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Comments about ‘Defending the Faith: Joseph Smith wasn't arrogant or boastful’

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Published: Thursday, Sept. 4 2014 5:00 a.m. MDT

Updated: Wednesday, Sept. 3 2014 5:26 p.m. MDT

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greatbam22
andrews afb, MD

"I told them I was but a man and they must not expect me to be perfect," Joseph Smith said. "If they expected perfection from me, I should expect it from them, but if they would bear with my infirmities and the infirmities of the brethren, I would likewise bear with their infirmities."

This is one of the most admirable things that can be said of Joseph that he was humble. I believe that It is specifically because of this humility that he was chosen to be the First Prophet of the Restoration.

In Doctrine in Covenants 112 verse 10 it states "Be thou humble; and the Lord thy God shall lead thee by the hand, and give thee answer to thy prayers."

As a youth when he prayed and had the First Vision and as an Adult I believe that Joseph Smith followed this council.

In James 1 verse 5(KJV) it states "If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him."

These verses should be shared frequently.

JoeBlow
Far East USA, SC

"Second, Joseph seems actually to be praising his followers’ faithfulness, not himself."

There sure are a lot of "I's" in there for someone who was "praising his followers"

So which is it? It wasn't being "arrogant or boastful" or he didn't write it.

Tyler D
Meridian, ID

“Third, Joseph didn’t write the quotation; it was reconstructed after his death. Thus, it almost certainly doesn’t represent his precise words.”

Dr. Peterson has a point – though I wonder if he sees the irony any time he picks up the Bible and reads the “words of Jesus.”

Craig Clark
Boulder, CO

From Daniel Peterson's weekly columns, I’ve learned not to underestimate Mormon apologist's astonishing capacity for rationalization of any fact or evidence that reflects unfavorably on Joseph Smith.

greatbam22
andrews afb, MD

@ Craig Clark

From weekly comments from detractors, I've learned not to underestimate some people inability to empathize and understand a group of peoples history.

Craig Clark
Boulder, CO

greatbam22,

"From weekly comments from detractors, I've learned not to underestimate some people inability to empathize and understand a group of peoples history."
______________________________

Fair criticism. But don’t expect every interpretation of Mormon history to dovetail with what is standardly taught in the Mormon Sunday School class manual.

Esquire
Springville, UT

Accept his message or not, Joseph Smith was a unique man. Yes, there are controversies, but he was quite remarkable.

teeoh
Anytown, KY

@Craig Clark

Each week, I read Dr. Peterson's columns and find a great sense of understanding and reasonable evaluation of the issues. I usually think to myself, "this makes perfect sense! How can anyone not see the reasonableness of this perspective." Then, invariably, I read the comments and find the naysayers displaying their stumbling blocks in hopes of bringing others to their immobilized view of the good news of the gospel. So sad.

To judge Joseph on 3rd party statements attributed to him years after his death is the irrational perspective.

Tyler D
Meridian, ID

@Craig Clark – “I’ve learned not to underestimate Mormon apologist's astonishing capacity for rationalization…”

I agree however I’ve also learned that their mission is not about making strong rational arguments and certainly not about making arguments that would hold up in a court of law, even in a civil trial.

Rather it’s about providing the faithful small slivers of hope that their faith is not totally unreasonable. That these arguments often insult the intelligence of the non-faithful (or incredulous) is, from an apologists’ perspective, an unfortunate byproduct.

But this mission seems misguided because trying to make faith reasonable (let alone based on real evidence) is a challenging effort that has been slapped down by the facts of history and science so often we’ve lost count.

I think the smartest theologian Christianity has ever produced (Kierkegaard) got it right – religious faith is not about believing in something reasonable or rational. Religious faith is powerful because it rests on believing things that are, by all rational accounts, absurd.

Anthracite
Salt Lake City, UT

Maybe he was being boastful and arrogant. Just wondering, if that's the case, does that nullify any LDS teachings about the Atonement or the Plan of Salvation?

teeoh
Anytown, KY

@Tyler D,

Speaking of arguments that wouldn't hold up in a court of law, how about a quote attributed to a person by a 3rd party years after his death in a time when there are no recordings? How would that hold up in a court of law? It seems to me that the naysayers are equal to the believers in expecting the world to make judgements based on unverifiable stories.

Craig Clark
Boulder, CO

Tyler D,

I enjoy reading your insightful and measured views. I’m glad you reminded us that the gospels in quoting Jesus are every bit as much hearsay as the quotation in question here. Nonetheless, believers often take the position that the Bible is the infallible and inerrant word of God.

Apologetics has its place. My objection is to its pretense that apologetics is objective scholarship when it is not. Its aim is to validate conjecture to the exclusion of any conclusion other than the one they are advocating. That is not scholarship.

Moontan
Roanoke, VA

@Craig Clark re "...don’t expect every interpretation of Mormon history...". That good comment applies to every history of every topic. We can't have an exact, exhaustive knowledge of history. Therefore I don't think that criticism apropos.

@Tyler D re "...that their mission is not about making strong rational arguments...". Friend, my brain had conniptions when I read that departure from your generally good comments. Of course the Mormon apologists aim is to make rational arguments. I've never seen an apologist tackle tough issues with an open mind as the lads at FAIR do, for example.

And the genius Kierkegaard got it wrong on that point. There is no need for a 'leap of faith.' Although at present we only 'know in part' that part is sufficient to allow reasonable, rational conclusions surrounding the events of the resurrection and its affects on humanity.

Moontan
Roanoke, VA

'effects' on humanity, too.

Tyler D
Meridian, ID

@Moontan – “Friend, my brain had conniptions when I read that departure from your generally good comments.”

Your comments are great even when they are taking me down like an extra in a Steven Seagal movie. You have that enviable trait of telling people to go to “heck” and making them enjoy the journey.

Probably could have worded that better – something like “rational arguments that would pass the “reasonable man” test among non-believers” or words to that effect (e.g. see Craig’s last comment about objective scholarship).

Anyway, keep up the hard hitting retorts – “our critics are our best friends.”



@Craig Clark – “believers often take the position that the Bible is the infallible and inerrant word of God.”

I used to think so too until I read the book (objectively) as an adult and realized it portrayed a god that was a vindictive sociopath with an ego more fragile than a middle schooler (Jesus notwithstanding).

@teeoh – “how about a quote attributed to a person by a 3rd party…”

Well I typically don’t organize my life around these things, but if you have an example please share.

Schnee
Salt Lake City, UT

@teeoh
"To judge Joseph on 3rd party statements attributed to him years after his death is the irrational perspective."

I think most judge him based on their opinions of the Book of Mormon because there's so much that goes into the Book of Mormon (the plates, etc) that it really does leave only three logical options for people to have: belief in it, disbelief in it (which comes with all sorts of negative implications for Joseph), or uncertainty. It's fairly easy to reject Lutheranism while thinking Martin Luther was a decent guy who was just incorrect; it's difficult for that to be done with the LDS/Joseph Smith since the plates were either real or a fraud.

Moontan
Roanoke, VA

@Tyler D ... I'm glad you enjoy the give-and-take of polite disagreement without taking it personally, as do I. A fellow debater can call me anything but late for dinner, and I'll still enjoy the exchange.

As for Craig Clark's comment you referenced, I cannot fathom it. Apologetic's is not objective scholarship? I don't know where that comes from. If C.S. Lewis were still living, I'd pay all expenses to see someone go to Oxford and tell him he's not a scholar. Best money I ever spent, it would be. Concerning hearsay, Peter's statement "For we have not followed cunningly devised fables, when we made known unto you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of his majesty" is not hearsay. It is an eyewitness testimony. A testimony that demands confrontation, decision. Was he truthful, or not?

Perhaps he and you mean it is not Science. True, it cannot be test-tubed, but that is to say only Science offers truth. This is an untenable proposition.

teeoh
Anytown, KY

@Tyler D,

"...but if you have an example please share."

I thought the example in the article was perfect. (Are we discussing the same article?) But I'll reiterate: The quote attributed to JS in the 2nd paragraph would not hold up in a court of law as being accurately attributed to JS based on Dr. Peterson's point, "Third, Joseph didn’t write the quotation; it was reconstructed after his death. Thus, it almost certainly doesn’t represent his precise words."

sharrona
layton, UT

RE: Paul also wrote you with the wisdom that God gave him.…. His letters contain some things that are hard to understand, which ignorant and unstable people distort(LDS),as they do the other Scriptures, to their own destruction.(2 Peter 3:15-16).

(2 Cor 11:16-19) V. 16. I say again,from (2Co 11:1)the apology for his boasting. If otherwise, but if ye will not grant this; if ye will think me a fool.

"yet even as a fool receive me"; grant me the indulgent hearing conceded even to one suspected of folly. The Greek denotes one who does not rightly use his mental powers; not having the idea of blame necessarily attached to it; one deceived by foolish vanities, yet boasting himself (2Co 11: 17,19)E.g…, Eph 3:8… who am less than the least of all saints, is this grace given.

RE: Moontan. VS, DHC 6:318-320.”)God made Aaron to be the mouthpiece for the children of Israel, and He will make me be ‘god’ to you in His stead, and the Elders to be mouth for me; and if you don’t like it, you must lump it.

greatbam22
andrews afb, MD

@ Craig Clark

It is interesting how you and many other critics expect perfection from the LDS church. Without hardly a thought for what it has done.

It is also interesting to note that the LDS church has been correcting recently a lot of the things that you have railed against it for.

Take for example the Joseph Smith Papers. The Church has devoted a lot of energy, money, and scholarship to the publication of them. They have made these papers easily available online and have also created multimedia presentations available through BYU TV to understand them further.

Do I expect you or the other detractors to look at them or the presentations no not really.

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