An Evangelical Review: The Biblical Roots of Mormonism

“The Biblical Roots of Mormonism” is a defense of Mormon doctrines using only the Bible. The authors concede that some of the unique doctrines of the LDS church are better defended in LDS scriptures but nonetheless have origins and support in the Bible. Before reading the book I assumed it should be titled “Prooftexting the King James Bible on Behalf of Mormonism.” But I wanted to give it a fair shake so I sat down with the book, my Bible and an open mind.

The book overviews basic Christian and uniquely Mormon doctrines. Each chapter is broken up into two sections; “Biblical Teaching” and “Mormon Understanding”. The “Biblical Teaching” included an overview of a few Biblical passages and an explanation as well as the passages reproduced from the King James Bible. The “Mormon Understanding” expanded on the ideas from the first section and typically took the concept further into the uniquely Mormon perspective. Rarely if ever was the Bible referenced in the second section.

I was generally disappointed with the authors approach to scriptures. Most of the passages were straight forward and on point. It’s hard to disagree that the Bible teaches that there is a God who offers salvation through Jesus Christ. But when the attention of the book was turned on unique Mormon teachings the authors used some odd justifications for some of their scriptural support.

There is a basic approach to reading the Bible that I think everyone should adopt. “Never Read a Bible Verse.” A reader should always read a verse in context to see what the entire passage is talking about. I think if the authors had used this principle and used a modern English translation of the Bible they would immediately have had a deeper understanding of the passages they cited. I won’t list every incident where a Biblical passage was misused but I will focus on one to illustrate my point.

The authors attempt to show an expectation of the Book of Mormon by citing Ezekiel 37:15-20

Verses 16 & 17 say:

“Son of man, take a stick and write on it, ‘For Judah, and the people of Israel associated with him’; then take another stick and write on it, ‘For Joseph (the stick of Ephraim) and all the house of Israel associated with him.’And join them one to another into one stick, that they may become one in your hand.

They go on to explain that the people from the Book of Mormon come from the tribe of Ephraim, so this is an indication that scripture will be written by the people of Judah (the Bible) and scriptures will be written by the people of Ephraim (the Book of Mormon). Ezekiel’s prophecy is then fulfilled when Joseph Smith rejoins the Bible with the Book of Mormon into one set of scripture.

The problem is that if you read those verses in context it is quite clear that Ezekiel is talking about the divided kingdoms of Judah and Israel which are scattered all over and will one day be united as one kingdom in Israel. There isn’t any wiggle room for an alternate explanation. The reader has to actually do damage to the plain meaning of the text to construe it to be a prophesy about the Book of Mormon.

To back up their case the authors direct us to two passages:

Matthew 18:16
But if he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, that every charge may be established by the evidence of two or three witnesses.

2 Corinthians 13:1
This is the third time I am coming to you. Every charge must be established by the evidence of two or three witnesses.

Again, if you look at the context of both of these verses, they are clearly talking about the proper procedure for church discipline. They don’t have anything to do with an expectation of multiple sets of scripture.

Shortly after encountering this flagrant misuse of scripture the authors included this summation of the Bible:

The Bible as we know it today begins with the Creation and ends shortly after the Ascension of Christ. The thirty-nine books of the Old Testament foretell of the coming of the Savior, while the twenty-seven books of the New Testament provide a record of the life of the Savior, with an emphasis of his public ministry. [emphasis added]

It seemed their understanding of the Bible ended at the Gospel of John. It was at this point that my open-mindedness towards the authors checked out. It seemed clear that they didn’t have a careful and thoughtful approach to the Bible and that they may not even have a decent understanding of the Bible itself. The Bible was a tool to support and validate Mormonism on occasion but not something that they had carefully consumed on its own. This resulted in more than a few outlandish non sequiturs.

I did find it interesting to discover which sort of nuanced view of Mormonism the authors held to. They believe that the Atonement happened in the Garden of Gethsemane but their treatment of works/grace was right in line with my own. The place where the book does its best work are the few passages that are ambiguous enough that a different interpretation can support the Mormon position such as baptism for the dead, spirit-prison and the lack of an explicit ban on polygamy.

Because of the misuse of some Biblical passages I can’t recommend this book as a useful tool in understanding the Bible. If the authors intended the book to be read by non-Mormons they should not have made frequent use of Mormon parlance. It may serve as a good introduction to basic Mormonism and be helpful to Mormons who are new to their faith. I think anyone who reads this book must have a copy of a modern English translation by their side so that they can investigate if each verse is being used appropriately.

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47 thoughts on “An Evangelical Review: The Biblical Roots of Mormonism

  1. Ezekiel 37:15-17 is an amazingly bad proof text for seeing the Book of Mormon in the Bible. When I was reading Ezekiel for the first time in a modern translation this hit me like a club to the head. I re-read the chapter a couple of times to make sure I was reading it correctly because there is literally no way it could be talking about scriptures, but about people being regathered.

    But because I had been taught otherwise my whole life, I went and looked up what Nibley had to say on the subject in “The Prophetic Book of Mormon” (CWHN vol 8, chapter 1). It was vintage Nibley. He wanders around the entire globe through milennia looking for any parallel he can grasp. My favorite was his using 8th century AD China as evidence for the thesis that the sticks should be seen as scripture. When he gets bored wandering around, he declares victory.

  2. Tim said:

    There is a basic approach to reading the Bible that I think everyone should adopt. “Never Read a Bible Verse.” A reader should always read a verse in context to see what the entire passage is talking about.

    I agree with that. And that’s one reason I’m such a fan of Grant Hardy’s “Reader’s Edition” of the Book of Mormon as well as modern translations of the Bible. I think we do readers a huge disservice by breaking up everything into sometimes arbitrary chapters and verses.

    And while I understand what you’re saying in your example of the sticks of Judah — in fact, if I were to read the book you reviewed I’d probably agree with your criticism — I would point out that this sort of prooftexting isn’t entirely unprecedented, even in the Bible itself, although in the Bible it may not be so much a matter of prooftexting as one of repurposing. I’m thinking particularly of Matthew’s gospel, where he repeatedly uses passages from the Old Testament to bolster his case that Jesus is the Christ. But to use the best-known example, a look at Isaiah 7:14 in context suggests that Isaiah wasn’t talking about Jesus, at least not directly.

    Finally, while I firmly believe that the Bible is consistent with LDS teaching, I think it can be a mistake to take this kind of apologetic approach, because it becomes too easy to read into the Bible things that aren’t there. (And evangelical critics of Mormonism often make the same mistake — if you’re going to preach Ephesians 2:8-9 at me, at least be honest enough to put the passage in the context of verse 10, for example.) Probably all of us do that to some extent as we apply our own understandings to what we read, but it makes more sense to me to at least attempt to understand the Bible on its own terms.

  3. I agree that the New Testament has it’s own degree of prooftexting. Because the Biblical authors do it on occasion doesn’t mean it’s an example for us. I think at best it means that you can prooftext where they prooftext. More often than not it’s some sort of play-on-words and a rhetorical device that was more convincing for the original hearers/readers.

    If Mormons want to say something like “like two sticks the Bible and the Book of Mormon have been reunited” I think there is good precedent and some poetry in that. But that’s different than saying the verse is about the Book of Mormon.

    And I completely agree that Ephesians 2:10 should always be read along side verses 8 & 9. I also think Ephesians 5:21 should be read with verse 22.

  4. Tim:

    Thank you for taking the time to review may latest work “The Biblical Roots of Mormonism.” It is good to have a mix of reviews on any book – those that strive to understand the intent of such a book and the purpose behind it, and those that are more driven by skewed opinions and personal agendas, typically given by those who have not attempted to produce their own extensive works in book form. I have encountered both types of reviews for both of my books and it is important to have a combination to provide a broad spectrum of perspectives.

    I’m not sure you took the time to read in the book all that was written in preface to the doctrinal study. We went to great lengths to explain how to use the book, its limitations, and pleading with the reader to turn to the Holy Ghost for their own inspiration. I am certain there are errors in the book (and we acknowledge as such), but you must be careful Tim to realize that Biblical interpretation does not solely belong to anyone, and therefore to accuse us of misinterpretation without acknowledging your own limitations is quite arrogant. You paint yourself with such arrogance in your review by stating “There isn’t any wiggle room for an alternate explanation,” “flagrant misuse of scripture,” and that what we offered “resulted in more than a few outlandish non sequiturs.” Wow, are you sure that the Bible, a living and breathing divine work, has no wiggle room for divine inspiration, and that what you know is the only interpretation that must be embraced? I have the same access to the Holy Ghost as you and to say my interpretation of a scripture is wrong is quite odd to say the least. Heaven help the tens of millions of poor souls in impoverished countries who can barely read and have been given Bibles by well meaning Christian missionaries. How are they to read and understand the Bible?

    The purpose of “The Biblical Roots of Mormonism” was to provide the reader a comprehensive set of over 1,000 scriptural references (not a “few” as your review states) that are related to Mormon doctrine. We then provide the Mormon Understanding of the doctrine (purposely without any Biblical references – something your review criticized us on) in order to allow the reader to connect the dots on their own and to seek their own inspiration. We know that personal inspiration under the expert guidance of the Holy Ghost is the best method of teaching, making ours a very pale comparison. There will be some who will approach such an exercise as an adult actively looking for errors (and will find many according to their own adult preconceived notions), and those what will approach the exercise as a child and allow the Holy Ghost to teach them in humility. It is no wonder Christ told us to become like children. That is not to mean that even if one does so that they will reach the same conclusions as you, but when that takes place it would surely be presented in a more humble manner so as to teach and edify as a disciple of Christ.

    Books have economic and operational limitations, thus we had to keep our page count to a certain volume. We provided a volume of scriptures for study, usually singular verses, allowing the reader to read the verses before and after such quotations as the Spirit directs them. You criticize us for providing singular verses, but please understand for us to have provided complete sets of verses was impossible if we were to cover the number of topics that we wanted to cover.

    In one case you completely misrepresent what we state in the book. You say “They believe that the Atonement happened in the Garden of Gethsemane.” This is incorrect. The actual text from the book reads as this: “The Atonement began in the Garden of Gethsemane, where Jesus took upon him the sins of the world and suffered pain “even unto death.” His sweat became as drops of blood, and he begged God the Father, if it was the Father’s will, to allow him to forego the agony of the Atonement (Matthew 26:38-39 and Mark 14:34-36). But Jesus moved forward despite his fears, and was ministered to by an angel (Luke 22:42-44). Jesus completed the Atonement by dying on the cross (John 19:17-18, Matthew 27:33, 35, 46, 50, Mark 15:22, 25, 34, 37, and Luke 23:33, 46).”

    Tim, are you sure you actually read the book?

    You say “I think if the authors had used this principle and used a modern English translation of the Bible they would immediately have had a deeper understanding of the passages they cited.” Which of the seventeen active modern day English translations should we have used? I have a parallel Bible with four concurrent translations and it is not uncommon to have very different translations offered for the same scripture – something we pointed out in the book. Once again, may the Lord have mercy on the tens of millions who use the King James Version of the Bible – you suggest as a Biblical work that it is somehow incorrect.

    Tim, you may want to take another shot at reviewing the book and to do so in a different way. May I suggest the following: 1) Fast and pray that the Holy Ghost will be with you as you read, study and pray; 2) Become as a child intellectually, leaving at the door the preconceived notions and biases you carry about the Christianity taught in Mormonism; and 3) take your time – it took me two years to complete the research for the book and another six months with Chuck Sale to write the book, it will likely take you many months to fully comprehend the meanings offered in the over 1,000 Biblical references that we outline for the reader.

    Thanks again for taking the time to review the book – we look forward to your second review sometime in 2012 if you dare to give my suggestion a try. We love you for all the work you do in continuing this conversation, you are a valiant brother in Christ. Your brother, Eric Shuster

  5. Wow, are you sure that the Bible, a living and breathing divine work, has no wiggle room for divine inspiration, and that what you know is the only interpretation that must be embraced?

    This is a peculiar thought to me. The “living breathing” rhetoric is always used to make something say what it doesn’t quite say.

  6. Eric Shuster ~ You want to talk about arrogance? What makes you think that Tim didn’t read your book prayerfully and by the guidance of the Spirit? How do you know that it wasn’t the Spirit’s guidance which aided him in concluding that your book misuses the Bible?

    you suggest as a Biblical work that [the KJV] is somehow incorrect.

    It is incorrect in many, many places. And while no translation of the Bible is perfect, biblical translation has come a long way since 1611, as has the English language, so modern-day translations are almost always more accurate and easier to understand than the KJV. That modern-day translations sometimes show significant variance is hardly an indicator that they’re less accurate than the KJV.

    As to which modern-day translation you should use, that’s really for you to study out and decide for yourself. If you need recommendations, I’m sure plenty of people here could give them.

    may the Lord have mercy on the tens of millions who use the King James Version of the Bible

    May the Lord have mercy on all of the people out there with reading comprehension disorders (like my late mother) who can’t make out the KJV-esque language of the LDS scriptures and are forced to tarry without being able to study the newest revelation to the world because God can’t be bothered to order his “one true church” to put forth modern-day English versions of the four Standard Works. He’ll also have to have mercy on all of the non-English speakers out there since they can’t read the KJV and are stuck relying on whatever loathsome modern-day translation they can get their hands on.

  7. Jared:

    I say “living and breathing” to refer to the application of the scriptures in our everyday lives. Can a letter written by Paul to Timothy nearly 2,000 years ago, a letter he likely never thought would ever become scripture, have meaning to your life today? The answer is of course YES! Have you ever been to a Bible study when someone shares about how a scripture spoke to them in a certain way to bring spiritual meaning to their life in a way you never thought of before? Of course! The point is that the scriptures are meant to speak to each one of us personally through the inspiration of the Holy Ghost. – they are alive in our lives. For someone to say that a particular Biblical passages “means this and nothing else” is to try and limit the influence of the Holy Ghost. Unless someone grossly misinterprets a scripture as to justify wickedness or blasphemy, perhaps there are multiple meanings to one or more Biblical verses.

    One of the reasons I wrote “The Biblical Roots of Mormonism” is to share with the reader my own experiences with the Bible in researching Mormon theology, perhaps illuminating scriptures in a way the reader has never considered before. In the end Chuck and I knew some would find new meanings, while others would scoff. That is OK, the main point is to understand that Mormon doctrine was not made up out of thin air, but rather we can support Mormonism using the Bible alone. Should we bring into the conversation modern day scripture and we can bring high definition to the theology. I hope this helps explain what I meant.

  8. Mrs. Jack:

    I questioned if Tim read the book because he made a comment that was simply not correct. Further to that I wrote “There will be some who will approach such an exercise as an adult actively looking for errors (and will find many according to their own adult preconceived notions), and those what will approach the exercise as a child and allow the Holy Ghost to teach them in humility. It is no wonder Christ told us to become like children. That is not to mean that even if one does so that they will reach the same conclusions as you, but when that takes place it would surely be presented in a more humble manner so as to teach and edify as a disciple of Christ.” I have made a provision here that Tim could in fact be exactly correct in following the Holy Ghost in as far as his interpretations; however, my point is that if he did could he have not presented his findings in a more humble and meek manner than what he did? I found Tim’s explanations to be offensive and without the desire to teach, but rather to simply cut down. Had Tim wrote “although I disagree with the interpretations offered by the authors, I can see how they might com the conclusions they did in calling out singular verses.” Instead Tim sensationalized things and that did not feel like brotherly love to me, just a desire to prove he was right. Just my own opinion. I think Tim has a good heart, but I think his passion got the best of him on this one.

    As for the KJV being incorrect, I do not share your opinion. Although one might agree with you that Biblical translation has come a long way since then, at the same time historians and scholars have also become far more critical of the Bible and its origins (http://www.foxnews.com/scitech/2011/08/12/bible-detectives-jerusalem-scholars-trace-bibles-evolution/ – as one example). We must realize it all comes down to faith. Yes, the KJV language is quite clumsy at times, but its unfettered beauty remains. Do you believe that KJV translators were any less influenced by the Holy Ghost than those of our modern day? As such I agree with you that we must seek to study many translations (and I do – the New Jerusalem being my favorite), but we must be careful to say one is better than another, unless we are talking about the ridiculous gender neutral translations.

    I appreciate your thoughts and hope you have a wonderful week.

    Your brother,
    Eric Shuster

  9. Hi Eric S.,

    I’m glad you were able to read my review of your book. I know this may seem hard to believe, but I approached your book with openness and a readiness to concede any valid points you may have to make (as I acknowledged with regards to baptism for the dead, spirit prison and polygamy). I was not looking to nit-pick your book to death. I’m not interested in those sorts of reviews and the regular readers of this blog would not let me get away with that sort of approach. I gave an honest and contempt free assessment of your work. I’m sorry I didn’t like your book or your approach to the Bible.

    You suggest that I could have said something like “although I disagree with the interpretations offered by the authors, I can see how they might com [sic] the conclusions they did in calling out singular verses.” But I could not. To have said that I could see how you came to the conclusions that you did would not have been true for me. I honestly CAN’T see how Ezekiel 37, Matthew 18 or 2 Corinthians 13 could lead a person to an expectation for an additional work of scripture other than the Bible. I CAN’T see how 2 Corinthians 2:14 is a description of God’s omnipresence. I’m more than happy to concede a difference of interpretation on any number of scriptural references. But on the ones I mentioned in my review, turning to the Holy Spirit to illuminate these meanings would require the Spirit to say the words means things that the words simply don’t say. As the inspiration of the words, I’m certain God could have caused them to say what you suggest they say, but a plain English reading of the passages reveals otherwise. I think it’s more plausible to suggest that you’re reading what you want into the passages and using them to serve your own ends rather than to acknowledge that there may be some secret meaning in them that is only available to those who prayerfully ask for it. You would not accept me using Mormon scriptures to that end, I don’t know why we should accept your use of the Bible in that way.

    Heaven help the tens of millions of poor souls in impoverished countries who can barely read and have been given Bibles by well meaning Christian missionaries. How are they to read and understand the Bible?

    I have not suggested that anyone need a special education or that they even need me to tell them how to understand the Bible. All I have said is that Biblical passages should be read in their context. The tens of millions of impoverished souls can read and understand the Bible by simply reading the Bible. They can understand it better if they read each verse in context.

    The purpose of “The Biblical Roots of Mormonism” was to provide the reader a comprehensive set of over 1,000 scriptural references (not a “few” as your review states) that are related to Mormon doctrine. We then provide the Mormon Understanding of the doctrine (purposely without any Biblical references – something your review criticized us on) in order to allow the reader to connect the dots on their own and to seek their own inspiration

    I didn’t say that there were only a few references in the book. I said that each chapter contained a few references. It probably would have been better if I had used the word “topic” rather than “chapter” (though each topic has its own chapter). I wasn’t criticizing your book for not having scriptural references in the “Mormon Understanding” sections, I was simply being descriptive. What I said, as you acknowledge, was true.

    There will be some who . . .will approach the exercise as a child and allow the Holy Ghost to teach them in humility. It is no wonder Christ told us to become like children.

    I gather the implication is that one should trust freely and openly. I think this is kind of a cheap and opportune suggestion for how a believer should truly reflect on spiritual matters and your book in particular.

    First off, I have been around a number of children. All of them ask a lot of questions. . . constantly. Humility is rarely a character trait I lead with in describing any child. It’s more often than not a sign of maturity rather than immaturity.

    Second, I don’t think you approached your book in this way. You say that it took you 2 years of research and another 6 months of writing to accomplish. Is that how a child approaches the Bible; with steady and constant research? You suggest the way for me to properly read the book is slowly, methodically, with prayer and fasting. Is that how a child comes to accept a message?

    I think what you really mean is that I should accept your teaching quickly, with little reflection and with abandoned trust. I think the Bible tells us to do more than that when we read it, that being said, accepting Jesus “as a child” is quite different than accepting the teachings of your book as a child. You would not want your family members to accept the message of Warren Jeffs as a child. You would counsel them differently. I think in practice you approach the Bible much differently than you say I should approach the exercise of reading your book.

    Books have economic and operational limitations, . . . You criticize us for providing singular verses, but please understand for us to have provided complete sets of verses was impossible if we were to cover the number of topics that we wanted to cover.

    No, not at all. I didn’t criticize you for providing isolated verses. I criticized you for isolating the verses when you did your research. I criticized your approach to the Bible, not your reproduction of the text.

    In one case you completely misrepresent what we state in the book. You say “They believe that the Atonement happened in the Garden of Gethsemane.” This is incorrect.

    I’m sorry if I misconstrued and misreported your view on the location of the Atonement. I acknowledge the quote you supplied from page 40 of your book. Perhaps I can illuminate my confusion by directing you to page 46 where you state:

    At the end of his public ministry, Jesus went into the garden of Gethsemane, and there took up on himself the sins of every human who has ever lived or will ever live on the earth.

    Again I apologize and recognize that if I had in mind what you stated 6 pages earlier I would have read your words in a better context. Still, the Atonement taking place in the Garden in addition to on the cross is not a universally recognized fact among all Mormons. So I found it of interest to discover that the Garden was part of the Atonement in your view. Surely you can recognize that this confusion is not a reason to suggest that I didn’t even read the book.

    Which of the seventeen active modern day English translations should we have used? I have a parallel Bible with four concurrent translations and it is not uncommon to have very different translations offered for the same scripture – something we pointed out in the book. Once again, may the Lord have mercy on the tens of millions who use the King James Version of the Bible – you suggest as a Biblical work that it is somehow incorrect.

    Which of the modern day English translations should you have used? Honestly, any of them. I recommend the NIV, the NASB and the ESV. For devotional use I recommend “The Message”. I really like the KJV. I think it’s a good translation. I recommend it for any English-speaker over the age of 400. But for modern English speakers, it’s almost like reading a foreign language. I acknowledge its great literary beauty and its tremendous contribution to the English language and to Western culture. I celebrate the translation, but you shouldn’t use it to study the Bible. I believe you that you have a parallel Bible. How frequently did you reference it? Did you investigate 2 Corinthians 2:14 in even one modern translation?

    I would be quite surprised if there are still tens of millions of active Bible readers who use the KJV. I agree that if there are, they need the mercy of the Lord to overcome it.

    Tim, you may want to take another shot at reviewing the book and to do so in a different way. May I suggest the following: 1) Fast and pray that the Holy Ghost will be with you as you read, study and pray; 2) Become as a child intellectually, leaving at the door the preconceived notions and biases you carry about the Christianity taught in Mormonism; and 3) take your time – . . . – we look forward to your second review sometime in 2012 if you dare to give my suggestion a try.

    If I do happen to write a second review I’ll be sure to let readers know that the author expects it to take a better-than-average reader with a better-than-average understanding of the Bible six months to read this 248 page book. I assure you I read your work carefully and slowly. I took great pains to investigate the references you provided to see if they said what you said they did. I read this book much more slowly than I would expect to read such a book.

    I confined my critique to the misuse of 3 Biblical passages. I can’t help but notice that you didn’t redirect me to any of them to show me how I had in fact misread them. Was I wrong about them? Would you still suggest that what you offer is the most accurate reading of those passages?

  10. Eric S said

    Have you ever been to a Bible study when someone shares about how a scripture spoke to them in a certain way to bring spiritual meaning to their life in a way you never thought of before? Of course! The point is that the scriptures are meant to speak to each one of us personally through the inspiration of the Holy Ghost. – they are alive in our lives. For someone to say that a particular Biblical passages “means this and nothing else” is to try and limit the influence of the Holy Ghost.

    I think this approach is much of what is wrong with contemporary American Christianity. It’s the very root of therapeutic moral deism. It assumes that the reader is at the center of what the passage means. Instead I quite firmly believe that the Biblical text is at the center of the message and the reader should seek to wrap their lives around the passage rather than the other way around.

  11. The point is that the scriptures are meant to speak to each one of us personally through the inspiration of the Holy Ghost. – they are alive in our lives. . . . . .

    I also disagree. The Holy Ghost is independent of the text. The text says what it says and the Holy Ghost comments on it rather than speaks through it. Once you start overlaying the text with what you think the Spirit is telling you, you start distancing yourself from what the Bible says, and you are just holding on to the text to give your view or inspiration more authority. If your thought about your life, or mine, is truly inspired by the Spirit it doesn’t need a biblical passage to support it. This activity is immensely popular with most Christians I know, LDS or otherwise. I used to love doing it. But at some point it makes you sound like a lawyer rather than a seeker of truth.

  12. Eric Shuster ~ I think that there are plenty of places in the Bible where only one interpretation is correct when it comes to the author’s intent. Ezekiel 37 is an example of this. Taken on its own, there is simply no way that the passage can mean that readers should expect another book of scripture other than the writings of the Bible. That’s something that Mormons are reading into the text, and no one who was reading the Bible just on its own would come to that conclusion.

    I certainly believe that the Holy Spirit can commandeer Scriptures in ways that go beyond what the original author intended and use them to teach and edify people in other ways. But people can also take Scriptures and use them in ways which the Holy Spirit never intended and had nothing to do with. Performing eisegesis on passages in the name of the Holy Spirit just isn’t all that compelling precisely because anyone can claim that they do something by the Spirit, so if the only ways in which distinctive Mormon doctrines are “biblical” depend heavily on eisegesis, I don’t think you’ve built much of a case for “biblical Mormonism.”

    Saying that you find Tim’s review of your book “arrogant” because he didn’t say XYZ is just another way of saying that you find his review arrogant because he didn’t like your book. Have you read many negative book reviews? Because, as negative book reviews go, this was pretty tame.

    Although one might agree with you that Biblical translation has come a long way since then, at the same time historians and scholars have also become far more critical of the Bible and its origins

    And you see this as a bad thing? Because I don’t. That scholars have become more critical of the Bible and its origins has led us to a more accurate understanding of how we got the Bible in the first place, and which parts can be disregarded as later, uninspired additions (like the Johannine Comma and the ending of the Gospel of Mark).

    As for the KJV, there are simply places where it gets things wrong and there’s just no help for it. For example, 1 Thessalonians 5:22: “Abstain from all appearance of evil.” “Appearance” is completely wrong and has led many Christians to the unfortunate conclusion that we should avoid doing things that aren’t evil themselves, but could be seen as evil in certain far-fetched contexts. Every single modern-day translation that I’m aware of has corrected the verse to say what it really says: “Abstain from evil of every kind.”

    I don’t think beautiful language makes up for getting the Bible wrong in places where it could just as well be right, and “beauty” is a subjective value. What’s beautiful to you is merely archaic and confusing to others.

    ridiculous gender neutral translations.

    Yes, how ridiculous it is to translate the Bible in ways that make it clear that women are human, too. If only we could all go back to the good-ol’ days when women knew their place and weren’t clamoring for translations which made it clear that they’re part of God’s people as much as men are.

    Oh, and I have bad news for you: the KJV does utilize gender-neutral translation in many, many places. All translations do.

  13. Were the KJV translators inspired?

    I wouldn’t know. I’m hesitant to make judgment calls on certain types of translators being “inspired” or not.

    I think the KJV was a good translation for its time. The translators did a fine job with the resources they had. There are places where they got things right while some modern-day translations have gotten those same things wrong because the KJV translators weren’t guided by the same agendas that plague some translators today. In other places, it seems their own agenda did come into play.

    In sum, I have no doubt that God worked through and used the KJV translators in spite of the errors in their work. But he still works through and uses translators today. The heavens are not closed and the work of English Bible translation didn’t end in 1611. I certainly can’t see any reason for a Latter-day Saint to believe that the apostate Christian KJV translators were more inspired than modern-day apostate Christian translators. Seems you ought to give the latter at least as much chance as you give the former.

  14. Jack, I can see that Eric got you fired up. 🙂

    Eric, for one living in Idaho Falls, Idaho, I read your book the first time that I saw it on the store shelf. The title is a huge standout for me hoping to be a Berean.

    But I was disappointed. Very disappointed as well. And I have been a lover and user of the KJV all my life in S.E. Idaho.

    And processing all this, I see the JST and the KJV coming from two very radically different root systems. But to quote the KJV in Idaho, “I speak as a fool”.

  15. I certainly believe that the Holy Spirit can commandeer Scriptures in ways that go beyond what the original author intended and use them to teach and edify people in other ways. But people can also take Scriptures and use them in ways which the Holy Spirit never intended and had nothing to do with.

    The reason people do this there is a hard stop on creating new scripture. People grasp at the authority of scripture to lend more credence to their inspirations.

    There is a real difference in saying:
    (1) When I read this verse and the Holy Ghost tells me X (i.e. even though the verse still means Y.)

    and (2) The Holy Ghost tells me that this verse means X (today, in this context, for my life.)

    The second is more akin to bibliomancy than exegesis.

  16. . . . and for the record, I think bibliomancy may be an appropriate method of seeking inspiration from the Holy Spirit, but lets call a spade a spade.

  17. indeed. I was hoping there’d be some fireworks over “Mrs”

    Ha.

    My last name is still legally “Meyers,” so I still get plenty of “Mrs. Meyers” when my daughter’s school calls. I don’t bother correcting them.

    Kind of weird seeing this blog in a different format. I need to re-design mine, badly. Might even register a new domain name and change the name soon.

  18. Eric S. said to Tim:

    You paint yourself with such arrogance in your review …

    I have read plenty of arrogant book reviews. Tim’s wasn’t one of them.

    Eric S. continued:

    … by stating “There isn’t any wiggle room for an alternate explanation,” …

    Tim made that comment specifically regarding Ezekiel 37, and I have to agree with him that there’s nothing in that chapter, absolutely nothing at all, to suggest that Ezekiel is referring to the Book of Mormon. I honestly believe that if you had 100 intelligent people read the passage and ask what it’s talking about, not a single one would say it’s referring to new scripture. That’s what Tim was saying.

    For the record, I think it’s fine that we Mormons use that passage to point to the Book of Mormon. But I think we need to make clear that when we do so, we are putting Ezekiel’s words to a new purpose, a purpose that the author probably didn’t have in mind when when he wrote it. I think we’re on solid ground in doing so, because Matthew did much the same thing with some Old Testament prophecies. But when we repurpose Ezekiel, we lose our credibility when we suggest that someone who doesn’t already believe in the truth of LDS-specific scriptures should see them in the Ezekiel passage. We need to recognize that the application of the passage to the Book of Mormon is a new revelation in itself rather than something that Ezekiel intrinsically teaches.

    I think Tim and Ms. Jack did a good job of responding to the critique of the review, so I won’t say much more about it. But that doesn’t stop me from commenting on the KJV as it’s something I have strong feelings about:

    Regarding the King James Bible: As regular readers of this forum know, I was a Protestant (mostly evangelical but also mainline for a while) well into my adulthood before I converted to the LDS church. And I must say — and keep in mind that when I say this I say it as one who loves the Church and one who feels that its teachings have given my a clearer and more satisfying understanding of what it means to be a follow of Christ — that getting stuck using the KJV in any official Church capacity has been a huge step backwards for me. It’s difficult to understand, the format of the LDS edition is frustrating to use, the KVJ doesn’t take into account the latest scholarship, and it’s downright wrong in a few places.

    The KJV was an excellent translation in its day, but that day is long gone. And I think our continued exclusive use of it actually discourages church members from studying the Bible. Mormons in much of the non-English-speaking world get to read an authorized translation of the Bible in their own language, and those of who speak the English language should be afforded the same privilege.

    Eric S. said:

    As such I agree with you that we must seek to study many translations (and I do – the New Jerusalem being my favorite), but we must be careful to say one is better than another, unless we are talking about the ridiculous gender neutral translations.

    The NJB is my favorite as well.

    As to the gender-neutral translations, the point of most of them is to be more accurate, not less. Modern English generally does not use “man” to mean “person” and even the use of “he” to mean “he or she” is disappearing. That’s neither good nor bad, it’s just the way the language is changing. If a typical American hears a passage such as “if any man shall take away from the words of the book” in Revelation 22:19, that person is likely to think it refers to an adult male. Something like “if anyone takes words away from this book” (NIV), on the other hand, conveys what John meant, while the KJV does not.

    Ms. Jack said:

    For example, 1 Thessalonians 5:22: “Abstain from all appearance of evil.” “Appearance” is completely wrong and has led many Christians to the unfortunate conclusion that we should avoid doing things that aren’t evil themselves, but could be seen as evil in certain far-fetched contexts.

    One of my pet peeves! Thank you!

  19. Tim, this is weak. Shuster’s work is easy pickings – you had to expect his outcome going in (though I believe that you approached the book with an open mind). It can’t be very challenging for you. Its like watching a couple lions chase down the gimpy gazelle.

    Eric S, I mean no disrespect. I’m not questioning your devotion/belief in Jesus. I just think your work rehashes the same tired arguments that Mormons have been spouting for decades. Believe it or not, there are BYU employed Biblical scholars who would write a review similar to Tim’s. I recommend getting a good study Bible – with a modern, literal translation. Check out what scholars are saying from other faith traditions (especially Jewish when it comes to the OT). Don’t be so quick to read Mormonism into the Bible. The validity of the BoM/JS etc. don’t hinge on it.

  20. Christian J (CJ),

    Tim, this is weak. Shuster’s work is easy pickings – you had to expect his outcome going in (though I believe that you approached the book with an open mind). It can’t be very challenging for you. Its like watching a couple lions chase down the gimpy gazelle.

    I agree that Shuster’s stuff is easy pickings. The problem is that someone who wants to engage in dialogue with Mormons finds him or herself in a catch-22.

    Shuster’s stuff is from what I can tell, garden variety Mormonism, the stuff that is believed and assented to by the vast majority of Mormons. Thus to engage Shuster is to engage the thoughts of the vast majority of Mormons. Or to put it a different way, this is the stuff that makes up the content of Mormon Sunday School manuals, seminary lessons, and General Conference talks. And like you said, it’s easy pickings.

    Take the example that Tim put forward. Most (really it’s all of them, but I’ll make an exception for the 5 students who were taught by a FARMS acolyte or a bloggernacler) LDS who go to seminary and learn their scripture mastery learn that Ezekiel 37 talks about the Bible and the Book of Mormon, end of story. So Shuster is really just regurgitating what most LDS taught and believe. And in your words, easy pickings.

    Furthermore, I think Shuster’s response is pretty much what the response of the average LDS member would be, simply assert that when one reads Ezekiel with the Holy Ghost doing the teaching, the Bible and the Book of Mormon are plainly there.

    So to engage in “non easy pickings” Mormon thought one goes and talks to either FARMS acolytes (the conservative version of “non easy pickings” Mormonism) or one goes and talks to bloggernacle regulars (the liberal version of “non easy pickings” Mormonism). But you quickly find out that what both of these camps are saying bears little resemblance to what appears in the Sunday School manuals, what is said in general conference, and what is believed by most LDS members.

    And that’s the catch-22: 1) Easy pickings or 2) Intelligent, but outside the mainstream of orthodoxy Yeah, I’ve heard all the arguments from both sides, and both sides are convinced that the descriptor doesn’t apply to them. Side #1 doesn’t think they are putting forth easy pickings and Side #2 either thinks they are orthodox enough or doesn’t think that orthodoxy should matter at all. At the same time Side #1 is convinced that Side #2 isn’t orthodox and that orthodoxy matters while Side #2 (as represented by you) is convinced that Side #1 is easy pickings. Thus the outsider sees the catch-22, and the various sides inside assent to at least half of the catch-22.

    Conclusion: There’s no right way to talk to a Mormon, according to Mormons themselves.

  21. I wasn’t looking for easy pickings. The book was sent to me and I thought it would be appropriate to read and offer a review.

  22. “LDS who go to seminary and learn their scripture mastery learn that Ezekiel 37 talks about the Bible and the Book of Mormon, end of story.”

    And that will be the O.T. lesson this year taught by the approximately 30 financially paid LDS seminary profs to the hundreds upon hundreds of high school kids in the greater Idaho Falls and surrounding area.

    I am impressed by the massive numbers of teens who will be studying Ezekiel this year, albeit most of them pressured by their parents to do so. But it would be interesting to have an alternative seminary established, utilizing the same scripture reading assignments and verses to memorize and where the kids could bring any translation for comparison. We could very well explore “The Biblical Roots of Mormonism” through the O.T. this year and the N.T. next year.

  23. Got it Tim. That makes sense.

    David, I sympathize with your point and agree that Shuster’s work is essentially straight out of CES (cringe). I was simply suggesting that Tim’s efforts would be better used engaging arguments worthy of his rhetorical skill.

    (BTW the arguments presented by FARMS and the like may not be part of Sunday School or GC, but they’re certainly part of Mormonism)

  24. Daymon Smith is still forcing the question on us: “Is Mormonism exclusively defined by correlation or not?”

  25. Well now that the heat is gone I find the KJV issue as well as the canon issue to be one of the weirdest things about Mormonism. I get the whole the major reasons that the KJV is intrinsic to Mormonism: ties to the BoM… Frankly I think its time the Mormon does its own translation in accord with the JoD.

    There is a lot that Joseph Smith and Orson Pratt talk about that is fairly well supported by the Hebrew that’s not part of the English translation tradition. For example if you maintain the connection between the Hebrew words and Babylonian words in Gen 1-2 for the creation story you have something much more compatible with Mormon materialism. Talk in terms of the Greek Pleroma (Col 1:19) and the notion of Syzygy and eternal marriage pops right out.

    For that matter I think Mormons should rethink the canon.

    ____

    As for the dual meaning of scripture examples in the article…. Tim I agree with you, but I should comment this sort of interpretation is common in Catholic hermeneutics. The NT frequently does this sort of wild interpretation of the OT itself. Why is this sort of wild out of context interpretation legitimate for Matthew or Paul?

  26. I haven’t read Shuster’s book, but it appears he has a severely limited understanding of hermeneutics and Biblical exegesis, based on his response. I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt until I read the Book, but relying on the Spirit ONLY as the single most important tool for interpretation flies in the face of Theology 101.

    I am also extremely suspicious and dubious of his website, http://www.studychristianity.com.
    The site purports to teach basic principles of Christianity, but is nothing more than Mormonism in a pretty wrapper, with heretical teachings. Take a look at this quote on the trinity and Godhead:

    “Why was Jesus Christ praying to himself in the Garden of Gethsemane, calling himself, father? Why did Jesus have to depart in order for the Holy Spirit to come upon his apostles if he was or had in him the Holy Spirit? Was the Father talking to himself when he proclaimed at the baptism of Jesus, “…This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased” (Matt. 3:17)? ”

    Shuster gives the uninitiated reader the opinion that Christians believe in MODALISM, and that God morphs from one role to the next. This is used as an apologetic springboard to support Mormon polytheism. No respectable Christian with the most minimum training would even entertain such an idea. What happened to the idea of the incarnation?

    I pray that Brother Shuster will be touched by the Spirit to properly read the Bible and to abandon his well-intentioned but heretical pursuits with websites that do little more than confound truthseekers with turbid answers and faulty exegesis.

  27. CD Host wrote:

    “Well now that the heat is gone I find the KJV issue as well as the canon issue to be one of the weirdest things about Mormonism. I get the whole the major reasons that the KJV is intrinsic to Mormonism: ties to the BoM… Frankly I think its time the Mormon does its own translation in accord with the JoD.
    There is a lot that Joseph Smith and Orson Pratt talk about that is fairly well supported by the Hebrew that’s not part of the English translation tradition”

    Really? Like writing yourself into the Bible in Genesis 50? Without any access to the original manuscripts, Smith was a master a making things up and pulling an exegesis out of his hat to collaborate his theology. Or maybe he was just a great synthesizer. 1 Corinthians 15’s mentions of the three “kingdoms” smacks of Swedenborg.

  28. The site purports to teach basic principles of Christianity, but is nothing more than Mormonism in a pretty wrapper, with heretical teachings.

    What would you expect from a Mormon website? If a Catholic went to your denominations sect couldn’t they say, “The site purports to teach basic principles of Christianity, but is nothing more than Protestantism in a pretty wrapper, with Luthers heretical teachings”?

    Shuster gives the uninitiated reader the opinion that Christians believe in MODALISM,

    Actually you aren’t answering the question. Under your theory why is God praying to himself? I don’t agree with your analysis of his comments, but lots of Christians do in fact believe in modalism. The moment you start asking difficult questions most Christians slip into one heresy or another.

  29. Really? Like writing yourself into the Bible in Genesis 50? Without any access to the original manuscripts,

    I don’t see that. Smith’s sermons from the late 30s and 40s have references to Hebrew.

    Smith was a master a making things up and pulling an exegesis out of his hat to collaborate his theology.

    Or was he looking at the bible and constructing a theology from his exegesis, the process you agree with? Many of his ideas, in his sermons seem to be derived from a focus on specifics in the bible. To quote Vincent of Lérins:

    Here, possibly, some one may ask, Do heretics also appeal to Scripture? They do indeed, and with a vengeance; for you may see them scamper through every single book of Holy Scripture,—through the books of Moses, the books of Kings, the Psalms, the Epistles, the Gospels, the Prophets. Whether among their own people, or among strangers, in private or in public, in speaking or in writing, at convivial meetings, or in the streets, hardly ever do they bring forward anything of their own which they do not endeavour to shelter under words of Scripture. Read the works of Paul of Samosata, of Priscillian, of Eunomius, of Jovinian, and the rest of those pests, and you will see an infinite heap of instances, hardly a single page, which does not bristle with plausible quotations from the New Testament or the Old.

    That’s the problem with the bible a breeding ground for heresy 🙂

  30. CD Host– You are correct, many so-called “Christians” do believe in modalism. They are also heretics and belong to cults. Whether they are Oneness Pentecostals, Mormon Strangites (followers of Joseph Strang), or others, they might fall under the Christian rubric, but they are not orthodox and have serious problems.

    Joseph Smith was also a heretic in the sense of writing modalism into the Book of Mormon. “And now Abinadi said unto them: I would that ye should understand that God himself shall come down among the children of men, and shall redeem his people. And because he dwelleth in flesh he shall be called the Son of God, and having subjected the flesh to the will of the Father, being the Father and the Son — The Father, because he was conceived by the power of God; and the Son, because of the flesh; thus becoming the Father and the Son.” (Mosiah 15:1-3, 1830 Book of Mormon)

    “No clear distinction is made between the person of God the Father and the person of God the Son in the [1830] Book of Mormon. In fact Jesus is clearly asserted to be both. This is stated most baldly in Ether 3:14: “I am Jesus Christ. I am the Father and the Son.” The Son is repeatedly referred to as the “Eternal Father.” (1 Nephi 11:21, 13:40; Mosiah 16:15; Alma 11:37-38). And so we read, for example, “behold the Lamb of God, yea, even the Eternal Father,” (1 Nephi 11:21), and “the Lamb of God is the Eternal Father and the Saviour of the world.” (1 Nephi 13:40; cf., Mosiah 16:15 and Alma 11:37-38).” [2]

    “Prior to the incarnation the title Eternal Father is used almost exclusively of Jesus (1 Nephi 11:21, 13:4; Mosiah 16:15 Alma 11:38-39). The only exception is the Abinadi’s speech in Mosiah 15:1-7 already mentioned, where the Father and the Son together are the Eternal Father, but that statement appears in the context of explaining how the Eternal Father became the Son by taking on flesh.” (http://www.mormonwiki.org/Modalism)

  31. CD Host– You are correct, many so-called “Christians” do believe in modalism. They are also heretics and belong to cults.

    I meant the broad Christian membership in Christian churches. While they may claim to believe in the trinity, pay lip service to it, the moment you start asking questions they don’t have preprogrammed answers for they run into problems with heresy. I, and a lot of the Mormons here believe that’s because the orthodox trinity is self contradictory and thus its unavoidable. But assuming you don’t accept that, in practice people can’t run the gauntlet successfully.

  32. Yes, it’s true, some Christians default to modalism when they attempt to define the Trinity, this is not necessarily because their church believes in modalism, but because they haven’t been trained to understand and explain the doctrine. It’s a complex and precise bit of theology so I don’t think we should be surprised that people get it wrong. I’d say the frequency of miscommunication about the Trinity among the laity is about as frequent as Mormons giving bad answers about the priesthood ban against blacks.

    We discussed the website previously. They actually made some changes based on comments made here.

    https://ldstalk.wordpress.com/2011/02/28/foundation-for-christian-studies/

    https://ldstalk.wordpress.com/2011/03/18/updates-hit-foundation-for-christian-studies/

  33. Tim, thank you for your post reflecting a more transparent involvement with Mormonism. I hadn’t seen the site for several months, and am pleased that Mr. Shuster has opted to disclose his involvement in such.

    Regarding the trinity, you are correct that it CAN be a difficult doctrine to understand. To me, coming from Mormonism, it was initially complex, but now having arrived at an understanding of the triune nature of God, it makes complete sense as it is backed by scripture.

    My previous comments were in reference to Churchs and leaders who have created dogmas and creeds around modalism– not lay individuals who have mistakenly erred in their explanation of God’s ontology.

  34. Yes, it’s true, some Christians default to modalism when they attempt to define the Trinity, this is not necessarily because their church believes in modalism, but because they haven’t been trained to understand and explain the doctrine.

    I 80% agree with you. Though I’m not sure that even people who are trained can get through the hurdles. I have this little test on my website about the hypostatic union which is designed to point out that the moment you start asking for specific Christians are all over the map. This one just focuses on the aspect of God is perfect, Jesus is fully God, Jesus is fully human and the ambiguities that creates. When people answer the question and give reasons, very quickly one of those 3 collapses.

    I could do the same thing with just about any trinitarian doctrine. I think it is fair to say that mainstream Christians pay lip service to trinitarianism while actually tending to believe one of the heretical positions. Moreover the notion that heresy is defined by opposition to the bible rather than opposition to the creeds is creating tens of millions who essentially don’t believe heresy is possible in a commonly accepted sense. In the same way that for the last 200 years or so, schism has been defined down.

    ___

    Anyway the other threads are good. I’m glad you got them to be more direct and identify themselves earlier in the year.

  35. Ever since I lost my Mormon goggles and stopped looking at the Bible as some kind of monolithic unit, a univocal witness to a coherent God, I have understood religious history (Jewish, Christian, and Muslim) much better. The heretics make so much more sense (without destroying the sense of the orthodox, and vice versa). The Bible is a breeding ground for heresy. I like that.

  36. I don’t know whether Ezekiel ever refers to the Book of Mormon but I do know that scholars know how common it is for verses to have dual levels of applications. One scholar said they can have multi-shades of meanings. If we’re in tune with the Spirit of God he will show us more and more layers of truth as we grow in him. For example, the Lord’s Prayer says, “Give us today our daily bread.” God daily provides natural bread but also spiritual bread from heaven in Christ. Jesus told his disciples he had food they knew nothing about.
    The Bible Codes are still another layer of God’s Word. We think we’ve discovered God’s last layer and another one pops up. He’s always one step ahead of us.

    I like the modern versions of the Bible because it seems I can get more of the Word into my spirit per minute. That’s worth a lot. I also rotate among 6-10 different versions to help me avoid religious ruts.
    That’s the problem with we Christians. One person has orthodox ruts in their spirit that keep them on the left side of the way, another has Mormon ruts that cause them to get stuck on the right side of the way. But as long as we are in Jesus and in God we are in the Way. “I admit that I worship the God of our Fathers as a follower of the Way” (Acts 24:14).

  37. I agree with Cal, in principle.
    God’s Word is eternal. God’s Word will forever be true, not just for one generation, but for all. The prophet Isaiah spoke being inspired by the Holy Ghost, as did Ezekiel, as did all the holy prophets. Isaiah spoke of his time, of Christ’s time, and of our time because Gods word is timeLESS. Ezekiel spoke of the tribes that were scattered about, true Tim, but you you left out the phrase, “scattered to the ends of the earth”, “fill the whole earth”, “scattered among all nations” in reference to God’s plans with the tribes of Israel. He spoke of the reuniting of those kingdoms, absolutely. It also serves as an example of God doing the impossible (to the contemporaries of Ezekiel, those two nations becoming one was an impossible thought), (to you, that God could preserve and bring forth an original sacred text is an impossible thought).

    Judah was the law keeper, and law giver. God commanded Ephraim to do the same. To write. To WRITE. When God commands someone to write, its always about writing the Words of God, so that others may hear it. The scripture is as straight forward as God is. Straight to the heart of those that hear his word. Your explanation dismisses Ezekiel as a prophet of his time, and unapplicable to us….which isn’t what a prophet of God is.
    The only value your position holds it to invalidate the faith of the those belonging to the Church of Jesus Christ, of Latter-day Saints. Your message sounds like, God doesn’t mean ‘write’ when God says ‘write’, his prophets are limited in vision, and God confines his works within the understanding of man. I gladly don’t accept your philosophy.

  38. 1. Moses was of the tribe of Levi, not Judah. In what way was Judah the “law giver?” Where does it say that? Where do you get that? Judah is the royal lineage that produced the king of Israel, and centuries later, the King of all Creation. I think Mormons are unfortunately really quick to forget that–your theological emphasis on the tribe of Joseph is misguided at best. Given what Paul says about Jesus Christ and the law, calling Judah the “law giver” and “law keeper” seems completely and totally absurd.

    2. In Ezekiel 37, the Lord doesn’t tell Ephraim to write. The Lord tells Ezekiel to write “for Ephraim” on a stick. That’s not the same thing at all. So yeah, God can mean “write” when he says “write,” but it still doesn’t mean anything close to what you say it means. So yeah, I think it’s pretty funny that you claim that “the scripture is as straight forward as God is.”

    3. The unification of all creation under the Kingdom of Heaven is not applicable to us? Please. And that interpretation only holds value to “invalidate the faith of the those belonging to the Church of Jesus Christ, of Latter-day Saints?” Please.

    4. Your assertion that, “[w]hen God commands someone to write, its always about writing the Words of God, so that others may hear it” is just that, an assertion. You’re going to have to back up your normative exegetical principles better than that if you’re going to use them to make a convincing case.

    5. The ostensibly impossible coming forth of the Book of Mormon does not follow from the ostensibly impossible unification of Israel. To claim that the two are related or that the one is evidence of the other tortures reason beyond recognition.

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