The Mormon Candidate

The BBC recently released a new documentary about Mormonism and Mitt Romney. I think the average Mormon will regard this as a very biased hit piece against the LDS church. But it is notable for the extensive interview with Apostle Jeffery Holland including discussion about the Book of Abraham, Smith’s treasure digging, the practice of shunning, masonry and penalties in the Mormon temple and the “Strengthening the Members Committee”.

This is part one. All the parts can be seen seamlessly by clicking this link and hitting “Play All”.

Advertisements

205 thoughts on “The Mormon Candidate

  1. Because everyone knows – if you want to know the absolute BEST source of information about a religion – an ex-member is always at the top of the list.

    Seriously, how much of this piece relied on ex-members?

  2. The thing that makes this documentary amazing isn’t the amount it relied on ex-members, but the amount it relied on the LDS Church to be embarrassed about its past, to lie about its past and then finally to admit the claims that were being made.

    Holland admitted to the death penalties, he admitted they came from freemasonry, he admitted the Strengthening Church Members Committee exists and monitors members even if it was originally setup to monitor members suspected of polygamy and he admitted that the Book of Abraham doesn’t match the translation we have of the papyrus.

    Lying for the Lord seems to work where people accept the answer given, but Holland did not expect to receive further questioning after he had already answered a question and backtracked. Both Holland and Purdy exhibited this exact same behavior of lying until pressure was placed on them to tell the truth. If only all journalists kept with a question when they know for a fact that the person they are interviewing isn’t being completely honest. In the UK that kind of questioning is common maybe it isn’t so much in the US and maybe that is why they weren’t prepared for it.

    The awkwardness and lying say a lot more about the LDS Church than any ex-member ever could.

  3. Holland did not expect to receive further questioning after he had already answered a question and backtracked

    is why as Seth observed

    much of this piece relied on ex-members

    Without the knowledge provided by ex-Mormons, I’m fairly certain that the interviewer would not have known where and how to push hard for answers to questions. I’m pretty shocked that someone figured this out (or perhaps swerved into it by accident).

  4. Based on Tim’s description of the documentary, I’m willing to bet big money that it’s somewhat interesting and informative BUT amounts in the end to nothing but a bunch of trash talk.

    I ran across Proverbs 17:9, CEV, this morning: “You will keep your friends if you forgive them, but you will lose your friends if you keep talking about what they did wrong.”

    Someone might say, “But this is about what they are doing wrong (present tense).”
    However, the principle still stands. When are you (“you” is whoever fits into the shoe) going to talk about what the LDS is doing RIGHT?

    In any case, you all have a great day. As Oral Roberts always said, “God is good.”

  5. “Holland admitted to the death penalties, he admitted they came from freemasonry, he admitted the Strengthening Church Members Committee exists and monitors members even if it was originally setup to monitor members suspected of polygamy and he admitted that the Book of Abraham doesn’t match the translation we have of the papyrus.”

    Mike, somehow I doubt your simplistic caricature accurately reflects what Holland actually said in the interview.

  6. Even if it is a hit piece, I don’t care much. Welcome to your seat at the table of the major world religions! With prominence is going to come scrutiny (fair and unfair). Isn’t that what we’ve always wanted?

  7. Mike, somehow I doubt your simplistic caricature accurately reflects what Holland actually said in the interview.

    Actually it does.

    here’s a video of just the Holland portions.

  8. Just in case you missed this letter – from a reliable Brit: http://bycommonconsent.com/2012/03/27/dear-bbc/

    I think, at the very least, the Q12/FP and Church spokespeople, should be well versed in the current Mormon apologetics. Of course, FAIR is still much more liberal in their presentation of history than the average GA seems to be.

  9. I think, at the very least, the Q12/FP and Church spokespeople, should be well versed in the current Mormon apologetics.

    Why do you think they are not versed in current Mormon apologetics? Perhaps they are well versed and their refusal to tow the FARMS/FAIR/bloggernacle party lines might be some indication of their lack of approval for those party lines? Last I check the GA’s set policy and establish doctrine. Not FARMS. Not FAIR. Not the bloggernacle.

  10. When I said “apologetics” – I only meant the reasoned, contextual defense of an issue that goes beyond – – I don’t understand, but I know its from God.

    Apologetics is not a FAIR/FARMS/Mormon blogger invention of course. And as a Christian apologist yourself, I wouldn’t sweep up the whole of the practice in one stroke.

  11. Pingback: What does The Mormon Candidate really say about the church? « Irresistible (Dis)Grace

  12. David, if FAIR and the bloggernacle are right, then yes, it is the obligation of Church leadership to fall in line with that.

    Emphasis on the “if.”

  13. I liked Ronan’s comment over at BCC:

    “The real fact is that at the core of Mormonism is a rather plain, low church Christianity, with decaffeinated adherents who go about their lives paying their taxes, loving their families, serving in their communities, helping the poor, and making mistakes along the way. The vast majority of Mormons would not be able to see themselves at all in Sweeney’s documentary. The British public, who could do with a sensible education in this interesting faith — let alone the tens of thousands of British Mormons who help fund the BBC — deserved much, much better.”

    That aside, I wonder if this Holland interview is going to get the same sort of persistent play that Hinckley’s “I don’t know that we preach that” remarks did.

  14. I think, at the very least, the Q12/FP and Church spokespeople, should be well versed in the current Mormon apologetics.

    Holland’s interview made me uncomfortable, watching him scramble at answers, as if he had never really prepared. I think it will be another 20 years before the need for apologetics trickles up to top leadership. Holland and other intelligent, deeply believing members (like Pres. Monson or even Hinkley”) have a schizophrenic view of Mormon history. They know all about it, it doesn’t shake their faith at all, because their faith is not really at all based on who Joseph Smith was. However, because the Mormon experience can be so deep, spiritual and satisfying, it makes your head hurt, and gets adrenaline pumping when people try to dismiss it by calling it a cult, or making “too much” out of historical weirdness. You could see that in his emotive defensive response to the cult label. He takes it personally in the way that the slightly chubby person takes it personally when you call them “fat”.

    Because most faithful members feel this way, controversial historical facts are just not comfortably brought up, ever, except by small groups “who are into that sort of thing”. Missionaries are given almost no training about controversial history, they answer questions like Holland does. Evasively trying to steer the conversation to the positive for their own comfort rather than for PR purposes. Holland is just not good at putting up a front. He truly is uncomfortable about the current weirdness, but doesn’t really have a lot of control over it. From my understanding he is a bit to the “left” of many of the other apostles on stuff like the Strengthening Church Members Committee, but he is not going to put himself in a position where he has to denounce or defend it, so his ultimate answer is “not my thing”.

  15. I watched the Holland segment only. My impressions were two-fold.

    First of all, it made me realize again just what a fascinating religion we really have. There is so much to Mormonism, so much depth to it, that one wonders where do you even begin? I remember wondering that very thing as a young missionary in the MTC, wondering how in the world we were going to teach Mormonism to people. Then we got the discussions and it became plain that we were to teach only the basics, or the foundation, and then the converts would learn the rest on their own.

    Secondly, it made me realize that we don’t trust our neighbors with all the details of Mormonism. Not that we are embarrassed by Mormonism, but that we take a “milk before meat” approach to everything. I erroneously did this on my mission and Holland appears to do it in this interview.

    For the Book of Abraham question, he should have just said, “There are several theories on that and I can refer you to some [apologetics] sources that give all of the specific details on those for you. So, the question regarding the Book of Abraham is still open for debate. As for me, personally, I believe [fill in the blank.]” This would have allowed the viewer to know that whatever personal view he was going to give about this book, was just one of several Mormon views on the issue and nothng had been proven or disproven, as yet.

    For temple questions, he should have just said, “Let me refer you ldsendowment.org, where you can see the entire text of the temple endowment, except for the portions that we covenant not to divulge. Now, yes, we had, at one time, penalties affixed to the covenants made in the temple, just as the ancients in the scriptures also made covenants with conditions, and with penalties affixed if the conditions were not met. Our claim is to be a restoration, thus many practices of the ancient saints have been restored.” This would have tied the practice to the scriptures, bolstering our claims to be practicing a revealed and restored and true religion, and it would have also shown Mormonism as very open, for anyone could read the endowment for themselves.

    (I did, however, enjoy his reply regarding, “It sounds masonic,” namely that it is “comparable, similar to a masonic relationship.” That was a short, honest answer and to the point.)

    For the SCMC, just admit it exists, state its purpose, give its scriptural foundation (D&C 128, I think?), and, if needed, list its members or give a contact for the committee for further information. That would dispel the boogieman status of the SCMC, given by the anti’s.

    Answering is some way similar to this, would make the church come across as absolutely proud of its religion and desirous that all investigate every part of it.

  16. I think, at the very least, the Q12/FP and Church spokespeople, should be well versed in the current Mormon apologetics.

    I think Holland was using modern apologetic arguments. Does anyone really have a better answer on the Book of Abraham than “I don’t know exactly how Smith got his inspiration but I acknowledge it wasn’t a direct translation”?

    My own take on his direct denials followed up immediately by his direct confirmations was that he and Purdy have decided to take a new strategy. The strategy used to be “deny, deny, deny” but because the internet is making all of this information so available they’ve decided to just own all of it as best they can. But the knee jerk reaction is still to deny it, then with a little bit of pressure they’re reminded that they really want to be open.

  17. Uh Tim…

    One of the modern apologetics on the Book of Abraham actually IS that it was a direct translation, but that critics are mistaken in assuming the papyrus was actually an Egyptian document to begin with.

    You’re kind of cherry-picking here.

  18. I listened to this on the commute today, I thought Holland came off OK, he seemed to want to nuance the questions. If I was a member of the Salt Lake Mormons I would ask for the church to find Purdy another position rather than work in media relations.

  19. One of the modern apologetics on the Book of Abraham actually IS that it was a direct translation, but that critics are mistaken in assuming the papyrus was actually an Egyptian document to begin with.

    Tim said a better answer than the one Holland gave.

    Not a crazy one.

  20. “I don’t know exactly how Smith got his inspiration but I acknowledge it wasn’t a direct translation”

    This seems the most reasonable answer. Its the same for the Book of Mormon, most of which was “translated” the same way.

  21. Tim said a better answer than the one Holland gave.

    Yep.

    This seems the most reasonable answer. It’s the same for the Book of Mormon, most of which was “translated” the same way.

    The data don’t support that. The Book of Mormon was translated by using a seer stone with the plates always either covered or not present. The Kirtland Egyptian Papers show pretty conclusively that the scrolls were present, someone was looking at them, and there was no use of a seer stone.

  22. OK, Tim got me to watch the Holland segment.
    I think Seth R.’s & Jared C.’s comments were good & insightful. I didn’t read what Anarchist wrote.

    I like Apostle Holland. He seems like a decent guy—like most devoted Mormons I’ve met. He probably doesn’t get carried away with fringe issues. He probably devotes his time to making God look good and lifting up the name of Jesus.

    What a funny slip it was when he started to say “Osama Bin Laden,” while meaning to say “Obama.” I REALLY liked him after that!

  23. Does anyone really have a better answer on the Book of Abraham than “I don’t know exactly how Smith got his inspiration but I acknowledge it wasn’t a direct translation”?

    Sure. Joseph Smith was a prophet not a scholar. There are hundreds if not thousands of people alive today who can translate that papyri in a scholarly sense better than Joseph Smith could, and not one of them could make millions care about what it says. The Rosetta Stone is such a famous Egyptian text that it is a household word, a metaphor and a product name, yet essentially no one reads the text because no one but a small group of scholars cares.

    Joseph Smith claimed to translate based on Urim and Thummim which are tools of divination, not by his extensive knowledge of lexicography and good quality dictionaries. Today we have a terrific classics department at BYU and I could have any document from anywhere in the world accurately translated with the snap of my fingers. But I can’t get whole books filled with the word of God except on the rarest occasions.

  24. “What a funny slip it was when he started to say “Osama Bin Laden,” while meaning to say “Obama.” I REALLY liked him after that!”

    Why was that funny?

  25. Warning to Cal: This is an Anarchist comment. Be sure to skip! 😉

    Does anyone really have a better answer on the Book of Abraham than “I don’t know exactly how Smith got his inspiration but I acknowledge it wasn’t a direct translation”?

    I’ll try my hand. Here it goes: “The Book of Abraham was a direct translation from the Egyptian to English.” This answer has not been ruled out, despite all the wishful thinking of the scholars. The facts show that this is still a possibility. And this is still the best answer to give.

    Okay, now start all the “but…!” ‘s

  26. Here it goes: “The Book of Abraham was a direct translation from the Egyptian to English.” This answer has not been ruled out, despite all the wishful thinking of the scholars. The facts show that this is still a possibility. And this is still the best answer to give.

    Ridiculous.

    “I’ve now read the entire document from beginning to end and I’ve made out what one can make out of the poor copy of the final vignette. The most that is missing from this text is simply two columns worth of Egyptian hieratic and possibly a small vignette. But other than that there would be nothing more that would inflate the scroll beyond its current size.”

    “It is both unprecedented and unreasonable to assume that an intrusive text about a completely different matter; a narrative history of Abraham and his descendants would have been inserted into a document whose beginning, middle and end is devoted specifically to the resurrection of an Egyptian priest. It would disrupt the document and it would have nothing to do with its content; it would be unprecedented; no other document would have such a thing and the narrative style of the Book of Abraham does not correspond to Egyptian verbiage. It’s not the kind of thing Egyptians would say; they wouldn’t say it in that way and it certainly would never appear in a context such as this. It couldn’t possibly be more out of place.

    [SNIP]

    “There simply is no justification for the kind of interpretations that appear in facsimile no. 1 or facsimile no. 3. They are wrong with regard to the hieroglyphs, they are wrong with regard to the gender, they are wrong with regard to the understanding of what the scene actually represents and where they are used in the body of the text. They are wrong there as well.”

    “In short, there is no historical validity for the interpretations in that book. None whatsoever.

    Robert Ritner, Oriental Institute, University of Chicago

    Ritner has recently published an entire book on the Book of Abraham, geared toward Egyptologists (but addressing the claims of Mormon apologists as well). I haven’t gotten to see it because it isn’t in I-Share and it’s a little on the pricey side. There is an excerpt at Signature Books here.

    That does not all disappear by calling it “wishful thinking.”

  27. Gundek, I’m a bit embarrassed to say that I thought it was funny because it appears as if Holland did a freudian slip. In my mind there are similarities between Obama and Osama besides having similar names—they have both done harmful things to America.

    I’m embarrassed because I should show respect for our president even though I hope we can remove him from office. I didn’t like it when people made such unfair comparisons involving Bush.

    It was also funny because Holland himself seemed embarrassed. (I’m off topic.)

    LDS Anarchist said, “Warning to Cal: This is an Anarchist comment. Be sure to skip! ;-)”

    LOL

  28. Cal,

    I heard Holland’s slip, but wasn’t going to bring it up because I didn’t want to appear deliberately provocative or antagonistic toward Holland and Salt Lake Mormonism but, I didn’t find it in the least bit funny. I found Holland to be disrespectful at best and believe the “slip” was obviously such a racially charged insult that it baffles the mind to think it was onetime mistake.

    My experience with American evangelicals is a blatant disregard of Romans 13:1, Titus 3:1 or 1 Peter 2:13 when it comes to President Obama, a professing Christian. Paul tells Roman Christians to pray for Creaser (a pagan), but American evangelicals and charismatics know better when it comes to the President (a fellow Christian). Isn’t it odd that people who would never dream of participating in racist activities find racist comments about a fellow Christian acceptable just because they disagree with his politics? Maybe, in God’s providence, we will get 4 more years of practice; say it with me, “President Obama”.

  29. I thought that the Osama/Obama thing was an honest slip. I’ve always been disgusted by the idiot faction of conservatism that makes a big deal out of comparing the two and the similarities between the names, but even I make that mistake sometimes.

  30. In my mind there are similarities between Obama and Osama besides having similar names—they have both done harmful things to America.

    I think there is a little too much Fox in your diet.

  31. Ms. Jack, methinks you need to read more of the apologetic literature (as in all of it) concerning the Book of Abraham. The quote you gave of Ritner shows that he is either lacking all of the facts, or he is aware of all the available research, but he is merely ignoring those facts which don’t fit into his worldview. And secondly, it shows that he doesn’t have a good understanding of what facts he does possess. For example, his statement of “they are wrong with regard to the gender” is totally incorrect. Look into the matter more, and you’ll learn about it and see that Ritner’s statement indicates a poor understanding of Egyptian practices.

    I don’t engage in apologetics, but I have looked at all the available research and, as the Encyclopedia of Mormonism states, “the Prophet’s explanations of each of the facsimilies accord with present understanding of Egyptian religious practices.”

    A couple of months back, I was reading a statement by John Dehlin which was derisive of the Book of Abraham and indicated that the research disproved it and scoffed at how anyone could believe it in light of the research. I thought that perhaps new research had come forth, so, I went and read all the new findings and discovered that, in fact, the new stuff was stillsupportive of Joseph’s translation. So, I’m not speaking from old memory. I just looked at all this stuff a couple of months ago.

    Latter-day saints have no reason to be embarrassed in any way about the Book of Abraham, or to invent a more complicated theory as to how it came about. It is merely a direct translation from Egyptian. The preponderance of evidence leans in that direction.

  32. Anarchist,

    I’m ready to believe everything you say about the Book of Abraham, provided you do one thing: Show me where in Facsimile 3 the name “Shulem” appears. Since Joseph Smith clearly says, “Shulem, one of the king’s principal waiters, as represented by the characters above his hand.” This should be fairly easy to do, so have at it.

  33. David Clark,

    That’s an easy one. Get ready to believe everything I tell you about the Book of Abraham…

    The answer is: Joseph never states that the name Shulem is given in the facsimile.

    Compare what Joseph said in Fig. 2 with what he said in Fig. 5:

    Fig. 2. King Pharaoh, whose name is given in the characters above his head.
    Fig. 5. Shulem, one of the king’s principal waiters, as represented by the characters above his hand.

    “Whose name is given in the characters” does not equate to “as represented by the characters.” You are equating both statements so that Fig. 5 means that the name Shulem is given in the characters, which is a misinterpretation of Joseph’s words.

    Now, what is represented in the characters above his hand, if not Shulem? The answer is: one of the king’s principal waiters. Is that a supportable position, according to modern, Eygyptian understanding? Yes. Why is that? Because it is perfectly permissible and plausible for Joseph to identify “The Osiris Hor, justified forever” with a high-ranking butler.

    Once again, here come the “but…!” ‘s

  34. “Whose name is given in the characters” does not equate to “as represented by the characters.”

    Utter nonsense, just like everything else you write.

    Is that a supportable position, according to modern, Eygyptian understanding?

    No it is not, notwithstanding your incoherent ramblings. Try again, you are quite the bloviator. And, feel free to let the characters b-l-o-v-i-a-t-o-r mean whatever you want them to mean.

  35. Wow, David, I didn’t expect such animosity from you. Did I declare a hard thing to you, more than you are able to bear? Lol. I suppose this means that you will not be believing everything I say about the Book of Abraham, then?

    Btw, you need to go and look at all the Egyptian research. You will find that what I wrote in the above comment is true. But, something tells me that your mind is already made up and you will just disbelieve any research that conflicts your erroneous view that Joseph meant by his words that the name Shulem was given in the characters above his hand, (which, again, is not what he wrote or meant,) instead of only that “one of the king’s principal waiters” is represented in the characters, which is supported by research. But to each his own.

    One last thing: it flatters me to no end that you have read everything I’ve written, despite your assessment.

  36. Wow, David, I didn’t expect such animosity from you.

    Anarchist, you are quite mistaken. I showed no such animosity towards you. My posts were clearly well wishes for you and yours. Nothing but my sincerest and profoundest well wishes.

    If you didn’t get that from my comments, you clearly don’t know what was “represented by the characters” that I wrote. Since you are an afficionado of raping the English language, I thought that would be easily understood by you.

    So let me leave you now with this: Have a nice day and God bless. This clearly means “Go away, you are a troll with the IQ of a thumb tack” for those who know what is “represented by the characters.”

  37. LDSAnarchist ~ For example, his statement of “they are wrong with regard to the gender” is totally incorrect.

    Prove it. Cite for me some Egyptologists or scholars with degrees in related fields who think that figures 2 and 4 in BoA Facsimile No. 3 represent male characters rather than female ones. Should be easy for you to do since you’re so knowledgeable of the subject and all.

    You said (to David):

    Btw, you need to go and look at all the Egyptian research.

    You know what would be really convincing?

    If you would cite some of this research that supposedly proves what you’re saying.

  38. Ms. Jack, it looks like you re-edited your comment and added some content.

    Yup. But I’m all done editing and eagerly awaiting the names of those scholars who believe figures 2 and 4 in BoA Facsimile No. 3 are male.

  39. Now, so that there is no confusion on what I wrote, I will re-write it:

    I don’t engage in apologetics, but I have looked at all the available research

    So, Ms. Jack, David Clark (and anyone else),

    No, I will not spend time looking up the references for you. I am not going to try to take you by the hand and walk you through everything, nor am I going to try to convince you one way or another by citing this or that authority, however, I, personally, have looked at the available information and what I have written is true. Go and take a look for yourself, if you want, but if you don’t want to, I am content to let you remain in your own beliefs.

    It doesn’t matter to me whether you believe the Book of Abraham is true or not. The only thing you need to know is that I have approached the Book of Abraham research and I have come to a complelely opposite view of it than you have, with eyes wide open, reading the research. The research doesn’t dissuade my beliefs about the book in any way, but instead it fortifies them.

    Now, if you think that what I have written is “ridiculous,” or “utter nonsense,” it is because you do not understand what I am talking about when I say that it is a direct translation. Perhaps you think you understand me, but you probably don’t, otherwise you wouldn’t say it is utter nonsense and ridiculous. Go take a look at the research with “direct translation” in mind and see what comes up. I don’t feel like attempting to educate you both on these things, for my IQ is comparable to a tack, according to David, and thus I’m certain I wouldn’t be able to make you understand my words even if I tried.

    Now, I have answered Tim’s question concerning a better response to the Abraham question, but both of you resort to name-calling and personal attacks when presented with opposing viewpoints in which your minds are already made up, therefore, why should I waste my time to expound upon this issue to you? I am perfectly okay with you remaining in the dark on this.

  40. Anarchist, I think a simple link to one of your truth claims would clear all this up.

    DC, cool it on the personal attacks please.

  41. LDSAnarchist ~ No, I will not spend time looking up the references for you.

    Of course you won’t, and there’s a very good reason for that: what you’ve been saying here is nonsense. The Egyptology on the matter does not agree with Joseph Smith’s translations of the papyri anymore than astronomy agrees that the sun revolves around the earth. You won’t back up your arguments because you can’t, and all of your grumbling about how I need to go out and research this more myself is pure bluster.

    both of you resort to name-calling and personal attacks when presented with opposing viewpoints in which your minds are already made up

    Again, nonsense. The only one here who resorted to name-calling and personal attacks was David. All I did was say that your argument is ridiculous. You’re just trying to back out because you can’t answer the challenge that I posed.

  42. The possibility that Holland made an honest mistake when he referred to Barak Obama as Osama bin Laden is another reason that I didn’t comment on it until Cal said he thought it was funny. Baffling way to treat a fellow Christian.

    I do think that this is a singular point in American history when it is acceptable to mistakenly address the President with the name of our chief enemy, but when you have people who cannot distinguish between a political disagreement inside the United States and an external violent threat to our country, I may be asking too much.

    My recommendation for people who think it is perfectly reasonable to confuse the president and a terrorist is to take up Paul’s exhortation to pray for our leaders, and to do so by name. This may help them become more familiar with how to pronounce Barak’s Obama’s name.

  43. Pingback: Christianity vs Mormonism | cincinnatipoliticalactivism

  44. Sorry, Ms. Jack,

    I actually can give the references, but I’m done talking to you on this subject. What you want is a fight. I will discuss information with open-minded individuals, and do often, on this or on any subject, but I won’t discuss this with you. You can remain thinking this is bluster on my part. I don’t mind, at all. Call it what you want, but I will not take your bait and engage with you in a pointless argument that regardless of how many references I give you you will grasp at any straw to discount them. So, nice try baiting me, but it won’t work. Just as David Clark believes he has power to determine someone’s IQ from online writings, so do I think I can determine someone’s spirit from the same, and I say you’ve got a contentious spirit about you. I may be wrong on that point, but that’s how it hangs and I won’t waste any more time on this with you. I hope this finally sinks into your head and you just give up on your goading me, but if not, well, ce la vie.

    Have a wonderful Sunday.

  45. LDSAnarchist ~ What you want is a fight.

    Nope. Good grief, you call this a fight?

    What I want is for participants at LDS & Evangelical Conversations to back up the appeals to scholarship that they make with citations. Monstrous of me, I know.

    However, every single person who’s reading this exchange knows that the real reason you aren’t answering the challenge that I posed is because you can’t. Your “I can do that, but I don’t wanna” response isn’t fooling anyone.

    But, if you’re going to leave, then by all means, make with the “Brave Sir Robin” routine already. We’ll even bang together some coconuts for you on your way out.

  46. Anarchist, I’d like a link for my own reference too.

    David, when you respond the way you did earlier – it really just makes you look angry and insecure about your status as an ex-Mormon.

    It makes you look threatened by the possibility that maybe you screwed up and did the wrong thing for the wrong reasons. Otherwise, why the anger? Hand-waving about “bloviating” and such doesn’t make your case. I take it this must have been a very crucial ingredient in your own exit to evoke such a violent reaction.

    But anarchist, pouting about people not being willing doesn’t make you look any better. Especially since Jack wasn’t the one attacking – David was.

    And David, I’m not impressed with the threat of Kevin Graham in the least. The hasn’t done much to impress me and his work doesn’t even really pretend at objectivity. He’s little more than a Internet message board regular, nothing I’m really worried about having “sicked” on me.

  47. Gundek said, “I heard Holland’s slip . . . but, I didn’t find it in the least bit funny. I found Holland to be disrespectful at best and believe the “slip” was obviously such a racially charged insult that it baffles the mind to think it was onetime mistake.
    “My experience with American evangelicals is a blatant disregard of Romans 13:1, Titus 3:1 or 1 Peter 2:13 when it comes to President Obama, a professing Christian. Paul tells Roman Christians to pray for Creaser (a pagan), but American evangelicals and charismatics know better when it comes to the President (a fellow Christian).”

    Are you not an evangelical? (I’m just curious.)

    I don’t assume President Obama is a Christian just because he professes to be one. Do you assume Apostle Holland is a Christian because he professes to be one? I don’t know whether Obama is a Christian, but his policies on key issues such as gay marriage, abortion, how not to steal finances from future generations, and how to improve the economy, constitute much bad fruit. On the other hand, Apostle Holland’s position as well as Mitt Romney’s position on those issues line up closer to God’s truth than Obama’s. Does the LDS balance its budget? Do they approve of gay marriage? Do they condone killing the unborn?

    I do believe in showing proper respect for President Obama including submitting to him, as the verses you appropriately quoted instruct us to do, and, incidentally, as the LDS teaches. Joseph Smith said in the 12th Article of Faith of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, “We believe in being subject to kings, presidents, rulers, and magistrates, in obeying, honoring, and sustaining the law.”

    I agree with you, Gundek, that many evangelical and charismatic believers should be more respectful and much less judgmental toward President Obama. Perhaps if they prayed for him more often, their attitude would improve. Do you pray for LDS leaders such as Apostle Holland? Do you judge his motives when he verbally stumbles?

    I’m not trying to overwhelm you with your own vices, but I’m challenging you to spend more time working on yourself, and less time knocking others down. I don’t mind you challenging me, so it’s fair. 🙂

  48. Cal —

    I let Gundik address the moral issues I thought it was great to see an evangelical policing his own side.

    But on the political issues. We have a fiat currency, a central bank whose powers exist by government charter, a government with the unlimited ability to tax and spend and we are borrowing in dollars. In no meaningful sense is the government “stealing” from future generations. Our entire economic system is based on debt and funny money it all just an accounting trick. Little green pieces of paper are easy to create, all the manufactured goods we’ve been importaning can not be created by the wave of a pen. And was George Bush not a Christian when he borrowed money? How about Ronald Reagan? As for gay marriage, Barack Obama is opposed and Dick Cheney is in favor.

  49. Cal,

    I don’t know which of my many vices you are exposing, by all means continue if it makes you feel better.

    Since you are interested, no I don’t call myself an evangelical, I have no reason to question President Obama’s profession of faith, I don’t think Holland is an apostle and his public teachings denying the Trinity are heretical and idolatrous, I’m not subject to Salt Lake Mormon leader but I pray for many people, I didn’t judge Holland’s motives (except to be disturbed by the apparent racism) I judged your statement that you thought it was funny to call the President of the United States Osama bin Laden and how much you liked Holland because of what he said.

    Do us all a favor and don’t lecture me on abortion. My family has earned our bona fides on this subject and I am not going to take part in naive political ramblings.

  50. Seth,

    But anarchist, pouting about people not being willing doesn’t make you look any better. Especially since Jack wasn’t the one attacking – David was.

    Dictionary timeout: Jack called what I wrote ridiculous. Ridiculous is “fitted to excite ridicule; unworthy of serious consideration.” Ridicule is “remarks, concerning a subject or a person, designed to excite laughter with a degree of contempt for the subject of the remarks; disparagement in words or pictures, or by actions, which tends to make a person an object of laughter, banter.”

    With those definitions in mind, do you really believe that when a person calls what you have said “ridiculous,” that that is not a personal attack upon you? Or perhaps you believe that the words and ideas of a person can be ridiculous without the person who spoke or thought them up being ridiculous? In other words, that one’s words and thoughts and ideas can be separated from the person, so that maybe Jack was calling my ideas and words ridiculous (worthy of ridicule), but not me, right?

    But that is not how people are. People don’t separate one’s words and actions and thoughts from the person. Jack called what I wrote ridiculous and nonsense, therefore, she is saying that I am fitted, or worthy to be ridiculed. That is attacking the person. That is picking a fight, or trying to goad a person into a fight. In other words, those are fighting words.

    If you are on a street corner and some stranger says something and you call what he says ridiculous and nonsense, do you really expect the man to engage with you in a civil conversation afterward? Or would you expect him to throw down the gloves right then and there and settle the matter with fisticuffs? The fact of the matter is that the latter is the more likely situation, because, again, calling someone’s words ridiculous is picking a fight, regardless of whether you intended it or not. It immediately shuts down civility. (Try calling your wife’s words, or children’s words, or neighbor’s words, or boss’s words, etc., ridiculous for one day, and see how your day goes. Might be a fun experiment in human behavior!)

    Now, Jack is a woman writing on some insignificant blog, and I’m a man, and we are both, essentially, anonymous and strangers and all, so it may not matter having a shouting match or a match in which each one tries to present the better, more qualified expert to outdo the other, but for me, this is a pointless endeavor.

    Again, I’m not pouting about it, nor trying to look “any better” than the other person. I don’t care one way or another how anyone thinks of me. I’m just saying that this is a conversation I’m not willing to have with such a person–who, if she were to use the same type of incendiary language in real life with some stranger, would perhaps end up in more than just a verbal fight–because I know from life experience that it leads nowhere, except to waste my time.

    The gospel teaches us to be wise as serpents and gentle as doves. We are not to stir up people to contend with each other. Internet forums like this, or any public forum in which two people argue in earshot of others, have the tendency of causing the listening audience to take sides and those who are arguing to try to save face and “look good.” To demonstrate my point:

    However, every single person who’s reading this exchange knows that the real reason you aren’t answering the challenge that I posed is because you can’t.

    But I don’t care about “looking good” or winning an argument in front of others, so I am willing to just bow out of the debate and be labeled whatever anyone wants to label me. It doesn’t matter to me.

  51. In my experience — authority-whores are never satisfied by the content of the “references” they claim they’re seeking. The deal is, wIth a source — an authority-whore can decide whether they want to accept or reject the content based on the merits of the cited reference alone, and no longer based on the material itself.

    We live in what’s called the “Information Age” — yet I’ve encountered people online who act like getting information isn’t just as easy as typing words into a search bar.

    What good is having a “source” who is saying the same thing LDSA is saying? — If it is not to just find a way to label the source of LDSA’s information as “ridiculous” too?

    Is there really a scenario that anyone can imagine where LDSA provides a link to an article or book and Ms. Jack, et al. see the source — and completely change their heart and decide Joseph Smith was indeed a prophet, seer, revelator, and translator? Of course not, the suggestion is absurd [or maybe even “ridiculous”]. People who’ve already made up their mind don’t change them because they’ve demanded credentials.

  52. LDSAnarchist ~ Yes, ideas can be critiqued apart from the people who present them. I think young earth creationism is ridiculous, but one of my friends who graduated from TEDS was a die-hard young earth creationist, and I would never suggest that she as a person was worth ridiculing. I’m pretty sure she’s smarter than I am and would best me in debates on any number of topics any day of the week. I think refusing to ordain women because men have priesthood and women have babies is ridiculous, but vast numbers of Mormons would say exactly that when asked why women aren’t ordained, and I wouldn’t suggest they’re worthy of ridicule as people because of it.

    You’re just desperately trying to blow up my critique of your argument as “ridiculous” into a personal attack so that you can try and save face while not answering me. It’s pathetic. If having your ideas critiqued on the Internet hurts your feelings so much, then you shouldn’t be commenting on blogs.

    More importantly though, if me calling your argument “ridiculous” had hurt your feelings as much as you now claim that it did, you should have stopped engaging me as soon as I did it. Instead you continued to engage me until I called you onto the carpet to back up your claim that Ritner was wrong about the genders of the facsimiles. Then all of a sudden you start averring that I’m too mean to respond to because I called your argument “ridiculous”? How convenient for you.

    In any case though: you’re not new here. You’ve been commenting here off and on since 2007. You know that I’m one of the perma-bloggers here, you’ve interacted with me before, and you’ve commented at my blog. You’re more than familiar with the level of courtesy with which I handle disagreement. So if you had really believed that I have too much of a “contentious spirit” (nice thought-stopping cliche, btw) to merit engagement, then you shouldn’t even have started commenting here in the first place.

    Justin ~ If I were you, I’d be a little more reserved in applying plays on the term “whore” to female bloggers. As in, I wouldn’t do it. (Yeesh, now who’s being personally attacked?)

    What good is having a “source” who is saying the same thing LDSA is saying? — If it is not to just find a way to label the source of LDSA’s information as “ridiculous” too?

    That would depend on the source. As most of the LDS regulars here can attest, I’ve changed my mind on a number of issues as a result of my conversations with them. However, I’m never going to change my mind because someone makes sweeping appeals to scholarship and then refuses to cite what he’s appealing to. The only reason anyone does that is because (1) he’s lazy, and/or (2) he knows his sources can’t withstand intellectually rigorous cross-examination.

    As far as the Book of Abraham goes—Pearl of Great Price was the very first religion class that I took when I was a freshman at BYU, in part because I was incredibly eager to hear how Mormons respond to the BoA papyri issue. I was a little shocked when the teacher chose to avoid the subject altogether. He assigned John Gee’s A Guide to the Joseph Smith Papyri (with its now-discredited “two inks” theory) and pretty much told us, “Well, you have Gee’s book, so go ahead and read it on your own.” That was it. In retrospect, the way that the teacher dealt with it—by avoiding it, and insisting that other Mormons have taken care of it elsewhere—actually is a pretty common LDS method of responding to the BoA issues.

    I don’t claim to have Chris Smith or Kevin Graham’s level of expertise on the matter, but I made a pretty sincere effort to read up on BoA apologetics in my time at BYU. A lot of it seemed awfully obfuscatory or evasive towards the actual issues with the BoA (indeed, Klaus Baer once said as much about Hugh Nibley’s BoA apologetics). So I won’t be accused of not being willing to give the Book of Abraham a fair shake. I gave it a much fairer shake than 99.9% of non-members ever would.

    Is there really a scenario that anyone can imagine where LDSA provides a link to an article or book and Ms. Jack, et al. see the source — and completely change their heart and decide Joseph Smith was indeed a prophet, seer, revelator, and translator?

    Really? People are only worth engaging if you think you can wrangle a conversion out of them? That’s more than a little sad.

  53. Justin —

    Is there really a scenario that anyone can imagine where LDSA provides a link to an article or book and Ms. Jack, et al. see the source — and completely change their heart and decide Joseph Smith was indeed a prophet, seer, revelator, and translator?

    In my experience people’s opinions do change. Jack I think certainly can be testy about the LDS issues lately, but I think she is fundamentally honest. Let me give you an example that’s not LDS related. I know Jack hates the ESV translation (I agree with her BTW). The ESV does a really good job on Isaiah 1:6. I think I could convince her that the ESV’s treatment of that verse is correct based on the Hebrew. Now during that conversation, absolutely she’s not coming to this with a blank slate, and absolutely she is going to suspect the motives of anyone defending the ESV’s treatment of any verse. That notwithstanding the evidence for the ESV’s translators is strong, so the argument to accept their treatment over the TNIV’s or the NRSV’s I think I’d win and her opinion would change.

    I will agree with you that on the internet as in real life people often don’t realize their opinion has in-fact shifted. For example there is an excellent study where they asked people who had been adults in 1993 what was their opinion about gays in the military when DADT was passed. An overwhelming majority of people who today supported open service indicated they supported open service at the time. That is a huge percentage of the people who statistically must have changed their minds between 1993 and 2010 didn’t realize that somewhere along the way their opinion changed, much less gave credit to the person(s) who changed it. It takes time for people to adapt to losing an argument and people generally are less forthright than they should be when their opponent scores a point off them.

    But the core issue is this…. If I write a recipe for Lentil Soup in German and David translates it as driving directions to get to the mall, you have a fairly substantial factual problem in arguing for David’s translation. Now if you want to argue that Joseph Smith was a prophet and was inspired by the funeral papyri and thus captured the underlying spirit of some of the theology in his Book of Abraham I’ll agree with you. Joseph Smith is a great prophet, he uses “translation” for divination throughout his life. It is time that the LDS just accept that only at the end of his life did he even start to learn a foreign language when he studied Hebrew. He never, in the modern sense translated anything. Either feel comfortable with prophecy or feel comfortable with scholarship but there are no good sources for Joseph’s translation. Now of course your evangelical friends have the problem that the reason there are no ancient Egyptian texts that discuss Abraham is because there never was a substantial Jewish population in ancient Egypt, and there likely never was an Abraham so their prophetic history is in the same boat as your prophetic translation.

  54. Justin ~ If I were you, I’d be a little more reserved in applying plays on the term “whore” to female bloggers. As in, I wouldn’t do it. (Yeesh, now who’s being personally attacked?)

    Lol — if I were me (which I am) — I’d use the term “whore” in the sense that it is used scripturally (meaning used to apply to both men and women). I wasn’t inferring anything about your sexual activity. I also don’t plan on choosing to use a different term to apply to people who are “authority-whores” just because they happen to be female. A blogger’s gender has no bearing on if they are an authority-whore or not.

    Scripturally, “whore” is a “something” that humans have defiled. The “whore” is neither a male or a female. It is that which a human has defiled — as such, it is considered as a woman (but that is something entirely different than being a woman). In the sense that Ezekiel used it:

    and they that escape of you
    shall remember me among the nations whither they shall be carried captives
    because I am broken with their whorish heart
    which hath departed from me
    and with their eyes
    which go a whoring after their idols

    and they shall lothe themselves
    for the evils which they have committed
    in all their abominations

    …an authority-“whore” devotes themselves to the authors, the sources, and the claims of authority — rather than to the content or to the truth itself.

    That would depend on the source.” — it sounds to me like:

    and say unto him

    by what authority doest thou these things?

    and

    who gave thee this authority to do these things?

    Now there is a group of male-bloggers who were definite authority-whores.

    Really? People are only worth engaging if you think you can wrangle a conversion out of them? That’s more than a little sad.
    I’m not suggesting that he’d have to make you LDS — or else not talk to you. I’m saying that there is no scenario in which LDSA provides a link that makes you say: “Oh, well now that I read this person write the same thing you just wrote — I completely change my entire viewpoint on Joseph Smith.” And he appeared to have been clever enough to discern that state-of-mind and not waste any effort in doing the research for you.

    He made the claim — the content is there — this isn’t an acedmic forum, it’s an informal blog comment section. If you’re that interested — go look up what he wrote in a search engine yourself. As I said — welcome to the Information Age.

  55. CD-Host:

    Thanks for your perspective. Ms. Jack might be open-minded (generally speaking). I don’t know enough about her one way or the other to care much either way — but in my experience once things like:

    Prove it…
    Cite for me…
    …back up [your] appeals to scholarship [you] make with citations…

    and other similar requests using highly qualified language, such as:

    Egyptologists or scholars with degrees in related fields who think that figures 2 and 4 in BoA Facsimile No. 3 represent male characters rather than female ones. Should be easy for you to do since you’re so knowledgeable of the subject and all.
    […]
    Yup. [I’m] eagerly awaiting the names of those scholars who believe figures 2 and 4 in BoA Facsimile No. 3 are male.

    That the end-game is not to change one’s mind. But just find a way to show how whatever LDSA read is malarkey.

    For me — this conclusion on LDSA and Ms. Jack’s conversation that I made was confirmed when he wrote something quite reasonable:

    No, I will not spend time looking up the references for you. I am not going to try to take you by the hand and walk you through everything, nor am I going to try to convince you one way or another by citing this or that authority, however, I, personally, have looked at the available information and what I have written is true. Go and take a look for yourself, if you want, but if you don’t want to, I am content to let you remain in your own beliefs.

    And that was used as de-facto proof that he either had no reference for what he said — or that he knows his reference is malarkey:

    Of course you won’t, and there’s a very good reason for that: what you’ve been saying here is nonsense.

    That’s not the language of a conversation that is going anywhere. Which is why I made that first comment I wrote on this thread.

  56. Justin ~ I’m not interested in your apologetics for calling me a “whore” of any variety. “Whore” in our culture is a term that men use to shame women for acting out sexually in ways that they don’t agree with, and in the context of this discussion, “authority-whore” is your attempt to shame me for asking questions that have made you and your co-blogger uncomfortable. So knock off the name-calling and stick with the issues.

    I issued a CFR. It’s a standard practice in online discussions and debates. Get over it.

    I’m saying that there is no scenario in which LDSA provides a link that makes you say: “Oh, well now that I read this person write the same thing you just wrote — I completely change my entire viewpoint on Joseph Smith.”

    Of course there is. If LDSA could establish what he has claimed here—that there is no conflict between what Egyptology says about the papyri and what Joseph Smith said about the papyri, that a direct translation of the papyri vindicates Joseph—that would completely change my viewpoint of Joseph Smith’s professed ability to translate ancient documents.

    It wouldn’t change my viewpoint of the rest of Joseph Smith, nor would it automatically cause me to conclude that Smith was a prophet. Then again, I’m not sure why you suggested that it should. My reasons for rejecting Smith’s prophetic claims have little to do with the BoA papyri, ergo, answering the issues with the BoA papyri wouldn’t reverse my feelings on the matter..

    Contrary to what you and your co-blogger are claiming here, my feelings on Joseph Smith have changed in the past after evaluating responsible scholarship on him. My friend Don Bradley presented a paper at FAIR last year that changed how I feel about the Kinderhook Plates and what they say about Joseph Smith’s abilities. I spent several days just pondering what Don had found and what that said about how Joseph Smith’s mind worked. Some of us are interested in understanding who Joseph Smith was and what made him tick apart from the endless polemics on his prophetic status.

    And he appeared to have been clever enough to discern that state-of-mind and not waste any effort in doing the research for you.

    There’s nothing “clever” about making stuff up on the Internet and then running for the hills when people call you on it. People do it every day. Besides, LDSA claims to already be knowledgeable in the scholarly literature on the matter, so my request should have meant minimal effort. He didn’t answer my CFR because he couldn’t. That’s all there is to it.

  57. that have made you and your co-blogger uncomfortable

    Your discussion with LDSA is not my discussion. His claims are not my claims. Your questions had no effect on my comfort level. I just saw a fair bit of authority-whoring going on and I wanted to point it out.

    You were asking LDSA for some silver-bullet reference and making all sorts of unfounded conclusions based on whether he submitted them to you or not. You’d have gone on to show how whatever he read was actually not from someone credible enough or who hadn’t the proper qualified degree or whatever — when all I read him saying was essentially:

    Not that I engage in apologetics [some I’m not going to publish this as peer-reviewed, annotated, and referenced scholarly work] — but as an LDS who has looked at all the available research online — I’ve come to the faith-affirming opinion that direct-translation of papyri has not be ruled-out as a possibility.

    LDSA said [of the Holland interview] that:

    he should have just said, “There are several theories on that and I can refer you to some [apologetics] sources that give all of the specific details on those for you. So, the question regarding the Book of Abraham is still open for debate. As for me, personally, I believe [fill in the blank.]” This would have allowed the viewer to know that whatever personal view he was going to give about this book, was just one of several Mormon views on the issue and nothing had been proven or disproven, as yet.

    and that is essentially all I read him do here. Of the several competing theories on the Book of Abraham (from secular and religious researches, from LDS and non-LDS) — he personally believed:

    The Book of Abraham was a direct translation from the Egyptian to English.” This answer has not been ruled out, despite all the wishful thinking of the scholars. The facts show that this is still a possibility.

    Still a possibility” and “has not been ruled out” don’t strike me as positive claims. They strike me as his opinion given what he’s read — which would put him under no obligation to “cite his sources”.

    Something like:

    The only thing you need to know is that I have approached the Book of Abraham research and I have come to a completely opposite view of it than you have, with eyes wide open, reading the research.

    doesn’t really require your CFR — unless you were using such a call to find out what about his sources you could use to discredit what he wrote.

    Some of the things here shouldn’t even need a CFR — such as LDSA’s answer to what David asked him:

    I’m ready to believe everything you say about the Book of Abraham, provided you do one thing: Show me where in Facsimile 3 the name “Shulem” appears. Since Joseph Smith clearly says, “Shulem, one of the king’s principal waiters, as represented by the characters above his hand.” This should be fairly easy to do, so have at it.

    which was:

    That’s an easy one. Get ready to believe everything I tell you about the Book of Abraham…

    The answer is: Joseph never states that the name Shulem is given in the facsimile.

    Compare what Joseph said in Fig. 2 with what he said in Fig. 5:

    Fig. 2. King Pharaoh, whose name is given in the characters above his head.
    Fig. 5. Shulem, one of the king’s principal waiters, as represented by the characters above his hand.

    “Whose name is given in the characters” does not equate to “as represented by the characters.” You are equating both statements so that Fig. 5 means that the name Shulem is given in the characters, which is a misinterpretation of Joseph’s words.

    Now, what is represented in the characters above his hand, if not Shulem? The answer is: one of the king’s principal waiters. Is that a supportable position, according to modern, Eygyptian understanding? Yes. Why is that? Because it is perfectly permissible and plausible for Joseph to identify “The Osiris Hor, justified forever” with a high-ranking butler.

    Once again, here come the “but…!” ‘s

    Unless someone is an authority-whore who’d need to find a “who” on which to judge a “what” — that’s simply a fair reading of the English explanation written by Joseph. Meaning LDSA, as an English-speaker, just expounded on how David was reading the explanation to mean something that Joseph didn’t actually write. Who on earth should he “cite” for that? What good would a “cite” for that do for you?

    FWIW — you could check out this FAIR presentation and also this one blogger’s post on the Book of Abraham — and can report back with what about the sources you don’t like.

  58. Everyone take a deep breath. As final arbiter on this blog the only personal attack was made by David Clark. I agree with him more often than not and I told him to knock it off.

    In this space calling an argument ridiculous is not a personal attack. It’s harsh and it might hurt your feelings but it’s directed at an argument not a person. The rules might be different on your blog.

    Justin, I’ll request that you ease up on the use of the word “whore”. I understand the context that you were using it in but I think given it’s recent political exposure that its a bit too provocative. I know that it’s become common to call people fame-whores, attention-whores and hoarders and that you were using it in that vein. But thanks to El Rushbo it may not be prudent to continue that usage. Who knows, 6 months ago nobody may have cared; 2 years from now we might not care. Right now it’s a raw nerve.

  59. “Tim said a better answer than the one Holland gave. Not a crazy one.”

    I missed this comment Jack.

    Maybe you should share with Kevin Barney what you think of his ideas the next time you see him.

    And Justin, is there really any use in pursuing this argument about the word “whore?” Seems to me like it’s distracting from the points you are trying to make unnecessarily. Also keep in mind that not 20 years ago, the word “whore” wasn’t a word you would even use in the presence of women and children in many places in America.

    Call me patriarchal and old-fashioned, but I wouldn’t mind going back to that standard.

  60. Tim and Seth — fair points — I don’t follow politics, so I wasn’t aware of whatever raw-nerve you mention — but nevertheless, I can refrain. And with all that mind, I’ll rephrase the first comment I made to read:

    In my experience — [there are some people who] are never satisfied by the content of the “references” they claim they’re seeking. The deal is, wIth a source — [such a person] can decide whether they want to accept or reject the content based on the merits of the cited reference alone, and no longer based on the material itself.

    We live in what’s called the “Information Age” — yet I’ve encountered people online who act like getting information isn’t just as easy as typing words into a search bar.

    What good is having a “source” who is saying the same thing LDSA is saying? — If it is not to just find a way to label the source of LDSA’s information as “ridiculous” too?

    Is there really a scenario that anyone can imagine where LDSA provides a link to an article or book and Ms. Jack, et al. see the source — and completely change their heart and decide Joseph Smith was indeed a prophet, seer, revelator, and translator? Of course not, the suggestion is absurd [or maybe even “ridiculous”]. People who’ve already made up their mind don’t change them because they’ve demanded credentials.

  61. Justin ~ You were asking LDSA for some silver-bullet reference

    LDSA made the sweeping assertion that a respected Egyptology scholar from a respected institution for the study of the ancient near east who has recently gone to some trouble to address LDS apologetics on the Book of Abraham had no idea what he was talking about or was deliberately ignoring data that contradicted his conclusions. That’s a serious charge to make of a serious scholar. Asking him to back up such a harsh negative assessment of Ritner and demonstrate how it is that Ritner could be so off-target was not an unreasonable request.

    BTW, this is the part that I was CFRing:

    The quote you gave of Ritner shows that he is either lacking all of the facts, or he is aware of all the available research, but he is merely ignoring those facts which don’t fit into his worldview. And secondly, it shows that he doesn’t have a good understanding of what facts he does possess. For example, his statement of “they are wrong with regard to the gender” is totally incorrect. Look into the matter more, and you’ll learn about it and see that Ritner’s statement indicates a poor understanding of Egyptian practices.

    Not the parts you quoted.

    making all sorts of unfounded conclusions based on whether he submitted them to you or not.

    When I make a CFR and someone refuses to give it, and instead resorts to falsehoods about how I’m too mean and prejudiced to merit engagement, concluding that they are unable to answer my CFR is not unfounded.

    Now are you claiming that the two links that you provided answered my CFR? It doesn’t look to me like either of them do. In fact, the second one contradicts what LDSA was trying to argue by admitting “The Book of Abraham is not an Egyptian-English translation of characters on the papyri.”

    Seth ~ Maybe you should share with Kevin Barney what you think of his ideas the next time you see him.

    I’d be happy to, although if you’re referring to this paper here, then I think Kevin Barney’s ideas are significantly more nuanced than “the Joseph Smith papyri aren’t Egyptian documents.”

  62. Jack:

    Now are you claiming that the two links that you provided answered my CFR?

    I’m not attempting to answer your call to a CFR, since you did not make one to me.

    I’ve made no positive claims about the Book of Abraham in this thread — so I wouldn’t be able to respond, even if you made one of me.

  63. Is this not a blog conversation that’s become about the Book of Abraham? Do you know what “FWIW” signifies?

    Those were two interesting articles on the Book of Abraham that I’d read recently. I don’t know if they are the ones LDSA is referring to or not — nor am I much concerned with whether they are or not [or what he read or didn’t read].

    The first one was FAIR — so since you’d mentioned FAIR stuff — I thought you’d dig on that one.

    The second one actually proposes a method of translation — and the comments were interesting too. Did you even read them?

  64. Justin ~ Is this not a blog conversation that’s become about the Book of Abraham?

    It is? I thought it was a blog conversation about how I’m a Meanie Beanie McWhore who’s too agenda-driven to listen to opposing evidence even if someone went through the effort of posting it.

    Before that, it was a very specific conversation about whether the Book of Abraham could be a direct translation of the Joseph Smith Papyri. I, for one, never expressed interest in other “translation” theories.

    Do you know what “FWIW” signifies?

    Do you know what “being pedantic” signifies?

  65. Before that, it was a very specific conversation about whether the Book of Abraham could be a direct translation of the Joseph Smith Papyri.

    And someone here said — “Sure, based on what I’ve looked at, I think it definitely still could be.” And then the CFR hammer got swung…

    FWIW [there I go again] — I find this to be a fun use of “pedant” from a 1920’s poem:

    Resigning true-love’s part,
    He lets a pedant art academize his heart

  66. Justin ~ And then the CFR hammer got swung…

    Wrong. The CFR hammer got swung when your co-blogger bashed a respected scholar of Egyptology.

    Please try to pay attention.

  67. Alright, a victim of the soundbite then.

    Basically, Barney argues that Joseph Smith did translate the EGYPTIAN characters found on the scroll and translated them correctly (more accurately, he makes room for this to be possible – even given the criticisms).

    However, he points out the high likelihood that it was actually a Canaanite scribe using Egyptian hieroglyphs and pictograms to tell a CANAANITE (and not Egyptian) story. So basically, the Canaanite scribe borrowed the images which critics commonly refer to as “Egyptian funerary imagery” and used them to describe Canaanite theology. Kind of like how websites use stock imagery available on the web to decorate websites with very different functions.

    Usually whenever I bring up this possibility, there is an immediate chorus of boos, defensive eyerolling, and immediate rush to dismiss (which is, by the way, rather telling to me).

    But this sort of practice is not without precedent. Ancient scholars have always freely borrowed from other cultures in their own historic records – especially when those other cultures are powerful and influential. The Japanese do it today in adopting latin letters for a lot of their storefront signage. And it was done all the time in ancient cultures as well – including Israel (who actually were known to conduct some of their writing in Egyptian). So I don’t know why this theory is so implausible.

    Sounds pretty good to me.

  68. However, he points out the high likelihood that it was actually a Canaanite scribe using Egyptian hieroglyphs and pictograms to tell a CANAANITE (and not Egyptian) story.

    Ancient Egyptian and the Canaanite language are from different main branches of the Afroasiatic tree. That means they aren’t as far away as English German but rather the distance between English and Persian. You can’t just flip writing systems over that kind fo distance.

    It is one thing for English to borrow small elements of Japanese, for example the word “otaku” is now an English word, it would be another thing to bring over an entire structure. English doesn’t allow for noun-verb compound words (like Walkman) we can borrow them, but that doesn’t mean we can borrow whole paragraphs. Moreover, and this is key point, we can translate ancient Egyptian hieroglyphics. If you were to read this post you could rule out that it was a Japanese guy using latin lettering, based on the fact that the lettering spell out English words, used with English grammer and that the sentences hang together. Because this post makes sense in English it ain’t an example of borrowing.

    An example of the translated text:

    this great pool of Khonsu [Osiris Hor, justified], born of Taykhebyt, a man likewise. After (his) two arms are [fast]ened to his breast, one wraps the Book of Breathings, which is with writing both inside and outside of it, with royal linen, it being placed (at) his left arm near his heart, this having been done at his wrapping and outside it. If this book be recited for him, then he will breathe like the soul[s of the gods] for ever and ever.

    is a set of meaningful instructions.

    Moreover it doesn’t make any sense why anyone would do this. The papyri date to about 500 BCE, Canaanite languages had their own written forms by that point. Why would I try and write this post using Japanese characters when I have a functional English writing system? The reason there is a rush to dismiss is because the whole theory is totally implausible.

    Inspiration, absolutely. The Book of Abraham is a fantastic work of religious literature. Though if you take the next step to translation, that’s problematic.

  69. Well CD, since they actually have uncovered examples of Jews writing in Egyptian in ancient times, I guess you’ll just have to use your imagination a little more.

  70. Jack, I think there are a lot of people out there (you know, internet types) who would love to see you and your good friend Kevin Barney go toe to toe. Pretty please?

  71. Jack, I think there are a lot of people out there (you know, internet types) who would love to see you and your good friend Kevin Barney go toe to toe. Pretty please?

    I would like this too, but Kevin doesn’t dance. I tried to get him to take lessons at my husband’s studio and he wouldn’t go for it.

  72. Well CD, since they actually have uncovered examples of Jews writing in Egyptian in ancient times, I guess you’ll just have to use your imagination a little more.

    What you would need to prove your claim regarding cross alphabets would be Jews using hieroglyphic alphabet to express Hebrew or if from a later date Aramaic and if you have examples of that I’d love to know where.

    As an aside, I am curious about even the weaker claim you are making of Jews using egyptian hieroglyphics. The earliest Jewish materials I know of from Egypt were 3rd century BCE (after the Greek conquest) and none of them use hieroglyphics which by that point hieroglyphics are AFAIK exclusively used in a ritualized way, analogous to how Latin is used in today’s America. So what manuscripts or tablets are you talking about?

  73. Here CD – some reading for you:

    http://maxwellinstitute.byu.edu/publications/jbms/?vol=5&num=2&id=128

    Here’s relevant excerpt:

    “A number of northwest Semitic texts are included in Egyptian magical papyri. These are mostly incantations that, instead of being translated, were merely transcribed in Egyptian hieratic.6 The underlying language is a Northwest Semitic tongue, an early form of Hebrew/Canaanite.7 The texts include the London Magical Papyrus (fourteenth century B.C.),8 the Harris Magical Papyrus (thirteenth century B.C.),9 Papyrus Anastasi I (thirteenth century B.C.),10 and Ostracon 25759 recto.11 The latter dates to the early eleventh century B.C., the time of Israel’s judges. While a Semitic text appears on one side, the verso has a text that is pure Egyptian, though whether there is a connection between the two is unknown. In any event, it is clear that some Egyptian scribes were sufficiently versed in the Northwest Semitic tongue that they were able to transliterate it using their own writing system.

    Closer to Lehi’s time are Israelite documents from the ninth to sixth centuries B.C., from which we learn that the Israelites adopted the Egyptian hieratic numerals and mingled them with Hebrew text.12 More important, however, are Hebrew and Aramaic texts—languages used by the Jews of Lehi’s time—that are written in Egyptian characters. One of these is Papyrus Amherst 63, a document written in Egyptian demotic and dating to the second century B.C.13 The document had, like the Dead Sea Scrolls, been preserved in an earthen jar and was discovered in Thebes, Egypt, during the second half of the nineteenth century. For years, Egyptologists struggled with the text but could make no sense of it. The letters were clear, but they did not form intelligible words. In 1944, Raymond Bowman of the University of Chicago realized that, while the script is Egyptian, the underlying language is Aramaic.14 Bowman managed to translate portions of the text, but it did not become the object of serious study until the 1980s.15 Among the writings included in the religious text is a paganized version of Psalms 20:2—6. Here, then, we have a Bible passage, in its Aramaic translation, written in late Egyptian characters.”

  74. I like Kevin Barney, and the evidence he provides of Semites adapting Egyptian motifs is intriguing. But the theory he lays out in his article attempts to explain only one aspect of the BoA problem: how Egyptian funerary vignettes of a late date could hypothetically have ended up as illustrations of the Book of Abraham. This falls far short of explaining the whole cluster of problems raised by the BoA, such as the mistranslation of specific Egyptian characters, the absence of a BoA text from the documents Joseph owned, the incorrect restoration of the text, etc.

  75. Yeah, but it deals with the only one of those issues that is actually a problem for Mormon faith.

    The rest basically rely on the old prophetic infallibility argument, do they not?

  76. Seth —

    1) Hieratic is an alphabetical system based on hieroglyphs so you are actually shifting the debate a bit.

    2) I don’t know of any Egyptian papyri written in “Northwest Semitic”. The papyri follow the evolution of Egyptian writing: hieroglyphic, hieratic, demotic or greek script. The ones he lists like the London text included.

    3) Further I’m unclear in parsing this where he thinks these papyri have two languages running the way that quote describes them or this only applies to 27579. But if he means more generally they don’t. For example here are links to images of the London papyri and you can see this is one language.

    4) In terms of Ostraca 27579 I don’t know where he is getting this universal numbering system from. I tried googling and all I see is the same quote appearing again and again and again.

    5) Later in the article he mentions the find from Tal Arad which is in Semitic script which contains part of the bill of goods in hieratic. I’d say that’s anti evidence for your position, the Semitic author when quoting an egyptian document not only changes sentence structure and vocabulary but changes the written form of the alphabet. The Tal Arad author considers these two different languages. For example if i write 中華民族 I’m embedding a Chinese word in English text.

    6) In terms of papyrus amherst 63. That is at least somewhat close to what you were claiming, an Egyptian papyrus (i.e. written in normal Egyptian demotic) with a quote where the Aramaic is transliterated (sounded out) into demotic. I’d not that even in the best example you still don’t have an Aramaic speaker using demotic, rather you have an Egyptian speaker quoting a language which uses a different script in his native script. So for example if I were to write Zhonghua minzu for the Chinese word above I’m using latin text to express a Chinese word. An analogy of this kind of practical usage I can think of is my wife often renders transcripts of Russian using a latin alphabet not a Cyrillic alphabet next to her translations so that English language readers can follow between the vocalizations and the translation.

    The author of papyrus amherst 63, thinks of Aramaic as another language, there isn’t the kind of mixing you are claiming. Moreover what’s important to note is that read in Egyptian the Aramaic quote doesn’t mean anything in Egyptian, he for whatever reason, expected his readers to at least have a verbal understanding of Aramaic. A document entirely composed of Aramaic quotes rendered in Demotic would be an example that at least one person had done something like what you are claiming for the Book of Abraham.

  77. CD, I’m not sure you’re getting what my argument is.

    The criticism of the Book of Abraham and Joseph’s claims about it is that Egyptologists have looked at the pictograms (facsimiles) and determined that they aren’t about what Joseph said they were about, but were rather Egyptian funeral documents.

    What my argument was saying was that Canaanite scribes sometimes used Egyptian language and pictograms to tell CANAANITE stories – sometimes altering the use and meaning of the pictures in so-doing. And that this is likely what the papyrus that Joseph Smith discovered did.

    Nothing you’ve said even seems to have any bearing on that core argument. In fact, I’m not even sure what your point is.

  78. Seth, I’m not sure you appreciate just how limited the explanatory power of Barney’s hypothesis really is. Even if it’s true that some Jewish redactor somewhere could theoretically have used some Egyptian vignettes to illustrate a Book of Abraham (which for the sake of argument I’m willing to concede), that still leaves the question of what this has to do with THE vignettes interpreted by Joseph Smith. I see two possibilities.

    First, it could be that a Book of Abraham text was part of Joseph Smith’s papyrus collection but has since gone missing, and the specific vignettes Smith interpreted were meant to illustrate that text. There are several problems here. The historical and physical evidence seems to preclude a missing text, two of the vignettes were clearly illustrations of the Breathing Document rather than the Book of Abraham, and the last vignette would have come from a completely different tomb than the first two.

    The second possibility is that Joseph received by direct revelation a translation of a late Jewish redaction of the BoA text which was not part of his papyrus collection, which just happened to have been illustrated by a Jewish redactor with vignettes that were close approximations of the three Joseph interpreted. God thus allowed Joseph to use the vignettes in his collection as stand-ins for the lost BoA’s real illustrations. This is a horrifically inelegant solution.

    TBH, if you’re willing to chalk up the mistranslations, incorrect restorations, misidentifications, etc. to prophetic fallibility, then I don’t see why the Semitic adaptation theory is necessary at all. It seems much more likely that Joseph’s interpretations of the vignettes were just another error than that either of the above possibilities is true. But I honestly don’t see how you can be satisfied with fallibility of the magnitude you’re implying. A friend of mine once described this as the “idiot prophet” theory: basically that Joseph not only completely misunderstood the nature of what he was doing (e.g. thinking he was translating a given text when in fact he was translating a completely different one), but also couldn’t even distinguish when he was legitimately prophesying from when he was making things up (a problem that for whatever reason the canonization process of the corporate church is assumed to have been able to resolve).

  79. Chris, you seem to have dodged around the explanation I raised and seem eager to move the discussion on into other areas (perhaps arguments about the thickness of the Abraham scroll – who knows…).

    But you haven’t addressed what I’m saying.

    Canaanite redactor used Egyptian language and Egyptian pictograms. But gave them a Canaanite meaning, rather than an Egyptian funery meaning. Which Joseph Smith then faithfully and ACCURATELY translated.

    The pictograms had Canaanite theological meaning precisely because it was a Canaanite redactor who produced and authored the ORIGINAL scroll.

    Nothing you’ve said addresses this.

  80. What my argument was saying was that Canaanite scribes sometimes used Egyptian language and pictograms to tell CANAANITE stories – sometimes altering the use and meaning of the pictures in so-doing. And that this is likely what the papyrus that Joseph Smith discovered did.

    I understand but… there is writing on the papyri so it wouldn’t just be changing the meaning of the pictographic content but more importantly changing the meaning of the hieroglyphs. That is for that theory to be true there would have had to exist a written form of a Semitic language which uses Egyptian hieroglyphs.

    Remember Egyptian hieroglyphs are mostly logograms (one symbol = one egyptian word). There are also syllabic structures (one symbol is a sound and a word is made up of a few sounds). Those words make sense both individually and in context. The syntactical structure of the Joseph Smith Papyri are Egyptian not Semitic. So for you are claiming to have happened a Semitic writer, who has access to an alphabet would use a ancient Egyptian form of writing that was used solely for Egyptian religious texts at the time of his writing, that happened to make sense it Egyptian.

    It is absolutely the case we have Canaanite stories in Egyptian (though none that I know of hieroglyphic writing) but those stories use Egyptian syntax and Egyptian semantics. I addressed the other examples of borrowing before. Your argument is like saying that Americans sometimes use ancient Chinese logograms to express ideas in Latin. The kind of borrowing you are describing, I don’t think is remotely possible much less that we know of any case of it happening. And my point of the previous post was to point out how far removed the examples were from that kind of borrowing but rather to explicate how the examples are similar to borrowing we do see today.

  81. CD- Host & Gundek, are you guys politically liberal? You would vote for President Obama over Mitt? How about over a good non-Mormon conservative? (The topic is on the Mormon candidate.)

    Gundek said, “Do us all a favor and don’t lecture me on abortion. My family has earned our bona fides on this subject.”

    What do you mean by that? I’m not going to lecture you but I do believe it’s a very big issue. If a president was allowing the killing of children 2 years of age and younger, wouldn’t that be an important issue? Romney says he would reverse Roe v. Wade if it was in his power. He’ll appoint conservative Supreme Court justices.

  82. CD- Host & Gundek, are you guys politically liberal? You would vote for President Obama over Mitt?

    Gundek’s an elder in a denomination which is the intellectual center for the Constitution Party because they think the Republicans aren’t nearly right wing enough. My guess is that in his circle he’d be better off being seen with bestiality porn than Obama campaign signs. Which is why I thought his comments to you were valuable in terms of policing the right… because the PCA gives him essentially unimpeachable Republican credentials (though like any other tax example the PCA has to be formally non partisan and might have some labor Democrats in the pews).

    Me I will donate and vote for Obama over Mitt, my politics are well to the left of Obama’s out there with someone like George Romney. I’m thrilled when Republicans talk like Glenn Beck, because it repulses moderates. The personal venom of the left towards Nixon and Reagan helped to build the center-right coalition that overthrew America’s march towards a social democracy, I’m thrilled to watch the right making the same mistake. But my political opinions have no bearing on my post and the factual errors in your posts about Obama’s policy positions. I try to be accurate about the positions of communists, democrats, republicans, feudalists, fascists… regardless of whether I agree or not.

  83. CD- Host & Gundek, are you guys politically liberal? You would vote for President Obama over Mitt? How about over a good non-Mormon conservative? (The topic is on the Mormon candidate.)

    False dichotomies all over, under and through this.

  84. Seth, so is this a sort of mnemonic device explanation? Where the J-Red takes a pre-existing Egyptian text and sort of gives it a new meaning by using it as a code or memory device without actually altering the text itself? Even if that weren’t a completely bizarre theory in the first place, why did we find this scroll buried with an Egyptian mummy like an ordinary funerary text if the Jews had somehow gotten ahold of it and started using it as a non-funerary memory device?

    I suppose you also believe God created the earth with the appearance of age in order to test us.

  85. Chris, my impression was that you aspire to serious scholarship on this.

    Name-calling and calling an argument “bizarre” (without even attempting to say why it’s bizarre) doesn’t really build that image for you.

    Especially in light of the fact that we regularly have members of religions and cultures doing EXACTLY what I describe with regularity.

    Do you criticize Christians for borrowing druidic imagery of holly, evergreens, and mistletoe? Why on earth is it so far fetched that a Jew living in the region might be inclined to borrow Egyptian imagery for an illustration of Canaanite theology? Any anthropologist can tell you that this sort of borrowing happens all the time between cultures. In fact, it’s downright ubiquitous. The history of human culture is actually almost founded on this sort of borrowing of ideas and culture from others.

    I’m quite mystified as to why you are even trying to suggest otherwise.

  86. Oh, and I nowhere suggested the pictures were used as a “code” or “memory-device.”

    You invented those terms in this discussion entirely on your own. I was saying that J-Red (as you put it) unapologetically borrowed Egyptian imagery and – in the TEXT gave it an explanation that was from Canaanite, not Egyptian theology. Which Joseph Smith then dutifully translated accurately.

  87. And as for the mummy, what about the mummy makes you so certain a Canaanite document wouldn’t be buried with it?

  88. CD,

    That’s funny, but I come from the Old Side, Old School, Old South wing, where it is still possible to be politically liberal and theologically conservative. You don’t find extreme politics in churches coming from the PCUS. Besides I’m not an Elder.

  89. I should throw in a clarification – Barney’s theory was only about the IMAGES, not the text. That might be causing some confusion, since I’m talking about the text in my OWN speculations I derived from thinking about his work. I may have mentioned the scroll text myself, but Barney’s paper was only about the vignettes (or images).

  90. Cal,

    My politics have nothing to do with my revulsion for your disrespect of the President of the United States.

    You asked what I meant about abortion. I am the father of a severely handicapped child and it was my wife’s decision to continue the pregnancy. A decision that I supported while deployed overseas. I grow tired of promises from politicians on abortion that they know they will not keep. I am disheartened by American evangelicals who make abortion a litmus test for voting, when anyone with a modicum of political understanding knows there is nothing that will ever be done about Roe v Wade. I’m disgusted that, “Thirty-seven percent of women obtaining abortions identify as Protestant and 28% as Catholic.” And I am amazed that American evangelicals have let themselves be used by a political party that has no interest in them beyond Election Day.

    You actually want to shake up the politics over abortion, try voting for a Democrat. I guarantee you that if enough evangelicals were actually in play politically both Democrats and Republicans would work harder producing results to get their votes. Instead a politically naive group of lemmings will fall in behind the Republican banner and another 1.2 million abortions latter they will do it again.

    I’m sorry if you think that Mitt Romney will reverse Roe v Wade, that’s not how our government works by the way. As a conservative Protestants I don’t place much hope in reform coming from government.

  91. Seth, if you’re not talking about either the missing papyrus theory or the mnemonic device theory, then I’m confused as to what you’re talking about when you say “Canaanite redactor used Egyptian language and Egyptian pictograms. But gave them a Canaanite meaning, rather than an Egyptian funery meaning.” In what way did he give the Hor Document of Breathing a Canaanite meaning, if not by treating it as a code or mnemonic device? (By the way, I didn’t invent those terms. Those theories were proposed by Nibley, Tvedtnes, and Crapo.) Perhaps if you laid out your scenario in a bit more detail, I’d understand a little better where you’re coming from.

    “Why on earth is it so far fetched that a Jew living in the region might be inclined to borrow Egyptian imagery for an illustration of Canaanite theology?”
    I conceded this point above. What I’ve been trying to explain here is that given the configuration of the Joseph Smith Papyri and the uses Smith made of them, this doesn’t appear to get us anywhere as an apologetic for the BoA and its Facsimiles.

    “Chris, my impression was that you aspire to serious scholarship on this. Name-calling and calling an argument ‘bizarre’ (without even attempting to say why it’s bizarre) doesn’t really build that image for you.”
    I described the mnemonic device theory as bizarre because there doesn’t appear to be anything about the Hor Document of Breathing that would make it attractive as a memory device, and the scheme laid out by Tvedtnes and Crapo chops words in half, hinges on unimportant terms, and generally just doesn’t look like we’d expect a memory device to look. I’m sorry if I insulted you.

  92. Chris, it takes a lot to insult me, and even more for me to take an insult seriously. I didn’t particularly consider that an insult. I just don’t like labels being thrown around with no backing.

    I don’t think I’m making an argument that’s very complex or difficult. A Jewish redactor (J-red) wants to tell the story of Abraham. He happens to either live in Egypt or be closely associated with the culture. Due to his learning and proximity he makes use of either Egyptian writing or Egyptian pictograms in telling the story and isn’t shy about simply lifting vignettes that would otherwise have an Egyptian funery meaning and pasting them into a his own scroll with a Canaanite meaning intended. That doesn’t require the vignettes to be “code” or a “mnemonic device” – it’s just a mere cut-and-paste job. Nothing mystical, complicated or special about it. It’s a simple and effective explanation of what happened.

    That’s my own summary – Barney’s paper seems to suggest that J-Red simply looked at the vignette in question and saw it peopled with Canaanite figures, and so used it.

    And since the pictograms are the main thrust of criticism of the Book of Abraham, I find the argument to be fairly decisive in throwing the entire question back into a matter of faith – where it belongs. With the main criticism of the text, basically rendered ineffective.

    As for other matters, like scroll length, I don’t think you and Andrew Cook have settled that debate, and John Gee’s hypothesis is still in play. That particular academic debate is far from over. I don’t really have the expertise to get into it with you however, so I’m leaving that angle alone here.

    As for the mummy thing – my understanding is that Jewish rituals actually were being incorporated into Egyptian funary practice around 200 BC (which is about where the Abraham scrolls are dated to). I believe Kerry Muhlestein talks about this.

  93. You don’t have to treat material from another culture as a “code” to incorporate it into your own writings. That seems fairly apparent to me.

  94. Seth, the mnemonic device and supercryptogram theories are about the text, not the vignettes. I’ve already agreed with you several times that it’s unproblematic to imagine a Jew taking Egyptian pictures and using them to illustrate a Jewish text. That’s not the problem.

    Here’s the problem. You said the J-red “isn’t shy about simply lifting vignettes that would otherwise have an Egyptian funerary meaning and pasting them into his own scroll.” Okay, so where is J-Red’s scroll now? Why aren’t the BoA vignettes “pasted into” it? How did J-red’s vignettes end up buried with not one, but two separate mummies? How did two of the vignettes end up attached to the Document of Breathing? Why did Joseph go beyond giving a non-Egyptological explanation of the pictures, and also mistranslate the hieroglyphic labels in Facsimile 3? The list goes on.

  95. Like I said Chris, I’m not familiar with the various controversies surrounding the scrolls themselves. To me, they don’t seem all that pressing for the simple fact that the scrolls were pretty-much burned except for a couple scraps of the Facsimiles. So the pictures are all we are left with anyway.

    So you’re basically free to guess what was on the scrolls text-wise. And I don’t see how you can make definitive statements one way or the other about what was or was not on the text portions of those scrolls. All we have left is the pictograms – and interpretation of the pictograms has been the basis of criticism of the Book of Abraham. Everything else seems pretty tangential and speculative to me.

  96. You should look into it, Seth. Because while Barney’s theory looks all well and good in the abstract, there are a lot of problems when we start trying to apply it to these specific vignettes, given what we know about them and their provenance.

  97. Look into what Chris? You’re being vague.

    I already explained why I don’t think questions of scroll length are going to be of anything more than sideshow interest. If you disagree, devoting even as little as a paragraph of explanation to it wouldn’t hurt. I mean, you don’t dispute that the only surviving portion of the actual scrolls are the fragments of the pictograms, right?

    That makes the fragments the only non-moving target in this debate, and consequently the only chance critics of the book have of scoring a slam-dunk in this debate. Everything else is going to be subject to constant flux as people on both sides debate hypotheticals.

  98. I’m not sure what you mean by “the fragments of the pictograms.” There are some pretty significant portions of the scrolls still extant. For instance, the original of Facsimile 1 is extant, and so is most of the document it was “at the commencement of” (which, it turns out, is not the Book of Abraham, but a Document of Breathing owned by a priest named Hor). We also probably have most of the other scroll Joseph owned, along with some pretty extensive testimonials about how he interpreted its illustrations. (See an example here.) In fact, if you take a look at the April 2011 issue of the John Whitmer Historical Association Journal, you’ll find a pretty thorough article by me arguing that we have more than 50% of the original papyrus Joseph owned.

    But anyway, I’m not really talking about scroll length. I’m asking, how are you going to say that J-red pasted the facsimiles into his Book of Abraham text when two of the three Facsimiles were indisputably attached to the Document of Breathing as illustrations of that text, not the J-red’s Book of Abraham? And all the eyewitness and Egyptological evidence indicates the third Facsimile was not attached to a scroll at all, and owned by a completely different Egyptian dude?

    Bottom line: we have quite a bit of information about the Facsimiles and their relationship to the rest of the collection, and to make that information fit the Semitic adaptation theory requires some pretty substantial ad hoc bending. If you don’t have much background knowledge of the papyri, though, I’m not really going to be able to explain that information to you in a WordPress comment thread.

  99. My politics have nothing to do with my revulsion for your disrespect of the President of the United States.

    You asked what I meant about abortion. I am the father of a severely handicapped child and it was my wife’s decision to continue the pregnancy. A decision that I supported while deployed overseas. I grow tired of promises from politicians on abortion that they know they will not keep. I am disheartened by American evangelicals who make abortion a litmus test for voting, when anyone with a modicum of political understanding knows there is nothing that will ever be done about Roe v Wade. I’m disgusted that, “Thirty-seven percent of women obtaining abortions identify as Protestant and 28% as Catholic.” And I am amazed that American evangelicals have let themselves be used by a political party that has no interest in them beyond Election Day.

    You actually want to shake up the politics over abortion, try voting for a Democrat. I guarantee you that if enough evangelicals were actually in play politically both Democrats and Republicans would work harder producing results to get their votes. Instead a politically naive group of lemmings will fall in behind the Republican banner and another 1.2 million abortions latter they will do it again.

    I’m sorry if you think that Mitt Romney will reverse Roe v Wade, that’s not how our government works by the way. As a conservative Protestants I don’t place much hope in reform coming from government.

    Extremely well-said.

    Especially about Roe. It’s not going to be overturned by any Supreme Court that could conceivably sit on the bench anytime in the near (or less near) future. Overturning a Supreme Court decision is a huge deal, and it has hardly ever happened in the Court’s history.

    “Conservative” justices are not Republican justices anyway–Clarence Thomas excepted–and are not at all likely to push a political agenda that matches the President that nominates them, the Senate that confirms them, or the political party that both or either belong to. The Court’s judicial history makes this really clear.

    My point is, if you think that potential SCOTUS judicial nominations are the main reason to choose a president, you do not know very much about how the Supreme Court really works. The only wayRoe is really going to be overturned at this point is by constitutional amendment.

    Every politician knows this, but they also know that you probably don’t, and they can get you to vote for them by saying the right political Shibboleths.

  100. This was one of the main reasons I abandoned the Republican Party while living in Utah. It became clear that the GOP was just cynically using the abortion issue to polarize the electorate and get people to vote for them – but in reality, they had no more intention of rolling back abortions than the Democrats did.

    Which basically convinced me that the abortion issue was simply irrelevant to my vote. Voting either Democrat or Republican would make no difference in whether abortion was or was not limited, rolled back, or whatever else.

    And it annoyed me that the abortion issue was blinding all my conservative neighbors to the other political issues going on in the nation.

  101. A year or two ago, I went to my local polling place to vote, and was surprised to find that there were two candidates for some local office (I think it was a state representative seat) standing outside the building, talking to people as they went in. I thought electioneering at the polls was illegal, but both the Democrat candidate and the Republican candidate were there.

    The Democrat got to me first. We chatted for a little bit, but she could see that she wasn’t winning me over. So she decided to play the vagina solidarity card. “And of course,” she said, “I support a woman’s right to choose.” I winced and told her I was pro-life, and then mentioned to her that I didn’t think that was a big deal though because my law friends have explained to me that Roe v. Wade is incredibly unlikely to be overturned.

    Let’s please not pretend that Republicans are the only people shilling for votes by playing their side of the abortion issue, even though it’s largely decided and therefore irrelevant. They aren’t.

  102. Fair enough Chris, I suppose I ought to educate myself further on that issue then. But just to try and get a handle on what you are saying.

    You are saying that there are multiple fragments of the actual scroll Joseph Smith had in his possession surviving, and not just the lion couch facsimile (which is the only one I ever saw pictures of). And that the Egyptian writing has been translated by Egyptologists and determined to be from the Book of Breathings, or Book of the Dead, or something along those lines, right?

    And this is why debates about there being more than one scroll in Joseph’s possession, or how thick the scroll was matter – because it’s possible the Book of Abraham might have been contained on one portion of the scroll (or another scroll) with Book of Breathings stuff on yet another. Critics are claiming the eyewitness accounts of the scroll size don’t describe “enough scroll” to contain both the Book of Abraham, and other decidedly Egyptian content. Defenders claim the opposite. Is that a correct summary of the scroll particulars debates?

    I’m just getting this from nosing around on FAIR’s online resources a bit.

  103. My point was that once I decided the abortion issue was irrelevant, there was incredibly little reason left for me to still support the GOP.

  104. Well just to throw in a counter point I think the Republicans have by and large kept their campaign promises regarding abortion.

    1) In 35 states, essentially all the conservative moderates have parental consent laws.
    2) Only 17 states still use public funds for abortion. Way down from where we were in the late 1970s. And of course there are no (or virtually no) federal funds.
    3) As a result of these attacks on public funding, many of the most conservative states in the United States have abortion rates under 10% and only a handful of clinics that perform abortions in the states. The most liberal states have abortion rates over 20% and some as high as 33% with about 5x as many clinics per capita. data.
    4) We are currently seeing in many states laws designed to shame women who have abortions.

    In other words I would argue the map looks a lot like what the US looked like in the two generations before prohibition where there were wet counties and dry counties people in dry counties drank less than people in wet counties because they had to travel to buy alcohol. But they did travel and so religious authorities who lived in dry counties were unhappy that their county prohibition was being undermined by wet counties and wanted a national solution. That’s a major accomplishment given that the federal government formally is of the opinion that having a “dry country” with respect to abortion is illegal. I think to a great extent they’ve kept their campaign promise and created a country as if Roe v. Wade were overturned.

    What is unclear is how you go much beyond this. States like Pennsylvania and Virginia are places where the state is majority pro life but with concentrated and large pockets that are strongly pro-choice. State legislatures that try and impose restrictions face strong resistance at the county levels, and those pro choice counties have abortion rates as high as other pro-choice counties. And the result is that what you see in those states is a microcosm of what you see in the USA. Abortion clinics are concentrated in areas where lots of people are pro-choice. Pro-choice people have more abortions than pro-life people but pro-life people still want abortions in practice. If Roe v Wade were overturned tomorrows the states that perform the majority of abortions would have legalized abortion. In effect not that much would change. Where in the United States is more than a day’s drive from a liberal state other than Alaska?

    The real issue that pro-lifers have never really described is how there would be an effectively ban on abortions when over a hundred million people live in concentrated communities where the opinion on abortion mostly ranges from militantly pro-choice to indifferent. Imagine a pro-life police officer in Los Angeles trying to pull off an arrest of a doctor. The DA is lets assume indifferent so this goes to trial but of course the clerk isn’t so it gets assigned to a prochoice judge. After the DA throws out the most obviously biased he still faces a jury with a member of NARAL, a member of NOW and an lifelong Libertarian who believes all morals based legislation is state sponsorship of religion; as well as 5 other jurors that aren’t militant but have either had an abortion or supported a child/girlfriend/close friend through an abortion?

    I think the Republicans have done the best they can given the population of the country they are actually governing.

  105. Let’s please not pretend that Republicans are the only people shilling for votes by playing their side of the abortion issue, even though it’s largely decided and therefore irrelevant. They aren’t.

    I don’t think anyone here is saying that.

  106. I don’t think anyone here is saying that.

    Seth said:

    This was one of the main reasons I abandoned the Republican Party while living in Utah. It became clear that the GOP was just cynically using the abortion issue to polarize the electorate and get people to vote for them – but in reality, they had no more intention of rolling back abortions than the Democrats did.

    I won’t say that Democrats play the abortion issue as much as Republicans do, but they definitely play it.

  107. I think you’re reading things into my remark that aren’t there Jack.

    I went Democrat because of other political issues. Not because I thought they were above cynical political manipulation. I’m not that naive. Nor am I that much of a political ideologue anymore.

  108. Seth, you said it was one of the “main reasons” you abandoned the Republican party in Utah. I don’t know what else you wanted me to initially think.

    You’ve clarified since then, and that’s fine, but I was just explaining to Kullervo what spurred my own comment on Democrats playing the abortion card.

  109. Incidentally – random point of interest – I get emails occasionally from the Obama campaign. Got one today that was trying to push the abortion issue. Ironic timing, that.

  110. CD

    I don’t argue that Republicans have not acted on any abortion promises. I always found the arguments against parental notification a bit off the mark and public funding is an easy target. The issue is there were 1.21 million abortions in 2008 (latest statistic I could find) and I predict there will be somewhere around 1.2 million abortions this year and next year and so on and so on and so on…

    I don’t think State abortion rate statistics are all that informative, people have cars. Is the political-evangelical in Richmond any happier that the abortion rate in Virginia is lower because people drive to DC?

    If the political-evangelical were actually serious about abortion, everything would be on the table to help the pro-life position, including national health care to take care of 1.2 million more children. I think of a pro-life declaration by any candidate the same way I think of the sinners prayer. Its meant to impress the pious, it doesn’t take any commitment, and it is of questionable efficacy. Rather than campaign for a State or national assistance program for adoption or free health care for disabled children, putting their mouth where the money is, the political-evangelical will spend time pushing for a pointlessly flawed waiting period.

  111. Gundek —

    No argument there. Assuming one is OK with contraception, western european countries have rates of abortion around 1/3rd or lower than US rates, and we have a prolife population while their populations are almost uniformly prochoice. I think we could knock our abortion rates down by somewhere between 2/3rds and 7/8th by doing nothing more than imitating their successful policies (again assuming one is OK with contraception over abortion). That’s not even counting getting 9m less cases of sexually transmitted diseases which can profoundly effect fetal heath and procreation.

    I agree with you that beyond that, having a policy which argues women should carry their baby to term even without good medical care and with one of the worst safety nets in the world is just pure hypocrisy. If someone believes that abortion is the number one moral issue, then they should support policies which make don’t make women feel like they don’t have an option. I have the same feelings about marriage, as a society we claim to want strong marriages and Republicans are pushing policies which undermine families. We know the #1 problem stopping family formation in the USA today is the lack of stable male wage earners in the bottom 80%. That is a problem government can easily (at least relatively easily) fix. And to my mind this is why I think most social conservatives should 1930s style Democrats and economically liberal because a strong state is far more capable of creating the sorts of social norms they want than a low wage, high unemployment, high insecurity society that they are voting for.

    So I absolutely 100% agree that Republicans aren’t treating abortion like a #1 issue. OTOH I disagree with the general assessment that they aren’t doing anything. I think they fought a lot of battles and basically anywhere where they could reduce abortion without spending any real money they did. The core of the Republican party at this point is upward income redistribution and they aren’t going to let abortion interfere with their core mission.

    Is the political-evangelical in Richmond any happier that the abortion rate in Virginia is lower because people drive to DC?

    I’d assume so. They are spending a great deal of effort to induce this behavior. In a more serious sense though it is hard to separate cause and effect on abortion rates.

    For the last generation Americans have been gerrymandering themselves. Liberals in particular are migrating to liberal communities. So people that are pro-choice mostly live in communities with liberal abortion policies. These areas also have more liberal contraception policies and this reduces teen pregnancy rates. Even with the lower pregnancy rates people who are pro-choice have substantially more abortions than people who are pro-life. I do think people who are moderate on the issue though seem to be effected by community standards, which means that these laws are having some level of influence on something like 30% of population. So maybe somewhere in the neighborhood of 200k abortions less per year as a result of these policies. So FWIW I think the Republicans deserve credit for some level of reduction while they deserve tremendous blame for letting other policies that would have larger effects sit unused.

  112. CD- Host said, “Gundek’s an elder in a denomination which is the intellectual center for the Constitution Party because they think the Republicans aren’t nearly right wing enough. My guess is that in his circle he’d be better off being seen with bestiality porn than Obama campaign signs.”

    I see!
    I’m a strong constitutionalist myself. I believe our founding fathers were operating to a great extent in the wisdom of God when they created our government. My perception is that Governor Romney understands this better than President Obama.
    In spite of a great constitution, however, in the end our nation will survive only if we serve God.

    CD- Host said, “Me I will donate and vote for Obama over Mitt.”

    Why?

    CD Host: “. . . factual errors in your posts about Obama’s policy positions.”

    Please tell me where I’m inaccurate. I don’t think printing $$ solves our debt problem—by any stretch of the imagination. I don’t think laying blame on presidents of the past accomplishes much either.
    I believe Republicans and Democrats need to increase their compromise with each other when working out the particulars of the budget. I believe they need to put God, and the success of this nation for God’s glory, above their selfish desires.
    But above all, I believe the ultimate the blame lies with we voters in general. We have allowed ourselves to become more attracted to candidates that tickle our ears rather than those who tell us the truth—that we all will need to make sacrifices in order to balance our budget and begin to chip away at our debt. If we aren’t willing to make sacrifices now, who knows what will happen in the future. If you are diagnosed with cancer, you start fighting it immediately. You don’t procrastinate.

    Thanks for being a nice guy, CD- Host. Are you a Christian?

  113. Gundek, I respect the president’s office and I respect him. There is nothing wrong with disrespecting certain of his policies.

    Gundek said, “You asked what I meant about abortion. I am the father of a severely handicapped child and it was my wife’s decision to continue the pregnancy. A decision that I supported while deployed overseas.”

    Like Job and his friends, I stand silenced. You made a brave decision. I’m sure God has blessed you & your wife for it.

    You also said, “I am disheartened by American evangelicals who make abortion a litmus test for voting, when anyone with a modicum of political understanding knows there is nothing that will ever be done about Roe v Wade.”

    I have to maintain a positive outlook. It’s the Christian way (Philippians 4:8). News stories report that restrictions on abortion are increasing in some quarters—at least here in NH anyway.

    You said, “I’m disgusted that, ‘Thirty-seven percent of women obtaining abortions identify as Protestant and 28% as Catholic.'”

    That disgusts me, too. I’ll guess, though, that many of them weren’t Christians. Statistics indicate that less than 50% of those who identify with Catholicism or Protestantism really know Jesus.

    Gundek: I’m sorry if you think that Mitt Romney will reverse Roe v Wade. . . . As a conservative Protestants I don’t place much hope in reform coming from government.

    Cal: I don’t think he’s going to be able to reverse R. v W. but I believe that if he gets a conservative congress to work with, he’ll take us in the right direction on that issue. Bush was able to outlaw partial-birth abortion.
    I’m glad you’re conservative. I can breathe easier now! Have a blessed day in our Lord.

  114. My perception is that Governor Romney understands this better than President Obama.

    How? Why? In what way? Give specific examples.

    I don’t think printing $$ solves our debt problem—by any stretch of the imagination.

    When did President Obama do this? Be specific.

    I believe Republicans and Democrats need to increase their compromise with each other when working out the particulars of the budget. I believe they need to put God, and the success of this nation for God’s glory, above their selfish desires.

    You realize that Congress has to work out and pass a budget, not the President, right? The President can propose any legislation he wants, but so can you. But the legislative branch passes legislation.

    I have to maintain a positive outlook. It’s the Christian way (Philippians 4:8). News stories report that restrictions on abortion are increasing in some quarters—at least here in NH anyway.

    It has nothing to dow ith having a positive outlook, and everything to do with understanding how the Constiturion, the legislative process, and the our judicial tradition work. Roe is not going to be overturned anytime soon, and electing a president based on the hope that he or she will nominate a SCOTUS justice who will overturn Roe is not only an unrealistic longshot, but also means ignoring all of the other things that a president can do that may be extremely relevant to what you believe as a Christian about how a just and righteous civil government should be run.

    Even if you think that abortion is murdering babies and it is the most important public policy issue in America today, a president still can’t realistically do anything about it, which means you are picking a president based on what you wish the president could do instead of what the president can actually do.

    If you want Roe overturned, we’ll need a constitutional amendment, not more “conservative” supreme court justices. There’s a process for that, it’s written into the Constitution, and the president has nothing to do with it.

  115. Cal,

    Philippians 4:8 doesn’t tell us to be positive and honestly there isn’t much that is honorable, just, pure, lovely, commendable, excellent, or worthy of praise, in American politics.

  116. CD: Me I will donate and vote for Obama over Mitt.”
    Cal: Why?

    1) I think Republican economic policies have been devastating.
    a) In 2008/2009 the country desperately needed massive stimulus, the Republicans thwarted it and have been difficult since. Making the stimulus less effective by using it for tax cuts rather than spending and for the wealthy rather than the poor.

    b) The biggest problem facing this country economically is sharply rising health care costs. Virtually every other western country has solved this problem. We currently have a medical system 1/3rd more expensive than France’s with less effectiveness than Cuba’s.

    c) At a time when the country desperately needs investment, especially government investment in infrastructure and education Republicans are cutting that. And cutting it so as to give money to wealthy people who aren’t spending.

    that we all will need to make sacrifices in order to balance our budget and begin to chip away at our debt.

    Not really.
    a) End the wars and get our defense level down to a defensive army. A policy most Americans support.

    b) End the Bush tax cuts (this one is a bit of a sacrifice)

    c) Cut medical costs to European levels by implementing a European system and care gets better not worse while costs drop.

    d) Get employment back up to increase revenues.

    Problem solved. And there is money left over for good stuff like education.

  117. Kullervo said, “It has nothing to dow ith having a positive outlook, and everything to do with understanding how the Constiturion, the legislative process, and the our judicial tradition work.”

    It everything to do with faith. (You desperately need some. It’s your fire insurance, Mr. Kullervo.) Jesus said, “Whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours” (Mark 11:24).

    Kullervo: Roe is not going to be overturned anytime soon.

    Cal: I never said it was. You’re putting words in my mouth. If you do that to me, who’s to say you don’t do it when you judge Mormons?

  118. CD- Host, you didn’t answer my question. Are you a Christian? If so, what denomination, circle, or movement do you identify with the most? (Actually, it might be better to ask, “Either way, what denomination, circle, or movement do you identify with the most?)

    You said you will vote for Obama because: “1) I think Republican economic policies have been devastating.”

    I heard a prophecy by John Paul Jackson, a respected prophet with a record of accuracy, that—and this was before Obama even decided to run for president—the next president [who turned out to be Obama] will do things that will hurt the economy. I think this has proved true. Although I don’t question his motives, his “stimulus” package hasn’t worked as he thought it would.

    You said, “The biggest problem facing this country economically is sharply rising health care costs.”

    I think that if we put the kingdom of God first, God will take care of the economy. Jesus said, “Seek first [God’s] kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things [clothes, food, drink] will be given to you as well (Matthew 6:33).” All Americans should put the kingdom of God first, not just governmental leaders of course.
    We could include health care to “all these things.” Proverbs 3:7-8 says, “Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear the LORD and shun evil. This will bring health to your body and nourishment to your bones.” This has proven true in my own life.

    I agree with your proposal to end the Bush tax cuts. That is a sacrifice. If I were a Republican congressmen, I would trade that for an equal amount of cuts.

    Repealing Obamacare will please God in that it will thwart further institutionalization of abortion (this is where Romney comes in). Also, I don’t think a government that can’t balance it’s budget is qualified to take on new responsibilities. In God’s kingdom, those who use faithfully what God gives them, will get more; those who don’t, will lose what God gave them. We want God’s will to be done on earth as it is in heaven.

    You said, “Get employment back up to increase revenues.” Romney will help here also.

    Have a fantastic day, my friend.

  119. If given the choice between Barak Obama and Mitt Romney, this evangelical Christian is voting for the Mormon.

  120. I think that if we put the kingdom of God first, God will take care of the economy.

    Cal you either need to address economic issues or not address them. You were quite definite that spending cuts not divine action are required for the deficit. I can’t think of any reason to believe that God is going to intervene on health care cost imbalances (which actually do have a substantial labor component and thus harder to fix) while not intervene on debt (which is little more than an accounting fiction and easy to fix by governmental much less divine fiat).

    You said, “Get employment back up to increase revenues.” Romney will help here also.

    How? Romney’s plan is quite explicit in its focus on transferring wealth up the socio economic ladder which mixed with his free trade philosophy would result in decreased demand and no offsetting business investment. Romney will not help there, he’ll make it worse.

    his “stimulus” package hasn’t worked as he thought it would.

    Actually his stimulus package did pretty much exactly what he though it would. It injected about 4% of GDP into the economy. The first year with an average 1.2 multiplier the next with around .85 multiplier. GDP contraction was worse than he thought when it first passed but the stimulus did what it was supposed to do, boost GDP. The stimulus is the reason the recession / mild depression was not far worse. The second year (2010) the states, no longer receiving subsidies engaged in anti-stimulus and in the third year the stimulus was discontinued.

    If you want to blame someone for the stimulus not being large enough and thus not effective enough I’d blame conservative Democrats and Republicans constantly tying the hands of liberals by not allowing them to boost demand much more directly through heavy investment spending and heavy transfers of wealth where you get the biggest multiplier (often as high as 1.7) the poor; the way the United States has always avoided these crisis before

    And no I’m not a Christian. However, when I was a Christian I was a Republican. And back then the Republican party had a consistent economic philosophy based on research and sound economic modeling. The debates between Democrats and Republicans were about details of economic policy with the Republicans concerned about long terms effects of state intervention and thus trying to meet the goals of the Democrats via. free market solutions. Today the debate is about ends not means.

  121. I think that if we put the kingdom of God first, God will take care of the economy. Jesus said, “Seek first [God’s] kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things [clothes, food, drink] will be given to you as well (Matthew 6:33).” All Americans should put the kingdom of God first, not just governmental leaders of course.

    And what makes you think Jesus meant this as a public policy directive for political leadership? I agree with CD-Host here in that you are taking an incinsistent position by partly advocating for specific economic policies and then equivocating and saying God will fix the economy if we are righteous as a nation.

    Repealing Obamacare will please God in that it will thwart further institutionalization of abortion

    What do you mean by “institutionalization of abortion?” Be specific. In what way does “Obamacare” “institutionalize abortion?” In what way would repealing it “thwart” its further institutionalization? Be specific in your answers. Give examples.

    You said, “Get employment back up to increase revenues.” Romney will help here also.

    How would Romney get employment back up to increase revenues? Give specific examples.

    And why don’t you just say that we should seek first God’s kingdom and his righteousness, and employment will be given to us as well? Why are you advocating specific policy preferences in some instances, and then with others you basically just say if we are righteous, God will fix them miraculously? Why say God will fix some things miraculously and not others? Why not just say to vote for righteous Christians regardless of their level of experience, their intelligence, their political policies, or their leadership ability, and just say that as long as they are good Christians, God will fix all of our political problems miraculously?

  122. Although Elder Holland may have gone into the BBC interview unprepared (it’s hard to know for sure because we see only snippets of the interview), I fail to see how it’s the embarrassment for the Church that Mike Rose and other Church critics claim it is.

    In his caricature of the interview, Rose said:

    Holland admitted to the death penalties,

    So what?

    he admitted they came from freemasonry

    That’s not exactly what Holland said, but even if he had, so what?

    he admitted the Strengthening Church Members Committee exists and monitors members even if it was originally setup to monitor members suspected of polygamy

    Again, so what? He didn’t even come close to conceding that it’s some sort of a spy agency, which various ex-members have claimed it is without proof.

    and he admitted that the Book of Abraham doesn’t match the translation we have of the papyrus.

    That’s been common knowledge for decades. So what?

  123. If given the choice between Barak Obama and Mitt Romney, this evangelical Christian is voting for the Mormon.

    THANK YOU FOR TELLING EVERYONE.

  124. Cal,

    I am afraid that I must disagree with you again. There is nothing in Mark 11 that leads to a positive outlook about Roe V Wade. There certainly isn’t anything there pointing to a positive outlook concerning the economy or American politics.

    You have basically taken covenant promises that are quite incredible, especially when you look at the allusion Jesus is making to Isaiah 54:10 and turned them into Republican campaign rhetoric. Or to use your language “Fire Insurance.”

    For the mountains may depart
    and the hills be removed,
    but my steadfast love shall not depart from you,
    and my covenant of peace shall not be removed,”
    says the Lord, who has compassion on you.

    How exactly does your theology of God taking care of the economy if you put the Kingdom first preach outside of an economically rich society? Do you tell that to people in Africa? If you just put the kingdom of God first… I’m not even sure we a commanded to pray for more than our daily bread, if you read all of Matthew 6.

  125. I like what Gundek is saying.

    The Republican slant to both the Evangelicals and the LDS undermine a devotion to Christianity on a global scale. I imagine that plenty of people defect from the ranks simply because they can’t stomach the prevailing politics and divisive rhetoric. Mixing partisanship with religion leads to inevitable division. I don’t think that Evangelicals and LDS should de-politicize, but it seems their religion would necessitate that, in a democracy, they not be loyal to a particular political party. The discussion amongst LDS and Evangelicals isn’t generally about which policy will best effect the Kingdom of God on earth, but how to get the Republican elected and why the Democrats are godless communist socialists secret Muslims. I am not a Republican, and the biggest turn-off I have to Republicanism is the strange mix of nationality/religion/policy you find there. There seems to be an obvious top-down manipulation of these sentiments to harness the devoted.

    This sort of partisanship is hard to stomach from those who claim to have THE truth from God about “all that pertains to life and godliness”.

  126. Jared —

    No question the Republican party is starting to do tremendous damage to American Christianity. Children of evangelical Christians are becoming unaffiliated at a very high rate, essentially 1/3rd of all children especially male, non-southerners which is creating a terrible gender imbalances in churches as well. Essentially the agree with Cal’s position that a good Christian is a Republican and so take the contrapositive that if they don’t want to be Republican they can’t be Christian and quit the religion. This started in the late 1980s early 1990s, i.e. with the rise of the religious right as an actual power center within the Republican party. Evangelical Christianity is suffering what state churches often suffer, the religion is getting blamed for the failures of the state.

    At this point the Republican party is the white protestant party, the big drivers seem to attitudes on marijuana and homosexuality. Both are areas where the critique of the church is factual. So I suspect losses are likely to continue. I imagine the current data (25-33% of evangelical children) is being driven at least partially by dislike of George W Bush, and Republican hostility towards college students on issues like subsidized tuition and student debt so might fade but the underlying numbers which were close to 20% even when George Bush was popular are likely to remain.

  127. It seems that true Christianity would put you at generally at odds with either establishment group, which are primarily focused on maintaining power. Its hard to see how that the Jesus sort of Christianity is putting a lot of pressure on either group.

  128. CD-Host
    You said the “big drivers are marajuana and homosexuality.” Do you really believe this? It put a smile on my face to think this could actually be what is driving people to the Republican party – and by that I mean it is so ridiculous it makes me laugh to myself. I can’t remember the last time (if EVER) I heard a politically conservative Christian speak about how they were concerned about marajuana, honestly – I am not sure I have ever engaged in such a conversation. And for most, aside from some I know who were abused, homosexuality is also a non-starter. (Yes, I know very well that not everyone who is gay is an abuser, I am just speaking about my experience of why people see this as a priority). However, the redefinition of marriage is the one area where Christians are concerned. The two main things in my experience are the anti-abortion issue and the free market economy. Most Christians I know are very pro-life and would never vote for a pro-abortion candidate (which makes Romney troubling), and they believe that free markets lead to a prospering society and benefit to all, where as top-down government orchestrated economy and society by those smarter than us commoners leads to squalor and want. Personally, I would vote for a prolife socialist, who I knew was going to end the slaughter of the unborn, over a pro-abortion free market captialist who would bring untold prosperity and economic boon to the U.S., the world, and the universe as we know it. Until the killing stops, I don’t care about much else politically.
    On another note – I think the primary reason children of Evangelicals are leaving the Church is the fact that they are not taught anything. It’s an entertainment mindset, focused on having fun and enjoying themselves – not worship, catechism, teaching young people the faith and how to respond to challenges to their beliefs. They don’t learn about Jesus, so God has no way of keeping them through His Word – they don’t ever hear or know God’s Word. God uses His Word and the Sacraments to give faith and sustain Christians – if Evangelicals despise the Sacraments (God’s Word combined with water; God’s Word and forgiveness given through Christ’s body and blood in the bread and wine) and they don’t teach the Scriptures, the essentials of the faith, it’s no wonder that the good feeling that they felt when they walked the aisle at 7 has long ago dried up and now fails to provide any comfort or reason to believe. That’s where you will find your falling away problem – they’ve got nothing to fall away from.

  129. Do you really believe this? It put a smile on my face to think this could actually be what is driving people to the Republican party – and by that I mean it is so ridiculous it makes me laugh to myself.

    You are misreading my comment. Those are issues in which children of evangelicals disagree with the government but see the churches as drivers for the Republican position. That is ones driving people away from evangelical Christianity.

    However, the redefinition of marriage is the one area where Christians are concerned.

    “Redefinition of marriage”, and DADT are the current battlefield for anti-homosexuality.

    The two main things in my experience are the anti-abortion issue and the free market economy.

    First off remember the comment was about people leaving evangelical Christianity you are addressing an additional issue which is people leaving the Democratic party and becoming Republican.

    In terms of recruitment, you are right about abortion. Though that was more true up to 2008. Social issues were a huge winner overall throughout the 2000s. The great recession (IMHO a mild depression) is causing something of a reorientation of people’s politics. It used to be that social issues and foreign policy correlating strongly so that it was easy to get social and foreign policy conservatives for Republicans at the cost of losing people who were social and foreign policy liberals (about 1/2 as many so a large net gain) and then hold elections over appealing to moderates on these issues.

    At the same time economic and social conservatism were actually negatively correlated. In particular almost half the US population was (and had been since the 1930s):
    * economically liberal / socially conservative
    * economically moderate / socially conservative
    * economically liberal / socially moderate

    So a better fit for the actual American electorate would have been the 1932 – 1964 parties:
    One socially conservative economically liberal party.
    One socially moderate economically moderate party.

    But that appears to no longer be true, and there is a question about if this change is permanent. Has America fundamentally reoriented. But I was just focusing on one issue, and in the reverse direction. The children of evangelicals (excluding the south) moving left on social issues to match their economic philosophy. And part of that moving left, because they don’t believe in the mainline denominations is rejecting involvement in Christianity.

    On another note – I think the primary reason children of Evangelicals are leaving the Church is the fact that they are not taught anything.

    That’s not what the data shows. That data has been stable for over a decade regarding (then) the under 30 crowd:

    * antihomosexual 91%
    * judgmental 87%
    * hypocritical 85%
    * old-fashioned 78%
    * too political 75%
    * out of touch with reality 72%
    * insensitive to others 70%
    * boring 68%

    Essentially the “meanness” problem. Which were the issues the emerging church movement was trying to address. But the EC was rejecting by Evangelicals and now they have a real problem with retention with no obvious solution. If anything I would say the people rejecting the gospel are doing so because they are in line with Jesus’ teachings about loving thy neighbor. Again liberal Christianity with a stronger focus on the teachings of Jesus and less focus on the teaching of Paul would be an obvious solution and at this point there are pretty strong flows from evangelicals to mainline denominations as well towards non-religious. As an aside, Mormons do not have this problem at all, neither Mormons nor non Mormons view Mormons as mean.

  130. Personally, I would vote for a prolife socialist, who I knew was going to end the slaughter of the unborn, over a pro-abortion free market captialist who would bring untold prosperity and economic boon to the U.S., the world, and the universe as we know it. Until the killing stops, I don’t care about much else politically.

    Even if the person was running for an office that would let them have a lot of influence over economic policy but in which they would not be likely to be able to affect abortion one way or another? I understand that you believe that abortion is one of the most grave issues of our times, but are you really willing to say you would sacrifice all of your other civic beliefs for an infinitesimally small chance of stopping abortion? That just doesn’t seem like rational decisionmaking, no matter how important abortion is.

    I mean, say you were voting for someone for the school board superintendent, and Candidate A supports replacing the entire curriculum (math, science, everything) with readings from theUrantia Book and wants to introduce random, unpredictale severe beatings in order to instill discipline but pledges to use all remaining school district resources to end abortion in America, and Candidate B wants to introduce a proven and time-tested educational curriculum that has been proven to result in massive gains in reading and math skills, significant content-rich knowledge and critial thinking skills, and that has deep roots in the American and western intellectual and educational canon, but privately supports a woman’s right to choose.

    Candidate B will revolutionize education, but is pro-choice and doesn’t want to make a fuss about it because he doesn’t think local educational policy has much to do with abortion issues. Candidate A will likely crush your children’s academic and professional futures through gross incompetence and educational neglect, but if there is a tiny chance, no matter how small, that he will help contribute to the struggle to “end the slaughter of the unborn,” are you saying that you would still vote for Candidate A for superintendent?

  131. As an aside, Mormons do not have this problem at all, neither Mormons nor non Mormons view Mormons as mean.
    Mormons don’t come across as mean because they are generally very descreet about expressing political and theological positions. They try to remain appealing on all fronts. I think Mormons may have stepped closer to the “mean” label when they rallied against gay marriage in California.

  132. CD – Host,
    There is a internet radio program called “The Whitehorse Inn” – they have on several occassions gone out and interviewed evangelical college students – they don’t know what they believe and cannot articulate even the basics. What they do say is most often wrong and is a version of God’s law. Do you think they would actually respond to a survey that they are disenchanted with Christianity because they never learned anything about the faith? Perhaps their answers indicate the shallowness of what they are being taught – in other words, they look at the culture, they see these are the things the culture thinks about Christians,and they have nothing in their understanding that would indicate Christianity is anything more than what the culture is telling them is wrong – therefore they will accept that Christians are mean and that’s what Christianity is about – Christianty is all about God’s law and how wicked people are breaking God’s law left and right. Following God’s law is the essence of Christianity in their understanding. They don’t know that the entire book of Galatians refutes the idea that salvation or the gospel is centered on the law, they think Christianity is a list of rules to keep. They don’t understand free grace, the gift of faith – they see their own sinfulness and how they don’t keep God’s law – they don’t know that God fully understands this and has provided salvation freely through the cross of Christ. Their version of “Christianity” is only a shadow of the truth – they played games, learned God’s law, played more games, got some general idea that God has rules – especially about those sins we don’t like, played more games – etc. etc. It is true, God judges sin and we ALL fall under that judgement (not just those wicked sinners OUT THERE) – the good news, the news they neither understand nor can they articulate is the free gift of faith, the free gift of salvation through the cross. I am not sure what teachings of Paul you are referring to – because I get an awesome message of free grace, assurance of my salvation – for I am baptized into Christ, and a wonderful sense of freedom from my own sinful flesh which is daily drown in the waters of my baptism. Telling me that my good works serving my neighbor are what is saving me makes it law and drudgery – am I doing enough, am I good enough, when will I know?

    I think the lifespan of the “emergent church” is about to an end – it’s disorganized, does not articulate a clear message, and essentially is little more than the vapid youth group culture that the evangelical youth have grown tired of. I read about a conference of emergents – and it had all the trappings of evangelical stupidity – skateboard ramps, rock concert venues, etc. etc.- for all their complaining nothing really changed, it was just a different venue where nobody was learning anything.

    Kullervo – you’ve pretty accurately summed up my position. Not even a pro-abortion dog catcher. Of course, if all options are bad, then I just may not vote, or write in a candidate.

  133. Jared,

    I agree with you, Christians probably shouldn’t feel to comfortable in either party. I also think it is perfectly reasonable for two conservative Christians to come to different conclusions about how to deal with political issues. The amount that people turn their politics into their religion the more they will turn people away from their religion that disagree with their politics.

  134. CD,

    What exactly does a survey of non-believers tell us about why people left the church? You seem to have assumed that these non-believers were believers?

    Of course I am convinced all statistics about religion are nonsense. According to Barna 45% of Americans are Born Again Christians, 22% are Roman Catholic, 1.7% LDS, 0.6% Eastern Orthodox, for a grand total of 69.7%. If 69.7% of people should be heading to church on Sunday where is the traffic? On Monday when I join 45% of the people who work there is a ton of traffic.

  135. CD- Host said, “no I’m not a Christian. However, when I was a Christian I was a Republican.”

    I don’t want to go off topic, so I’ll just say thanks for answering my question. How sad that you backslid. Maybe when it fits into the topic, I’ll ask you more about that.
    ———

    Kullervo said, “Why say God will fix some things miraculously and not others?”

    I wasn’t thinking of miraculous fixes. However, he does do some things miraculously. Most of the time, however, he operates in ordinary ways—if I can call his work ordinary—really, everything he does he quite special.
    ———

    Gundek, you’re doing the same thing Kullervo does—taking me out of context and all. It’s hard to carry on an intelligent conversation with you when you do that.
    ———

    Jared said, “I don’t think that Evangelicals and LDS should de-politicize, but it seems their religion would necessitate that, in a democracy, they not be loyal to a particular political party.”

    My first loyalty is to Jesus of course, but if the Republican platform is a little closer to biblical thinking than the Democratic one, then of course I’m going to support the Republican vision—there are only two choices unless you want to throw away your vote. That’s common-sense pragmatism. Jesus doesn’t make us stupid.
    Besides, why are you letting yourself get trolled with politics by Cal? 🙂

    Love America—vote Romney!

  136. Part of the problem with Romney is that he’s actually a dyed-in-the-wool moderate.

    Honestly most conservative Mormons are. They just don’t know they are. Mormons in general in the US don’t tend to be that ideological. They tend to be pragmatic – about getting business done. Kind of a – “don’t bother me with that ideology stuff – let’s get to work” sort of attitude.

    Most Mormons think they’re highly conservative, but honestly, they’re too pragmatic to make real conservative ideologues. They’re willing to compromise on certain issues in the name of getting stuff done. And their opinions are actually not the same as conservative Evangelicals on the moral issues. Abortion for instance – even the most conservative Mormons would probably distance themselves from the right-wing Evangelical calls to equate abortion legally with murder. Immigration is another area. School prayer? Don’t really care. Evolution in the classroom? We’re not really that interested.

    We just aren’t as hardliner as a lot of us would like to think we are. And Romney is a perfect example of this. Which is why I think he’s in trouble in the general election. He’s going to spend a good 30% of his campaign apologizing for not being right-wing enough because of constant undermining of his campaign in the conservative camp. That’s going to prevent him from making the hard swing to the political middle he NEEDS to do right now to beat Obama. But he can’t make that swing – because he’s still viewed as not-conservative enough by the Right. And they’re probably right – he isn’t THAT conservative.

    Most Mormons aren’t. We aren’t wired that way.

  137. Cal,

    If I misrepresented you, I apologize. You will have to explain how faith is fire insurance or how Mark 11 has anything to do with a positive attitude toward American politics. These statements are beyond me.

  138. Seth,
    You are half-way there in your assessment of Romney – he governed as a pro-abortion liberal Republican, and proudly so. Now that he sets no policy, appoints no judges, has no political power what-so-ever he has found his true moderate self. Uh huh. Drop one word – he isn’t conservative, or moderate really. On the life issue, if it is not the taking of human life, the killing of the least among us, indeed what does it matter? – bring it on! But if the chld inside her mother is a human life, just as valuable as you or me…that’s a different story. If you don’t equate abortion with murder it’s nothing to worry about really – the loss of a few cells – who cares? But if it is a human life created by God – well, we are allowing the systematic killing of tens of millions. By compromising and supporting abortion what exactly gets done? The loss of a tissue mass, or the death of a child?
    As for school prayer – thank goodness it was banned – I wouldn’t want any child to be lead by the state in prayer to a generic civil state god. I predict exactly this will make a come-back, and it won’t be true prayer to the living God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
    It would be neglectful not to cover evolution in the schools – it is one of the major areas of scientific inquiry. I don’t believe we are a cosmic accident caused by random chance – but it’s important to undertand evolution. I had several college courses that covered evolution, and I find it wanting in explaining man and his problem. But of course I will teach my children about evolution – there is nothing to fear here. As I expressed to someone I disagree with in our adult bible study class it is not an essential of the faith – but it is something we should freely discuss and debate.

  139. On the life issue, if it is not the taking of human life, the killing of the least among us, indeed what does it matter? – bring it on! But if the chld inside her mother is a human life, just as valuable as you or me…that’s a different story. If you don’t equate abortion with murder it’s nothing to worry about really – the loss of a few cells – who cares? But if it is a human life created by God – well, we are allowing the systematic killing of tens of millions. By compromising and supporting abortion what exactly gets done? The loss of a tissue mass, or the death of a child?

    False dichotomies. Mormons are on generally on the middle ground here (which does exist). Generally they don’t equate abortion with murder, but it doesn’t have to be murder to be undesirable. Mormons consider abortion a grave sin, but not murder. However, there are some pro-choice Mormons, it is not anti-antithetical to the religion to believe that the State should not govern such things. However there are few, if any pro-abortion Mormons.

  140. I don’t believe we are a cosmic accident caused by random chance.

    Of course not, the earth was created pursuant to “a permit issued by the Uversa Council of Equilibrium to the superuniverse government authorizing the dispatch of a force organizer and staff to the region previously designated by inspector number 811,307.” (Urantia Book, Paper 57:1.3.

  141. My first loyalty is to Jesus of course, but if the Republican platform is a little closer to biblical thinking than the Democratic one, then of course I’m going to support the Republican vision—there are only two choices unless you want to throw away your vote.

    I am saying that there is a difference between voting for a Republican over a Democrat and “supporting the Republican vision”. It seems thinking very critically about any worldly political group is the duty of a Christian democrat.

    No chance that the “Republican vision” = the Kingdom of God.

  142. 4five –

    We Mormons don’t believe that God creates a person ex-nihilo at conception. We believe the soul already exists eternally prior to conception. If one fetus is terminated, really it just means that the soul has to wait for the next opportunity to claim a physical body. So no – we don’t equate it to murder.

    But we still oppose abortion. Because we consider it an abdication of responsibility and a mockery of the pro-creative process, something we hold very sacred.

    You don’t have to subscribe to Catholic notions of murder to oppose abortion – and we don’t subscribe to those notions.

  143. Gundek —
    What exactly does a survey of non-believers tell us about why people left the church? You seem to have assumed that these non-believers were believers?

    I didn’t use the term believers, because that is theologically loaded language and gets into the whole preservation of the saints issues and also the whole works vs. grace and…. I used the more objective term which is children of, or people raised. For all mainstream religions there is strong serial correlation between the parent’s religion and the children’s. That serial correlation is one the best ways to determine the health of a religious community. I did a post on this topic Michael Bell on inflows and outflows. Once you assume a high intergenerational serial correlation is normative (and all mainstream religions do in practice), it becomes a very valid question to ask them why they left.

    And those answers do vary by religion. I’ve mentioned before that intermarriage is a net draw for Protestants (i.e. intermarried couples frequently decide to form a protestant home) while a massive net loss for Mormons (for Mormons people who marry out, convert out). So absolutely I consider such a survey valuable.

    Of course I am convinced all statistics about religion are nonsense. According to Barna 45% of Americans are Born Again Christians, 22% are Roman Catholic, 1.7% LDS, 0.6% Eastern Orthodox, for a grand total of 69.7%. If 69.7% of people should be heading to church on Sunday where is the traffic?

    Barna uses a theological definition, i.e. people who state they believe 7 doctrines. Part of what makes Barna valuable is that he uses a different definition for religious than most survey’s which look at regular church attendance. Barna survey’s measure correlation between core theological positions (like the virgin birth) and secondary theological positions (like divorce being sinful). He’s not using a definition for willingness to practice because that is well studied by the competition.

    On Monday when I join 45% of the people who work there is a ton of traffic.

    Traffic measures number of cars generally in an exponential way; i.e. a slight increase in the number of cars beyond capacity increases travel times thus increasing the time cars on the road and thus increasing how many cars you would see drastically. The most important factor to consider is that most workplaces open 8am to 9am so there is a huge surge. The second most important factor when measuring cars is that people drive alone to work but go to church as a family. The percentage of Americans that report at least almost weekly church attendance is 42%. I don’t know your region but you seeing something like 1/10th as many cars would be consistent with the data.

  144. 4five —

    There is a internet radio program called “The Whitehorse Inn” – they have on several occassions gone out and interviewed evangelical college students – they don’t know what they believe and cannot articulate even the basics. What they do say is most often wrong and is a version of God’s law. Do you think they would actually respond to a survey that they are disenchanted with Christianity because they never learned anything about the faith?

    Ah I see. One of the things that happened as a result of the 4th great awakening, huge numbers of people shifting from mainline churches to evangelical churches, is evangelical pastors picked up a membership which doesn’t meet the definition of evangelical. So there is an interesting things about American Protestants they:
    a) Claim to believe a religion where belief in certain theological statements is considered absolutely vital.
    b) Differ wildly between sects/churches on those theological statements.
    c) Find their membership does not believe all these statements.

    I’ll give you a few examples.
    In terms of membership evangelicals don’t differ widely by sex. However “God is one being in three separate and equal persons – God the Father, Jesus Christ the Son, and the Holy Spirit” 85% of women and 72% of men agree. “every person has a soul that will live forever, either in God’s presence or absence” 82/72.

    Or another example “the Bible can only be correctly interpreted by people who have years of intense training in theology.” is believed by only 22% of American Catholics. This is one of the core ideas of the reformation but it rejected by most Americans who call themselves Catholic.

    59% of all Americans flatly reject the existence of Satan.
    41% of Protestants believe that praying to saints is effectual (as an aside 80% of Catholics hold this view).

    The data is pretty clear that most Americans do not agree that religion is mainly about belief. And when asked they in fact agree with that statement. For example 44% of Americans hold the bible, the koran the book of Mormon equally sacred expressing theological truths. A syncretic position that all 3 books strongly reject.

    I agree with Webster that words mean what people think they mean. And similarly I have trouble with asserting that the Christian faith contains beliefs that are rejected by vast numbers of Christians.

    Perhaps their answers indicate the shallowness of what they are being taught – in other words, they look at the culture, they see these are the things the culture thinks about Christians,and they have nothing in their understanding that would indicate Christianity is anything more than what the culture is telling them is wrong – therefore they will accept that Christians are mean and that’s what Christianity is about

    Or perhaps in practice those practices in fact are what Christianity is about in practice. And they evaluate Christianity based on what people do believe not what people claim to believe. They don’t consider theological statements of belief not backed in a consistent way to be particularly important. So when Christians claim to hold that everyone is a sinner, exclude homosexuals and celebrate the greedy they just conclude that deep down Christianity really believes that greed is good and homosexuality particularly evil. They don’t buy the hypocrisy. They aren’t ignorant, rather they value actions as practiced much more than words. In other words for them (and I think rightly) Christianity is what Christians do, not what a group of theologians claim Christians are supposed to believe.
    I think the lifespan of the “emergent church” is about to an end – it’s disorganized, does not articulate a clear message, and essentially is little more than the vapid youth group culture that the evangelical youth have grown tired of.

    I agree the emerging movement failed, I blame that on the Evangelical mainstream for not embracing it. I think had it been embraced it could have developed into a Christianity capable of addressing some of these cultural problems and avoiding deconversion. Attracting youth is extremely important if you are interested in retention. People’s opinions in the late teens to mid 20s correlate very strongly with their opinions throughout the rest of their lives. The other two shifts are a serious relationship with someone religious and first child, both of which happen in youth. I a religion doesn’t create regular attendance by then — in any large numbers — its over, they have an effective (though often not a formal) deconversion. Catholics are experiencing that now. Catholic baptisms are down 80%, after about 3 generations they’ve reached the point where the majority of children of disaffiliated though formal Catholics won’t even bother affiliating. Addressing the issues of youth with evangelical Christianity was critical.

    I read about a conference of emergents – and it had all the trappings of evangelical stupidity – skateboard ramps, rock concert venues, etc. etc.- for all their complaining nothing really changed, it was just a different venue where nobody was learning anything.

    Kullervo – you’ve pretty accurately summed up my position. Not even a pro-abortion dog catcher. Of course, if all options are bad, then I just may not vote, or write in a candidate.

  145. Seth, Jared,
    So if I abdicate my responsibility and ask the woman I knocked up to get an abortion, then it’s kind of like failing to pay a parking ticket – or maybe not paying my full 10% tithe. I failed to live up to the standard, and abdicated my responsibilities but it’s not so bad. Of course it would be ridiculous to oppose abortion on such grounds – so I can see why Mormons would be moderately prone to think of abortion as something kind-a sort-a bad, but in the big picture who cares. Interestingly Scripture does not support your view:
    I knit you together in the womb – not I knit together a potenital body for you in the womb which you then came to inhabit.
    John the Baptist leapt in the womb upon coming into the presence of God incarnate in Mary’s womb – the Lord Jesus Christ. Hmmm, so Jesus was Jesus and John was already John IN the womb. Or are they these Scriptures the exception – every oher mother just carries a souless tissue mass until birth? And how do we know the person is fully ensouled at birth? Perhaps the first year or so is questionable?

  146. If abortion is murder and should therefore be outlawed, is smoking during pregnancy child abuse? Should a pregnant woman who smokes be treated like a mother of a toddler who gives her toddler cigarettes? What about a pregnant woman who goes bungee jumping? Should she be prosecuted for reckless endangerment of a child?

  147. Seth, someone named John Birch would disagree with your assessment on the lack of true Mormon idealogues.

  148. 4fivesolas,

    Again, false dichotomy and strawman. The Bible does not treat forced miscarriage (i.e.involuntary abortion) in the same way it does murder. Exodus 21:22-23.) Given Exodus 21:22-23, certainly there is a reasonable argument that U.S. law should treat them differently as well. Like most doctrines and policy beliefs based on the the Bible, the is no clear and unambiguous textual support for the position that a fetus deserves rights under the United States Constitution.
    Most Mormons are of this opinion. They censure abortion through ecclesiastical processes, often severely. It can be grounds for excommunication. Its clear that Mormons do not consider abortion “no big deal”. But abortion is not murder, and there is no clear biblical support for this legal position.

    However, its not a tenant of the faith. Some Mormons do believe, as you apparently do, that people become fully human as a fetus.

    I think a similar example will help you get it.

    Adultery, according to LDS belief, is the worst sin you can commit aside from murder. Almost no Mormons, or Evangelicals, believe that the Government should prosecute adultery. Thus, not wanting the government to prosecute an act as a crime does not say much about whether or not a person approves of it.

    Do you also believe the state should be able to put people in jail for adultery?

  149. Kullervo – you’ve pretty accurately summed up my position. Not even a pro-abortion dog catcher. Of course, if all options are bad, then I just may not vote, or write in a candidate.

    So you would vote for a bad dogcatcher who shared your opinion about abortion over a great dogcatcher who disagrees with you about abortion. Even though abortion has nothing to do with a dogcatcher’s duties, and as dogcatcher, neither candidate will ahve any chance of influencing public policy regarding abortion. Or you would not vote or you would write someone else in, either of which is essentially a vote for the candidate you like least (because one less vote for the candidate you would have voted for nets out to the same thing as one mroe vote for the candidate you woudl not have voted for).

    I guess that’s easy enough when it comes to dogcatching, because the risk of a bad dogcatcher is, all things said and done, pretty low. But what if the other policy positions are things you care about deeply as a Christian, and one candidate lines up with everything else other than abortion that you care about as a Christian and the other one lines up against everything else than abortion that you care about as a Christian? And it is for an office that has nothing to do with setting abortion policy.

    Not only is that a politically irrational choice, but in addition, you are greviously warping Christianity in the process.

  150. CD-Host,
    You’re right, they don’t know the theology. That’s why their theology is centered on actions, not on the grace of God, unmerited forgiveness. Just because their theology is works oriented doesn’t make it NOT a theology. And I think they miss the entire point of the gospel. If theology does not matter, then actions don’t matter because that is their works theology. When you say they evaluate Christianity in terms of what they practice you’re making my point – they’re getting law, condemnation, and more law – and then we throw pies in the face of the youth pastor (with some law message applied for sure)!! I think the main hypocrites they see not living up to their works righteousness standards is themselves. When you have a belief system centered on being perfect and righteous, inevitably we will see ourselves as either hypocrites and beat ourselves up, or we will give up and toss in the towel. I know because I left the world of perfect evangelicals because of the hypocrisy – my own – I needed the truth, that recognized my sin and need of a Savior who saves completely apart from anything I ever said, did, thought, or prayed. Completely unmerited forgiveness through the bloody Cross of Jesus.

  151. Kullervo, My position on abortion has to do with the state – and all law is related to God’s law. But I don’t think it really pertains to the gospel message of forgiveness. Just like rape or murder, it should be a matter for the state to stop, prosecute offending physicians, etc. If it is not murder, and less than adultery then surely it does not matter one whit (in that worldview).
    A good dogcatcher goes on to run for other offices – I don’t want to give someone I fundamentally disagree with on a life and death matter a hand up.

  152. Sorry, should have addressed my last comment to Jared. Just the last half about dog catchers is addressed to Kullervo.

    Except that your comment didn’t really directly address what Jared said at all. And you are unlikely to get much mileage around here with vague normative claims about the law.

  153. “That’s why their theology is centered on actions, not on the grace of God, unmerited forgiveness.”

    OK 4five. How about you tell me something –

    What is it I have to do to invoke the grace of God in my life?

  154. Kullervo – It addresses specifically his idea that abortion is a matter for the Church and your claim that my approach to the state in my voting severely warps Christianity. It is a separate matter. I fail to see how having a philosophical standard of always voting for life and believing that in the end, an approach that will not compromise with death is better than going along with that which I believe is the taking of human life. You have to take the long view that holding to a standard is better just going along to get along; if nothing else my conscience will be clear.
    On the other hand, the message of the Church should be clear – forgiveness, eternal life through Christ. If someone confesses abortion, or homosexuality, or adultery, or greed, or envy they should not receive censure – rather they should hear the good news of free forgiveness. Yes, the Church should teach all to respect life and value the unborn – but when God’s law convicts sinners to confess, she should not be in the business of punishing sinners seeking God’s forgiveness and restoration. Freely give them the forgiveness of Jesus.

  155. I fail to see how having a philosophical standard of always voting for life and believing that in the end, an approach that will not compromise with death is better than going along with that which I believe is the taking of human life. You have to take the long view that holding to a standard is better just going along to get along; if nothing else my conscience will be clear.

    Grown ups who live in the real world understand that morality means weighing competing values against each other. It certainly is possible to value the rights of the unborn so highly that every other civic value is simply massively outweighed in comparison, but you’d still be weighing and comparing. And I’m willing to bet that, while you value the rights of the unborn very highly, you do not actually value them so highly that it literally trumps everything else, in all circumstances.

    Would you literally sacrifice every other civic value for the rights of the unborn? Would you give up the freedom of speech for the rights of the unborn? Would you accept a 95% tax rate for the rights of the unborn? Would you accept a centralized command economy for the rights of the unborn? Would you give absolute power to a despotic monarch in trade for the rights of the unborn? Would you accept the legalization of human slavery for the rights of the unborn? Would you accept state-sponsored forced prostitution of teenage girls for the rights of the unborn? Would you trade freedom of religion for the rights of the unborn? What if you had to trade all of the above for the rights of the unborn? You’d be choosing life, but at what cost?

    Now i will concede that for practical purposes, you are not generally asked to make those kinds of horrible decisions. But the kind of thinking that leads you to articulate “an approach that will not compromise” actually distorts your moral judgment. You may very well weigh competing values and decide to make moral sacrifices for the rights of the unborn every single time–a rational moral agent can look at two competing options and decide that the one outweighs the other.

    But if you simply act on a policy of ignoring all of the competing values as a single-issue voter, you are abdicating your moral reasoning, and by doing so, you act amorally at best and immorally at worst.

  156. 4fivesolas,

    You have shifted the discussion.

    Your point was that if Mormons don’t think that abortion is murder and support laws that treat it as such that they are “pro-abortion” and don’t really believe that it is wrong.

    My point was that you don’t have to believe that the state should prosecute abortion to believe that it is a grave sin or wrong. Anti-regulation does not equal pro-abortion.

    My point is that your view is not the only one that takes into account the Bible. The “Holier than thou approach” to the Mormon view is not a Biblical position, its a political one.

  157. Jared, From reading through all the comments I gather that there is no official Mormon position on abortion, but there are some Mormons who think an unborn child does not have a soul. This is not supported by Scripture – as a matter of fact, it is clear that the opposite is true. John leaping – he knows it is Jesus, the Son of God. (Also, pretty good argument that infants are knowledgable of spiritual things – best bring them to Jesus and let Him claim them as his own in holy Baptism.)
    It may seem like a contradiction to you, but I believe protecting life is primarily the resposibility of government, not the Church. As a matter of fact, the Church has very little power (other than proclaiming God’s Law) in this area. As for “holier than thou,” let me assure you that is not my belief at all – as a matter of fact, I wouldn’t doubt you are more moral than me – believe me.

  158. Seth,
    Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God.
    The Word of God is proclaimed and gives us faith through the proclamation of Christ crucified for our sins by:
    1) Faithful preaching of God’s Word – God’s law and it’s crushing burden – relieved by Christ as the final sacrifice for our sins on the Cross
    2) Holy Baptism where we are baptized into Christ, washed by God’s grace freely given
    3) Holy Communion where we partake of the sacrifice for our sins the body and blood of the Lord Jesus Christ – given to us for the forgiveness of sins

    All these means of grace bring the Lord Jesus to us and He saves us by faith through grace.

  159. And where did I ever say a fetus doesn’t have a soul?

    Of course it has a soul. It’s just not necessarily irrevocably stuck there.

    And just curious, do you have any complaints with God who naturally aborts more fetuses than all the abortion clinics in the world combined – each year?

  160. John leaping – he knows it is Jesus, the Son of God. (Also, pretty good argument that infants are knowledgable of spiritual things – best bring them to Jesus and let Him claim them as his own in holy Baptism.)

    Are you really basing your utmost beliefs in proper government and morality on your literal interpretation of this verse?

    Its within the interpretation of the verse that John’s leaping could have been an utter coincidence.

  161. Jared, it’s not even a “literal” interpretation of that verse. It’s a highly agenda-driven interpretation of that verse.

  162. Jared,
    Wow – just a coincidence? Noted in the Scriptures because… why? It’s an irrelevant detail I suppose – funny doesn’t seem that way.

  163. Noted in the Scriptures because… why?

    Dramatic effect, poetic license, etc. etc. etc.

    But even if you take everything literally, the baby lept, which we know to be a common response when mothers get excited, Elizabeth interprets the leap as joy, but this must be at least 3rd hand information. What did the original author mean by it. There is little support that he was commenting on the nature of the soul in-utero.

    I think your interpretation may be fine, but it doesn’t seem to be a necessary conclusion from the text. So it doesn’t seem to change the legal stance of Exodus 21:22-23.

    This is why I find your out-of-hand dismissal of the Mormon position to be unreasonable. Can’t there be two reasonable interpretations of the text?

  164. “Nope, they are just the means God uses to give us faith in Christ crucified for our sins.”

    So…. you’re saying that the people who do them had no choice but to do them? That is was actually God manipulating them into baptism – like a puppetmaster?

  165. Seth,
    That’s why I support infant baptism – it is the covenant of grace applied by God to us sinners. He uses it to work faith. So yes, I see baptism as a physical form of grace – the water combined with the Word of God. Also, we hear God’s Word of Law and Gospel in preaching and He creates faith in our hearts. Christ comes to us in communion and gives us his body and blood. Sure we have to eat the bread and drink the wine, but that is not a good work, it is not salvation by works.

  166. So all we have to do to make our works not “salvation by works” is acknowledge that they don’t earn us salvation by our own efforts?

    That’s great to hear 4five!

    Because that’s exactly what Mormonism already teaches. Glad to hear that you consider us saved.

  167. Seth,
    Good works are helping your neighbor, giving food and help to the poor, caring for the sick and widows – these are all things we must do – but these works do not in any way redeem our souls or forgive our sins. Only Christ on the cross, dying for you and me brings forgiveness.

  168. Seth, The big problem is you’ve got the wrong god – not the one true God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. You are baptized into the wrong Jesus, a false Jesus. In addition, the LDS religion adds all kinds of temple rituals simply not found in Christianity – and you ascribe saving effect to these temple rituals (in the Christian understanding eternal life with God is salvation – anything else is spiritual death and separation from God). In practice, I see Mormons saying that they are saved “after all that they can do” – which is salvation by good works, good living, good morals, striving to do what is right. In my understanding, Mormons ascribe themselve the role of saving themselves – negating the effectiveness of Jesus on the Cross, God’s free gift of salvation. Fact is, we can do nothing to save ourselves – infants passively receive baptism, the covenant sign that they are God’s children, baptised into the one true God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. God brings us faith through the word of Christ’s ultimate and final sacrifice on the Cross for our sins. And we partake of that sacrifice through holy communion, the Body and Blood of Christ. It’s always good to receive more forgiveness. As a Christian, I am to daily drown my sinful self (my old Adam) in the waters of my baptism – confessing Christ as my Savior. I don’t always do this – and I am still a forgiven child of God.

  169. 4five, one of the key speeches in the Book of Mormon is from a character – King Benjamin. It’s read all the time in LDS lessons. He explicitly states that for every good work you do, you effectively just end up further in debt to God. That you can never get ahead, never repay. He makes it clear that we are less than the dust.

    That is solid Mormon doctrine right there – you cannot merit your way into heaven. Nor does Mormon doctrine teach that you can.

  170. And incidentally, the rituals in the temple are about sanctification, not justification.

    Justification is purely a matter of baptism and personal repentance through the grace of Jesus Christ.

    Under Mormon doctrine, you can be saved in Jesus Christ without attending the temple. You just cannot be fully sanctified through the work of the Holy Spirit that Paul talks about in Romans chapter 8. But you can get to heaven without the temple – just not the Celestial Kingdom (which is not a synonym for the same thing).

    And the only reason the temple is not explicitly found in the New Testament is because the temple in Apostle Peter’s time was in the hands of his enemies – the Pharisees and Sadducees.

    I’m quite confident that if Peter had felt he COULD have claimed the temple in Jerusalem in the name of Christianity, he would have done it in a heartbeat.

    Finally 4five, don’t think anything you’re saying here is new to anyone on this blog. We’ve heard these recycled rehashed arguments about “different Jesus” and “works salvation” a bazillion times. I’m not convinced. And I doubt any of the other Mormon regulars here are convinced either.

  171. Seth,

    And incidentally, the rituals in the temple are about sanctification, not justification.

    Justification is purely a matter of baptism and personal repentance through the grace of Jesus Christ.

    Under Mormon doctrine, you can be saved in Jesus Christ without attending the temple. You just cannot be fully sanctified through the work of the Holy Spirit that Paul talks about in Romans chapter 8.

    Can you elaborate on all of this, please? I went to ldsendowment.org and searched in vain for any mention of sanctification. I also went to Romans 8 and didn’t find anything that indicated that “you cannot be fully sanctified through the work of the Holy Spirit.” Btw, what exactly does “fully sanctified” mean, and where are you getting this idea from? I assume that if there is such a thing as “full sanctification,” then there would be also “partial sanctification.” Where in the scriptures is this doctrine written?

  172. I’m using the words Protestants use to explain it.

    LDS use different terminology for the same concept.

    Basically, as far as my study has been able to reveal, sanctification and “enduring to the end” are exactly the same thing. And they lead to exaltation – which Mormons would be well advised to distinguish from “salvation” – which Mormonism basically offers to just about everyone except the Sons of Perdition.

  173. Seth,
    You need to explain that salvation is not by works to Mormon missionaries. I spoke to a couple at my parents house, and one of the first (if not the first) thing they went to was the “after all you can do” addition that Joseph Smith put in the BOM.
    Also, sanctification is by faith. I can do nothing to sanctify myself – my good works do not contribute to my sanctification – the beginning and end of my salvation is by faith. God continues to give me his grace through my baptism, holy communion, and hearing Christ crucified faithfully preached- all of these communicate the crucified Christ to me. I must do good works – but they in no way contribute to justification, or sanctification. Good works are the outcome of the work God is doing in me – the thief on the cross testified to Christ – even he demonstrated good works rising out of his faith, his belief in Jesus. A good book that explains this Biblical position is “Sanctification: Christ in Action” by Harold Senkbell. I believe it is out of print, but I found an old used copy online. This book examines popular Evangelical understanding of sancitifcation and finds it in error – Mormonism, with it’s even greater emphasis on works would fall under this. However, the greatest problem for Mormonism continues to be the belief in a false god – an exalted man, who is just a little further up the ladder than us. And Jesus is another god – and ultimately I see Mormons not worshipping Jesus as God incarnate, falling at the feet of Jesus in worship and adoration. Discussing differing views of sanctification, while important, is of no consequence if one is following a false god. I understand you have debated this a bazillion times, however, it is how I see things none-the-less. However, and this may seem like a contradiction, but I am sure there will be some who attended LDS wards in heaven, saved by nothing but the blood of Jesus – they just never got the Mormon program, and simply believed in the cleansing blood of Jesus which is sufficient to save any sinner.
    Anything but the highest heaven, the presense of God, is not heaven. Eternal life with the living God is the salvation that is freely given through Christ. There is no separation from God for any who have faith in the grace of Jesus, forgiveness purchased by His sacrifice for our sins.

  174. Seth,
    I don’t know if one can post links, but here is a link to a radio program that accurately describes how sanctification is by God and is not by our own effort:
    [audio src="http://issuesetcarchive.org/mp3/Issues6/Issues_Etc_Nov_06b.mp3" /]

  175. Sure 4five.

    I’ll do that as soon as you fix everyone who is messed up doctrinally in your church.

    And I never said sanctification was through our own efforts, at least not ours alone. Sanctification is enabled by the power and influence of the Holy Spirit. This is how it is under Mormon thought. Our works are not a source of independent merit. They are how we enter into a saving relationship.

  176. Seth,
    Works are of zero merit, meaning they do nothing to merit God’s favor. Christ has done everything in His life, death and resurrection needed for our salvation and santification. We don’t coorperate with God, our works are not even a source of dependent merit.

  177. Great 4five.

    Because I never said they were a source of merit.

    Are you even reading my responses?

  178. Seth
    You said: “Our works are not a source of independent merit. They are how we enter into a saving relationship.”

    I said: “We don’t coorperate with God, our works are not even a source of dependent merit.” Our works do nothing to merit eternal life with God the Father. Christ has done all, nothing more can be done.

  179. Then why are you here talking to us 4five?

    Obviously you’d like us Mormons to do something different than what we are doing.

    So what is it?

  180. There is something of a “chicken or egg” quality to this discussion of salvation. Are our good works a vehicle for God’s saving grace, or is God’s saving grace the foundation from which good works spring? And, if you were to observe a ‘functional’ believer for a period of time, would you be able to tell the diffrerence between the two?

    One other observtion: it seems to me that a criticism that Mormons have of the belief that salvation comes by the grace of God alone is that therefore one can sin with no consequence.
    But assuming that salvation is indeed the gift of God alone, and you can’t loose it, it doesn’t follow that there are no serious consequnces to ongoing unrepentant sin; you can, among other things, royally screw up your life and the lives of those around you. Found out about that one the hard way…

  181. Daniel —

    The criticism of TULIP is that it reduces salvation to a game of bingo. Essentially God picks two teams one he casts one into hell and he rewards the other with eternal glory irrespective of any meaningful distinction in merit for either group. The doctrine is so empty that you end up having to layer another religion on top of it in practice and then going around trying to resolve to contradictions between these two religions. So the TULIP God from any sort of sane criteria is downright evil towards his creation, far removed from the omnibenevolence claimed for him. The Arminian God is somewhat better in this regard in that while people are disproportionately punished or rewarded for failing to join the right team at least there is some underlying act.

    Conversely Mormonism presupposes a loving God trying to help everyone to exaltation. This God works with people both before life, during life and after death. The church preaches a moral code that is tied fairly closely to what most religious conservatives consider to be moral behavior and ties that morality directly to welfare in both this life and the next. Their God has some claim to notions of justice and love. If you are going to believe in a God that is moral in any sort of human sense, and has interest in individual human affairs, the Mormon God’s view of salvation makes sense.

    No religion disagrees too much regarding earthly consequences of sin because religions have little they can do about it.

  182. but there are some Mormons who think an unborn child does not have a soul. This is not supported by Scripture – as a matter of fact, it is clear that the opposite is true.

    Yes it is so clear that the church has been divided on the issue of process of ensoulment for its entire history with about a 1/2 dozen major theories. The currently popular evangelical one was totally rejected by evangelicals even 200 years ago, who believed ensoulment was tied to quickening (the mother feeling fetal movement at about 20 weeks) based on that very same verse.

  183. Pingback: Going public « Yeah … I'm that guy

  184. I couldn’t care less about the inner workings of the LDS. I’m not interested because I’m not a Mormon. I am interested in electing Mitt Romney. And you’re all losing the point. You get into obsessive discussions about the Book of Abraham, history of the church, I don’t care. I have two points here; “The Mormon Candidate” is religious bigotry. And the program has a purely political purpose. It wasn’t meant to do a scholarly criticism or spark a civil, academic discussion about Mormonism. This may have turned into a hit piece on the LDS, but it was meant to be a hit piece on Mitt Romney. It was designed to attack and defeat Mitt Romney. Pure and simple. Using religious bigotry for political purposes. That the type of excrement John Sweeney throws around, because if you’re made of excrement like he is, that’s all you have to throw. What a despicable program, and what a despicable man. I hope he gets what is coming to him. I’m not a Mormon or even a Christian, I don’t believe in forgiveness until a person makes right what they did wrong. But I don’t see this bung hole Sweeney ever making this right. Hopefully he will soon be with Joseph Goebbels.

  185. Pingback: Going public | Yeah, I'm that guy.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s