50 Answers to 50 Mormon Answers to 50 Anti-Mormon Questions (Answer 28)

snake03019

Tower To Truth Question:

28. If marriage is essential to achieve exaltation, why did Paul say that it is good for a man not to marry? (1st Corinthians 7:1)

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FAIR Answer:

Paul does not say it is good not to marry, but quotes the Corinthian Saints’ comments in a previous letter to him. Paul is responding to this claim, and he critiques it.

To learn more: Paul says good not to marry?

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My Response:

Methinks FAIR is misunderstanding Tower’s intentions in asking this question. It’s almost the same misunderstanding Catholics have with us Protestants when we deny the doctrine of Mary’s perpetual virginity. They seem to be under the impression that we think sex (or, in this case, marriage) is a shameful thing and that we think it is “icky.”

On the contrary. We are not saying that marriage is a “bad” thing. Neither is Paul. And above all–knowing that the Scriptures were God-breathed–neither is God! And if FAIR knew their Bible, they would have gone immediately to Hebrews 13:4Marriage is honorable among all, and the bed undefiled. Or even 1st Timothy 4:1-3Now the Spirit expressly says that in latter times some will depart from the faith, giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons, speaking lies in hypocrisy, having their own conscience seared with a hot iron, forbidding to marry (Not to say anything about Catholics forbidding their priests from marrying, mind you…[/sarcasm]) But, the Mormon cannot get around the fact that Paul said he would have men to be as he was (i.e., unmarried). But, let’s dive into the text, shall we? Continue reading

50 Answers to 50 Mormon Answers to 50 Anti-Mormon Questions (Answers 25, 26, and 27)

FAIR

Because of the repetitive nature of the next three questions, I have decided to lump them into one post.

Tower To Truth Question:

25. Why does the Book of Mormon contain extensive, word-for-word quotes from the Bible if the LDS Church is correct in teaching that the Bible has been corrupted?

FAIR Answer:

It would be more correct to say that the Book of Mormon teaches that plain and precious things have been removed from the Bible 1_Ne. 13:28. The vast majority of that which has remained in the Bible is both true and valuable.

Latter-day Saints take two years of every four in Sunday School studying the Bible. They cherish it. They merely refuse to believe that the Bible is all that God has said, or can say. God can speak whenever He wishes.

To learn more: Bible basics

For extensive evidence that the Bible both underwent change and deletions in the very early years, see here.

To learn more: Biblical completeness

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Tower To Truth Question:

26. Why do the Bible verses quoted in the Book of Mormon contain the italicized words from the King James Version that were added into the KJV text by the translators in the 16th and 17th centuries?

FAIR Answer:

The italics do indeed identify words added by the translators. They were “added” because they were necessary words for making sense of the translation: in Hebrew and Greek the words are sometimes implied, but necessary for English to make sense. (Italics can mislead us, however, in suggesting that there is such a thing as a word-for-word translation without interpretation, save for the italics.)

Thus, in some cases the italic words are necessary, and Joseph or another translator would have had to put them in. In other cases, Joseph removed the italic words. (It’s not clear that Joseph even owned a Bible during the Book of Mormon translation era, much less that he knew what the italics meant.)

This is really a question about why the Book of Mormon text is often very close (or, in some cases, identical to) the King James Version. If Joseph was trying to forge a book (as the critics claim) then why did he quote from the Bible, the one book his readers would be sure to know?

To learn more: Joseph Smith Translation and the Book of Mormon

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Tower To Truth Question:

27. If the Book of Mormon was engraved on gold plates thousands of years ago, why does it read in perfect 1611 King James Version English?

FAIR Answer:

Because Joseph translated it as King James English.

Why do modern translations of the Greek and Hebrew Bible sound like modern English, even though the texts are hundreds or thousands of years old? Because that’s how the translators translated them. It doesn’t say anything about what the language is like on the original. (French translators make totally different translations than English translators, but the manuscripts remain the same!)

Do Christians condemn the Bible as an inauthentic record because their translations sound like 21st century English? This question is a good example of how insincere these “questions” from an anti-Mormon ministry are.

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My Response:

OK, we’ll take the first one (Answer 25), since it is the simplest. It is simply another example of Mormon double-speak. They are basically saying, “We don’t believe the Bible has been corrupted. We just believe some things have been removed.”

Doesn’t the “fact” (quote-unquote) that things have “been removed” (quote-unquote), by default, render something “corrupt?” The word “corrupt” comes from the Latin (through Middle English) “to break.” In fact, according to Merriam-Webster, to “corrupt” means “to alter from the original or correct form or version” (See full entry here). So….if something was “removed,” doesn’t that, automatically, mean that it has been “altered from its original form?” But, this is, yet again, another example of a Mormon defining things differently than what they really mean. Oh, and, as usual, not a word about which of the “truths, plain and most precious” were removed. Yeah, good luck getting an answer on THAT.

Then there is the link that says, “For extensive evidence that the Bible both underwent change and deletions in the very early years.” Of course, that link takes you to another FAIR page where they quote Blake Ostler. Oh, yeah, real unbiased work, there. **rolls eyes** Oh, and as far as trying ot use Vagany against the reliability of Scripture, let’s look at the quote from FAIR:

“In AD 178 the secular writer Celsus stated in polemic against the Christians: some of the believers . . . have changed the original text of the Gospels three or four times or even more, with the intention of thus being able to destroy the arguments of their critics.’ (quoted in Origen, Contra Celsum, SC 132, 2, 27).

Now, one thing you need to know about Celsus: he was a heretic. He vehemently opposed the Christians and went out of his way to disparage them. Which means he is exactly the kind of person FAIR will quote in order to defend their beliefs–a known heretic! Way to go, guys! I suppose that next, in order to “prove” the Bible was wrong about the creation account, they will probably be quoting Charles Darwin.

Oh, and by the way, here is the full quote from Origen (emphasis mine):

After this he says, that certain of the Christian believers, like persons who in a fit of drunkenness lay violent hands upon themselves, have corrupted the Gospel from its original integrity, to a threefold, and fourfold, and many-fold degree, and have remodelled it, so that they might be able to answer objections. Now I know of no others who have altered the Gospel, save the followers of Marcion, and those of Valentinus, and, I think, also those of Lucian. But such an allegation is no charge against the Christian system, but against those who dared so to trifle with the Gospels. And as it is no ground of accusation against philosophy, that there exist Sophists, or Epicureans, or Peripatetics, or any others, whoever they may be, who hold false opinions; so neither is it against genuine Christianity that there are some who corrupt the Gospel histories, and who introduce heresies opposed to the meaning of the doctrine of Jesus.

I suppose that is enough evidence to shatter FAIR’s misuse of someone’s quote. And, yeah, there are going to be differences in the various Hebrew manuscripts. It would be interesting if FAIR would live up to their acronym and share with us some of these differences from Tov’s book. Oh wait……are those crickets I hear chirping in Utah? Yeah, I thought so.

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So, for the second (Answer 26), let’s boil it down. Let’s look at the main thrust of their response:

The italics do indeed identify words added by the translators. They were “added” because they were necessary words for making sense of the translation: in Hebrew and Greek the words are sometimes implied, but necessary for English to make sense.

RED FLAG ALERT!
RED FLAG ALERT!

The Book of Mormon was not written in Hebrew, or Greek! IT WAS SUPPOSEDLY WRITTEN IN REFORMED EGYPTIAN! (A language which, by the way, has NEVER existed at ANY TIME IN HISTORY). So the argument that the italics were added to the Hebrew for insertion into the BOM is silly, because Isaiah was written in Hebrew while the BOM was written in a totally different language! BUSTED!! That would be like saying “The parts of the Bagavad Gita that were plagiarized from Das Kapital kept the italics to get the sense of what the Japanese meant.” We’re talking about completely different languages, so their answer on this point is moot.

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Finally, Answer #27. I would have to say this isn’t much of an issue. Of course the gold-digger was going to translate it into the language of his day, so I really don’t think that’s any ground we need to cover.

50 Answers to 50 Mormon Answers to 50 Anti-Mormon Questions (Answer 24)

snake eat tail

Notice the little picture above. It is an Oriborus. I really think it symbolizes Mormon theology, because if you share the truth with a Mormon long enough, their theology will start to eat itself.

Tower To Truth Question:

24. If the Adam-God doctrine isn’t true, how come D. & C. 27:11 calls Adam the Ancient of Days which is clearly a title for God in Daniel Chapter 7?

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FAIR Answer:

The real question should be how do LDS justify their interpretation of Ancient of Days as Adam. LDS are not dependent upon biblical interpretation for a complete understanding of the meaning of this or any other term. Since LDS have a more expanded idea of Adam’s role, it is not surprising that they interpret some verses differently.

The Encyclopedia of Mormonism notes:

For Latter-day Saints, Adam stands as one of the noblest and greatest of all men. Information found in the scriptures and in declarations of latter-day apostles and prophets reveals details about Adam and his important roles in the pre-earth life, in Eden, in mortality, and in his postmortal life. They identify Adam by such names and titles as Michael (D&C 27:11; D&C 29:26), archangel (D&C 88:112), and Ancient of Days (D&C 138:38).

Joseph Smith is one source for this view of Adam:

“‘Ancient of Days’ appears to be his title because he is ‘the first and oldest of all.'”

The critics are also perhaps too confident in their ability to definitively interpret an isolated verse of scripture. This section of Daniel is written in Aramaic, while the rest of the Old Testament is in Hebrew. The phrase translated “Ancient of Days” (attiq yômîn) as one non-LDS source notes, “in reference to God…is unprecedented in the Hebrew texts.” Thus, reading this phrase as referring to God (and, in the critics’ reading, only God) relies on parallels from Canaanite myth and Baal imagery in, for example, the Ugaritic texts. Latter-day Saints are pleased to have a more expanded view through the addition of revelatory insights.

Like many other Christians, the LDS see many parallels between Christ (who is God) and Adam. Christ is even called, on occasion, the “second Adam.” It is thus not surprising that D&C 27:11 associates Adam with a divine title or status when resurrected and exalted—after all, LDS theology anticipates human deification, so God and Adam are not seen as totally “other” or “different” from each other. LDS would have no problem, then, in seeing Adam granted a type of divine title or epithet—they do not see this as necessarily an either/or situation.

This does not mean, however, that Adam and God are the same being, merely that they can ultimately share the same divine nature. Such a reading would be strange to creedal Christians who see God as completely different from His creation. Once again, the theological preconceptions with which we approach the Biblical text affects how we read it.

To learn more:Adam wiki articles
To learn more:Ancient of Days

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My Response:

Now, wait a minute. I thought the Mormon church never taught Adam-God! OK, let’s work through this one point at a time.

The critics are also perhaps too confident in their ability to definitively interpret an isolated verse of scripture. This section of Daniel is written in Aramaic, while the rest of the Old Testament is in Hebrew. The phrase translated “Ancient of Days” (attiq yômîn) as one non-LDS source notes, “in reference to God…is unprecedented in the Hebrew texts.” Thus, reading this phrase as referring to God (and, in the critics’ reading, only God) relies on parallels from Canaanite myth and Baal imagery in, for example, the Ugaritic texts.

Um…yeah. No kidding! Just like interpreting Nebuchadnezzar’s dream in Daniel 2 relies on interpreting history. The reference to Eerdman’s Dictionary of the Bible (the “one non-LDS souce.” Why don’t they ever tell you what the non-LDS sources are?) is another of those “skimming the surface” type answers FAIR likes to give. Here is the full entry:

Such a term in reference to God, presumably the referent here, is unprecedented in the Hebrew texts, although associations with Everlasting Father in Isaiah 9:6 have been suggested. The most likely source of the imagery is Canaanite myth since El, the head of the heavenly pantheon, is referred to as the “Father of Years” and often portrayed on a throne with heavenly attendants. The association of El with age generally is also notabble in Canaanite mythology. The context of the phrase, occuring in proximity to “One like a son of man,” which draws clearly on Baal imagery, further supports this association.

Unfortunately, FAIR gets caught up in the details, and gets distracted in trying to deal with Aramaic, so much so that they miss the clear words of the Scriptures.

Daniel 7:9-10–“I watched till thrones were put in place, and the Ancient of Days was seated; His garment was white as snow, and the hair of His head was like pure wool. His throne was a fiery flame, its wheels a burning fire; a fiery stream issued and came forth from before Him. A thousand thousands ministered to Him; ten thousand times ten thousand stood before Him. The court was seated, and the books were opened.”

Let’s see. One sat on a throne. Ten thousand times ten thousand stood before Him, books were opened. These are some of the images we read about in Revelation referring to the Father and Christ. Then skip down to Daniel 7:13-14–

“I was watching in the night visions, and behold, One like the Son of Man, coming with the clouds of heaven! He came to the Ancient of Days, and they brought Him near before Him. Then to Him was given dominion and glory and a kingdom, that all peoples, nations, and languages should serve Him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and His kingdom the one which shall not be destroyed.”

The Son of Man coming on the clouds of Heaven. To Him was given dominion and glory and a kingdom. His is an everlasting kingdom. If FAIR can show how any of these things do not refer to the Father and the Son, please show me. Next!

Like many other Christians, the LDS see many parallels between Christ (who is God) and Adam. Christ is even called, on occasion, the “second Adam.” It is thus not surprising that D&C 27:11 associates Adam with a divine title or status when resurrected and exalted—after all, LDS theology anticipates human deification, so God and Adam are not seen as totally “other” or “different” from each other. LDS would have no problem, then, in seeing Adam granted a type of divine title or epithet—they do not see this as necessarily an either/or situation.

LDS theology anticipates human deification? Really? Try getting a Mormon to tell you that! Well, it is surprising that the D&C gives a divine title to Adam, since none is ever given to him in the Bible. And basically, FAIR is saying here that Adam is like God. Look at what they said: “God and Adam are not seen as “different” from each other.” Now, I may not always be the brightest bulb in the chandelier, but I do know a thing or two about the English language (although I have never studied Reformed Egyptian). If two things are not “different” from one another, does that not, by default, mean that they are “the same”? So, are they not saying that Adam is LIKE GOD?

So, in a nutshel, since I’m sure by now you feel like something that rhymes with “Tetzel,” is FAIR’s answer to this question………………………yeah, I’m trying to figure it out, too. Once again, they don’t answer the question. They do a little song-and-dance, change the subject, and leave the reader confused enough to believe they know something more than they really do.

50 Answers to 50 Mormon Answers to 50 Anti-Mormon Questions (Answer 23)

Wow, it’s been a while. This series left off back in August with Question 22. I’ve now got a little bit of time (spring break next week), so we can resume our journey of untangling the sophomoric attempts by FAIR (Foundation for Apologetics and Information Research) to answer, in their own unique and convoluted way, some rather straightforward questions from Tower To Truth. We pick up with #23

Tower To Truth Question:

23. Why does D. & C. 42:18 say there is no forgiveness for a murderer when 3 Nephi 30:2 says there is forgiveness for him?’

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FAIR Answer:

Doctrine and Covenants 42 is “the law of the Church” and pertains to those who are baptized members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints who by baptism are adopted into the house of Israel. 3_Ne. 30:2 pertains to those who are still “Gentiles” and who are not yet “numbered with [God’s] people who are of the house of Israel.” For a member of the Church to commit murder there is no forgiveness, whereas a person who has not yet made baptismal covenants may, under certain conditions, be forgiven. Some Lamanites repented and were forgiven of their murders (see Alma 24:10-12).

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My Response:

Alma 24:10-11 (all emphases mine)–
10 And I also thank my God, yea, my great God, that he hath granted unto us that we might repent of these things, and also that he hath forgiven us of those our many sins and murders which we have committed, and taken away the guilt from our hearts, through the merits of his Son.
11 And now behold, my brethren, since it has been all that we could do, (as we were the most lost of all mankind) to repent of all our sins and the many murders which we have committed, and to get God to take them away from our hearts, for it was all we could do to repent sufficiently before God that he would take away our stain
12 Now, my best beloved brethren, since God hath taken away our stains, and our swords have become bright, then let us stain our swords no more with the blood of our brethren.

Did you notice a couple things there? This passage claims that our sins are forgiven by the MERITS of Christ–not by His blood. But….

  • Colossians 1:19-22For it pleased the Father that in Him all the fullness should dwell, and by Him to reconcile all things to Himself, by Him, whether things on earth or things in heaven, having made peace through the blood of His cross. And you, who once were alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now He has reconciled in the body of His flesh through death
  • 1st Peter 1:18-19you were not redeemed with corruptible things, like silver or gold…but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot…
  • Ephesians 1:7; Colossians 1:14In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins
  • Revelation 1:5To Him who loved us and washed us from our sins in His own blood.
All of these verses talk about how we are redeemed, purchased, forgiven, washed by Christ’s BLOOD–not His “merit.” (This idea almost sounds like Roman Catholic doctrine, where, if we come up a little bit short in our efforts to be perfect, we can ask for a withdrawal from the “treasury of merit” that was built up by Saint (insert name of favorite saint here).)

A couple things here. First, LDS theology says that Jesus became a “God” based on His merit–that through obedience to eternal laws He attained godhood. That of course is a lie. Jesus is God because HE IS GOD–and for no other reason. He did not have to “earn” His title as God.

Second, we don’t “get God to take away our sins”–as if we do enough to have God look at us and say, “Way to go!! You’re such a good person, I’m going to save you!!” He looks down at a world of horrible, wretched, filthy sinners and grants repentance to some, draws them to Himself, and saves them from His wrath–not because we are somehow “good enough” (a most laughable concept if I ever heard one yet is, nonetheless, being taught in even many “Evangelical” churches), but simply because of His grace.

Now, to the main point I want to make. This particular exchange is almost perfect for showing the most glaring difference between Mormonism and Christianity. According to Mormonism, the blood of Jesus can cleanse you from sins–with a few exceptions. See, you can kill someone before you become a Mormon and get forgiveness no problem. But if you commit murder after you join the LDS system, there is no forgiveness.

Truth of the matter is, it does not matter when you commit murder. Even if you kill someone after you come to know Christ, if you ask forgiveness and you truly belong to Him–He will forgive. King David had Uriah killed after following God. Peter would have killed Malchus if he had his way. And yet these and many like them were still saved by the blood of Christ.

Because, you see, God’s forgiveness is not bound by time. In fact, in the book of Revelation refers to Christ as the Lamb slain before the foundation of the world (Revelation 13:8)–even though He was slain thousands of years after the foundation of the world. So if a person is truly saved, it does not matter if they commit a particular sin before or after they get saved–God can forgive that sin.

And contrary to another lie told by the LDS church, there is no sin that cannot be covered by the blood of Christ–even murder.

50 Answers to 50 Mormon Answers to 50 Anti-Mormon Questions (answer 22)

fair1

Tower To Truth Question:

22. Why does the Book of Abraham, chapters 4 & 5, contradict Alma 11 in stating that there is more than one God?

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FAIR Answer:

The term “God” may be used in more than one way. Latter-day Saints are not Nicene Trinitarians, but still believe in “one God.”

To learn more: Polytheism

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My Response:

Note: Mormons are not, technically, polytheistic. They are more henotheistic, believing in the existence of many living gods, but only worshipping one.

The longer this series goes, the more flustered I become. It would be one thing if FAIR could formulate an answer that was more than 10 words long, and contained some kind of point. But it seems as though every answer they give is “No we don’t, so do Christians, you’re anti-Mormon.” The answer they give to this question isn’t even an answer. They are confronted with a fact–a contradiction in their “scriptures”–and they don’t even bother to answer it. They just give some lame excuse about “the word ‘god’ can mean more than one thing.” That’s like me telling my waiter “I asked for my burger without onions” and he looks at me and says “Pickels aren’t onions.” So, here’s the issue.

Alma 11:26-2926 And Zeezrom said unto him: Thou sayest there is a true and living God?
27
And Amulek said: Yea, there is a true and living God.
28
Now Zeezrom said: Is there more than one God?
29 And he answered, No.

So, clearly, the Book of Mormon says that there is only ONE LIVING GOD. Now, let’s see what the Ancient Egyptian pagan burial manual Book of Abraham says.

Abraham 4:1-41 And then the Lord said: Let us go down. And they went down at the beginning, and they, that is the Gods, organized and formed the heavens and the earth.
2
And the earth, after it was formed, was empty and desolate, because they had not formed anything but the earth; and darkness reigned upon the face of the deep, and the Spirit of the Gods was brooding upon the face of the waters.
3
And they (the Gods) said: Let there be light; and there was light.
4
And they (the Gods) comprehended the light, for it was bright; and they divided the light, or caused it to be divided, from the darkness.

Abraham 5:1-31 And thus we will finish the heavens and the earth, and all the ahosts of them.
2
And the Gods said among themselves: On the seventh time we will end our work, which we have counseled; and we will rest on the seventh time from all our work which we have counseled.
3 And the Gods concluded upon the seventh time, because that on the seventh time they would rest from all their works which they (the Gods) counseled among themselves to form; and sanctified it. And thus were their decisions at the time that they counseled among themselves to form the heavens and the earth.

Here’s the thing: When FAIR tries to say that there is more than one meaning for the word “gods”–there is about a half a grain of truth in that. But, they are, in a sense, lying. Because what they mean by “Gods” is not what you or I mean when we say “gods” (Notice distinction between little ‘g’ and big ‘G’). When the Book of Abraham talks about these “Gods,” it is referring to those “Gods” who have attained godhood in Mormon theology. When you or I talk about “gods,” we usually refer to mute idols, statues of wood or metal, that can do nothing.

What does all this boil down to? FAIR is not living up to their acronym. And I cannot imagine that this is something they were not aware they were doing. They know what they mean by “Gods,” so to give the response they did is less than honest.

Oh, and if you want a good read, check out the link “Polytheism.” Here is their response to this charge:

Usually the very same people who are pressing the case that Mormons are polytheists are some stripe of Evangelical Christians who claim to be monotheists. But Trinitarians are not Monotheists by definition (just ask a Jew or Muslim).

Ask a Jew or a Muslim!! Two groups that deny the deity of Christ!! In other words, to make their case seem more credible, they would have you go to people who would call Mormons blasphemers!! Now, we don’t have time to give a thorough discussion of the Trinity here. Suffice it to say Mormons do not understand the Orthodox view of the Trinity. We do NOT worship three Gods. We worship Father, Son, Holy Spirit–who are One God.

And, once again, they throw out baseless accusations against influential christians, accusing them of worshipping many Gods–

Additionally, there is abundant evidence of deification being taught by various commonly accepted Christians. If belief in theosis makes one a polytheist, many Christians would have to be so labeled – including such figures as C. S. Lewis and John Calvin.

Umm, yeah, would FAIR like to show us how they make this accusation? They won’t, because they know that if they do, then someone who knows quite a bit more about these men will crush this statement under a pile of facts.

Apparently, FAIR only exists to give social Mormons a little relief in thinking that there are actually ways to resolve the spaghetti bowl that is Mormon theology. Because once you chase off the smoke and shatter the mirrors–they really have no answers.

50 Answers to 50 Mormon Answers to 50 Anti-Mormon Questions (answer 21)

fairWell, semester number 1 is over, I have about a month until the spring term begins, so let’s pick back up with our “50 Answers” segment. We pick up with the ancient Egyptian pagan mummy burial manual Book of Abraham.

Tower To Truth Question:

21. Does the LDS Church still regard the Book of Abraham in the Pearl of Great Price as Holy Scripture even after several prominent Egyptologists proved it was an ancient funeral scroll?

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FAIR Answer:

The LDS Church announced that fragments of the papyrus were from the Book of Breathings within two months of their acquisition.

The big print in the Church magazine published as soon as the scrolls were recovered can be seen here.

Critics often don’t tell people that we are missing at least 85% of the scrolls that Joseph Smith had. We don’t have papyrus with the Book of Abraham on it (except Facsimile #1) and have never claimed to.

To learn more: Book of Abraham:Book of the Dead

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My Response:

Currently, there are 10 fragments of the 11 papyri that Joseph Smith bought that became what we now know as the “Book of Abraham.” And wouldn’t you know it? The one that contained the actual text of the BOA is the one that no one can find. Gee, imagine that!

As I mentioned in my last Answer–stay focused. Again, in this response, FAIR is trying to take the focus off the main issue. That being, since the papyri that were recovered in NY’s Metropolitan Museum of Art were indeed part of the set of papyri that Joseph Smith was duped into believing were writings of Abraham, “written by his own hand upon papyrus,” and since, from the day Joseph found them, he purported that all of the papyri were the writings of the Jewish patriarch–then the fact that none of the papyri that survived the Chicago fire had anything to do with Abraham, and since the 10 remaining fragments are from the Egyptian “Book of Breathings” then I find it quite a remarkable coincidence that the only fragment that did NOT survive contained the actual text of the Book of Abraham.

Here’s the timeline:

  • July 1835: Michael Chandler and his travelling Egyptian exhibit rolls into Kirtland, OH. Chandler, upon hearing that Joseph Smith has translated ancient Egyptian (oops, sorry, I mean Reformed Egyptian) into English, sells Smith a set of papyri written entirely in Egyptian.
  • November 1835: Smith completes his “translation” of the papyri, and declares that these are the writings of Abraham–that they contain the account of Abram’s and Sarai’s journey into Egypt (found in Genesis 12:10-20).
  • 1844: Joseph Smith is killed in a Carthage, IL jail. The papyri are turned over to his mother, Lucy Mack Smith.
  • 1856: Lucy Smith dies. Emma Hale Smith, Joseph Smith III, and Emma’s second husband Lewis Bidamon, sell the papyri to Abel Combs. Two of the papyri were sent to be displayed in the St. louis (MO) Museum.
  • 1863: The St. Louis Museum closes, and the papyri are sent to the Chicago Museum (later renamed Wood’s Museum after its new owner Joseph Wood.
  • 1871: The Great Chicago Fire destroys Wood’s Museum, and the Egyptian papyri contained there. After this event, it was believed that the original Book of Abraham papyri would never be seen again.
  • 1947: Ludlow Bell, curator of theNew York Metropolitan Museum of Art, obtains several Egyptian papyri from one edward Heusser, widower of Alice Combs Weaver Heusser, daughter of Abel Combs’ housekeeper.
  • 1966: Aziz Suryal Atiya discovers Facsimile #1 in the Egyptian Collection at the Met.
  • 1967: LDS apologist Hugh Nibley–a man with NO training in Egyptian linguistics, takes a crash course under John Wilson and Klaus Baer in an attempt to learn enough to do some translating.
  • 1968: The LDS publication Improvement Era publishes an article containing color reproductions of a fragment that had been in the LDS archives since 1908.
  • 1968: Egyptian linguist Klaus Baer confirms that the Egyptian papyri that Michael Chandler sold to Joseph Smith were in fact part of an Egyptian embalming manual. They were not written by Abraham.

In fact, even as far back as 1856, an Egyptologist at the Louvre noted that there were several lacunae (missing portions) in the papyri, and that the attempts by Joseph Smith to fill them in were simply fueled by Smith’s imagination, and were nothing more than guesses.

So, where does that bring us? It brings us to the argument that FAIR is making, that even though we do not have the original text of the Book of Abraham (just like we don’t have the gold plates of the Book of Mormon, reformed Egyptian has neveer been heard, etc), we should believe the BOA is a sacred text, as much from God as the Bible–even though it was nothing more than a page in an Egyptian–a PAGAN Egyptian–funerary manual.

Well, just how good of an Egyptian linguist was our good “prophet?” Let’s talk to the experts (via Wikipedia):

Egyptologist Dr. James H. Breasted, of the University of Chicago noted:

“… these three facsimiles of Egyptian documents in the ‘Pearl of Great Price’ depict the most common objects in the Mortuary religion of Egypt. Joseph Smith’s interpretations of them as part of a unique revelation through Abraham, therefore, very clearly demonstrates that he was totally unacquainted with the significance of these documents and absolutely ignorant of the simplest facts of Egyptian writing and civilization.”
Dr. W.M. Flinders Petrie of London University wrote:

 

 

“It may be safely said that there is not one single word that is true in these explanations”
Dr. A.H. Sayce, Oxford professor of Egyptology,

“It is difficult to deal seriously with Joseph Smith’s impudent fraud…. Smith has turned the Goddess [in Facsimile No. 1] into a king and Osiris into Abraham.”
Egyptologist Theodule Deveria also noted that portions of Facsimile 1 appeared to be incorrect, based on comparison with other similar Egyptian vignettes, and suspected that they had been reconstructed from lacunae in the original papyri. The papyri containing Facsimile 1 is acknowledged by Egyptologists to be a version of The Book of Breathings.

Granted, these men are more than likely humanistic scientists. And, granted, they didn’t have a peep stone so they could stick the papyrus in a hat and read what it said. But they are experts at deciphering hieroglyphics and interpreting Egyptian characters. And, once again, we have another reason why one should not believe the Book of Abraham to be true.

 

For a more in-depth discussion of this “Book of Abraham,” the Institute for Religious Research has put together the following video, “The Lost Book of Abraham.” It’s about an hour long, but if you’ve got time, and you’re interested, it’s worth it.

50 Answers to 50 Mormon Answers to 50 Anti-Mormon Questions (answer 20)

Tower To Truth Question:

20. Since the word grace means a free gift that can’t be earned, why does the Book of Mormon state “for we know that it is by grace that we are saved, after all we can do.” (2_Ne. 25:23)

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FAIR Answer:

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints believes the same thing about grace that the earliest Christians believed. Modern Protestant ideas are different from earlier teachings, which is fine, but it doesn’t make Mormon ideas “false” if we agree with how the earliest followers of Jesus saw the matter.

One Evangelical Christian author wrote of his sudden discovery that his previous beliefs about salvation were very different from those held by the early Christians:

If there’s any single doctrine that we would expect to find the faithful associates of the apostles teaching, it’s the doctrine of salvation by faith alone. After all, that is the cornerstone doctrine of the Reformation. In fact, we frequently say that persons who don’t hold to this doctrine aren’t really Christians…

Our problem is that Augustine, Luther, and other Western theologians have convinced us that there’s an irreconcilable conflict between salvation based on grace and salvation conditioned on works or obedience. They have used a fallacious form of argumentation known as the “false dilemma,” by asserting that there are only two possibilities regarding salvation: it’s either (1) a gift from God or (2) it’s something we earn by our works.

The early Christians [and the Latter-day Saints!] would have replied that a gift is no less a gift simply because it’s conditioned on obedience….

The early Christians believed that salvation is a gift from God but that God gives His gift to whomever He chooses. And He chooses to give it to those who love and obey him.

—David W. Bercot, Will The Real Heretics Please Stand Up: A New Look at Today’s Evangelical Church in the Light of Early Christianity, 3rd edition, (Tyler, Texas: Scroll Publishing Company, 1999[1989]), 57, 61–62. ISBN 0924722002.

The Latter-day Saints are pleased to be in the company of the earliest Christians. And, the LDS cannot be excluded as Christians because they have not embraced the modified doctrines adopted later.

Further, the phrase “after all we can do” must be interpreted in light of other Book of Mormon passages which define “all we can do” as repentance and being forgiven of sin and cleansed of guilt (see Alma 24:10-12).

Elder Dallin H. Oaks, on of the present day apostles, spoke on these issues and doctrines thoroughly:

Dallin H. Oaks, “Have You Been Saved?,” Ensign (May 1998): 55. off-site
To learn more:

Grace wiki articles
Does the Church neglect the doctrine of grace?
Early Christian views on salvation
Relationship between works and grace [needs work]
Salvation by faith alone
Unforgivable sin

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My Response:

This is one of the core issues that separates the LDS system from true followers of Christ–the same question asked by the Philippian jailer in Acts 16:30“What must I do to be saved?” So, what is the answer to that question? Well, the LDS believe that the Bible–and the Ante-Nicene Fathers–taught salvation by works. This is a total misinterpretation of what has been written. Good works are the mark of a true believer, and as James said, faith without works is dead (James 2:20). But we are not saved by our works.

And by appealing to the Early Church Fathers, they once again take the focus off of what the Bible says. We will address the word of God in a moment, but let’s just look at some of the quotes listed at the link entitled “Early Christian views on salvation.” First, the first quote from Justin Martyr, a quote that is taken so far out of context it may never find its way back:

Justin Martyr (110-165 A.D.) said “works deliverance from death to those who repent of their wickedness and believe upon Him.” (Ante-Nicene Fathers 1:249, chap 100, Dialogue with Trypho)

Let’s look at the ENTIRE quote:

And by her has He been born, to whom we have proved so many Scriptures refer, and by whom God destroys both the serpent and those angels and men who are like him; but works deliverance from death to those who repent of their wickedness and believe upon Him.” (Justin Martyr, Dialogue with Trypho 100)

This is just one more way that FAIR continues to lose crdibility. If they are going to quote someone, at least quote them fairly (pun intended). But nah, they would just rather find a quote with the words “work” and “salvation” and throw it to people who won’t take the time to do research about the actual quote. Because, after all, it’s us “anti-Mormons” who are the liars. Well, here, Justin was talking about Mary, who as a virgin conceived the body of Jesus by the Holy Ghost. This Jesus is the one who “works deliverence…” Next quote from Justin:

“by our works also to be found good citizens and keepers of the commandments, so that we may be saved with an everlasting salvation.” (Ante-Nicene Fathers 1:185, chap. 65, First Apology of Justin)

But Justin is not talking about being saved by our works. He is emphasizing the point made by James in James 2:20 (quoted above) and by Peter in 2nd Peter 1:10Wherefore the rather, brethren, give diligence to make your calling and election sure: for if ye do these things, ye shall never fall. In other words, show the world that you are saved, and do the good works that remind you of the salvation brought to you by Christ Jesus.

The other quotes they use, from such men as Irenaeus, Clement of Alexandria, and Theophilus, are of the same type. They are not saying that we are saved by our works, but that doing good works proves that we are saved. You see, salvation by faith does not just mean “I believe the facts.” And that’s what James says when he writes You believe there is one God? You do well! Even the demons believe and tremble (James 2:19).

Let’s look at the word “salvation.” To Christians, this is a term that refers to our being forgiven of our sins, and having, even now, eternal life with Christ. But what do the LDS believe about “salvation?” Well, they have a very different view of what salvation is than do Christians.

See, the LDS teach that all people will be resurrected, and their spirit, soul, and body reunited after death. This was made possible by Christ’s work, which they believe began in Gethsemane and was finished on the Cross. But when the Mormon talks about salvation, they really mean “exaltation”–receiving the highest glory in the highest “Celestial” kingdom. This they receive because of their works. The more works they do, the more points they earn, and the closer to “exaltation” they get. So, contrary to FAIR’s above claim, they are NOT “in the company of the earliest Christians.”

So, what does the Bible say about “salvation by works?” Well, if you go to a Southern Baptist church, you have no doubt had Ephesians 2:8-9 stamped into your forehead. By grace you have been saved through faith and that is not of yourselves, it is the gift of God, and not of works lest any man should boast. But see, FAIR sidesteps the whole issue of what exactly grace is. Which is what they do with all of their “answers.” They do not address the issue directly, but rather (a) smear God or his prophets, or they will (b) send people down a side road that has nothing to do with the issue at hand.

So, what is the sequence? Well, first, when we are born, we are born into sin. And it is only by being quickened by the Holy Spirit that we can see that. Ephesians 2:1-31 And you He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins, 2 in which you once walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience, 3 among whom also we all once conducted ourselves in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, just as the others. We were dead. Our spirit was dead to God. And only HE can bring it to life, because we were too busy chasing the things of this world.

Why? Because we are sinful creatures. Romans 5:12Therefore, just as through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men, because all sinned. Romans 3:10, 23There is none righteous, no, not one…for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. So, how are we justified? Well, we find the answer in the very next verse. Romans 3:24being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus. In fact, go through the entire New Testament. Try and find one place where it says that it is our works that save us. Nah, don’t bother. You won’t find it.

So, what is grace? Grace is this: God created everything, gave Adam everything he would ever need, but Adam wanted more. He wanted to be like God–in fact, wanted to BE GOD–and he rebelled against God’s command, plunging all of humanity into sin. Thus, we are all born as sinful, rebellious creatures who have no desire to know God. But God, because of His GRACE, sent His Son to pay the penalty and the debt that we owed, so that all who accept that sacrifice will be forgiven of their sins, and will be accepted in the Beloved (Ephesians 1:6). We are saved by the grace of God, through our faith in Christ–not because we somehow “earn” that grace, nor is it conditioned on anything we can do. We only repent because God gives us the ability to do so.

Finally, let’s look at the Mormon idea of “grace.” In the LDS teaching manual “Gospel Principles,” they talk about a man who owed a great debt, which was paid by another who gave him an eternity to repay him. Elder Boyd K. Packer related a “parable” about this refinancing in Gospel Principles, pp. 75-77.

But let me tell you the way it really is: You see, to a Mormon, grace is nothing more than Financial Aid. God stands far away, and says, “You have a debt to pay. You pay off as much of it as you can, and I’ll make up the difference.” But that’s not how it is. Salvation by the grace of God means this: That we owed a debt–A 3 BILLION DOLLAR DEBT–and there was no way we could even begin to pay it with our own righteousness. Because the little trinkets of our “good deeds” are nothing more than filhty rags (Isaiah 64:6). No, my frined, God does not command us to “do good works,” and then promise to save us “after we have done all that we can do.” He pays off the debt completely, wiping it out with the blood of Christ.

Tetelestai!