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Radio Free Mormon: 009: A Spirited Debate

Today “Radio Free Mormon” continues with its newest episode “A Spirited Debate”.  Today RFM Re-visits some thoughts a listener shared from the last Radio Free Mormon Episode “The Amazing Contradicting Joseph Smith”.  RFM adds new context and new information that makes Joseph’s Contradictions even more amazing… and spirited.


Source for conversation about about the Quote “I never thought it was right to call up a man and try him because he erred in doctrine, it looks too much like methodism and not like Latter day Saintism. Methodists have creeds which a man must believe or be kicked out of their church. I want the liberty of believe as I please, it feels so good not to be trammeled. It don’t prove that a man is not a good man, because he errs in doctrine”

Site Conversating about the Willard Chase / Toad-Moroni Source:   “He repaired to the place of deposit and demanded the book, which was in a stone box, unsealed, and so near the top of the ground that he could see one end of it, and raising it up, took out the book of gold; but fearing some one might discover where he got it, he laid it down to place back the top stone, as he found it; and turning around, to his surprise there was no book in sight. He again opened the box, and in it saw the book, and attempted to take it out, but was hindered. He saw in the box something like toad”

A source discussing Lectures on Faith #5 and the Elder mcConkie quote:  “Using the holy scriptures as the recorded source of the knowledge of God, knowing what the Lord has revealed to them of old in visions and by the power of the Spirit, and writing as guided by that same Spirit, Joseph Smith and the early brethren of this dispensation prepared a creedal statement on the Godhead. It is without question the most excellent summary of revealed and eternal truth relative to the Godhead that is now extant in mortal language. In it is set forth the mystery of Godliness; that is, it sets forth the personalities, missions, and ministries of those holy beings who comprise the supreme presidency of the universe. To spiritually illiterate persons, it may seem hard and confusing; to those whose souls are aflame with heavenly light, it is a nearly perfect summary of those things which must be believed to gain salvation”




18 thoughts on “Radio Free Mormon: 009: A Spirited Debate”

  1. RFM,
    I could never do justice in a comment field as a podcast can do! So, my butter knife will not measure up to the sword. Of course it would be impossible without a short dissertation to facilitate a fruitful challenge to every disagreement that I had. Therefore, there was never any intention to facilitate a point by point counter since it would just be deemed and dismissed as the usual Apologetic attempt. And, as I suspected, that was made clear on your second podcast in the way you kindly (I’m being diplomatic)dismiss any Apologetic responses. Though I really don’t understand why my comments, or the so called Apologetics, are defined with a derogatory dismissal that lacks credibility. Why then are yours and others of the same mind set not? Are we not just all Apologetics? This over used tactic of marginalizing the defense of anything is simply hypocritical and has always puzzled me. Therefore, responding to challenges of this podcast, the original or any others where there are lengthy disagreements, I feel it is just best to leave such point counter point stuff to the FAIRMORMON and Jeff Lindsay’s out there. I feel no need to lead the listeners to any specific conclusion or final opinion of defense but to just hopefully provoke further thinking outside the narratives that were presented by the podcast. There can always be two sides to any debate and opposition is good to feed and provoke deeper reflection and study. I feel the listeners are up for the challenge to do their own homework if they really are seeking the truth of the matter.

    I feel quite confident that you know well enough of your own that there are reasonable responses to the “7 Contradictions”. Since you pointed out my negligence to provide them I’m still ascertaining you don’t really suspect that I couldn’t provide such……did you? If I must I will. Nevertheless,per by statements in the first paragraph above, it would obviously be pointless to provide such. And for the gotcha, on my use of the salamander example, I will simply state that I’m not sure how a second hand account per the Willard Chase’s Affidavit stating an interview with Joseph Smith Sr. is relative to a doctrinal contradiction or any contradiction for that part. If there is some credible direct quote of Joseph Smith relating the Plates story that makes reference to a toad and angel vs. the standard claim in the canonical Pearl of Great Price (Joseph Smith History)then I would be glad to accept your premise and admit my folly in using this risky example. Nevertheless, hopefully this and such stories don’t eventually get further embellished with such ideas like an “enormous toad” which turned into a “flaming monster with glittering eyes” or something even more sinister? Oh, yes that did happen eventually? These kind of historical tidbits are sensationalized rabbit holes that usually lead to more questions than answers. Sorry for the tongue and cheek but these kind of second and third hand historical documents are the kind of slippery slopes that play into my statement from my original comments: “it can get a little messy of course”. Brodie, Vogel, Palmer, Metcalf, Bushman and Quinn and other talented historians do provide interesting, tantalizing and even conspiratorial information that can be quite fun,interesting and insightful. However, these all must be considered within the hermeneutics of proper context, practical reasoning and sound academic rigor. Though, as plainly evident with Brodie’s unfortunate mode of operation, insinuation and speculative conclusions are not a mark of a good historian or a truth seeker. To be fair that goes for Bushman too!

    I do feel honored that my comments provoked responses from someone who is definitely up on their game. I do enjoy yours and Bill’s thoughts and perspectives and have no interest in a tit for tat on our differences. I still do believe my premise that the contradiction acceptance narrative is a means to promote the current acceptance of today’s changing moralistic and cultural leanings. Sorry to see it that way and
    it was not my intention to demean you in any way. If I am incorrect in my assumption I do apologize.

    I’m just an average LDS member who has been through a very interesting faith journey in which I assume most of the Mormon Discussion Podcast listeners have. I obviously don’t subscribe to the progressive leanings that are becoming so prevalent today along with critical tone towards the current Church leaders, hierarchy and policies. In my opinion this doesn’t help faith seekers and builds undue doubt and mistrust unequal to what is fairly deserved. I actually do have personal differences of certain Church’s policies but feel, as Elder Oaks states, that we shouldn’t publicly criticize the leaders even if their wrong. Since I am keenly aware of my limited scope of understanding as a man who am I to belittle the Lord’s anointed or lecture them or even the Lord Himself? This is not my stewardship to do so and I hopefully can set aside my pride and know in the long run the Lord’s true will may triumph and not mine.

    In closing I believe God works within a process theological realm and that he will provide further light and knowledge when deemed absolutely necessary for the benefit of His children. Doctrine may be revealed as spawned by the current cultural and scientific movements that provoke the prophets to inquiries. But the revelatory knowledge comes through Deity and not the conclusions of men based off of their scientific and/or creedal assumptions or findings. And yes, dialog and debate is the avenue for determination. However, that is only applicable to us! And no, that is not the formula that the Lord uses to communicate His will to his appointed servants nor should it. (I hope that clarifies my original statement which seemed to get somewhat twisted within my intended context.) Therefore, I bid you Adieu (yes a French word used in the English translation of the Book of Mormon and doesn’t bother me a bit. Just having fun with that!). May God Bless!!

    1. Dear Dale,

      I just want to say I appreciate the comments you made originally (and again on this page) as it gave me the opportunity to explore the issue more in depth.

      I do believe that is a good thing, and I believe that the possibility of Joseph Smith intentionally contradicting himself may lead to a better understanding not only of Joseph Smith, but perhaps also of how Joseph viewed revelation and prophets.

      And I really was trying to respond to your comment in the same manner that you write it, which seemed to me to be one of respect and good will. I hope that came across in the podcast.

      Take care!


  2. I don’t see much of a difference in the alleged distinction between a “contradiction” or when one “amend[s] a truth”. The latter appears to be nothing more than arguing that a doctrine hasn’t changed.

    Call it what one wants, e.g., an “amended truth” or a “contradiction”, the upshot is still the same. That is, there is tremendous opportunity for adaptation in the LDS church context, which is (in my view) a major portion of the thesis of RFM’s original episode.

  3. Section 138 is a good example of amendment vs. contradiction. Hope that helps to show that additional understanding and expoundment on a particular doctrinal point or principle is just that. If Jospeh F. Smith revealed that there is no preaching of the Gospel in the Spirit World by the Savior……then we do have a problem. However, what we get in Section 138 is additional light and mechanics to an inquiry on how the Savior was able to preach to the spirits within a short duration and that he commissioned vs. visited personally to those in the spirit prison.

    I’m not sure I can do better with an example than what I provided. Therefore, if this is not satisfactory I apologize. Enjoy the search and study on these challenges!!

    1. Hi, Dale!

      I think D&C 138 is important to this discussion. I agree with you that Joseph F. Smith’s Vision of the Dead is not a contradiction to preexisting doctrine, but rather an amendment, or elaboration.

      A few comments about this:

      1. As you know, this is not one of the examples I gave in the podcast of instances where Joseph Smith seemed to have contradicted himself. I know you are aware of this, but want to make sure that anybody reading the comments but not listening to the podcast is aware of this distinction.

      2. Section 138 was received in 1918, and was the last section of the D&C to be received. And next year will mark the 100th anniversary of no newly received sections in the D&C. Which seems like a long time to wait for a church that claims continuing revelation.

      3. Section 138 is also a good example of the “root bound” type of thinking I talk about in the podcast. Joseph F. Smith was five presidents removed from his uncle, Joseph Smith. By this time, the LDS Church was settling down to a correlated form of doctrine, and no longer could new revelation contradict old revelation, as in the days of Joseph Smith.

      When I mentioned “root bound” revelation, I am talking about a tree planted in a box where the roots cannot grow outside the box, but twist and curl in upon themselves until eventually, the tree sickens and dies.

      The only place for new understanding is within the box itself, and it must fit within the interstices of the roots themselves. The Vision of the Dead is a good example of a new revelation, or understanding, or vision, that fits within the preexisting interstices.

      It would not be long before there really was no room for new revelation. The parameters of what has been revealed and what has not been revealed are firmly established.

      The leaders now speak authoritatively not of new revelation, but as boundary keepers of what has been revealed and what has not been revealed, with admonitions to the members to not go beyond what has been revealed.

      But surely for a church that claims not one, but fifteen (!), prophets, seers and revelators at its head, it should not be too much to expect at least one scrap of revelation.

  4. RFM,
    Thanks for allowing perspective and debate on both ends. I enjoy that challenge it brings in our search and faith journeys. Glad we can be good sports about it. Looking forward to new podcasts!!!!!

    1. You are super welcome, Dale!

      I appreciate your comments and the insights you bring to the conversation!

      Keep up the good work!


    1. I think some of the seven “contradictions” are more amenable to such an interpretation, but others appear to be, in fact, a complete reversal of what was originally stated.

      For instance, how is it not a complete reversal to say that God is “from everlasting to everlasting” in the Book of Mormon; and then to have Joseph Smith say in the KFD that he will “refute that idea”?

      Also, how is it not a complete reversal to say that the Father has a body of spirit (in the LoF) and later say that the Father has a body of flesh and bones in D&C 130?

      Thanks for your comments!


      1. Everlasting to Everlasting is a intetesting term. Are we saying that there is absolute no change in what sense? Spirit to body? Human to resurrected being? Sinner to perfection? If God became God and from
        one creative period to another remained God then He could easily be from Everlasting to Everlasting. Also, Joseph taught that intelligences are not created and are eternal. There are just too many ways to play with this example that really don’t get us to a conclusive position in my opinion.

        With respect to LoF that God is Spirit. If a body of flesh and bones doesn’t have a spirit then I agree that is a contradiction. Nevertheless, I believe all objective thinkers would be fairly confident that reference to the Father’s tabernacle without a spirit was not even remotely implied. Therefore, a “Spirit” in LoF……then the additional knowledge that the Father’s Spirit is also clothed with a body of flesh and bones is not contradictive but just further expanded on information.

        Still struggling on these supposed unequivocal contradictions but I’m open to discussion of course. Thanks for keeping are minds active on these things. It is good and worthy debate to try to work through these kind of challenges.

      2. Something that I would like to see with regards to the Godhead which follows the same vein of what happened with the doctrine of our Heavenly father would be to indicate that the Holy Ghost is actually just the spirit of our Heavenly Mother for spirits don’t have flesh and bones but bodies do embody them!

  5. Always great work on the RFM episodes, thanks for what you do!

    As for contradictions, they are found throughout canonized scripture, they aren’t unique to Joseph Smith. We shouldn’t be scared of contradictions, but as the author mentioned we can learn from them and hopefully that can guide us in the future.

    The idea that religious teachings have been consistent and not contradictory all the way back to the original couple (Adam & Eve) is not supported by the evidence of history.
    Some people have discomfort with this because they don’t understand how God could or would contradict himself. For me it just tells me how flawed the human enterprise is with respect to interpreting the will of the divine. (Actually, I’m ok with the idea of a God that is learning and growing too – isn’t that the kind of God espoused by Mormonism anyway, a progressing God?)

    Ultimately, if we aren’t humble enough to adjust our perspective on things based on new data, then we are damned (our progression is stopped). How can we possibly progress if we think we already know the answers to everything, and we’re so stubborn that no matter what we learn to the contrary we will continue to believe the same thing we originally thought? This is arrogant, prideful and damning.

    1. Great comments!

      This is why I say that the LDS Church has defined damnation as a stop in progress, and then created a church to match the definition.


  6. Dear RFM:

    Hi! I´m listening to your explanation about BRMcKonkie and Lecture 5 of the Lectures on Faith. If I remember correctly he gives an explanation of why there is not a contradiction in his book “A New Witness for the Articles on Faith.”

    In this link at FAIR there is a quoting of the relevant parts of BRM’s book.

    I enjoy your podcast very much. Thank you for your perspectives.

  7. Sorry, I see that you consider BRM’s quote in his book (I had stopped the podcast to write my previous email). Well, thank you again for your work.


    1. Thanks for bringing the entirety of that quote to my attention, DP!

      I was not aware that BRM had actually attempted to deal in specifics with what LoF 5 says about the Godhead, and so, to that extent, my comment in the podcast that BRM did not mention any details or try to reconcile LoF 5 with D&C 132 is incorrect.

      But having read through the entirety of the BRM quote, it is pretty clear he is doing somersaults trying to get the two to square.

      For example, BRM says that the LoF sets forth “three persons” in the Godhead, when in actuality it very plainly sets forth two, the Father and the Son.

      Also, BRM is pretty cavalier in claiming that the LoF description of the Father as being a personage of spirit actually means that He has a physical body just like Jesus.

      It is these kinds of theological gymnastics that I find unpersuasive.

      But at least BRM did give it a try. ;^)

      Thanks for pointing that out!


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