Skip to comments.The cross: A symbol, but of what?
Posted on 03/16/2002 6:42:19 AM PST by LarryLied
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You contine with the childish nit picking as if it is some deep spiritual truth Ward
OP said that he had all the answers..he was speaking of the truth of scripture..IF YOU do not believe that the bible has all truth in it we work from a different base..and will never find any agreement!
I love beautiful churches. anyone that can not be "moved " by the art work at St.Peters is a rock :>)) We have a Basilica near my home. It is the first place I take visitors to our area. I do not take them there because it is a "religious experience" but a human experience to see the work of great artists.I do not need a work of man to worship the God of creation..That is His grace . Actually I find all that artwork a distraction from what is really important.That "still small voice"
I was waiting for you to say that. I find it distracting, too, but I don't have as much credibility when I say it, because I am not an an ex-RC.
O.P. said you have all the answers. (and got several hearty amens)
Doc said he didn't have to consider my position. (and got several hearty amens)
I believe the Bible has all the truth.
I don't believe you do.
And you have a lot of nerve calling anyone a childish nit picker.
Sorry low blow !!
I think it is time to drop the "charge " against OP..If he posts again ask him.
Yes, your calling me childish was a low blow. I'm glad we can agree.
LOL you are so gracious!
Does that hurt?
I just finished an interesting book on the Mormons. Did you know that Wesley was one of the people that the Mormons baptized into thier "church" after he died? I now know why you were willing to agree with the Mormons a few threads ago.
Seriously though, I was amazed with who the Mormons posthumously baptized.
The quartering of the universe into its 4 elemental components: Earth, Water, Wind and Fire.
I think I knew that. There's a lot of people on that list though. It's one of the reasons they have such incredible genealogy records.
I now know why you were willing to agree with the Mormons a few threads ago.
Just tryin to cover the bases...
HAVE THEY FOREGOTTEN THAT JESUS HAD TO DIE?!?!
Makes you wonder if Joseph Smith baptized his Puritan ancestors.
Now, if I were to read an objective history written by a mormon, I would see the other side.
I think you're right. In addition, my understanding is that you can "marry" someone for "time and eternity" and a lot of Mormon women "married" Brigham Young posthumously (for him, not them).
I'm reading a biography of Smith myself. Don't tell Mom.
The book I just finished is One Nation Under Gods, by Richard Abanes. I recommend it. The chapter "Are Mormons Christians?" is excellent.
Joseph Smith: The First Mormon by Donna Hill
Thanks. I wasn't aware of that. Makes sense. I just assumed the only people with this view were liberals whose ultimate goal is to have Christianity slowly fade away.
My words were "I will never run out of answers, because the Bible is on my side".
Well, if the Bible is your Ally in the Foxhole, you will never run out of answers. You might be stumped (for lack of Biblical knowledge) for perhaps a day, or a week, or a month, but because you return to the Bible, you will never run out of Answers... because they are all in the Bible. All answers, wholly sufficient in all matters of faith and practice, just awaiting your discovery and employment thereof.
An Amen to that
That is the challenge: to find the writers who are objective, who do not ascribe baser motives (or whitewash) whenever they can to further their agenda.
I don't see how being baptized in behalf of those who have passed on conveys any credibility at all. Those who do not think we have authority from God to do that should just consider it a nice way to honor them, which they can accept in the spirit in which it is given, or ignore.
The Revelation of Scripture terminates at Revelation 22:21.
Any addition thereafter, is False Prophecy.
Whether by Mohammed, or anyone else.
That is irrelevant to our point. For someone who prides himself on his logic, logic has forsaken you.
But since you bring it up -- are you able to stop our sovereign God from doing whatsoever He will? Should He decide to give more guidance to His children, by true prophets, or true apostles, visitations of angels, bringing forth ancient records, could you stop Him? Of course not.
Suppose you said to Him, "You promised You would never do this to us again!" Forgetting for a moment how arrogant that would be, what would He reply? "You have not understood the Scriptures."
The sarcasm of my comment escaped you.
I don't see how being baptized in behalf of those who have passed on conveys any credibility at all. Those who do not think we have authority from God to do that should just consider it a nice way to honor them, which they can accept in the spirit in which it is given, or ignore.
As I mentioned to Ward, the Mormons baptized Wesley. Wesley was a Christian whose sins were paid for by Jesus Christ, he would not need your perverted idea of baptizism to be redeemed. I am actually offended that you think that God is limited; that He actually needs the Mormon church's help to save us.
And you don't see how it is a credibility ploy? Give me a break. You mean to tell me that you don't tell people that these people were "baptized" Mormons? I don't believe that at all. It is used to deceive.
It was the triumph of hope over experience. I wanted to give you the benefit of the doubt again.
>> Wesley was a Christian whose sins were paid for by Jesus Christ
Jesus Christ paid the price for the sins of all mankind, for everyone, on condition of repentance and obedience to the laws and ordinances of the Gospel. Baptism is an ordinance that is required for salvation (Mark 16:16), and throughout the New Testament it was always performed by one having authority to baptize -- John the Baptist, then Jesus and His apostles, and those they ordained.
When the apostles were taken from the earth, the keys of the kingdom -- the authority to direct the labors of the priesthood of God and regulate the affairs of the Kingdom of God on the earth -- went with them, and that included the authority to baptize.
You may ask, "How could the early Christians have apostatized to that extent?" Read your Bible again about apostasy in ancient days, think about the way you consider apostasy to be rampant in Christendom today, and consider what a tiny percentage of the billions of people here on Earth have received the Lord's Church and the modern-day apostles He has sent over the past 170 years. Today the membership of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, while growing rapidly, is just one-half of one percent of the world's population.
Protestants think that Christianity went astray for 1500 years, until the "right" private interpretation of the Bible by the reformers, except that they sharply disagreed with one another, and to this day there is no agreement among Protestants on what the "right" interpretation should be, as we see here at FR. The wisdom of fallen man is simply not sufficient to return Christianity to the right way, even with the Bible as a guide.
The prayers of the reformers were answered in the Lord's own due time, and in His own way, and according to His own will. The Holy Apostleship, the Keys of the Kingdom, the authority to baptize, all was restored to the earth by Jesus Christ -- and now there are a lot of baptisms to do, as the early Church did in Paul's day (1 Corinthians 15:29), for none need suppose that those who have had no chance to hear the Gospel of Jesus Christ in mortality must unavoidably go to an endless hell. The Gospel is preached to them in the spirit world (1 Peter 3:18-20, 4:6) and they have the opportunity to accept it, and vicarious baptism, there.
It is wisdom in God that it be done this way, that the hearts of the children should turn to their fathers (Malachi 4:5-6). The worldwide interest in genealogy and family history work is heartwarming.
I realize that I am casting my pearls before swine, knowing the contempt with which you will receive this, but it is time I laid it out. Other readers will be wiser.
>> [regarding the ordinance of baptism] you think that God is limited
No, Limited Atonement is a Calvinist idea, and is incorrect. We have discussed that at length.
We think that when God gives commandments to His ancient and modern-day apostles, His commandments should be obeyed.
I find it incredible that you guys set the commandments of God at naught (in this case the requirement of baptism), reasoning that to obey them would be to limit God's sovereignty, or the scope and reach of His atonement, as though you had the power to do that.
>> You mean to tell me that you don't tell people that these people were "baptized" Mormons?
No, we don't. They must (of their own God-given free will) do their part and accept the ordinance in the spirit world before it would take effect, and here in mortality we don't know who has, or who will.
I never read a request from John Calvin.
If you read the life of Joseph Smith. You would know that from the age of 16 when he was told of the Plate of brass Book of Mormon by the angel Moroni, at the age of 20 he was allowed to received them and translated them, and had to raise money to publish the Book and from that time on his life was one trail after another for, he was beaten on many occasion and arrested on any trump charges the opposition could find. His beating was by mobs, tarred and feathered, little money; many times food was Johnnycake, and vegetables. Driven from one place to another homes burn, family killed, driven out their home in winter time chased by thugs who burned down homes, barns, stole cattle, and personal belongings, killed women and children, those who were able to escaped many died in the cold of winter trying to cross the country.The Lord's prophet had a life of blood, sweat and tears, and murdered in the end, with his brother Hyrum.Even the Prophet Brigham Young died before the complection of the Salt Lake Temple.It was faith that keep the other keeping on.
I can't began to do justice on these thread to tell not only Joseph, but many gave their all to preserve the Book of Mormon and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, and still today the persecution continues. It was the blood and faith of others in Jesus Christ, that have helped the Church to be a strong foundation today.
Joseph lived a humble life, and died poor, but rich beyond any things this world had to offer, for he was able fulfill the his calling in setting up the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and much of other things the Lord needed done.
And his seer stone was quite useful. Ever wonder if that voice that talked to him was not God, but maybe, Satan??
"Church policy is that the only Mormon history told should be so called "faith promoting" history which conceals controversies and difficulties of the Mormon past and present....A policy of changing, retelling, or withholding information, is willful manipulation of my ongoing right to an informed choice."
That quote is by Francis Nelson Henderson, a former Mormon, who left the church over this issue.
I could give more examples, but I suggest you read the book, One Nation Under Gods by Richard Abanes yourself. You may have your eyes opened.
No, but I suspect there exist a legion of lessor fallen angels who might have stooped even lower to the task.
What the Church needs now is a nice big public excommunication ceremony, hymns, candles being snuffed out symbolizing the spiritual death of the (many) excommunicants, the works. Put it on the Catholic Cable network. Include the pedophile priests, the 'Catholics' connected with abortion supporting groups, the 'Castholic' politicians who are not pro-life. I doubt that we would need to do it publicly to more than 10,000 of them, they would get the idea.
IT IS TIME TO TAKE OUT THE TRASH!!
I recall while The Lord Jesus Christ was on the cross, one of the thieves adjacent to Him, responded to another pointing out that they deserved death and their penalties, but He had done nothing to deserve His. It seems apparant to me that when that thief was told by Christ that he would join Him that day in paradise, that the thief didn't know much volume of Scripture, but the faith and the Sacrifice were sufficient for salvation.
Considering the 4 gospels confirm one another and provide direct quotes of Jesus Christ Himself, I suspect faith in that Word is indeed sufficient for personal salvation and outstanding if not perfect guidance for the body of believers who simply seek a relationship with Him and to remain in that fellowship.
I have always observed a very simple test regarding Scripture which so many false doctrines fail and become exposed. Even those with IQs less than 30 and those above 200 have an opportunity to come to Him. Language is no barrier to that relationship, nor culture, although one's surroundings might increase temptation and incline one towards various evil devises which take more time to overcome.
Considering the basis of the Bible, more accurately Scripture, is devoted to the direct evidence of Him and His Word, I find the judgment that the Bible is insufficient even as a guide to be a grossly inaccurate and false statement.
"Why would Richard Abanes sacrifice his own personal and professional integrity?" the source continues. "Could there be a sweetheart deal in the making between Hanegraaff and Abanes since Abanes occasionally writes for Hanegraaff? Or could it be that delusions of grandeur necessitate him tying up as many sordid loose ends as he can while riding the coattails of Hanegraaff's bully pulpit to his own destination of Christian industry advancement?
No one knows. No one, that is, except Abanes. And that he will have to live with. What a supreme disappointment Abanes is. He has virtually become a liar, a manipulator, and a seeker of self aggrandizement - all at his own expense. He has reportedly come full circle since being showing his rage and indignation against Hanegraaff, and has all but become like Hanegraaff."
But as always, a good measure of their stance is simply from Scripture itself. Rather than take my word for it, which means little anyways, I encourage those who are curious to simply read a little Bible, glean a few lessons, and improve their own discernment regardless of what any others say (other than the Holy Spirit, thank you , Lord).
Do you REALLY mean that? If so then Rev 22:22 is NOT scripture, nor many other parts of the New Testement that were in fact written AFTER John wrote Revelations.
BTW, have you read Deu 4:2 lately? What God says in Rev 22:21 is a commandment to men to not alter His word, not a restriction on God that prevents Him from giving any more of His word.
And if God called a true prophet, don't you think that the Adversary would do his best to slander his reputation, belittle his work, and that the enemies of Christ would use every means they could to spread lies and half-truths to keep others from finding the truth?
The best commentary on Joseph Smith is the Book of Mormon itself. I assume that you don't believe that it is a valid historical record, delivered by an angel or translated from gold plates. Given that nobody else has ever owned up to producing the Book of Mormon, I assume that you believe that Joseph Smith wrote it all by himself.
If you can come up with no other explanation, I suggest you give some thought to the following, by LDS scholar Hugh Nibley:
There are two rigorous tests to which we can subject the Book of Mormon: There is the internal test and the external test. This is true for every document. At the time of the Renaissance, which they usually say began with the fall of Constantinople (actually that is not true-- the Turks treasured those documents from ancient times), all of a sudden they discovered them, not so much in the East as in the monasteries. They discovered thousands of manuscripts from ancient times. They didn't know what to do with them, or how to arrange them in order, or whether they were genuine or not. It became the stock assignment of scholarship to go through a great big pile of nondescript documents in quite a number of languages and decide what can they tell us about the human race-- what here is authentic, what isn't, what have they been doing. It was just a mess, and some of the great scholars devised a very efficient method for processing these documents, and also for testing them for authenticity. Their test became foolproof, not only just intuitive; they could do marvelous things. They could take documents damaged almost beyond recognition and restore them. And later, years later, they would discover a complete document, and, sure enough, the restoration was correct. They were often going on mere intuition.
The first question that you have when you get an ancient document is-- is it real? That is the first question they wanted to know. They could very well be not just copies of copies, but they could be fakes. That is very common too and, well, what part of it is real? Because there is no such thing as a perfect document. There is no such thing as a flawless document-- never has been, never will be. The Book of Mormon recognized this-- remember in the title page: "If there are mistakes therein they are the mistakes of men." And men do make mistakes. Well, if parts are real, what parts? What has been going on? How have they been treating the document? An interesting thing-- you read the document itself without any reference to anything outside. If it is a historical document, you say, "Oh, sure, this claims to be at a certain time and place"-- you can go back and check to see if this was going on. You do not have to do that. The classic work on the criticism of ancient documents is by Frederick Blass. It was written almost a hundred years ago. It is a massive work by a German. I think he is most memorable because of his equally classical work on classical rhetoric. He begins by saying (which is so typical of German scholarship), "I have never been able to get interested in classical rhetoric." Then the great man begins to exhaust the field and the reader too. I don't think anybody ever read it through except me, once. Well, as Blass says, you never have to go outside of a document, you never have to check from outside sources; just read the thing itself and it easily becomes clear whether it is authentic or not. Regardless of the period, regardless of how much else is known about it, regardless of what other documents go along with it, simply read it and see if it is convincing in itself.
Now today interesting things are happening on many fronts. They are dealing with things differently than they ever have before. If it looks like an elephant, call it an elephant; no matter how queer it may sound, you have to pay attention to it now. Things must be explained. You just can't fit everything into the well-known, established patterns. Before, if anything seemed odd, strange, or weird, you just discounted it; but you can't do that anymore. It is these things that are odd that are most significant. For example, speaking of documents, the best kind of document is the one that has fantastic mistakes in it-- when you get a weird anomaly or contradiction or something impossible. That is the time to start looking; that is not the kind of thing that copyists put in. Copyists have a weakness for correcting texts they don't understand, so they write it so they can understand. So if you have a flawless text, look out; it has been faked, doctored; the copyists have taken care of it, they have brought it up to date. But if you have one that is full of the weirdest stuff, there you have a real gem, because that stuff came from somewhere. Someone picked it up from somewhere, and you just need to look at the document itself. It is not necessary to go beyond the internal evidence, because it is impossible to fake an ancient document on two conditions, first the internal-- especially if it is of any length at all (and the Book of Mormon is long) you multiply the danger, you compound it with every word you add (mathematical progression). Every time you add a word you get yourself in deeper and deeper. So keep your documents short if you want to fake one. Never write a long document-- that will hang you just as sure as anything. Nobody has ever faked one successfully.
The second condition, of course, is external. Does it purport to be historical? If you are going to write a document, write one of beautiful thoughts, and no one can object. If you say it is history, then you are in trouble because it has to be checked at various points. So this first thought is going to be about internal evidence of the Book of Mormon, just the internal evidence. I'm not going to use anything outside at all. The internal evidence for the superhuman origins of the Book of Mormon is so overwhelming today that the story of the angel, as far as I am concerned, has become the least baffling explanation. If you think of other explanations, good-- but they rejected the story of the angel out of hand because it was absurd. Well, Blass says (this is a very important principle) you should always begin by assuming that a document is authentic. Why not give it the benefit of the doubt? It will quickly become apparent if it isn't. If you proceed on the grounds of authenticity, and if it isn't, the first thing you will know you will be caught up short. So, the first thing, you begin by assuming that your document is authentic, and you say, "Well, that isn't playing fair." All right then, you think of a better explanation. If it isn't a fourteenth-century document, were did it come from? If the famous Turk map of North America of pre-Columbian times isn't authentic, then who did produce it? The more fantastic it is, the easier it is to select a substitute and alternative. Well, I can't think of a more fantastic explanation of the Book of Mormon than the story of the angel. Think of another way to explain it. By George, it turns out that the story of the angel is the least fantastic story that you can think of-- everything else is even more weird.
You are welcome to try to explain how the Book of Mormon came to exist. What would be your plausible explanation of the existence of the Book of Mormon? How would you explain its mere existence? "Well," you say "let me give some parallel examples." Okay, tell us of another book, anything like that at all. The only way you can do it is to reconstruct the crime yourself. How did Joseph Smith get or how did he produce this book? You ask yourself how you would go about it. Try to imagine how you would go about reproducing the book.
I tried this out at family home evening last week on some very, very literary students, some foreign students, some investigators-- a very skeptical group. And since they were literature people, I asked them, "How would you do it?" Consider the problems facing you if you are undertaking to do what Joseph Smith did. Mere physical problems: he must produce a big book. All right, sit down and produce a big book. That means a lot of work, just putting it together. It means you have to find the time, you have to find the resources, you have to find the continued motivation to keep going. Just try to keep any student or anybody going on a project like that! What is the motivation, what is going to keep you going right up until the end? Again you see, immediately the internal evidence comes. Does it have an even flow, does he run out, does he peter out, does he start repeating himself, does he weaken? These are all internal evidences. The Book of Mormon starts out with a bang, a rush-- it is a marvelous beginning and it never drags, things happen very rapidly. You will find that it is when people don't know exactly what they are going to write about that they can string things out endlessly. All your big books do that. But the pace of the Book of Mormon is quite breathtaking-- the number of episodes that occur, the rapidity of things that occur. You would be surprised to compare any ten pages with the next ten pages and see what happens-- you are in a different world entirely. Things really keep moving, and they keep moving, so it not only starts out with a rush like a rocket, but it ends up like a rocket. It ends up with a magnificent display of fireworks. It never loses from beginning to end, and in the middle it is the most exciting of all.
So this is the test we put to our book. Remember, you are a young man struggling to make a living, tied up in such projects. Of all the things to get tied up in when you are trying to make a living! Remember, Jesse Knight's father tells in his journal how he first met Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery, and they were living in a shack translating the Book of Mormon. He said they were hungry and they didn't have a penny, and he brought them a sack of potatoes; and it was that sack of potatoes that enabled them to survive the winter. They were that hungry doing it-- he should have better things to think of than a long, long book and a very complicated book that no one was going to believe in. So you have to have the motivation just to create a big book.
You ask the people, "Can you think of any other such performance for comparison?" Who else wrote a long book like the Book of Mormon? What young fellow ever produced anything like that? We think of the great, massive, impressive works in English literature. There is Macaulay and the History of England, Carlyle's Frederick the Great, Gibbons' Decline and Fall; but you see how different these all are. There are plenty of big historical works, but these men were paraphrasing. They had all the records in front of them. They rearranged the chronological order and told the story. They just retold the story, and sometimes very interestingly, but they had all their materials provided them. They could do what they wanted with the materials as far as that was concerned. Joseph Smith had no such handbook. The most terrifying assignment that you can ever give students is to say, "Write on anything you want," because that is where you give yourself away. Joseph Smith could write anything at all; no one knew about Central America in those times long ago. That is just the challenge; that is the hardest thing of all to do. Just try doing it. If you can follow a text, if you have historical records or something to follow, you are on safe ground; you can move securely, you can go step by step, you have handles. He had no such thing to go by.
Joseph Smith had to start from scratch and produce a brand new epic. Instead of making things easier for himself, he made something never seen before. Now we have epics being produced in our generation, and some of them become very popular, strangely popular. Begin with Walter Scott at the beginning of the nineteenth century producing his ponderous works, or, in our time, C. S. Lewis, Tolkien, who have invented cultures and worlds all of their own. They are free to do this, but notice here they are not held to historical accuracy at all, though they still have material supplied. Walter Scott is nothing else but a story, and he read and read and read for years. He was thoroughly saturated in the literature, and so was Tolkien, a professor of Anglo-Saxon at Oxford. He just retold old English stories. Shakespeare was the greatest creative genius of them all, but not a single plot, not a single sentiment in all of Shakespeare, is original. They are all lifted from somewhere else but fit in a real and marvelous new structure. It is like saying, "Oh, yes, he used all those words you will find in the dictionary, so there is nothing original about that." You can say, "Bach just used the eight notes of the scale and composed this; anybody could do that if he had a piano." No, you can't compose like Bach. Joseph Smith does not write like that. These men have this license; they can be creative as they wish, but they are all completely saturated from material from a time and place and are just rewriting it in their imagination. The same thing with C. S. Lewis; he mixed his religion in with the theme, a sort of science fiction, and he goes off into the blue. These people were not held to historic accuracy, and their material is already provided. And then they are given a special license by the reading public and they write, and even so they are all monotonous. Nobody reads Walter Scott today. Tolkien had a big run with young people a while ago, but what do Tolkien's characters do? They are always eating and traveling and having wars and having things in court. They just go through the regular thing of the Medieval court-- hunting and feeding and traveling and fighting. That is it, the same routine. Joseph Smith isn't going to be able to get away with anything as easy as that. C. S. Lewis always has boy meets girl on Jupiter, or boy meets girl on Mars. It is the same story, you just put it in a different setting. That is what all your science fiction people do anyway.
Well, back to Brother Joseph-- you can do the same with your piece you are writing. Remember, you are writing a big book-- nothing has to be trimmed-- just a big book. Right there you have a terrific challenge. What am I going to do? I'll go crazy. I can't go on writing day after day, year after year. What is this? Won't you give me some help, won't you tell me what to say? Oh sure, you can go to the Bible. They tell us again and again that anyone looking at the Bible can write a Book of Mormon. It is all there after all-- just try that again. You can do the same thing with our piece; you can put in anything you want to. But as soon as you start borrowing, you will give yourself away. As the scripture tells us, "My words shall be of the uprightness of my heart" (Job 33:3).
Brigham Young used to have a black leather couch in his office. A window faced the couch; when people came to see him, they would sit on the couch with Brigham Young's back to the window, the desk between them. Brigham Young would just look at the person for three minutes, that was all. He was never fooled; he could figure them out every time. After all, they had come to see him; he didn't ask for them. If they had anything to say, they could talk and he would say nothing. He would just let them talk, and lots of rascals came, people plotting against his life, people wanting to get money from him, all sorts of things. The man never had to talk more than three minutes. Here is your nondirect interview which is so effective to the psychologist-- Brigham had it worked out completely. My grandfather said he was never wrong. After three minutes he knew his man. Well, the same way, if you sit down and write a book 600 pages long, you are going to give yourself away all over the place-- what a revelation of your character. Your background will come to the fore all over the place. Enemies tried to catch Joseph Smith in this trap. There are things common to all human affairs. For example, in the Book of Mormon, people eat; well, they eat in the Bible-- aha! See, he stole it from the Bible. Somebody actually used that as an argument. The problem here is to make a big book.
Secondly, the book has to have some sort of quality. You didn't have to make your book good, but Joseph Smith had to make his book good. So it would be nice, if you are going to write a book, to write a decent one while you are at it. The book can't be complete nonsense. You can't waste your time and everyone else's. You've got to make a book that is something. Well, now you are in real trouble, because 99 percent of the books published today are not worth the paper they are printed on. Here you are, twenty-three years old, and you must live with this book over your head the rest of your life. No matter who writes it, you are going to be wholly and completely responsible for it-- Joseph Smith, author and proprietor. He had to do that for the sake of the copyright. Before the book even came out, all the scandalous stories were circulating, and in the Painesville Telegraph they made a parody of what it must be. In order to protect it against complete manipulation, the author had to copyright it under the copyright law. Joseph Smith authored the Book of Mormon just as James was the author of the Epistle of James. Although he could write, the author was the Lord. It was given by revelation. That would never do-- we assign the authorship of the Bible to the men who wrote it, by revelation or not. Joseph Smith takes complete responsibility-- no matter who wrote it; that isn't the question. He is going to be responsible for it, and be responsible for it the rest of his life. How often he must think back, "Oh, what I did when I was a fool kid. If I could only amend that book!" It would be easy-- get more inspiration and have a revised edition. The first edition was reprinted by Wilford C. Wood. It is very useful; it hasn't been divided up into chapters and verses-- Orson Pratt and Brother Talmage did that later. It is an interesting book to use. There are some mistakes, but the text is actually a better one than the 1920 edition. The point is, it was never changed, and Joseph Smith was never haunted by it. Right to the end, he kept insisting, "This is the most correct book on the earth today." Imagine that-- even more correct than a book on mathematics. Sure, I have books of mathematics that are hopelessly out of date today. They are not used today. They were when I was in school. They are not used anymore because they are hopelessly wrong. You are going to be stuck with the correctness of the book.
It should have some literary quality, don't you think? If you are going to have to live with it the rest of your days, it should be consistent; it should hang together. You are feeling bad when you write one part, you are feeling good when you write another. The thing must drag out for years. What are the different parts going to read like? What are they going to be like? In talking or writing for 600 pages, you can't choose but to lay bare your own soul. That is going to be exposing your mental quality and your mental bankruptcy. It will show if you have nothing but gibberish, if you are devious and scheming, if you are honest, and also the degree of education. You can see what Blass means when he says you don't need anything but internal evidence.
You can tell whether a man is faking a book or not if it is long enough, if he gives himself enough room-- and it doesn't take much. The only successful forgeries have been very short ones, just brief inscriptions, two or three words or a half-dozen words. As soon as forgeries get long, and there have been some famous ones, it becomes easy to discover. Why do you think Blass states this as a categorical principle: "There never has been a clever forgery." People say the Book of Mormon was a clever forgery. There never has been a clever forgery. "Well, how do you know? A really clever one would have never been discovered," you say. "You won't have even known he was a forger." Such a statement can be justified on the grounds that every forgery discovered so far has not been clever but crude and very obvious. The only reason it ever got by at all is that people wanted to accept it, wanted to very badly. The Royalist boy Chatterly is an example. He was just a child when he faked a lot of Middle English poetry, and everyone was so thrilled about the discovery of old documents that they never bothered to read them with particular care. The first person who read them with any critical eye discovered they were done by a kid, and very crudely. See, when you discover a forgery, it is very obvious; the author gives himself away.
This brings up an interesting thing: When I taught at Claremont, I had a next-door neighbor who was the wife of the most famous of all American scholars. Her husband had just died the year she came to live in Claremont, and since we both rode bicycles, we got to be pretty good friends. She told me that her husband, a very conscientious, public-minded man, decided he would do the world a good deed and save a lot of people the trouble of mixing themselves up and being confused in their ignorance and hopelessness by taking a few hours off and going through the Book of Mormon (and that was all it would take, a few hours) and showing them it was a fraud. He would thereby perform a valuable service to the Mormons, too, because it was of no value to them to be led astray. If they were being fooled, they should be grateful to him to know that. So he began to do it. He thought it would take twenty minutes or so. Twenty hours, twenty days, and his work never came out. I asked her what happened to that public service-- well he just dropped it, that was all.
It should be very easy under these circumstances, the Book of Mormon being produced under such conditions, to make a monkey out of Joseph Smith, because, as I say, there is no such thing as a clever forgery. You just can't get away with it. It was many years later when he had developed a fine style of his own, yet he still proclaimed, "This is the most correct book around."
All right, you have just the work of producing the book, and you can smell the quality all over. Then the disposal of it after you write it: What are you going to do with it? Do you really expect this to be popular? Are you crazy? In competition with the Bible? People don't read the Bible anyway, but when they do, you now tell them there is more Bible to read! They won't thank you for that, I'm sure. As a holy book, it is going to be kept perpetually before the public. They are going to be dogged with it, they are going to be bothered with it, you are going to wear them down with it. I was on a short-term mission here many years ago, and by that time everyone in Portland had been visited so much by the Mormons they were sick and tired of them, but they are still hearing of the Book of Mormon. This is an important thing. This book has to be kept perpetually before the public. Also, through the years literary tastes are going to change, and styles in reading are going to change. Sometimes they go for things, sometimes not. You notice the Book of Mormon is being peddled back East now. You see it in the Chicago airport, for example. This takes us into external evidence. This is a very great risk you are taking now: you are going far beyond a book of opinion, sage remarks, the wisdom of the ages, which are always very repetitious. There is nothing original in any of those books. The expressions are sometimes very catching, the forms in which they are conveyed to us. As I said, Shakespeare was not original, but how he says it was excellent. The Jewish rabbis will tell you that there is nothing in the philosophy in the Sermon on the Mount that you won't find in the Old Testament or in the rabbinical writings, and that is true, too. You are not going to issue this just as a book of your ideas and thoughts. It is not a book of essays, but a story of things that really happened. It has got to be reality. It has to have substance in this book. And you can expect unlimited criticism, unsparing criticism without a supporting voice, because no critic in his right mind is going to accept this book just on your say-so. And what lies at the end-- what can you look forward to in this dangerous product? It is dangerous: terror not only knocks at the door, but every time you leave the house someone is waiting for you. Shots are fired in the night, and mobs come. The worst rioting and mobbing occurred before the Book of Mormon ever came out. Some of the most harrowing experiences that the Prophet Joseph ever had were caused simply by the Book of Mormon. The advance publicity brought down such a storm of denunciation that it put his life in the most imminent danger. Here is another motive. Are you going to write that kind of book? Yes, you are not in any doubt about that. You get a horrifying foretaste of what merely the process of getting it into print is going to get you into while you are dictating the book. This is no way to win friends; you are asking for trouble. Every day while writing the book, the sheer audacity of the theme is brought to you with great force.
Read the literature about Joseph Smith's undertaking. Who were his critics from the first? They say he was writing for some gullible bumpkins, a lot of yokels that would swallow anything. No, it was the ministers and teachers. It was the establishment back East that immediately had this book in their hands and were criticizing it. It was the ministers that wanted to defend their ignorant flocks against Joseph Smith. You might be able to fool the gullible people, but they weren't the ones who read it and they weren't the ones Joseph Smith was concerned about, as far as that goes. What did these men protest? They protested, "Blasphemy, alias the Golden Bible." The main protest was that in this enlightened age, in the advanced nineteenth century, in this age of science and understanding, that such a fraud should appear, such a scandal. This was the thing they couldn't stand. It was an offense to the intellect. It was an offense to the mind of men. It wasn't on spiritual or religious grounds that they protested. Those were the reasons they gave their flocks, the religious mobs, that it was a blasphemous work. But always the writings against the Book of Mormon were that it was an offense to intelligent people. So these were the people that criticized it.
Speaking of only internal contradictions here, historical and literary epics fairly shriek their folly to anyone who reads them. Here we have a long history. It is full of proper names and of people and places; it recounts their comings and goings and even their thoughts and prayers and their dealings with each other; their wars and their contentions and rumors of wars; their economic, social, dynastic, military, religious, and intellectual history. Now the main problem here, from an internal point of view, is how in all this human comedy can you as the author establish a ring of similitude from readers who have read a lot of stuff, who know how things are supposed to happen or how they do happen, who spent their lives immersing themselves in the doings of dynasties or families or nations? A thousand clues spring to the ear immediately of any educated practitioner: "This reads all right. This sounds pretty good. Oh, this is bad here." And you are not educated. Do you have any idea what you are up against?