At last, Part 5! This is what we call in blogging “rounding third.”
I was sad to discover that this is not the first attempt at answering 50 bull dog questions. FAIR, the Mormon apologetics organization took at crack at answering those 50 questions for Mormons. I also discovered that someone else is working at answering Trimble’s list. What I learned from both sites is that reading these answers is even more boring than reading the questions. Holy cow that’s bad news for you Greg. That means I’m going to have to redouble my efforts at creative insults. I assure you, they’re not meant for you, just the people who love to hate you.
Some quick caveats for those that missed my first post. These answers will be short and to the point. I’m not trying give a complete answer, nor am I trying to convert anyone out of Mormonism. If I throw in a joke or two it’s to keep things interesting and not a personal attack on Trimble or an attempt to disrespect the Mormon faith.
41. Who are the “other sheep that are not of this fold” referred to by Christ in (John 10:16) Hint: It’s not the Gentles.
Oh Greg, the only sheep here is you. You’re like a big fluffy sheep with a cozy wool sweater. Except it’s 100 degrees and incredibly humid and it’s occurred to all of us that you’re not wearing a sweater. . . or even a shirt. As the mama sheep said to the baby sheep “Eww!”
John 10:16 is most definitely a reference to Gentiles. No hinting or scuttlebutting about. I know you really don’t want it to be a reference to Gentiles but that’s to your own determent because it’s REALLY good news to those of us that are not Jews that Jesus takes us as we are. If Jesus were just referring to another group of Jews with excellent sailing skills that means that there would be a whole heck of a lot more requirements on us than even the Word of Wisdom.
42. Why do so many ancient North, Central, and South American Indian traditions cite the appearance and ministration of a “Great God” that visited their ancestors many years ago and promised to return again?
Well I’m at least pleasantly surprised to see you left out any references to the “Great God” being White as I normally see this question. That always drives me bonkers because JESUS WAS NOT WHITE. I’m glad your smarter than that. I’ll save that rant for someone else. . . like Del Parsons.
I remember a Mormon missionary telling me all about Quetzalcoatl and the MesoAmerican paintings of the Tree of Life. I tried to look up what he was talking about and looked to FARMS at BYU (which has since been renamed after Neal A. Maxwell). To their credit, the articles I found thoroughly debunked these connections to an appearance to Jesus in the New World. Turns out the MesoAmerican myths have as much in common with Jesus as your standard Middle Eastern harvest god. At first glance there seems to be some parallels (oh how some Mormons LOVE parallels), but once you get into the nitty-gritty details the connections are overwhelmed by the differences.
I suspect next you’ll be telling me the Medieval age was called “The Dark Ages” because of the Great Apostasy.
43. Why do the explorers and conquistadors credit their ability to conquer the indians [sic] of the America’s to their belief that the conquistadors were that “Great God” returning?
Probably for the same reason an alien race visiting us would be treated like gods (special note, my use of the word “gods” does not mean I believe in multiple gods). Their technology was super advanced and the Indians had never seen anything like ships, horses, steel swords (or honey). It all appeared to be some sort of magic. You left out the most important part, the Indian mythology recognized these gods as white. Which means they wouldn’t have been looking for Jesus among these European invaders because Jesus WAS NOT WHITE.
44. If the polygamous history of Mormonism is a deal breaker, then why do you still believe in the Bible? Remember Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, David, Solomon, and others that are esteemed from the Bible?
Because the Bible doesn’t teach polygamy as something that is necessary for exaltation (as D&C 132 does). It recognizes that God worked through these men despite their cultural practice of an abusive and oppressive system (not to mention a myriad of other sins) and doesn’t hide the folly in their lives. That’s good news for the rest of us sinners.
Contrast this with Joseph Smith’s practice of polygamy; he not only encourages us to take up this sinful lifestyle, he didn’t even follow his own rules surrounding the practice (i.e. marrying sisters, marrying mothers and daugthers, marrying other men’s wives, encouraging women to have more than one husband). Instead of recognizing his sin with Fanny Alger and repenting of it, he and the LDS Church try to twist it into something beautiful and righteous. Compare that to the scripture David wrote after getting caught in a sexual transgression.
Joseph Smith is allowed to be a fallen and sinful man. He’s not allowed to call that sin righteousness.
45. Joseph Smith was free and clear from the mob and on the other side of the Mississippi river when he was summoned to go to Carthage to die. If you were an evil villain imposter [sic]…would you go back to Carthage, or would you save your own skin?
Joseph’s motivations to return to Carthage are not nearly that cut and dry. And there’s no reason to think he knew he would be murdered. What exactly was Joseph offering any of us by giving up his life in the Carthage Jail? Jesus already paid the Atonement. If Joseph knew he was going to die there’s no reason for him to have returned. There was no theological accomplishment in his death. He was not completing a mission in his martyrdom.
46. They found the Book of Mormon that Joseph and Hyrum had in Carthage jail with the page turned down that they read from before they died. Hyrum, other than Joseph, would have known best if it was a fraud. If you were Hyrum, would you read from a fraudulent book in your last days?
You’ll notice it was Hyrum and not Joseph who read from the Book of Mormon. From what we have of Joseph’s teachings and sermons he generally wasn’t all that interested in the contents of the Book of Mormon.
In this question you’re assuming that Hyrum knew the whole thing was a fraud. The question evaporates if we assume that Hyrum was a true believer. I concede, Hyrum appears to have had great faith in Mormonism. You got me, you big ole hairy yeti. I’ll chew off your toenails in penance.
47. Would there be that many people that would lie about Joseph Smith’s prophetic qualities and the many miracles that surrounded the restoration? If so…why?
This is a shot gun within a shot gun. It’s like a fifth grade boy’s imagined ultimate weapon; a bullet that shoots more bullets. There’s no way to discuss all these alleged miracles and visitations in this space.
But I’m guessing that you wouldn’t accept as trustworthy all the other things that Martin Harris saw and experienced before and after he left the LDS church. I find him just as sincere and credible in those other spiritual experiences as anything surrounding Mormonism. I bring them up just to recognize that we accept those things based on our predetermined bias for or against the stories more than the quality of the stories themselves.
Once again, you got me. I concede that a great many sincere people followed Joseph Smith and had spiritual experiences. Will you PLEASE put a shirt on now?
48. Is God capable of sending a prophet to the earth today? If yes, how do you think that prophet would be received?
Yes, I think the prophetic gifts are still available today. The Bible describes both prophets and prophetesses in the New Testament. It’s always struct me as odd that a prophetess would be rejected by Mormons today because of her sex (despite a claim to practice 1st Century Christianity).
I’ll note that there’s an assumption in your question that if a prophet is rejected he/she MUST be a true prophet. There’s a similar assumption that persecution means that someone is on the right path. There are radical Muslims carrying out terrible atrocities based on these same assumptions.
Persecution and rejection mean nothing on their own. A prophetess would categorically be rejected by Mormons but that doesn’t necessarily mean she’d be teaching the truth.
49. What Christian denomination most closely resembles the New Testament church of the Bible?
We’re all much more organized and doctrinally illuminated than any of the churches described in the New Testament. The denomination that MOST closely resembles the New Testament would probably be a very dysfunctional network of house churches (without the Bible).
There’s a LOT we know about the early Christian church and the one thing we know is that it looks almost nothing like the LDS church. The NT scholars among Mormons readily recognize that most unique Mormon teachings are a product of modern revelation rather than a return to early Christian practice.
50. According to Christian beliefs, Mormons would be saved based on their confession of Christ. So…what is wrong with being Mormon?
You would agree that a confession of Christ would not be compatible with ongoing, unrepentant sin, right?
The sin in Mormonism that isn’t compatible with Christianity is idolatry. Mormonism has substituted truth about God with a lie. Namely that Heavenly Father was once a man (possibly a sinful man) and that men may become deity. I’m happy to embrace Mormons as my brothers and sisters in Christ but they need to repent of idolatry, otherwise I can have no spiritual fellowship with them.
Trimble prefaces his final question with the following:
The Bible tells us that we should “ask God” and that the Holy Ghost will show us whether something is true or not. So after realizing that there is no other institution (that I know of) that answers these questions…I can do only one other thing to solidify my faith. I’ve got to ask the ultimate question.
51. “God…has Your church been restored?”
COME ON GREG. You just posted these questions last week and you want all the Christian institutions to have answered them already? I just completed the task and I’m a loser with a religion blog for a hobby. Give them all some time they’ve got stuff going on like March Madness brackets to complete.
I’m assuming that you’re referring to James 1:5.
If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.
You’ll notice this doesn’t say that God will tell you “whether something is true or not”. That’s knowledge. James says God will give us “wisdom”. Wisdom is the correct application of knowledge. To gain knowledge we have to use the thinking and investigative powers that God gave us. For the first time I’m not going to accuse you of pulling a verse out of context. [High five] Instead you misquoted it. [sad trumpet sound]
I’m absolutely open to the idea that God may have a new word for us, that there could be additional scriptures, that true prophets exist today. . . I’m even open to the idea that there has been a general falling away within Christianity. But accepting those things can’t in any way justify believing that Joseph Smith is a true prophet or that the Book of Mormon is a record of North or Central American people.
Ultimately believing in Mormonism doesn’t come down to whether or not there’s enough space to cram unique LDS doctrines into proof-texted Bible verses. It comes down to the trustworthiness of Joseph Smith. God has indeed given me wisdom.
HOORAY! We did it. Thanks for the fun Greg. I really did enjoy it. It was like shooting proof-texts in a barrel. It happened so frequently I almost got the impression that someone is intentionally teaching you to read the Bible like that.
Oh well at least you can rest smugly with the idea that you’ve got a lot of social media shares to prove that no one answers these questions quite like the LDS church and I can rest smugly with the idea that I can knock down Mormon straw-men even when they’re constructed by faithful LDS.