Skip to comments.B.H. Roberts spent most of his life defending The Book of Mormon
Posted on 05/18/2010 1:51:49 PM PDT by Colofornian
I ran across an interesting article in the Summer 1979 issue of Brigham Young University Studies. Its B.H. Roberts and The Book of Mormon, and was written by Truman Madsen. Roberts was a remarkable man. Born in England, his birth father, and later a stepfather, both abandoned him and his family. He migrated to Utah early in his life and settled through a few rocky years struggling with the Word of Wisdom before straightening out, and eventually became a general authority at the age of 31.
He remained one for the rest of his life, dying in 1933 at 76. He served in World War I as a chaplain and was elected to the U.S. Congress in 1898, although that body refused to seat him because he was a polygamist. He married three wives and had 15 children.
Roberts was unique within the LDS hierarchy for his reasoning that evolution and Gospel doctrines did not conflict. He wrote a book, The Truth, The Way, The Life, that was not published due to the objections of creationist Apostle Joseph Fielding Smith. It eventually was published in 1994.
In the mid-1890s Roberts almost left the church over a disagreement on whether church authorities could be active in politics. He eventually apologized for the near apostasy.
Despite his maverick views, Roberts was respected by his colleagues in the church hierarchy. He was fascinated by The Book of Mormon, at one point calling it the fifth Gospel. He spent much of the second half of his life defending the book. According to Madsens piece, the unique doctrines of The Book of Mormon so different from traditional christianity and the biblical and historical knowledge within The Book of Mormon made it impossible for any man as unlearned as Joseph Smith to create it from scratch. It imposes what Roberts called a greater tax on human credulity to say Joseph Smith, or anyone in the nineteenth century, created it, writes Madsen.
Roberts, explains Madsen, has a different viewpoint of what the books translation was like than perhaps the typical Latter-day Saint. Roberts did not regard it as magical, or in other words, just viewing the Urim and Thummim, seeing words, and writing them down. On the contrary, brain sweat was required, and preparation, and labor, writes Madsen.
Besides, word-for-word translation is impossible, Roberts maintained. Smith had to use, in instances, what he had available to translate. That explains near copies of biblical chapters, biblical-like phrases, and even the inclusion of terms such as horses in The Book of Mormon.
Madsen lists 10 attributes that define Roberts devotion to The Book of Mormon. One bit of information that surprised me was that Roberts enjoyed writing creative fiction based on The Book of Mormon. I hope it was better than most of the kitsch published today.
He wrote stories about Moroni, the Nephite nation and even a play about Almas son, Corianton, which is described as a tale of sneaking indulgence, and remorse and renewal. Madsen adds that Roberts desperately wanted to see a major film based on The Book of Mormon produced.
One category Madsen describes Roberts in regards to The Book of Mormon is the role of devils advocate. As mentioned earlier, Roberts intellect brought him much respect among general authorities. He spent many of the final years of his life providing church leaders with hypothetical attacks on the legitimacy of The Book of Mormon. These efforts, which Madsen compares to a skilled lawyer preparing to better understand a courtroom adversary, have led to claims that Roberts lost or questioned his testimony regarding The Book of Mormon.
Madsen doubts these assertions. Roberts told colleagues that these reports were never intended to be balanced. They were intended as tools to increase learning about The Book of Mormon.
Roberts greatest influence as a church leader is that his example reminds us that our beliefs need to be tested for them to grow. If they remain unchallenged, they stay weak and susceptible to failure in times of stress.
Yet Roberts remained in awe of the personal power The Book of Mormon gave him. Madsen writes, Though renowned for his gifts as a speaker, B.H. Roberts agonized over the fact that he could never communicate the intensity, the power, the consuming white light that seemed to him to shine through the book.
Wow! What outright propaganda that this fringe Mormon columnist cites in quoting a church leader (Truman Madsen) about this Lds general authority (Brigham Roberts).
Roberts, of all the Lds general authorities, questioned the historicity of it more than any other leader that we know of!
According to a 1933 diary entry recorded by Wesley P. Lloyd, These are some of the things which has made Bro. Roberts shift his base on the Book of Mormon. Instead of regarding it as the strongest evidence we have of Church Divinity, he regards it as the one which needs the most bolstering. His greatest claim for the divinity of the Prophet Joseph Smith lies in the Doctrine and Covenants. (Private Journal of Wesley P. Lloyd, Aug. 7, 1933 ; secondary source: http://www.ils.unc.edu/~unsworth/mormon/bhroberts.html
According to this diary entry, Roberts had gone to the top leaders in the church, stumped by a Book of Mormon question that none could answer:
Bro. Roberts presented the matter, told them frankly that he was stumped and ask[ed] for their aide [sic] in the explanation. In answer, they merely one by one stood up and bore testimony to the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon. George Albert Smith in tears testified that his faith in the Book had not been shaken by the question....No answer was available. Bro[.] Roberts could not criticize them for not being able to answer it or to assist him, but said that in a church which claimed continuous revelation, a crisis had arisen where revelation was necessary. After the meeting he wrote Pres. Grant expressing his disappointment at the failure...It was mentioned at the meeting by Bro. Roberts that there were other Book of Mormon problems that needed special attention. Richard Lyman spoke up and ask[ed] if there were things that would help our prestige and when Bro. Roberts answered no, he said then why discuss them. This attitude was too much for the historically minded Roberts...After this Bro. Roberts made a special Book of Mormon study; treated the problem systematically and historically and in a 400 type written page thesis set forth a revolutionary article on the origin of the Book of Mormon and sent it to Pres. Grant. Its an article far too strong for the average Church member but for the intellectual group he considers it a contribution to assist in explaining Mormonism. He swings to a psychological explanation of the Book of Mormon and shows that the plates were not objective but subjective with Joseph Smith, that his exceptional imagination qualified him psychologically for the experience which he had in presenting to the world the Book of Mormon and that the plates with the Urim and Thummim were not objective.
So to Roberts, the Book of Mormon was based on some psychological subjective experience, NOT an objective historical one! He explained certain literary difficulties in the Book..
The bold-faced above is a hilarious attempt by Lds authorities (and this Utah columnist) to downplay Roberts' doubts about the Book of Mormon.
So, rather than just rely upon Madsen, upon columnist Gibson, or upon even the journal-ist I cited in my initial post, why don't we just let Roberts speak for himself:
One other subject remains to be considered in this division... viz. was Joseph Smith possessed of a sufficiently vivid and creative imagination as to produce such a work as the Book of Mormon from such materials as have been indicated in the proceeding chapters... That such power of imagination would have to be of a high order is conceded; that Joseph Smith possessed such a gift of mind there can be no question.... In light of this evidence, there can be no doubt as to the possession of a vividly strong, creative imagination by Joseph Smith, the Prophet, an imagination, it could with reason be urged, which, given the suggestions that are found in the common knowledge of accepted American antiquities of the times, supplemented by such a work as Ethan Smiths View of the Hebrews [published in Palmyra in 1825], it would make it possible for him to create a book such as the Book of Mormon is. - Studies of the Book of Mormon, by B.H. Roberts, p. 243, 250
There were other Anti-Christs among the Nephites, but they were more military leaders than religious innovators... they are all of one breed and brand; so nearly alike that one mind is the author of them, and that a young and underdeveloped, but piously inclined mind. The evidence I sorrowfully submit, points to Joseph Smith as their creator. It is difficult to believe that they are a product of history, that they came upon the scene separated by long periods of time, and among a race which was the ancestral race of the red man of America. - Studies of the Book of Mormon, by B.H. Roberts, p. 271
If from all that has gone before in Part 1, the view be taken that the Book of Mormon is merely of human origin... if it be assumed that he is the author of it, then it could be said there is much internal evidence in the book itself to sustain such a view. In the first place there is a certain lack of perspective in the things the book relates as history that points quite clearly to an underdeveloped mind as their origin. The narrative proceeds in characteristic disregard of conditions necessary to its reasonableness, as if it were a tale told by a child, with utter disregard for consistency. -Studies of the Book of Mormon, by B.H. Roberts, p. 251
Er.. does that mean the plates were "imaginary" or.. "fake"???
Roberts did a commentary on the book of mormon “verse” by “verse” etc...
I used to have it saved I’ll try to find it...
It is ver\y illuminating
Studies of the Book of Mormon
The first real evaluation of the original Book of Mormon wsa done by Alexander Campbell in 1831 or so.
He took that thing apart left and right. Of course, Mormons tweaked it after than in multiple updates.
One of his former friends, Sidney Rigdon, is claimed to be the true source of the Book of Mormon, as he had the expertise in ancient languages.
And what about this refusal to seat B.H. Roberts in congress?
What happened? Well, #1 Roberts took a third plural wife after the supposed squelching of polygamy by their "proph" (1893).
#2 When the public got wind of Utah electing a polygamist to Congress 8 years AFTER the state had supposedly halted the growth of polygamy, it was enough for outraged America to collect 7 million signatures on 28 banners that were submitted to Congress.
Can you imagine 7 million grassroots signatures in 1898 America?
Needless to say, when Congress was presented with such an uprising at the grassroots level, they sent Democrat Roberts packing back to Utah.
Ever since 1856, when the fledgling Republican party said they would take on the "twin relics of barbarism" -- polygamy and slavery -- it followed their commitment to those causes!
As an LDS apostle, he wanted to prove the authenticity of the BOM, but was unsuccessful. He ended up in a compromise position of saying that it was...something unique... but...hard to swallow as a serious piece of history or literature. The hundreds of thousands of dead in a single day in the final battle of the BOM was a wall he could not intellectually scale.
Another weak cut-and-paste job. Keep saving those souls. lol
Like most mormon apologists, Roberts was left to explain away the gross errors, anachronisms, and apparent plagerism present in the bom. And as other after him, their apologetics ran ashore against the reef of truth, having to explain away the undefendable.
999, at some point your soul will be airborn. At that point, it won't matter that you point to millions of Christians seemingly not able to 100% agree upon what the Bible says.
The Q may be asked of you,
"Well, what did you personally interpret its main thrust to be?"
"What did your Baptist teachers whom you trusted tell you it meant?"
"What did your one-time Nazarene family tell you it was its main focus?"
"What did Colofornian remind you of on May 17, 2010: It is because of HIM that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become FOR US...
...wisdom from Godthat is,
...and redemption. (1 Corinthians 1:30)
999, NONE OF US has ANY righteousness to hand to God worthy of anything...same goes for holiness. That's why God supplied it 100% IN Christ Jesus, His Son, who the apostle Paul says THEN "becomes FOR US" the righteousness we don't have...
...the holiness we don't have...
...and the redemption we don't have -- outside of Christ, that is.
On hearing this, Jesus said to them, "It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners." (Mark 2:17)
We're sinners, 999. Your soul qualifies, too. The Lord sends an "Army medic," for you, too. The Lord's Army leaves no soldier for the Lord behind. Your soul is of tremendous worth and value, just like every Mormon. There's still hope for you.
The Holy Spirit hovers over you to evacuate you out of this dry and often cold earth stint -- and allow you to hear the rhythm of the beating angel wings -- all beating in unison to surprisingly serve you and me.
“What did Colofornian remind you of on May 17, 2010: It is because of HIM that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become FOR US...
...wisdom from Godthat is,
...and redemption. (1 Corinthians 1:30)
yes Jesus will have the day, time etc when the Word was spoken to unbelievers...
Well, well, well, the plates of gold were “subjective”. I really don’t even know what to say about that. It’s so...special.
Several million people on this Earth being led to God knows where, on the basis of “subjective” gold plates.
Understatement of the Century.
I see PC language is not a modern invention. "Problems?"
How about out and out L-I-E-S.
Cults that change with the wind because they are caught up in their lies have enslaved millions. Mormonism is the best example of the one that infiltrated North America and duped the foolish.
Who really cares about the Book of MORMON?
It contains NO Temple Rituals; it contains practically NONE of the things that makes up MORMONism.
WHERE is the folks that ‘defend’ the Book of ABRAHAM?
Where are the people who CORRECTLY read and follow the Word of Wisdom found in DOCTRINE AND COVENANTs SECTION 89 ??
Another weak cut-and-paste job. Keep saving those souls.
I have learned for myself that Presbyterianism is not true.
17 It no sooner appeared than I found myself delivered from the enemy which held me bound. When the light rested upon me I saw two Personages, whose brightness and glory defy all description, standing above me in the air. One of them spake unto me, calling me by name and said, pointing to the otherThis is My Beloved Son. Hear Him!
18 My object in going to inquire of the Lord was to know which of all the sects was right, that I might know which to join. No sooner, therefore, did I get possession of myself, so as to be able to speak, than I asked the Personages who stood above me in the light, which of all the sects was right (for at this time it had never entered into my heart that all were wrong)and which I should join.
19 I was answered that I must join none of them, for they were all wrong; and the Personage who addressed me said that all their creeds were an abomination in his sight; that those professors were all corrupt; that: they draw near to me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me, they teach for doctrines the commandments of men, having a form of godliness, but they deny the power thereof.
20 He again forbade me to join with any of them; and many other things did he say unto me, which I cannot write at this time. When I came to myself again, I found myself lying on my back, looking up into heaven. When the light had departed, I had no strength; but soon recovering in some degree, I went home. And as I leaned up to the fireplace, mother inquired what the matter was. I replied, Never mind, all is wellI am well enough off. I then said to my mother,
Joseph Smith continues: "for the teachers of religion of the different sects understood the same passages of scripture so differently as to destroy all confidence in settling the question by an appeal to the Bible" (from Pearl of Great Price, Joseph Smith-History 1:12). "What is it that inspires professors of Christianity generally with a hope of salvation? It is that smooth, sophisticated influence of the devil, by which he deceives the whole world" (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p.270).Questions put to Joseph Smith: "'Do you believe the Bible?' [Smith:]'If we do, we are the only people under heaven that does, for there are none of the religious sects of the day that do'. When asked 'Will everybody be damned, but Mormons'? [Smith replied] 'Yes, and a great portion of them, unless they repent, and work righteousness." (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p. 119).Brigham Young stated this repeatedly: "When the light came to me I saw that all the so-called Christian world was grovelling in darkness" (Journal of Discourses 5:73); "The Christian world, so-called, are heathens as to the knowledge of the salvation of God" (Journal of Discourses 8:171); "With a regard to true theology, a more ignorant people never lived than the present so-called Christian world" (Journal of Discourses 8:199); "And who is there that acknowledges [God's] hand? ...You may wander east, west, north, and south, and you cannot find it in any church or government on the earth, except the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints" (Journal of Discourses, vol. 6, p.24); "Should you ask why we differ from other Christians, as they are called, it is simply because they are not Christians as the New Testament defines Christianity" (Journal of Discourses 10:230).Orson Pratt proclaimed: "Both Catholics and Protestants are nothing less than the 'whore of Babylon' whom the Lord denounces by the mouth of John the Revelator as having corrupted all the earth by their fornications and wickedness. Any person who shall be so corrupt as to receive a holy ordinance of the Gospel from the ministers of any of these apostate churches will be sent down to hell with them, unless they repent" (The Seer, p. 255).Pratt also said: "This great apostasy commenced about the close of the first century of the Christian era, and it has been waxing worse and worse from then until now" (Journal of Discourses, vol.18, p.44) and: "But as there has been no Christian Church on the earth for a great many centuries past, until the present century, the people have lost sight of the pattern that God has given according to which the Christian Church should be established, and they have denominated a great variety of people Christian Churches, because they profess to be ...But there has been a long apostasy, during which the nations have been cursed with apostate churches in great abundance" (Journal of Discourses, 18:172).President John Taylor stated: "Christianity...is a perfect pack of nonsense...the devil could not invent a better engine to spread his work than the Christianity of the nineteenth century." (Journal of Discourses, vol. 6, p.167); "Where shall we look for the true order or authority of God? It cannot be found in any nation of Christendom." (Journal of Discourses, 10:127).James Talmage said: "A self-suggesting interpretation of history indicates that there has been a great departure from the way of salvation as laid down by the Savior, a universal apostasy from the Church of Christ". (A Study of the Articles of Faith, p.182).President Joseph Fielding Smith said: "Doctrines were corrupted, authority lost, and a false order of religion took the place of the gospel of Jesus Christ, just as it had been the case in former dispensations, and the people were left in spiritual darkness." (Doctrines of Salvation, p.266). "For hundreds of years the world was wrapped in a veil of spiritual darkness, until there was not one fundamental truth belonging to the place of salvation ...Joseph Smith declared that in the year 1820 the Lord revealed to him that all the 'Christian' churches were in error, teaching for commandments the doctrines of men" (Doctrines of Salvation, vol. 3, p.282).More recent statements by apostle Bruce McConkie are also very clear: "Apostasy was universal...And this darkness still prevails except among those who have come to a knowledge of the restored gospel" (Doctrines of Salvation, vol 3, p.265); "Thus the signs of the times include the prevailing apostate darkness in the sects of Christendom and in the religious world in general" (The Millennial Messiah, p.403); "a perverted Christianity holds sway among the so-called Christians of apostate Christendom" (Mormon Doctrine, p.132); "virtually all the millions of apostate Christendom have abased themselves before the mythical throne of a mythical Christ whom they vainly suppose to be a spirit essence who is incorporeal uncreated, immaterial and three-in-one with the Father and Holy Spirit" (Mormon Doctrine, p.269); "Gnosticism is one of the great pagan philosophies which antedated Christ and the Christian Era and which was later commingled with pure Christianity to form the apostate religion that has prevailed in the world since the early days of that era." (Mormon Doctrine, p.316).President George Q. Cannon said: "After the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was organized, there were only two churches upon the earth. They were known respectively as the Church of the Lamb of God and Babylon. The various organizations which are called churches throughout Christendom, though differing in their creeds and organizations, have one common origin. They all belong to Babylon" (Gospel Truth, p.324).President Wilford Woodruff stated: "the Gospel of modern Christendom shuts up the Lord, and stops all communication with Him. I want nothing to do with such a Gospel, I would rather prefer the Gospel of the dark ages, so called" (Journal of Discourses, vol. 2, p.196).
yes Jesus will have the day, time etc when the Word was spoken to unbelievers...
JESUS: Hey Smith!
Remember that boast you made about doing more than even I had done to hold the 'church' together?
JOSEPH SMITH: Where am I?
JESUS: Don't you remember? A few seconds ago you were in that jail.
JOSEPH SMITH: Oh; yeah; but where am I NOW?
JESUS: Don't you remember? Does bang - bang ring a bell?
JOSEPH SMITH: Oh; yeah - that crummy gun I had was about USELESS!
JESUS: I hope you left instructions on how to hold your church together.
JOSEPH SMITH: Dang! I knew there was SOMETHING I was forgetting!
JESUS: Looks like there's a power struggle going on down there.
JOSEPH SMITH: Yeah; there was always SOMEone who wanted the power that I held - especially over the LADIES - wink wink.
JESUS: No need to worry about that now; remember what my friend Matthew wrote down?
JOSEPH SMITH: This? At the resurrection people will neither marry nor be given in marriage; they will be like the angels in heaven (Matthew 22:30)
JESUS: That's it.
JOSEPH SMITH: I thought that was mistranslated.
JESUS: Nah - it was right.
JOSEPH SMITH: Oh well; it was fun while it lasted. My buds will still get it on with the girls.
JESUS: Uh; I'm sorry; in just a few more years; your followers will cavein to the United States government and abandon the 'Eternal Covenant' that you came up with.
JOSEPH SMITH: ME!? YOU are the one that told me to do that!
JESUS: Sorry; but you must have mistranslated what I told you. What part of Do NOT commit ADULTERY did you not understand?
JOSEPH SMITH: mumble....
JESUS: What did you say?
JOSEPH SMITH: Oh, nothing.
JESUS: Well; it was interesting talking to you; but now I must get back to perparing a place for those who believe in Me.
JOSEPH SMITH: Oh, yeah; the Celestial Kingdom.
JOSEPH SMITH: The Telestial one?
JOSEPH SMITH: SUREly not the TERRESTRIAL one!!
JESUS: Nope. Didn't you read that the mind of man had NOT conceived of it? Paul wrote it down in 1 Corinthians 2:9.
JOSEPH SMITH: I thought that was mistranslated.
JESUS: No; it wasn't.
JOSEPH SMITH: You SURE?
JESUS: Yes. Now I must be going: what did you say your name was again?
JOSEPH SMITH: Joseph Smith.
JESUS: Hmmmm. According to my Heavenly Faithbook, you didn't sign in as one of my friends - sorry, I never knew you.
JOSEPH SMITH: But....
Well, well, well, the plates of gold were subjective. I really dont even know what to say about that. Its so...special.
Several million people on this Earth being led to God knows where, on the basis of subjective gold plates.
"Now the way he translated was he put the urim and thummim into his hat and Darkned his Eyes than he would take a sentance and it would apper in Brite Roman Letters. Then he would tell the writer and he would write it. Then that would go away the next sentance would Come and so on. But if it was not Spelt rite it would not go away till it was rite, so we see it was marvelous. Thus was the hol [whole] translated."---Joseph Knight's journal.
"In writing for your father I frequently wrote day after day, often sitting at the table close by him, he sitting with his face buried in his hat, with the stone in it, and dictating hour after hour with nothing between us."
(History of the RLDS Church, 8 vols.(Independence, Missouri: Herald House,1951),"Last Testimony of Sister Emma [Smith Bidamon]," 3:356.
"I, as well as all of my father's family, Smith's wife, Oliver Cowdery and Martin Harris, were present during the translation. . . . He [Joseph Smith] did not use the plates in translation."
---(David Whitmer,as published in the "Kansas City Journal," June 5, 1881,and reprinted in the RLDS "Journal of History", vol. 8, (1910), pp. 299-300.
In an 1885 interview, Zenas H. Gurley, then the editor of the RLDS Saints Herald, asked Whitmer if Joseph had used his "Peep stone" to do the translation. Whitmer replied:
"... he used a stone called a "Seers stone," the "Interpreters" having been taken away from him because of transgression. The "Interpreters" were taken from Joseph after he allowed Martin Harris to carry away the 116 pages of Ms [manuscript] of the Book of Mormon as a punishment, but he was allowed to go on and translate by use of a "Seers stone" which he had, and which he placed in a hat into which he buried his face, stating to me and others that the original character appeared upon parchment and under it the translation in English."
"Martin Harris related an incident that occurred during the time that he wrote that portion of the translation of the Book of Mormon which he was favored to write direct from the mouth of the Prophet Joseph Smith. He said that the Prophet possessed a seer stone, by which he was enabled to translate as well as from the Urim and Thummim, and for convenience he then used the seer stone, Martin explained the translation as follows: By aid of the seer stone, sentences would appear and were read by the Prophet and written by Martin and when finished he would say 'Written,' and if correctly written that sentence would disappear and another appear in its place, but if not written correctly it remained until corrected, so that the translation was just as it was engraven on the plates, precisely in the language then used."
(Edward Stevenson, "One of the Three Witnesses,"reprinted from Deseret News, 30 Nov. 1881in Millennial Star, 44 (6 Feb. 1882): 86-87.)
In 1879, Michael Morse, Emma Smith's brother-in-law, stated:"When Joseph was translating the Book of Mormon [I] had occasion more than once to go into his immediate presence, and saw him engaged at his work of translation. The mode of procedure consisted in Joseph's placing the Seer Stone in the crown of a hat, then putting his face into the hat, so as to entirely cover his face, resting his elbows upon his knees, and then dictating word after word, while the scribes Emma, John Whitmer, O. Cowdery, or some other wrote it down."
(W.W. Blair interview with Michael Morse,Saints Herald, vol. 26, no. 12June 15, 1879, pp. 190-91.)
Joseph Smith's brother William also testified to the "face in the hat" version:"The manner in which this was done was by looking into the Urim and Thummim, which was placed in a hat to exclude the light, (the plates lying near by covered up), and reading off the translation, which appeared in the stone by the power of God"("A New Witness for Christ in America,"Francis W. Kirkham, 2:417.)
"The manner in which he pretended to read and interpret was the same manner as when he looked for the money-diggers, with the stone in his hat, while the book of plates were at the same time hid in the woods."---Isaac Hale (Emma Smith's father's) affidavit, 1834.