Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Ex-Bishop Telling Ex-Truth

There is a former LDS bishop and his wife who left the LDS Church about seven years ago who have a radio program dedicated to attacking Mormonism.  I met them last summer in the streets of Manti, and his hubris and lack of knowledge about what he proclaimed himself to be an expert was striking to me.  He dressed as a bishop, white shirt and tie, dark suit and an (un-bishop-like) name tag.  We spoke for several minutes, and he had several strawmen arguments which focused on trying to create a false dilemma between Church leaders and a false "everybody knows" type of understanding.

He said Joseph Smith lied about his plural wives and John Taylor lied about LDS doctrine while serving in England.  He asked if I would find it proper to remain in a Church which condoned lying?  Because I didn't agree with the premise, And would not have time to define terms, I said "Maybe."  He feigned shock, and asked how could that be?  I told him him that since the Bible showed that God could lie about some things, I wasn't going to judge his servants.  He then said a couple of times and in a couple of ways, "If you can show me where God lies to someone or causes someone to lie to them at His direction, I will leave Manti and never return." (BTW, I have it all on tape.  We'll see if he keeps his word.)

Well, let me say that I don't have the entire Bible memorized, so it took me about 4-minutes or so to find the verse I had in mind.  But I did remember.  It is the story related by the prophet Michiah of God sitting in council with the hosts of heaven to find a way to punish Ahab.  A spirit steps forward and says he would put a lying spirit in the mouths of the false prophets Ahab consulted, and kill Ahab.  God agrees and then orders the lying spirit to deceive Ahab.  And it did.  Here is the critical passage:  "Now therefore, behold, the LORD hath put a lying spirit in the mouth of all these thy prophets, and the LORD hath spoken evil concerning thee."  (1 Kings 22:23)

I slapped him on the back, and said it had been nice seeing him, we would miss him.  It was quite late, so I started to leave.  He asked if I would want to come on his radio program, and I said he probably wouldn't let me talk, because that is his nature.  But we exchanged emails, and he sent me an invite.  I had no real interest in being on his program, but that may change.

So this past Saturday, November 21, 2015, as I was driving home from a grandchild's birthday party, I heard him and his wife on their radio program stating that their 10 phone lines are always open because Mormons cannot respond to their well documented attacks on the Church.  I had called two weeks earlier to try and discuss Mormon concepts of the Bible's value, since the New Testament is my favorite of all books in the world, and he had diverted it to a discussion about the Joseph Smith Translation of Genesis 17:11, where the JST describes circumcision as symbolic of children's accountability at the age of 8 years.  Baker, the anti-Mormon's last name, had asserted the JST changed the date of circumcision from 8 days to 8-years.  In fact, it does no such thing, as verse 17 clearly states male children are to be circumcised on the 8th day.  Here is a link to the Joseph Smith Papers where a photo copy of the original JST manuscript can be seen, and you can read for yourself.

So I called in, got put on hold for 12 minutes or so as the guy blathered on about the Book of Abraham, and they put me on.  I think it is about at the 32 minute mark in their online archive.  They asked me my question, so I said I had called in two weeks earlier, and we had got cut off when he threw out the passage about circumcision being changed, and I asked if he had ever read the JST, not just the excerpts from the LDS scriptures.  He danced around a little, but acknowledged he had the version printed by the Reorganized LDS Church.  So I pointed out that verse 11 was not teaching circumcision on the 8 year old birthday, but in fact was talking about accountability, and that verse 17 clearly taught it was still to be done on the 8th day.  I said this made his entire argument false and fall apart.  They immediately went to commercial and dropped me (the last time they carried me through the commercial to continue discussing), and since they had no other callers, clearly this was just to get me off the air.  He then got on air and said I was irrational and that it didn't matter what I had said, because the part about 8-days in verse 17 was an unchanged part of the Bible, and it was done years later.

Literally everything he said was wrong and false.  I would have happily engaged on the Book of Abraham had they allowed me to stay, but I wasn't given the chance or asked.  In any case, as I always say, if the truth about Mormonism is so bad, why do people need to lie about it.  The fact he has before mentioned going to the Joseph Smith Papers website and that he has a copy of the RLDS JST means he is either stupid and has been duped, or he is a deceptive liar.  He really has taken any third option off of the table by claiming to have read from these original documents.

I will try to circle back and get the link for their webcast where they put me on air both weeks.  But you can always know that when someone's main credential is they were a Mormon for "x" number of years and held some high position, that they are probably lacking in the facts department.  Reminds me of Shawn McCraney.  I would love to have a conversation of substance.  I started from a position that maybe he and his wife are just confused.  I will let you decide if that holds up to the light of continuing Truth.

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Refusing Calvinism

I mentioned a while back about running into Matt Slick at the Manti Pageant, and his refusal to honestly answer what Acts 2:38 was teaching.  I have been listening to a lot of online debates between various individuals over the past several weeks, and came upon a debate between Matt Slick and a fellow named Lou Rugg.  I have never heard of Lou Rugg before, but he was arguing the Free Will position in opposition to Mr. Slick's Calvinistic based predestination.

Towards the end of the debate, Mr. Rugg cited a passage from Proverbs 1:23-29 which I personally find the most devastating response to Calvinism's Irresistible Grace I have ever heard.

To catch everyone up, Irresistible Grace is the doctrine that God will save those he choses for salvation, no matter what their state is emotionally or otherwise.  In other words, if God wants you saved, he will regenerate you so that you will then unfailingly exercise faith and confession and persevere in the faith to salvation, and no one or no thing can get in the way, including yourself.  In Calvinism, there is no free will.

So Mr. Rugg cites Proverbs 1:24.  It reads
24But since you refuse to listen when I call and no one pays attention when I stretch out my hand,

The whole passage is about God, through Wisdom, calling us to accept Him and be saved.

But man refuses.  Remember, God called.  Remember Romans 8:30?
30And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified.

Mr. Rugg cited a few more verses, but the damage is obvious.  So then he asks Mr.Slick the critical question at the 59 minute mark of their debate:
"I’m going to ask you to put the word refuse in a logical sentence where the person refusing isn’t able..."

Mr. Slick replied he did not think that he could put it in a sentence without thinking about it for a while first.  Mr. Rugg then clearly explained the problem, and essentially taunted Mr. Slick to answer:

"I asked you to put the word refuse in a sentence where the person refusing isn’t able. It should be easy for you. I mean, Matt, even for us to continue? This is showing ability. They refused. They could’ve. In other words, Matt, I’m sitting in my chair right now. I refuse to stand up. That means I can stand up. I’m able to stand up, but I am refusing to stand up. If I have no legs I can’t refuse to stand up, I’m unable to stand up. Because I have called and you refused, because they hated knowledge and did not choose the fear of the Lord. First of all the word choose implies ability. The word refuse, implies ability."

Mr Slick responded by saying he needed time to respond, and he would publish an answer later. Here is what he wrote: 
 "I, an atheist, refuse to believe in the Biblical God by my own, unassisted, natural free will even though the Bible tells me to believe in him." There, he cannot do what he is commanded to do by God. Now, if you say that God then enables him, then you admit he can’t do what is commanded to do on his own. He has to be enabled.
This, of course, is a complete waste of electronic type.  The challenge issued by Mr. Rugg was to use the word "refused" in a logical manner, consistent with the passage in Proverbs 1:24.  The verse in 1:24 states clearly that the people "refused" to respond.  People can only refuse to do something if there is a possibility or ability to do the thing they are refusing to do.

Instead, Mr. Slick plays this game of redefining terms into his own circular reasoning to reach the result through fiat of terms.  Mr. Slick's approach is akin to someone unable to vote because they are too young saying:
"I, an under-age minor, refuse to vote in the election, even though my civics teacher says everyone should vote."

The minor could not vote. If you define believing in God as God irresistibly calling you, then there is no logical or possible way for an atheist or anyone else to believe in God unless God gives you that ability.  Only a Calvinist would think that if God enables you to believe, you must believe.  Yet the Bible teaches we have agency.  We have a will which, in matters of our personal salvation, is honored by God, and we are allowed to harden our hearts, despite God trying to save us.  Consider this passage from Ephesians 4:17-24:
17So I say this, and insist in the Lord, that you no longer live as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their thinking. 18They are darkened in their understanding, being alienated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them due to the hardness of their hearts. 19Because they are callous, they have given themselves over to indecency for the practice of every kind of impurity with greediness. 20But you did not learn about Christ like this, 21if indeed you heard about him and were taught in him, just as the truth is in Jesus. 22You were taught with reference to your former way of life to lay aside the old man who is being corrupted in accordance with deceitful desires, 23to be renewed in the spirit of your mind,24and to put on the new man who has been created in God’s image – in righteousness and holiness that comes from truth.
This passage drips with choice, learning and the ability to reject God's gracious gifts.

In other words, Matt Slick proves again that not only are his Calvinistic arguments illogical, but when he says something totally stupid, he will beat his chest and claim victory.

I refuse to applaud such silliness.

Monday, August 03, 2015

Manti 2015 Part 1

Funny thing this year.  My good friend wanted to go down to Manti with me to just watch the conversations I got into.  Since our wives are also good friends, we all rode down together, along with his son who had recently returned from his mission.

We wound up speaking to five different individuals or groups of individuals, and my friend and his son filmed it for the heck of it.

The first guy we encountered was a former member of the LDS Church who basically took the view that the Trinity was true, he knew it, so anything LDS was wrong and Joseph Smith was a deceiver.  He particularly didn't like the concept that people could become like God, and that there was a Mother in Heaven.  As it happened, I had the book by William Dever with me, "Did God Have a Wife", and pointed out to this fellow that Dever, as one of the foremost Biblical archaeologists in the world, concluded the answer to the question was "Yes".  Dever himself discovered an ancient artifact with the inscription "To Jehovah and his Asherah", and he walks people through the wealth of evidence that not only did the Hebrews believe God had a wife, but that they had children who were also gods.  While I felt the gentleman was a very nice guy and well read about his personal belief system, he acknowledged openly he had no interest and never had read anything about the early beliefs held by the Hebrews or Christians.

He raised what I think is a common misunderstanding by most people about other people's beliefs.  We discussed the passage in Acts 17:18 where the understanding of the Greek philosophers on Mars Hill in Athens is stated, in the King James Bible, as:  "He seemeth to be a setter forth of strange gods: because he (Paul)preached unto them Jesus, and the resurrection."

The key element here is the word selected by Luke (author of Acts) and probably used by the Philosophers:  Daimonian.  The word has reference to intermediate gods acting between the real Gods and humanity.  Elsewhere in the NT they are always used for evil spirits, but the Greek usage was they were a lesser divinity as well.

The use of the word Daimonian by the philosophers is quite instructive.  After being told by Paul about Jesus and the resurrection, they conclude Jesus is a god of lower rank or power than God the Father.  In other words, the passage not only doesn't teach anything approaching the concept of the Trinity, but on its own it contradicts it, teaching instead that there are multiple real gods, and Jesus is subordinate to God.

The man I was speaking with replied, "I wouldn't base my faith on that verse."  I replied that I never said I did.  But I was not making the point clearly enough.  I see all these verses as bread crumbs and evidence leading to truth.  The guy seemed irritated that he did not have a good response to the obvious conclusion the verse leads one to.  Which is why he wouldn't base his faith on it, since it challenges what he currently believes.  But the bigger point is that we assume when someone makes a point which we find challenging, we figure we can evade the point by rejecting it as anomalous, and likewise denigrate the opinion of the challenger by asserting it is in fact him who is uninformed about the "big picture".  This fellow said several times "No one can know everything."  That was his reason for not caring that he was uninformed about the Biblical issues he was preaching against, or for that matter Mormon issues, even as an ex-Mormon.

That conversation ended quite amicably, and I have spoken with him in years past.  I just don't see him caring enough to do any research about the topics we discussed because it really would threaten his core concepts about Biblically based doctrines.

I next spoke with a nice kid who was an ex-Mormon from California.  He was clearly a very studious kid.  However, he had bought into the Evangelical position that baptism can be anything, but especially in the NT it probably ISN'T in water.  That is just garbage.  I gave him one of my brochures on baptism, and pointed out the examples of early Church Fathers and writers describing in explicit detail that to be "born again" was to be baptized in water and receive the Holy Spirit.  We also discussed the root of the Greek word "baptizo", which is "bapto", and means to dip something into a liquid.  Think Jesus dipping his bread into the sop at the last supper (John 13:26), or the rich man asking Abraham to send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and help his unbearable thirst (Luke 16:24).  Revelation 19:13 is similarly interesting because a garment is dipped or dyed in blood.  Note in these root examples, the liquid is identified.

Baptizo is a little different.  By default it means to dip in water.  We see it used of Jewish ordinances in Mark 7:4 or Luke 11:38.  Which means it is highly unlikely that Mark and Luke would just get a wild hare to make it mean anything they want.  But chain the touch points together.  In Mark 1:5 John the baptizer calls people to repent and be baptized, and then in Mark 1:8 he makes it explicit that he is baptizing with water.  But he does so to affirm the default meaning is with water, and Jesus will baptize with the Holy Ghost.  But the line in the sand is baptism is in water.  We see John 1:25-28 produce the parallel account of John baptizing with water.  While there are passages where baptism refers to an immersion in an experience (Mark 10:38) or to baptism of the Holy Ghost (Mk 1:8; Jn 1:33, Acts 1:5; Acts 11:16, etc.). But note the difference:  When they baptize in something other than water, they mention the different type of baptismal experience, and even contrast water with Spirit or the something else.

As some of you may have heard me previously mention, the best Greek-English Biblical Lexicon is "A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testamant and Other Early Christian Literature", 3rd Edition, published in 2000 and abbreviate as BDAG for the initials of the various others involved.

BDAG notes on page 164-165 under the entry for Baptizo the following:  "2.  to use water in a rite for purpose of renewing or establishing a relationship with God, plunge, dip, wash, baptize."
It then lists all of the John the baptizer verses, about 2 dozen, and then lists Jesus' baptismal activities and the use of water baptism as the method of joining the Church after Jesus' death.  They include Acts 2:38 and 2:41 and another 2-dozen or so passages.

So we discussed the fact that baptism in Acts 2:38 meant water baptism.  Not in his mind.  He felt it was just a conversion experience, and no water involved.  He had no interest in authoritative sources.

As we were wrapping up, Matt Slick of CARM came over to get into the conversation.  I have spoken with Matt in the past, but he either did not remember or chose to ignore the memory.  So I posed the question to him as well:  Does Acts 2:38 teach baptism provides forgiveness of sins?  Without going down all the side paths he tried to go, I kept bringing it back to this question:  Do the words mean what is written.  For anyone who has forgotten, the context is that after Peter preaches to the Jews at the day of Pentecost, they as Peter and the Apostles this famous question:  "Men and brethren, what shall we do?"  Peter replies: "Acts 2:38: Then Peter said unto them, Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost."

Pretty clear passage.  So first he tried to explain the passage away as lacking full context.  It was incomplete because it did not address if Faith were needed.  But the passage does address all those areas of concern, if you read down to verse 46.  So I asked him again, does the passage teach baptism can forgive sins.  Again, he said no, tried to deflect to later chapters in Acts.  He then tried to pull a piece of very poor scholarship out.  It is called the "causal eis", because the word "eis" in Greek is translated as the word "for".  He asserted it should be translated "because".  In modern times this argument has its source in Julius Mantey's Greek grammar.  His arguments were thoroughly devasted by Dr. Ralph Marcus, to the point where in his later life, Mantey likewise concluded that the best translation for the passage was "for the remission of sins", leaving exactly nobody who believed the "causal eis".  Yet here was Matt Slick trying to pull out this false teaching to support his view.  When I noted Mantey himself had recanted such an opinion, I asked him yet again if the passage taught that baptism can lead to the forgiveness of sins.  He again said no.  At that point I shook his hand, and said "Matt, it's been nice to meet you."  I started to leave, he wanted to argue some point, and I just said "I'm good."  He retorted "Romans 5:1, why would you not believe God's word?  What are you running for?"  I said, "I'm not running, its a waste of time."  He said, "Yes you are, Romans 5:1, I'm going to prove you wrong, what are you running for?"

I leave it to those who were there to decide if I ran.  For my part, I just didn't feel it was leading anywhere.  Mr. Slick, for what I think are obvious reasons, refused to provide a cogent justification of his view of Acts 2:38, and had even used a source in his defense which he most certainly must have known was not valid to try and justify his false interpretation of the passage.  Maybe he didn't know, I can't know for sure, but he knew exactly who Mantey was, and therefore he should have known of his retraction in regards to this passage.  In my opinion this made him a less than honest party in the conversation.  You can hear on the video as I walk away him saying to the kid I had started speaking with "That guy's a bully.  He's a bully."  For the life of me, I don't know how I can be a bully by simply defending my faith, not attacking theirs.  And he seems to have forgotten he walked over and engaged me, not the other way around.  Unless he feels like it is unfair for me to debate scripture with him because he can't keep up, I am at a loss to know what would constitute me being the bully.  Truly, I am sorry if he feels that way.
I will discuss the other conversations in Part 2.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Brochures Anyone

I have been so busy with work, I have not checked in here for many, many months.  Did everyone get brochures that wanted them?  I have several different brochures on various topics.  Salvation, issues at Manti argued by anti-Mormons there, a really good one on baptism as a requirement for salvation, the nature of God in Mormonism compared to non-LDS.  I just completed one addressing the so-called "Impossible Gospel of Mormonism", which reviews not only the abuse of Moroni 10:32 and the passages from "The Miracle of Forgiveness", but shows how the LDS perspective is both Biblical and built on the foundation of Grace and personal responsibility.

Anyway, as always shoot me a note and I will send them to your email addresses.  As you may have noticed, I never post questions or comments which contain people's email addresses to make sure their privacy is protected.

Thanks again for reading.  I will hopefully get posts out shortly on Manti 2015, Lee Baker's distorted ministry against LDS beliefs, and one built on responding to The Impossible Gospel of Mormonism by the professional anti-Mormons who promote that error.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Christians Feeling The Spirit in Face of Atheism

I have been actively engaging a few friends of mine who are repeatedly yelling about the lack of proof for the existence of God.

What has been fun is to see all those Christians who attack Mormons as irrational because they base their testimony upon spiritual experiences, now have to use their own version of spiritual experiences as their ultimate proof.

Let's face it, all Christians remain Christians because they feel better being a Christian.  They leave because they don't feel the Spirit.  This is true of Mormons and non-Mormon Christians.

But when non-LDS Christians try to engage Mormons, they attack the "burning in the bosom" as self-delusional wishful thinking by Mormons.  Something Mormons "hide behind".

I have gone to Christian book stores for many years, and you could always find books on receiving answers to prayer, spiritual experiences, personal revelation and the like.  But critics of LDS beliefs conveniently ignore those members of their own faith traditions.  Instead, they try to substitute historical or scholarly information, as if you could study your way into knowing Christianity was the only true faith.

That is an exercise in self-authentication.

Only through experiencing the Holy Spirit can you realize that ultimate truth is not a set of hypotheses which you can ever completely test.  It is not something which can be studied and arrived at without divine assistance.  Jesus is truth, because God alone can know all things, and therefore can know all truth.  He can confirm our faith.

I have been blessed with a few spiritual experiences which have provided actual proof to me of the life after this life.  I was informed of the passing of a relative in a dream, told my family of the message, and then got the phone call 20-minutes later that it had happened.  The message was delivered by three of my deceased relatives, and a voice spoke to me, audibly but in my mind while sleeping.

I don't know the truth of all things.  But I know their is a God who knows the past, present and future, and there is a life after this life.  That is enough to know that atheism is false.

I was accused of suffering from cognitive dissonance the other day because I accept science yet have faith.  But the basic premise of cognitive dissonance is that you have two philosophies which take you in opposing directions, and therefore require you to irrationally avoid information which conflicts with one of the beliefs, and you eventually become so uncomfortable with the dissonance, you eventually reject the view which makes you uncomfortable.

I can tell you I am perfectly at ease with faith/supernatural existence of God, and science.  I don't believe there is a God or a life after this one, I know there is.  So my discomfort, were I to have one, would actually be striving to get the theoretical world of science more in line with ultimate truth, that there is a God.

Because I know God cannot be found in a telescope or a Petri dish, the lack of scientific proof for God is about as important to me as calculus is to a dog.  Because the world cannot understand it does not make it untrue.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Update on Gay Marriage

This is just a quick FYI to my post that I thought the "gay marriage" issue is a relatively small social issue, so long as something is done to deal with children rights to have access to biological parents.  The main points of update are as follows:
Today the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) released their annual nationwide survey, and for the first time they survey sexual orientation.  What they found was 1.6% of the population identify as being homosexual, 0.6% identify as bisexual, 1% refused to identify or said they were "something else" (interesting!), and 96.6% said they are heterosexual.  This is considered a gold standard survey due to the large sample size (over 33,000 people) and their surveying method of face to face interviews with telephone follow-ups.  Aside from the headline issues, the rest of the survey is worth reading.

2.  A recent extremely small survey in Australia (315 parents, 500 children) is being touted as "the Largest Survey of Gay Parents" and the like, and concludes the kids are better off.  Well, not so fast.  The survey is not one which actually measures anything.  It simply asked the parents how their kids are doing.  It is also worth noting the author of the study is raising two children with his own homosexual partner, which is not an insignificant issue given the overall weakness of the supposed data, and the vastness of their claims.  Instead, I have cited an actual quantitative study of a U. of Texas researcher, which demonstrated entirely different results, and concluded children raised by same sex parents are not better off.  Here is a good summary article to review addressing both studies.  Because the U of Texas authors results were so politically incorrect, his results were challenged as doctored by his critics, who even made a formal complaint to the University.  Well, be careful what you ask for as a critic, because the U of T did a thorough review of his data and evidence, and said there is no evidence of doctoring or fraud.  As is usual of touching such a political third rail as rejecting politically correct views, the U of T announcement did note that his study could still be seriously flawed, there is just no evidence of fraud or data doctoring.  Way to back your guy, U of T.
Here is a blogger's analysis of the controversy.  The results are still attacked by critics for the small sample size they studied.  But the problem is that if you apply a scientific standard to comparing apples to apples, as I noted, it is nearly impossible to find any families in the USA where two same-sex involved domestic couples have been together for 18 years or more raising children together.  This is not hard to find among heterosexuals, though the pool is sadly getting smaller.  But instability of relationships in same-sex couples that you will not find "thousands" of such relationships for a survey.  The actual Family Structures survey is here.  I could not find the U of Texas study in full, so here is a very lengthy presentation of its content by the Family Research Council.

As anyone knows, these are very touchy issues.  As I have stated, I think the impact of allowing gay marriage is almost zero, though I would prefer the name 'civil union' or something similar, as I think marriage has the traditional understanding of being between a man and a woman.  However, I think the current research, combined with basic common sense, tells us children have better outcomes with both genders of parents active in their lives.  Homosexuals feel attacked as bad people or a social pariah if their parenting is seen as being less than perfect for raising children.  But it is actually no different than the myriad of studies which show children of divorce or other single parent families or step families tend to have more issues as adults or children than kids from intact two parent families. There is a range of real outcomes in those groups, including great adults from abusive divorced parents and horrible adults from seemingly solid two parent families.  But we don't try to put the worst of one group against the best of another.  Kids deserve to have access to their two biological parents, because they need role models.  If those parents are unfit,then we protect the kids.  But kids are not pets, and are not an accessory.  If a person chooses to live in a downtown apartment, they can't complain they don't have a lot of private yard space.  It is politically incorrect to acknowledge the biological differences of people, and to note the different roles men and women play in life.  I think much more study on this subject needs to be done before we assert as a fact there is no impact on children raised in same sex couples as compared to other relationship models.  It would be refreshing if we could have a study of all same sex couples with children who have been together for 18 years or more, and we end up with data both sides can agree upon.  Typically liberals want to run with the most conservative approach to environmental issues or personal care issues.  Think about the ideas around giving money to too many people including people who are living off the system, as opposed to too few people, and seeing some folks suffering.  Think of environmental issues which are always erring on the side of preservation of habitat or species, or dealing with cutting down on carbon emissions to try to head off a possible problem with global warming.  Yet we ignore both studies which are considered "controversial" because they buck Politically Correct views and our vast academic data of unstable homes negative impact on children, simply because the unscientific views on this issue are not popular.  My experience with homosexuals is they are absolutely like most anyone else in terms of interacting with me.  That is the same with divorced people, single moms or married couples.  But I know statistically single families and step-families are not as good for children.  In a perfect world, kids should have a right to their bio parents.  That right should not be excised from a child simply because homosexual couples want kids.  Maybe the best way to keep both parents involved is to require people wanting to donate a child to their friends to have some financial obligation for that child, regardless of the financial position of the same-sex parents.  It is true that where your treasure is, there you will find your heart. Children deserve the hearts of their biological parents, so barring that, they deserve their parents treasure.  For most people, the love of a child they are involved with will eventually melt the heart of even those who think children are gifts, like a bottle of wine, they can give away to show how much they like their friends.  Kids in same sex parent homes have a much higher probability of being on welfare or other social services due to the fact same sex families tend to separate at much higher rates than heterosexual families.  So putting money aside for those children is not a bad idea.  That is, if you care about the children.

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Manti Mess(ages)

I sneaked  down to Manti on Thursday and Friday to visit with the annual pageant Anti-Mormon outreach.  Thursday was spent speaking the whole three hours to about 5 different people in what I think was productive.  Productive is a loose term, but I feel good when people I have made feel sort of misinformed about pretty much everything they believe about Mormonism still like me and shake my hand when we are done.
I have a brochure I created for Manti this year which focuses on several non-LDS scholars' statements around the reality of the Hebrew belief in real plural gods.  It also discusses the mis-translation of John 1:1, which should say "and the Word was a god"(or words to the effect that the Word had the same nature as The God, but is a different member of that class of beings)and how the way most Christians interpret it actually make the verse a modalist or Sabellean heresy.  Finally, it also provides extensive statements by early Christians that people can become gods, with a list of references to the concept in the Bible.  If you would like a copy, send me your email as a comment.  I won't post your address, I will just email you the brochure.  No minimum donation required :-)

Friday night I had several very positive conversations with folks, and I circulated more.  I was speaking with one gentleman from England when some guy name Jason walked up, listened for about 10 minutes or so, then started asking questions but not waiting for answers.
"Didn't Joseph Smith order Gov Boggs killed?"  "Weren't the Mormons stealing land in Missouri, so they were not really victims?"  "Didn't having a standing militia violate federal law?"  "Didn't Joseph print his own money and steal the real currency?"  "Isn't that illegal?"

These questions, and potential exchange, looks easy on the surface.  You think, he is asking a question, he wants an answer.

Truth is, Jason was giving his answer in the form of a question, and did not care to hear my answer or response at all.  He wanted me to answer yes or no, and if I disagreed with his conclusions, he called me deceptive.  He eventually started in with personal insults ("You're a mile wide and an inch deep, aren't you?"), so I said to him I would not talk with ignorant insulting people, and turn away from him.  What was helpful was he did this in front of two other gentlemen whom I had previously had excellent exchanges with, and they were embarrassed by their "Christian Brother's" behavior.  I then apologized for calling the guy stupid, and then gave them the answers to the assertions:
1.  Joseph did not order the Boggs assassination attempt.  No evidence of it.
2.  Porter Rockwell was a suspect, but he calmly stated that if he had wanted him dead, he'd be dead.  A grand jury agreed, and Rockwell was never indicted.  It is commonly believed the would-be assassin was a political rival, though he was never found.
3.  I explained that the LDS had organized a protective force, consistent with the 2nd amendment of the US Constitution, under their right to keep and bear arms for self defense.  However, the US Government refused to intervene, with President Martin Van Buren famously saying to Joseph Smith, to the effect, "Your cause is just, but I cannot help you."  As we know, Joseph prophesied their government would be destroyed, and within 20 years the Whig party was, in fact, completely destroyed.  The Republicans emerged, and the Whigs are now just an historical footnote.
4.  Related to three, the 10th amendment to the US Constitution was the reason Van Buren could not intervene at the time.  After the Civil War the Constitution was amended to allow far more Federal involvement in state issues.  Keeping the peace and administering the domestic affairs of the states were seen as exclusively a state's rights issue at the time, and so Van Buren felt he could not take action.  Having a standing militia, if in a state of insurrection, would have been a violation of federal law.  Arming your people to defend against criminals is not.  There was no violation of federal law, and they did not steal land from anyone.
5.  The great depression of the late 1830's, which was brought on largely because the Gold Standard limited the amount of money which could be printed, thus limiting the velocity or circulation of money to create new capital, brought hundreds of communities around the country to create their own banking societies.  As I mentioned to the guys in Manti, if you have ever seen the movie "It's a Wonderful Life", there is a scene where there is a run on the bank.  Jimmy Stewart has people demanding their money.  He explains that he cannot give it because it is in someone's home, or another person's business, etc.  This is the concept of cash reserve ratios.  If a bank takes in $100, but lends out $95, then if everyone comes in asking for their money, it is not in the bank, it is in assets and out in the community circulating.  In Kirtland, they created a banking society.  They basically issued IOU's to people, which everyone agreed to accept, in exchange for some cash deposits so they could meet the "hard currency" requirements they all would have.  It worked great, until hard currency reserves disappeared.  In 1837, the year the Kirtland Bank failed, the US entered a 5 year depression where nearly half of all banks failed, and many other similar banking societies as Kirtland also failed.  The crazy land price increases collapsed, so the assets underlying the notes disappeared.  Not good for anyone.  Joseph left, but I have seen research which shows eventually all were repaid.  Joseph left Kirtland with his 6-month pregnant wife the first week of January 1838.  It took two months, two winter months, with nearly no money, to get to Missouri.  Far from living a rich life, Joseph and Emma suffered too.
6.  Finally, was it illegal.  Yes, it was.  Joseph paid a $1,000 fine for setting it up.  But it was also common, as the lack of currency was a problem everywhere on the frontier.  It also failed because of the lack of trust and cooperation between members of the Kirtland Safety Society, and under captitalization.

History is not simple, and it is not black and white.  If we believe that all Presidents of the LDS Church are always inspired, then we will always be disappointed.  They were looking for solutions.  At times they felt inspired.  Other times they just did their best.  At all times they were human.  Don't trust humans with your salvation, trust God.  But you still have to work with humans for everything else.

Final point.  I was walking to leave on the road from the food court to the pageant area.  I saw a girl about 10 years old passing out brochures, so I stopped and handed her one of mine.  She looked like she was being baited by a child molester.  I didn't get it at first, and I laughingly said "If you are going to pass out brochures to the Mormons, why don't you take them too?"  She backed away, and a pretty dark haired little girl, also about 10, very nervously said "We have been told not to talk to you."  I said, "What? Why is that, because I can answer your questions?"  She said no, her daddy had said I was not nice to Christians, and they should not speak with me.  She was nervously shaking as she said that, so I said "who is your daddy?"  She replied "Keith Walker."  I said he was with some ministry, and by now three young men in their twenties had walked over, and they said "Evidence Ministries".  I said I would love to talk with her daddy, that it is not true that I am mean to other Christians, and I had even done a short video about her daddy because he had some things wrong about the Mormons.  She said she knew I knew him.  I jokingly said to one of the Christians I had spoken with earlier in the week who was walking by, "Am I mean to Christians?"  Which she just laughed about.  The little girl walked away.

Funny thing is, I literally bumped into Keith Walker earlier in the evening while passing through the crowd.  If I had known he was telling people to be afraid of me, I would had asked him about it.  Next year I will have a friend take a camera, and we will have a conversation.  People can then determine if I am mean to even those anti-Mormons who disparage me personally.  Not that I care what people judge about me.  God knows my heart.  But when one's living is based on attacking other people's faith, maybe telling a story about me is better than getting caught on video.  Maybe I can help change that for Keith.