Monday, September 12, 2011

Apologists; Teachers of Truth or Preachers of another Gospel?

The purpose of an apologist is to help keep people in the faith by providing answers to questions and concerns.  As a stake president I have had many come to me with doubts and questions and consider myself to be an expert in this area.    

One thing I always tell my fellow apologists is that it is very important to support the teachings given by our prophets, seers and revelators and the standard works.  Too often I see apologists these days departing from the truth in order to preach what the scriptures would call ‘another gospel’; and thus they pervert the very gospel of Christ that they are claiming to defend (see Galatians 1:6-7).

Let me give two common examples:

1.  The first example is with the Book of Abraham.  Right in our scriptures it explains the book as follows: “A Translation of some ancient Records that have fallen into our hands from the catacombs of Egypt. The writings of Abraham while he was in Egypt, called the Book of Abraham, written by his own hand, upon papyrus. (See History of the Church, 2:235–36, 348–51.)”  http://lds.org/scriptures/pgp/abr?lang=eng

Here we see in our scriptures that the writings on the papyrus were done by the hand of Abraham.  Upon examination by professional non-Mormon Egyptologists, the papyri were found to bear no resemblance whatsoever to Joseph Smith's interpretation.  They were found to be common Egyptian funerary texts, dating to about the first century BC. 

Some members learning this are inclined in their weakness to question their faith.  They may be tempted to conclude that Joseph Smith was a fraud and simply made up the interpretation.  I even knew one person who left the church over this as he felt that church leaders who are fully aware of the conclusions of these non-Mormon Egyptologists kept this truth from him by continuing to teach that these really were the original writings of Abraham.  I understand he has lowered himself to drinking coffee now and is quite bitter over the whole thing. 

There are two approaches that apologists can take when this issue comes up.  They can go against the account given by Joseph Smith (and that which is written in the scriptures) and tell people that these writings in fact had absolutely nothing to do with Abraham but that Joseph upon seeing the writings simply felt inspired by the Lord to write certain things about Abraham.  This approach though simply proves to the doubter that the explanation of the book given in our scriptures is completely misleading.  

The correct approach is to simply say that if Joseph Smith said that these were the original writings of Abraham written by his own hand and translated by the power of God and if that is what is written in our scriptures and taught to our members, then that is precisely what they are!  We no longer have the gold plates of the Book of Mormon to verify if the translation is correct but we do have much of the papyrus from the Book of Abraham and from this we can know of a surety that Joseph was and is a prophet of God. Egyptologists (especially non-Mormon ones) do not have the spirit of the Lord to guide them and cannot know the true meaning of all things even if they can now read Egyptian.


2.  In the Book of Mormon there are several references to horses.  The land was full or horses according to 2 Nephi 12:7.  We know that King Lamoni used to ride on chariots pulled by horses.  However it is widely accepted in some circles that horses became extinct in the Americas over 10,000 years ago and did not reappear there until the Spaniards brought them over from Europe. 

A Church member encountering this view may doubt the authenticity of the Book of Mormon.  Again there are two approaches that apologists can take.  They can either defend the scriptures or they can change them.  When I say change them I am referring to the meaning; so in this case they would change the definition of the word horse.  Many apologists these days fall into the trap of changing scriptural meanings to try to make scriptures fit with what we now know about the world.  They will say for example that the word horse used in the old world was associated with a somewhat similar looking animal in the new world called a Tapir.  See below photo.



The problem with this approach is that tapirs wouldn’t be useful at pulling chariots.  Expecting members to believe that the Nephites and Lamanites rode around on Tapirs is ridiculous.  A much better approach is to tell the truth which is that the Book of Mormon is (as per the introduction) ‘the most correct book upon the face of the earth’ and one cannot assume that evidence for horses would be obvious from the current archaeological record.  In this approach we are defending (not changing) the scriptures and members won’t think of us apologists as imbeciles. 

Lovingly shared by the Stake President, even Bill Paternoster



31 comments:

Ibowedmyheadandsaidyes said...

My daughter wants a pony for Xmas. I think I'll get her a Tapir and tell her it IS a horse.

Insana D said...

Dear Beloved President Paternoster, your words always comfort me when I'm troubled with the twin demons of reason and logic. I read what you write and instantly I know that reason nor logic have no place at the table of understanding the deeper more meatier aspects of Mormonism. I can release all that energy put into trying to make some things make sense and just relax into a comforting stupor of belief because "Joseph Smith said so". The thinking truly has been done. It's so easy to be a Mormon, even a woman could do it!!

In my years as a doubting Thomasina I dabbled with a little apologetics myself and even tried my hand at a little scripture writing/interpretation based on the tapir and sled postulations by those revered men like Daniel C. Petersen (may he live in corpulent gaseousness for many more years). If you don't mind, I thought I'd add a humor piece to your wonderful essay that might verify the ridiculousness of the apologist interpretations. Without further adieu, here's my version of the Alma/Lamoni events.

Insana D said...

Scripture writing is a very fun and simplistic diversion that nearly anyone can master if they remember to put the eth part, a lot of Yea Verily's, interspersed liberally with "And it came to pass" rather than bother with some sort of legitimate transition.

Why just last year in a fit of stupor I wrote these companion scriptures to the accounts of horses and chariots in the Book of Mormon. They're as ligit and plausible as the original, and a darn sight funnier.

2 Nephi 12: 7
Their land also is full of silver and gold, neither is there any end of their treasures; their land is also full of horses, neither is there any end of their chariots. Yea verily, the horses of the land beareth likeness unto the squat pig, even unto the tapir but for the purposes of these holy scriptures we shall call them horses, even though they don't look anything like horses and are short, belligerent, and nigh unto untrainable in the arts of horses, but we shall hereafter call them horses.


Alma 18: 9
And they said unto him: Behold, he is feeding thy horses. Now the king had commanded his servants, previous to the time of the watering of their flocks, that they should prepare his horses and chariots, and conduct him forth to the land of Nephi; for there had been a great feast appointed at the land of Nephi, by the father of Lamoni, who was king over all the land. For yeah, verily and lo and behold-eth, Lamoni, the dark and loathsome dark king who had clearly been unrighteous in the pre-existence and was therefore relegated to the lowly birth of dark and loathsome in this life until he could prove his worthiness to become WHITE AND DELIGHTSOME, as is promised, anyway...yeah verily he clapped his dark and loathsome hands and an abundance of servants who were even darker and more loathsome rallied, yea verily, and brought him his horses and chariots.
But nothwistanding that there were no horses but only fat ugly obnoxious tapirs, and no evidence of wheels but his chariots were more like fanciful sleds, the dark and loathsome servants did bring forth some tapirs with a fancy sled. And King Lamoni did command the tapirs to go forth upon the land and they lunged and eventually drug the lardy King through the mud and feces throughout the land on his sled, and he waved his dark and loathsome hands and blessed his filthy lamanite hordes.

Alma 18: 10
Now when king Lamoni heard that Ammon was preparing his horses and his chariots he was more astonished, because his servants were determined to wrastle those unruly tapirs into harnesses and other paraphanalia and pull the sled/chariot that lacked wheels, and he was astonished at the absurdity of it all... because of the faithfulness of Ammon, saying: Surely there has not been any servant among all my servants that has been so faithful as this man; for even he doth remember all my commandments to execute them. For yea verily, even unto big whoop did the good King Lamoni who was getting whiter as I scratch this into the brass and gold plates did sayeth to Ammon, "Yur sure that's a harse? Looks like a damn Tapir to me? But what do I know, I'm a dark and loathsome Lamanite so if you say it's a harse I gots to believe you!! Thanks for fetching my chariot/sled. Yur a good un' Ammon, yep a right good un." .

Insana D said...

Alma 18: 12
And it came to pass that when Ammon had made ready the horses and the chariots for the king and his servants, he went in unto the king, and he saw that the countenance of the king was changed; therefore he was about to return out of his presence. For yea verily, Ammon was astonished when he saw the dark and loathsome but getting whiter King Lamoni had changed. Yea and it came to pass-eth-ly that King Lamoni had turned a fairly pale shade of near ecru, perhaps even Navajo white as is used in cheap apartments, but is more of a neutral pigment and therefore most economical and universal, especially in flat or eggshell but not supergloss.
Yea, Ammon was pretty dang impressed but he was also the type that could be easily duped because he thought a tapir was a horse and a sled was a chariot. Yea, Ammon was sort of a tard, thus verily.

Alma 20: 6
Now when Lamoni had heard this he caused that his servants should make ready his horses and his chariots. Yea verily, this has been established but since I Joseph, the servant and savant of the Lord am commandeth-ed to keep writing as if I have something to say do filleth page after page with pure codswallop, yea verily, absolute bullshit-teth because it maketh me seem important and filleth pages.

3 Ne. 3: 22
And it came to pass in the seventeenth year, in the latter end of the year, the proclamation of Lachoneus had gone forth throughout all the face of the land, and they had taken their horses, and their chariots, and their cattle, and all their flocks, and their herds, and their grain, and all their substance, and did march forth by thousands and by tens of thousands, until they had all gone forth to the place which had been appointed that they should gather themselves together, to defend themselves against their enemies.
Now in the first-eth months of the beginning of the next year, most likely unto the eighteenth year did Lachoneus and his thousands of followers and warriors and harlots and various support staff and all the war mongering generals and map makers and weapon pounders and more harlots, and some cooks and a few of those bean counter types that don't carry guns but are good at the details, and some more harlots did gather together for a great war.
The tapirs and sleds hereafter known as horses and chariots did line up for a large battle, yea verily, epic and bloody, which delighteth my servant Joseph Smith who likes such bloody stories and grand illusions of victory of imagined enemies.
Yea verily, the tapirs did shyte themselves in the face of the enemy and the stench of their excrement did penetrate the nostril-eth region of the warriors, causing them to retreat and go to the harlots for comfort. Thus the war was put off for a few days because some generals did pulleth a ham string in their vigorous harloting.


3 Ne. 21: 14
Yea, wo be unto the Gentiles except they repent; for it shall come to pass in that day, saith the Father, that I will cut off thy horses out of the midst of thee, and I will destroy thy chariots; And let this be a lesson to ye freaking Gentiles, for it did come to pass that the Father cut off thy horses and destroyed thy chariots, even unto lifting every evidence of such from the face of the earth and it's bowels and secret parts and did evaporate all the metal and swords and implements of war and did maketh the blood of Tonto the Jew to be identical to the blood of the Asiatic people and the Lord did confound all the evidence of the ancient Jews on the Americas and removed all likeness of truth for the Lord did feel generally pissed off and pretty damn revengeful, which was like him considering his past shennanigans. And the Lord went off to sulk and plan his next catastrophe. Adiu and Adiu, sayeth the Lord because he had just spent a week in Canada and thought it sounded really refined. Amen

Insana D said...

So what do you think?

Mahonri Kimball said...

Insana D;

I for one am not amused at your trifling with the sacred scriptures. I say unto you in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ to repent of your light mindedness, lest you should be cut off from among the Lord's people.

President Paternoster's inspired insights should not be distorted to make it appear that he is not serious about the important subjects which the Lord in his wisdom inspires him to share.

I agree completely with his observation that there are way too many areas where the plain and true teachings of the scriptures and our inspired prophets are disregarded in light of modern "so called evidence" from "so called science"

I am frequently disturbed that members who should be familiar with our scriptures, accept the "so called evidence" that death came not into the world 6000 years ago at the fall of Adam, but that there has been life and death going on for millions and billions of years.

No amount of evidence will ever convince me that what is written in our scriptures is not true. I don't care if there ARE petrified tree rings dating back nearly 12,000 years! What the Lord has spoken he has spoken! Truth is eternal and cannot be changed.

Sister Abbot said...

Dear President,

As usual, your inspired comments have given me so much to think about.

A little while ago, a friend of mine (I'm sure you know who) left the church. I tried to extend the hand of fellowship and met her in a cafe in town for a hot chocolate. She told me that she had discovered some terrible things about the prophet Joseph. I immediately had a dark feeling inside, which was followed by a stupor of thought when she went on to say outrageous things about the character of our beloved prophet. She told me that she'd read some of these dreadful things on so-called "apologetic" websites.

I won't tell you what she accused Joseph of doing (you really wouldn't believe it, President) but I set her straight. I told her to reread the Joseph Smith manual: everything about the prophet's life is in that book. She disagreed with me, bringing the spirit of contention to our discussion. She told me to read these so-called "apologist" sites myself.

President, for a moment I was tempted. And then I remembered this Ensign article:

http://lds.org/new-era/2007/07/qa-questions-and-answers?lang=eng&query=anti-mormon+literature

'If the misrepresentations in anti-mormon literature really disturb you, tell your friend how you feel so that he'll leave you alone about it. Tell him you'd rather read something you trust, like the scriptures or Church publications.'

I was truly disturbed. So I told my friend that I would not read "apologist" lies. I went home and read the Joseph Smith manual, and I felt calm and happy. I know that Joseph Smith did not have sexual relations with anyone except his lawful wife, even Emma Smith. I know he was a prophet of God. And I know that so-called "apologist" sites are run by anti-mormon wolves in sheep's clothing.

As far as I am concerned, the apologists should apologise!

Thank you President for your wise words.

Karin said...

Verily, i now knoweth why our beloved prophet Joseph, yeah even Joseph smith did not explain himself well by calling tapirs horses and sleds chariots. It was not to confuse us or to make us doubt the word, it was just because it was known by our God, that that would make the BOM too long and cumbersome because 510 pages was long enuf and noone would read it if it were longer without falling asleep for sure. And coupled with the bible, which is much longer, and hardly ever read from cover to cover and the D&C it would be WAY to heavy to carry to church each sunday and thus give all mormons perpetual back-aches, which would then mean more blessings for healing and that would mean god would be too busy healing mormon backaches and thus not be able to walk and talkt to his current prophet, even thomas s monson nor his predessessor, gordon hinkley.

So, i thank you, Insana D. for as you surely found out as you tried in your imperfect way to write scripture, that joseph smith was the correct translator of the plates of gold because he knew how to keep the text simple and short.

Anonymous said...

Dear President,

You seem to have forgotten to mention the wise insights of apologist Michael Ash, who explained away the unlikelihood of tapirs pulling chariots (or sledges) with the theory that by "preparing the horses," Lamoni actually meant preparing them to be eaten. Don't you know that the Book of Mormon never actually mentions that the horses (or tapirs) were ridden?

Bishop Wigglesworth said...

Apologism is the acceptable face of anti-mormonism.

Stay away from FAIR - that's what I tell those among my flock who have been infected with questions.

As to Mr Ash, his shaken faith book is a cleverly disguise tool of Lucifer. A couple in my ward left the church after reading the contents page: anachronisms, plural marriage, the kinderhook plates, who are the Lamanites? magic, treasure digging and Joseph Smith... what a conglomeration of anti-mormon hogwash. Do not be fooled by these apologisters my friends.

Insana D said...

Well my dear brothers and sisters in Christ, I didn't mean to lead any of you astray, just to show how easily the scriptures can be misinterpreted and taken down a path of misunderstanding.

I realize as a mere woman with breasts and a vagina that I have no business interpreting scripture and should leave all the heavy lifting up to the true arm of God, the Priesthood holders.

Again, I apologize, not as an apologist who knows how to manipulate words and keep a shell game of obfuscation and confusion going, but as a mere woman, with breasts and a vagina.

Bishop Wigglesworth said...

Sister D,

We all know the names of the female parts. There is no need to keep saying these words on the President's webpage. Crudity is never funny.

Anonymous said...

I was a member 50 yearsplus, temple worker, etc. Your post if about the most stupid thing I have ever read....You know as well as those of who have left that this type of logic is for fools and sheep. It if quackds like a fraud, it's a fraud. I am free of cult thinking. Your post is comical. Your horse pictures speaks louder than any common sense. What a joke.

kolobian said...

Dear Anonymous,

How unfortunate that you chose to sin which forcibly withdrew the spirit of our lord from your presence, resulting in bitter apostacy.

I bear solemn testimony that President Paternoster is indeed an instrument in the hands of our resurrected saviour, even Jesus Christ, and that his council is wise to those with eyes to see and ears to hear.

Our beloved prophet and now exalted man Joseph Smith's translation of the book of mormon is correct. It was the original writings that may be misleading. Joseph was commanded to translate (not correct) the writings of ancient american prophets.

If Alma thought a tapir was a horse, that's not Joseph Smith's fault, is it?

Indeed, the fact that the Book of Mormon says "horses" instead of "tapirs" is testimony-affirming to me.

As far as the Book of Abraham is concerned, I only have one question for you: Do you know how to read egyptian? I didn't think so.

You may trust scientists, archaeologists, and critical thinkers to show you evidence, but as for me and my house, we will have faith. In the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.

unnamed woman said...

Insana D;

I sense some resentment about your status as a woman. Do not take personal offense that the Lord in his wisdom has assigned women a subordinate role, and made them "unclean".

Follow the scriptures and don't "kick against the pricks"

Alger's Fannie said...

Anonymous,

Even the elect shall be deceived. That's why I'm determined to never become elect.

I'll never be deceived.

I can feel the spirit with each keystroke of President Paternoster burn in my bosom.

Inthenameofjesussmith,

amen

Spencer said...

I may know that same brother who fell victim to his doubts about the Book of Abraham appearing to the uninitiated eye as a complete fraud.

Mark my words...he began drinking coffee PRIOR to finding out the papyrus translates to nothing like what Joseph Smith said it did.

So there you have it. He obviously made this binding decision under the influence of the abandonment of the Spirit.

Insana D said...

Oh how embarrassing to have my resentments about being doomed as a mere woman to be so transparent and childish. I am ashamed of my feminine weakness for both mirth and loud laughter. I would do well to heed the counsel of the good Priesthood holders posting on this blog and curb my lustful wanton language.

I shall repent, don my sackcloth and ashes, a nice floral modest dress with a big white collar, a girdle, petticoat, pantyhose, a dowdy pair of low heeled pumps with no decorations to distract from the simplicity of my appearance, and tone down my gaudy whorish makeup so that I may reflect the true Nun-like modesty of a good LDS woman. Oh that I had my uterus back and could conceive and use this body for good instead of wasting time fabricating false and misleading parody.

I am truly ashamed. As it should be.

Yours in humility and supplication, Insanad (an Arabic name meaning, she of loud laughter and light mindedness)

Beej said...

BoM peoples didn't have the wheel, either.

http://www.postmormon.org/exp_e/index.php?ACT=41&fid=5&aid=4816_lhSvdAGkvts8N54L5Ndr&board_id=1

Bishop Wigglesworth said...

Dear Brother Beej,

The Book of Mormon says there were chariots, therefore there absolutely were wheels.

When the Book of Mormon speaks, the research has been done.

Please don't link to antimormon sites on the president's blog - remember, you will be held accountable for each child of God who you lead astray.

Mahonri Kimball said...

Insana D;

"Obedience is truly the "first law of heaven" I rejoice that you have decided to conform.

My only concern after reading your last post, is whether or not you have complied with the recent prophetic revelation of the Lords will concerning women's earrings.??

God will certainly withdraw his spirit and leave you to wander aimlessly in this life if you do not confirm to all of his commandments.

God bless you

kolobian said...

Brother Beej,

How dare you pollute a holy website of god with links to anti-mormon articles that teach contrary to the spirit of the lord?!

The book of mormon clearly teaches that there were chariots pulled by horses in the americas between 600 BC and 400 AD.

The fact that not one single horse or chariot has been found is testimony-affirming for me, because if I were Lucifer I would have commanded my minions the Lamanites to destroy any evidence of the Nephite civilization in order to thwart the power of the restoration of the gospel of Jesus Christ.

It's obvious that the lamanites gathered up all evidence of Nephite civilization, put them on boats, sailed them out to sea, and sunk the ships in the middle of the ocean. The spirit whispers to me that this is true, and I place more stock in the spirit than in evil anti-mormon websites full of lies and deceit.

I will never visit an anti-mormon website because once the brethren have spoken the thinking has been done. What could anyone else have to say of value?

In the name of Jesus Christ, even the saviour. Amen.

Utahhiker801 said...

Insana D,

When you started talking about the clothes you were going to wear, it really reminded me of my grandma. Spot on. She and my grandpa actually came to my wedding reception in Hawaiian shirts. I guess that would have been perfect if we had had that kind of theme.

She was the sweetest woman ever, and I miss her. I'm sure you're just as nice.

About apologists, I've read some of there papers and arguments. They always strike me as going to extreme logistical, contortionistic arguments in an attempt to justify or explain what others would call errors or anachronisms within modern scripture.

Following their arguments becomes such a stretch that I lose the spirit. My best answer is to just believe the scriptures and what modern prophets teach us. In doing so, we remain safe from the lies and deception of the world.

Oh, and Insana D, if you can make cookies like my grandma, you're invited to Family Home Evening any Monday.

Anonymous said...

Please note that this blog is a fake. President Paternoster is not a church leader in the LDS church. This is a made-up alias with the intent to mislead and uses a fake picture of Ed Madden; a journalist for the Irish Medical Times.

http://www.imt.ie/opinion/2011/09/ruling-on-fixed-term-work-case.html

Yea, even Darren said...

Standown anonymous satan, for I have felt the spirit President Paternoster speaks. Unto my bosom a burning has come (both nipples, too)!!Yea, I can find no error in the SP's script. My loins are swollen and full.....nevermind, that's from Insana D and her womanly decsriptions. err, umm, amen.

Alger's Fannie said...

Anonymous,

I feel you are filled with the spirit of contention. The picture you linked to is less similar than a horse and a tapir.

President Paternoster has been ordained of god to minister to his area of stewardship. I'm thankful to his example and the power of his keyboard.

Keep the faith and stay righteous president paternoster and fellow believers. Be ye not deceived by anonymous.

Mormon Apologetics said...

Will the real Paternoster please stand up?

First we have an anonymous prankster making a fake version of the real President's Blog. Now we have an anonymous linkster showing a photo of some irish guy that has obviously been doctored.

To settle the matter, I brought the photo in question to my neighbor who works at FAIR/FARMS doing research for the church. He told me after work the results were out on its authenticity, though 5 members of his office concluded that it was actual historical evidence of the Book of Mormon's authenticity and began writing grant proposals to study it further.

Spencer L. Jensen

Cindy said...

I have to admit that the word Mormon apoligist bothers me. I don't understand what we have to apologize for. I have been taught since I was in primary not to be ashamed of the gospel and I am not. Yes there are things that I don't understand and I'm OK with that. I don't know if many do reach the understanding of God in this life. I hope I will be able to achieve that in the next life where I believe many of our unanswered questions will be answered.
I think this post is a good reminder to all of us to stop tring to find excuses or to explain away our beliefs but to stand valiantly beside them.

Loz said...

It is proposed that the sacred book "Insana D - Alma" be included in the standard works of the church and hereafter included in the Pearl of Great Price adjacent to Joseph Smith - Matthew. All those in favour may manifest it.... Any opposed by the same sign. Thank you brothers and sisters, the voting has been unanimous.

Anonymous said...

President Paternoster, I want to thank you for starting your blog. It has confirmed for me many of the things that the Spirit has been burning in my bosom. I am so filled with the Spirit today that I have decided to skip SM in order to pray privately and fully take in all that the Lord has been trying to tell me for some time now.

Anonymous said...

Insana D, I am raising my right hand in favour of Loz' proposal as I type only with my left hand. This post is by far one of the funniest ones. I laughed so much reading your translation of the scriptures that I almost cried. I testify that Insana D's translation is most accurate as I felt a burning in my bossom as i read it.
Thanks for clarifying these verses for me.