Tag Archives: book of mormon

Instituted In The Heavens

“Ordinances instituted in the heavens before the foundation of the world, in the priesthood, for the salvation of men, are not to be altered or changed.” – Joseph Smith

As a child, I was taught that The Gospel needed to be restored because it was corrupted over time.  That, like the game of telephone, the prophets and apostles accidentally distorted the message of Jesus after the resurrection and His ascent to heaven.  The point being, that without being written specifically down, the Gospel could change and be corrupted from the original version.

Where is The LDS Endowment ceremony written down? It’s not in the Book of Mormon.  It’s not in The Bible.  It’s not in The D&C.  It’s not in The Book of Abraham, or Moses.  And, in fact, it has changed many, many, many times – but never by scripture.  It merely changes in practice.  One day, you’re signing blood oaths and penalties as part of the temple ritual.  The next, you’re not.  One day, you’re being literally washed and anointed.  The next, you’re merely “symbolically” washed and anointed.  How are members of The LDS Church to know that their current prophets and apostles aren’t corrupting The Gospel in the same way as those prophets and apostles of old?

The Book of Mormon has had hundreds of changes made to it since it’s initial “translation.”  The Church leaders don’t announce these changes as being made due to divine revelation.  In fact, many members don’t even know that The Book of Mormon, Temple rituals, etc. routinely change.  If they did, shouldn’t they worry that, perhaps, The Gospel is once again being corrupted by worldly men and false prophets?

My guess is that the answer is “modern revelation”, but how are members to trust that these changes are what Heavenly Father wants, but the changes made by the prophets and apostles of old were not?

In fact, not only the Book and Mormon and Endowment Ceremony have changed.  Also, the very “revelations” received by Joseph Smith, supposedly directly from Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ, and recorded in The Doctrine and Covenants have been massively modified.  Why would the direct words of a god need to be modified and updated?  If God Himself is telling the prophets and apostles to change these texts, why are these changes and revelations not announced from the pulpit during General Conference?

“Apostate Churches have changed many of the ordinances. For instance, they no longer baptize as Jesus was baptized when he went to John to be baptized of him.” – Apostle LeGrand Richards

“…there is vast evidence and history of an apostasy from the doctrine taught by Jesus and his Apostles, that the organization of the original Church became corrupted, and sacred ordinances were changed to suit the convenience of men.” – Apostle David B. Haight

“Inasmuch as this church of Christ has been reproached with the crime of fornication, and polygamy: we declare that we believe, that one man should have one wife; and one woman, but one husband, except in case of death, when either is at liberty to marry again.” – Joseph Smith, The Book of Commandments

Defending the Indefensible

In one of the most asinine articles I’ve ever read, Daniel Petersen of The Deseret News, the LDS-owned, for profit, pseudo-news source  in Salt Lake City, attempts one of the lamest, most intellectually devoid defenses of Joseph Smith’s seer-stone & hat method of “translating” The Book of Mormon:

Consider a smartphone or e-reader, for instance. Their screens are very difficult to read out in the sunlight and need to be shaded. Or consider your personal computer. You probably don’t place it directly in front of a window where bright light will be streaming into your face. You need contrasting darkness so that you can see the screen without strain, and especially so if you’ll be working on it for lengthy periods. Otherwise, your eyes will tire and your head will ache.

Technology companies often solve this problem by making the display brighter, but apparently having Joe stick his head in The Hat was a more convenient “darkroom” for The LORD.

Mr. Petersen does not address the obvious impediments of dictating with one’s face in a hat; the muffling of Joseph Smith’s voice and the toll it must have taken to yell through the fabric of the hat. <end sarcasm – maybe>

Mr. Petersen goes on, in stunning fashion, to admit that the golden plates upon which The Book of Mormon was written, weren’t even necessary to the translation process:

According to those familiar with the process, he [Joseph Smith] dictated the Book of Mormon from words that somehow appeared in a “seer stone” or (much the same thing) in the Urim and Thummim. He rarely if ever actually had the plates with him; he couldn’t read what was on them except through revelation anyway, and he could receive revelation (via the “interpreters”) just as easily without the plates as with them.

Once you believe that everything is possible, anything is possible.  If the plates weren’t necessary, why was the stone?  Why not just the hat?  While we’re asking that question, why not just close his eyes and read the words off the inside of his eyelids?

His scribes needed light in order to work, but it’s quite understandable that Joseph sought to reduce the fatigue of his eyes by using a hat to exclude the ambient light.

The implications of this, however, are intriguing. A manuscript hidden in the bottom of a hat would be difficult if not impossible to read.

Petersen seems to believe that the only likely method of committing a fraud on the scale of The Book of Mormon is for Joe to be working alone and fooling his scribes.  Of course, if his “scribes” were doing more than writing, it could make such a deception much less complicated.  Oliver Cowdery, one of Smith’s scribes, just happened to be a distant cousin of Smith’s mother, and also happened to attend the same church of the pastor who authored ‘View of the Hebrews’, which strongly suggested that Native Americans were of Jewish descent.  Sound familiar?  If they wrote the book together, they wouldn’t have needed the hat, except to keep up appearances for visiting financiers.

It appears, thus, that Joseph was dictating from an unfamiliar text. It also seems likely that what he was reading provided its own independent light source, such that he could read it even with ordinary light excluded, in what one historian famously called “a world lit only by fire.”

For anyone who has ready anything but the official LDS version of history, the only thing that seems ‘likely’ in this story is that Joseph Smith was a talented “Glass Looker” in a gullible and trusting society.