Monday, July 20, 2009

The Book of Mormon 18/18

Yay! You made it to the last post in this series. So far, I've been breaking up the posts topically, but today is miscellaneous day. I'm just going to talk about a few verses in the BOM I found interesting.

Jacob 2:27 says, "Wherefore, my brethren, hear me, and hearken to the word of the Lord: For there shall not any man among you have save it be one wife; and concubines he shall have none." This verse jumped out at me because of the LDS Church's association with polygamy in the past. They still believe in polygamy in the afterlife, just not this life since it's against the law.

In 2 Nephi 3:6-25, there's a prophecy predicting the coming of Joseph Smith. It doesn't say "Joseph Smith," but it's pretty obvious that's who it's talking about. His name will be Joseph, and his father's name will also be Joseph. It says he will be a seer, and "he shall be great like unto Moses." It predicts that he will convert the native Americans with the use of the BOM and the Bible. I thought it rather crass of Joseph Smith to insert such a convenient prophecy about himself. Later on in the book, he adds that a seer is greater than a prophet (Mosiah 8:15).

In Alma 18:1ff, it says that the Lamanites referred to their god as "the Great Spirit," which I thought was interesting since in a lot of Indian movies I've seen, the Indians refer to their god as "the Great Spirit." I'm sure Joseph Smith knew about that.

Alma 34:35 says, "For behold, if ye have procrastinated the day of your repentance even until death, behold, ye have become subjected to the spirit of the devil, and he doth seal you his; therefore, the Spirit of the Lord hath withdrawn from you, and hath no place in you, and the devil hath all power over you; and this is the final state of the wicked." This verse seems to contradict the Mormon belief in baptisms for the dead. They believe that if a person doesn't become Mormon while they are alive, somebody else can be baptized on their behalf once they are dead and know the truth. That allows them to go on to exaltation.

In 3 Nephi 28:4-9, Jesus tells three of his disciples that they will never die. According to Moroni--the last person to write in the BOM--the three disciples were still alive. By then, they were almost 400 years old. Presumably, they are still alive today. I went to Yahoo Answers and asked if anybody knew who they were or whether they were members of the LDS church. It makes you wonder. According to the Mormons, the true church completely disappeared from the face of the earth until Joseph Smith restored it, but if those three disciples were faithful, then it seems like they would constitute the church through the ages, and the true church did not disappear.

None of the Mormons claimed to know who they were, and some speculated about whether they were members of the LDS Church or not, but they all agreed they were still around. They also said the apostle, John, was still around. They claimed, based on John 21:22-24, that John got the same promise. But John 21:23 explicitly denies that John got any such promise. It says, "Jesus did not say to him that he would not die." I went back and forth with some of the Mormons through private messages, and they just could not see it, which left me scratching my head.

4 Nephi 1:17 says, "There were no robbers, nor murderers, neither were there Lamanites, nor any manner of -ites." I just thought that was funny.

Mormon 8:21-22 says that God will fulfill all his promises. What about the promises in the Old Testament to always bring the whole house of Israel back to Palestine?

Ether 13:2-4 says that America will be the place where the New Jerusalem will come down out of heaven.

There ye have it!

11 Comments:

At 7/20/2009 5:39 PM , Blogger Paul said...

Thanks for doing this series, Sam! It has been very interesting to me. Just a few comments:

If a prophet is one who speaks directly from God, which is the clear application in the O.T., then in what way is a "seer" superior?

If John and two others are still alive, and the church fell into apostasy, then how could they let this happen, since they were some of the primary characters involved in seeding the church in the first place? How could they be so incompetent and so silent?

I think one of the most problematic theological issues was covered in your post about the O.T. fixation on Israel being just shrugged aside by Mormonism's left-field teaching that America is really where it's at.

 
At 7/20/2009 10:30 PM , Blogger Sam said...

I can't remember why a seer is a bigger deal than a prophet in Mormonism. I don't think the Bible makes such a distinction.

If John and two others are still alive...

There are three others. There's John, and then there's three of the disciples in America.

How could they be so incompetent and so silent?

I suspect they've been in hiding since the Lamanites completely wiped out the Nephites.

I think one of the most problematic theological issues was covered in your post about the O.T. fixation on Israel being just shrugged aside by Mormonism's left-field teaching that America is really where it's at.

I expected most of the conversation to come from part 5, but it hardly got any comments at all. Bummer.

 
At 7/21/2009 10:39 AM , Blogger Paul said...

Part 5, yes, that's the post.

About seers: It looks to me like "seer" might simply be a synonym for "prophet." There is this sidebar found in Samuel 9:9:

(Formerly in Israel, when a man went to inquire of God, he used to say, "Come, and let us go to the seer"; for he who is called a prophet now was formerly called a seer.)

Also, you can find individuals called both seer and prophet, like Samuel.

 
At 7/21/2009 11:09 AM , Blogger DagoodS said...

Sam, thanks for doing this series. A good mental exercise to view other people’s perspectives.

 
At 7/22/2009 5:00 AM , Blogger Carl said...

Jacob 2:
26 Wherefore, I the Lord God will not suffer that this people shall do like unto them of old.
27 Wherefore, my brethren, hear me, and hearken to the word of the Lord: For there shall not any man among you have save it be bone wife; and concubines he shall have none;
28 For I, the Lord God, delight in the chastity of women. And whoredoms are an abomination before me; thus saith the Lord of Hosts.
29 Wherefore, this people shall keep my commandments, saith the Lord of Hosts, or cursed be the land for their sakes.
30 For if I will, saith the Lord of Hosts, raise up seed unto me, I will command my people; otherwise they shall hearken unto these things.
31 For behold, I, the Lord, have seen the sorrow, and heard the mourning of the daughters of my people in the land of Jerusalem, yea, and in all the lands of my people, because of the wickedness and abominations of their husbands.
32 And I will not suffer, saith the Lord of Hosts, that the cries of the fair daughters of this people, which I have led out of the land of Jerusalem, shall come up unto me against the men of my people, saith the Lord of Hosts.
33 For they shall not lead away captive the daughters of my people because of their tenderness, save I shall visit them with a sore curse, even unto destruction; for they shall not commit whoredoms, like unto them of old, saith the Lord of Hosts.

Is the whole section talking about the treatment of women. In verse 30, God stipulates that it's unless he commands otherwise, then it shall be one man one wife.
From my understanding, Joseph Smith had some 'warning' that polygamy was coming. This caused him concern because he did definitely love Emma dearly. It's my impression that Joseph was uncomfortable with the idea. An LDS marriage ceremony involves sealing the man and women together for all eternity, There was for some time while polygamy was being practiced, the teaching that it was necessary to seal all of mankind together back to Adam, and that at the judgment, Adam would present his prosperity to God. The church never sanctioned wholesale polygamy, it was always done at the word of the prophet, as a commandment from God. I don't beleive that the purpose of every marriage was ever revealed, however I do beleive they served their purpose, and that the practice was ended by the Lord when it was no longer in the Saints best interest (not that it was in their best temporal interest at any time) Because there is so much information available now about Joseph's wives, I want to point out that all of the information comes from at the best second hand sources, years if not decades after the fact. Joseph clearly did not assemble a harem of wives, and his character as established by those who knew him gives us every reason to beleive that he treated the women he was married to with the utmost dignity and respect he could.



“A seer is a revelator and a prophet also”, There have been many seers in the history of God’s people on this earth, but not so many as there have been prophets. “A seer is greater than a prophet . . . and a gift which is greater can no man have . . . “ (Mosiah 8: 15-18). Joseph Smith is the great seer of the latter days. In addition, the First Presidency, the Council of the Twelve, and the Patriarch to the Church are sustained as prophets, seers, and revelators. For other references see 1 Sam. 9: 9; 2 Sam. 24: 11; 2 Kgs. 17: 13; 1 Chr. 29: 29; 2 Chr. 9: 29; 2 Chr. 33: 19; Isa. 29: 10; Isa. 30: 10; JST John 1: 42; 2 Ne. 3: 6-14; D&C 21: 1; D&C 107: 92; D&C 124: 94, 125; D&C 127: 12; D&C 135: 3; Moses 6: 36, 38.
I just copied that from the Bible Dictionary. It doesn't really explain the difference either. I looked a few more places, but can't find my link top the one that I suspect will explain it. It's distinguished as being greater than a prophet, so there must be some difference, though it looks to be one of those, "all seers are prophets, but not all prophets are seers" things.

 
At 7/22/2009 5:23 AM , Blogger Carl said...

I thought it rather crass of Joseph Smith to insert such a convenient prophecy about himself.
I thought it was pretty awesome to think that a prophesy written so long ago had finally been fulfilled :D
It does look weird, if you assume he made it up. Even weirder than faking 500 pages of scripture, then spending the rest of his life proclaiming it to be the restored gospel in the hopes no one figures his scheme out and can find him. - Joseph Smith broke every rule of plagiarism and forgery, why would inserting a verse about himself stand out as crass?
Indians refer to their god as "the Great Spirit." I'm sure Joseph Smith knew about that.
I like this one, it can't be true because he knew about it. Blame the Indians, after almost 2000 years of separation they still held on to the remnants of a belief system their ancestors had killed the believers in. Not Joseph's fault the idea hung around and cropped back up repeatedly.

This verse seems to contradict the Mormon belief in baptisms for the dead.
I don't think it does. If you procrastinate, then you know you should be repenting, but you are choosing not to. If this is how you live your life, accumulating sins knowing that you are sinning, and not making an effort to stop all the sinning and repent. Then you have become subjected to the devil. The Spirit of the Lord can't reach through to you because you are no longer receptive, having chosen to sin without remorse. If that's how you've lived your life, being baptized by proxy probably won't change your attitude. You are the same personality after death, only without a body for a time.

 
At 7/22/2009 6:06 AM , Blogger Carl said...

"There were no robbers, nor murderers, neither were there Lamanites, nor any manner of -ites."
I thought that was funny too. Having Shiites and Muscovites running around would certainly pose some issues.

America will be the place where the New Jerusalem will come down out of heaven.If the Lord were to want to establish a Holy City on Earth tomorrow for some purpose we can assume would entail the resolution of all things, and do so without removing free agency, where better?
I'm 100% against any notion that Jerusalem is shrugged aside. Anymore than Africa's being the cradle of humans or the Mediterranean being the cradle of civilization gets shrugged aside by America's being the cradle of Democracy.

The three disciples and John...yes. some where there are 4 people who walked and talked with Jesus during his life on Earth. They wanted to remain here so they could continue to testify of Jesus and spread his gospel. No, they did not constitute the Church during the apostasy. The Church as used here means the organized entity that the Lord establishes to do his work here. It's not referring to the use where the church resides in the hearts of the followers. Which I accept as a valid definition, just not one that applies here. They certainly have the priesthood keys of apostles, however they do not have the authority to act fully on those keys to head the Lord's Church. Jesus established a church which he organized and laid out the hierarchy for. He gave the conditions by which his church received it's authority to act in his name. The 4 people in question could very well attend LDS services every Sunday, though I suspect they are where they are needed, regardless of the denomination. We have virtually no revelation on them, so pretty much anything said about them is speculation.

John 21: Peter talking to the Lord after the Resurrection
22 Jesus saith unto him, If I will that he tarry till I come, what is that to thee? follow thou me.
23 Then went this saying abroad among the brethren, that that disciple should not die: yet Jesus said not unto him, He shall not die; but, If I will that he tarry till I come, what is that to thee?

I see Jesus saying that if he wants him to tarry then it's none of Peter's concern. Then several people start gossiping about how 'Jesus said John's not going to die' which Jesus corrects, by explaining that he did not say John would not die, he said it was none of their business.

My understanding is that they will continue to serve their mission as Christ originally sent them on, until he returns to Earth, at which time they may die or may be translated. A few more verses when John also mentions it during a visitation from an angel in Revelation 10:11 And he said unto me, Thou must prophesy again before many peoples, and nations, and tongues, and kings.
Of course that verse could mean anything, or it could be the angel telling John that he was going to busy for the next 2000+ years.

 
At 7/26/2009 3:45 AM , Blogger Carl said...

It occurred to me the other day, though I'm not sure where I got the idea, I do want to say I read it somewhere...

I think the difference between a prophet and a seer, is that a prophet leads from established gospel, while a seer reveals new truths. (The gospel doesn't change, but has been revealed thru time, precept upon precept.)

So to pull an example from memory. John the Baptist was a prophet. He proclaimed the coming of Christ and preached his gospel. Peter was a prophet and seer, he proclaimed the Saviors life, and built upon the gospel that had already been revealed thru the Old Testament prophets.

But really it's a technical difference for all practical purposes.

 
At 9/10/2009 3:19 PM , Blogger Tyson said...

You may have just simply overlooked this one. Mormon makes a comment about the 3 Nephites in his writings.

Morm. 1: 13.
13 But wickedness did prevail upon the face of the whole land, insomuch that the Lord did take away his abeloved disciples, and the work of miracles and of healing did cease because of the iniquity of the people.

You mentioned a prophecy in the Old Testament in regards to Mormon 8:21-22 that the House of Israel will be brought back to Palestine. Do you have reference for this one? I read the verse in Mormon and to me I see that the Lord will full all the promises he has made. For example, the promises made to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.

 
At 9/10/2009 4:47 PM , Blogger Sam said...

I addressed the subject of the promises to Abraham concerning the land of Palestine in part 5 under the subheading, "The Promised Land."

 
At 9/10/2009 11:09 PM , Blogger Sam said...

Oh, I just noticed that I didn't give any citations in Part 5 to the promises given to Abraham. Here are the promises to Abraham that his descendants will possess the land of Palestine:

Genesis 12:7
Genesis 13:14-15
Genesis 15:18
Genesis 17:8

Here are the promises that God would always bring them back to the land he promised to Abraham:

Deuteronomy 30:1-5
Ezekiel 20:42
Ezekiel 34:13
Ezekiel 36:24
Ezekiel 37:21-22
Jeremiah 16:15
Jeremiah 23:7-8
Jeremiah 29:14
Jeremiah 30:3

 

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