reveals that there is actually something else embedded in there, some unsaid assumption. For believeing Mormons, that’s fine, just adjust your rhetoric to match reality please.

    So I am asking, what are the other things embedded there that that causes you to reject Matthew Gill? Mormon missionaries make like experience is everything. I see authority and reason playing a role for you as well. Do you agree? Or are you really rejecting him because you prayerfully considered his message the same way investigators are encouraged to examine the LDS church?

  80. I’m not exactly clear on how investigators are being asked to consider the Book of Mormon, and beyond your own anecdotes, I’m not sure you or Kullervo are either.

  81. Um, Seth, they printed that stuff up in the Discussions. I went to the MTC. I learned the commitment pattern.

    Yeah, it was pre-PMG, but I seriously doubt that the “read it and pray to have the Holy Ghost confirm it to be true” has changed since then, even if the rpesentation of the substantive material has changed.

    This isn’t “my own anecdote,” this was/is the published missionary program of the church.

  82. I have read the entire Book of Jeraneck, the Book of Prophesy and Revelation (Gill’s version of the D&C), watched any number of hours of Gill programming on youtube, and interviewed several Gill-ites via email. I’ve written a paper about Matthew Gill that just won an award at the Mormon History Association and will soon be published in an academic journal.

    Here’s my take. 1) Sociologically, there’s a sweet spot of tension with a surrounding culture which makes a religious movement flourish; you can’t be so foreign as to be undesirable, nor too bland to attract interest. Gill is trying to recalibrate that brand for Mormon spirituality; amp up the tension in places that he thinks it’s foundering and resolve it where it seems to be getting too stressful. A number of points of interest – 1) Gill says it’s possible for women to be ordained, but they don’t ordain at set times; rather you’re given the priesthood office God directs when he directs it. This means no women have yet been ordained. In the larger scope of things, this is a swipe at what Gill believes is the stulified bureaucracy of the LDS church. 2) I agree with David’s point that the Book of Jeraneck is supposed to be a Book of Mormon for the British Isles. Indeed, the story clearly parallels the Book of Mormon – a band of Israelites who leave Palestine for a promised land; in this case, England. Gill is what some sociologists call a religious entrepreneur; he’s taking compelling religious elements from the Mormon tradition and recalibrating them for his own. He’s got a complex apostasy narrative in reference to the LDS church, for instance, and a story that echoes intentionally Joseph Smith’s.

    This sort of mimicry – the book of Jeraneck of the book of Mormon, Gill himself of Joseph Smith – is classic religious strategy; it’s why the Book of Mormon is in King James English.

    But, to borrow Jack’s metaphor, if the Book of Mormon is Hannibal to the Bible’s Silence of the Lambs, the Book of Jeraneck is that awful prequel starring that French guy. It’s interesting structurally, and as sort of a homage to the Book of Mormon, but it’s tremendously theologically shallow (there’s nothing in it that even approaches any of the sermons in the Book of Mormon; indeed, there’s not really any sermons at all) and as a narrative it’s rather hackneyed.

    And a point about Mormon epistemology – of course Mormons will appeal to the grand tradition of their church authority. They’re like Catholics in that sense; the Church is a source of truth, just like the pope and the conciliar tradition. Thomas Monson is not first a prophet; he’s first the presiding high priest of the Melchezidek priesthood. I don’t know why this is a bad thing. The question here is _fruits_, which is certainly something on which Mormons make truth claims, despite evangelical accusations about Mormons being all sentiment.

  83. Jack, “I think the Book of Mormon is to the Bible what Hannibal was to The Silence of the Lambs. It’s watchable with occasional glimpses of brilliance, and it has at least one actor from the original that you adored, but in the end, you know perfectly well that it’s not going to take home a single Oscar. ”

    I’d like to know what you think are the glimpses of brilliance in the Book of Mormon.

  84. Thanks for weighing in with all your insight Matt.

    The question here is _fruits_, which is certainly something on which Mormons make truth claims, despite evangelical accusations about Mormons being all sentiment.

    This is my point. Mormons don’t exclusively hold to a sentimental approach. They just say they do. When asked how they evaluate faith claims they point to emotional/prayerful responses. But it’s not what they actually do in real life. This can be seen in the way Mormons evaluate the Book of Jeraneck.

  85. David and Kullervo approach the book from the perspective of “I bought into this book once – now I need to find credible reasons to justify my subsequent rejection of it.” Which in turn prejudices their view of the book.

    I don’t trust David’s read on the Book of Mormon either – which I see as highly cynical, bitter, and overly concerned with saving face and propping up his own exit story.

    Hey Seth, what is my exit story? Why did I stop believing? When did I stop believing? Was this a hard thing for me to do or an easy thing? To what extent am I still active in the LDS church? Any answers? Do you know anything about me? What are my current beliefs Seth?

    For the most part I have really tried to be respectful of Mormons and their beliefs (I admit to lampooning apologist’s beliefs, since they aren’t very Mormon). It has been hard as hell to make the decisions I have made. Every once in a while I think maybe a few Mormons will respect my decision. Then, I read the kind of crap you spew out and it snaps me back into reality. So, I guess thanks are in order. Thanks for reminding me what most Mormons will probably always think of me, based on zero knowledge of anything other than the fact that I have rejected Mormonism.

    Sorry for the thread jack, continue with the Jeraneck stuff.

  86. Yeah David, and do you think that defending the religion from people like you constantly every week is a picnic?

    Everyone has their own story and their own angle. I only respond to how you act here. Don’t expect me to invent an imaginary hypothetical life for you outside your interactions here.

  87. It’s wrong to think of Mormons as hypocrites if they won’t apply to the Book of Jeraneck what they’ve applied to the Book of Mormon (i.e. Moroni 10:3-5). I doubt Moses needed to pray to double check with God whether or not it was okay for the people to have their golden calf after the Lord had already revealed to him that they were to have no other gods before Him. Very rough analogy, I know, but perhaps you can understand how some Mormons might approach this. Part of the revealed doctrine of the church is that revelation, intended for the world, comes through the proper priesthood channels, as has always been the case. After Judas death and the remaining eleven apostles were considering a replacement, we don’t read in the Bible how Matthias walked up to the remaining Apostles and said, “Problem solved. God revealed to me that I’m your guy.” Sorry, that’s not how it works. Again, approaching this from a Mormon perspective, why would I feel the need to read the Book of Jeraneck and pray about it, when it’s very existence and the manner in which it came forth, goes against what the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon implies?

  88. That said, would it be wrong of me or any other faithful mormon to read and pray about the Book of Jeraneck? Absolutely not. Knock yourself out. It’s just wrong to try to superficially apply ‘Moroni’s Promise’ to the Book of Jeraneck and then point the finger at any Mormon who won’t do the same.

  89. Tim, is this going to be another installment in the “missionaries are emotionally abused tools who, in turn, emotionally abuse everyone else they come in contact with” meme?

    If so, you might have said so at the beginning of the post rather than being sneaky about it.

    Seriously, “Mormons are mostly inherently sneaky and dishonest (except for Mormons like Seth and Brian – whose aid I seek in exposing the majority of “dumb” Mormons)” is becoming something of a pet theme for you.

    For the most part, they aren’t being sneaky. They aren’t being dishonest.

    They are human beings. All human beings understand the reasons for their faith only imperfectly at best. And Evangelicals are no different.

    Shall I leave it there Tim? Or shall we arrange another circular firing squad?

  90. But, to borrow Jack’s metaphor, if the Book of Mormon is Hannibal to the Bible’s Silence of the Lambs, the Book of Jeraneck is that awful prequel starring that French guy.

    Ha ha — PERFECT.

    Thank you, Matt B. This comment made my night (and the rest of your input on this topic was awesome, too).

    Katy, I’ll get back to you on that one tomorrow.

  91. “This is different than two significant groups in our conversation, 1) Evangelicals 2) Mormon Missionaries. Evangelicals believe that Truth matters and it pertains to everyone. We believe it is our job to reconcile everyone to the truth of Jesus. It’s totally okay with me if you don’t think everyone should be reconciled to Mormonism but it is a significant difference in our approach.”

    Not sure how to respond to that. Tim, let’s not paint all Mormons with the same brush simply because a few Mormons on the blogosphere believe that to be the case. Just because they may feel that way, doesn’t make it true.

  92. Also Tim, I’m kind of getting the impression that you see LDS investigators who join up with the LDS religion as basically mental sixth graders who need your protection from the abusive LDS system.

    I find this kind of condescending contempt unbecoming. It certainly doesn’t describe my convert father – a highly intelligent man who converted while in college. It doesn’t describe the investigators I worked with in Japan. It doesn’t describe any number of people who join the LDS Church – often with eyes wide open (contrary to your apparent view of us).

    Seriously, you’d think from listening to you that our investigators were incapable of running a basic Google search after the missionaries head back to the apartment.

  93. Apparently I was not actually a Mormon missionary. At least, not according to Tim’s definition. I’m now no longer sure what I was doing for two years out in the Mojave Desert, but maybe someone can enlighten me.

    I am getting really tired of all Mormons/Evangelicals/Catholics/Atheists/Pagans/whatevers being painted with the same broad brush. The Mormon faith has a wide variety of people in it, just as every group does. I am well aware that the so-called Internet Mormons are thought of to be a different bunch for those in Mainstream Mormondom but, honestly, I’m not even sure what Mainstream Mormondom is anymore. I’ve met far too many members from far too many different walks of life to accept the notion that the Mormons that Tim knows are the only ones.

    If you really want dialogue, let’s start with acknowledging that not everyone in a group is the same, rather than saying, “Well, you may believe that, but that isn’t what Mormonism says….” A good follow up would be realising that Preach My Gospel is a guide to missionary service, not the beginning and the end. If there is one thing that I heard more than anything else during my mission, as we participated in Phase II of the PMG program, it was that missionaries are to be flexible in their teaching and opening to the promptings of the Spirit, rather than relying on rote memorisation and set discussions.

  94. Drew said:
    Not sure how to respond to that. Tim, let’s not paint all Mormons with the same brush simply because a few Mormons on the blogosphere believe that to be the case. Just because they may feel that way, doesn’t make it true.

    I was painting with a broad brush there, but only on the Mormons who had commented up until that point in the discussion.

    why would I feel the need to read the Book of Jeraneck and pray about it, when it’s very existence and the manner in which it came forth, goes against what the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon implies?

    And that is exactly the way historic, orthodox Christianity feels about the Book of Mormon and Mormonism at large.

    Part of the revealed doctrine of the church is that revelation, intended for the world, comes through the proper priesthood channels, as has always been the case.

    So you’re satisfied that Catholics and Eastern Orthodox should not investigate Mormonism because it didn’t come through their proper priesthood channels?

  95. Seth, I can tell that you’re feeling unusually defensive. I’m not sure if it’s based on this thread or some other discussion you’re having elsewhere. I’d like to point out that I have not said that anyone is manipulative, deceptive, hypocritical, duplicitous, stupid, or sneaky.

    My point is not to call anyone a liar or a hypocrite. I’m pointing out that Mormon epistemology is not as simple as some Mormon missionaries and some Mormon apologist make it out to be. Matthew Gill and the Book of Jeraneck should only present a problem to Mormonism (or you) if that’s all there is to it.

  96. “And that is exactly the way historic, orthodox Christianity feels about the Book of Mormon and Mormonism at large.”

    -That’s not news to me. 🙂

    “So you’re satisfied that Catholics and Eastern Orthodox should not investigate Mormonism because it didn’t come through their proper priesthood channels?”

    -Satisfied? Not at all. Can I relate and understand where they’re coming from? Absolutely.

  97. Tim, everyone has different motives and sources for what they believe. People may simplify the different faith traditions for the sake of discussion, but that doesn’t mean that they are claiming to have been comprehensive. Of course Mormons don’t just “feel” their way into the Gospel. They use reasoning and such as well.

    I have a hard time seeing why this is a surprise.

    Mormons are not entirely intuitive and emotion-driven.

    Neither do certain slices of Evangelicaldom believe that all you have to do is an “alter call” and you’re all set with Jesus.

    But to hear the rhetoric, you’d probably be tempted to conclude otherwise. Given the rhetoric online that I’ve been witness to – I might be justified in thinking most online Evangelicals were modalists – for instance.

    Would you say that was a fair characterization of their position?

    Argument and debate tends to distort our positions as much as it clarifies them. If you lose sight of that, you risk over-simplifying the positions people hold.

  98. And if you are simply broad-brushing based on the Mormons commenting here, I am just as puzzled.

    I have been telling you that Mormons don’t simply “feel” their way into the faith for years. I’ve been saying that Moroni’s Promise is misused for quite some time. Kullervo seems to think this misuse is formalized in the new LDS missionary material. I’m not convinced.

    Either way, we’ve been advocating for a nuanced multi-sourced approach to faith for quite some time. You can’t have missed it, right?

  99. Seth, I actually think that most people in the world (not just missionaries) are to greater or lesser extent “emotionally abused tools” who perpetuate their abuse. This is not necessarily because they are failing morally (I am not trying to assign blame to them; in fact, I think most of them are more or less innocent): it is because they have inherited false traditions from their fathers, who inherited them from their fathers, et cetera ad primum hominem (can I get a cheer for the myth of the Fall?).

    The remedy for this is recognition (or, in Christian parlance “coming to Christ”): we have to see that we are broken. I’m broken, you’re broken, Tim’s broken, everyone in every church is broken. The more I think about it, the more it seems to me that churches (in general, not just ours or theirs) have a disturbing tendency to perpetuate the brokenness rather than fix it. They do this by trying to create a single, unitary cure for what is only notionally a unitary disease. Though you and I are both “broken”, I am not broken exactly the same way you are: I need work in one place, and you need it in another. The lie of the church (every church) is that the same medicine will heal both of us.

    Interestingly enough, most churches do have measures in place to try and fix their poisonous tendencies: evangelicals have grass-roots ministries; we have home-teachers. To the extent that these measures disengage from the external program of the larger church (creeds; missionary program, correlation) and engage individuals, trying to facilitate individual spiritual and moral growth (without controlling or defining this), they succeed. To the degree that they prefer the group to the individual (in worst-case scenarios, the church co-opts the people who should be combatting it, giving home-teachers a “script” that they follow as a matter of course), they fail.

    The upshot of all of this, for me, is that the individual must take responsibility for his own moral health. Relying on any church or church doctrine to save someone is like overdosing on antibiotics. You win the first round against the demons, but they only come back stronger in the end (there is a nice parable in the NT that says something like this). So the problem with Mormonism that Tim is attacking is not just a Mormon problem: we are sick with the same constellation of diseases deriving from over-reliance on faulty collective wisdom (creeds, articles of faith, etc.) that affects most if not all of the world (including many atheists: most of us rely on some kind of false collective knowledge no matter what our feelings on the three-letter word “god” vel sim). What we need is for every member of every church to become his own prophet: we must each replicate the experience of Joseph Smith functionally (rather than formally in the silly application of Moroni’s promise that Kullervo is rightly ridiculing).

    That is ultimately why I continue to regard myself as philosophically Mormon, even though I have serious problems with the modern LDS. I believe in Joseph Smith’s ideas (some of them, anyway) for the individual, even as I lament their misapplication in the collective monstrosity that is the church. (I still attend church, too, and participate in all the activities I can: we helped someone move last Saturday, and I blessed my son Sunday with some good friends whom I home-teach). If I had to bear my testimony, it would be something like this: “Joseph Smith was a true prophet (except when he wasn’t), and the church is false (even though the gospel can be true).” That is probably enough rambling. Thanks for your patience.

  100. And if you are simply broad-brushing based on the Mormons commenting here, I am just as puzzled.

    I’m not painting all Mormons with the broad brush based on the Mormons who comment here.

    I was painting all the Mormons who had commented here up to that point with a broad brush in that particular quote that Drew highlighted. I didn’t differentiate “Brian said this. . and Eric said this. . and Seth thinks this. . .etc” because all of you were expressing a similar theme (You’re not concerned if people accept Mormonism or not).

  101. I’ve been saying that Moroni’s Promise is misused for quite some time. Kullervo seems to think this misuse is formalized in the new LDS missionary material. I’m not convinced.

    It was definitely formalized in the discussions when Iw as on my mission. I’m not as familiar with Preach my Gospel, so I may just be wrong. But I imagine if it is not formalized there, it is nevertheless de rigeur: I seriously doubt that missionary culture just changed overnight.

  102. But Kullervo-it certainly could have changed a ton since you were an active LDS, and even more from when you were on your mission. Missions only last two years; mission presidencies only last three, right? So, in theory, within, say, a six year period, you could have an entirely new missionary culture started as people adopted a new approach and implemented it.

    Just sayin’.

  103. If missionary culture was isolated from the wider Church culture, sure. But it definitely isn’t: youth, active missionaries, and returned missionaries all interact with each other constantly on a religious basis within the context of the larger church organizational culture. To me, that’s the kind of circuit that’s not going to drift to quickly.

  104. Seth,
    I’m sure I warned you all a long time ago that Tim was dishonest, had ulterior motives, is incredibly condescending and isn’t an honest seeker of the truth. I recall several people sticking up for him.

    He ain’t honest like Jack. There’s only 1 Jack.

  105. Well, I got behind on this one.

    Tim: “And isn’t this the very criticism that Mormons charge non-Mormons with? That we’re not willing to allow God to speak to us outside of our preconceived notions.”

    I already responded to that question several times on this thread, so why would you ask it again?

    As for all your “reason, experience, authority” talk, this isn’t the first time you’ve brought it up, and you still haven’t convinced me that your religious belief is based on anything that anyone outside of your belief would accept as reason—and yet you wear it like a deputy’s badge. As for authority, your claims are really no different than Mormonism’s, at least from an outsider’s view.

    And since you’re so concerned with Preach My Gospel, why not devote this thread to that more directly? Then everyone could agree to read the text that we’re actually debating. So tell me, what does Preach My Gospel say about how one recognizes the Spirit?

  106. I’m not arguing (currently) that my claims to reason, authority, or experience are superior. I’m just trying to provoke those claims to reason and authority which Mormons clearly have, but are hesitant to express.

    We don’t really need to open up PMG by chapter and page number to discover that Mormons emphasize experience. Your own opening comments expressed the viewpoint well enough. I’m sure Aaron has written a chapter by chapter review of PMG. Perhaps we could ask him for the necessary quotes.

    I’ll admit that as Mormons have shared their deference to authority I haven’t been shy about mirroring back Mormon apologetics. But that’s really more of an indictment against bad apologetics than against Mormon belief. I think just as I do, Mormons should trust authority in forming their beliefs (especially the authority of the Bible).

  107. I just grabbed the copy of PMG I received during the last six weeks of my mission, and just read through the section on recognising the Spirit.

    The first point it makes is that conversion only comes through the power of the Spirit. We are not converted by the words of men or women. It is God, through His Holy Spirit, that converts. Thus, we have the emphasis on recognising the Spirit. I find the conclusion to be quite interesting, in light of this discussion:

    As you pray for inspiration, you should also confirm your feelings. For example, compare your decisions with the scriptures and the teachings of the living prophets.

    Immediately before this was a very lengthy list of scriptures that illustrate how the Spirit teaches through the heart and the mind by revealing truth and enlightenment that comes from regularly studying the scriptures. Finally, I wish to note that at no point in PMG does it ever suggest that an investigator base their entire testimony on one chapter in the Book of Mormon. Instead, investigators are invited to begin reading the Book of Mormon, while also accepting reading assignments related to either the previous or next lesson.

  108. Great quote Alex. Unfortunately the missionaries visiting me right now don’t seem to have read it. Perhaps I’ll point it out to them.

    Brian said:
    you still haven’t convinced me that your religious belief is based on anything that anyone outside of your belief would accept as reason

    Brian, as a scientist you believe things that other people outside of your scientific viewpoint don’t believe (macro-evolution for example). That doesn’t mean that you haven’t used reason to come to your conclusions. Conclusions have consequences and accepting conclusions about evolution make people a part of your belief system.

    I can’t point to a single non-Christian from the time of Jesus who confirms that Jesus rose from the dead. When someone accepted that Jesus rose from the dead, they became a Christian.

    So of course people outside of my belief system don’t accept my conclusions, that’s the very thing that puts them outside of my belief system. But they can at least acknowledge that I’m attempting to use reason or external evidence to make my case. When I point to the historic empty tomb I’m not making an argument from my own experience and I’m not making an argument from authority.

    Mormon apologist use reason and evidence as well. They do it best when they make room inside of Christianity for Mormon beliefs by showing that some “primitive” Christians held some of the same beliefs. They also do it anytime they point to chiasmus or Nahom. I don’t agree with their conclusions but I can’t say they never use reason.

  109. Tim, I hope you do! The quote comes at the end of chapter four, “Recognizing the Spirit” under the section heading “A Word of Caution” – sounds like a lot of missionaries are missing this important message! It is in print, and it is a part of the most recent program for missionary service.

    I think it was kullervo earlier who stated that things don’t just change overnight, but I see this as a major step in the right direction. Now we just need everyone to take that step.

  110. Generally people that believe they are correct and that their position is supported by reason, emotion, authority, and science, and the Spirit are happy to have people be convinced of their position by emotion alone since they believe they are headed in the right direction.

    Likewise, if they are convinced of the opposite point of view, FOR ANY REASON, they are going to be skeptical of the method by which they became convinced of that point of view.

    This applies to Evangelicals as well as Mormons. Evangelicals are happy to have people accept Christ after they have a burning in their chest when they read John 3:16, even if that is the only reason they begin believing. This is the same if you are convicted in your sins and feel the need for salvation. Its very clear that this feeling could lead you in all kinds of directions other than Christianity, but Evangelicals are not going to be skeptical of the method of conversion UNLESS it produces the wrong result.

    Mormon missionaries aren’t really going to care one way or another if you don’t compare the BOM to the bible since they already know its true, they just want you to get started on the right track.

    Likewise, Mormons who convert to Mormonism over Protestantism BY ANY METHOD are going to be held in suspect by Evangelicals. Evangelicals are only suspect of the conversion methods when they lead away from

    This is the same with any scientific position. The scientists and public health policy people who have established that vaccines are a public health benefit don’t care why people use vaccines, whether its fear, emotion, or science, they are just happy to have them use them.

    Equally, they are going to be skeptical of anybody who doesn’t think vaccines are good, regardless of what method that person uses of reaching that conclusion, because the established believers in vaccines can already “tell” that it is wrong due to the inconsistencies with their established position.

    The point is, when you think you are right, you are not really concerned with the conversion method, so long as it is consistent with the truth, only that people are converted to the truth. And there is no question that Moroni’s promise is fully consistent with both the Bible and the Book of Mormon, both traditional Christian and restored Christian thought. Jesus promises you “anything you ask in his name”.

    Therefore I can’t see how there is really any inconsistency or really any problem with the Mormon missionary methods that is any greater than the problems with Evangelical persuasion techniques or Public health policy persuasion techniques. Equally it is completely consistent to ask people to only apply the conversion techniques in the direction of what the believers think is true. (e.g. The Center for Disease Control is not funding studies to disprove the effectiveness of their vaccine programs.)

    Lets be clear also, it is a complete caricature of Mormon belief to say that most Mormons believe based on a single experience with the Spirit based on Moroni’s promise. Generally, like any religion, it is a combination of social, intellectual, spiritual and psychological processes that confirm and build their faith in the Mormon direction. This is the message in the Book of Mormon, see Alma 32. In addition Mormons have well developed apologetics to further support the spiritual, social and psychological experiences that lead members to the faith using the bible, history, science etc.

  111. Also,

    The beauty of the experience based Missionary approach is that you don’t have to rely on trained preachers, you can just get well dressed,sincere young men and women to go out and get people to have experiences. You don’t have to worry about authority and reason or anything else.

    The reason why its effective is that most people don’t make decisions based reason when it comes to religion. Mormons already have authority covered by convincingly appealing to the bible, or at least convincing enough to resolve concerns that may outweigh experience.

    If the goal is goal is to get most people on the right track, the experience based approach seems to be the best method.

    Whether or not its the most consistent or reliable method when applied to other untrue religions is really irrelevant.

  112. Well, Tim, I admit that I completely lost sight of what you are arguing here then. Perhaps I don’t know what you mean by “reason” or “authority.”

    Alex: those are the quotes from PMG that I had in mind, especially the long list of scriptures. Thanks.

  113. Great points, Jared. Individuals create conversion “stories” by processes that are more or less the same regardless of what someone is converting to (evangelicalism, Mormonism, vaccination, etc.). I am really interested in controlling these processes in myself, since I am tired of being had by the P. T. Barnums of the world (whether intentional or just delusional).

  114. Tim: no, that’s the post I remembered and it doesn’t help. Sorry.

    Suppose I find that following the principles found in the New Testament makes me happier, time and time again. That’s an experience argument, I know. But at what point can I start to view the NT as an “authority on happy choices” by your definition? Or, if I apply the “by their fruits ye shall know them” test, at what point does it become sound reasoning to consider the NT as a thoroughly vetted source?

    Actually, that’s probably jumping ahead too much. Just help me understand this: How do you determine what you will view as “authority”?

    “People come to believe religious ideas based on three things 1)Reason 2) Experience 3)Authority. The ideal situation would rely on all three.”

    What makes you so sure (that that’s “ideal”)?

    ““Preach My Gospel” tells us only to rely on experience.”

    I’m glad you saw Alex’s comment.

  115. Tim wrote:

    Great quote Alex. Unfortunately the missionaries visiting me right now don’t seem to have read it. Perhaps I’ll point it out to them.

    Tim, please stop making assumptions about what other people have read. It is quite condescending. Just because their reading comprehension skills aren’t quite as good as yours…just like yours appear to not be as good as someone like Alex Valencic.

    I agree with Alex that you should point it out to them. Show them that what they “appear” to be saying is an over-simplification of the principle. Ask them if they disagree with the principle as outlined in their own manual. FYI, the link for the manual is here. Just don’t judge them too much for oversimplifying things. I’ve sure you’ve done that on multiple occasions before in your life, it would probably behoove you to show some of that Christian charity (instead of that good old fashioned Protestant/Puritan judgement)… As a quantum chemist, I feel like I over-simplify things all the time…

  116. Keep in mind that deep investigation of a new religious concept takes a while. The people who respond instantly are the people who did not investigate, at least not deeply. That doesn’t mean deep investigators don’t exist, but that their responses inherently take longer. There is an inherent bias in the responses based on their timing.

    Also, one pretty important theological precept inherent to LDS theology is the Restoration of the Gospel; that is, that the authority of prophets was lost from the earth after the twelve apostles of Jesus died and did not exist on Earth until it was restored through Joseph Smith. It’s peculiar reasoning that suggests this singular event that took more than a dozen centuries would be repeated twice in such close succession, leading to an inherent skepticism in practicing Mormons.

    I just found out about Matthew Gill today. Don’t expect any thorough report on his movement from me for at least a week or two. I prefer to do things completely or not at all.

  117. As for all your “reason, experience, authority” talk, this isn’t the first time you’ve brought it up, and you still haven’t convinced me that your religious belief is based on anything that anyone outside of your belief would accept as reason—and yet you wear it like a deputy’s badge. As for authority, your claims are really no different than Mormonism’s, at least from an outsider’s view.

    QFT.

  118. As one of those ’emotionally abused tools’ (as Seth R. so descriptively put it) that met with Tim, I can definitely see where he is coming from. I would agree that more often than not, LDS missionaries take a “one size fits all” approach to their proselytizing, and that if that one approach doesn’t work, it must be the other person’s fault. I shamefully admit that I took that approach on occasion, although I hope by the time I met the gracious Tim and Wendy I had wised up a bit. The whole purpose of the Preach My Gospel was to break missionaries from this model and to teach them to “teach by the spirit according to the needs of the investigators.”

    As I see it, this whole discussion centers on the validity of Moroni’s promise, and if it can indeed be extended to test the validity of other purportedly holy writ and/or doctrines. I find it interesting that this post is 133 comments in and no one has actually posted or more than superficially analyzed Moroni’s promise.

    “3 Behold, I would exhort you that when ye shall read these things, if it be wisdom in God that ye should read them, that ye would remember how merciful the Lord hath been unto the children of men, from the creation of Adam even down until the time that ye shall receive these things, and ponder it in your hearts.
    4 And when ye shall receive these things, I would exhort you that ye would ask God, the Eternal Father, in the name of Christ, if these things are not true; and if ye shall ask with a sincere heart, with real intent, having faith in Christ, he will manifest the truth of it unto you, by the power of the Holy Ghost.
    5 And by the power of the Holy Ghost ye may know the truth of all things. “ BOM, Moroni 10:3-5

    I believe it is important to note that Moroni promises that the Holy Ghost will manifest the truth of “these things,” which if you read the preceding verses indicates he is referring to the Book of Mormon record itself. While it goes on to say that the Holy Ghost can reveal the truth of all things, I believe Moroni’s Promise is specific to testing the validity of the Book of Mormon record itself. While he reveals a pattern for obtaining any light and knowledge through the Holy Ghost, it is important that we judiciously use these verses for their original scope of intent. Unless the Book of Jeraneck has its own internal promise for testing its validity that is identical to Moroni’s, I can’t necessarily expect that God will reveal its truth in the same way. I think “true” could also use a proper definition. I believe that it means that the words were indeed written by inspiration of the Holy Ghost and that the principles taught will actually bring a person closer to God. I don’t really see that the Book of Jeraneck makes such claims to truth.

    I think it is also important to note the key processes in the promise. First of course, that I actually read these things. Second, that I ponder what it is really inviting me to do(which is to believe in and follow Christ and His prophets, both ancient and modern,) and then to ask with real intent, which I believe means I am committed to live by and be accountable for the knowledge that I am asking God for. I don’t necessarily believe that this all happens linearly or all in one sitting, and in fact, should be carried out over time. Some people receive a witness the moment they ask, for others it takes a lifetime. Most of the talks on revelation I have read by the leaders of the LDS church describe the witness as a gradual process, and not as a lightning bolt. Perhaps you could call them “micro-truths” that feel right and good and that aggregate over time to a more comprehensive witness of truth. While the Bible has accounts of great manifestations of the spirit as on the day of Pentecost, it more frequently describes it more subtly as fruits of love, peace, charity, etc., a whisper of the wind, a still small voice, a tingling of the ears, and a burning of the heart, to name a few. My witness that the Book of Mormon was indeed a true testament of Jesus Christ came slowly as I tried to live by the principles it taught. The best way to learn if any principle is true is to try to live it and then examine the fruits. I don’t believe God gives any worthwhile knowledge cheaply. I don’t really see the BofJ inviting me to pattern my life after its teachings.

    I think it is also important to look at Moroni’s promise in its context. The verses following it talk about the diverse gifts of the Holy Spirit and the different ways the spirit is manifested by the followers of Christ. Every person has different gifts, and indeed, everyone receives the truth in slightly different way(i.e. everyone has their own personal epistemiology, and we should respect that there are multiple valid epistemiologies). I met some LDS converts on my mission who were intellectually convinced of the truth of the Book of Mormon (‘it just made sense’) and only a few months after he was baptized did he claim to have received a spiritual witness that it was true. I have heard people claim they have had deceased loved ones tell them in dreams to listen to the LDS missionaries. I had a stake president tell me that he did not receive a definitive witness of the truth of the Book of Mormon until 20 years after he had served a mission.

    I believe that Moroni’s promise is that every person who sincerely asks regarding the truth of the Book of Mormon and is willing to live by the answer they receive (either yea or nea) will eventually receive an answer in a way that is the most meaningful to them. If someone reads the Book of Mormon looking for truth, I believe they will find it. If you read it looking for flaws, I believe you will find those, too. Joseph Smith never claimed that it was a perfect or infallible book, but that it “was the most correct book, and that a man would come nearer to God by abiding by its precepts than by any other book.” As a missionary, I tried to help show people the ability of the Book of the Mormon to better their lives in a way I felt would be most meaningful to them. But all I could do was tell them how I came to know what I knew, and try to help them come to their own conclusions, which would only come if they attempted to act on our message. If people were flat out not interested, I didn’t push the issue, but I at least tried to give them a chance to hear me out and choose. I try to give anyone brave enough to share their innermost convictions at least a few moments of consideration. If I sense some truth in what they say, I will give them a few more. I sure appreciated it when people did that for me.

  119. hey Scott,

    That’s an interesting take that Moroni’s promise only applies to the Book of Mormon. I’ve encountered many other Mormons who apply it to other things as well (Joseph Smith as prophet, Smith’s practice of polygamy and polyandry, the LDS church as the TRUE church). Would you discourage people from seeking Moroni’s promise for those things? What would you say about their spiritual witness of them through Moroni’s promise?

    I noticed that you in your own explanation extended Moroni’s Promise outside of the Book of Mormon. For example you mentioned that Moroni’s Promise was directing us to follow modern prophets. Also as Seth explained above concerning Matthew Gill, just because he received an ancient book does not mean he is a new prophet or that he can set us his own church. The same would apply to Joseph Smith. So how do you gain a spiritual witness of Joseph Smith and the LDS church? Or do we not need to gain a spiritual witness of such things.

    As one of those ‘emotionally abused tools’

    Just to bring you up to speed, Seth was referring to two previous posts I had written. I’ll gladly clarify that neither you nor any other missionary I’ve met with been have been missionaries I’ve been concerned for.

    https://ldstalk.wordpress.com/2009/09/28/witnessing-to-mormon-missionaries/

    https://ldstalk.wordpress.com/2009/10/01/helping-mormon-missionaries-call-home/

  120. I’m leaving aside the circular reasoning of trusting Moroni’s Promise in order to trust the Book of Mormon.

  121. Regarding the ‘tools’, I said it in pure jest. Facetiousness is difficult to convey sometimes over typed media.

    To clarify my point in my previous post: I believe that in those verses I quoted, Moroni is specifically promising that a spiritual witness of the Book of Mormon ( “these things”) can be obtained by the pattern he outlines. I was trying to clarify the oft used term, “Moroni’s Promise.” While the pattern of searching, pondering, and praying (laid out here as well as in D&C 9:7-9) can be applied to obtain confirmation of other vital truths (“by the power of the Holy Ghost, you may know the truth of all things”), Moroni was making no promise regarding the truth of other texts (i.e. Book of Jeraneck.)

    I was also trying to say that this promised witness will likely not come immediately or in a way you will necessarily expect, and I tried to give evidence of this from the experiences of myself and others. But it will come. So when someone tells me they have read, pondered, and prayed about the Book of Mormon, and they didn’t feel a spiritual explosion of Biblical proportion the moment they say ‘Amen,’ and cite this as evidence that the promise failed, I am a tad incredulous. Perhaps an overzealous member promised them this is how it would happen, but Moroni sure didn’t. I find inspiration comes when I am studying or trying to live what I study, not necessarily while I am still on my knees.

    To answer your other question regarding how we know whether Joseph Smith was really a prophet of God, whether the Holy Priesthood was restored, etc. I believe that Moroni’s ‘Pattern’ could be applied to each principle individually, but these things are inseparably connected to the truth of the Book of Mormon’s content and origin.

    The Book of Mormon is often referred to as the keystone of the LDS church. The keystone in an arch is the center stone that locks all of the pieces together. Take out the center piece, and the rest of the structure tumbles. So if someone receives a witness that the Book of Mormon truly is holy writ, then everything else falls into place. If the Book of Mormon is not true, then we can pretty much discount everything else Joseph claimed. That is why the missionaries put so much emphasis on it.

    It is like you stated before. When someone makes a leap of faith and concedes that Jesus Christ was truly resurrected, they become a Christian. When someone makes a leap of faith and concedes that the Book of Mormon is holy writ, they typically become a Mormon. There are other issues that may trouble someone about the LDS church, but the ultimate question that must be resolved is the veracity of the Book of Mormon.

  122. Thanks for that explanation Scott.

    I know that Utah LDS consider the Book of Mormon the keystone to belief in the LDS church, but clearly the many other Mormon sects don’t believe that Brigham Young or Thomas Monson are default modern day prophets just because the Book of Mormon exists. The succession crisis caused by Smith’s murder makes it much more complicated than that.

    It’s a bit like me saying, if you believe in the resurrection than you’re obviously going to be a Methodist.

    I know you were being facetious about missionaries being tools. Seth was not.

  123. So if someone receives a witness that the Book of Mormon truly is holy writ, then everything else falls into place.

    Not a chance.

    At best, a reasonable person can make an inference from the truth of the Book of Mormon that “everything else falls into place,” i.e., that the modern insitutional LDS Church is God’s one true official authorized church that teaches the one true official truth.

    But x doesn’t come anywhere near to automatically following y.

  124. Tim: I know you were gone for a while, but now that you’re back I was hoping that you could answer a question I asked earlier:

    How do you determine what you will view as “authority”?

    Thanks.

  125. I have a lot more I want to say about reason, experience and authority. I’m just too busy right now.

  126. I am surprised that none of the LDS posters has brought up the “Authority” issue more during this discussion. I think it would be the main point for disregarding Br. Gill’s assertions.

    If, as a believing member of the LDS faith, you believe that Joseph Smith “restored” fully the Church of Christ on the earth and was given exclusively the restored keys and authority to act as the living prophet of such church and also believing that there has not been a “falling away” of the LDS church since that time, then there is no way that Br. Gill’s experience could be true because God, having restored His church, would now only act and give revelation through the established leadership of said Church.

    So Moroni’s promise really doesn’t even come into play in this instance.

    If, however, this new doctrine was coming from the current living prophet of the LDS church, then the need to pray and receive a personal witness of it as a member of the Church would be necessary.

    It all comes down to authority and the belief that such authority has been given through clear, established channels by God.

  127. Ah, Tim, just read your comment about the crisis of the line of authority after Joseph Smith’s murder…

    Yes, I see how that complicates the “authority” matter, to a non-member. But the question wasn’t why a non-member would or wouldn’t consider Prophet Gill’s claim. It was why a believing member. If you are a believing member, then the authority issue has been resolved and would still be the main reason to disregard Br. Gill.

    Of course, a firm believer woudn’t consider Gill a “Mormon” anymore. He may believe Mormon tenets, but by going outside of the established authority line (i.e. Prophet, then apostle, then Seventy, then local leaders, etc., etc.) and proclaiming to have received revelation for the Church ENTIRE automatically labels him an apostate of the Church. The belief being that once God has established His Church again, He would not deviate from it…

  128. Anelie: “I am surprised that none of the LDS posters has brought up the “Authority” issue more during this discussion.”

    I direct you to the comment I posted on June 4, 2010 at 12:52 am, in particular: “…Authority for what? to receive revelation? …the bottom line is that I believe that this type of revelation (or rather, on this scale or for this wide an audience) would come only through LDS prophets….”

    On another note, despite my trust in LDS authority, I nevertheless disagree with your assessment that I must always view it as exclusive. It’s reason to give me pause concerning Gill, but not to reject him outright.

  129. But does it really beg the question? The post asks if you as a Mormon would consider prayerfully Br. Gill’s assertion, and if not, why? Lack of authority is the main reason of why not. Whether you personally recognize that authority is irrelevant to the main question.

    The main post (and this “Prophet Gill” business all-together) is an obvious attempt to show Mormons how misguided we are in the first place. No one is really interested in why or why not we would consider Br. Gill’s claim…except as a device to use our answers in a way to undermine Joseph Smith. (And I honestly mean that in a very non-hostile and unbitter way. LOL If it can come across as such.)

  130. Likewise, Anelie, I posted this on June 7th: “Again, approaching this from a Mormon perspective, why would I feel the need to read the Book of Jeraneck and pray about it, when it’s very existence and the manner in which it came forth, goes against what the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon implies?”—It’s a long thread…..

    That said, I agree with what you wrote. Not being too familiar with the blog, this post seemed to be less of an attempt to understand Mormon beliefs and more of an attempt to ‘trip’ Mormons up in their beliefs.

  131. So I just finished reading the Book of Jareneck of the church’s Web site. I have to say that if anyone reads this book and actually believes that it is a “direct translation” of an ancient language…..then you are delusional!

    First, the “narrator” Jarenek, while attempting to speak very (dare I say?) “Book of Mormon-ish”, tends to slip in words and phrases that are very 21st Century.

    Second, I noticed dozens, if not hundreds, of spelling and grammar mistakes (which may just be the actual scribe’s lack of command of the English language), but still, this is supposed to be some holy text, right?

    Third, what divine purpose was this book supposed to teach? What NEW light and knowledge was it supposed to provide? All I saw was a very poorly written history of a people very similar to the Nephites, Jaredites, Lamanites that really liked to kill each other, with the author giving very grissly details of murders and rapes.

    The only real “moral” that it taught was to love God, obey commandments, yada yada yada. There was nothing new or inspired about this book.

    The purpose of the Book of Mormon is to correct and dispell false doctines that have come with mis-interpretations and translations of the Bible. This Book of Jeraneck did none of this.

    Again, if anyone reads this book and can think that it is a direct translation of an ancient text, is either A) easily duped by other people that are easily duped, B) unable to think cleary for themselves, C) no common sense, or D) All of the Above.

    Enjoy the book. I laughed really hard in quite a few parts by the shear stupidity of it all!

  132. I don’t care about grammar mistakes, 21st century phrases, and lack of command of the English language. None of this disqualifies a book from being a holy text – unless you believe that God only allows Pulitzer Prize winners to write for him.

  133. Seth R. is right. If you’re going to discount the Book of Jaraneck for spelling and grammar mistakes, you should do the same with the Book of Mormon. The Book of Mormon is valuable not because it’s free of mistakes (it isn’t), but because it helps us to be more like Christ.

  134. I almost feel like Zach might be a set up. Aren’t all of his complaints traditional charges levied at the Book of Mormon?

  135. The joys of the Internet. You never can tell.

    I sometimes thought that some of the Mormon commenters over at Mormon Coffee were moles.

    I still think that “Mormon” guy in that recent Evangelical film Joseph Smith vs. the Bible wasn’t a real Mormon, but merely an Evangelical actor.

  136. Maybe I should have been a little more clear, so my apologies to all. In my opinion, which may not be worth very much, it would seem to me that if someone were actually translating a holy text from an ancient language, they could at least take the time to make sure that it is translated correctly.

    This not only means that the meaning of the ancient words are translated correctly, but that they are also spelled correctly, with correct punctuation (commas and periods, for example).

    I understand that spelling and grammar themselves don’t discount the veracity of the book itself, but you would think that these minor details would be taken into consideration for something so seemingly important.

  137. In addition, as I read through the book, it seemed to me that due to these misspellings, lack of grammatical efficiencies, tone, words used, phrases, etc., that this book in no way can compare itself to other scriptural texts – the Book of Mormon and the Bible.

    This may be ignorance on my part, but to put it bluntly, it just sounded fake. Fake as fake can get.

    Almost as if whoever wrote it did so in about 5 days time in their spare time between watching Lord of the Rings and Braveheart.

    If I were reading it just as a regular spiritual book, I still didn’t find it inspirational in any way. Yes, we should keep the Lord’s commandments. That’s true no matter what. I don’t see how this book in any way adds to the testimony of Jesus Christ.

    If the Book of Mormon did not exist, would this book alone be sufficient to provide clarity to false doctrines? Absolutely not. It is insufficient. It is uninspirational. It sucked.

  138. The Book of mormon doesn’t really provide as much “clarity to false doctrines” as Mormons like to claim when they are having a pat-yourselves-on-the-back party either.

  139. Zach, how exactly would God ensure that a person like Joseph Smith used proper grammar and got an accurate translation?

    Are you suggesting that it was all a matter of Joseph Smith just “taking a bit more time”?

  140. Absolutely it’s about taking a bit more time. It’s about looking at a sentence and deciding where commas and periods go. It’s about looking at the words I’ve written and said “should this be spelled ‘their’ or ‘there’?” Should it there be an apostrophe or not?

  141. How can someone take however long to go through the process of translating scripture from ancient text, which I’m sure isn’t easy (in Joseph Smith’s case. I think the Book of Jareneck is a bunch of B.S.) and not even take the time to make sure words were spelled correctly?

  142. Zach, have you ever actually READ an original copy of Joseph Smith’s manuscript of the Book of Mormon?

    The grammar was horrid. There were misspellings everywhere. They didn’t even use any paragraphs to separate the text – it was all one big long block of text. Punctuation was minimal, and sometimes non-existent.

    The text was a mess. It is only through 200 years of revisions for spelling, grammar, and punctuation and readability by the LDS Church that we have the book you hold today in your hand.

    You’ve basically been challenging Joseph Smith’s claims to prophetic authority this whole time without even knowing it.

    I say your criteria for an “inspired text” are simply unrealistic and false.

  143. Zach, Joseph Smith had a very minimal education. Most people of that era did.

    Some of my extended family have full Bachelors degrees from respected universities, and their spelling in emails is awful.

    Are you saying that God should have performed a direct mind-control link to ensure that Joseph spelled the word “verily” correctly?

  144. That was the 1800s. We live in 2010. We have this little thing called Spellcheck. It’s a really nice feature! And as you said, Joseph Smith had almost no education, whereas I imagine the person that “translated” this book does. I think he should know the difference between “whether” and “weather”, “their” vs. “there”, etc.

    I’m not claiming to be a literary expert, nor am I an expert of Mormon history. I have not read the original version of the Book of Mormon. I haven’t been privileged to do so.

    However, as I read this book, I couldn’t help but think the entire time how fake it sounded. When you read the Book of Mormon, not only can you feel the Spirit, but it FORCES you to ask yourself “Did Joseph Smith write this or translate it? Because if he wrote it, he’s a genious.”

    With the Book of Jareneck, the only thing I could think the entire time was how anyone that used to be LDS and served a mission could have written it. Anyone with a 9th grade reading level, in fact. The wording, the phrases. They just sounded too 21st century to have been translated “directly” from ancient text.

    This is the last I have to say about it. Have fun believing it if you want. We’ll see who’s right in the end. Good bye!

  145. Zach, did you read any of my previous comments?

    I don’t believe in the Book of Jeraneck. I’m an active Mormon and I spend my time here defending the LDS position.

    I just didn’t much care for the implications behind your line of argument.

  146. However, as I read this book, I couldn’t help but think the entire time how fake it sounded. When you read the Book of Mormon, not only can you feel the Spirit, but it FORCES you to ask yourself “Did Joseph Smith write this or translate it? Because if he wrote it, he’s a genious.”

    Bullsh!t.

    You can feel the spirit and feel forced to ask whether JS wrote or translated it on account of its genius because you are a mormon and you thus already believe that the Book of Mormon is an authentic, theologically profound ancient record

    People who don’t come in with your same mountain of confirmation bias are not “forced” to think those things at all.

  147. Tim: “I almost feel like Zach might be a set up. Aren’t all of his complaints traditional charges levied at the Book of Mormon?”

    I thought the same thing.

    Seth: “It is only through 200 years of revisions…”

    Well, not exactly 200, but I agree with your point. The vast majority of essential changes were made by the time of the first printing. Still, I wonder how Zach would respond if the LDS Church ever gets around to making the changes suggested by Skousen’s work.

  148. “Absolutely it’s about taking a bit more time. It’s about looking at a sentence and deciding where commas and periods go. It’s about looking at the words I’ve written and said “should this be spelled ‘their’ or ‘there’?” Should it there be an apostrophe or not?”

    “We have this little thing called Spellcheck. It’s a really nice feature!”

    “Because if he wrote it, he’s a genious.”

    I don’t think that reading all of these put together could have made me any happier. I love it when people use bad grammar, punctuation, and spelling to complain about bad grammar, punctuation, and spelling. Especially when it doesn’t appear to have been done on purpose. Comedy gold!

  149. I have been thinking about this day and night since I first read your website yesterday. I have not read the book of Jeraneck but I have read the Book of Momon from cover to cover and I followed Moroni’s promise at the end where it says that if we ask our Heavenly Father in the nameof thy son Jesus Christ he will tell us that it is true. I do not think I told you this last time, but I did do that. I did, and I heard the voice of his son the Holy Ghost whisper to me “It is true.”

    I think if I read the book of Jeraneck and I prayed about it, I know that our Heavenly Father would also make the Holy Ghost whisper to me whether it was true or not.I don’t think the missionaries have theBook of Jeraneck, but I typed it in on amazon.com and it has it there, where you can buy it for $13.95. I ordered it on amazon.com and when it comes I will also read it from cover to cover and pray to ask the Holy Ghost if it is true by the power of the still small voice. I do not know what will happen but I think that the HolyGhost will tell me. I know whether the Book of Jeraneck is true after I read it if I pray and ask in prayer and then the Holy Ghost says yes. “That is my testimony.”

  150. Does Matthew Gill have a page on Facebook? How can I get a hard copy of the Book of Jarenek?

  151. I found this book to be so poorly written I actually laughed after reading the first paragraph, the second, and after every next one I read. I’m sorry, I was half way expecting real scripture. I think the Book of Mormon is a beautiful book, but this is nothing compared to it.

  152. I am probably one of the few Americans who actually knows the Gills. They may not remember me, but I was an LDS missionary who served in their Birmingham, England LDS branch (small congregation) in the fall of 1981. Matthew Gill’s father, Phil Gill (who seems to be heavily involved in his son’s religion), was the branch mission leader which meant that he was the liaison between the local congregation’s leaders and the eight or so missionaries who were serving there. Matthew was (as I recall) just a little kid at the time. While it is not necessarily my place to pass judgment on these people, I feel it is my duty to recount my best memories in the hope that I can offer a first-hand assessment of their character and thus offer some insight as to whether or not the book of Jeraneck is worthy of consideration on par with the Book of Mormon.

    Matthew’s father, Phil, seemed to be an average bloke–not overly intelligent or well read (but not completely ignorant either). He was not particularly noteworthy (or derelict for that matter) in the performance of his church duties. Just average all the way around. My missionary journal makes one reference to Phil having gotten rather agitated at us missionaries at one time when we were trying to get him to help us implement some program or other from our mission president. So I could therefore also infer that Phil had a bit of a problem with authority.

    Phil’s wife (Matthew’s mother) was a bit of a silly woman, prone to hyperbole and exaggeration. Overall, the family was not particularly prominent in the branch–and therein may be the problem. I believe that they WANTED to be more prominent/important. His mission leader role notwithstanding, Phil seemed to want to be more important in the branch.

    So, if the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree, I would suppose that Matthew grew up to be much like his parents. The whole affair points to a need these people had/have to be more important in the eyes of the LDS peers than they really were. I’m tempted to call it priestcraft (a Book of Mormon term describing those who set themselves up as religious authorities to get worldly praise and recognition). I will let the reader draw their own conclusions.

    I have personally read or skimmed all of the book of Jeraneck, and found it completely uninspired and unenlightening. Combined with my personal acquaintance with the family, I can absolutely dismiss it as nothing more than a self-serving fantasy (at best).

    No news here. Move along people.

  153. Among the many differences in the two situations, I will point out 2:

    1) Joseph Smith Sr., unlike Phil Gill, was never affiliated with any religious body.
    2) Joseph Smith’s message resonated spiritually with millions of people. Matthew Gill’s has not and will not.

  154. I was not aware that the book of Mormon had resonated with millions within 5 years of publication. My apologies. I’ll look into that.

    Honestly though, we all know that the acceptance or rejection of a sacred text can both be spun as a faith promoting evidence for its truthfulness.

  155. It is fascinating to hear the first hand account. The Gill thing almost seems like an experiment in whether you could reproduce the Joseph Smith phenomena in the 21st century. Gill is totally copying JS, in a bald faced manner. Yet he still gets away with it enough to get average people to follow thim. The followers even sound a bit like some the followers of Joseph: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tSj6dRzTlHQ&feature=related

    This sort of thing, break-off groups led by prophetic leaders. does happen relatively commonly amongst LDS churches in Latin America.

    You almost have to admire the cajones of this guy Gill. He doesn’t seem to be crazy or even out to get rich (There has got to be more money and far less hassle to just become a protestant minister.) But it still takes me aback to see the way he asserts the stuff he does. Frankly, the existence of audacity like Gill’s coupled with his apparent sincerity, and the sincerity of his followers, brings up doubts in me regarding any religious movement.

  156. “If you are a Mormon, will you take the time to read “The Book of Jeraneck” and prayerfully consider its truth?
    I have taken the time to read the Book of Jeraneck, and I have (despite the innumerable problems with the text) prayerfully considered its truth (or lack thereof).

    “Will you continue to pray until God gives you the answer that it is true?”
    There are only so many times you can pray about something, before you must accept that it is false. If it’s true, then three at most should be sufficient, otherwise you are just wasting your time as well as God’s.

    “What sort of responses from God will tell you it is true?”
    God will send a revelation confirming (or denying) the truth of that Book. So far I have received a response in the negative regarding its truth. (A burning in the bosom is one example of it)

    “Also, are you comfortable with Matthew Gill claiming to be a Mormon prophet?”
    He can call himself a Mormon prophet if he likes, just as anyone can call himself a Christian prophet. (Doesn’t necessarily make it true, though…If I call myself the King of the World it doesn’t make it so).

    “At what point would it be inappropriate for him to call himself Mormon?”

    At the point that he denies the truth of the Book of Mormon, it ceases to be appropriate for him to be called a Mormon; just as it would be inappropriate for someone to be called a Christian who denies the existence of a christ.

  157. There are only so many times you can pray about something, before you must accept that it is false. If it’s true, then three at most should be sufficient, otherwise you are just wasting your time as well as God’s.

    Would you say the same thing to someone who says that they have prayed about the Book of mormon three times and gotten no answer?

  158. The fact he didn’t even bother to change out of his “super” t-shirt sure adds a lot of credit to what he’s saying.

  159. “In that hour Jesus rejoiced in spirit, and said, I thank thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes: even so, Father; for so it seemed good in thy sight.”

  160. I have read Jeraneck and the Holy Spirit tells me it is a tissue of invention by a get-rich-quick merchant with no talent and lacking in spiritual insight. Overall, Gillism and Gillites are deeply disappointing.

    I hope I have not offended you by telling you the truth.

    God does not lie.

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