Episodes

Radio Free Mormon: 148: The Book of Mormon on Trial

RFM presents competing cases for and against the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon.  You are the jury.  What will your verdict be?

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29 thoughts on “Radio Free Mormon: 148: The Book of Mormon on Trial

  1. Great work as always!

    The KJV argument has always mystified me. I just don’t find it compelling. But the fault must lie with me, as the CES letter also leads with it, and I have heard many people talk about it as if it’s a slam dunk. But I just don’t get it. There was a perfectly good reason to use KJV language: THE WHOLE BOOK OF MORMON IS WRITTEN IN IT! It was just a branding convention, like using a certain font: for whatever reason, people expected scripture to have “thee” and “thou”.

    A follow on question is, “surely a new translation would have slightly different KJV language.” But people of that time knew the Bible too well. If the Nephite words had the meaning “unto us a little kid is born” then it will be read as “unto us a child is born”. We underestimate how well these people knew their Bibles.

    I am not saying that argument is watertight. But it comes way down my list of problems. I am also less excited about Deutero Isaiah (for reasons I discuss here: http://answersanswers.com/bible-scholarship.html – search for “documentary hypothesis fiasco”).

    For me the real argument against the Book of Mormon is, what does it offer? I mean now, before we die? I would prefer miracles and utopia, but I will accept anything that is worth the time and money. The church DID used to offer something worth having. A lot of people liked the social life and the wild doctrines. But that social life and those doctrines are disappearing, replaced with boredom and cleaning toilets. I just don’t see what the Book of Mormon offers that is not offered by a thousand other churches who do it better.

    • Interesting comments, Chris. I know that problems with Mormonism, like beauty, are often in the eye of the beholder. And that different people will view different problems differently. My dear friend in college flew off the handle and left the church over the 1832 First Vision account, for instance, whereas that was not so troublesome to me personally.

      As to King James English in the Book of Mormon, I would say that just because a person was raised in England 400 years ago and was therefore very much immersed in the English of that period, it would not serve as an excuse if that person started reproducing scenes from Shakespeare’s plays almost word for word.

      But as I say, different people see things differently.

      It is one of the things that makes life interesting.

      Imagine how terribly boring it would be if everybody saw things the same way.

      Oh, wait. I think I just described Mormonism. ;^)

    • The Book is still there. It stills offers a good perspective on the tailspin of a people gifted with light into darkness. It is pictured more accurately than in Genesis where a question of procedure derails the entire show. Almost the entire show. You must refer to the Book of Abraham where the good TV shows come from.

  2. Enjoyed the episode thanks! I too read “The Book of Mormon On Trial” and found it compelling at the time, although less so now. I also liked your farm boy speak. I also liked how you shared a balanced perspective – I too feel there are some ancient evidences in The Book of Mormon, and I also see much 19th century in it. I’m guessing you have seen Blake Ostler’s article “The Expansion Theory: A Modern Expansion of an Ancient Source,” you just didn’t mention it in the podcast episode. Also, wondering what is the episode called (and which number) where you spoke with John Larsen on Mormon Expressions? Thanks again and I am going to start donating now! I have appreciated dozens and dozens of your insightful, articulate and hilarious episodes – they are a breath of fresh air as I am going through a faith transition and figuring out how to hold the middle space! Thanks for sharing your talent!

    • Hi, Tony!

      There is actually a newer version of “The Book of Mormon on Trial” which features new pages with cartoon illustrations of John Welch testifying at the trial about chiasmus. I don’t know if you have seen that one! I got a copy many years ago when my kids were younger hoping they would find it as captivating as I had. (They didn’t.)

      Anyway, the Mormon Expressions podcast is number 60. I will try to include a helpful link here.

      http://redninjas.com/files/MormonExpression/MormonExpression060.mp3

      Thanks for your support!

      RFM

      • Thanks! I’ll check out. Have you seen the Blake Ostler article before about the expansion theory?

        • Yes, I have been familiar with Blake Ostler’s theory for many years now.

          I have unfortunately developed a rather dim view of it. Forgive me for the following.

          It is sort of the last straw Mormons grasp at to salvage a testimony reeling from realizing the Book of Mormon cannot be what Joseph Smith presented it as being; i.e., a translation of an ancient record from gold plates.

          It is a way to account for the overwhelming amount of 19th century material in the Book of Mormon while still trying to make room to nevertheless consider it scripture in some meaningful sense.

          While the Expansion Theory may have its merits, I have found that it doesn’t work for me any more.

          It is a fascinating subject, though. Not just the theory itself, but why such a theory should have to be developed in the first place.

          RFM

      • Thanks for sharing this link to your discussion with John Larsen!

        • You are welcome!

          I have been meaning to get in touch with John Larsen (no easy task!) and ask for his permission to reproduce that interview on the RFM website.

          Maybe I will have time to get to that next week!

          RFM

  3. Ah man, I found it quite funny if we are being honest. Lol This is my first time commenting here, but RFM, I absolutely LOVE your Podcast. I look forward to it every day lately. And the days that I don’t see an update, it feels like something is missing. Keep doing what your doing brother!

    • So glad you like the podcast, Scott!

      I don’t know how much longer I can keep up an episode every day.

      I am hoping the second day of fasting and prayer gets rid of the corona virus if for that reason alone!

      Stay safe out there!

      And thanks for listening!

      RFM

  4. It’s interesting to me that you were so successfully able to juggle contradictory evidences of the Book of Mormon in your head at the same time, while remaining TBM.

    It’s my theory , based on the the small sampling of converts around me my whole life, that said converts have a much easier time doing that. I believe that converts that aren’t indoctrinated as children before they convert, seem to retain a core of free thinking that we others, born in, just do not share.

    I myself never caught the slightest whiff of any of the ‘problems’ the narrative posed, or I would have been so gone. I say that now, but I seriously lost my entire testimony of nearly 60 yrs. ( and I was extremely devout ) all in one podcast…Grant Palmer’s on Mormon Stories. It’s a wonder that I could have been so unaware!

    My convert husband of 50 yrs, joined at 20, and remains an active member while I have left. Even after all these years of activity and devotion to the church, I see that he remains quite independent in his thinking and rather unconventional compared with a “born in”like me. His ‘outside the mormon box’ thinking all these years has paved the way for me to unclench myself. He would never think this was his wonderful affect on me. And from the outside, he appeared like everyone else. There was no conscious duality.

    It is, I believe , his convert status that has enabled him to give me my freedom of belief, (even though it really messes up his place in the gospel) without it destroying our marriage, as is sadly the demise of most mixed faith LDS marriages.

    So what I’m trying to say, without minimizing anyones struggle, is that converts, rather than being a little second class in the LDS hierarchy, are actually, unbeknownst to them, often humbly at the top of the heap!

    I believe that it is the long standing converts that lose their belief and unravel the Mormon mess, seem to be the best equipped with a dual perspective that is able to point out what the rest of us may and do often miss. Both you and Bill Reel are great examples of my experience of this, for what its worth.

    I could not have left the church without the lifeline that John Dehlin’s podcast provided me. At that critical time I needed a current member to do what he did, no two ways about it.

    But he is born in the church, which is great, but because of that he will always be missing the critical pieces of perspective that only a convert can bring. And you converts never lose that indelible fact. Am I making any sense?

    He fills an essential space , but he will never look at the problems with the same perspective or nuances that you do. It is truly unique and very refreshing. And in that sense it seems to have the ability to shake loose the mind control, if you will.

    I find that the way you naturally unravel the problems and lay them out, shakes my mind into a new reality. Thats specifically why I say you aren’t like everyone else. And this ability is in spite of your many decades towing the line in Mormonism.

    Have you ever noticed these things yourself? I think it would be hard to see yourself as a born in would experience you. I hope one day for the relative freedom of thought and belief you enjoy…not to say you haven’t suffered as well.

    Its like converts that leave seem to return home to themselves more easily. A lot of the born in who leave still seem trapped in mormonism if you know what I mean. We may struggle harder for authenticity, because we are not ‘returning’ to something or someone we once knew outside of the church.

    I hope I have explained this in a way thats not insulting.

    • Not insulted at all, Angie!

      Feeling quite complimented, in fact!

      And yes, what you have to say not only makes sense, I think it is also deeply insightful.

      Thanks so much!

      RFM

  5. Which side gave the more persuasive case, the defense or the offense?

    The farm defense planted a lot circumstantial evidence. But the offense used only one direct evidence to scorch the farm. So which is more persuasive?

    In the final analysis, the defense is fighting a lost war, even if they seem to be persuasively winning a battle. Why? Because Mormons don’t really believe the Book of Mormon anymore. They have long ago abandoned its most important doctrine: the doctrine of the One God.

    If the BoM is consistent in one thing, it is in teaching about this One God. From the time Lehi arrived in the American continent, until Moroni and his fellowmen were annihilated by the Lamanites, there is approximately 1,000 years of unchanging belief in only One God.

    There is nowhere in the book a teaching about multiple Gods, or that these Gods, though many, are really one in purpose.

    This testimony of the BoM is consistent with the Bible’s own testimony about God. And we know that by the testimony of two or three witnesses shall every word be established.

    In other words, both the Bible and the BoM testify to Mormons that there is only One God.

    And Mormons will have none of that.

    Of what use then is it to bring up all these favorable evidences to defend the book if the most important doctrine in it is no longer believed?

    • In answer to your question, the most persuasive case was given by the defense . . .

      . . . and the offense!

      At least that is the feedback I am getting.

      But this gets to the heart of the difference between evidence and proof.

      Evidence is objective. Evidence is what the evidence is. It has to do with facts, pure and simple.

      Proof, however, is something subjective. The evidence that proves something to one person may not prove it at all to another person.

      This is how twelve jurors who all hear the exact same evidence at trial can nevertheless differ as to whether the case has been proven.

      I try my best to deal in evidence.

      Whether it proves anything I try to leave up to the individual.

      Thanks for your comment!

      RFM

  6. I LOVE your podcasts and this was no exception. You totally crack me up with your impression and then how you laughed at yourself about the impression roaming the US. Your sense of humor and sarcasm are one of the things that keeps your podcast my #1 favorite. Not to mention your content and delivery are awesome and always interesting!

    • Thanks so much, Kelly! I have only a couple of impressions I am any good at. One is Humphrey Bogart. Another is Peter Lorre. I can do a great scene between the two in Casablanca!

  7. I was wondering if you’ve thought of doing episodes detailing the highlights of KJV influence throughout the BOM? I did a 100 hour+ study last year (some on my own and mostly looking at other studies, and here are my highlights if you want to borrow: (PM me if you want the link to the more detailed version):

    1. 1 Nephi borrows from: Revelation, 2 Peter, Acts, Hebrews, Matthew, John, Romans, Ephesians, 1 Corinthians
    2. From Apocrypha & Story of David & Goliath – names of Nephi/Laban and cutting head of drunk guy & other surrounding details
    3. Nephi’s 15+ detailed prophecies about New Testament and early American history
    4. Nephi’s detailed knowledge about John & his book of Revelation (forbidden – mother of abominations – tree of life – end days – iron rod)
    5. 22 similar story elements with camp of Moses and Lehi
    6. Nephi patterned after Joseph of Egypt in 9 ways (and reflective of Joseph Jr. in most ways)
    7. 2 Nephi borrows from: John, Revelation, Romans, Hebrews, 1 Timothy, 1 Corinthians, Luke, Matthew, Acts, 2 Corinthians, Galatians, Mark
    8. 15+ Isaiah KJV chapters with errors mostly verbatim
    9. Jacob: Matthew, Rev, Hebrews, Romans, Luke
    10. Enos borrows from: Ephesians, Matthew, 1 Corinthians, John
    11. Mosiah – King Benjamin’s Speech borrows from: Matthew, Acts, Hebrews, Revelation, 2 Peter, 1 Corinthians
    12. Abinadi has 10+ things he says/things that happen to him in common with Moses
    13. Abinadi & then Alma Sr borrows from Matthew, Revelation, 1 & 2 Cor, James, John, Colossians, Ephesians, Galatians
    14. 7 churches in Zarahemla (Mosiah 25) & 7 churches in Asia (Revelation 1)
    15. Nephi & Samuel became King when people wanted, although reluctant, and then transition to judges and exactly 12 named Judges in BOM and in book of Judges
    16. 10+ similarities in conversion/preaching narratives of P-aul/Al-ma Jr
    17. Alma Jr says 18+ phrases from Paul’s letters in: Philippians, 1 & 2 Cor, Romans, Hebrews, Ephesians
    18. Alma Jr and sons of Mosiah missionary chapters borrowed from: Matthew, 1 & 2 Corinthians, Revelation, John, Philippians, 1 John, Hebrews, James, Acts, 2 Peter, Luke, Mark, Galatians, Ephesians & Harlots I/J-Bel
    19. Ammon Good Shepherd, John the Baptist and Lazarus
    20. Nephi & Samuel in Helaman borrow from: Matthew, 1 & 2 Peter, Luke, John, Acts, Ephesians
    21. Parallel ministry of Nephi and Jesus
    22. Copy almost verbatim of Sermon on Mount
    23. Jesus’ teachings to Nephites borrowed from: John, Revelation, Mark, Luke, 1 & Cor, 2 Peter
    24. Enhancement of miracles: Sign of birth, when birth, sign of death, other sheep, bread, Pentecost, transfiguration, post-resurrection appearance, translation, disciples praying, Admining Sacrament,
    25. Disciples 3 sets of duplicate names
    26. 3 sets of men family in NT (3 sets of brothers) and in BOM (2 sets of brothers and one father/son combo)
    27. 4 Nephi all things in common
    28. Mormon’s book borrows from: Romans, Acts, John, Matthew, 1 & 2 Cor, Hebrews, James, Revelation, Mark, Philippians
    29. Reversal in Ether: Tower – Gather seeds/animals & families in boat – Fallen natures/spirit of God not always with – into wilderness – eyes opened – created after image
    30. Book of Ether teachings borrow from: 1 Cor, Matthew, Mark, Hebrews
    31. Ether 8/Mark 6 similarities – daughter of a king dancing & asking for head of someone
    32. Ether 12/Hebrews 11 listing faith of former prophets & definition of
    33. Moroni’s book borrows from: Matthew, Hebrews, Revelation, 1 & 2 Cor, Romans, John, 1 John, Acts
    34. Moroni 7 borrows from 1 Cor 13 and Paul’s hymn to charity
    35. Moroni 10 borrows from 2 Cor and gifts of the spirit

    • You have been busy, Tony!

      These are exceptionally well done.

      My hat is off to you!

      RFM

  8. Also, I think a lot of people would enjoy a quick summary of the most significant 19th century ideas and phrases in the BOM. I also recently did a big study on that, and here are the highlights outlined below if you want to reference. (PM me if you want more detailed version):

    19th Century Ideas & Phraseology in
    The Book of Mormon

    1. View of the Hebrews, 1823
    -Oliver knew Ethan Smith, BH Roberts thought BOM was plagiarized from it, Native Americas of Hebrew origin and came to America, yellow leaves buried in a hill, breastplate, urim and thummim, man standing on a wall saying wo to this city and then attacked, gospel preached in americas, savior figure coming, good and bad necessary opposition, quoting whole chapters of Isaiah (many similar), cites evidence of native writing similar to Hebrew, polygamy denounced, egyptian writing, says how cool it would be if a record found in ground of natives

    2. Other Ideas of Native Americas/Lamanites
    -Millions of bodies lying around and mass graves (with 90%ish of Natives wipes out bu Eurodisease – this was appropriated into the book of Mormon with the Jaradite‘s and with war battles – dea of white & dark race, justifications for wiping them out, descriptions as believing in a Great Spirit, bloodthirsty people believing in idols, wearing skimpy clothing, always fearing attacks from them, where they came from, Christianizing (Dartmouth), one group from tower and other later,

    3. Doctrinal Expositions on Debated Topics of the Day
    Anti-Catholic: Infant baptism, leaders w/ fine clothing, anti-universalist, apostasy-restoration, the Sacrament, like Alexander Campbell said “ordination, the trinity, regeneration, repentance, justification, the fall of man, gathering of Israel, the atonement, transubstantiation, fasting, penance, church government, religious experience, the call to the ministry, the general resurrection, eternal punishment, who may baptize, and even the question of freemasonry (“secret combinations), republican government, and the rights of man”

    4. Protestant Revival Patterns
    Nothingness of man, dramatic calls to repentance & conversions – seen w/ King Benjamin, in book of Alma

    5. Much Exact Phraseology (Especially in War Chapters) From 2 Books About the American Revolution (Captain Moroni=George Washington – Joseph General & run Pres like GW, Alma 62:43 retire in peace after war, repent/pray to God for help & credit Him for victory – in his war addresses, farewell address, and Dec of Ind & Words of Other Founding Fathers – Both in early 20s & both)

    Parallels With David Ramsay’s 1789 History of the American Revolution
    “we have taken up Arms in Defence of our Liberty, our Property; our Wives and our Children”
    “the blessings of liberty” – “the Standard of…Liberty”
    “a free government” – “liberty poles”
    “critical time” – “critical circumstances”
    “marching through the wilderness”
    “had begun his march” – “places of security”
    “place of retreat” – “cut off their retreat”
    “his whole army” – “at the head of his army”
    “little army” – “little band”
    “surrendered themselves prisoners of war”
    “The town was also picquetted in with strong picquets, and surrounded with a ditch, and a bank…”
    a work was thrown up”
    “fixed in his resolution” – “a determined resolution”
    “I now bid adieu”

    Parallels With Mercy Otis Warren’s 1805 “History of the Rise, Progress and Termination of the American Revolution (She relied a lot of Ramsay’s work)
    “the cause of liberty” – “spirit of freedom”
    “flocked to the standard”
    “a consciousness of their own guilt”
    “set at defiance” – “men are in a state of nature”
    “the minds of the people” – “the voice of the people”
    “a council of war” – “to maintain their rights”
    “the justice of the cause” – “the welfare of their country”
    “the freedom of their country”
    “the cause of their country”
    “supplies of provisions” – “fled in confusion”
    “not sufficiently strong” – “chief commander”
    “determined to maintain” – “unshaken firmness”
    “destroyed by the sword” – “an ignominious death”

    6. Much Exact Phraseology From Protestant Preachers
    (Like Jon Edwards Sr & Jr & George Whitefield)

    “unless God should change, that is, cease to be God”
    “hardness of heart and blindness of mind”
    “full of all manner of wickedness”
    “the unpardonable sin”
    “the hundreth part”
    “they are without God in the world”
    “the God of nature”
    “offering up himself a sacrifice for sinners”
    “contrary to the nature of God”
    “eternal torments”
    “a lively…sense of their own guilt”
    “that day, when you and I shall meet before the judgment seat”
    “state of probation”
    “change in your hearts?”
    “plan of..
    “this life is the only time allotted by Almighty God for working out our salvation”
    “the unpardonableness of the sin [against the Holy Ghost]”
    “law and justice”
    “the demands of justice”
    “endless happiness”
    “atonement of Christ”
    “plan of salvation”
    “final state of the wicked”
    “God must be just as well as merciful”
    “infinite atonement”
    “the infinite goodness of God”
    “line upon line and precept upon precept”

    Phrases not found in the Bible but found in writings and sermons of the 1700’s and early 1800’s.

    merciful plan
    demands of justice
    spiritual death
    crosses of the world
    Great Creator
    it behooveth God
    endless duration
    awful monster
    secret combinations
    family of Adam
    claim upon them
    rot and crumble
    mother earth
    shut out from presence of God
    our first parents
    God who gave them breath
    cunning plan
    devil delighteth

    7. Much in Common With “The Late War” (Written in scriptural style about War of 1812 for public schools)
    “It came to pass” – “7th day of 4th month” – “chief captains” – “2 thousand warriors”, “round brass ball of curious workmanship”, hebraisms,

    8. Much in Common With Other 19th Century Works & Phrases
    1st Book of Napoleon – The Bible – John Bunyan – The Apocrypha – The Koran – Westminster Confession (state of souls before resurrection etc) – Gulliver’s Travels – John Smith – Josiah Priest – “History of Mexico” – 12 Points of Pelagius & BOM Doctrine of The Fall – 1827 Charles Anthon book – “Song of Redeeming Love” – “One Eternal Round” – “Anti-Christ” – “Bear one Another’s Burdens” – Hermeneutic Kabbala Jewish Esoteric-https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.haaretz.com/amp/how-kabbala-shaped-mormon-faith-1.5175120 (“The esoteric literature of the period included the legacy of the Renaissance, Hermetism, the kabbala, Neoplatonism, alchemy, astrology and Magianism – perhaps brought by Jewish convert Alexander Neibaur”)

    9. Many Curious Parallels With Names in Joseph’s Environment
    10+ exact/or very close matches and dozens of close matches between BOM names and names of places surrounding Joseph – (YouTube video) Leheigh, Helam, Onidah lands in the Northward in BOM that were also in Canada (Ramah, Moriantown) – in Joseph’s north
    -Moriantown/Teancum (city by seashore named after died)
    -Comoros/Moroni
    -John Walker’s Book of Scriptural Names

    10. Parallels With The American Situation at the Time
    Democratic ideas, Treasure digging, slippery treasures (“sink into earth), angel guarding treasure, freemen vs kingmen, America as blessed/promised land,

    • Wow! Nice work!

      Too much to comment on right now but I wanted to approve it so everybody else could see it.

      Thanks for sharing!

      • Tony, thanks for that insightful compilations from your study! Several of those I had not seen before, so kudos.

        RFM & Co., I wanted to make sure all of you have this link:
        https://kmabom.wordpress.com/kjv-in-the-book-of-mormon-case-closed/

        In my opinion, the 100’s of verses in that list, all of which are plagiarisms from KJV (1769 Smith family Bible), are a factual smoking gun, but even more so are the staggering number of anachronistic (out of time, belonging to a period other than that being portrayed) plagiarisms/quotations of New-Testament-era content by Old-Testament-era Book of Mormon writers, e.g. Nephi, Jacob, Mosiah, Alma, Helaman, etc., are all supposedly pre-Christ (B.C.) prophets but Joseph Smith has then quoting/plagiarizing at length from New Testament writers that are 100’s-1000+ years in their future. Since textual anachronisms, such as this, are definitive evidence for historical frauds, why not the Book of Mormon? And it begs the question: if God is really the source of the BoM, make the BoM look like a historical fraud when it claims to be the real/actual translation of ancient texts? It’s absurd and would make God absurd.

        If a belief or a claim is absurd then I think it deserves to be challenged – and if it cannot withstand the examination/scrutiny, if it is utterly unreasonable, ridiculous, inequitable/unfair, inexplicable, insensible, etc. – then it should be discarded. It is unworthy of belief (assumption as TRUTH). Here are some of my premises/assumptions based on my personal experiences with GOD/Supreme-Highest-Intelligence-Consciousness/Source/Creator:

        1) GOD is REASONABLE/RATIONAL/INTELLIGENT, not absurd (and neither are Their “doctrines”/teachings, ideas, requirements, systems, purposes, etc.).
        2) GOD is FAIR/JUST/KIND/MERCIFUL, not unfair/inequitable, favoritist/elitist (or “respecter of persons”), not torturous or unkind or brutal or harmful (They practice/exemplify what They ask of us – & it is GOONDESS, which leads to next one…).
        3) GOD is GOOD/LOVING/MORAL/COMPASSIONATE, not fearful or fear-instilling, immoral, or cruel; and goodness/love/morality/compassion are the only real currency/measures/standards of spiritual progression, not arbitrary obedience/obeisance requirements.
        4) GOD is UNIVERSAL, over ALL, Source & Creator of ALL, not limited/local/provincial in scope.

        If something, particularly a claim, doesn’t meet the above criteria, then I think it’s highly unlikely to be or/from GOD.

        To me, many of Joseph Smith’s claims, teachings/beliefs, scriptural productions, revelations, historical deeds/words, and representations of GOD, etc., do not meet the above criteria. And, as I’ve said, they also fail pretty basic authenticity tests.

        I don’t think believing in absurdities or falsehoods – or pious frauds, stuff that isn’t true but promotes “faith” – is ultimately as productive, inspiring, or as good as believing in real truth. “Those who can make you believe absurdities, can make you commit atrocities (Voltaire).” Dan Vogel’s theory is that Joseph was a pious fraud (anything that promoted “faith” was justified, true or not) – I think he is correct because it fits SO MANY data points with Joseph and his claims/productions, including BoM and BoA. But I also think Joseph was grandiose delusional & believed in himself and his spiritual gifts & was afflicted with megalomania – possibly even a personality disorder – his pattern of building and burning relationships points to that.

        Also, it seems to me that “divine authority” is the most abused spiritual weapon/club in human history (& “scripture” is just divine authority in printed form). Joseph wrote “No power or influence can or ought to be maintained by virtue of the priesthood, only by persuasion, long-suffering, …” I think it would be better & truer written “No human should claim divine authority.” But all divine authority claims contain the inherent “stick” and “carrot” which translates into undue influence. Divine Authority is Undue Influence.

        Steve Hassan has done ground-breaking research on cult thought-reform & control/undue-influence:
        https://freedomofmind.com/bite-model/
        https://freedomofmind.com/influence-continuum/

        And Luna Lindsey did a bang-up job of applying all the cult research to Mormonism:
        http://recoveringagency.com/articles/the-methods-of-thought-reform/

        • Thank you for that great compilation, Jesef!

          Speaking solely for myself, however, I am not convinced God is reasonable, fair, good or universal.

          I am not even convinced He is God! ;^)

          Thanks for listening!

          RFM

          • Thanks, RFM.

            Think of it more as: IF there is a “GOD”/Benevolent Supreme-Highest-Intelligence-Consciousness/Source/Creator (in fact, it may help if you don’t call THEM/IT “God” at all – I like to call THEM/IT, the “Larger Consciousness System” or LCS) then THEY would be… (type list). It could also be a list of why the LCS is GOOD, but religions are bad.

            But also, IF there is a LCS, THEY don’t seem to be very invested in convincing us (humans) of anything. THEY seem to respect freewill above all else.

            In my search for truth outside of Mormonism, which led me more into Universalism, I discovered so many people outside of the JS/Mormon bubble who have had spiritual experiences with the Higher. One guy is a nuclear physicist who worked at the Monroe Institute (Robert/Bob Monroe – “Journeys Out of the Body”, etc.), named Thomas Campbell. I read his books, the My Big TOE (Theory of Everything) Trilogy. I think you would like them!

            It’s quite universal and explains A LOT of the physical data. It also gives some really good tips for starting to explore the non-physical reality. I think most humans yearn for something spiritual, it might as well be rational as well as intuitive, and not just absurd (like many religions)!

            Peace.

  9. I am an avid listener to your podcast and have listened to every episode.

    I am a former bishop, but 10 years ago I came out as gay. I have been married for the last 3 years to a wonderful man who is also a lifelong member of the church. We are active in our ward in Salt Lake City because we have a very accepting bishop (we lucked out with bishop roulette) and a loving ward family.

    I am a nuanced/progressive Mormon obviously, since I am in a gay marriage. Like you, I do not believe in the truth claims of the church as I once did. However, we are continuing our spiritual journey and find value in attending church meetings (when they are not suspended by the pandemic). Your podcast has been a great help to me as I’ve been navigating my new place in Mormonism and relationship with the Church. Thank you!

    Before you began your discussion of the main topic of podcast 148, you talked about the worldwide fast and it’s apparent ineffectiveness at ending the pandemic. You made a good point that it is not very reasonable to expect that God will end the pandemic simply because we all skipped a few meals. He will no more end the pandemic because of fasting and prayer than he will make a gay man straight who prays and fasts to be changed, no matter how sincere the supplication. You can’t pray the virus away any more than I could pray the gay away in my sexuality.

    However, I think the Brethren see more value in the world-wide fast than just supplicating God to do what we want. Holding a special fast is a highly effective way to do fundraising. We all know that the Church is nearly destitute and could not afford a few dimes for pandemic relief! (Being sarcastic obviously). Therefore, they need to roll out this big fasting fundraising scheme twice to build up the church coffers to be able to support all the members who will be coming to their bishops to pay their rent and pay their bills while they are being financially impacted by this pandemic.

    If the Church has at least $100 billion in rainy day funds, you have to wonder why they are not transferring a few hundred million from this year’s $7 billion operating budget into the fast offering funds that bishops dip into to pay members bills during this crisis. But rather than touch their precious slush fund hoard, or dip into the surplus millions of dollars of tithing revenues for this year, the Brethren are turning to the members to dip further into their pockets to fund the relief efforts.

    When I was a bishop 10 years ago, I was so stingy with fast offering funds and how I dispersed them. That was before I knew of the unimaginable wealth the Church is hoarding in Ensign Peaks. I really regret now that I didn’t do more to pay the rents and other legitimate expenses of destitute widows and unemployed members of my ward in the suburbs of Philadelphia. I mean I really really regret it, and it brings me to tears of shame sometimes. I should have been much more free with the fast offering funds I had at my disposal. Of course, if I had, I probably would have had my hands slapped by the stake president and might have been promptly released. But at least I would have helped a lot of people in the interim.

    I would love to see you do a podcast about how the Brethren prey upon members’ generosity to fill the Church’s fast offering coffers, all while they add a billion or two dollars each year of excess tithing funds to their Ensign Peaks slush fund. To me, this is the real story behind the two worldwide fast schemes.

    I too am staying anonymous in this post. Like you did before, I have a daughter going on a mission soon, reporting to the MTC in June.

    Thanks RFM! You’re the best! Keep up the great work you are doing!

    • So good to hear from you, Bishop D.O.!

      Once a bishop, always a bishop, of course.

      This is the second post of this sort I have run across.

      Did I miss something, or did the church actually link the request to pay additional fast offerings in money to the local bishop for these recent days of fasting and prayer?

      I didn’t hear President Nelson mention it, and I was left with the impression that these two specially called days were days of fasting but without the offering.

      Please let me know if I got that wrong.

      On the other side of the equation, and something I haven’t had a chance to podcast about yet, is Elder Ballard’s talk in general conference on Saturday morning.

      I already went over the majority of his talk where he presents a version of the First Vision which is an amalgamation of the four different primary accounts.

      But did you see what he said at the very end?

      He asks the members to make some kind of special “offering” to the Lord.

      He doesn’t say what he is talking about or what form this special “offering” is supposed to be.

      It seems to come out of nowhere and is left as an apostolic request to sacrifice something special; something that the members would not be sacrificing already in the normal course of being a Mormon.

      Do you have any idea what Elder Ballard was talking about?

      If this had been a request for money from fasting, I would have thought he would have put a fine point on it.

      Thanks for listening!

      RFM

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