Thursday, February 22, 2007

How Genuine are Anti-Mormons?

Many years ago I remember looking through books for sale. Amidst them was a section against certain religions. There were pamphletes written against us, of course. But it was interesting to count the number of different publications. It almost seemed a testimony to the truth for anyone looking. There was one against the Catholics, one against Christian Science, one against the Cristadalphians, one against some others that I can't remember off-hand, three against Seventh Day Advantists, five against Jehovah's Witnesses, and twenty-six against us.

Reading claims against the church in most of the publications I have read or answered, I find that anyone reading a collection of them would recognise how fabricated most of it is. "Joseph Smith's mother was a gypsy", say some. Then they or some other one goes on to explain that they were running a farm. That is an interesting occupation for a gypsy. Then we have it that Joseph Smith's father was a gold digger. Also farming. A busy man. Then there are the ones that quote extremely old stats, while the writer pretends to know what he is talking about.

Then there is the irrational attempts to explain things away. "Joseph Smith had epileptic fits", say some in an attempt to say that his vision was a fit. Yet the same publication will go on to claim that he was a liar. So let's get this straight; he says he had a vision, so it must have been a fit, not a lie, yet he was a liar. Why do they even bother with the epilepsy explanation?

"I came out of Mormonism", says one lady. Then she tells us that she "taught Mormon theology for 2 years". Sounds impressive doesn't it? Why not just admit she taught kids in Junior Sunday School?

Then we have silly things like Joseph Smith's use of French when translating the Book of Mormon. Comments that Moroni wouldn't have used French. Do people actually fall for this nonsense? Moroni didn't use any of the English words Joseph Smith attributed to him either. That is what we call "translation".

Then we have all the attempts to claim the Book of Mormon is proven incorrect by archaeology. Interestingly the Bible is also proven incorrect by archaeology. No one then writes down the endless proven errors and conflicts of archaeologists.

Now we have the latest fad - genes. No significant gene link between the Middle East and the Americas is observable. Are we also supposed to take this seriously? Do we have the remains of a known Israelite from 600BC and a known Nephite from that time? The Lamanites are obviously genetically changed. A dill could work that out.

Then there are the sensationalising ones, that hit with strange doctrine and then quote something about Christ being our Saviour, as if to suggest that our doctrine is somehow in conflict of that concept, and he's just quoted a scripture to prove us in contradiction of the Bible. Whatever one may think of their morals, it is hard for me to believe that these writers are quite that stupid. I find them as genuine as a three-dollar bill.

5 comments:

Katy said...

While I am opposed to anti-Mormon comments, and think they're as ridiculous as the poorly-thought-out political comments that people make, I do think that it helps when examining them to see the grain of truth in them. After all--that is Satan's greatest tool, right?--to deceive by taking a grain of truth and twisting it.

From what I've read, the Smith family did do some gold digging. Like most/many people of the time. That doesn't form a basis as to whether or not he was a prophet.

Inquisitorian said...

Katy,
True, partially. Joseph Smith was arrested and found guilty of putting a stone in a hat and pretending to be able to find burried treasure or lost items for payment. This is pretty damning evidence since he used the methods to translate the Book of Mormon. While many people dug for gold at that time most did not use a peep stone. This is not proof that the Book of Mormon is falsified, but does not help the character debate.

Doug,
There is a lot of anti-Mormon literature out there that fits the profile you have laid out, but much of it is very different. For instance take a look at the Nauvoo Expositor. Then take a look at what happened to it. Innocent martyr? lynched criminal?

FACT- Joseph Smith was not jailed in Carthage for his religious beliefs or practices. He was arrested on the charge of treason for using his position as mayor of Nauvoo to order the militia to destroy the Nauvoo Expositor, a printing press operated by William Law who was a former member of the first presidency (who still believed in the church but believed JS had turned from the true path) and didn’t like Joseph Smith very much.

So, not all anti-Mormons are genuine or should be taken at face value, but dismissing all out of hand is not so genuine on your part.

Doug Towers said...

katy,

I was aware that Joseph Smith worked for his uncle digging for gold. I was presenting that his father was stated to be doing so also. Secondly it is presented in such a fashion as to give the impression that that was all he did.

inquisitorian,

Some interesting claims that you have presented. I'm always interested in hearing new facts. Can you present some real evidence for these claims? Joseph Smith was accused of many things. As far as I know he was only convicted once, and that was because he was on the board of directors (or something similar) of a failed bank.

Inquisitorian said...

Here is a web page containing information about the peep stone affair. There is some degree of speculation about what actually occured at the trial, but the evidence is fairly strong that the trial took place. That combined with affadavits taken from people about Smith's practice of stone peeping makes for pretty strong evidence in my opinion. http://www.xmission.com/~country/reason/ny_js.htm

The events leading up to Joseph Smith’s death are well documented. He declared the Nauvoo Expositor a nuisance (based on false testimony denying the practice of polygamy) and ordered it destroyed. Later we discover that the paper was in fact correct in its claim about JS’s practice of polygamy. His destruction of the press also provides compelling evidence that he abused his power as the mayor of Nauvoo as was indicated in the paper’s only issue.

The destruction of the press and claims made by the paper ultimately led to the death of Joseph Smith and his brother Hyrum. In his own words, according to the meeting minutes, he “would rather die tomorrow and have the thing smashed, than live and have it go on, for it was exciting the spirit of mobocracy among the people, and bringing death and destruction upon us”. This being one of the very few prophecies of his which actually came true.

Ironically it was the destruction of the press rather than the product thereof which ultimately doomed him. Another paper, which was openly hostile towards Smith and his actions as mayor, printed the following shortly before the incident in Carthage, “War and extermination is inevitable! Citizens ARISE, ONE and ALL!!!—Can you stand by, and suffer such INFERNAL DEVILS! To ROB men of their property and RIGHTS, without avenging them. We have no time for comment, every man will make his own. LET IT BE MADE WITH POWDER AND BALL!!!”. This all shows rather clearly that the death of Joseph Smith had more to do with his actions as mayor of Nauvoo than his religious practices. He was not an innocent religious martyr, he was a lynched criminal. Another irony is that Mormonism may have died there had Joseph and Hyrum Smith lived to stand trial for treason and their actions put in the spotlight.

A good place to start looking this over and make up your own mind about it is http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Death_of_Joseph_Smith%2C_Jr. This is also where I obtained the quotes used in this post.

I am very impressed with your ability to keep an open mind. I am not one to contend that these arguments prove the Mormon religion false, but most of the LDS faith (including me at one time) are overly defensive about any discussion questioning the "official" position.

Doug Towers said...

Inquisitorian

Thanks for the referrences. In regard my open mindedness, I only expect God to make no mistakes. I have no fear just because a person (regardless of his position) makes mistakes. By the same token I don't like to judge a person on hearsay. Particularly when affadavits were being paid for against Joseph Smith (to compensate people for any inconvenience). But five dollars/pounds (can't remember which now) was a large sum of money for compensation. I therefore wouldn't be inclined to believe something without at least a conviction. Not that a conviction makes someone guilty either (of necessity).

The other paper you quote shows an already existing antagonism toward Joseph Smith. Joseph Smith's murder wasn't the first sign of violence against Joseph Smith, by any stretch of the imagination. To propose that an action he made immediately prior to his death was its cause seems too much of a guess to me. Some talk of him infuriating masons. Then there was the strong Protestant opposition. Nauvoo was highly successful, and so jealousy existed in that regard. People were eager to steal things from the Mormons. Nonsense that had been circulated created fear. If the destruction of the newspaper was a final straw it would have been a small straw in a large pile, from what I've read of church history. And we could debate forever how accurate those bits of straw all were.

I must say that my reading of anti and pro stuff about church history led me to the conclusion that it is an unknown factor. There is so much each way, and who are we to believe? Those for believe the pro and reject the other. And those against believe the anti and reject the pro. I realised long ago that it was unlikely that church history was a place to successfully consider the right or wrong of Joseph Smith as a person. And particularly the truth of the church.

The reason I raised the subject in the post was to mention the contradictions of anti material.

My belief comes from my trust of God. It doesn't come from outward evidences. Yes, I have seen endless miracles. Without number. I have seen Jesus Christ and Heavenly Father. I have had many burnings from the Holy Ghost. I have had many revelations, and seen prophesies of mine come to pass. I have raised my daughter from the dead, even. I have been healed. etc. Yet not one bit of all this makes any difference to whether I believe IN God. The reason I believe IN God is because of what has happened in my life when I have given up the world's ideas and have done what God has said instead. That is the true testimony to me of following God. He completely reversed my life. That was the greatest miracle I have seen. Feeling his love for us is also a big plus.