This is a perfect church restored in these latter days. We the members are
imperfect, all of us, no one is exempted. But we are heeding the Lord's
call to be like unto Him. Thanks be to Almighty God for His tender mercies as
we work toward that end. Joseph Smith Jr. was a prophet of God, imperfect, but
nonetheless a Prophet.
I appreciate his efforts to provide historical context. My understanding is
always enhanced by reading these columns. Of course, critics
immediately dismiss it as simple apologetics. Context or apologetics?Some of you criticize apologists because they start with a foundation of
belief and search for evidence to support it. I believe that is consistent with
the scientific method as I learned it.Placing things in context is
never a bad thing, whether or not you accept it as legitimate scholarship. It
enhances our ability to understand.
RE: Pops, Are the LDS Church History and writings reliable? “That
seer… his name shall be called Joseph and it shall be after the name of
his father”. (Gen 50:33 JST). A prophecy about Joseph Smith. NOT found in
Greek LXX or dead sea scrolls? RE: GLW8,”The Book of Mormon
"When they are learned, they think they are wise...”2 Nephi 9:28).(3 Ne.21:9)A Marvelous Work and Wonder. A Modern Translation,“
Therefore I will take awesome vengeance on these hypocrites, and make their
wisest counselors as fools.”(Isa 29:14 L B.)Or,(Is 29:14
XX)”Therefore behold I will proceed to remove this people, and I will
remove them: *I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and will hide the
understanding of the prudent.*I will Destroy the wisdom of the
*wise, and will bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent” ee,(1
Cor 1:19 KJV) .” Paul quotes from, (Isa 29:14 LXX.Not the BoM
but,Fulfilled ultimately in the Jews reject Jesus. “because the cross is
to them that perish foolishness;...(1 Cor 1:18).
Right on, pops! The so-called pure sciences, like chemistry and physics, can
produce consistent results through empirical lab work. The social sciences
(history among them) are more tenuous. To draw expansive conclusions over the
entirety of life based on scientific data and reasoned intellect is to place
one's faith in an incomplete and ever-changing knowledge base. Even
physicists of a generation ago would be amazed at quantum mechanics and chaos
theory. And human behavior is so complex, the list of potential studies in
psychology and sociology is ever expanding. Those who think history has arrived
at all the answers are like the gentleman in the early 20th Century that thought
the U.S. Patent Office should be closed because everything that could be
invented had been. To be "learned" is never to be confused with to be
One of the claims that occurs in these comments is that science (or any other
intellectual pursuit) is the best or preferred method for determining what is
true and what is not. But the best that science or the human intellect can ever
say is "I'm not wrong yet." It is especially difficult to even
pretend to get close to truth when trying to reconstruct history from the few
fragments we have. In "soft" disciplines such as history there is no
reason to believe that we ever know anything perfectly.We learn
truth through our spirit, not through our intellect. Those who suppress their
spirit and rely solely on intellect have cut themselves off from the only source
of truth they possess. (Those who suppress their intellect also have a problem,
but that's a different story.) We can draw a lot of conclusions about
Joseph Smith by studying history, and some of them might even be correct. We can
only know if Joseph Smith was a prophet by spiritual means.Well did
President Uchtdorf advise us to doubt our doubts and trust our faith.
I can't see anything in Peterson's article, Scientist, saying that
Joseph Smith's followers were "lying" or that they
"fabricated" this or any other quotation.
@ The ScientistI am sure those eye witness accounts were in no way
biased against him either hmmm?Also what were the customs of the
times? What may seem self-righteous, arrogant and boastful today might have
been pretty normal back then.Also did he have moments of
boastfulness and pride or what is part of his overall normal character?
RE: The Caravan Moves On. Those Who Knew the Prophet Joseph Smith.
“… examine the’ character of the Savior’, and examine
the characters of those who have written the Old and New Testaments; and then
compare them with the ‘character of Joseph Smith’, the founder of
this work—the man whom God called and to whom he gave the keys of
Priesthood, and through whom he has established his Church and kingdom for the
last time, and you will find that his character stands as fair as that of any
man's mentioned in the Bible.” Was JS really as fair as the Savior
the sinless Son of God? ( JOD v. 14 p. 203)Yet,"The death of JS
I remember what Joseph said, a short time before he was slain in one of the last
sermons I ever heard him preach. Said he, “Men are here today who are
seeking my blood, and they are those who have held the Priesthood and have
received their washings and anointings; men who have received their
endowments.” I saw the faces of those men at that time, and they had a
hand in slaying the Prophet" (JOD v 4 p 149).
I'm so surprised that written history seems to be ignored and swept away
and stories and articles can be written, testimonies born and strengthened and
life goes on with these written "truths" and "facts" are
Can we get the same 'spin', and redefinition of dictionary words on
these too?‘I am a lawgiver; I am a big lawyer and comprehend heaven,
earth and hell, to bring forth knowledge that shall cover up all lawyers,
doctors and other big bodies.’ History of the Church, Vol. 5, p. 289. ‘I solve mathematical problems of universities with truth - diamond
truth; and God is my right hand man.’ ibid. Vol. 6, p. 78."‘Joseph Smith requested and received from Governor Carlin the commission
of Lieutenant General and thereafter frequently jested about his outranking
every military officer in the United States. He came to prefer the title General
even to President and used it in much of his correspondence. His uniform was
smartly designed… on his hip he carried a sword and two big horse pistols.
Delighting in the pomp and splendour of parades, he called out the legion on
every possible occasion…’ No Man Knows my History, pp.
In Bushman's "Rough Stone Rolling", there are numerous quotes, eye
witness accounts, documents, and evidences that Joseph Smith was, at times,
extremely self-righteous, arrogant, and boastful. Anyone who would claim
otherwise must have a reading comprehension problem.Of more interest
to me is the admission by Peterson that quotes and accounts were created,
embellished, and even fabricated years after the fact, and even years after
Joseph's death, both pro and con. This is also what happened with
Christianity and the quotes and accounts of/about Jesus (may he RIP).Apologists frequently focus in on one smallish quote or event, as Peterson is
doing here, and try to convince us that this one instance has been misunderstood
- all to give some plausibility on which members can hang their belief. But at
the same time they ignore the numerous examples of embellishments, forgeries,
explicitly contradictory quotes and accounts that at very least should
completely undermine our confidence in anything Joseph (or Paul) claimed!Once a person is caught in a lie, how can you trust anything else they
Article quote: "Given the manner of its composition, the nuances, tone and
details of “History of the Church” should be treated with caution.
Curiously, though, at least in this case, Joseph’s critics insist that the
overall narrative of the “History” is incorrect (e.g. divine
intervention, revelation, Joseph Smith's prophetic calling, etc.) while
expecting us to accept as precisely accurate its details of tone and mood
— at least when those details seem to cast the Prophet in a bad
light."Gee, you mean that many anti-Mormons skew their
judgements and comments to fit their anti-Joseph Smith message?Gee,
I am shocked. Yes-siree, just shocked.(end sarcasm)Joseph Smith was a giant of a man and I cannot wait to meet him.
The Book of Mormon calls it right again: "When they are learned, they think
they are wise..." 2 Nephi 9:28. That should be a caution for both LDS and
Non-LDS who place too much reliance on so-called scholarship, which has its own
set of limitations. The central question is: where is your faith based--in
empiricism, logic, so-called rational thought,in the five senses that are often
sources of unreliable evidence, or in Jesus Christ? I've said it
before--our conclusions are all faith-based; depending on where one is willing
to place his or her faith. I, for one, will accept conclusions based on
scientific, scholarly evidence when the study is well-constructed and draws
conclusions from the study itself--not extrapolated, "educated guesses"
drawn from a concoction of assembled, unrelated "facts." But I also find
knowledge and comfort in revealed truths. No other body of man's knowledge
makes the complete sense that the theology of the LDS Church, in it's
entirety, does to me. That from a lifetime of study of all of the above.
From reading the comments on here, I am convinced, again, that all people see
the world and everything in it, not as things really are, but as they are! In
other words, we see what we want to see! If you want to see Joseph Smith as an
arrogant charlatan, you will see him that way, regardless! If you want to see
him as a humble servant of God, that's how you will see him! Which is the
truth? I judge people less and less on what they say, especially I discount what
people say about people they never met, and more and more on what they actually
do! What did Joseph Smith accomplish, what did he produce? In that light, I
personally continue to be impressed with Joseph Smith! Sir Winston Churchill
said it best,"Truth is incontrovertible, ignorance will always deride it,
malice will always attack it, but in the end, there it (truth) is". In the
end, there are Joseph Smith's accomplishments! Drat them!
So let me get this straight. "I have more to boast about" isn't a
boast? If it was meant to be a boast, how would it be worded any differently?
TO: teeohMany members of the LDS faith believe that the worst people
in the world are the people who "try and destroy members testimonies".
They think that people who try and convert Mormons are evil people who are
working for Satan. In reality the people that I know who try and show Mormons
facts about their church are truly trying to help. They really believe that
people would be happier and better off if they left the church. It is not a case
of "misery loves company" but a case of people trying to show you how
you might be the one who is mistaken. There is a YouTube video where
people fly into Utah to knock doors and try and convert LDS members to another
faith. The LDS members are seriously outraged and say "how dare you come to
my house and try to get me to question my beliefs". And yet the irony is LDS
missionaries do this everyday (or they used to, now they use social media). I am honestly okay with my LDS friends trying to convert me. I just wish
they were cool with me doing the same thing to them.
I am always amazed that a column can be written which reasonably addresses
issues handsome commenters write asking the same question that has just been
answered! There are too many here to even list. if a person doesn't want to
believe, fine. I understand that. I don't understand being disagreeable,
but again, this is a public forum, no problem. But some sees to have taken a
sentence or two for comment and not even read the rest. Remarkable.
@Church MemberSo, I am supposed to be neither happy nor sad for any
conversion to or from the belief system that I espouse? Or maybe it's okay
to express my opinion here as does everyone else?I'll restate:
I find it to be so sad. I'm sure others (like Satan, for example) rejoice
in seeing so many stumble. And for those of you who continue to
speak of what is or isn't true scholarship, please look up scholar in the
dictionary. It has nothing to do with science or empirical evidence. It has
everything to do with being learned in a particular subject or set of beliefs.
Dr. Peterson easily qualifies.
@Tyler D"...religious faith is not about believing in something
reasonable or rational."Logic often hides around corners amongst
those who are determined to believe.@Craig Clark"My
objection is to its pretense that apologetics is objective scholarship when it
is not."Precisely my biggest complaint about Peterson...he
attempts to pass off much of his apologetic writings as legitimate scholarship
when indeed it's nothing more than clever use of rhetorical patterns that
misdirect, overlook, and obscure any evidence to the contrary. That’s not
To: teeohHow can you say it is so sad to see people trying to
convert Mormons to another belief system and then support missionaries from your
church who try and convert others to your belief system.We
can't have it both ways. Either it is okay to try and convert people or it
is not. It can't be okay for you to teach people truth but when others do
it to you "it is sad".I just seems a little hypocritical.
@Moontan I think (respectfully & politely) you’re wrong on
Kierkegaard but that’s a long discussion. It is in fact a leap of faith to
believe and take the Bible at face value, which could easily be viewed
differently… for example:Biblical problems and contradictions
- Far from the mysterious and often misunderstood teacher portrayed in Mark or
the enlightened Rabbi found in Matthew, the Jesus portrayed in John sounds like
a trumpeting celestial superhero (see Book of Revelation for this portrayal on
steroids).And the NT’s most prolific author, Paul? Either the NT is largely the opinions of someone who never knew Jesus
personally (in which case it would be more accurate for Christians to refer to
themselves as Paulians or Biblians), or Paul is “channeling” Jesus.
Christian beliefs seem to be are more ABOUT Jesus than they
are about the teachings OF Jesus. And given what we now know about the diversity
of early Christian writings (which orthodoxy tried to wipe out – thank you
jar burying monks in Egyptian desert) it is completely plausible that Jesus is
more misunderstood mystic-sage than celestial super-being.Reached
@Craig Clark ... Well, that comment presupposes that all objective apologists
will conclude that God doesn't exist, and that apologists who conclude
otherwise were not objective to begin with. This is a false presupposition if
there ever was one. @Sharrona ... You say LDS are 'ignorant and
unstable people'. I'm reminded of the man who goes to family reunions
only to pronounce everyone present illegitimate, save him. Yet he's always
received respectfully, and eats to excess. But given the
perspective, we are all ignorant and unstable. Last post here. See
y'all next week.
Moontan,"....As for Craig Clark's comment you referenced, I
cannot fathom it. Apologetic's is not objective scholarship?...."______________________________To do an academic study with honesty
and integrity, you must follow the trail of evidence to wherever it leads, even
when it leads to a conclusion that goes against what you’ve always
believed to be the case. You can’t do that by attempting to predetermine
the outcome which is precisely what apologetics attempts to do.I
have some definite views on C.S. Lewis’ supposed academic study of
Christology but I’ll have to hold that for another discussion.
There’s just not enough space left here for that.(reached
comment limit for this discussion.)
@ Craig ClarkIt 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
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.
@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."
@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"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 – “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.
'effects' on humanity, too.
@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.
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.
@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.
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
@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.
@Craig ClarkEach 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.
Accept his message or not, Joseph Smith was a unique man. Yes, there are
controversies, but he was quite remarkable.
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
@ Craig ClarkFrom weekly comments from detractors, I've learned
not to underestimate some people inability to empathize and understand a group
of peoples history.
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.
“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
"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.
"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.