Sam has been doing a series on Mormonism, making me realize how unfamiliar I am with this particular flavor of Christianity. We briefly discussed it growing up—hitting the high points. Joseph Smith, Plates of Gold, polygamy. We knew they sent out missionaries, had a choir, and lay claim to the Osmonds.
Since Mormonism was wrong, of course, we only discussed it from the aspect of how it was wrong. Much like we treated any other belief—atheism, Catholicism, Democrats, etc. And due to the extreme brevity of our study, I don’t know very much about it. I am a little embarrassed as to how little I know.
Because of my location (America) and my upbringing, I generally assume people have an understanding about the Bible. I understand where the book of Exodus fits in the Big Picture. Or Isaiah. Or Matthew and Romans. I presume others do as well. Sometimes I am surprised at atheists who proclaim, “I didn’t know that was in the Bible!” or “That’s a good quote—I am going to have to remember it.” I forget others were not as immersed in it as I was.
Yet I have absolutely no idea about the Book of Mormon. Where does Jacob fit? What is Alma about? Or Ether? I find myself both ignorant, and curious to learn more.
Utilizing my method, I went looking for Mormon apologetics. What do Mormons say Mormons believe—not what creedal Christians say Mormons believe. And consequently have spent much time on the FAIR Mormon Apologetic site reading the various articles.
Two over-arching ideas have stood out:
1. “It is possible…”
This is the very bedrock of ALL theistic apologetics, I fear. Having never studied Mormon techniques, I am struck by the similarity in method. Time and time and time again, the proposed solution to a problem is framed, “It is possible…” and then just about anything is inserted after that phrase.
Which leads me to the second striking feature:
2. Pot—meet kettle
For as much as creedal Christianity castigates and ridicules Mormonism, and Mormons defend themselves against these attacks—the similarities are eye-poppingly obvious to an on-looker.
One difficulty with Mormonism is the claim in the Book of Mormon regarding coins, and the use of steel, and numbers of deaths, and certain animals and materials and grains when archeology has not provided proof of these things existence. And so we see the one-two punch:
1. “It is possible….” [animals were called different things] [barley might have existed] [we translated this wrong]
2. “Just because we haven’t found it yet, doesn’t mean it isn’t there.”
What made me chuckle, though was the comparison Mormon Apologists do to the Exodus and Joshua’s Genocide. They point out how there is scant (i.e.—none or contradictory) evidence of these things happening, yet creedal Christians believe it—why can’t the same be true of the Mesoamericans?
I wryly chuckle at the concept of proving the Bible wrong as a means to prove the Book of Mormon correct. Perhaps the better answer is they are both wrong!
And I find it fascinating how Creedal Christians respond with, “Even though it may be possible—how likely is it? Shouldn’t we look at plausibility?”
Yep!—the same thing we non-believers have been saying to Creedal Christians! Sure it is possible Judas hung himself, the rope broke, he fell, received a nasty gash in the gut and then wandered into the path of a chariot—but is that plausible?
Mormon Apologists point out the AMAZING accuracy of the prophecies of Jesus written in the Book of Mormon long before Jesus lived. Creedal Christians point out, “Wait a minute. At the time of the writing, the author already knew about Jesus, and was merely ‘back-dating’ what they knew into a story.”
Right. The same thing we say about Matthew, Mark, Luke and John.
Mormons point out how they have a “burning” confirmation of the truth. Creedal Christians guffaw at such a concept. But then reverently refer to the “inner witness of the Holy Spirit.”
Hello? Pot? Kettle?
I am enjoying my study from the aspect of a newbie. Sadly, I see the same tired methodology, resulting in fairly quick dissection.