Mormon Discussion

POST: The Dominant Narrative Is Not True

Word on keyboard made in 3D

Richard Bushman recently said “The dominant narrative is not true”.  Essentially that the story Mormonism has told about itself is not holding up to scholarship and critical thinking.  One has to wonder what Bro. Bushman meant.  Today I wanted to venture to guess both exploring what I think are the greatest contradictions in Mormonism’s narrative and what impact the data has on our theology and history when seriously considered.  Lastly I wish to discuss what Mormonism could do to shift on each to have a more accurate and reasonable narrative.  I would add that one can always find plausibilities and flawed data to support their beliefs.   We all do it.  It is called confirmation bias.  Taking an honest look at our beliefs with an openness to adjust where needed is not an easy thing to do.  My hope is that if you read this, you might be willing to be open to the best data and to show deference to probabilities over plausibilities and impossibilities.

 

  1. Flood

Ground Mormonism Holds:

Mormonism holds that a Global Flood literally occurred.  That the earth roughly 5,000 years ago was covered with water.  We teach that there was a real man named Noah and that the biblical story surrounding him is historically accurate.  That he lived to 950 years old and during his life he built a ship large enough to house two of each animal (and 7 of the clean animals).  That only his family was saved aboard the ark and that God destroyed the rest of mankind by water.  We hold that the Earth being covered was a baptism of sorts.  We even have Jesus himself when visiting the Nephites in 3rd Nephi testifying of the flood.

Consequences of the Data:

The Flood is more than a miracle.  In our limited understanding we sometimes judge the flood as simply a miracle that requires God’s super power to intervene and cause a lot of water to cover the earth.  The flood is way more complicated than that.  There are 100’s of issues with a global flood and Noah’s story generally and many of them are quite serious.  I list here only a few but more can be read in the resources.

  • people living to as old as 950 years old before modern medicine
  • how animals that needed specific habitats and specific diets and specific climates made their way to the ark (kangaroos, penguins, camels, Gila monsters, yaks, and quetzals).  When this issue is understood in depth it becomes quite a serious barrier to the realty of the story. (special diets, fresh foods, climates that animals will die outside of)
  • feeding and cleaning up the mess the animals would make.
  • The space such animals would take up even if these animals were in their adolescence is beyond the capacity of the ark.
  • time needed to feed a minimum of 16,000 animals species (32,000 animals plus thousands more in 5 more clean animals of some species)
  • the Flood itself.  The earth simply could not maintain is needed aspects with that much water being on the planet.
  • The number of people on the earth today can not be statistically explained starting with 8 people 5000 years ago.
  • Lack of geologic evidence of a flood
  • Plant survival – Many plants submerged below water for any time period and especially such an extended period would kill most of the worlds plant-life.  were 2 of each plant taken too?  cacti, mangroves, coconuts, and others?
  • How did these animal and plant species survive post flood in a water  drenched  and now desolate landscape.  What did the carnivores eat?  what did the herbivores eat?

The Needed Shift:

Apologists realize the problem and so they have suggested the flood was more local.  A local Flood also has deep issues including Prophets, Seers, and Revelators, and even Jesus having imposed the flood as Global.  The Ship landed on a mountain we are told, imposing a global flood (or at least a flood of some mass scale which presents the same issues).   Moses saw in our restoration scripture in the Book of Moses, in chapter 1, all the events of the earth and since Moses is the author of the 5 books of Moses he should be trusted as a witness.  A local flood would not have killed all the people of the earth and would not have killed all the animals and hence no need to get them all aboard the boat.  The promise by God to never flood the earth again…. is pointless and a lie if a local flood is what happened.

Once one see that a local flood can not give us an adequate interpretation and that a global flood is not just impossible but absurd, then we must shift.  First we must come to grips that the old testament should not be assumed to be a literal telling of events.  That stories like Noah and the flood are likely fictional myth used as a spiritual narrative to help draw people to the divine.  That we need to create room for people to not believe these stories literally but rather to still seek value in them as communal scripture.  Once one finds such room within the Noah account then one will begin to see the scriptures in whole new way.  One will need to wrestle with where to draw the line and to decide on each and every story what is to be held as literal and what is to be held as figurative.  This wrestle has large implications for the Book of Mormon which itself imposes a global flood.  If Jesus truly testified of a Global Flood and such is simply absurd, what do we take from that?  If Jesus didn’t say that and the Book of Mormon claims he did, what does that mean?  We certainly will not be comfortable going down this road, as who wants to lay their comfortable beliefs on the altar exposing themselves to inconvenient truth….. but the data will and is forcing us to re-evaluate what is scripture and what meanings lay beyond the literal view.

Resources:

http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/faq-noahs-ark.html

http://ldsmag.com/article-1-14059/

http://en.fairmormon.org/Mormonism_and_science/Global_or_local_Flood

https://www.lds.org/ensign/1998/01/the-flood-and-the-tower-of-babel?lang=eng

mormondiscussionpodcast.org/2015/04/the-flood-and-its-barriers-to-faith/

 

 

  1. Tower of Babel

Ground Mormonism Holds:

Like the Flood, Mormonism holds that the “Tower of Babel” is a literal structure where languages literally went from one to many.  this event is dated at about 2500 BC.   The Book of Mormon itself hinges on the tower, as Jared and his brother and the Jaredites originate with this tower.  With the Book of Mormon and Old Testament testifying of this story, they stand as two separate sources and hence we have two witnesses enforcing a literal approach to the story.

Consequences of the Data:

Sociologists and science has effectively shown how languages develop and what time and pattern this evolution develops within.  We also have records of language that shows various languages  can be dated to about 10,000 to 60,000 BC and certainly a several languages by 4000 BC.  Now that we live in a a day when the we no longer believe in a three tier universe (heaven above the clouds, earth, and hell beneath the earth) building a tower to heaven is absurd and God being mad about a tower to the clouds when he isn’t just above them is irrational.

The Needed Shift:

The idea of languages being singular until this tower event and splitting from there is absurd and demonstrably false.  Hence we must shift.

Again the need is to allow these stories to be non-literal while still holding meaning.  This impact not only the the old Testament but again our very own Book of Mormon.  Again this will likely make us uncomfortable.  We have held literal ground on these for all too long and to relinquish that ground will be tense and may have us feel unstable for a while.  Yet again, the data, science, and scholarship are imposing on us the necessity of such a shift and that necessity is only building.

Resources:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tower_of_Babel

http://www.ancient-origins.net/myths-legends/tower-babel-001583

http://www.deseretnews.com/article/705362025/Michael-Ash-Still-confounded-at-the-Tower-of-Babel.html?pg=all

http://www.deseretnews.com/article/700068940/Michael-R-Ash-Is-the-Tower-of-Babel-historical-or-mythological.html?pg=all

https://www.lds.org/ensign/1998/01/the-flood-and-the-tower-of-babel?lang=eng

mormondiscussionpodcast.org/2016/09/towerofbabel/

 

 

  1. Book of Abraham

Ground Mormonism Holds:

Mormonism holds that there was a real prophet named Abraham and that the events taught about him in both old Testament and the Book of Abraham report on literal facts.  That this Abraham is the truly the Father of Israel.  Joseph Smith had claimed to have translated Egyptian papyri which was “the writings of Abraham” written “by his own hand”.  When these papyri re-surfaced in the 1960’s and included some of the facsimiles that Joseph worked from, it became extremely difficult to reconcile these documents as the writings of Abraham, written by his own hand.   The Church has acknowledged as much in its recent essay “Translation and Historicity of the Book of Abraham” .  In the essay the Church has no solid answer for how the Book of Abraham was translated and offers several plausible reconciliations.

Consequences of the Data:

We are left to have faith that it is indeed inspired but with every explanation given by Joseph, The Church, and apologists not adding up.  We can discuss plausibilities that the Church and apologists offer and you are free to read those in the resources below.   Here I prefer to deal with probabilities we gather from the data.  The data tells us that the papyri was not written by Abraham and absolutely not by his hand.  It is a standard Egyptian funerary text.  It is written long after Abraham and has no connection to him.  Also the facsimiles translated by Joseph appear with strong certitude to have been translated incorrectly as the meanings of these figures is now translated  and understood by egypytologists.   The Church and apologists prefer not to hang their hat on any one explanation because each has severe flaws and problems.  If you wish to know more please see the resources as a launching pad for this issue.  I do want to express that this issue is complicated and is one that must be studied in depth to even approach understanding what the claims are on all sides and to understand the apologetic answers and the critical problems with each.  More than any other issue I implore you take your time delving into and understanding this issue.

The Needed Shift:

The data suggests we re-examine what the Book of Abraham is, and how it is to be understood.  We must re-examine what it means for the Book of Abraham to be scripture.  For many, when all the data is taken in and we seek out what is most reasonable and probable, such ideas as pseudepigrapha (or fictional writings attributed to a biblical prophet to add value to their importance) becomes a reasonable approach while perhaps still offering inspiration to its readers.

Resources:

https://www.lds.org/topics/translation-and-historicity-of-the-book-of-abraham?lang=eng

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Book_of_Abraham

http://rsc.byu.edu/archived/volume-11-number-1-2010/egyptian-papyri-and-book-abraham-some-questions-and-answers

http://rsc.byu.edu/archived/no-weapon-shall-prosper/egyptian-papyri-and-book-abraham-faithful-egyptological-point-view

http://rsc.byu.edu/archived/no-weapon-shall-prosper/thoughts-book-abraham

mormondiscussionpodcast.org/2015/01/brian-hauglid-the-book-of-abraham/

 

 

  1. Prophets seers and revelators who don’t prophesy see or revelate like prophets of old

Ground Mormonism Holds:

Mormonism holds that beginning with Joseph Smith till our present President of the Church, that these men have been called by God as Prophets, Seers, and Revelators who commune with God directly.  We have in our manuals and missionary lessons imposed that these men are just like Moses, Noah, and Abraham.  We have prophets in the Old Testament and Book of Mormon to compare to and are told these man are just like them.

Consequences of the Data:

When we read the old Testament we find prophets who spoke to God Face-to-Face, performed wondrous miracles that left the observers in awe, and worked outside the religion making everyone within uncomfortable.  These men were God’s right hand servants and there could be no doubt.  It becomes paradoxical when one grapples with just how wondrous God’s dealings with his prophets were in ages before verifiable history.  That in essence when no one could fact-check the details God did really big and supernatural things.  Fast forward to today when nothing very dramatic by way of revelation seems to occur.  As if the moment history can indeed be fact-checked, God ceases to operate in the same fashion.  No critics struck dumb, no recounting of face to face conversations with God, no marvelous miracles alongside his servants.  Prophets rarely speak and let Public Relations be their mouthpiece.  These 15 good men accomplishing perhaps more or  less that of any other 15 men chosen to lead a company or to build the kingdom or both.  Even Joseph Smith whom I would say there is an observable dramatic difference in proclaimed divine interaction with God was very different from Moses, Noah, and  Abraham.  When looking with outsider eyes at Mormonism, many see what appears to be a lack of revelation, see-ing, and prophecy in the Church today in comparison with prophets of old and yet these men as good as they are and persevering as they do, seem to be something entirely different than Moses, Noah, and Abraham.

The Needed Shift:

It seems that a shift is needed.  That rather than teaching these men’s ability to connect with the divine is vastly different than you and me, we need to reach a place where their ability is understood as nearly the same if not the same as you and me and that only their stewardship is wider and greater.   That Prophets in the old testament are likely embellished if not entirely fictional myth and it should not be expected to see prophets that match the stories of Moses, Noah, and Abraham.  That rather than God having been a supernatural miracle worker in days past and taking a break in our day and age, we instead see that God has always been the same but that it is human nature to embellish, to exaggerate, and to create stories that fill in the gaps between what we can explain and what we can’t.  That in essence, if there is a God we must come to grips that he is extremely hands off and Prophets have no more supernatural ability as they invoke the divine than we do.

Resources:

http://www.mormonthink.com/QUOTES/infallibility.htm

http://www.jefflindsay.com/fallible.shtml

http://en.fairmormon.org/Mormonism_and_doctrine/Prophets_are_not_infallible

mormondiscussionpodcast.org/2016/03/post-a-nuanced-view-of-prophets/

mormondiscussionpodcast.org/2016/06/premium-nuanced-lesson-on-prophets/

 

 

  1. Holy ghost as an invalid way to discern truth

Ground Mormonism Holds:

Mormonism holds that the Holy Ghost is an effective way to know truth including an effective way to receive a knowledge that the Church of Jesus Christ of latter-day Saints is the Lord’s only True and Living Church.  The Church also maintains that Latter-day Saints who are worthy have an additional influence from the Holy Ghost called the Gift of the Holy Ghost.  That Mormons in effect can feel the influence of the Holy Ghost more often and/or in more direct ways.

Consequences of the Data:

Such a view is easy to hold when you are isolated from folks of different faiths.  The trouble becomes visible when you interact with people of different faiths.   You soon realize several things

  • People of different faiths have the same magnitude of spiritual experiences the Latter-day Saint does.  That in essence the Holy Ghost seems to be affecting people within various faiths and belief systems to the same degree.  That if we took a 100 devout Mormons, 100 devout Baptists, 100 devout Muslims, and 100 devout Jehovah Witnesses and asked them to describe the experience and its intensity we would find no difference between the Latter-day Saints and those of another faith.  Hence the Gift of the holy Ghost does not seem to provide a measurable difference.
  • Another facet of this is in discerning truth.  People all over the world from various faiths report knowing from God their faith is the true faith.  People testify just as assuredly that that their “truth” is true even truths that contradict those of Mormonism.  When you experience life with those who believe differently then you, you soon realize using spiritual feelings and impressions to know a historical fact or the reality of a religious truth claim seems to be problematic.
  • Even very dangerous and harmful groups  and leaders like Heavens Gate, Scientology, Jim Jones, and David Koresh all had followers convinced by spiritual experiences that their Church or belief system was the one true belief system.

The Needed Shift:

As one encounters these contradictions one may feel imposed to make the following shifts.  First would be to grant that all of God’s children have the same access to the Holy Ghost as Latter-day Saints do.  That perhaps it is a gift to us because we have been given the explicit notification from God through the Church that we have it, whereas some peoples live their entire life unaware it is with them.  Second is to recognize that we need to perhaps consider moving away from the Holy Ghost as a witness of truth.  This could be reconciled by suggesting that the Holy Ghost may be a more appropriate witness of beauty and goodness and that truth is better sought with secular learning.  There is room in how we interpret and there is scriptural precedence for secular learning and spiritual seeking both to play a part as we learn “by study and also by faith”.

Resources:

youtube.com/watch?v=lwkh_aliF3E

http://www.gospelway.com/bible/emotions.php

pewforum.org/2015/11/03/chapter-2-religious-practices-and-experiences/

 

 

  1. Prophets contradicting each other pointing to an inability to ascertain the will of God

Ground Mormonism Holds:

Mormonism attempts to hold ground that Prophets can be trusted to ascertain the mind and will of God.  That these men are the mouthpieces of god and we can place trust that what they say is truly what God would have them say.  There is this unstable arena of paradox between prophets being fallible while also being trust-able.   Church Doctrine has been taught as that which is true and from God.

Consequences of the Data:

When one dives into our history it becomes obvious very quickly that these men are fallible beyond just the small stuff.  These men we sustain as prophets, seers, and revelators have taught false doctrine and stated it came from God, have disavowed the teachings of previous prophets when those past prophets imposed those teachings as doctrine, and have taught things officially that have hurt, marginalized, and even have likely as one of many factors contributed to depression and hopelessness of others that have led to them taking their lives.  One has to wonder what greater connection prophets have to God and Christ than the rest of us.  Church Doctrine has been taught as that which is true and from God and yet the realty of our history imposes that Doctrine simply can not be defined that way and be valid and true.

The Needed Shift:

There are many shifts which are needed.  Some of these include the following.  That they can error just like you and me.  That God permits them to teach false Doctrine and that God allows them to harbor racist, bigoted, and harmful views just like you and me.  God allows them to be defensive of old outdated and false cultural perspectives.  That while he may intervene from time to time (D&C 1), he often withholds himself from intervening and allows these men to do their best (and sometimes less than best) which often has damaging results mixed in with deeply spiritual and inspiring moments.  Some leaders have indicated that revelation is less face to face with Jesus (if at all) and more often revelation is ascribed simply when the top 15 men are all on the same page or unanimous.  but we must also come to grips that even all 15 men in agreement have been deeply wrong at times on serious matters that hurt and harmed others.

Resources:

http://www.mormonstories.org/other/Lowry_Nelson_1st_Presidency_Exchange.pdf

https://www.lds.org/topics/race-and-the-priesthood?lang=eng

http://www.mormonthink.com/QUOTES/adamgod.htm

http://scottwoodward.org/adam-god_brucermcconkie.html

 

  1. 3rd Isiah in the book of mormon

Ground Mormonism Holds:

The Book of Mormon contains much of the prophet Isaiah.  Nephi speaks highly of this Old Testament author and uses a multitude of chapters from Isaiah.  Within the Book Of Mormon are Isaiah chapter 2-14 and 48-52.  The Church holds the Book of Mormon to be an ancient text that begins with a historical figure named Lehi who is called as a prophet and is commanded to leave Jerusalem sometime before the year 587 BC.  They took with them a set of brass plates which contained these Isaiah chapters.

Consequences of the Data:

The problem we encounter here is called the Deutero-Isaiah.  Here is how bible Scholar Peter Enns describes it.

For most of the history of Judaism and Christianity, it was assumed that Isaiah wrote all sixty-six chapter of the book named after him. Beginning in the eighteenth century, biblical scholars began to argue, however, that the book shows clear signs of having been written over a longer period of time. Scholars are now nearly in universal agreement that there were three separate authors for the book, known as First, Second, and Third Isaiah. The First Isaiah wrote most of chapters 1-39 and is the prophet for whom the entire work is named. His influence was so great that he had disciples who carried on his prophetic ministry after his death. This led to what some scholars call an Isaiah “school” that eventually produced Second Isaiah, chapters 40-55, in the sixth century BC, and Third Isaiah, chapters 56-66, in the fifth century or later.

There are several reasons why scholars arrived at this conclusion, namely the change of subject matter beginning in chapter 40. This is where the return from Babylonian captivity becomes the dominant subject matter. The Persian king Cyrus—the same one who ordered the release of Israel in 539—is actually named in Isaiah 44:28. Other historical events of the time are mentioned or alluded to as well. The argument for multiple authorship of Isaiah has never rested on whether or not God can speak of future events so specifically. The point is that prophetic books of the Old Testament were written for the benefit of a present audience. References to events of the sixth century would have no meaning to an eighth-century audience.

This data is the the more widely held position and most scholars agree the data imposes one or two later authors of the Book of Isaiah after the original author.  The minority of people arguing against Detero-Isaiah are apologists and scholars who are compelled to defend theologies that require a single Isaiah.  These include faiths that hold the bible to be the inerrant word of God (because a 2nd and 3rd author deceiving people into believing they are Isaiah would damage the bible as infallible), and Mormons whose scripture “The Book of Mormon” historicity would be shown to be in question if there was a 2nd and third Isaiah.  Why you ask.  Because  these later Isaiah’s would be authoring their text likely between 550 BC and 539 BC…. Which is long after Lehi and his family have left with the brass plates to the promise land.

The Needed Shift:

Again the data is quite convincing to a majority of scholars and even more convincing when you consider what those who are opposed have to lose.  While this isn’t definitive, multiple Isaiah authors does appear to be the more probable conclusion.  With this likelihood, one can only reconcile this by allowing The Book of Mormon to be a non historical text.  To allow its authors Nephi, Alma, Moroni, and all the others to be fictional characters.  Can the book still be scripture? certainly……  but this asks us to see its inspiration as less rigid and more fluid.  This requires that we let it live and breathe and for us to not be bound to any specific interpretation in time.  It also calls for us to not use it to hold one’s theology or members hostage bound to its precepts.

Resources:

https://www.cliffsnotes.com/literature/o/old-testament-of-the-bible/summary-and-analysis/deuteroisaiah

rationalfaiths.com/truthfulness-deutero-isaiah-response-kent-jackson/

rationalfaiths.com/truthfulness-deutero-isaiah-response-kent-jackson-part-2/

2 Nephi and the Deutero-Isaiah Problem in the Book of Mormon #BOM2016

http://www.fairmormon.org/perspectives/publications/deutero-isaiah-in-the-book-of-mormon

http://www.patheos.com/blogs/davidbokovoy/2014/04/deutero-isaiah-in-the-book-of-mormon-a-literary-analysis-pt-1/

http://www.patheos.com/blogs/davidbokovoy/2014/04/deutero-isaiah-in-the-book-of-mormon-a-literary-analysis-pt-2/

http://averroes2.blogspot.com/2013/08/deutero-isaiah-in-book-of-mormon.html

 

 

         8 .  Joseph Smith’s violating his own rules in section 132

Ground Mormonism Holds:

Mormonism while abandoning “mortal” polygamy beginning around 1890 still holds it came from God and was part of the “restoration of all things” spoken of by the prophet Joseph.  While polygamy at times involved very young brides, women already married, and sealings to sisters and mother/daughter to the Prophet Joseph Smith, The Church maintains that Joseph was only trying to keep the Lord’s command and following God.

Consequences of the Data:

Section 132 lays out three rules that polygamy is to be practiced in.

  • That the additional wives after the first are to be virgins
  • they are not to be vowed to other men
  • that the polygamist husband is to ask his first wife for permission before adding any additional wife

We know with certainty that these rules were not followed.  We know many of the sealings were kept secret from his first wife Emma.  To the extent that secondary mock sealings took place so that Emma would be led to think such was the first go around.  We also know that Emma while his first civil marriage was the 23rd wife sealed to him.  We also know many of these women were not virgins as they were already civilly married to other men who they were sexually active with.  We also know that since some of these women were not only non-virgins  but also presently married he was breaking the law that they not be vowed to other men.

The Needed Shift:

When one considers all the trauma and negative repercussions of polygamy that still run through our culture and also grapple that Joseph didn’t keep the very rules he dictated from God, one may begin to see some room to dismiss section 132, polygamy, and all of its connected webs.  The Church if it addresses such an issue will have to loosen its grip on not only polygamy, but how we define revelation, and canon.  There may even come day where the Church has to search for ways to set section 132 and polygamy completely off to the side while still searching for a way to cling to eternal marriage and families.  This complexity stretches far out into many theological ramifications in our faith an impacts things like what is a prophet, what to do when prophets are wrong, eternal relationships, temples, Family: Proclamation to the World, heavenly parents, and heaven itself.  When recognized and validated this would turn Mormonism on its head.

Resources:

mormonstories.org/dc-132-a-revelation-of-men-not-god/

mormondiscussionpodcast.org/2016/07/sunstone-presentation-july-2016-handshakes-drawn-swords/

patheos.com/blogs/yearofpolygamy/2016/09/10-things-polygamy-gave-mormonism/

 

 

      9. Improbability of Book of Mormon stories

Ground Mormonism Holds:

The Book of Mormon is held as a literal historical narrative.

Consequences of the Data:

When one grapples with such ideas as the Flood, Tower of Babel, Detero-Isaiah discussed above, one quickly sees they are connected deeply to the historicity of the Book of Mormon.  But there are others.  Such as the 2000 stripling warriors.  Could 2000 inexperienced teenage/young adults feasibly go to battle against a larger older battle experienced army and fight them in hand to hand battle without not a single loss of life.  No gangrene, no major recovery time staying put for months or even weeks for the wounded to heal and recover in-spite of 200 fainting from blood loss?  Using logic and reason and your own experience of real life examples and throughout history in times when such events can be substantiated and verified….. Is such a thing possible?  Is it feasible?  Is it logical?  Is it reasonable?  Can you think of such a case that can be historically veriified?  Does this not seem beyond miraculous and into the absurd?  How about Shiz having his head lopped off and then raising up on his hands and then falling and continuing to struggle to breathe before dying.  How about Moroni traveling from where ever the Book of Mormon took place to Manti to bless the temple site as Brigham taught only to then go back all the way to palmyra to bury the plates in the drumlin hill in New York?  Does such things seem even feasible once one digs into what such a travel encompasses?

The Needed Shift:

When one grapples with such beyond belief stories throughout the Book of Mormon and in other teachings surrounding its characters one must come face to face with historicity.   If what the narrative of the Book calls us to believe in is absurd and unreasonable based on human history and human experience then what are we to do.

prominent LDS Scholar Richard Bushman for instance stated

Some years ago if someone told me the Book of Mormon wasn’t historically accurate, that it was some kind of modern creation, I would have thought they were heretical. I wouldn’t say that anymore. I think there are faithful Mormons who are unwilling to take a stand on the historicity. I disagree with them, I think it is a historical book, but I recognize that a person can be committed to the gospel in every way and still have questions about the Book of Mormon.

when asked if he would make room for such non-historical belief he replied

Yes I would. I know people of that kind. And they are very good people.

Another well known LDS scholar Grant Hardy recently stated

There are certainly problems with the historicity of the Book of Mormon, but the institutional Church can’t and won’t change.

he also said

In any case, however, we might ask, “Can faith in the Book of Mormon as inspired fiction be a saving faith?” My answer is, “Absolutely!” I believe that if someone, at the judgment bar, were to say to God, “I couldn’t make sense of the Book of Mormon as an ancient American codex, given the available evidence, but I loved that book, I heard your voice in it, and I tried to live by its precepts as best I could,” then God will respond, “Well done, my good and faithful servant.”

Could it be non-historical?  sure it could and may very well be non-historical.  Can it still be scripture and give us inspiration to carry out our lives reaching for God? absolutely.

Resources:

http://www.fairmormon.org/perspectives/fair-conferences/2016-fairmormon-conference/more-effective-apologetics

mormondiscussionpodcast.org/2015/11/perspectives-richard-bushman/

https://rsc.byu.edu/archived/book-mormon-fourth-nephi-through-moroni-zion-destruction/18-moroni-last-nephite-prophets

http://www.bmaf.org/articles/joseph_rocky_mountains__christensen

 

CONCLUSION:

May I finish by stating that within Mormon Apologetics there are rebuttals to each of the issues I have posed.  Please go and read them.  All I ask is to be honest with yourself and ask yourself which conclusions are more reasonable.  Where do informed scholars stand?  What does your gut tell you?  Do that and I honor you no matter what conclusions you arrive at.  In the end come whence it may… Mormonism is truth.

The Dominant narrative is not true.  So many pieces and parts don’t fit.  So many contradictions, paradoxes, and complexities.  We at present institutionally turn a blind eye to most of it.  People individually are wrestling with it and leaving.  We can make space for them to stay…. but we will have to look the dominant narrative straight on and open ourselves up to validating its deep and problematic shortcomings.  We can fix it but first we have to admit to ourselves that the problem is there.  Can we?  Will we?  Only time will tell… likely years after I go “from whence no traveler can return”.

 

 

 

 

 

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