Not Really “Translated”

If I had to endorse any piece of anti-Mormon material, it would be “The Lost Book of Abraham“. It’s produced with excellent production values and doesn’t try too hard by trying to imply more than it should. I think it’s real excellence comes with the fact that it sticks to ONE issue. It explores one topic and takes the time to do it well rather than going for the shotgun approach.

I recently discovered that the Ensign brought up these issues long before the video was made. This article comes from July of 1988. Ensign Link

Part of the article is quite Clintionian by asking everyone to question the definition of the word “translation”. But I think Joseph Smith made it quite clear what he meant by claiming it was a translation. The fact that he started to write out a Egyptian alphabet to aid him in translating the papyrus seems to indicate that the papyrus wasn’t just a source of spiritual inspiration for him.

The other issue the article brings up is the “missing scrolls”. There in fact could be missing scrolls, but it seems obvious that facsimile #1 matches up with the scrolls that we do have. So claiming that some of the scrolls are missing doesn’t really solve why Joseph’s attempt to fill in the gaps on the facsimile are so wrong. Nor does it explain what ancient Jewish scripture is doing in the middle of a funerary script.

Thoughts? Am I way off base here? Does it matter?

Another Reaction

This Mormon’s reaction to the Jesus/Joseph Smith DVD surprised me to some degree.

At the core of Mormon doctrine are a host of non-negotiable claims: that not only do practically all other Christian sects adhere to an errant theology (the Nicene creed), but their priesthood authority is null and void in its entirety. None of their saving ordinances are efficacious, and none of them are recognized.

I don’t care how much frosting you coat it with, but that’s a very bitter pill and I’m frankly mystified why we expect that other Christian denominations should swallow it with a smile, without fighting back with all the resources at their disposal.

Similarly, to claim that our missionaries aren’t “tearing down” other religions may be true in terms of process, but certainly not end result. The convert has to reject his current beliefs and his current loyalties and his current sacraments, no dual citizenship allowed. Why pretend there’s anything nice about what we’re up to (Matthew 10:34)?

The Mormon church stands as an existential (albeit philosophical) threat to the broader (Nicene) Christian fellowship. We should stop being surprised that this raises some people’s hackles, or that they believe we are as wrong and misguided and apostate as we believe they are.

–Eugene Woodbury

Read more here

Official Statement on Joseph/Jesus DVD

This is an official statement from the LDS church on the new anti-mormon DVD.

SALT LAKE CITY 29 March 2007 Several news reports have appeared over the past few days in Utah and Arizona about a Christian activist group that has been distributing anti-Mormon DVDs throughout Utah and in some other states.

The Jewish Anti-Defamation League in Phoenix promptly condemned the distribution, saying that “hate directed at any of us is hate directed at all of us.”

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has weathered such attacks throughout its history. At a time when the Church is growing strongly throughout the world, it’s not surprising that some groups try to curb that growth in such ways.

Throughout the history of the United States, the rights of free speech and freedom of religion have been pre-eminent. Groups opposed to the Church have a perfect right to distribute their materials in ways that are legal.

The issue is not one of rights. Rather, it is that one religious group chooses to target another with a DVD full of distortions of its doctrine and history, and misrepresentations so stark that they call into question the integrity of the producers.

When Latter-day Saint missionaries visit homes or engage others in conversation, they studiously avoid criticism of other faiths. They do not attack and they do not condemn. Instead, they declare their own message honestly and openly and allow people the freedom to choose. Above all, they encourage each person to find out for themselves through personal research as well as prayer.

That will continue to be the Church’s approach, not just because honest and open dialogue is what most people want, but because in our view it best represents the spirit of the gospel of Jesus Christ.

The only problem with this statement is that I have never had an LDS missionary not try to tell me that my version of Christianity fell away and became apostate. From everything I can gather they are trained and sent out to specifically inform Christians that their faith is lacking because it is missing necessary truth that only the LDS church teaches. This, for all practical reasons, is the same thing as Evangelicals showering LDS with messages that Joseph Smith added things to Christianity which are not true. The methodology is significantly different but the goal is the same in both cases; deconstruct one belief system and replace it with another. I don’t have a problem with it, it’s a necessary part of evangelism, but the LDS church is not really being sincere to say that they don’t participate in it.

Madder Than Hornets

This is from a news story found here

Bob Betts, Concerned Christians’ office manager, said the DVD contrasts the teachings of Jesus Christ with those of Joseph Smith. He said about two dozen southeast Valley residents upset by the DVD called the ministry’s office Monday morning to complain.

He said about 100 volunteers, mostly from churches, distributed the DVD but another 35,000 were not distributed because of a lack of manpower.

“The Mormons are madder than hornets,” Betts said.

This is the exact reason I don’t like this strategy. I don’t know that it’s really effective missionary work to make your target audience madder than hornets.

There are times to stand up against falsehood and we should expect our opponents to be angry when we do so. But if we are seeking to convert our opponents, intentionally making them angry with our first move seems foolish whether we are speaking of LDS or not.