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Challenging Issues, Keeping the Faith: Geographical inconsistencies in Great Lakes model

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  • Vanka Provo, UT
    Jan. 21, 2011 6:19 p.m.

    Nowhere in the Temple Recommend interview do they ask or do you have to answer any questions regarding your beliefs about the Book of Mormon.

    Now doesn't that strike anyone as peculiar, considering the BOM is supposed to be "the keystone" of the LDS religion?

  • OprahwindFury Clinton, UT
    Jan. 21, 2011 1:48 p.m.

    Jeff,

    You might be suprised, but I had my temple recommend interview last week and I told my Stake President that I just couldn't accept the Book of Mormon as an actual historic record of an actual ancient people, but that I appreciated the good parts of the Book and try every single day to follow the Savior's example.

    The Stake Pres. told me that it is NOT a requirement to believe the Book is an actual history for a temple recommend. This made me feel so much better and relieved. If it isn't a requirement for temple work, then it isn't a requirement for Heaven.

  • BoomerJeff Saint George, UT
    Jan. 21, 2011 1:24 p.m.

    The article and all the comments really stengthen my faith in the truth of the Book of Mormon. (sigh). Stay focused on what the Book of Mormon says about the "promised land"- (ie the land the Nephites occupied) in our day, for answers. It will be a land of liberty with no kings. It will be rich and people of all nations will want to go there. the gospel will be restored on it. a white race will dwell on it. Hmmmm, maybe it is the great lakes area after all???

  • OprahwindFury Clinton, UT
    Jan. 21, 2011 11:21 a.m.

    Boise and Waikiki,

    Very good and interesting points about applying the same standard to ancient and modern prophets. I agree that the same standard would apply. This leaves us all in a quandry about how to treat the teachings in the B.O.M. since the B.O.M. is also mainly just opinion and subject to changes and reinterpretation and revisionist history by apologists. My solution is just to use your common sense and personal revelation on what to follow in your life.

  • Jeff Temple City, CA
    Jan. 20, 2011 4:06 p.m.

    At "BoiseSuperBlue":

    You use, as evidence that the Book of Mormon is "nothing more than mere opinion" a few things that actually do more to support the idea that there is nothing "mere" about it.

    First, you ask "why all the many thousands of changes"? If you look carefully, you will see that what you consider changes are a concerted effort to ensure that the text is readable and fully understandable. A recent textual change that comes to mind is when the word "white" was changed to "pure" in an effort to avoid the racial connotation that clouded the meaning. It was done openly; the explanation was done openly; the meaning was made clear; and the membership voted on it. It was not lightly done.

    "Why the incorrect Introduction Page"? The Introduction page is not scripture.

    "Why the changes in the Book of Mormon just two weeks ago"? See my answer above.

    "Why is it okay for apologists to change meanings of many parts of the book"? Is it? I don't think apologists are able to do anything other than express their own opinions and try to prove them from the text. We are not accountable to them.

  • Michael_M Scottsbluff, NE
    Jan. 20, 2011 11:48 a.m.

    The Deseret News, Church News Editorial page on July 29, 1979 had some interesting things to say that are applicable right now.

    "Efforts to pinpoint certain places from what is written in the book are fruitless because the record does not give evidence of such locations in terms of our modern geography."

    "...to raise doubts in people's minds about the location of the Hill Cumorah, and thus challenge the words of the prophets concerning the place where Moroni buried the records, is most certainly harmful. And who has the right to raise doubts in anyone's mind?"

    "...theories concerning the geography of the Book of Mormon can most certainly undermine faith if allowed to run rampant."

    "Why not leave hidden the things that the Lord has hidden? If He wants the geography of the Book of Mormon revealed, He will do so through His prophet, and not through some writer who wishes to enlighten the world despite his utter lack of inspiration on the point."

    So I ask, why haven't we heard from the prophet about this? Why are we hearing so much from Michael Ash?

  • Vanka Provo, UT
    Jan. 19, 2011 7:31 p.m.

    If I have read these comments correctly, LDS apologists have claimed that their prophets are allowed to be wrong, make errors, have personal opinions, and make mistakes. Despite this, they are still considered to be true prophets.

    But when the early Church Fathers were wrong, made errors and mistakes, and expressed their personal opinions, LDS cry out "Apostasy!" and insist that these corrupt, abomination early Church leaders lost the authority, and it had to be "Restored".

    Hmmmm... I guess you all must have a different interpretation of the word "hypocrisy"?

    Please enlighten me.

  • sharrona layton, Ut
    Jan. 19, 2011 5:07 p.m.

    JM: "God still speaks through Prophets having opinions. We still fault them, justifying rejecting repentance". For good reason.
    How about some original prophecy, or revelation that does not contradict Paul, as Mormonism does.
    For prophecy never had its origin in the will of man but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.(2 Peter 1:21)

    Our dear brother Paul also wrote with the wisdom that God gave him, He writes in the same way in all his letters contain some things that are hard to understand, Which ignorant and distort as they do the other Scriptures to their own destruction..(2 Peter 3:16,17) Peter placed Pauls writing on the same level of authority God-breathed as the writings of the O.T.(2 Tim 3:15,16)

  • BoiseSuperBlue Twin Falls, ID
    Jan. 19, 2011 4:44 p.m.

    Jeff,

    I completely disagree with your "opinions" on The Book of Mormon. If, as you say, "God has put his stamp of approval" then why all the many thousands of changes, why the incorrect Introduction Page, why the changes in the Book of Mormon just two weeks ago, why is it okay for apologists to change meanings of many parts of the book, etc. It is clear that most, if not all of what our modern prophets and ancient prophets have taught are nothing more than just mere opinion.

  • Jeff Temple City, CA
    Jan. 19, 2011 4:29 p.m.

    The "opinions" expressed in the Book of Mormon are in a special category.

    1. The Book of Mormon was translated miraculously.

    2. God has put His stamp of approval on the translation.

    3. The manuscripts of the translation have been casrefully edited, and the resulting edits have been approved by both leaders and other members of the Church.

    4. Changes to the manuscript are done periodically to account for changes in the prevailing vernacular, and such changes are done publicly and accepted by the Church.

    This is not a text that the membership of the Church may lightly pass over. It may not be lightly dismissed as unhistorical or full of opinions.

    This isn't to say that we always understand exactly what it is saying, but we are expected to try to understand it, to pray to know that it's true, and to live by the principle tenets of its teachings.

  • Utes Fan Salt Lake City, UT
    Jan. 19, 2011 3:10 p.m.

    @Waikiki Ga

    "If you claim (like Michael Ash) that the Prophets and various leaders of our Church speak mostly opinion then you have to apply that standard to the ancient prophets as well. It is safe to assume that most, if not everything, in the Book of Mormon is just opinion, and nothing more."

    Your words are a stretch and distortion.

    Ash is NOT saying that leaders of our Church MOSTLY speak opinion. He has stated, as far as I read it, that in the absence of clear revelation and a clear Church position on "secular" or non-Spiritual matters such as BOM geography, then words by past Church leaders can be accepted as opinion.

    That HARDLY means that most of what the BOM says is opinion.

  • BoiseSuperBlue Twin Falls, ID
    Jan. 19, 2011 3:08 p.m.

    Waikiki Gal,

    Thanks. I remember my trip to Playa Del Carmen last year and going to Tulum, Chichen itza, Ek Balam, Coba, Xel-Ha and seeing all of the Mayan writing on all of the ruins. A tour guide informed me that there are over a million recorded Maya hieroglyphs on thousands of discovered Mayan cities and that they can all be read and understood now that the Mayan Code has been cracked.

    In all of those millions of hieroglyphs that can now be read and understood one can find a detailed description of the history of those cities, their culture, kings, their daily lives, but there is no mention of anything remotely associated with the Book of Mormon in all of those thousands of cities. It must be disheartening.

  • Northern Lights Louisville, KY
    Jan. 19, 2011 2:43 p.m.

    Waikiki,

    Are you referring to the three surviving Mayan editions of the "Astronomer's Almanac" or other Mayan books which I'm unaware of? I thought that nearly all of the Mayan books that survived into the 1500s were burned by Spanish Priests. While I heard that some of the Mayan characters had been deciphered, I didn't realize there was anything significant in terms of Mayan history left to decipher.

    Would appreciate if you would clarify your remark.

  • Mormoncowboy Provo, Ut
    Jan. 19, 2011 2:18 p.m.

    Waikiki Gal:

    You have a lot to learn (Sarcasm). Joseph Smith never said that the Mayan's were direct descendants of the BoM peoples. Instead, artists and other "Church leaders" have simply implied that as their opinion. In reality they existed somewhere near or on the North, Central, or South American continents, excluding Baja and the Great Lakes areas. More than likely they lived in a very small are like El Dorado, or "limited geography" for the lay man (laman=lay man, hmm...), and had little influence on exporting their culture or artifacts to the Asiatic non-Hebrew Indians who also inhabited the surrounding areas. However, they did breed, meaning the Hebrew Indians with the non-Hebrew. So, as of right now, they are just waiting to be found.

    If you have been paying attention, Mr. Ash has been setting us up for the obvious, by listing all of the places where the Book of Mormon peoples could not have lived, and why associated theories are therefore wrong. He plans on surprising us with the obvious, that all theories are wrong because in reality, none of those "events" ever occurred anywhere. That's my guess.

  • Waikiki Gal Waimanalo, HI
    Jan. 19, 2011 1:37 p.m.

    JM,

    The Mayan written language has now been cracked and can be read. It contains a detailed history of hundreds of cities, their kings, their reigns, their kingdoms and dates prior to Christ and continued thought the same time the Book of Mormon events were suppose to be happening in America. The written history given by the Mayans is distinctly different then the history of the Book of Mormon. In addition, its history does not mention anything about Christ coming to America nor anything about a white race of people, Christians, horses, steel, chariots, etc. Furthermore, the Mayan written history extends beyond the end of the supposed ending of the Book of Mormon, which states that the dark Lamanites were not capable of reading, writing or recording their own history. Someone forgot to tell the Mayans that not only were they not supposed to read and write for over 1,000 years, but they were suppose to stop reading and writing at the end of Smiths Book of Mormon.

  • Waikiki Gal Waimanalo, HI
    Jan. 19, 2011 1:20 p.m.

    Boise said,
    "If we have learned one thing from these articles it is that language and meaning of the Book of Mormon can change and be interpreted many different ways. For example, in previous articles millions can mean thousands, steel can mean wood, horses can mean tapirs and the Tower of Babel really wasn't literal. Previous articles have argued that most of what our prophets, apostles and general authorities have taught is just personal opinion. If this is true for our modern leaders, then wouldn't this hold true to the ancient prophets of the Book of Mormon? I think if we take these articles to their logical conclusion, then we have to be open to the fact that most if not everything the Book of Mormon prophets taught is just their personal opinion."

    Very good comment. I agree with this assessment. If you claim (like Michael Ash) that the Prophets and various leaders of our Church speak mostly opinion then you have to apply that standard to the ancient prophets as well. It is safe to assume that most, if not everything, in the Book of Mormon is just opinion, and nothing more.

  • Jeff Temple City, CA
    Jan. 19, 2011 12:46 p.m.

    I have been asked what I mean by saying that Latter-day Saints believe they are "held accountable" for the most recent General Conference.

    I know it's a cop-out, but I can't figure out an easy way to explain "held accountable." I have resisted the urge to bring accountability up because I have strong opinions about it, and I'm not sure I can support them all with scripture, so I often stay quiet.

    Let me put it this way, with the disclaimer that I am only trying my best to express what I observe that Latter-day Saints believe about accountability and General Conference:

    It seems to me that we are taught that God speaks through the current prophet and other general authorities (under the prophet's authority) in ways that are helpful to us contemporaneously. If we follow what is said to the best of our understanding, we will be blessed. If we ignore what is said or willfully refuse to understand it, we will not be blessed. If it is wrong, and it matters in an eternal way, and the prophet does not correct it, then he will be responsible.

  • cmtam lake forest, ca
    Jan. 19, 2011 11:24 a.m.

    Rab: "Here is the reality. The truth is revealed to each individual through the spirit." Reality check,
    Mormon Apostle Orson Pratt agreed with his contemporaries when he wrote "One thing is certain, that there were several holy women that greatly loved Jesus -- such as Mary, and Martha her sister, and Mary Magdalene; and Jesus greatly loved them, If all the acts of Jesus were written, we no doubt should learn that these beloved women were His wives" (The Seer, p.159).

    On July 22, 1883, Wilford Woodruff recorded the words of Joseph F. Smith in his journal. At the time Woodruff was an LDS apostle while Smith was a member of the First Presidency serving as second counselor to President John Taylor. Woodruff wrote, "Evening Meeting. Prayer By E Stephenson. Joseph F Smith spoke One hour & 25 M. He spoke upon the Marriage in Cana at Galilee. He thought Jesus was the Bridegroom and Mary & Martha the brides" (Wilford Woodruff's Journal 8:187, July 22, 1883.

  • JM Lehi, UT
    Jan. 19, 2011 11:17 a.m.

    Enjoyed excellent responses:

    The BoM is proven miraculous.

    Clarifications dont equal erroneous. -ie Joseph directly translated ancient white, began clarifying as light, Church finished; multiple unscriptural intros; principal was misread as Laman only ancestor etc

    Suppose human mistakes exist; Wisdom wouldnt criticize& disbelieve everything Einstein because he progressed. The honorable question their own methods when failing to see light bend, rather than dishonestly blinding millions of successful experimenters.

    True, Peter etc changed doctrines, believed false ideas on science, race, Jesus mission etc. Yet, what true Christian would dismiss everything JS, Peter, etc for mistakes; supplanting with "trust in flesh and blood historical proof only," rather than trusting our loving revelatory Father?

    God still speaks through Prophets having opinions. We still fault them, justifying rejecting repentance.



    @searching, google: Tiamat; Tlaltecuhtli (Anne Key good); both sea, divided, eyes rivers; etc. I still have specific? references.

    @Boise, speaking of misinterpreting...?? ; )

    @cmtman: answered repeats; Allen explains opinions arent doctrine (even correct opinions, scriptural opinions, JOD), you insist they are?

    Grace saves.
    Many disobedient say Lord Lord, claiming unjust random salvation (without action or change).

    Jesus exalted, Man.
    Hearers are participants (oneness) and called godsJohn10.

    LDS still closest to ancient Christianity : )

    His arms are open... : )

  • RAB Bountiful, UT
    Jan. 19, 2011 9:46 a.m.

    For some reason, reading through all these posts feels like crawling through the mud.

    Here is the reality. The truth is revealed to each individual through the spirit. That is the only way to know when a prophet's words are inspired verses mere opinion. Otherwise, even the clearest of the most official of church doctrines can be misinterpreted.

  • BoiseSuperBlue Twin Falls, ID
    Jan. 19, 2011 9:30 a.m.

    Bill,

    If we have learned one thing from these articles it is that language and meaning of the Book of Mormon can change and be interpreted many different ways. For example, in previous articles millions can mean thousands, steel can mean wood, horses can mean tapirs and the Tower of Babel really wasn't literal. Previous articles have argued that most of what our prophets, apostles and general authorities have taught is just personal opinion. If this is true for our modern leaders, then wouldn't this hold true to the ancient prophets of the Book of Mormon? I think if we take these articles to their logical conclusion, then we have to be open to the fact that most if not everything the Book of Mormon prophets taught is just their personal opinion.

  • BoiseSuperBlue Twin Falls, ID
    Jan. 18, 2011 7:46 p.m.

    Bill,

    I disagree with your interpretation of those Book of Mormon verses. If these articles have taught us anything it's that Book of Mormon verses are subject to many different interpretations. These articles have also taught us that most of what prophets have taught us are just opinion and nothing more. Who is to say that the prophets in the Book of Mormon were just giving us their own personal opinions and nothing more? Why are the Book of Mormon prophets any different than our modern day prophets? It's all just their personal opinions like Michael Ash has taught.

  • cmtam lake forest, ca
    Jan. 18, 2011 5:36 p.m.

    Allen, The LDS church does not teach Christ was married during his mortal life (your #8). Please, don't elevate their opinions to the level of church doctrine. Are you sure?

    A belief in the doctrine of a plurality of wives caused the persecution of Jesus and his follower, We could almost say they were Mormons. J. M. Grant (JOD,1853).
    We say Jesus Christ who was married.(at Cana) Orson Hyde (JoD,1854,1857) and several more.

    2. Eternal life is not a free gift and not earned. People have to accept Christ and repent in order to receive his gift of the Atonement.
    He saved us not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy, He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit (pneuma or Ghost)same word in Greek (Titus 3:5). It does not depend on mans desire or effort but on Gods mercy.(Romans 9:16). You must be born again (anothen, from God above,)(John 3:7). Grace(Salvation) is an unmerited and free gift from God. The only thing Christians add to their salvation is sin.

  • Idaho Coug Meridian, Idaho
    Jan. 18, 2011 1:53 p.m.

    To cmtam,

    I appreciate that you have a certain view of the Bible. But one thing is absolutely certain for me. God will not negate our intentions here on this earth due to potentially incorrect interpretations. I believe he will look at intent and our hearts.

    It is interesting that you judge Mormons for having what you view as an incorrect understadning of the scriptures. Some Mormons likewise think your understanding is incorrect and therefore see you on the wrong path. Others see both on the wrong path.

    The irony is that I do not think God will judge ANYONE'S personal interpretations despite the time and effort we put into judging each other's.

  • Allen Salt Lake valley, UT
    Jan. 18, 2011 12:23 p.m.

    @cmtam "The Biblical Christian faith differs from the LDS Religion"

    I don't think anyone can say what the Biblical Christian faith is. The Bible is so ambiguous and open to interpretation that what one person will say is the Biblical faith, another person will disagree.

    I'm guessing, cmtam, that what you're saying is that the traditional Christian faith, as defined by Catholic leaders during the early years of Christianity, differs from Mormonism. I agree that traditional Christian beliefs disagree with Mormonism. LDS believe an apostasy occurred after the time of the Apostles and that many of the traditional Christian beliefs are not the teachings that Jesus gave to the people and to his apostles. An example is your #2. Eternal life is not a free gift and not earned. People have to accept Christ and repent in order to receive his gift of the Atonement. By the way, the LDS church does not teach Christ was married during his mortal life (your #8). Many Mormons believe he was, and they are welcome to have any opinions about this that they want. Just, please, don't elevate their opinions to the level of church doctrine.

  • Bill in Nebraska Maryville, MO
    Jan. 18, 2011 12:16 p.m.

    To Otis: I apologize for not answering your question earlier.

    Nephi states: "And if they are not the words of Christ, judge ye - for Christ will show unto you, with power and great glory, that they are his words, at the last day; and you and I shall stand face to face before his bar; and ye shall know that I have been commanded of him to write these things, notwithstanding my weakness".

    Moroni states: "And I exhort you to remember these things; for the time speedily cometh that ye shall know that I lie not, for ye shall see me at the bar of God; and the Lord God will say unto you: Did I not declare my words unto you, which were written by this man, like as one crying from the dead, yea, even as one speaking from the dust".

    Both of these are talking of the entire Book of Mormon not just the precepts so yes, Jesus Christ does care that we understand the Book of Mormon to be historical. If it is not then it is just another book but it is not. It is the word of God to us and for these days.

  • cmtam lake forest, ca
    Jan. 18, 2011 11:47 a.m.

    Idaho Coug: Call me a Cafeteria Mormon (actually I am comfortable with thattitle). But as long as my menu choices consist primarily of the Savior and His Atonement I think I am on the right track! ???

    The Biblical Christian faith differs from LDS Religion: 1 .God becomes man not man becomes God 2. Eternal life is a free gift not earned. 3. The parable that refutes Joseph Smith as a prophet 4. First the natural, afterward the spiritual. 5. Man never pre-existed, only Jesus did. 6. Born again by the Spirit then Baptism. 7. Jesus created Lucifer, is not the spirit brother. 8. Jesus is unmarried.
    Their many more but Mormonism denies all the essentials of the Christian faith.

    Holy Scripture versus LDS doctrines.

  • Allen Salt Lake valley, UT
    Jan. 18, 2011 11:28 a.m.

    It seems like we're talking about three things: principles, practices/policies, and personal opinion.

    Principles don't change. Examples are faith and the need for repentance. Practices/policies change since they are geared to particular needs of particular people. Personal opinions change because we're all different and have different views about things not clearly explained by the Lord.

    We need to be sure we understand which of the three things we're talking about. Practices/policies are based on principles and are set by the church. Personal opinions are not set by the church.

    Tithing and fast offerings are practices since they will eventually be replaced by the Law of Consecration. Temple marriage is a practice since a disaster could destroy all of our Temples and the sacred marriage ceremonies might be performed in temporary buildings while new Temples are constructed. Polygamy is a practice that was in effect in the 19th century but isn't today. The principle upon which Temple Marriages and polygamy are based is eternal marriage.

  • Mormoncowboy Provo, Ut
    Jan. 18, 2011 10:55 a.m.

    Alberta Reader: Yes I have looked into Nahom, have you? You are referring, I think, to the old world connection to the tribal location of NHM located near Yemen, which some Mormon scholars have speculated as the location Nahom, mentioned in The Book of Mormon as the place where Ishmael was buried and his daughters mourned. I have and will acknoweldge that if there is anything extra-scriptural that could be plausibly connected to The Book of Mormon, then this is it. Unfortunately, the jury is still out, and Nahmo/NHM as evidence, is far from conclusive. There are a myriad of alternative explanations for Nahom that have nothing to do with The Book of Mormon, so at this point it isn't proof.

    Bill in Nebraska:

    You must be confusing me with an Evangelical Christian. I have no reason to believe that Moses ever parted the Red Sea, or that Jesus was resurrected. Your attempt is therefore a false dichotomy, by trying to frame my objections as the standard Christian vs. Mormon debate. For the record, all religious superstitious thinking is suspect in my mind. In other words, yes proof does matter.

  • Mormon in Michigan Detroit, MI
    Jan. 18, 2011 10:11 a.m.

    Jeff, Allen, Otis and Bill,

    If you look at the definition of official doctrine then tithing, attendance at church, temple marriage, and others are not doctrine, but polygamy would still be official doctrine on hiatus. I think many people feel that by discounting much of what our prophets and leaders have taught as personal opinion it actually diminishes the prophetic mantle. This type of thinking would have been grounds for excommunication 10 years ago. I think this change is probably a good thing.

  • Idaho Coug Meridian, Idaho
    Jan. 18, 2011 9:56 a.m.

    There is a central theme to Joseph Smith's earliest translations and revelations. Both the BofM and his work of restoring the Old Testament through the Book of Moses had a very obvious theme.

    That theme was to restore the knowledge that all that took place from the beginning of OT history was to prepare the way for the Savior. Joseph Smith overtly inserts Jesus Christ into the life and teachings of Moses and Enoch in the Book of Moses. It is central to the teachings of Lehi as a contemporary of Jeremiah warning the people in Jerusalem. And is highlighted in Christ's visit throughout Third Nephi. Joseph Smith Christianized the Old Testament.

    I can easily find myself confused and even a bit negative when I take my eye off of the Savior and His Atonement. It helps me to remain focused on the Atonement and learning all I can about the Savior. The rest is window dressing to me for now.

    Call me a Cafeteria Mormon (actually I am comfortable with that title). But as long as my menu choices consist primarily of the Savior and His Atonement I think I am on the right track!

  • Idaho Coug Meridian, Idaho
    Jan. 18, 2011 9:44 a.m.

    Jeff, you responded to the "cafeteria mormon" or picking and choosing comments. I have certainly made some of these comments in the past so I thought I would respond.

    I think if you look at prophet/apostle statements as a whole from JS to TM, there has been quite a bit of change in perspective or guidance about a number of issues. There is no question in my mind that the church (including doctrine, policy, practice, etc.) has evolved over time. Things were not revealed to JS in a nice, neat package that has remained consistent from day one. It was more of an "unfolding restoration" to the early leaders.

    The point is that God certainly allows his leaders to speculate and make their own decisions on many things. Can that be a bit confusing? Yes - and I think it partially can be because so many were raised in the church to believe prophet/apostle statements were almost always a form of revelation. I think today we know much was and is (sound) opinion.

    I appreciate that this is not confusing for you. But I think it doesn't hurt to acknowledge that it legitimately can be for some.

  • Allen Salt Lake valley, UT
    Jan. 18, 2011 9:26 a.m.

    @otis

    I believe the Savior does care that we believe the BoM did actually take place. LDS leaders, beginning with JS and continuing to President Monson, have made it clear that the events in the BoM did happen. What is not clear is where those events occurred. You're right that historians and archeologists do not have direct evidence of the BoM, but LDS leaders have been consistent that the events did actually occur somewhere. You're right that the Lord hasn't revealed the "where" of the BoM to his leaders, but that does not imply that the Savior doesn't care whether or not the BoM is historical. Your statement that "It's clear that the Savior could care less about whether or not we believe the BoM is historical. It is not important to Him in the least" should be modified to refer to the Lord not giving revelations about precise locations, not to whether the BoM is historical or not. The LDS church teaches the BoM is historical but it does not teach the "where" of the BoM events.

  • Allen Salt Lake valley, UT
    Jan. 18, 2011 9:13 a.m.

    @cafeteria Mormon

    Otis and others make a big jump in logic that I don't understand. They go from LDS having different opinions about geography of the BoM to LDS being able to pick and choose about everything about the church. Ash clearly explained that there is no revelation about the geography of the BoM and we thus are free to discuss the geography of the BoM and form our own opinions. I don't understand how they go from that to our being able to pick and choose about all doctrine of the church because LDS leaders don't speak for God in ALL things. Of course, we have our agency and can pick and choose what we want to accept, but that freedom comes from our agency and not from the prophets of the church not being consistent in spiritual matters. I believe the LDS leaders are very consistent about spiritual matters, about how we should live our lives, and about how we can come to Christ. As GA have said, their mission is the spiritual salvation of people; they leave science to the scientists (and by implication history to the historians).

  • Otis Spurlock Ogden, UT
    Jan. 18, 2011 9:04 a.m.

    Bill in Nebraska,

    You still haven't answered my question.

    Once again, why would the Savior care in the least whether we believed the BoM actually took place? If it was really important to the Savior then why did He allow his Apostles and Prophets to give the Church erroneous teachings regarding the events, geography and people of the BoM for the last 170 years? Why did He allow an erroneous Introduction Page to the BoM, etc. etc?

    It's clear that the Savior could care less about whether or not we believe the BoM is historical. It is not important to Him in the least, and it certainly should not be important to us either.

  • sharrona layton, Ut
    Jan. 18, 2011 8:18 a.m.

    Bill in Nebraska: Faith is the belief that what is not seen is true. You have faith that when you turn on a light switch it will produce light. When it is proven over and over again to happen?
    That analogy works for Buddhists, Hindus or even an atheists.
    By faith we understand that the worlds(aion=time)was formed at Gods command, so that what is seen was not made out of what was visible (Hebrews 11:3 and JST) God created time. An explicit statement of ex nihlio.
    Thou believiest that there is One God; thou doest well: the devils believe, and tremble. (James 2:19) Demons believe in One God(not gods) but they do not trust in the One God of the Bible.

  • Bill in Nebraska Maryville, MO
    Jan. 18, 2011 6:17 a.m.

    To Otis and Mormoncowboy:

    Yes, it is important to know that it took place but not where. Do you know where the Red Sea was divided? Do you know where Sodom and Gomorroh is? Do you know where exactly in Bethlem the Christ was born? Do you know where his body was buried?

    If you answer yes, then you are better than most scientist are. They have proven that the events could have taken place, not that they actually did. Yet, many consider that historical.

    To Sharrona: There is no shaky ground except for the non-believer. Faith is the belief that what is not seen is true. You have faith that when you turn on a light switch it will produce light. When it is proven over and over again to happen then YOU KNOW IT WILL HAPPEN. The same is with faith that when the same answer comes again and again then it is true and YOU KNOW IT. Pure knowledge comes only and by the Holy Ghost. You put your faith in man where I put my faith in God. Whose stands truer?

  • JM Lehi, UT
    Jan. 18, 2011 1:35 a.m.

    Im not sure what articles critics read but seems Mike compared known BoM revelation to GL theory, JS revelation trumped theory, and BoM is miraculously accurate. Soooo?

    Some gods might not allow prophets to think, theorize, or error, but the Living God always has.

    JS makes two things clear:
    1 he had no precise location revelation.
    2 so he uncertainly theorized on geography and felt BoM places included Mesoamerica.

    He was probably correct there.

    And critics stress again?

    First, know Jesus of the Bible/BoM...

    ...everything else is details.

    @searching, thanks for kindness. I know no article, but have references from reading (Mayan stuff from Schele etc). If you know MEast already, Google might suffice for Mayan (try searching Pacal coffin, NWAF Izapa5 etc for Mayan male/female serpent-crocodile/Milkyway tree on primordial hill etc ). For a specific question ill try to fit references into last comment. Sorry, Mayansp now Izabal (Lund discusses ancient name, borders of Lamanites)

    @Cowboy, youve signs enough, but what would you do with one more proof?

    @SharonnaCo: twa My John8 response included miraculous and loved JST (but completed/sufficiently-plain isnt finished/perfectly-restored)and disproved John8 plagiarism accusations with early sources.

    Itstrue
    luvyall : )

  • Full-on double rainbow Bluffdale, UT
    Jan. 17, 2011 11:37 p.m.

    If only having faith promoting experiences were as simple and repeatable as flipping a switch...

    I flip the switch on...nothing, nothing, indigestion, boredom, sleep...

    I attend church...I feel a sense of calm and peace...

    I skip church and go for a walk...I feel a sense of calm and peace...

  • Bill in Nebraska Maryville, MO
    Jan. 17, 2011 9:24 p.m.

    To Otis and Mormoncowboy:

    Yes, it is important to know that it took place but not where. Do you know where the Red Sea was divided? Do you know where Sodom and Gomorroh is? Do you know where exactly in Bethlem the Christ was born? Do you know where his body was buried?

    If you answer yes, then you are better than most scientist are. They have proven that the events could have taken place, not that they actually did. Yet, many consider that historical.

    To Sharrona: There is no shaky ground except for the non-believer. Faith is the belief that what is not seen is true. You have faith that when you turn on a light switch it will produce light. When it is proven over and over again to happen then YOU KNOW IT WILL HAPPEN. The same is with faith that when the same answer comes again and again then it is true and YOU KNOW IT. Pure knowledge comes only and by the Holy Ghost. You put your faith in man where I put my faith in God. Whose stands truer?

  • JoeBlow Miami Area, Fl
    Jan. 17, 2011 9:12 p.m.

    Jeff writes

    "Latter-day Saints believe that they are held accountable for what is said in the most recent General Conference. "

    Jeff, what does "held accountable" mean?

    You chose your words very carefully by stating "most recent" General Conference.

    Not looking to be argumentative, but I really don't understand.

    I understand that there are Scripture and Revelation and that the LDS hold those things as unquestioned truth.

    And while I am sure that most things said in GC are great advice, there are also things that have been said in GC and elsewhere by prophets and GA's that are dismissed as fallible man speaking.

    Is there something in between?

  • Alberta Reader Magrath, AB
    Jan. 17, 2011 8:37 p.m.

    Mormoncowboy
    Have you looked into Nahom as mentioned in the BofM?

  • Jeff Temple City, CA
    Jan. 17, 2011 6:12 p.m.

    It seems as if every week a number of people lament their inability to know what is revelation and what is opinion, then they criticize Michael Ash for openly theorizing.

    LDS doctrine is firmly established in the scriptures. (Doctrine does not change.)

    LDS policy is firmly established in the Church Handbook of Instructions and official letters from the General Authorities of the Church. (Policy periodically changes.)

    Latter-day Saints believe that they are held accountable for what is said in the most recent General Conference.

    I suspect that those who most cry out for constant guidance from the Prophet on every single aspect of their lives are those least likely to follow that advice.

    I also suspect that many who complain that the Lord gives us too much leeway in forming personal opinions and theories are those who really want Latter-day Saints to be mindless automatons; mindless automatons are much easier to prove misguided.

    Given the fact that Mormons have wide lattitude in forming personal opinions, it is remarkable that so many of them from so many varied cultures come to the same spiritual conclusion that the Book of Mormon is true.

  • Hyena Murray, UT
    Jan. 17, 2011 5:35 p.m.

    Aggresive snakes are mentioned in the Book of Ether. There are no aggressive snakes in the great lakes area. I also think there would be some mention of cold weather if the setting was in the great lakes area.

  • sharrona layton, Ut
    Jan. 17, 2011 3:08 p.m.

    Bill in Nebraska: What is important about the Book of Mormon. Not where it took place but that it did take place? A tree fell in the forest.

    The object of faith is only as good as the object of that faith( in the Biblical Jesus). If you have to create your own reality, through theories of the BoM and speculation then you become your own God right inline with theosophy or new age thought, which all want to be God while Christians want to be with God.

    But the Bible is verifiable history. "Lukes gospels is a history of the first rank ,He seizes on the important and critical events and shows their true nature at great length Luke( a gentile) should be placed along with the greatest of historians." William M Ramsay,the archaeologist.

    The Mormon faith stands or falls on JS,a non-historian, which is on very shaky ground.

  • Searching . . . Orem, UT
    Jan. 17, 2011 3:08 p.m.

    JM: Thanks for the examples and concern. The link between Tiamat and Tehom was interesting, and Tiamat guarding a tree of life and offering fruit that would bring death (google "tiamat crocodile") suggested a connection between Babylonian/Baal mythologies and Judaism, but I couldn't find anything connecting any of it to Mayan mythology. Of course, my research was limited to what I could find through Google. Are you making these parallels yourself or are you going from other research that can be cited? If you have found an article that explains the syncretism of Mayan and Semitic mythologies and practices and how they could have happened, I'd love to read it and form my own opinion about it.

    Also, you say that Itzabel is a Meso-American place. I couldn't find that either. Is it spelled correctly?

  • Mormoncowboy Provo, Ut
    Jan. 17, 2011 2:45 p.m.

    "It is not important as to where the Book of Mormon took place. What is important is that it did take place."

    I actually see the two as going hand in hand. In a strictly literal sense, how can one say that they "know" that the events in The Book of Mormon took place, if they are completely uncertain as to where? Granted, Mormons will claim that God reveals the "truth" to them, but until we can get some consensus on what that actually means, seeking proof in the ground seems wise. From a non-believers standpoint, I can appreciate that some people want to believe this stuff without final evidence, but if your going to take your religion seriously then how can you say that learning "where" BoM events occurred is "not important"? Quite to the contrary, I think it would be of utmost importance. How is the "keystone of your religion" not worth basic empirical validation? Yes, the content may matter, but how one views the content and integrates it with their spirituality directly rests on whether the things taught therein are literal or figurative. This line of reasoning is just poor rationalization for lack of defense.

  • Cats Somewhere in Time, UT
    Jan. 17, 2011 2:32 p.m.

    The events of the BOM are NOT eroneous or ficticious and the Saviour does care that we know that. The BOM is the true account of the Savior's dealings with the people of this continent and of his visit to them. I testify of that.

    How do I know this? through the truth of the principles taught in the BOM and through personal revelation! I'm sorry that some on here have not yet received this witness or having chosen to reject it, but it is nevetheless true.

    Anyone can receive this knowledge if they will ask God with a sincere heart, with real intent, having faith in Christ, he will manifest the truth of it unto you by the power of the Holy Ghost.

    Only if you are unafraid of truth can you find it. It is there for all to receive if they will just open their hearts.

    In the meantime, the very earth is beginning to testify to the truth of it. It will continue.

  • JoeBlow Miami Area, Fl
    Jan. 17, 2011 2:05 p.m.

    As a logical thinking person, for me to be a Mormon, I would need to know EXACTLY what was revelation and scripture and what was not.

    Anything that was not explicitly one of those 2 things, I would treat as advise by wise old men.

    I would consider it nothing more.

    That is why I do not understand how people constantly quote church leadership as if it proves a point.

    Doesn't that make the vast vast vast majority of anything they say is just their opinion? Nothing more, nothing less.

    Am I missing something?

  • Otis Spurlock Ogden, UT
    Jan. 17, 2011 1:10 p.m.

    Sorry, I meant Bill in Nebraska, not Mormoncowboy.

  • Otis Spurlock Ogden, UT
    Jan. 17, 2011 1:09 p.m.

    Mormoncowboy wrote:

    "It is not important as to where the Book of Mormon took place. What is important is that it did take place."

    Why? Why would the Savior care in the least whether we believed the BoM actually took place? If it was really important to the Savior then why did He allow his Apostles and Prophets to give the Church erroneous teachings regarding the events, geography and people of the BoM for the last 170 years? Why did He allow an erroneous Introduction Page to the BoM, etc. etc?

    It's clear that the Savior could care less about whether or not we believe the BoM is historical. It is not important to Him in the least, and it certainly should not be important to us either.

  • Mormoncowboy Provo, Ut
    Jan. 17, 2011 12:47 p.m.

    Pierda:

    In response could you please provide answers to my following questions:

    1) Show proof that anything in The Book of Mormon is either true or likely true.

    2) show proof that....well...er...

    Actually number 1 say's it all. There really isn't any need for advanced studies when the principle question has yet to be answered. Yeah, answer that question and I'll get busy worrying about your list.

  • Pierda kaysville, ut
    Jan. 17, 2011 12:07 p.m.

    Great Lake beleievers. Please provide answers to the following:

    1)Show proof that Moroni or Joseph Smith said that the "Hill" in NY is Cumorah.
    2)Tell me why the River Sidon, that starts at Manti and flows past Zarahemla...NORTH of Manti, can be the Mississippi.
    3)Tell me why Ether hid in caves on the hill Ramah (Cumorah) and then explain how a drumlin can have a cave in it (it can't by the way).
    4) Show me credible proof of ANY written language among the natives of the Great Lakes area. BTW-Michigan artifacts, Kinderhook plates, etc. are out...proven frauds by James E. Talmage.
    5)Explain to me how current prophets have been duped into authorizing production of many films, books and artworks that depict Book of Moromon events in a Mesoamerican setting...we believe that they are inspired too don't we?
    5)Explain to me why we have scriptural proof of several promised lands, even up to the pioneers leaving he settled United States for the Promised Land in Utah...but yet every reference in the BOM only refers to one place (I guess the promised land of Jaredites doesn't count)

  • Pierda kaysville, ut
    Jan. 17, 2011 11:44 a.m.

    The foundations of Christianity that stem back to the Old Testament have expereinced doctrional changes and shifts as time has marched on. We no longer live Mosaic laws, just as we no longer have the same structure to the Priesthood (remember the Quorum of the 70 in each ward). Just because the things that prophets say change over time and new knowledge and inspiration comes to light does not make a person a "Cafeteria Mormon". You can't pick and choose principles, and not all teachings are 'doctrine'. A lot of what is taught by General Authorities is really great advise and can help you live those principles better, but not all is revelation or 'doctrine.'The principles of salvation never change. Too many here on these boards and comments seem to confuse this issue. Men are falable...even prophets. The Gospel of Jesus Christ is not.

    That said. The Great Lakes model is build up on bad information, mis-informed people and fraudulent artifacts to bolster their ideas and sell their tours. They claim that people who don't adhere to their claims are literally 'heritics' (including Church leaders who support Mesoamerica).

    Isn't that the definition of Preistcraft?

  • Bill in Nebraska Maryville, MO
    Jan. 17, 2011 11:36 a.m.

    To Mormon in Michigan and Otis:

    It is not important as to where the Book of Mormon took place. What is important is that it did take place. We must understand that the Book Of Mormon is the Lord's dealings with the people of the Americas We have been instructed by Joseph Smith that if we were to live by the precepts taught in the Book of Mormon we would get closer to our Heavenly Fathe.

    That is what is important about the Book of Mormon. Not where it took place but that it did take place. We can in some ways identify with certain aspects of the Bible but we can trace almost to the T what was happening with the Nephite People for about a thousand years.

    We have in the Book of Mormon the visit of the Savior to the American Continent after his resurrection. We know that the destruction of many cities in the American Hemisphere is significant as it gives us a warning of what will be happening at the time of the Second Coming throughout the world.

    It is time to quit sitting on the fence as to the Book of Mormon.

  • JM Lehi, UT
    Jan. 17, 2011 11:33 a.m.

    Mike compares GL THEORY to REVELATION and Otis believes God cant allow theory???? Hmmmm.

    @Searching, twa

    Fun Baal theory additions:
    ME/Israelite/Baal syncretism and primary American themes share everything FROM: Mother- divided becomes heavenly and earthy, associated with feminine life/death tree, primordial hill/temple, throne, serpent, sacred river imitating heavenly Milkyway river (symbolized as crocodiles in both (Tiamat (Biblical Tehom/Leviathan), Yamm etc Heavenly feminine, Eve, 2ndEve (Maryamm, bitter/primordial sea, 2Adam source) Mayan tree on skull/primordial-hill tomb/womb flowing with waters healing filthy river (ME DeadSea) etc- TO details like king/Adam head in/below tree; foreskin blood-smoke offerings, cutting; halting snake/rain dances calling upon cloud riding/cloud storm-Baal; cyclically dying hibernating (Elijah says sleepeth) god/king sun etc, ascending 3 levels through/as tree; imitative rites; sacred prostitution (Critics argue Lamanite Itzabel (extant Mesoamerican place) was JS blunder, now know means Baal harlot, like Jezebel (brought Sidon Baalism); etc etc(much more)
    Detailed Christian details are far more miraculous and testify of adulterated Christian knowledge. Ill refrain, since overwhelming evidence would possibly bring further hardening and thus condemnation. Dont want that : )

    Please return from fallen paths, and we can share knowledge.

  • Crispy Lips Sugarhouse, UT
    Jan. 17, 2011 11:20 a.m.

    Also FIRMLDS dot com is a GREAT resource for those wanting to learn more about the Great Lakes model. There are several Mormon Scholars and General Authorities on this site that support this model. It really is the only model that makes real sense in light of what we know about The Book of Mormon and what our prophets have taught us.

  • Crispy Lips Sugarhouse, UT
    Jan. 17, 2011 11:12 a.m.

    If you are going on strictly which evidence "fits the best" then you have to go with the Great Lakes/North American traditional model that our prophets believed and taught about.

    For more info I would recommend visiting bookofmormonevidence dot org to learn more about why the Great Lake's model is much more superior than the other models.

  • Mormon in Michigan Detroit, MI
    Jan. 17, 2011 10:42 a.m.

    Megan,

    Joseph Smith was a prophet, but almost everything he did or said was only his opinion and not official doctrine. That is what is so great about being a caferteria Mormon. You get to decide what to follow and choose. Everything is just opinion to a cafeteria mormon. I love being a cafeteria mormon and am thankful for Mr. Ash's articles supporting cafeteria mormons.

  • megen Truth or Consequences, NM
    Jan. 17, 2011 10:19 a.m.

    Michael Ash makes early prophets, including Smith, seem unreliable. Do we follow Ash or Smith? If Ash is right, was Joseph Smith a prophet?

  • Utes Fan Salt Lake City, UT
    Jan. 17, 2011 10:17 a.m.

    @Otis

    With all due respect, I find the discussions on BOM geography interesting. That there is no direct revelation on exactly the answers doesn't mean to me that the subject is irrelevant. Granted, a person can do just fine without even knowing the BOM geography issues. With all the wasteful things that I can do today, reading BOM scholarly or apologetic issues is certainly not on the "waste of my time" list. A rated-R movie might make that list, but Ash's articles to me are thought-provoking, interesting, and, if nothing else, show what a remarkable book the BOM really is. If somebody else doesn't see that, then no problem. Nothing in Church doctrine precludes that the Savior must reveal the actual locations of BOM places, nor must the Savior prevent any mistakes by leaders or scholars. Gratefully, he allows us to learn.

    -----
    "The Church would be much better off and perceived by the rest of the world if our energy, efforts and resources were focused elsewhere."
    -----

    And yet President Monson attended a recent BOM geography conference. Don't let your lack of interest dictate what others should think of the subject.

  • Otis Spurlock Ogden, UT
    Jan. 17, 2011 9:12 a.m.

    Again, Mike Ash is the poster-boy for the new "Cafeteria Mormon". His theories and articles stand for the proposition that very little, if anything, is official Church Doctrine. Hence the term "Cafeteria Mormon", as one can pick and choose what to partake.

    Also, one really does have to wonder why Mike spends any time on whether or not the BoM is historical. As Mike's articles have shown, the Savior certainly doesn't care if we believe the BoM is historical or not. If the Savior thought that it was important for us to believe the BoM is historical, He wouldn't have allowed his Apostles and Prophets to give the Church erroneous teachings regarding the events, geography and people of the BoM for the last 170 years, or have allowed an erroneous Introduction Page to the BoM, etc. etc.

    I know He can't be pleased with all the wasted time and resources by apologists and LDS members (and their many various factions) trying to prove their many different theories on the BoM.

    The Church would be much better off and perceived by the rest of the world if our energy, efforts and resources were focused elsewhere.

  • JM Lehi, UT
    Jan. 17, 2011 7:42 a.m.

    Thanks Mike.

    You included several details Ive never noticed. Ill have to reread with my computer and Google Earth, something Joseph never could have done.

    Location knowledge isnt crucial but it helps me progress in knowledge of BoM realities. As you search for and enlighten on locations of absolutely real BoM PLACES, you also enliven real events and the human struggles of ancients trying to apply and learn of Christ.

    Understanding His visit with real Native Americans, in historic space and time, helps lead to the very real Christ of the Bible and establishes His Divinity for honest searchers or those who believe He's a prophet only etc.

    The BoM establishes Him, the same Lord over all.
    Anyone may find its truth.

    Understanding His Divinity, reality, love, calls for peace, etc, never hurt anyone.

    However, those conversely sowing seeds of doubt are leading from Him and His Atonement. Certainly, when we reject His reality, His historicity as reported in scriptures given by Him, we reject Him, and His goodness.

    As interest in Him grows we live more, love more, serve more (loved that Catholic guy reporting LDS giving on BYU; see that?), etc.

    Thats crucial.

    So thanks again, Mike