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Jim Bennett and Bill Reel and the Issues of the CES Letter Part 3

We sit down with Jim Bennett, son of former Utah Senator Bob Bennett, to discuss Jim’s response to the CES Letter. This interview takes place over several different days and comprises looking at the troublesome issues the CES Letter presents and reviewing where Jeremy Runnells and Jim Bennett disagree. I try to play a mediator between Jim and the ideas of the CES letter. Granting ground where I think Jim offers a reasonable response as well as pushing back where I think the CES Letter presents a credible case.

In part 3 we tackle The Book of Abraham and begin to get into Joseph Smith’s Polygamy.


16 thoughts on “Jim Bennett and Bill Reel and the Issues of the CES Letter Part 3”

  1. Since on multiple occasions Jim makes reference to the facsimiles as support for the long scroll theory, it’s important to note that is wrong. In fact, the converse is true. The reality is that the facsimiles are body blows to the BoA. All three of the facsimiles come from a standard set (very likely the same set) of Egyptian funeral text. Facsimiles 1 and 3 are pieces from a book of breathings, most likely the same one, and as the papyrus shows they were created for a priest named Horus. Likewise, facsimilia 2 is also a funeral text that is actually a hypocephalus that is placed under the mummy’s head (quite likely for that same priest). All these facsimiles point to a single funeral text. NOTHING found is derived from anything but a funeral text. More importantly, JS interpretations of the facsimiles are all very wrong. Labeling JS interpretations of the jars or the crocodile as hits are beyond generous. If we’re being honest with ourselves, all of JS’s interpretations are misses. BTW, the papyrus was found in the chest of the mummy. Any idea what kind of documents are stored there? You go it, funeral texts.

  2. I’ve really enjoyed this back and forth between Bill and Jim. Props to Jim for being willing to “step into the ring” to have a debate, and to Bill and Jim both for keeping it so free of contention. To be honest though, I’m about halfway through part three, getting into the polygamy messiness, and I find Jim’s defense of polygamy borderline delusional (sorry, I know it’s a strong word, but it seems the most apt). Is Jim seriously arguing that virgin doesn’t mean virgin and destroyed doesn’t mean destroyed? Lol. Also, the idea that saints that entered into polygamy somehow became more embedded to the Church (rather than the outside world) isn’t the power of God, it’s a cult tactic. I’m also the descendant of polygamists, but to minimize the horror it caused in the lives of the women that practiced is extremely insensitive and lacking in empathy from my perspective. In regard to Helen Kimball’s poem, I don’t view the words “eternity only” as evidence that her marriage to Joseph was not sexual. To me, it’s a sarcastic dig at how horrific her sentence was, especially for a young girl being married off to a man in his late 30s. Also, if it was, for “eternity only,” why the restrictions on her mortal life? (Like not being able to attend dances.) It was abuse. Plain and simple. Incredibly controlling abuse. Anyway, I also found Jim’s defense of the Book of Abraham lacking in rationality as well, especially giving what we know of the transcripts, but his counterpoints on polygamy were beyond the pale.

  3. I’ve heard Dan Vogel call Joseph Smith a pious fraud, not an idiot prophet. I think Vogel has far too much respect from Smith’s demonstrable skills to call him an idiot. He doesn’t think the guy was a prophet, but he does think Smith believe himself to be.

  4. As much as I appreciate the tone of this conversation and Jim’s willingness to engage, I want to take a moment and identify where the church is with regard to defending allegations that many years ago were simply denied outright. Sex was not a part of ALL of the plural marriages Joseph engaged in? While he may have been visited by an angel with a flaming sword, he didn’t use this to coerce women into marrying him? These are the defenses available to the church when they are forced to acknowledge the historical record, and they’re not necessarily helpful.

    Also, can we revisit the passages in the Bible where Jesus talks about dynastic familial relations and celestial marriage? Right. There aren’t any.

  5. I want to push back on the book of Job. I had a personal revelation when I was in the hospital intensive care where I was directly inspired to read Job and that I would be completely healed. This was not a blessing, and I was not awake when I had this experience. Mythology or not, I was inspired from a higher power to read the book of Job.

  6. I like Jim Bennett’s comment that the church should accept anyone to remain in the church at any level.I also like that Jim does not like the Nov 2015 policy. I feel the same way, that it is a wrong policy. I grew up in an inactive home and never felt threatened. Some of that may be my personality.

  7. I don’t see the difference between John C. Bennett or Joseph Smith. I believe Joseph Smith excommunicated John C. Bennett to protect himself.

  8. And wasn’t the Nauvoo Expositor destroyed because of Joseph’s polygamy? So, really Joseph was killed because of polygamy.

  9. Interesting that polygamy was what binds people to the church rather than Christ. I am confused by this statement by Jim. Christ is more powerful than any man made principle.

  10. We are supposed to liken the scriptures to ourselves. Interesting take on section 132. Wasn’t there a time when it was going to be removed, and the church leaders changed their minds? Also, women seemed more pious back then and did not generally have means to care for themselves, so I feel the women felt personally obligated to accept Joseph’s requests, especially since Joseph went through their parents and brothers, etc, before speaking with the women personally.I don’t feel that teenagers have the capability of making a decision of marriage, especially to a polygamist. The whole thing is outrageous, and I do not believe in a God who would require it.

  11. Jim, just so you know the definition of “destroy”:
    1) put an end to the existence of something by damaging or attacking it;
    2) ruin someone emotionally or spiritually; and
    3) defeat someone utterly.

    The definition of “destroy” doesn’t mean that they will have no lineage.

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