So then, brethren, stand firm and hold to the traditions which you were taught by us, either by word of mouth or by letter (2 Thess. 2:15). Guard what has been entrusted to you. Avoid the godless chatter and contradictions of what is falsely called knowledge, for by professing it some have missed the mark as regards faith (1 Tim. 6:21-22).

Friday, November 21, 2014

Doin' the Salt Lake City Shuffle

First off, this post is not a criticism of individual mormons, per se. Mormons should be commended for their dedication to family and zeal for mission. However, mormon beliefs and the behaviour of mormon leaders are fair game for evaluation.

Most internet detectives know that the Book of Abraham (BoA), claimed by Mormons to be the inspired word of God, is nothing of the sort. The scroll from which Joseph Smith derived the BoA, indeed an ancient relic, was a funerary document and has nothing to do with the patriarch Abraham. Mormonism's founder Joseph Smith claims he translated it from the scroll which he purchased from a travelling salesman.

The "translation" of the scroll Smith produced is merely the invention of a man who, by his very actions, is guilty of hucksterism. Joseph Smith misrepresented his translation skills and convinced his followers to believe he had in his possession a bona fide testament of the biblical patriarch Abraham. Some claim the scrolls which we have access to now are only a few of the scrolls to which Joseph Smith had access, and therefore any criticism should take into consideration that not everything is known about the sources to which Smith had access. Such an assertion, however, is completely without foundation. Given the historical record established by Smith himself (the BoA was published in three instalments in 1842 in a local newspaper, The Times & Seasons, in Nauvoo, IL), any attempt to lessen Smith's culpability for misrepresenting himself and the work he cobbled together from various biblical sources which he then embellished is merely another attempt to obfuscate and detract from Joseph Smith's act of fraud. (Several sources note the strong resemblance between Smith's work and the construction and content of Bunyan's The Pilgrim's Progress.)

Smith's Book of Abraham contained in The Pearl of Great Price is, as is the entire Book of Mormon, a clever plagiarism and reassembly of extant biblical sources combined with his own inventions. The translation of the Book of Mormon from the Golden Plates allegedly revealed to him by an angel, which were then taken back by the angel Moroni (Lucifer? other fallen angel?) once Smith had completed his work, is said to have been achieved in sixty consecutive days by Smith who had a seeing stone placed in a hat used to cover his face and aid his translation of the Golden Plates. Was there something more than a stone concealed under Smith's hat? Notes, perhaps?

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, according to the New York Times (full article by Laurie Goodstein, click here), has been engaged in a PR campaign to offset the unsettling facts that mormons are finding online. The LDS sect has posted 12 essays intended to get ahead of the growing wave of damage caused by internet exposure of facts the LDS would rather have had neatly tucked under its temple underwear.

The LDS sect, rather than deny the information, is following a tactic commonly employed these days by smarmy politicians that runs something like this: 'Yes, we know there have been lies (about scripture)... we lied (and covered up or spun the information to perpetuate a lie)... and we said and did horrible things in an attempt to discredit our critics, but we're really nice people who do good things. What matters most, more than what we say, is how we live our lives in the present.'

It's one thing to teach the truth but act against it. It is quite another to teach lies and falsehoods and then think that one's actions will be anything but a lie. In the first case, one is a hypocrite. In the second instant one is both a liar and a hypocrite, a fraud who purposefully leads others astray.

The LDS sect is saying that much of what they base their beliefs upon is a lie,... but 'that's ok', or so they imagine. You've got to admit, the strategy to come clean while having no intention of admitting their entire enterprise is a house of cards built on sand is a brazen one, to say the least. They've even outdone the historical revisionists who typically resort to manufacturing half truths to cloud people's judgement so that another agenda lacking any foundation in reality might be imposed.

The current LDS leadership is attempting to empty the conversation of any need for accountability by shifting critics' focus on their collective act of soul searching while consigning their errors to the fine print or a footnote. That residual error becomes the lie quietly buried with other teachings masquerading as christian doctrine, e.g., the bizarre Mormon trinity (i.e., God the Father was once a human being who then became God; Jesus is the brother of Satan) versus orthodox teaching on the Trinity (see Nicene Creed, A.D. 381). The LDS PR stunt, true to its founder's antics, fails to emphasize there are fundamental problems with LDS doctrines.

The LDS on LSD?

The LDS sect frequently uses false comparisons in an attempt to lend credibility to its current and founding fathers' practices which amount to a corruption of history and practice. In one essay, Book of Mormon Translation, the LDS spin doctors attempt to lend legitimacy to Joseph Smith's translation efforts—bear in mind, he had very little knowledge of ancient languages—by comparing his use of the "tools of translation" to accounts in the Bible which the LDS sect claim to support Joseph Smith's use (i.e., misappropriation) of the Urim and Thummin. 'Hey, it's got to be true because—look!—he did the same things as the ancients did in biblical times.' The problem is this: just because certain practices were used in the past does not lend legitimacy to one's practices today or, for that mater, practices employed 180+ years ago. One has to look at the reason for and outcome of the use of a discernment technique, for example, to validate its authenticity. Clearly, when it comes to Joseph Smith's fabrication of a translation that is nothing short of a very big and bold lie, the LDS sect's attempts to manipulate the narrative are nothing less than a continuance of its founder's deceptions.

So then, will the LDS/Mormon leadership come around to acknowledging its bogus claims, or will it continue to encourage its adherents to live in ignorance and embrace the darkness of Smith's and others' deceptions and evasions? The charge by mormons that non-mormons are the apostates rings hollow in light of Mormonism's many serious deviations from Apostolic Christianity and the LDS's attempts to mitigate any culpability for its founder's fraudulent translations, institutional racism (i.e., the Curse of Cain teaching), polygamy (and child exploitation) and adultery (read below). Regarding the latter, the seer Joseph Smith has a lot in common with another false prophet whose corrupt teachings have led many astray.
New York Times, Nov. 14, 2014
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, as the Mormon Church is formally known, has quietly posted 12 essays on its website over the last year on contentious topics such as the ban on blacks in the priesthood, which was lifted in 1978, and accounts of how Smith translated the Book of Mormon, the church’s sacred scripture.

Elder Steven E. Snow, the church historian and a member of its senior leadership, said in an interview, “There is so much out there on the Internet that we felt we owed our members a safe place where they could go to get reliable, faith-promoting information that was true about some of these more difficult aspects of our history. (In other words, ignore the facts and listen to our spun version.)

“We need to be truthful (in our own way...), and we need to understand our history,” Elder Snow said. “I believe our history is full of stories of faith and devotion and sacrifice, but these people weren’t perfect.” (Again—'Hey, we're nice folk. Don't focus on what we believe; just trust us.')

The essay on “plural marriage” in the early days of the Mormon movement in Ohio and Illinois says polygamy was commanded by God, revealed to Smith and accepted by him and his followers only very reluctantly. Abraham and other Old Testament patriarchs had multiple wives, and Smith preached that his church was the “restoration” of the early, true Christian church. ('Hey, everybody's doing it! It must be good.' By contrast, the Church, i.e., the Catholic Church founded by Jesus Christ on St. Peter, has remained faithful to the teaching of Jesus Christ. That is, God's plan concerning marriage. So then, who are the apostates?)

Most of Smith’s wives were between the ages of 20 and 40, the essay says, but he married Helen Mar Kimball, a daughter of two close friends, “several months before her 15th birthday.” A footnote says that according to “careful estimates,” Smith had 30 to 40 wives. (The Mormon religion—originally a sex cult?)

The biggest bombshell for some in the essays is that Smith married women who were already married, some to men who were Smith’s friends and followers. (Um... adultery?)
The LDS cannot be expected any time soon to adhere to the same rigorous standards of scholarship that other religious bodies are held. Time will tell if the average mormon will wake up to the contradictions piled upon contradictions that constitute their doctrinal heritage.

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