Open Letter to Europe Area Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

An Open Letter to Europe Area Presidency by Chris Ralph.

In two parts:
Initial Open Letter (below) sent 28th August 2012
Second (Follow-up) Open Letter sent 5th October 2012 ( https://stevebloor.wordpress.com/2012/10/04/a-second-open-letter-to-the-europe-area-presidency/)

Initial Open Letter
Posted on August 28, 2012

(Please Re-Post, Tweet, Share & Re-Blog to help us reach as many General Authorities, Priesthood Leaders & members as possible.)

The following letter was sent by the Europe Area Presidency of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to its Stake Presidents and Bishops, and various other leaders in April 2012. It was sent in response to the increase in levels of disaffection of members who were encountering the problematic history of the church through the medium of the internet. The letter was soon afterwards leaked to rank and file members and ex-members, and became a public document. It is here reproduced, together with my response in the form of an open letter to the Europe Area Presidency:
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Download Europe Area Rescue Plan from dropbox: http://db.tt/8EKaAaxD

Dear Europe Area Presidency,

While your letter to local leaders of the church, dated 10th April 2012, was not originally intended for public dissemination, “the technology and modern communication tools of our day”, as you refer to them in that letter, have swiftly rendered this a widely read public document.

As such it is clearly deserving of a constructive response from the intended end-beneficiaries, and I, (being one of a rising tide of long established members who have in recent years been deeply affected by an array of distressing historical disclosures), now offer the following thoughts in the hope that the sense of wounded trust may be positively addressed.

Firstly, I applaud the encouragement you have given to local leaders to “work patiently and lovingly” with those of us who, more often than not through devotion to the church and its history, have had our eyes opened to challenging historical facts. How much better and in tune this is than certain regrettable past attitudes, which sometimes labelled those who had discovered uncomfortable historical facts as “unrighteous”, or as “having lost the spirit”, or worse still as “anti-Mormon”.

Whenever the term “anti-Mormon” is employed in an attempt to disqualify those whose avowed purpose is “pro-truth” and “pro-history”, then surely the church is upon very uncertain moral ground. Please, therefore, may I ask you to discourage that kind of name calling which can only cause further damage, and please do what you are able to reignite among the membership that same spirit of enquiry and quest for truth which a couple of generations ago was so aptly articulated by President J. Reuben Clark when he stated: ‘If we have the truth, it cannot be harmed by investigation. If we have not the truth, it ought to be harmed.’

Perhaps also we could have clarification about whether we, as Latter-day Saints still believe, (as I was taught and believed when I was converted to the church over forty years ago), that truth is better than riches because it will set us free? Do we still place value upon the title Truth which the Saviour took to himself? Can it justifiably still be claimed that truth is the common currency of the LDS church in 2012? If so, then surely there must be a respectable place within the LDS church for those of us who love transparency enough to speak it, and share it, and stand for it, even though some of us have hitherto been despised and misunderstood for doing so.

Sadly, too many faithful advocates of historical truth have been shunned and discarded over the years, simply because they cared enough to question that which, although not of their own making or choosing, was nevertheless right there before them. What else could they do if they valued their integrity? It has long been a puzzle to me how we, as a church, might teach that the glory of God is intelligence, while, at the same time promoting the idea that when it comes to historical realities, ignorance is accounted a virtue. This, surely, is a contradiction which needs to be reconciled in the eyes of a quizzical world.

The concern extends beyond routine circumvention of intellectual discomfort however, to the weightier matter of commissioned institutional misrepresentation. The charge we, as Latter-day Saints of all levels of understanding, must confront is that the church has actively sought to replace authentic narratives of its history with deceitful mythologies.

For example, all of the contemporary accounts of the translation of the Book of Mormon refer to Joseph Smith using a seer- or peep-stone nestled inside his hat, into which he gazed for inspiration as he dictated the text, while the plates themselves were typically not present in the room. This process was of course an obvious extension of Joseph’s previous occultist practice of “scrying” during his treasure hunting days, (or “glass-looking” as the court papers referred to it when he was convicted of that misdemeanour in 1826). We have very detailed and reliable accounts of the actual translation process followed, and so a growing number of historically informed members feel concern that the church attempts in its publications to promote a different story without foundation in historical reality; these show Joseph apparently translating the gold plates by studying and touching them. Is this portrayal not disingenuous, given that we have a clear knowledge of how the text was actually produced, and also a tacit admission that the real history is perceived by church leaders to be an embarrassment?
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Book of Mormon translation according to [1] The Ensign (Church Magazine), and

[2] South Park. NB: The South Park version is much more historically accurate

It is disconcerting when our children alert us to the true facts of this crucial event in Mormon history after watching an episode of South Park. The discovery that the creators of South Park place a higher value on historical authenticity than do the Brethren creates spiritual shock-waves from which some members never recover. And may I state the obvious here? This faith-shaking disparity between what the missionaries are trained to teach, and what the world already knows about our spiritual heritage, can hardly be blamed upon those members who accidentally stumble upon it, or on their children, or on the creators of South Park; the burden of responsibility for the misrepresentation rests firmly upon the shoulders of the Brethren, who allowed, and apparently encouraged it to be introduced into LDS popular culture. It is a sin of commission no less. Furthermore it is most distasteful to suggest, as some do, that because the sin was committed by the Brethren, it is authorised by Jesus Christ, unless of course they are suggesting that the Saviour is a deceiver.

Is it not sadly ironic therefore that your letter advises local leaders that “some choose to dwell on half-truths or inaccurate information regarding the church, its history, or its leaders”? That statement is undoubtedly true, but the accusing finger is readily shown by numerous examples, such as the one already mentioned, to be pointing in quite the wrong direction. Nor is it enough to assert, as you have, that the church does not hide historical facts, when it may so easily be demonstrated that it has done so in the past, and continues to do so even today. To make such a claim is just adding a further layer of untruth to that which already exists, and will not accomplish any honourable purpose. How is this practice worthy of God’s servants?

Might I humbly suggest that some soul searching and realignment with reality is urgently needed? It is certain that the regaining of spiritual equilibrium, which your letter laudably aims to accomplish, is going to take a great deal of constrained dialogue, empathy, understanding, and, where necessary, concession. Only when truth is acknowledged as sovereign will equilibrium ever be regained. Inclusiveness is a very positive first step in this vital process though, so thank you for offering some hope in that respect. May I comment, that my own Stake President has to date been commendable in his sensitive attempts to understand and handle my case? It is a pity that others in a similar position, I am informed, have done rather less well in dealing with these challenges.

We may of course ascribe much of the present situation to human failing. We might ask: is it wrong to fail if we acknowledge failure, and try again? Do we ever truly repent and learn when we cover our sin? It seems to me that we do not, and what applies to the individual, also applies to the institution.

Many wrestle in their spiritual progress with the behavioural problems of past leaders. They cannot understand why it was necessary, for example, for Joseph Smith and Brigham Young to marry and have relations with other men’s wives, particularly, (in the case of Joseph), when his own wife was not even aware of several such relationships. They also baulk at the idea of an angel threatening Joseph with a sword if he did not enter into clandestine polygamous unions with numerous women, and they cannot begin to see the relevance of his secret marriage unions with teenage girls, some as young as fourteen. That kind of behaviour just does not resonate with their concept of what a prophet is, or ever has been. If you insist, as your letter does, that Joseph Smith was not a fallen prophet, then those who have become disillusioned and deeply offended by such disturbing disclosures, will need a full and honest explanation from you, which goes a long way beyond counsel to read the scriptures and pray. Perhaps the Brethren might follow that counsel themselves and seek the necessary inspiration about how the membership may be taught the historical truths, contextualising Joseph’s own fallibility. Nothing less will begin to win back a good number of members who presently feel disaffected for this reason.

However, even the behavioural anomalies of past leaders, is not the most serious concern causing disaffection. For some years I for one have taken the view that it matters far more what God did than what Joseph is recorded as having done. That Joseph was fallible, fallen even, is ultimately acceptable to the believer, for he was a man; however the scriptures, or Standard Works, are at the very foundation of LDS doctrine and practice. We, as members, are duty bound to acknowledge them as the mind and will of God, and as the means available to us for measuring spiritual truth. I ask you in all sincerity therefore to explain publicly an anomaly which apparently undermines the very authority of the LDS scriptures in the minds of many. The reason I ask for a public explanation is so that all may learn where the half-truths as well as the untruths may be identified in this matter.

I refer principally to the deeply disturbing anomalies encountered in the Book of Abraham, for they above all else have caused my own uncritical acceptance of LDS authority to unravel. I wish it had not been so, but nevertheless that is how it was for me, and once again, please remember that the circumstances were not of my choosing. In fact, like many others, I only became aware of the problem because I was attempting to defend, not attack, the position of the church. I and thousands like me now need a credible explanation from the Brethren if any degree of our support is to be regained.

You are probably already familiar with the concerns I shall raise, and also perhaps with some of the unconvincing apologetic responses which have been offered. In brief however, those concerns may be summed up as follows:
The Book of Abraham was, (according to official documentation), in 1835 translated by the prophetic powers of Joseph Smith, from Egyptian papyri which Joseph Smith said contained a record of Abraham, and also one of Joseph who was sold into Egypt.
The resulting text of the Book of Abraham states that the record was made by Abraham’s own hand upon papyrus. This would presumably have been c 1900 BC. The papyrus actually dates to the first century BC.
When it is translated by modern Egyptologists, no mention at all of Abraham is found in the text. The papyrus from which the Book of Abraham was produced, is in fact a late copy, (Ptolemaic), of The Book of Breathings, a regular funerary text, which maps pagan Egyptian beliefs concerning the state of the soul after death.
The Book of Abraham produced by Joseph Smith from this papyrus refers in the text to associated “Facsimiles”, which also constitute part of LDS canon. Facsimile 1, (see below), for example allegedly shows Abraham fixed to an altar about to be sacrificed by the priest of the pagan god Elkenah, before being saved from this fate by an angel of the Lord. The official church website dramatically portrays this event in the “Gospel Art Picture Kit” with the following illustration:
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Note in both illustrations the inclusion of the lion-headed couch, and the presence of tell-tale canopic jars, which were routinely used by ancient Egyptians during the process of embalming. These formed part of the pagan funerary rites, and the same motifs may be found on the chamber walls of later pyramids, as for example:

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This well-known scene actually depicts the mythical embalming and resurrection of Osiris, the Egyptian god of the underworld, by his son Anubis, the jackal-headed god.
There are differences certainly between Facsimile 1 and the images found in Egyptian burial chambers, but they are only the consequence of Joseph Smith incorrectly having guessed what had originally been recorded in the gaps where the papyrus was damaged. Fortunately, we are able to assess from the original papyrus the areas where Joseph employed his faulty guesswork, as the following photograph illustrates:
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The damaged and missing portion of the papyrus explains perfectly why the jackal-headed Anubis was absent from Facsimile 1, and in his place the otherwise unknown (to historians) priest of Elkenah was inserted by Joseph Smith. Creative though this idea may have been in 1835, according to the best scholarship presently available, it was wide of the mark.
It is also very apparent that Joseph Smith had a misinformed idea about the original use of hieroglyphs. By comparing the glyphs on the papyri with an “Egyptian grammar” which was prepared under Joseph’s direction in 1835, it is apparent that Joseph considered that each glyph represented whole, complex sentences, rather than simple sounds or concepts. Accordingly we find one particular glyph, which resembles a reversed capital E, and which we now know means “water”, rendered by Joseph as: “It was made after the form of a bedstead, such as was had among the Chaldeans, and it stood before the gods of Elkenah, Libnah, Mahmackrah, Korash, and also a god like unto that of Pharaoh, king of Egypt. That you may have an understanding of these gods, I have given you the fashion of them in the figures at the beginning, which manner of figures is called by the Chaldeans Rahleenos”

Even overlooking the anomaly, upon which historians are agreed, that the Chaldeans did not exist in the time of Abraham, or for several hundred years afterwards, how can such a mis-reading of one simple glyph leave any margin for doubt that Joseph Smith got it all very wrong in this case? Does it not take wilful blindness, and a high degree of spiritual contortionism to overcome plain common sense and believe otherwise? Are we really expected to believe that God, who gave each of us sufficient intelligence to reason and make sense of our environment, would require us in this instance not to use that same intelligence? In order to demonstrate faith, is it really necessary to practice such denial, or have faith and denial become one and the same?

For those of us who utilised native intelligence to renounce as hypocrisy those worldly systems and values around us when we turned our backs as converts on the world, and joined the LDS church, is it now reasonable to expect us to lay aside those same powers in considering this issue? Is it not more authentic, and pleasing to God, just to acknowledge the simple conclusion that Joseph may have tried but he failed? For me and for many others there is far greater peace in that course of action than in any amount of dissembling in a vain attempt to defend what is, and always will be indefensible. Can you or anyone, in the full glare of reason and reality, say I and others are wrong to feel as we do?

Brethren, where are the half-truths? Where are the falsehoods, and the false claims when the facts are properly and fairly illuminated?

It appears to me an impossibility in the light of the foregoing to disagree with the conclusion of one Egyptologist who remarked concerning the papyri: “Joseph Smith’s interpretation of them as part of a unique revelation through Abraham, therefore, very clearly demonstrates that he was totally unacquainted with the significance of these documents and absolutely ignorant of the simplest facts of Egyptian writing and civilization.” (James H. Breasted, Ph.D., Haskell Oriental Museum, University of Chicago)

I have not mentioned Joseph Smith’s interpretations of the other two Facsimiles, which are just as profoundly flawed; nor have I touched here upon any of the other scriptures revealed by him, but for now this one example will suffice. Please explain, with reference to the Book of Abraham, and the detailed evidence we now have concerning its provenance, how one may remain in harmony with Truth, and at the same time continue to believe that Joseph Smith was inspired.

You speak in your letter of providing the best possible answers. That is good, because those answers are what I and the rest of mankind deserve to hear, and we sincerely look forward to your response.

Please do not exclude me or others because we cannot agree with the position you feel forced to defend by virtue of your callings. Please accept us as those who wish for truth, wherever it may be found, to be upheld in the end as victorious over error. I agree with you that faith, (in truth at least), will always be a conscious choice, which is why I care enough to write and invite you to demonstrate the truthfulness of this matter to the world. Faith in that which is shown to be untrue however, is not worthy of the name. The apostle Orson Pratt, (writing with concern to the Book of Mormon, but his words may equally be applied to the case of the Book of Abraham), stated it well:

“If, after a rigid examination, it be found an imposition, it should be extensively published to the world as such; the evidences and arguments upon which the imposture was detected, should be clearly and logically stated, that those who have been sincerely yet unfortunately deceived, may perceive the nature of the deception, and be reclaimed, and that those who continue to publish the delusion, may be exposed and silenced, not by physical force, neither by persecutions, bare assertions, nor ridicule, but by strong and powerful arguments–by evidences adduced from scripture and reason. Such, and such only, should be the weapons employed to detect and overthrow false doctrines–to reclaim mankind from their errors, to expose religious enthusiasm, and put to silence base and wicked impostors.”

So, please provide your best answers, (even if those answers convey a sentiment of doubt), and please extend an honest hand of friendship to me and the many in my position, opening up a constructive dialogue with us, so that all may see that we are able to work together from here onwards in promoting truth and discarding past errors.

Sincerely and faithfully,

Christopher Ralph

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88 Responses to Open Letter to Europe Area Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

  1. worthwithin says:

    Wonderful treatise expressing what so many of us have come to realize with you. Please post any responses you receive from Mormon leadership.

    • Marc says:

      They won’t reply, they can’t answer the questions!

      I found the chuch directive a total joke – to state that the internet is full of half truths about church history is dishonest, the vast majority of info available is from past church journals and publications – do they think that we are all stupid?

      • Chris J says:

        Yes, they do — faith is just another word for willful ignorance.

        Hence the encouragement to be as sheep following a master, or children, meek and submissive, without questioning what they are told. This isn’t a virtue; it’s a detriment to the capabilities of the human mind, which God supposedly created.

        Sex before marriage isn’t morally wrong.
        Masturbation isn’t morally wrong.
        Alcohol and drug use also have nothing to do with morality.
        Watching Rated R movies (a rating which is often arbitrary) is not wrong.
        Swearing or saying “Oh my god” is not bad either.

        You know what IS morally corrupt?
        Deceiving people who trust you for monetary and social gain.
        Telling people that the above mentioned “sins” are crimes against God.
        Attempting to control others by indoctrinating them with fantasy-based hokum.
        Saving your faith by deliberately ignoring reality.
        Turning to only one set of books from a biased source because it’s wrong to read “non-faith promoting materials,” or “contention is of the devil,” so let’s not have a constructive dialogue where our preconceptions are challenged; being uncomfortable with the truth is cognitive dissonance, not a “sin.”

        These LDS leaders need to get their heads out of their asses and do something constructive with the rest of their lives, as I am doing. They need to publicly apologize and forsake what they secretly suspect is a fraud.

  2. How do you say rascal in Reformed Egyptian?

  3. Patrick Garratt says:

    They will read the letter through TBM tinted eyes, I see a “court of love” approaching you better prepare for it Chris, good luck.

    • Patrick Garratt says:

      I hope you get your chance to deliver a positive message and would love the media to look at the LDS church and it’s practices more closely. “Can telling the truth really be called apostasy?”, through our eyes no, but through theirs?…

  4. Hi Patrick. A “court of love” is the risk I am prepared to take in order to deliver a positive message to the men who may be in a position to facilitate a real and lasting difference. Contacts in the media consider that such a court would actually say rather more about those who call it than about me. Can telling the truth really be called apostasy? After all, this is 2012, not 1984.

    • Bert Romero says:

      Dear ‘Journey
      Your tratise on “Admitting failure”and other admissins remind me of what I’ve been thiniking of doing: Revising church doctrine by first refuting all ‘commandments’ which were done away with (on ‘revising’ istory’, polygamy, blacks’, temple paralles to Masonry, changes to rites, etc.).i.e. coming clean on all issues that contradict, besmear doctrine. Then take your licks and watch memebership dwindle (I predict 14million will be the ultimate number of ‘solid’ membership), but it will have no skeletons in the closet, no need for apologetics

  5. Reblogged this on miguel in belgium and commented:
    Priceless!

  6. Facsimilogos says:

    At Marc: A closer reading of the first paragraph of the letter put out brings another possible interpretation; The church is defending its half truths and inaccurate information! The sentence that leads me to this interpretation says, “Unfortunately some choose to dwell on half-truths or inaccurate information regarding the Church, its history, or its leaders, which often results in a crisis of faith and testimony.”

    Yes! Some of us choose the dwell on the fact that the church puts out half-truths or inaccurate information regarding the Church (interesting that church is capitalized) and that leads to a crisis of faith…ABSOLUTELY. And, instead of correction, we are being asked to be OK with their love and patience instead.

    • SteveBloor says:

      Interesting way of looking at it, but actually accurate. It was information catalogued by the Church about its history & origins which finally helped me to realise the hoax.

      As for Church being capitalised, lots of people do it when referring to a specific Church, as opposed to any church.

  7. Porter says:

    Any ideas why this letter was just sent to the people in Europe? Is the disaffection more of a problem there than here in the US? Loved this response, Steve. Too bad it will fall on deaf ears.

  8. John says:

    How are the local leaders (SP, Bishops, Branch Presidents, etc.) going to follow this when many of them have no clue? The may be in the process of infecting the Mothership.

  9. Youguysarekiddingright? says:

    A letter eloquently written yet itself riddled with uncertainty, misunderstanding and half-truths. Ironic given the purpose of the written reply. And so many comments of people obviously unsure of things desperately trying to come across as “informed” and having found “truths” purely because it popped up somewhere on an Internet forum without questioning authenticity or author – great truth searching there

    • SteveBloor says:

      Hi Aaron,

      It’s good of you to comment, though I’m not sure of your purpose in frequenting ex-Mormon blogs.

      You question the veracity of the author’s comments, but don’t state the nature of your own certainty.

      Aaron, I guess from your tone you may be a TBM?

      How are you determining certainty?

      Is it better to be loyal or honest?

      Our purpose is to seek a dialogue with General Authorities in an effort to create an honest & transparent platform for teaching Church history which is faithful to truth, not orthodoxy or loyalty to a fictional, sanitised faith promoting mythology.

      What is yours?

      Best regards,
      Steve

  10. charles10 says:

    I stand all amazed that the Inquisition has survived well into the 21st century and has changed religions! Time and again, church members who question church history and Joseph Smith’s infallibility have been subject to ‘disciplinary’ actions and ‘courts of love’ and are shunned by their families and friends (or love bombed or ‘fasted and prayed over). What an anti-intellectual bunch of so called enlightened beings.

  11. ron williams says:

    The brethern will never give up their 6 Billion dollar a year income to tell anyone the truth.

  12. Chuck says:

    Christopher,

    Frankly, I don’t share any of your concerns or musings as you have listed them.

    I just have a few questions, if you don’t mind.

    Do you believe Joseph Smith to be a prophet, called and ordained to restore the Lord’s church on the earth?

    Do you believe that Joseph Smith saw God and Christ in the grove and received answers to his prayer?

    Do you believe that Joseph translated the Book of Mormon by the power of God?

    Do you believe the Book of Mormon to be the word of God?

    Do you believe that Joseph, Oliver and the many others had the visitations from Moroni, John the Baptist, Peter, James and John, Moses and the others?

    Do you believe the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to be the Lord’s true and only living church?

    Do you believe that Thomas S Monson is the Lord’s prophet at this time on earth?

    —-

    I truly don’t understand the fascination that many like you have in trying to parse every single piece of history and then demand that the church put forth your version of it.

    I believe that the whole church studied the Gospel Principles manual for a reason the past 2 years and it’s because we don’t know the basics of the gospel. Too many people focus on too many branches instead of focusing on the roots.

    Good luck in your endeavors and your qwest for whatever it is you feel you need. Here is a link to a story of a man who was on your same journey and his results.

    http://www.sltrib.com/sltrib/lifestyle/54790798-80/bradley-mormon-faith-smith.html.csp

    Cheers

    • SteveBloor says:

      Thanks for your comments & questions Chuck.

      I’ve not approved them till now as I was awaiting a response from Chris Ralph, which I’ve just received.

      I’ll let Chris answer for himself if he feels inclined.

      My personal answer to your questions above is the same for all – No!

      I used to have a burning & deep testimony of the Church & restored gospel till I realised my feelings do not have any part to play in determining truth. Truth cannot be discovered through feelings alone, even if we believe those feelings come from supernatural sources like God.

      Feelings of the ‘Spirit’ are self-generated from within as a confirmation of what one believes. And are a common, natural human experience, as evidenced by the millions of believers in religions worldwide.

      Without the hindrance & blinkers of cognitive biases & assumptions the truth claims of the Church look a lot like all the other truth claims of other religions. Myths.

      I can highly recommend giving it a try.

      After taking the bitter pill of truth, following the realisation of the Church hoax, one is left free to enjoy life to the full & realise the best in human flourishing.

      With best wishes,
      Steve

    • Thank you for your interest Chuck. It was thoughtful of you to respond, especially as you were clear to explain that my concerns are not yours.

      I’ve been trying to think of some meaningful questions I might ask you in return. I would probably have done better given more time, but these are the ones I came up with:

      • Do you like strawberries?
      • Is blue a more relaxing colour than orange in your opinion?
      • Has any living member of your family ever visited Porlock?
      • Was either of your grandmothers named Mabel?
      • Do you think John Lennon was more talented than Paul McCartney?
      • Do you have more than three children?
      • Do you prefer your steak rare, medium or well done?

      Of course, you don’t have to answer if you don’t want to, because the fact is that whatever your responses might be, they wouldn’t alter in the least degree the necessity of church officials involving themselves in publicly addressing the points raised in my open letter to them.

      Similarly, while my answers to your list of questions might enable you to pass judgment on my present status in terms of LDS orthodoxy, I really cannot see how that exercise would in any way enhance or diminish the relevance and value of the questions the letter posed.

      Suffice it to say though, that I would be more than willing to discuss any of your questions, (if shown to be in some way material to the case), with those who are in a genuine position of authority to open up a meaningful dialogue between the LDS church and those members of the church in the UK/Europe area, who presently feel disaffected and disenfranchised.

      There is one question however, which we should all ask ourselves often, and that is this: Which is more important, for me to be honest, or for me to be loyal?

      For my part I have no doubt at all that honesty is a more worthy commodity than loyalty, particularly in the field of spiritual values. That is an underlying reason that the letter was written.

      I read with interest the article about Don Bradley. I cannot really comment on it, as the journalistic treatment of the story was so superficial. However, I will say that prosopographical analyses of early British LDS converts, conducted by me as part of my own Masters dissertation, have led me to quite different conclusions from those reached by Don Bradley, concerning the levels of integrity and authority displayed by early Mormon leadership.

      Nevertheless thank you Chuck. I can’t fault you for making this effort to communicate. Let’s hope that the Europe Area Presidency will soon display at least a similar level of gumption.

    • Chuck…..

      here are my answers to the questions you ask….

      Do you believe Joseph Smith to be a prophet, called and ordained to restore the Lord’s church on the earth?

      I ONCE DID, AS I BELIEVED THAT I HAD HAD A SPIRITUAL WITNESS THAT HE WAS. HOWEVER AFTER COMMITTING 20 YEARS OF MY LIFE TO STUDYING AS MUCH AS I COULD ABOUT THIS “GREAT MAN”, MY CONCLUSIONS LEAD ME TO ACCEPT THE BITTER TRUTH THAT BEYOND REASONABLE DOUBT HE COULD NOW WAY BE THE MOUTHPIECE OF GOD.

      Do you believe that Joseph Smith saw God and Christ in the grove and received answers to his prayer?

      ABSOLUTELY NOT. THE ACCOUNT OF JS FIRST VISION THAT YOU TALK ABOUT AND IS IN THE CURRENT PEARL OF GREAT PRICE IS A COMPLETE PIECE OF REVISIONIST FICTION. THIS ACCOUNT WAS DICTATED BY JS IN 1836. 16 YEARS AFTER THE SUPPOSED EVENT AND 6 YEARS AFTER THE CHURCH WAS ORGANISED. AT NO POINT PRIOR TO THIS EVER WAS IT TAUGHT THAT JS SAW GOD AND CHRIST IN THE GROVE. NOT HIM OR ANY MEMBER THAT JOINED, OR MISSIONARY THAT PREACHED EVER MENTION SUCH AN EVENT. EVERYTHING UP TO THIS DATE WAS SOLEY THE STORY OF “THE ANGEL” (MORONI) AND “THE BOOK”. WHY WOULD SUCH AN IMPORTANT EVENT HAVE BEEN KEPT SECRET FROM THE WORLD FOR 16 YEARS? WHY DOES NO-ONE PRIOR TO HIS RE-TELLING IN 1836 EVER MENTION IT IN THEIR DIARIES? WHY? BECAUSE IT NEVER HAPPENED. HE MADE IT UP IN 1836!

      Do you believe that Joseph translated the Book of Mormon by the power of God?

      INTERESTING CONCEPT “TRANSLATE”. AS A QUALIFIED INTERPRETER I BELIEVE THE PROCESS OF TRANSLATION JS USED DOES NOT QUALIFY AS A CREDIBLE EXPERIENCE. TO TRANSLATE THE GOLD PLATES, WHEN IT IS OPENLY ACKNOWLEDGED BY THE CHURCH THAT THE GOLD PLATES WERE NEVER PRESENT DURING THE TRANSLATION PROCESS, AND THAT SIMPLY HE WOULD PUT HIS CHOCOLATE COLOURED SEER STONE INTO HIS HAT AND THEN PUT HIS HEAD IN HIS HAT AND READ OUT THE WORDS THAT CAME INTO HIS MIND. TO TRANSLATE SOMETHING WITHOUT THE SOURCE MATERIAL BEING PRESENT IS SIMPLY UNACCEPTABLE. I AS A PROFESSIONAL INTERPRETER COULD NOT TURN UP TO AN ASSIGNMENT, AND JUST IGNORE THE SOURCE MESSAGE AND JUST SAY THE WORDS THAT CAME INTO MY MIND. IT WOULD NOT BE CONSIDERED A CREDIBLE INTERPRETATION.

      Do you believe the Book of Mormon to be the word of God?

      ABSOLUTELY NOT. IT IS CLEAR FROM THE ABOVE THAT THE COMING FORTH OF THE BOOK IS NOT ACCEPTABLE. HOWEVER AFTER EXAMINING THE BOOK ITSELF. I FIND IT TO BE SO FULL OF ERRORS THAT I CANNOT ACCEPT THAT IT IS OF GOD. THE BEST ANSWER I HAVE IS THAT IT IS THE PRODUCT OF SIMPLE 19TH CENTURY MINDSET, CULTURE, AND POLITICAL OPINION. IT CONTAINS INTERNAL ERRORS WITHIN THE NARRATIVE. IT CONTAINS LARGE SWAVES OF PLAGIARISM INCLUDING THE COPYING THE ERRORS. IT CONTAINS CONTENT THAT WE LATER HAVE THROUGH SCIENTIFIC BEEN ABLE TO PROVE FALSE.

      Do you believe that Joseph, Oliver and the many others had the visitations from Moroni, John the Baptist, Peter, James and John, Moses and the others?

      ON THE BALANCE OF THE PREVIOUS EXPERIENCES CREDITABILITY I WOULD HAVE TO CONCLUDE THAT AS A FRAUDSTER THAT THESE EXPERIENCES ALSO PROBABLY NEVER HAPPENED ALSO.

      Do you believe the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to be the Lord’s true and only living church?

      I ONCE DID. HOWEVER BASED UPON THE PROBLEMS THAT THE CHURCH HAS IN THE LIES IT HAS TOLD ABOUT IT’S HISTORY AND DOCTRINE I FIND IT HARD TO ACCEPT THE ABOVE ANY LONGER. IF THE CHURCH WERE ABLE TO GIVE ACCEPTABLE ANSWERS TO THESE DIFFICULT ISSUES, OR EVEN APOLOGISE AND ACCEPT THEY WERE WRONG.

      Do you believe that Thomas S Monson is the Lord’s prophet at this time on earth?

      UNFORTUNATELY IMO TO QUALIFY AS A PROPHET, ONE MUST PROPHESY. I CANNOT REMEMBER THE LAST TIME THAT THE CURRENT SERVING PROPHET ACTUALLY FULFILLED THIS CRITERIA. IT WOULD BE LIKE ASKING SOMEONE TO ACCEPT A PERSON AS A POLICE OFFICER, WHO DID NO POLICING, BUT RATHER WENT TO THE OFFICE ALL DAY AND DID THE ACCOUNTS.

      ok now I have answered you questions, I feel it acceptable to make a comment about one of your comments….. “I truly don’t understand the fascination that many like you have in trying to parse every single piece of history and then demand that the church put forth your version of it.”

      This has to be one of the most arrogant, evil, comments I have ever read. how F***ING dare you make such a comment? it’s not about “every single piece of history”, we are ok with humans being fallible. In fact most of us are very pro-mormon and do not want these things to be the case. However these issues have massive impact as they are seriously important parts of the church history. The first vision, the coming forth of the BoM are not inconsequential. If these things have question marks over them, the whole truth claims of the church have also.

      Most ex-Mo’s that I have association with left for one reason and one reason only….. personal integrity. Their integrity would not allow them to continue to live and preach a myth as though it were true. We never asked for this experience, and the church leaders have had over 150 years to publish answers to these issues so as to save our souls from it. But no, these divinely appointed and inspired men continue to bury their heads in the sand and ignore that these exist. Surely if they and the mouthpieces of god, and heavenly father loves me, they would be inspired to put right these problems with the church so as to save my soul. but then again maybe this is heavenly fathers way of showing me he doesn’t care about me.

  13. Jared says:

    I first learned of the things Steve Bloor left the church over in 1973. I was home from a church mission and wanted to learn all I could about church history and doctrine. In those days it required a lot of digging to learn the things that Mormonthink has available with the click of a mouse.

    I was deeply disappointed with the things I learned. Some of them are listed on this blog. I felt sick and wondered how long it would be before these things would cause church members to lose their faith as Heber C Kimball prophesied. It appears that day is here.

    My faith was not harmed in the least. I knew then, as I know now that Joseph Smith restored the gospel just as we’ve have been taught. The only thing new is that we have a clearer picture of the history and doctrine he bought forth through the revelations from God. The sanitized history is being replaced. This historicity evolution is going to cause some to lose their testimony. This site is an example.

    The reason I didn’t become disaffected from the church is due to the experiences I had prior to the time I began my study of church history and doctrine. By then, I had already experienced the manifestations of the Spirit to the extent I couldn’t be moved by the things I learned that Steve writes about. Because of a crisis in my life, I turned to God with full purpose of heart and experienced the kind of things that Enos and the people of king Benjamin and other Book of Mormon people’s received–baptism of fire and the Holy Ghost.

    It’s been nearly 40 years now, and my experiences with the gift of the Holy Ghost have been constant. On several different occasions, when the need as been great, the Lord has sent ministering angels in answer to my prayers. I didn’t see them, but they spoke to me, giving me the help I diligently sought. Most often my prayers are answered by other means; packets of help, dreams, promptings, and on a couple of occasions visions.

    I hope that all of those who read this will turn to God in their crisis, and plead with him to receive the manifestations of the Spirit necessary to acquire faith adequate to see them through the difficulties confronting them.

    Jared

    • Brandon says:

      It’s wonderful you’ve been able to experience these Spiritual manifestations. I have as well. However, I also realized that these experiences do not prove that the church is what it claims to be, as there are others in various faith traditions throughout the world who also have powerful spiritual experiences, dreams, feelings, and visions, but are led by these experiences to believe things that contradict what Mormonism teaches. They are as certain as you are that God is speaking the truth to them. How can you be sure which Spirit is telling the truth? Without good evidence to back up the claims (which evidence the church lacks), it becomes your word against theirs.

      I have personally had powerful spiritual experiences both inside and outside the context of Mormonism, and have come to realize that the church’s interpretation of these experiences as a Holy Ghost testifying of absolute truth can not be true. There are other interpretations that make much more sense. This was a hard fact to face, but life has become much clearer since giving up this belief.

    • SteveBloor says:

      Hi Jared,

      Thanks for posting your comments.

      I’m pleased for you that you are following what you feel is right.

      Unfortunately, feelings alone are not enough for me.

      Feelings & beliefs are most definitely not knowledge. If they were then the many billions of other faithful adherents to Christianity & Islam would be correct in their assertions to knowledge about their particular religious beliefs.

      Unfortunately, the mind can be very easily deceived into thinking that what one is experiencing personally is in fact reality, when it is provably not.

      The human mind is incredibly powerful & amazingly malleable which makes it dangerously vulnerable to cognitive biases & prejudices.

      This is why science has developed a methodology which is based on scrutiny, repeatability, & critical peer review. And why science keeps changing & moving forward, building a stronger & stronger body of evidence which can be relied on for building amazing technology, like the Mars rover, Curiosity.

      But alas, sadly, as humans we are still vulnerable to being deceived by other people. Heck, we can even deceive ourselves into believing our own dreams are actual reality, when we’re dreaming them. In the case of dreams all the information on which they are based is obtained from our intrinsic memories & imaginations.

      It’s so easy to hallucinate & become deluded, as I was when a believing Mormon, to make the world fit our belief systems.

      I now realise that internal, personal experience is never a match for a combination of experience, rational reasoning & empirical evidence.

      It’s a tragedy for the millions of us Mormons that we ever believed in the preeminence of intrinsic emotional experience over & above that of rational reasoning & objective evidence. Since when did faith become denial of truth. Or feeling the spirit over wilful ignorance.

      Stage magicians, mentalists & con-artists know how to deceive people into believing that what they are experiencing is actual reality, yet it is all just tricks of the mind & the eyes.

      Understanding a little about cognitive biases & assumptions has allowed me to finally see how I could have been so gullible.

      Yet it is the normal human condition.

      If we relied on our experiences to judge reality we would be very vulnerable indeed. Yet so many still are!

      All the best,
      Steve

    • Henry Lions says:

      Dear Jared
      If you believe that God sent ministering Angels to deliver you from the, as you call it “a crisis in my life” and the “several different occasions, when the need as been great” I am force to ask a few of questions, the answers to which I would greatly value and appreciate.

      Firstly
      Why did God answer your prayers when the world is filled with people, both Mormon and none Mormon, who do not have their prayers answered, in circumstances which can only also be called a crisis and a time of great need?
      Why does God favour you over others?

      Secondly
      If God was responsible for the positive actions which helped you in your time of need, who was responsible for the negative actions that lead to you calling on God for help in the first place?
      Did God send you trials to overcome?
      Where you unable to overcome those trials by the gifts and abilities God gave you?
      If so what was the point of your being tested by the Lord if you simple abnegated all responsibility for your self and taking care of you and yours back to God?
      Who did this benefit?
      I also have to wonder what sort of God tortures you to the point of pleading for help, just so he can supply it and have you love him more for solving problems he caused in the first place?

      Thirdly
      Who is responsible for the help given to many people who are not Mormon or even Christian when they pray for help?
      Most of these attribute the so called Miracles to a god of some description even if they simply call it providence. So if God is available to all and prayers are answered, why be a Mormon? Why would God have need of the LDS church?

      Lastly
      Why does God allow the many people who claim to have packets of help, dreams, promptings, and visions to be diagnosed as mentally ill and made subject to treatment?
      Why does he not simply talk to the relatives and doctors of the visionary and explain it was him and there is nothing wrong with the person concerned. Does God enjoy setting people up for a fall, that will in effect ruin their lives?

      There are only two answers to this either God is a spoiled evil wicked child messing with peoples lives for the fun of it or God does not interfere at all and such dreams, promptings, and visions are simply your misinterpretations of your minds way of dealing with the problems of life.

    • Barb says:

      Here are just a handful of warnings that God gives about false prophets. We are told to test the prophet and if one of their prophesies does not prove true, that we should not believe anything they say!!!!
      Gal 1:6-9
      I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel: Which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ. But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed. As we said before, so say I now again, if any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed.
      Jeremiah 23:16
      Thus saith the LORD of hosts, Hearken not unto the words of the prophets that prophesy unto you: they make you vain: they speak a vision of their own heart, and not out of the mouth of the LORD.
      Matthew 7:15
      Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves.
      Matthew 24:24
      For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect.
      Mark 13:22
      For false Christs and false prophets shall rise, and shall shew signs and wonders, to seduce, if it were possible, even the elect.
      2 Cor. 11:3-4
      But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtilty, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ. For if he that cometh preacheth another Jesus, whom we have not preached, or if ye receive another spirit, which ye have not received, or another gospel, which ye have not accepted, ye might well bear with him.
      2 Cor. 11:13-15
      For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ. And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light. Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their works.
      I pray that more people come to know the true Jesus. I am so sad that so many have been deceived by JS–a false prophet.
      B

  14. thomas says:

    Very nicely written.
    They, or especially one quorum member, can’t respond without rewritting church history etc…
    They best they can do is meet as a quorum and decided to leave things as they are, or make the changes…at a very gradual pace….they have been doing that already anyway. It would be to much of a shock to the system (church) if they came clean and did it all at once.
    I’m sure this modern church movement is just speeding up the process. …from very slow to slow..

  15. Morgana says:

    Well-written and thoughtfully presented. A+

  16. Alex Degaston says:

    Just remember that anything the church does quietly in the small corner branch president’s office high in the Alps of Europe could come back and bite Mitt Romney in one of the battleground states in America. There’s a lot riding on his run for the presidency to make sure it doesn’t negatively impact the church, including keeping his 2009 tax returns sacred.

  17. Good Will says:

    I would like to enter this discussion (debate). My experiences and opinions most closely parallel those of Jared. I felt I could have written his comment about angelic ministries, visions, dreams, etc., so, I guess, I should do my best to answer those questions posed by Henry Lions…even though I feel more inclined to respond directly to the queries posed by Thomas Phillips to Elder Holland (2 May 2012), as I feel his questions were more germane and comprehensive.

    In doing so, I have no expectations that my words here will either convince or convert Henry Lions from his “faith”. In fact, I acknowledge from the outset that what I say here will probably be dismissed as my personal opinion only, irrelevant gibberish, the product of my imagination, unsubstantiated apologetics, etc., and will have no bearing whatsoever on what anyone else believes. (For some reason, I think that’s the way it has always been. If Jesus intended for all people to have “proof”, He’d just appear at some pre-ordained place, perform a few miracles to corroborate His claim of divinity, allow all those who cared to come forward to feel the wounds in in hands, feet, and side, etc. — as He purportedly did in Bountiful — and thus dismiss all idle speculation and disputation.)

    He isn’t doing this now, however, so we must conclude either that (1) He doesn’t exist or (2) He does not wish or intend to do this. (I propose the latter.) For purposes best (perhaps only) known to Him. I can accept as fact the proposition that faith, to be exercised, must be developed and tried. (We our told in the Good Book, after all, that “the just shall live by faith”.) And what is faith if not a belief in something that isn’t proven? Proven facts we call knowledge.

    Knowledge, no doubt, is a good thing. But knowledge is neither wisdom nor intelligence. Nor is it faith, hope or charity. Many here accept, no doubt, that the devils (knowing as they do, unencumbered by any veil of forgetfulness) both “believe ‘in Christ] and tremble” — yet they do not repent — for they have lost that power to do so.

    There must be something to this “faith” thing therefore — and the effect it has on us — for God to require that we both live by and exercise it, even in the absence of “knowledge”.

    With that introduction, let’s begin.

    Dear Jared
    If you believe that God sent ministering Angels to deliver you from the, as you call it “a crisis in my life” and the “several different occasions, when the need as been great” I am force to ask a few of questions, the answers to which I would greatly value and appreciate.

    Firstly
    Why did God answer your prayers when the world is filled with people, both Mormon and none Mormon, who do not have their prayers answered, in circumstances which can only also be called a crisis and a time of great need? Why does God favour you over others?

    I have never claimed that God has answered my prayers over others, nor do I accept your proposition that others’ prayers have not be “answered”. Clearly, not all prayers are “answered” in the way we want or expect — just as I do not grant my beloved children their every request. I have my reasons and, I trust, so does God.

    Jesus did not deem it necessary to impugn the worthiness or faith of the 18 upon whom the tower fell (Luke 13:4). Were their prayers not answered? Jesus didn’t suggest that they weren’t (just because they died). Why do you?

    Secondly
    If God was responsible for the positive actions which helped you in your time of need, who was responsible for the negative actions that lead to you calling on God for help in the first place?

    Crises arise as a condition of mortality. While God may be the Instigator of that environment, He is not the Author of Evil — anymore than I am the author of my children’s own errant choices.

    Did God send you trials to overcome?

    I give my children “trials to overcome” almost every day. Does that make me “evil”?

    Where you unable to overcome those trials by the gifts and abilities God gave you?
    If so what was the point of your being tested by the Lord if you simple abnegated all responsibility for your self and taking care of you and yours back to God? Who did this benefit?

    Just as my children OFTEN fail to fulfill the ultimate that could be expected of anyone (“perfection”), they routinely make great progress toward that end and frequently (when they try), they FULFILL my expectations for their current level of ability and development. I don’t see their lack of “perfection” as “failure”, but as “progress”. I believe God holds the same perspective regarding us (and our struggling to fulfill His will).

    I also have to wonder what sort of God tortures you to the point of pleading for help, just so he can supply it and have you love him more for solving problems he caused in the first place?

    You completely misdiagnose the nature of the educational experience in which we are engaged. You may misconstrue our Educator’s efforts as “torture” or “self-love”, but neither is accurate nor truthful.

    Thirdly
    Who is responsible for the help given to many people who are not Mormon or even Christian when they pray for help?

    Their divinely inspired (or enabled) parents and friends, both here and beyond the veil.

    Most of these attribute the so called Miracles to a god of some description even if they simply call it providence. So if God is available to all and prayers are answered, why be a Mormon? Why would God have need of the LDS church?

    Why would God have need of the Jews? Or any of us?

    Because we ALL “see through a glass darkly” and worship “the unknown God” to some extent. (Even Jews.) That doesn’t make them (or us) “wrong”. Just under-informed. We are all fulfilling the measure of our creation. And for each of us, that measure is unique.

    To suggest that there can be NO God and NO miracles because others claim that their god also does miracles and/or answers prayers is absurd. You (and I) grossly misunderstand God, the nature and attributes of God, the extent and diversity of His ministrations and connections, and all that goes on both in this world, the former, and the next. Well might the ant exclaim: “Why do some ants get stepped on and others don’t? Surely there is no Human!” (The analogy is very limited, but useful nonetheless.)

    Lastly
    Why does God allow the many people who claim to have packets of help, dreams, promptings, and visions to be diagnosed as mentally ill and made subject to treatment? Why does he not simply talk to the relatives and doctors of the visionary and explain it was him and there is nothing wrong with the person concerned. Does God enjoy setting people up for a fall, that will in effect ruin their lives?

    Why did God allow Jeremiah to be thrown into a pit? Or John the Baptist to be imprisoned (and ultimately beheaded)? Why did He allow His Son to die on a cross?

    Your questions are surprisingly superficial. Have you given this no thought? Do you really think that ALL assertions of a “spiritual” manifestation are divine and authentic? Or, conversely, that ALL are demonstrative of mental illness? Of Jesus it was said, “He hath a devil.” Did God clear that up to everyone’s satisfaction? Apparently not. Take it up with Him.

    There are only two answers to this either God is a spoiled evil wicked child messing with peoples lives for the fun of it or God does not interfere at all and such dreams, promptings, and visions are simply your misinterpretations of your minds way of dealing with the problems of life.

    Really? Only two answers? You lack imagination.

    God is no more a “spoiled evil wicked child messing with peoples lives for the fun of it” than I am for giving my children tasks they (presently, temporarily) cannot do perfectly. But I still love them and I still help them and I still hope that they will choose to aspire to achieve all that I have ordained for them to accomplish — for their own good.

    Nor is the only other answer that “God does not interfere at all and such dreams, promptings, and visions are simply your misinterpretations of your minds way of dealing with the problems of life.” That’s only your other interpretation. A very bleak (and unfaithful) one, I might add, that contradicts “the many [other] testimonies that have been given”.

    Apparently, since some are lunatics, you claim, ALL must be lunatics! That makes perfect sense (maybe to a lunatic!)

    Because some prayers are answered in the name of Allah, or Krishna, or the Virgin Mary, you say they, too, must ALL be gods — or there is no God.

    My son asks for milk. He doesn’t really ask me. In fact, he doesn’t even ask. He just screams “whawwaah! awaaghewaaah!” I don’t recall him ever saying “please” or “dear father” or anything like that. He certainly doesn’t know my name, my experience, my age, my attributes, or even the totality of my abilities. He doesn’t even know that I can give him milk. But I give it to him anyway — for his own good (not just mine). And because I love him. He’s my kid, after all. His survival fulfills my purposes (both for him and for me).

    Our God rules a diversity of spirits — some faithful and perfect, others less so. It is a shallow, farcical and simplistic notion that suggests that because our God (and Father) does not meet OUR expectations, He therefore cannot (or does not) exist.

    The body of evidence presented over millennia strongly suggests that you are mistaken. Because of what I have experienced myself, I KNOW you are mistaken. That being said, I do not consider myself any better than you. We are ALL “ever learning”, and hopefully also “com[ing] to a knowledge of the truth” (2 Tim 3:7).

    (I apologize if my attempts at italics and bolding were in error.)

    • Henry Lions says:

      Hello Good Will,

      Firstly, I’ll just say, though I will answer your points I am only going to cut and paste salient points. This is not editing your words as your post still stands above this for anyone to read in context.

      Very well, if that’s understood…

      Goodwill: “I have no expectations that my words here will either convince or convert Henry Lions from his “faith”

      HL: I have no faith. Faith is an irrational stand point in direct opposition to all of the precepts of reason that govern my life now.

      Goodwill: “If Jesus intended for all people to have “proof”, He’d just appear at some pre-ordained place, perform a few miracles to corroborate His claim of divinity, allow all those who cared to come forward to feel the wounds in in hands, feet, and side, etc.”

      HL: Is this not exactly what the Bible tells us he did do? And if God is consistent (Hebrews 13:8 “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.”), why has he changed now? Are the words of the “Good Book” not to be trusted?

      Goodwill: “And what is faith if not a belief in something that isn’t proven?”

      HL: Faith therefore has the same definition as a delusion, how is the Christian to tell one from the other?

      Goodwill: ”knowledge is neither wisdom nor intelligence”

      HL: Correct, wisdom and intelligence are the correct analysis and application of knowledge in order to ascertain further corroborated knowledge. This is a direct opposition to faith, which in a superb act of circular reasoning, rejects knowledge without analysis if it is not in accordance with revealed and therefore irrefutable articles of faith.

      Goodwill: ”There must be something to this “faith” thing therefore”

      HL: Why? You have said nothing to lead you or anyone else to this conclusion.

      Goodwill: “I have never claimed that God has answered my prayers over others,”

      HL: Perhaps not, since I have never seen you post here before and I was not addressing YOUR claims at all, but those of Jared. Therefore this statement is worthless unless you are Jared under another name, which for the sake of argument I will assume for the moment. Jared’s statement that his prayer was answered clearly implies that he believes God did answer his prayer in EXACTLY the way he required it to be answered. He had good reason for believing this.
      See Matthew 7:7 & Luke 11:9 “Ask and it shall be given unto you”
      So my question remains valid, why is his prayer answered and granted in accordance with the Gospel when other people get no answers or cryptic answers in defiance of Jesus’ promise?

      Goodwill: Jesus did not deem it necessary to impugn the worthiness or faith of the 18 upon whom the tower fell (Luke 13:4).

      HL: Have you actually read this quote in context? Jesus not only impugned the worthiness or faith of the 18 upon whom the tower fell, but also those to whom he is speaking, commanding them ALL to repent.

      Goodwill: “While God may be the Instigator of that environment, He is not the Author of Evil”

      HL: You are kidding right? Have you ever read the Bible, here are few examples, there are literally hundreds that directly contradict your statement.

      Isaiah 45:7 “I bring prosperity and create disaster; I, the LORD, do all these things.”
      Lamentations 3:38 “Is it not from the mouth of the Most High that both calamities and good things come?”
      Amos 3:6 “When a trumpet sounds in a city, do not the people tremble? When disaster comes to a city, has not the LORD caused it?”
      Job 2:10 He replied, “You are talking like a foolish woman. Shall we accept good from God, and not trouble?” In all this, Job did not sin in what he said.
      Jeremiah 32:42 “This is what the LORD says: As I have brought all this great calamity on this people,”

      Goodwill: I give my children “trials to overcome” almost every day. Does that make me “evil”?

      HL: You are not God (are you?) You do not claim to be all knowing, all wise, all powerful. Your analogy falls right there and is pointless from that point on.
      Goodwill: ”Because we ALL “see through a glass darkly” and worship “the unknown God” to some extent. (Even Jews.) That doesn’t make them (or us) “wrong”.”

      HL: According to both the Bible and the Book of Mormon YES IT DOES.

      “My object in going to inquire of the Lord was to know which of all the sects was right … said that all their creeds were an abomination in His sight: that those professors were all corrupt “ God speaking to Joseph Smith

      Why would God answer the prayers of those participating in an Abomination?

      Matthew 6:7 (Jesus advises) But when ye pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do: for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking.

      Pretty obvious Jesus thought they were WRONG.

      Yet Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus all claim God does answer their prayers. Who is lying?

      Goodwill:” Why did God allow Jeremiah to be thrown into a pit? Or John the Baptist to be imprisoned (and ultimately beheaded)? Why did He allow His Son to die on a cross?”

      HL: All good questions. Why do you think that repeating my question answers it? If you want to go back to your flawed father analogy would you allow your employees and even your child to suffer and die like that?

      Godowill: “My son asks for milk. He doesn’t really ask me. In fact, he doesn’t even ask. He just screams “whawwaah! awaaghewaaah!” I don’t recall him ever saying “please” or “dear father” or anything like that.”

      HL: True Enough, but at some point in his life I am sure you are not going to hide away from him, refusing to prove that you exist, but leaving a written admonishment that if he ever stops thinking well of you as his father you will throw him into a pit of sulphur because you love him so much?
      Like I said the Father analogy is flawed and foolish.

      Goodwill:” The body of evidence presented over millennia strongly suggests that you are mistaken. Because of what I have experienced myself, I KNOW you are mistaken.”

      HL: Produce even one jot of evidence and I will fall down and thank you, but you won’t because you can’t, because there is NO evidence. If there were it would have been produced years ago.
      You do not KNOW anything of the sort, you have faith and as I, and you too, have said, faith is not proof, it can’t be, otherwise it is knowledge.

      I have faith that my faith is true.
      Faith requires no proof because proof destroys faith by turning it into fact.
      The lack of facts to prove that my faith is true therefore strengthens my faith that my faith is true.

      You see now how you are trapped in a self perpetuating state of delusion.

  18. So that summed up is….. Henry you don’t KNOW and neither do I really!!!! LOL

    Not one defence of the churches letter or rebuttal of Chris’s letter. SPEAKS VOLUMES!!!!

    “I have my faith, and that’s enough, despite the church lying, covering up it’s history and making false accusations about it’s membership in this letter.”

  19. Lisa Campbell says:

    If the Church were all it claimed to be transparency would not be an issue for them.

    The fact that transparency is the last thing they are prepared to offer its members and critics speaks volumes.

    By their fruits ye shall know them – lying, deceiving, misrepresenting, arrogance and censure – I know where these fruits spring from and Jesus Christ would have nothing to do with an organisation that practices them.

  20. juanpaulotero says:

    Jared wrote:
    “My faith was not harmed in the least. I knew then, as I know now that Joseph Smith restored the gospel just as we’ve have been taught.”

    If any of it happened, it most certainly was not “just as we’ve been taught”!

    “The only thing new is that we have a clearer picture of the history and doctrine he bought forth through the revelations from God. The sanitized history is being replaced. This historicity evolution is going to cause some to lose their testimony.

    In what way do we have a clearer picture of anything other than proof of lies and fraud?

    A person who chooses to believe stories in spite of evidence which contradicts their veracity is obviously a fool.
    I am very sorry you choose to remain deluded but I accept your free will to do so.

  21. Good Will says:

    I’m sorry I will not have time (today) to address Henry Lions’ reply in detail.

    LDS theology distinguishes between “faith” and “belief”. These two terms are synonymous in every sense, except that “faith” is understood (by the LDS) to mean a reliance upon that which is true, especially when that truth is not readily apparent or reproducible. “Belief”, on the other hand, can embrace a reliance upon things which are not true.

    Faith, therefore, is a subset of belief. According to the LDS, faith, properly exercised, has the potential to produce real “fruit”, in both the scientific and spiritual sense. Columbus, for example, had faith that by sailing around the globe he would discover a new world. And he did. Ponce de León, however, purportedly believed he could find the Fountain of Youth. He failed. This could be because (by fate, misplaced effort, or unfortunate circumstance), he didn’t have what it takes to reach his goal. Or it could be because the Fountain of Youth does not exist.

    I don’t know which is the case. It’s impossible to prove a negative. I can’t prove there is no Fountain of Youth. Had Ponce de León been successful (like Columbus), we wouldn’t be arguing the merits of his “faith”.

    Henry Lions doubts and disputes the “miraculous” accomplishments of all those religious types who purportedly have come before him: Adam and Eve, Noah, Moses, Elijah, Jesus, Paul, Joseph Smith, etc. The nature of those accomplishments is such that, even within the context of written history and eye-witness accounts, the “testimony” is difficult to believe. People today seriously doubt that we landed on the moon or that the Twin Towers fell by mere aircraft alone. We can disbelieve that which we see with our own eyes. How, then, can “miraculous” second-hand accounts written thousands of years ago be even more trusted than our own experience?

    I do not disrespect Henry Lions’ incredulousness. Faith, by definition, is belief in truth which is not readily apparent as being “true”. Sometimes faith can be belief in that which is even counter-intuitive — like the necessity of leaning left while turning left on a bicycle…in order to remain upright! It takes “faith” to do it…or a little trial and error…to get it right.

    I especially do not disrespect Henry Lions’ conclusion that “faith” in riding the LDS “bicycle” is misplaced. (I tried to ride a “new” bike I saw at the county fair once. It worked the opposite way bikes normally operate. (When you turned the handle bars left, the front wheel turned right.) I fell down repeatedly. I couldn’t overcome my predisposition to do what came “naturally”. I wouldn’t have believed it could be done…until I saw another guy do it…easily. I now have “faith” that that bike can be ridden (even though I still can’t do it myself).

    For the purposes of this reply, I will disregard (though not dispense with) all the “counter-intuitive” evidence arguing against reliance upon the LDS faith: the sins of omission and commission purportedly committed by LDS members and authorities, etc. (That’s another topic.)

    I will address, however, the evidence I have “proof” of: what Henry Lions demanded of me to reproduce.

    Just this morning (before I read Henry Lions’ reply), I asked myself in prayer: “Where would I be today were it not for the gospel of Jesus Christ as taught by the LDS Church?” I certainly wouldn’t be the person I am. Nor would I have six children. While I have repeatedly fallen short (and often!), I am much farther along in my journey toward becoming a better person (by the gospel’s standards) than I would be were I not engaged in this effort.

    Alma said to plant a “seed”, by faith. The fruit of that effort is, for many, the only evidence they will receive of the “goodness” or “truth” of their faith. I can vouch for the goodness and truthfulness of the seed I first planted many years ago. It has born remarkably good and delicious fruit.

    We can quibble about the prophets, ancient and modern, if you want. But I cannot deny the “fruit” I have seen and tasted for myself. I cannot deny the reality around me. My faith assures me that, once moth and doth have claimed all that can be corrupted, I will yet retain hereafter all that matters to me: my family. What more could I want?

    The book of John promises that those who love God and keep His commandments will be privy to both Christ’s comfort and His companionship. I can confirm, also, that this is true. This is my “testimony”. Christ did not promise that He would reveal Himself either to the world or to the wicked. In fact, He said it wouldn’t be so, that He would only minister unto the world by His Holy Spirit. By all accounts, that is undoubtedly true. (If Christ were doing physical “book signings” somewhere, Henry Lions would be lining up!) I can vouch for the fact that Jesus ministers unto those who love Him by His Holy Spirit.

    The truth is: a paucity of imagination and an over-abundance of hubris account for the belief that only that which can be handled (by the five senses) is real and that nothing “spiritual” exists. While the material world may be all that is evident to the carnally minded, the body of human experience suggests that there is more to man’s existence. Many great men of science, modern and historic, have propounded belief in the supernatural. They have done so not on the basis of custom or inclination — they were scientists, after all — but because the evidence led them to this conclusion.

    I cannot perform or produce better than they. I can only say, I have evidence enough to believe.

    • blooruk says:

      From the scriptures we learn more about faith…

      “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen” (Hebrews 11:1).

      “Faith is not to have a perfect knowledge of things; therefore if ye have faith ye hope for things which are not seen, which are true” (Alma 32:21).
      For true faith to exist a person must have correct knowledge in the person or thing they are exercising faith in. Faith isn’t a perfect knowledge, but a correct knowledge.

      We all at times ignore the bogus stuff that our brain makes up, after all, if it serves to meet our desires, why wouldn’t we?

      Sometimes we need to step back, and observe our own thoughts and emotions as a third person; Instead of reacting the instant they pop up. A little like driving down a road too fast and heading straight to the destination we become committed too, missing the many junctions along the way.

      As a third person we would see the junctions or, ‘cognitive choices’, slowing down the desision process and recognising the correct path and raising our awareness. Being open and receiving more information can open up more junctions or choices, giving us more informed intentions.

      I love the philosophy and practice of mindfulness. Problem is, we all accept bogus lies that our brain creates — to justify our desires, and because consciousness is what the brain does, choices we do not comprehend lie just outside of our reach.

      It’s frustrating however — that those we love are ignorant of this fact.

      Closer examination of events leading up to this change will reveal a breadcrumb trail of emotional desires which required a shift in belief in order for desire fulfilment. I call these trails, ‘Love-Lines’. They are mechanisms of the brain which convince us of things that we would not, under normal circumstances have believed. This shift in belief is due to our emotional desires getting in the way of our rational mind. Unfortunately, the reward mechanism responsible for positive emotions also switch off the area of the brain responsible for critical thinking.

      Changes in belief motivated by reason and critical thinking uses parts of the brain which lack the reward mechanism of emotional thinking. This is why it can be so hard to seek and accept beliefs based on evidence.

      ‘Love-Lines’… No wonder there are so many religions in the world, all proclaiming to be the one true religion.

      If you were told by someone that they had sufficiently reliable information to show that your partner had bean cheating on you, this would motivate you to find the information and learn for yourself of the truthfulness of the claim. Introspection tells you that many people’s partners have affairs, however, the ‘truth claim’ about YOUR partner having an affair requires confirmation.

      Merely accepting the information on face value is not enough. Your desire to find out the truth for yourself will be overwhelming. Of cause, this desire is motivated by your emotion due to the risk of loss associated with the truth of the claim. Denial would not be an option for maintaining happiness at the level of the brain – because of the thought of your partner and the ‘third party’, taking advantage of your gullibility. Looking for the truth would be the motivator for maintaining happiness, even if this leads to confirmation of the painful truth.

      My question is – why do people not use the same determination to investigate other truth claims regarding similar examples of ’inductive reasoning’?  Many organisations, both secular and religious, can have very similar patterns which are harmful. The one ‘we’ associate with, even when the pattern is brought to our attention and stimulating our inductive reasoning to realise the pattern – our mind may prevent us from taking further action to find out this painful truth. We find justification, ignoring the pattern.

      Are we being true to ourselves?
      It takes effort and training to exercise introspection.

    • Henry Lions says:

      Hmmmmmm

      Goodwill:” LDS theology distinguishes between “faith” and “belief”. These two terms are synonymous in every sense, except that “faith” is understood (by the LDS) to mean a reliance upon that which is true,”

      HL: Could you please supply a source for such ‘theology’ as I was LDS for twenty + years and never heard faith defined like that. Further given that this is so how on earth can one know what is true and what is not true, without the benefit of evidence or proof?

      Goodwill: “I can’t prove there is no Fountain of Youth.”

      HL: However one can deduce that such a thing is highly unlikely to exist and that even if it does it’s alleged capabilities are an impossibility and so are inall probability mythical.

      Goodwill: Henry Lions doubts and disputes the “miraculous” accomplishments of all those religious types who purportedly have come before him: Adam and Eve, Noah, Moses, Elijah, Jesus, Paul, Joseph Smith,

      HL: I certainly do. Adam and Eve never existed they are a creation myth that does not even make sense within the parameters of its own text. Noah is a retelling of the Babylonian myth of Utnapishtim, Moses has no historical proof of his existence, his birth story is a retelling of the Horus myth and there is no proof of the biblical Egyptian captivity of the 600,000 fighting Israelite men, their families and animals in the wealth of Egyptian history we do have from their own records. (a number given in Exodus by the way that is greater than the entire population of the whole of Egypt at any time before the Greek invasion).
      There is more historical credibility for the existence of Elijah, Jesus and Paul but not for their magic and as for Joseph Smith, he was a convicted con man.

      Goodwill: People today seriously doubt that we landed on the moon

      HL: True, including a number of LDS general authorities who firmly believe that had we actually landed on the moon we would have encountered the Moon Quakers who Joseph Smith and Brigham Young ASSURED us live there.

      Goodwill: Christ did not promise that He would reveal Himself either to the world or to the wicked. In fact, He said it wouldn’t be so, that He would only minister unto the world by His Holy Spirit.

      HL: You really don’t know your Bible do you, that is exactly what Jeus promised he would do.

      Mark 14:62 “And Jesus said, I am: and ye shall see the Son of man sitting on the right hand of power, and coming in the clouds of heaven.”
      Matthew 26:64 “Yes, it is as you say,” Jesus replied. “But I say to all of you: In the future you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Mighty One and coming on the clouds of heaven.”
      Mark 13:26 “At that time men will see the Son of Man coming in clouds with great power and glory.
      Matthew 24:30 “At that time the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky, and all the nations of the earth will mourn. they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of the sky, with power and great glory.
      Matthew 16:27 For the Son of Man is going to come in his Father’s glory with his angels, and then he will reward each person according to what he has done.
      Acts 1:11 “Men of Galilee,” they said. “why do you stand here looking into the sky? This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven.”
      Colossians 3:4 When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.
      1 Peter 5:4 And when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that will never fade away.

      Goodwill: Many great men of science, modern and historic, have propounded belief in the supernatural. They have done so not on the basis of custom or inclination — they were scientists, after all — but because the evidence l ed them to this conclusion.

      HL: I would seriously challenge that statement, many of the earlier scientists HAD to profess a belief in Christianity in order to avoid the inquisition and the persecution of the churches or to secure their funding by patronage. Most reputable modern scientists are not religious, or pay only a lip service to it or like Einstein are deists rather than theists, but again would never to the best of my knowledge have claimed to have formulated scientific proof of a Deity. If you have such a proof from anyone (not associated with the Templeton prize) then please do point me to it.

      • Good Will says:

        HL, I was fairly certain that you were familiar with the LDS interpretation of faith (as cited by a previous poster). blooruk quoted it as follows:

        “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen” (Hebrews 11:1).

        “Faith is not to have a perfect knowledge of things; therefore if ye have faith ye hope for things which are not seen, which are true” (Alma 32:21).

        I merely stated it in another way. You seem to have a good grasp of these concepts. The exercising of faith bears real, evidentiary fruit which leads to knowledge, rendering faith dormant. As blooruk aptly pointed out, “For true faith to exist a person must have correct knowledge in the person or thing they are exercising faith in. Faith isn’t a perfect knowledge, but a correct knowledge.” (Italics mine.)

        Note that blooruk said “knowledge” — even in conjunction with faith. If you know something is going to happen (even though it hasn’t happened yet), you still know it (even though you only “see” it with the “eye of faith”). What difference does it make if you KNOW something is going to happen or you KNOW something did happen? Isn’t that still knowledge?

        I know as well as I know anything that the earth is presently revolving and the sun will come up tomorrow (whether I see it or not). Is that “faith” or “knowledge”?

        When someone has sufficient experience keeping God’s commandments and learns to trust Him, one gains knowledge as to His promises being fulfilled. Admittedly, God’s promises, quite frequently, are not fulfilled in a manner or time frame we expect. It was a hundred years after Orson Hyde’s prayer, dedicating the land of Palestine for the return of the Jews, before the nation of Israel was restored. Christ came at the latter end — some would say at the latest possible moment — in the “meridian of time”, i.e, at the end of the 4th millennium. Jesus fulfilled prophecies given hundreds of years before His birth. Many expected His return before now. He still hasn’t returned (yet).

        We err when we demand that God fulfill our expectations — and not the other way around.

        Clearly if you are under the impression that Adam and Eve (so the story goes) were the first (and only) pair of humans to inhabit this planet prior to death entering the world, you would have a valid point: the Bible doesn’t make sense.

        If, however, you understand that the Bible is merely the latest anthology of the last family of fallen man to inhabit this orb, the story makes more (though not complete) sense. I agree with you, facets of the narrative are fictional. But that does not render the whole untruthful.

        I live in a house that was occupied previously by others. There was substantial evidence of prior occupants when we moved in. I am not, however, immediately related to any of those people. They were simply here before me. Yes, we’re both human. But we are not of the same immediate family.

        The same could be said for this earth and the creation story in the Bible. To infer that the Bible is the “tell all” of all creation is to read more into the story than what is there. Yes, the Bible begins “In the beginning”. But that does not imply that every detail is recounted.

        Let me simply abbreviate this discussion by saying that Adam was not the first man by that name to inhabit this world. The fossil record speaks for itself. The investigator will be wildly lead astray (and disillusioned) should he attempt to reconcile the fossil record with the Bible. The Bible tells only part of the story: the story of our most ancient primogenitor.

        I believe that, from time to time, God has extinguished and re-introduced life to this world — much as I would kill my own lawn and replant it from year to year. God’s time table, of course, is stretched out over millions, even billions, of years. And when conditions have been “right”, He has introduced His offspring to this world. Our current age is but one of many “worlds” God has populated with His progeny. It has so suited His purposes countless times.

        Without simply denouncing the existence of God, explain scientifically why this cannot be so.

        As for Noah (whom you dismiss as myth), again you read more into the record than is there — and so, logically, toss out the account as purely fiction, when, in fact, it is real.

        Certainly the earth does not contain sufficient water to cover the globe miles deep. (I think I calculated once in college that if the earth were a perfectly smooth sphere, the ocean’s uniform depth would be 1.3 miles, at most.) So clearly lofty mountain peaks could not be submerged, as the Bible appears to state.

        However, for the earth to be “baptized”, a millimeter will suffice as well as a mile. It isn’t necessary for the earth to be under miles of water, when a sheen will do. It is not unreasonable to believe that a universal downpour occurred, precipitated perhaps (as the Bible claims) by the breaking up of the “fountains of the great deep”. Perhaps frozen methane was released from the ocean’s depths. Who knows? But it is not preposterous to believe that some global trauma caused catastrophic cloud formations and rain fall, tsunami, storm surge, and flood over the whole earth, killing all by drowning along the coasts, and by flood, hypothermia, disease and famine elsewhere. For LDS purposes, if every landmass were bathed in a sheen of water or a skiff of snow and ice (with flooding sufficient to lift Noah’s parochial navizoo), it would be sufficient. And that is certainly not without the realm of possibility. It was not necessary for Noah to fill his ark with every kind of animal in the world, only every kind of animal in his world. (And fish and foul were left to fend for themselves!) The ark did not save every form of life. Surely most life survived without the ark. But it did save every human life — or at least every human life subject to the effects and consequences of sin.

        Just as those who live (and die) without law in our time are not subject to the law (or the punishments thereof), those who lived in Noah’s day, uninstructed as they were in the law, were not subject to the penalty meted out to those who rejected Noah’s ministry. (We do not know of these people — if they existed. They are not mentioned in Noah’s book.) We could, in fact, have a race of man survive the Flood who never filled the ark. The Bible, after all, is the story of the faithful, our Father’s children. It is not the story of some other race.

        You almost insult me with your implication that I am unaware of those scriptures foretelling the second advent of Christ, when He shall appear in the clouds, with great glory and power. Clearly you are familiar with the foretold outcome of that appearance. The righteous will be caught up into heaven while the wicked will be destroyed.

        The comfort and companionship promised to the righteous by the Savior is spoken of in John, chapters 14 through 16. The wicked neither receive it nor comprehend it.

        You may google the phrase “Famous scientists who believe in God” to discover that many great thinkers (and scientists) did not reject belief in the Almighty (though they certainly may quibbled over the details). However, whether all or none believe is of little consequence. God does not require scientists to reveal Him. He is accessible to everyone who is honest in heart.

        If you will test His word, you can know for yourself. It sounds trite, but your faith, like mine, can become dormant upon learning that He lives.

      • SteveBloor says:

        HI Good Will,

        I’m a little perplexed at why you invest so much energy into defending your belief system on my Personal Blog

        I very well understand my purpose in writing my personal blog. I just don’t see what you are gaining from these exchanges.

        My purpose is to share the new insights I gain as I leave Mormonism with others, a sort of personal journal which I share, with the hope that others who are recovering from Mormonism will gain hope and courage to move forwards into a new, more fulfilling life without the mind-control of the Church biasing their thinking. There is no objective to change True Believing Mormons into deconverting from their committed faith.

        What you may not realise, I certainly didn’t as a lifelong member of forty six years (seven as bishop), is there are thousands, maybe hundreds of thousands of Mormons, leaving the Church, or becoming disenfranchised non-believers, who are struggling from the traumatic realisation that there beloved Church has lied to them all their lives, and is still doing so.

        These people need reassurance and hope to move forward from their ‘religious trauma syndrome’. I never knew about this side of the Church. As a bishop I helped to persecute them. Part of my goal now is to help them recover, not prolong the agony.

        Many of us are organised into support groups to assist those who leave the Church, not to deconvert, but to assist in the emotional transition out of the Church.

        These people, including myself, are recovering from the mind-control and, like in Plato’s Cave allegory, are discovering the world outside the Mormon belief system is actually a brighter, more colourful and wonderful place than we were ever led to believe by the Church.

        Please be assured we are not out to destroy your faith.

        But what is your purpose? Why are you trawling my Personal Blog?

        If you are an open-minded, honest seeker after truth I welcome you. Your comments, however indicate you are entrenched and invested in the Mormon belief system so much that I may not be able to help you. You may feel more comfortable over at FAIR or FARMS. My blog is almost guaranteed to irritate and threaten your concept of reality.

        Gerry Spence said in his book, “I would rather have a mind opened by wonder than one closed by belief.”

        I think that religious belief is limiting to a human being’s potential. It does not encourage human thriving or wellbeing.

        Now that I have discovered the hoax I am personally less interested in the details regarding Church history etc. than I am in the whole concept of how & why people believe things in the first place. The psychology of belief and the findings of neuroscience are revealing just why I, and many others, were gullibly deluded in the first place.

        If the Church is interested in the best in human development they would do well to encourage its members to research psychology and cognitive biases.

        I am content to allow others the privilege of their own beliefs, as long as they do not impact negatively on mine or others.

        Wishing you well on your journey,
        Steve

      • Good Will says:

        I don’t recall how I stumbled upon your site, Steve. (Someone lead me here in a link.)
        I like this quote (I think I first read it here on your blog): “If we have the truth, it cannot be harmed by investigation. If we have not the truth, it ought to be harmed.” – J. Reuben Clark; D. Michael Quinn, J. Reuben Clark: The Church Years. Provo, Utah: Brigham Young University Press, 1983, p. 24.”

        That’s either very prescient or very ironic! (And twistedly evil!)

        I guess that’s why I’m still here. I’d like to think that my faith — the doctrines I believe, the church to which I belong, the history I understand to be true, the nature of the God whom I worship — can withstand the most intense scrutiny. And if it can’t, I shouldn’t embrace it.

        I’m not looking for a fight. I’m just bringing my “candle” to the party. If your candle is more incandescent, I’d like to see it!

        I don’t assume that everything I believe in (or believe) is correct. I KNOW it’s not. (I just don’t know what “it” is yet!) Everything man touches is flawed. Failing (and sometimes even faithless) “shepherds” have corralled — and even killed — submissive sheep, doing the work of wolves, from the beginning. I can see how deceptions and misunderstandings have crept into the histories and practices of the Church — even becoming principle features of the work! That does not (in my mind) negate divine origins. It simply confirms what I already know to be true: Man is fallen by nature. He messes up everything he touches.

        I’m grateful that people like you are willing to share your stories. I’m curious: What drove you “over the edge”? (I haven’t been here long enough to find out.)

  22. Deluded No More says:

    The long and short of it is It is very hard to have faith in a church that is not honest and upfront with its members or investigators! When we realise we cannot trust the churches sanitised version of events we are left with no option but to test its word and to tear down the curtain! Once we have done this and weighed up the facts not trusting in emotion! but in logic and reason then our perspective is changed and we no longer judge those who disbelieve as apostates but as the enlightened as well as the injured!

    • Good Will says:

      I had a “crisis of faith” recently. (Well, not a “crisis” of my faith, but certainly of my bishop’s faith in me!)

      I was asked to give the Elder’s Quorum lesson last February. The topic had to do with Joseph Smith and the Restoration. I introduced the lesson by referencing Joseph Smith’s “magical beginnings” and the belief in the supernatural that suffused the society in which he was raised. (“Treasure digging” and using “peep stones” was ridiculed, but not unheard of in his day. And many believed in “rodding”, “water witching” etc.)

      And that’s about as far as I got. I was repeatedly interrupted and challenged by the members of the quorum. “Where is that in the manual?” “Where are you going with this?” “Why are you saying these things?” “What does this have to do with the lesson?”

      My purpose was to show that Joseph Smith was human, a product of his times, that he was influenced by the many (sometimes errant) influences of his day.

      The resistance that I faced by merely broaching the fact that Joseph emerged from a culture of magic and superstition was simply too great for many to overcome. I got so far as to say that “God used Joseph Smith — as simple and as flawed as he was — because he believed…he was a believing soul…” before I was shut down. My final words were “Ultimately, Joseph and Hyrum were killed by men, some of whom were apostates and former members of the Church.” At that point, I was asked to sit down.

      That was the last lesson I ever taught in Church.

      Well, almost. The following Sunday I rehearsed in Sunday School (as a member of the class) that Joseph did not (as most Mormons believe) “translate” the Book of Mormon using the seer stones purportedly given to him by Moroni, but in fact used a stone he found years earlier while digging a well. He put his face into a hat and “read” the words as they were given (as is shown in “South Park” episode 712). I mentioned (in recounting this fact) that I, for one, find the truth even more convincing than the fable (of Joseph handling the plates as he “translated” them, etc.) — as no one, in my view, could create the Book of Mormon while talking out of his hat!

      Well, the bishop called me into his office soon thereafter and told me, in effect, to shut up…or risk being excommunicated.

      Excommunicated? For what? For telling the truth?

      He said, “Some truths don’t need to be revealed.”

      We had a discussion about “milk before meat” and I assured him that that time had long since passed when investigators should only be given “milk”. The internet was rendering it impossible for the Church to pretend that “made-up” histories and inaccuracies in the record could be forever pawned off as truthful. The Church, I said, is obligated to get the full truth out there — for no other reason than that our “enemies” will, if we don’t.

      I told him that, 20 years ago, anti-Mormon literature was filled with lies. Now they just tell the truth.

      Recently (if you haven’t noticed) the bishop (or his counselors) have begun every Fast and Testimony meeting by telling the congregants to limit their “bearing testimony” to the “truthfulness” of five “permitted” topics: God lives, Jesus is the Christ, the Book of Mormon is true, Joseph Smith’s a prophet, and (by extension) the Church today and its leadership are true.

      When I did not follow that precise formula at my next speaking opportunity, the stake president took me aside and chastened me. I said “Do you think I am not a faithful member of the Church? Did I not bear my testimony?” He relented that I had (at the very end). But I felt very, very — well, the way I always feel when working with some (uninspired) leaders of the Church — very dismissed and disrespected. The Church attracts types to its leadership who assume (and then presume) unjustified powers. They are so carefully scripted and reigned in that there is no spontaneity. (I sometimes wonder if the Holy Ghost could ever get a revelation in edge-wise without getting prior approval from the bishop!)

      I told the stake president that if he was so interested in only hearing those “five things”, why not just record them on a loop and play them over and over again for the entire full hour. He actually suggested that that might not be bad (before he dismissed my remark as sarcastic)! But I was dead serious. The purpose of these “restrictions” seemed to reflect “damage control” if not “mind control”.

      And while I think it’s a silly, inevitably “self-defeating” rule — and the Church has any number of them — it’s not a “deal breaker” for me…yet.

      My “testimony” of the Church, its doctrines and leadership remains strong, independent of its leadership or its membership. But I acknowledge the imperfect efforts being made (perhaps dictated from the top), striving to stem the tide of apostasy and disbelief taking place in the Church.

      That apostasy could be bridled (somewhat) by the Lord producing more glaring evidence substantiating the truthfulness of the work. (A cache of steel swords in Mesoamerica would be nice!) But that, of course, would attract a different kind of follower to the faith — one less guided by the Spirit and more by his five senses.

      • SteveBloor says:

        Hi Good Will,

        Your story really struck a chord with me, as I had similar experiences with Priesthood leadership when I resigned as bishop after discovering I’d been lied to about the history of the Church.

        I empathise with your feelings as you bravely attempted to promote the authentic history & the truth.

        Well done for trying.

        Have you, by any chance, heard of Mormon Stories Facebook Support Groups?

        If not, you may find a safe place to share ideas with questioning Mormons, most of whom are intent on staying in the Church, but want to make it more truthful.

        Kind regards,
        Steve

  23. ProgExMo says:

    Reblogged this on Progressive Ex-Mormon and commented:
    Though I originally read this a week ago, I find myself amazed at how well-writen this open letter to the LDS Church’s presidency is. Because of this, I’ve decided to reblog this on my own site. I hope you enjoy.

  24. blooruk says:

    Good will, you are using bad examples of your understanding of correct knowledge. Correct knowledge is justified belief based upon experience, deductive and inductive reasoning. Your mind has evolved to understand and have a correct knowledge, but not a perfect knowledge, that the sun will rise tomorrow. This is Justified belief. I have no concept of having justified belief in the supernatural. Anyone can say they have It, but where is the evidence for it?

  25. Pingback: Internet Challenges Mormon Beliefs | What Mitt Believes

  26. Good Will says:

    blooruk wrote:

    “I have no concept of having justified belief in the supernatural. Anyone can say they have It, but where is the evidence for it?”

    Are you suggesting that that there is NO evidence to support “justified belief” in the supernatural? That George Washington saw no evidence of God’s divine hand of providence, both in war and in peace, in erecting this great nation he helped organize? MANY have been the characters who have attributed what they have experienced to nothing less than God. And for good reason.

    The Bible, of course, is the preeminent record of (the Judeo-Christian) God’s dealings with His people. These stories — many were eye-witness accounts — are no less “factual” than testimonies rendered in courts today. Are you suggesting that “evidence” as we know it, even circumstantial evidence, is not, in fact, sufficient to evoke “justified belief”?

    For many, the evidence is compelling. Oh, sure, an angelic visit here or a “documented” miracle there would do much to bolster the unbeliever’s belief (knowledge, really). But would it?

    I contend that even an angelic ministration would, eventually, be disputed or opposed. “How do I know that you’re a true minister of Deity? How do I know that you really come from the presence of God? How do I know that God is, in fact, God — and not some space alien impersonating the Divine?”

    Granted, most of us never have that conversation (never getting that far on the “spiritual experience” scale). But what of lesser “spiritual experiences”? Are you going to chalk up all such “events” as mere imagination, autonomic and sympathetic responses, the stuff of subconsciousness and subliminal suggestion? Is “good” to be disputed? Is there no “sin” or “evil” either? Who is the arbiter of “righteousness”? Are there no “bad” men or women?

    To steal from Lehi, if you say there is no God, then you say there is no “good” — otherwise “good” would be whatever is “good” in one’s own eyes, and each “good” would be as different as we are. You would likewise say there is no “truth” — for “truth” would be as you see it, and each would have their own “truth”. If there is neither “good” nor “truth”, then there is no evil or wrong. And we ALL know there is evil and wrong — for we have experienced it ourselves. It is our common inheritance in this “fallen” world.

    So while you may claim you do not believe in God, His goodness or truth (or even His reality), you must admit that you KNOW there is evil and falsehood. Since you KNOW these exist, you therefore must conclude that their opposites (goodness and truth) likewise exist — otherwise (to borrow from Lehi again), there is no existence. Evil and wrong cannot exist in the absence of goodness and truth, by definition.

    Is something can be completely wrong, then something also can be completely right. If something can be totally evil, then something can be totally good.

    Most acknowledge that Hitler was evil, perhaps more evil than most. Could there be one more evil than he? Surely. Would that being be called Satan? Perhaps.

    We can imagine that the worst being imaginable — one who was more evil than Hitler, Caligula and Pol Pot combined — could exist. We can even imagine that a being exists whose every inclination is wrong, impure, selfish, unjust, or evil.

    But only if we’re willing to concede that the opposite is true: that a being of exquisite perfection, righteousness, purity, unselfishness, justice and love must also exist. That Being we could call “God”.

    Now I realize it takes faith to believe in evil. (But not much, since we have so much evidence for it!). And it takes faith to believe that evil people exist. (But again, we have evidence.)

    I submit that we also have evidence of God. (But in a “fallen” world, it may be harder to detect that evidence.) You have to dig deep to uncover that “pristine” foundation. But, for many, it is there. They see it. They hear it. They feel it. They know it. And it leads them into all truth, greater light, happiness, peace and joy — the opposite of evil and wrong.

    Now, I concur, objective evidence of God is in short supply. Most of the evidence is circumstantial. But circumstantial evidence is among the most powerful (and convincing) of kinds. Many a man has been rightfully put do death based upon nothing more than circumstantial evidence.

    I guess only the most purely believing and uncritical would continue to believe based on second-hand witnesses and testimonies alone. I could believe my parents claim, for example, when they say “That restaurant serves the best sushi in the world! And we know, because we’ve eaten everywhere!” I wouldn’t KNOW of the truthfulness of their claims, however, until I tried the sushi for myself! Even then, how could I know it was truly “the best in the world”? I wouldn’t…except as I gained more experience.

    One must assume that God has all the experience in the world…and then some. It is truly a provincial, parochial, and impoverished imagination to presume that God cannot (or does not) exist. One has to go to great lengths (and even then, no “scientific” answer is adequate”) to explain our origins in the absence of a Creator.

    How do we Latter-day Saints know the LDS Church is “true”? Well, we can know by its fruit. Is it good? Delicious? Productive? Beneficial? Many who have “tasted” it have determined that it is — better than any others they have tasted elsewhere.

    Does that render all other religious “fruit” “evil” or “wrong”? Is the LDS version of fruit incorruptible? (The Book of Mormon suggests that there are many places were the “true tree” has been planted…and that ALL fruit is subject to corruption. We should not be surprised to find that the LDS version is lacking somewhat in savor from season to season.)

    I put my faith in “approximations”. The science of calculus is one of infinite approximations approaching a limit, a number, call it “perfection”. We see by calculus that “two” plus “two” does not necessarily equate to “four” — at least not as we have understood the terms as they have been used in the past. Our understanding has expanded and, with that understanding, our power to do “correct” calculations.

    LDS doctrine, practice and priesthood are fraught with flaws. ALL human endeavors are. But one must wonder how God otherwise could “work” with frail, feeble and failing humans such as we. Ever play “telephone”? The message — sent through a very imperfect medium — invariably gets “garbled”.

    We all begin, more or less, with small amounts of “faith” (if that). Some of us grow in faith, adding knowledge (by experience) to what faith we have and building from there. Others dismantle their faith, sometimes even using the same tools of knowledge gained.

    For example, when some offer prayer that seems to bounce off the ceiling unheard, they conclude “I must not be worthy enough” and take steps to be more faithful, while others say “There must not be a God” and do things that would tend to contradict patterns of behavior established by those who, historically, have claimed to have had interaction with the Divine.

    The truth is, my friend, God chooses with whom He interacts. We cannot dictate to nor control Him.

    I think I would choose to live the LDS lifestyle even if there were no God. (Yes, the idea has entered my mind…even though I have plenty of evidence to substantiate His existence.) After all, the LDS religion, when practiced faithfully, produces “good fruit”. It is not the only religion that does so. But it does it better than any other to which I have been exposed. That makes it “true” for me. And I have to think that a God of “truth” would acknowledge what I have found to be “true”.

    And that same God, by numerous means — all of which, like Doubting Thomas, you’d dispute…until you experienced them for yourself — has revealed Himself to me. It apparently pleases Him to do so. It suits His purposes. And I can understand those purposes. He would have a believing, faithful people — not those who are lead by sight and human understanding alone.

    I know I love my daughter who says “Yes, father” and does my will, even when I haven’t made my purposes known or clear to her…and I hate my other daughter — metaphorically and emotionally speaking — who always disputes, countermands, contests, and doesn’t do what I ask, until I justify my actions to her (and she agrees with them). Toward which am I naturally more inclined to show favors or want to be around? The one who disbelieves and denigrates? Or the one who pleases and obeys?

    As imperfect as I am, I prefer to spend my time with the one who pleases me. The other one drives me nuts and pushes me away.

    We are not like God. He is supremely loving…and showers blessings upon the just and the unjust. Still, I would have to believe that those who love and want to know Him are more inclined to receive His attention (in righteous ways) than those who disbelieve in and hate Him. Why should the doubter receive greater substantiation of His existence than the believer? When believing, not necessarily knowing, is the transient objective of God’s purpose for placing us here on earth? In the interest of Divine Justice, to know and then not to do would only bring greater condemnation upon the informed, but ill-inclined malefactor.

    • Hi Goodwill

      I’ve just read your post while driving home from London and had to reply ASAP. I have now stopped to pick up a takeaway for my black girlfriend which BY says I should be killed on the spot for mixing my seed with the seed of cain!!!

      Basically you make 2 points which I will address here.

      1) Good/Evil = God must exist
      2) Fruits of LDS church are good

      1) You base your argument much upon Father Lehi’s teachings in the BoM. I know the chapter very well you refer to as I once was asked in the church to give a 6 hour lecture upon this very chapter.

      I put it to you that this argument is spurious and weak.

      Spurious, because there is absolutely no reason to make the this leap that just because “good” exists in the world, therefore God does. This is extremely “wobbly” thinking. It is akin to saying just because a ball exists, all ball games must be football. Father Lehi’s rationale simply does not stand up to any sort of scrutiny when you study the argument. It is fully based upon emotive language, and upon stirring up emotions in the already believing. Much akin to the speeches of Hitler who you refer to for another reason.

      Weak, because there is overwhelming evidence within the fields of socio/psychological sciences that good, as an act and concept, does not exist at all. Firstly, it is a totally subjective concept. Good/Bad is a value judgement that the culture of the time accept. What we today accept as good and bad changes throughout human history. Political correctness is a simple example of this. Watching re-runs of 70’s tv shows will expose language that was once acceptable, but today we don’t accept, and in fact in law is laid down as illegal. And therefore by todays definition is now “bad”

      Psychological studies have shown that Good actions or “altruism” does not exist. We at no times perform any act without any expected or hoped for payback. Even if it is simply just a stroking of the ego, or thinking feeling I have done the right thing. There is a pay back there in itself.

      2) Fruits of the LDS church.

      This again is highly subjective. It depends upon what you attach value to in those “fruits”. Whether you choose to focus on some fruits and ignore others, or take the whole actions.

      I put it to you that the sole reason most of us that have left the church after believing it and, serving within it for soooooo long do not do so without looking at the whole.

      I know for myself, I for a long time chose to ignore some fruits, putting them “on the shelf”, and focused on other more positive fruits. When I choose to actually stop ignoring the negative fruits and look at the church and it’s fruits as a whole I was left with the conclusion that I could no longer sustain the church as “the one true church upon the face of the earth”. Yes the church does a lot of good. No one would ever deny that. I miss very much my positive experiences I was having in the church. However, to me, when I look at all the fruits the church yields, I can come to no other conclusion other than it simply is not what it claims to be. The truth.

      I cannot see how these fruits are considered anything but bad:

      – GBH lying on tv
      – Jeff Holland Lying on tv
      – The BoAbr being proved to be false
      – The church lying about it’s history
      – JS translating the kinderhook plates which were proved to be made up
      – Zelph
      – BoM Geography
      – The BoM Witness’s not actually seeing the gold plates, but doing so with their “spiritual eye” (Martin Harris declaring in the Kirtland Temple that they all made it up!)
      – The current scheduled disciplinary court for the 30th of the editor of Mormonthink.com for publishing an article that is 100% true.
      – the church hiding from it’s membership the existence of the “second endowment” (See Tom Phillips recounting of his experience. I also know this exists as I know a couple that told me about their experience of it)

      These are just a handful of examples of the fruit of the LDS church which I could never consider to be good. I choose to ignore them for years and years. But like I say, when you look at the fruits of the church as a whole. I could come to no other conclusion than that the tree bears poisonous fruit, “not for the belly”😉

      • Good Will says:

        Jeremy JDog Brown says:
        …I have now stopped to pick up a takeaway for my black girlfriend which BY says I should be killed on the spot for mixing my seed with the seed of cain!!!

        Moses said you should be killed for mixing your seed with your non-married girlfriend. Is he evil, too?

        I thought the “death on the spot” BY referenced was “death” as pertaining to the priesthood. If the seed of Cain could not possess the priesthood, then any who married such would “die” as to the continuation of the priesthood through their seed. They would be “cut off” or “die on the spot”, as it were. I never understood this to mean capital punishment for miscegenation. Did the Church (or any of its officers) ever practice this alleged “doctrine”?

        You argued: “…there is absolutely no reason to make the this leap that just because “good” exists in the world, therefore God does. This is extremely “wobbly” thinking. It is akin to saying just because a ball exists, all ball games must be football.”

        Huh? Your analogy is “wobbly” thinking! How does it follow that since a ball exists, all games must be football? I never said as much. (Or anything like it!) You missed my point entirely.

        Certainly there could be no football without a ball, right? And if, by definition, God is “good”, there could be no God if there were no good. So, in that respect, your interpretation of my argument is valid.

        But can you really suggest there is no good?

        You attempt to refute my argument by saying that “good” is a subjective term. I actually made that point! I proposed that, without God, “good” has no meaning. One man’s “good” may be another man’s “bad”. ONLY GOD can be the ultimate arbiter of what is “good” and “evil”, “right” and “wrong”. Otherwise there is no objective morality — only “moral relativism”. And nothing matters (in the eternal scheme of things) if all morality is relative. Who cares if you’re a mass murderer, if we all die and cease to exist in the end, after all?

        Just as there can be no God without “good”, there can be no God without “evil”. (What is “good” if not the opposite of “evil”?)

        Are you proposing that there is no such thing as objective evil? That torturing babies and burning them alive as lawn lamps for one’s own pleasure could be perfectly “good” under some conditions? What would those conditions be?

        If you think that live babies could be “righteously” burned as lawn ornaments for a party, you’ve already embraced the dark side. You have embraced “evil”.

        Do you even acknowledge that it is possible to make “right” choices? That one choice could be “wiser” (more virtuous, positive, fortuitous, etc.) than another? If not, then you have no basis for reasoning. You have undercut completely any argument for ANY choice one might make. You might as well advocate global annihilation. After all, it makes no difference. It’s neither “good” nor “bad”, in the end.

        You apparently missed my first point entirely.

        Imagine the first primordial moment of decision (if there ever were one) when the first being (if there ever were one) made the first choice (if there ever were one). In this simplified, binary universe of choices, let’s assume this being made a choice, not between “good” or “evil”, but “red” or “blue”. (Neither choice was “bad”, yet they were “different”.)

        Is it conceivable that, over time, “different” choices became endowed with “moral” weight? (Say, between “saving babies” or “killing babies”?) I can imagine this progression…much like I imagine a child’s moral perspective developing over time.

        Now imagine a universe populated with beings making moral choices. Is it conceivable that a being exists who makes choices, say, which are right half the time? I don’t think this is too difficult to imagine. I know students who get 50% on their tests. It’s really quite common.

        Then how about a being that gets 75% of the choices right? 99%? 99.999% 99.9999999999999999999999999% Well, surely in an infinite universe, there is a being out there who, over the course of eternity, has learned to never make another mistake.

        I don’t want to belabor this point, but if someone can be “good” or “very good”, surely one can be even “better” and, ultimately, “best”. In an infinite universe, there must be Someone who is more intelligent and virtuous than the rest. For this person to achieve this status, they must have embraced everything “good”. Consequently, they must have all power. This person we would call “God” (or would be otherwise indistinguishable from God).

        Your argument — that there is no good, no evil, and, consequently, no God — lacks any basis in objective reality. We all — well, most of us, at least — know that “good” and “evil” exist. We may disagree about what is good. But God knows what is “good”. (His game. His rules.) Your “goodless”, Godless philosophy is just hedonism and nihilism by other names. We would all be objectively worse off if everyone embraced your “to each his own” moral philosophy.

        That one “truth” should be sufficient to convince anyone that there is, indeed, “evil”. Your philosophy is proof of it.

        (I’ll address your “LDS fruit is poison” in a later reply.)

  27. blooruk says:

    “Granted, most of us never have that conversation (never getting that far on the “spiritual experience” scale). But what of lesser “spiritual experiences”? Are you going to chalk up all such “events” as mere imagination, autonomic and sympathetic responses, the stuff of subconsciousness and subliminal suggestion?”

    Short answer, yes. You hit the nail on the head. “Most people” have never had so called ‘perfect knowledge’ of God, which leaves a small number we can perhaps call ‘miss-informed’.

    As for lesser spiritual experiences…it’s a simple case for them, of noticing the hits, but ignoring the misses!

    • Good Will says:

      You reject all allegedly eye-witness accounts of encounters with Deity, the supernatural, miracles, etc.?

      Then you should never sit on any jury weighing “facts” that are purely circumstantial, let alone “eye-witness” accounts.

      When weighing such “evidence”, we look at how people behave on the basis of what they claim they saw or knew. Do the two match up?

      The ancient apostles who went to their deaths — and the thousands of Christians who followed them — did so on the basis of their beliefs: what they knew to be true.

      If a Mexican drug trafficker held a machete over you, your wife and your children and threatened to dispatch you by a slow, cruel, and tortuous death (piece by piece) unless you denied the existence of the Tooth Fairy, wouldn’t you do it? Immediately?

      The secular historical record indicates that early Christian martyrs suffered being burned alive over days while impaled on stakes overlooking Nero’s parties. Would they have endured this agony if they didn’t know that their faith was “real”?

      I doubt it.

      As for “hits” and “misses”, we all “miss” (even the prophets!). Nobody’s perfect. You will be held to the same standard that you hold them.

      • SteveBloor says:

        Hi Will,

        This discussion is getting long-winded & tortuous.

        You really need to study psychology of belief, especially about emotion driven thinking. We’re all susceptible to gullibility as humans, & fear is the great driving force behind faith in irrational superstitious beliefs.

        Delusions are not reality. How one feels about events always biases perception. Hallucinations seem real to those having them, but that doesn’t make them real. We are all susceptible to cognitive assumptions which can undermine our perception of reality. Which is why witness evidence is weighed by the police & courts & not taken at face value, but in association with other more substantial evidence. (Check out Derren Brown hypnotist & mentalist whose work demonstrates this principle perfectly).

        Just because someone else is sincere or absolutely convinced of the veracity of certain facts is not a determinant of truth for me or you.

        By your own logic the Islamic suicide murderers who destroyed themselves along with thousands of innocent victims in the World Trade Center attacks were correct in their personal assessment of the truth.

        If we applied your logic about using witness evidence, to every other religion in the world, it would make every religion true, even those which applied child sacrifice to appease the gods. They are all sincere, believe with absolute certainty, & are willing to sacrifice for their beliefs, but that does NOT make their claims any more valuable in determining truth.

        In the end, every believer in the supernatural has unjustified belief!

        As did I once!

        Faith is NOT reality, no matter how much you want it to be.

      • blooruk says:

        Perhaps, Good Will, you ought to practice a little self awareness exercises.

        Implement mindfulness techniques to find the ‘True ME’ hiding behind the fantasies that hold you hostage. Read up-to-date psychology books as Steve suggested.

        You talk about truth as though you have it, though do you know yourself as well as you think you do?

        Truth of what is real can only be experienced from moment to moment, as we notice the rise and fall of our emotions and then let them go. What we think has happened moments past, are memories which will be distorted by our biases. The future has not happened yet, so it becomes our fantasies. What will, or will not be, are created and we are then determined to carry out these fantasies.

        Reality only happens each time we draw our attention and curiosity to what is real at each moment. Our hopes, dreams, desires, fears, doubts and worries aren’t really happening, so they are small truths.

        Rejection and desire are the mechanisms with which we resist what is really happening. These gaps in awareness can hypnotise us to the extent we are not even aware they are contracting us away from what is really happening.

  28. Good Will

    Is Moses evil? If he said what you claim he did, then I would ask you to judge his statement based upon YOUR standard of what is good or bad. What do you think? What are these fruits? good or bad?

    As to the BY quote, here it is for avoidance of doubt….. “Shall I tell you the law of God in regard to the African race? If the white man who belongs to the chosen seed mixes his blood with the seed of Cain, the penalty, under the law of God, is death on the spot. This will always be so.” (Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses, Volume 10, page 110.)…… is this good or bad fruits? Just saying….

    WRT to your ‘good exists therefore God exists’ argument, again….. seriously….??? do you really believe that? Have you re-read it??? Can you not see what a hole you have put yourself in???

    As I pointed out in my previous post, good/bad is nothing to do with god. It is a subjective concept that humans apply. It is moveable. What was good today may not be good tomorrow. Burning babies good or bad? it is NEITHER. It just is. They are actions. It is us that apply value to those actions of what is acceptable and unacceptable. This is normally based upon the society of the time, but occasionally does retain hangovers from times past. For example:

    Many people who struggle with church history, struggle with the fact that JS married 14 yr old girls. This normally is a knee jerk reaction, based upon their own standard of what is acceptable today. The thought of marrying a 14 yr old girl is so alien and abhorrant.

    Today, in our culture, it is acceptable to eat the flesh of animals. However, it is highly possible for a miriad of reasons that there will come a time in the future that people will look back on the eating flesh of animals with distain. The eating of flesh then will be deemed bad when it once was good.

    So forget trying to apply your personal value judgements upon actions, they are just actions.

  29. Good Will says:

    I apologize for my long-winded, rambling “treatises” above. They would have benefited from major editing (and deletion)!

    The simple truth is that God will not be “proved” but by personal experience. The ultimate “proof” is that those who believe in Him become like Him while those who don’t, won’t. (I can’t prove that, either, by the way — except by doing it. You’ll just have to wait and see!)

    Until I heard “Bishop” Bloor mentioned it, I never considered that my testimony was based on “feelings” (though “feelings” have prompted me to act). For that matter, my testimony isn’t based on healings, casting out devils, or any other “miracles” I’ve experienced. (Abiding faith doesn’t come from miracles. Miracles come from abiding faith.)

    I’m embarrassed to admit this, but when I served my mission, I had a junior companion who hated me. (And he told me so almost every day!) He eventually became my zone leader as I finished my mission. I confessed to him that I felt like a failure. I had had so many companions, so much discord with them.

    He said, “I was wrong about you, elder.” He shared a scripture.

    17 And these signs shall follow them that believe; In my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues;
    18 They shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them: they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover. (Mark 16:17-18)

    “I’ve seen you do nearly all of these things” this elder said. I was astonished. I hadn’t even remembered these things. My “testimony” wasn’t based on them.

    But I had to admit that he was right.

    Didn’t “Bishop” Bloor experience similar things as bishop?

    • SteveBloor says:

      Hi Will,

      Don’t worry about the rambling, we all do it, me more than most😉

      You pose an interesting question. Did I witness miracles, and further were those miracles as a result of my faith?

      If you’d asked me a couple of years ago, of course I would have agreed with you. I had witnessed miracles and my faith was strong.

      In fact, as Bishop I felt the ‘Spirit’ almost constantly, giving me divine direction, and allowing me to perform miracles etc.

      Then I had a momentous change of beliefs. Realised that the ‘Spirit’ I had been feeling all my life was in fact my own subconscious mind.

      Now I continue to feel the promptings of the ‘Spirit’ though I call it my subconscious, and those miracles continue.

      It all comes down to normal life and how we perceive it. For me as a True Believing Mormon I attributed these normal coincidences as miracles, and evidence for God working through me. But hey, I’m now still experiencing them as an atheist.

      I no longer attribute them to the supernatural or God.

      I no longer see the hits and ignore the misses, as much as I used to.

      Life just feels so much more real. I feel more grounded.

      Life is good. Very Good!

      Wishing you well,
      Steve

      • Good Will says:

        Then I had a momentous change of beliefs. Realised that the ‘Spirit’ I had been feeling all my life was in fact my own subconscious mind.

        Now I continue to feel the promptings of the ‘Spirit’ though I call it my subconscious, and those miracles continue.

        It all comes down to normal life and how we perceive it. For me as a True Believing Mormon I attributed these normal coincidences as miracles, and evidence for God working through me. But hey, I’m now still experiencing them as an atheist.

        I no longer attribute them to the supernatural or God.

        I no longer see the hits and ignore the misses, as much as I used to.

        Steve, you claim the “Spirit” that moved you was merely your subconscious mind, that the “miracles” — that you continue to experience — were just “normal coincidences”?

        I don’t consider casting out devils, speaking in tongues, resisting the effects of venom and poison, or healing the sick by the laying on of hands to be “normal coincidences”, do you? Did you have these experiences?

        Jesus said:

        21 He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me: and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him.
        22 Judas saith unto him, not Iscariot, Lord, how is it that thou wilt manifest thyself unto us, and not unto the world?
        23 Jesus answered and said unto him, If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him. (John 14:21-23)

        How can someone love the Savior and yet never know Him? And if you loved Him and knew Him, how then can you say now that you never knew Him? Or that He doesn’t exist? (I believe He was in you, Steve; that by His Spirit — coupled with your spirit — you did do many “mighty” works over the course of your bishopric, perhaps even miracles.)

        In addition to communing with the the Savior and His Father, Jesus promised to those who love Him and keep His commandments:

        ” 26 But when the Comforter is come, whom I will send unto you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, which proceedeth from the Father, he shall testify of me:
        27 And ye also shall bear witness, because ye have been with me from the beginning.”

        Your “subconscious mind” no longer testifies of Christ, you say. Therefore, by your own admission, your mind (or that “Spirit” which now guides you) cannot be that same Spirit promised by the Savior (which testifies of Him).

        Not only do you now suggest that you were mistaken in loving Christ (and, possibly, in keeping His commandments), but now you claim you never knew Him! That you’re an atheist!

        I’m sorry, Mr. Bloor, that you never knew our Savior. He is the Light of the World. (You knew of Him, perhaps, but you clearly never knew Him. If you did, I don’t think you would have forsaken Him.) I’m sorry that you did not experience the blessing promised.

        The good news is that you can come back! The Book of Mormon testifies of some who abandoned their faith, as you have (surely there must have been a bishop in there somewhere!), who later were “re-converted” by greater physical evidences. (Those who seek after — and depend upon – signs and wonders, however, are historically the weakest of saints. Their faith seems to be the most fragile.)

        As for “hits” and “misses”, you have misunderstood.

        Christ’s disciples (to whom He had given power and authority, specifically, to cast out devils and to heal the sick) came to Him in failure — confused, embarrassed, and faithless — asking “Why could not we cast him [the devil] out?” Surely they had “missed”.

        Jesus explained that they lacked sufficient faith and had misunderstood certain factors in play, namely, “this kind goeth not out but by prayer and fasting”. (See Matthew 17:14-21)

        ALL priesthood leaders are subject to error, failure and mistake — just as we are, just as Christ’s original disciples were. This does not make them (or us) any less “authorized” or “empowered”, only (hopefully) more humble, prayerful, obedient and teachable.

        I hope you someday (re)discover(?) the Spirit you admittedly never knew.

      • SteveBloor says:

        Will,

        I realise now I was a victim of confirmation biases, mind-control, & was delusional hinging on hallucinating!

        I assert you are probably similarly affected by this common human psychological malady!

        I wish you all the best on your spiritual quest, but suspect you will continue following your fictitious fantasy rather than objective reality.

        Steve

      • blooruk says:

        Good luck Good Will- in your endeavour to know your god. As for all the rest of those in other religions…good luck to them too, of cause…they are subject to their supersense, their superstitious mind. They are worshiping false gods would you not agree!?

        I encourage you to study your own mind, read some up-to-date psychology books and perhaps then, we can stop having these arguments from ignorance!?

  30. Dreamer says:

    Steve, I am a newcomer to your blog, as well as an active, temple recommend holding member of the Church. I have read the comments and responses with great interest. Thank you for sharing your views. Sadly, I understand and embrace all your arguments that are so well articulated here, I have wrestled with the same historical accuracy and apparent deception, doctrinal problems, as well as the role of women and top-down autocratic authority at great length over the years. I pretend to believe. I respect that intellecual honesty is a top priority for you in your life, I admire you for it. Truly. But, as a lifetime member with family and a spouse whom I love and adore –whom are very active in the Church, how can I possibly leave? The social costs are too high. I would be shunned by family and friends. I would undoubtably jepordize my marriage. That is a sad and distressing fact.
    Here is my question for you. Can ‘honesty’ and ‘truth’ overcome these concrete social and family realities? There is a huge cost to leaving for someone like me that you don’t address. I don’t know if ‘truth’ is important enough to sacrificice my entire social network. Perhaps it is best to just go along and keep quiet about my doubts about the truthfullness of the Church’s claims to divine authority. Shall I die on the sword of truth? Did you have high social costs? How did you deal with it? Do you recommend that active LDS leave the Church when they realize that they have been decieved despite these costs? I wonder if some of those in supposed ‘authority’ over me have doubts too but supress them or don’t act on them due to the high costs.

    • SteveBloor says:

      Dear Dreamer,

      I am grateful you took the time to comment, as painful as it is when considering your position.
      I cannot say I completely understand your situation as I live in the UK & Mormons are a tiny minority amongst a mainly secular nation.

      It sounds to me like you live in a mainly Mormon community with a mainly Mormon cultural background.

      Having said that all my extended family (apart from my brother, his wife & children) are TBM members, and my wife’s also (except one nephew & his wife).

      I have three TBM sisters & their husbands & scores of children.

      I’m a third generation born-in-the-covenant Mormon.

      I found it extremely difficult telling my wife & parents I no longer believed in the truth claims of the Church, as well as my sisters. Luckily my wife had already researched some of the uncomfortable information about the Church before me so she eventually came to the same conclusions as I did, which was a major relief. Though for a few weeks I didn’t know if she would.

      There have been major difficulties in the relationships between us & our TBM family. At times communication broke down completely for a few weeks, but over time our love for each other has kept us strong as a family.

      I really resent how the Church belief system holds families to ransom. My father has said he would rather I were dead than have left the Church!

      I don’t blame him for that, as he believes I’d be better off still believing in the Church & I would have a happy eternal life.
      I really don’t know how to advise you.

      I just know that for us honesty & authenticity has strengthened our marriage, & made us stronger as individuals.

      I hope things work out well for you.
      Please let us know how things proceed.

      If it’s helpful you can email me a direct message.

      Best wishes,
      Steve

    • SteveBloor says:

      As a thought, a very good friend of mine had serious doubts about the Church but was afraid to speak of them to her husband. Yet he had similar doubts as well & was likewise afraid to disclose his lack of belief. Both of them continued struggling on for years, till in the end the stress got too much and she told him, only expecting the worst, but was pleasantly surprised & massively relieved to hear he had identical concerns!

      They’ve found greater love & trust in their marriage in the last year than in all of the previous 24 years put together.

      She said she felt a tremendous unity & authenticity in their relationship she never could have dreamed of.

      So you never know…..

    • Barb says:

      Are your “social costs” bigger than God’s truth?

  31. Dreamer says:

    Steve, thank you for your open, thoughtful reply. It is hard to find someone to speak to about this difficult issue. I also hate how the church holds families hostage, that is what it feels like to me.

  32. Jared says:

    Steve, et al., I read nearly all of the comments made since I originally visited on Sept 2, 2012. I’m impressed by the powerful ability the British have to communicate with the English language.

    Steve, I would like to reply to your response to my Sept 2, comment. Please bear with me as I reason through a few things. I am not interested in debating or accusing you. I understand to a certain extent your decision to leave the church and to help others who have decided likewise. My purpose in this comment is to communicate my perspective with the hope you and others will understand why, in the face of the same evidence that caused you to leave the church, I am staying and experiencing the promises extended to the faithful.

    The power of reasoning has proven to be a great gift to mankind. Mankind’s ability to reason inductively and deductively has resulted in all of the great and dreadful inventions mankind has access to in the day we live.

    Mankind’s intellectual ability is on display in various endeavors. I think it is important to underscore something we experience often, almost daily—people differ in their abilities. To illustrate, consider taking an algebra class. Suppose there are 100 people participating in the algebra class. What would you expect to happen as the class progresses? Based on experience, it would be expected that there would be a range of abilities manifest; fast and slow algebra students, with the majority being average.

    Form this algebra class example, I think it is reasonable to surmise that in whatever endeavor mankind participates in there is going to be a range of abilities manifest. I would also like to add the example of sports. Like the algebra class, if 100 people have commenced to run a marathon, by the end of the race there would be a spectrum of abilities manifest. A few will complete the race in around two hours, some may take as long as eight hours (walking speed), and still others taking about 3.5 to 4 hours, which would be about average.

    Now to my point. Most observers agree that mankind has an inherit disposition to believe in God, a supreme being who created all things (The LDS scriptures refer to this as the light of Christ). This quality or talent is sometimes referred to as spirituality. As in the examples of the algebra class and the marathon runners, people have various abilities in the realm of things of the Spirit.

    My experience with the things of the Spirit; visions, dreams, ministering of angels, and etc., is not shared by all church members. A few have much greater experiences, but most have less. I used to think everyone had the same kind of experiences I’ve had, I just assumed they didn’t talk about them. However, after 45 years of church activity, I’ve learned my initial assumption was incorrect. Church members vary in their spiritual abilities and capacities.

    With this as background, I would like to address the thoughts you have about feelings and emotions. You wrote: “Feelings & beliefs are most definitely not knowledge.” I agree, I would call them seeds of faith. I also agree that feelings can mislead church members into thinking they have received inspiration, when it fact they haven’t. Church leaders acknowledge this. Followers of Christ need to experiment with their feelings to be able to grow in their ability to discern between the workings of the Spirit (an “impression” from the Lord) and their own feelings and emotions.

    My experience has taught me to be very careful about feelings and emotions. As I have experimented with feelings over the years, I have made mistakes. As a result, I generally don’t make major decisions on feelings alone. I ask Heavenly Father for an additional witness to insure I am discerning His mind and will correctly. He has answered my prayers on may occasions.

    I’m not going to go into detail, but I know by experience the Lord will communicate His mind and will in ways other than through feelings. When this kind of communication occurs the receiptant is blessed in several ways: they have the answer they sought, a greatly increased testimony of the truthfulness of the gospel and in their ability to communicate with God. I’ve had many such experiences and it allows me to remain faithful in spite of the challenges I’ve encountered with church history and doctrine.

    I hope you will avoid the unreasonable mindset of thinking that because you struggle with things of the Spirit then anyone who doesn’t must be deluded, deceived, uninformed, lying, or some such thing. That would be like a slow algebra student or marathoner pointing a finger of scorn at the A students or 2 1/2 hour marathon runners and accusing them of one thing or another.

    There are too many A students and fast marathoners in the world to do so with good reason and good conscience.

    I hope all will be well with you and with your loved ones,

    Jared

    • Jared you start by saying…. “I am staying and experiencing the promises extended to the faithful.” …… please details these. Please explain what promises you get from your faithful membership that you wouldn’t if you were not in the church.

    • Cheryl says:

      Hi I too am British, I am from England, so hope you can see that I too have an ability to communicate in English as do most British people.

      Here’s my purpose and perspective for posting, it is to comment on your perspective…
      At first you come across pious and boastful, self righteously proclaiming your God will bless you for your faithfulness. (Good for you!)

      You talk about the power of reasoning, but you intend to live by faith which one can only resort to once reason has been exhausted, but many people use the faith card as a reason for giving up on reasoning and so choose not to question what you have been taught.

      You are trying to use an analogy to teach people who are capable of understanding reaches beyond analogies of algebra classes. (perhaps you should stick to teaching primary classes to kids who need fairy-tales to convince them of truth)

      If I were you I would seek professional help if you have experienced hallucinations and delusions that you claim to be gifts from a spirit.

      But at least you are beyond the denial stage and recognise that you must be cautious with your thoughts and feelings.

      I also commend you on your honesty to admit problems that exist in church history.

      I hope you continue to try to learn more math and run faster and not waste your time on childlike stories and may your ability to reason out grow your need for faith.

      Peace and Love
      XoXoX

      • Jared says:

        Cheryl-I don’t know how old your are, but the picture you selected says your young. When I was young I was a lot like you in my thinking. I hope the years are good to you and that your arrive at a wonderful place.

  33. I assume I am included in the “et al”, so will respond:

    Thank you Jared. I will go along with much of what you say. Please don’t assume though that because some may express an opposite view to the one you yourself currently hold, that they have not already done all they are able to do in seeking God’s will, and have actually been directed to speak and act as they now do. It may not be true of all, but it is true of some.

    I for one have received answers which have surprised me, both in the way they were delivered and in their content. They were sacred answers to fervent prayers honestly offered in righteousness from the depths of a troubled soul.

    It would therefore be quite incorrect of me to suggest that reason has been my only travelling companion in this ongoing quest for spiritual authenticity, although the power of reason has been a constant friend, who has stopped me more than once from surrendering my God-given intellect to those who were encouraging me to abandon it.

    I think we may agree that truth will set us free, and so I hope your journey continues to be meaningful. Thank you for respecting those of us whose journey, by virtue of the place and time they occupy in history, takes them through somewhat more challenging terrain.

    • Jared says:

      Many of the people I am closest to are struggling with their faith in one way or another. I learned a long time ago that I am not qualified to judge others.

  34. mirabella7 says:

    Jared, that was heartfelt and honest thankyou. I believe that faith needs to be based on a foundation of truth and in that sense the church, by hiding its complex history is undermining faith. If you believe that being in the church is right for you all well and good. No one should be persuading you from that track. It’s between you and God.

    I think that the church should be divided into sections. The doctrines, the history and the culture.

    I believe that there are doctrines in the LDS church that are beautiful, uplifting and ‘true’. I also believe that there are doctrines within the church that are ugly, destructive and ‘not true’.

    I believe that the sacred narrative that is taught in the church is not the same in many instances (not all) as the complex history. If the church is a church of truth and God is a God of truth, which the church upholds then it MUST be honest with its members about its own history. It is unfair for members to have less knowledge of the beginnings of the faith than non-mormons and this is increasingly happening. It’s not pretty and it’s not fair on members.

    I believe that there are aspects of the culture that are uplifting, the sense of community, the support, the kindness, the friendships that come through shared belief. I also believe that there are aspects of the culture that are damaging to families, to relationships and to friendships.

    I wish you well in your life course. I do not judge or condemn you. Hopefully you would not judge or condemn others who choose through conscience a different path.

  35. Jared says:

    I agree that church membership is a mixed bag. The bag isn’t made up of all things easy, nice, and trouble free. Wherever fallen men and women gather there is going to be difficulty of one kind or another. I could write a long list of insult and injury I have experienced because of church membership. But along side the first list of woes, I can write a longer list containing all of the great associations, pleasurable experiences, and opportunities for personal growth I have encountered. In summary, I can say its been a profitable experience.🙂

  36. Sara says:

    I feel very sorry for most of you. Eternity is a long time.

    • SteveBloor says:

      Hi Sara,

      Thank you for taking the time to express your sadness at our eternal plight.

      I’m not sure I understand the reasons for your sorrow though.
      What is it that is upsetting to you?

      With kind regards,
      Steve

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