Monday, October 21, 2013

New Class Thursday October 24

So, the first week went OK, I think.  We are trying to record the sessions for eventual posting on Youtube or somewhere.

The second class is on the First Vision and historical issues around Joseph Smith and Mormonism prior to publication of the Book of Mormon.

The second class will be held at the Kearns Library
5350 South 4220 West
Kearns, Utah 8411
Time:  6:30pm
Date:  October 24, 2013

The third, fourth and fifth classes are on  November 7 & 14 & 21, 6:30pm at the Draper Library:
Week 3 Doctrines of Salvation
Week 4  Creation, Exaltation, Scholarship
Week 5 Mormon Archaeology Compared to Biblical Archaeology

1136 East Pioneer Rd
(124th South)
Draper, Utah 84020

Hopefully I can get to the video and move it onto the Internet shortly.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Class Tomorrow (EEEEK!)

Well, we will see how this goes.  I will take the leap and try to present to a small group some of the things I have encountered over the years.

If you said you would come, please do.  Moral support is appreciated.

South Jordan Library, Thursday, October 17 @ 6:30pm, 10673 S. Redwood Road.

I find the material on the Witnesses and integrity of the Book of Mormon so compelling.  I will be presenting a portion of Dan Vogel's theory of the creation of the Book of Mormon for contrast about the desperation of critics.  I think people will have a good time.  As a special treat, we will have actual (fake) leaves from Dan Vogel's version of the Book of Mormon so the public can see how truly untenable the critics positions are in light of the historic statements of eyewitnesses.

I hope it will be fun.  I know it will be enlightening, for me if no one else.
Thanks in advance,

Tuesday, October 01, 2013

For the Difficult Mormon Issues class I now have a location, at least for the first meeting:

South Jordan Library at 10647 S Redwood Rd. (1700 W) in South Jordan, UT

We will start at 6:30pm.  Topic will be the Book of Mormon attacks we commonly run into, but also a discussion about how to approach people who appear to be critical of the Mormon faith.  Bring your questions, please don't let me be there alone!  I have an outline for 10 classes which I will hand out, and we can discuss questions and suggestions for future sessions.

Proposed, incomplete, outline is as follows:

Lesson Outlines
Lesson 1:  Intro and Book of Mormon
Disclaimer:  The material and opinions expressed here are the opinions of the presenter, and are not official statements by either the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormons) or FAIR Mormon.
Introduction  Austen Farrar said, of C.S. Lewis:
Though argument does not create conviction, lack of it destroys belief. What seems to be proved may not be embraced; but what no one shows the ability to defend is quickly abandoned. Rational argument does not create belief, but it maintains a climate in which belief may flourish.  ( )
And CS Lewis wrote:
“To be ignorant and simple now—not to be able to meet the enemies on their own ground—would be to throw down our weapons, and to betray our uneducated brethren who have, under God, no defense but us against the intellectual attacks of the heathen. Good philosophy must exist, if for no other reason, because bad philosophy needs to be answered.”  (C. S. Lewis, "Learning in War-Time," in The Weight of Glory and Other Addresses (New York: Macmillan, 1965), 27-28; cited by James S. Jardine, “Consecration and Learning,” in On Becoming a Disciple-Scholar, edited by Henry B. Eying (Bookcraft, Salt Lake, 1995), 77.)

My background [describe]

Overriding Premise:
Understanding that most issues people have who have been active in the Church are not related to anything covered by this class.  There is nearly always a pain behind the question which is being manifested by the question.  That is why love is the essential tool when dealing with those with questions.  You can spend many wasted hours solving a non-existent problem.  Once people resolve their pain, they will remember their feelings of testimony, and then they can work through their challenges, which in my experience get really small once they are feeling the Spirit in their lives again.

By its nature faith is not knowing.  Wide range of attacks on the Church.  Attacks at the Book of Mormon are the most significant because it is the Keystone of our religion.
Range of explanations for the Book of Mormon:  Delivered by demons; copied from the Bible and environment; copied from Spaulding;
Witnesses and statements that they only “spiritually” discerned holding the plates.
Family members handle the plates
Weight of the plates, nature of the plates
Changes to the text, and how much of the original manuscript do we have
Understanding the translation process
Why the Church uses incorrect depictions of the translation process?
Anton document
Reformed Egyptian
Praying about the plates, or other spiritual decisions (Remember Bill McKeever of MRM asking for people to pray about giving them money.  “If you have not considered this ministry as being a part of your missionary giving, we certainly hope that you would pray about it, and again we do thank you for that.”  At 1:34 into Viewpoint on Mormonism Podcast, 9-23-2013.  Compare this hypocrisy to their statements about the danger of subjective application of prayer to make decisions about religion and other choices in the article about praying about the Book of Mormon at . “Relying on subjective feelings can end up being disastrous and should be avoided by every sincere Christian believer.”)
How is the Book of Mormon the “Most Correct Book”?

Lesson 2:  Complete Book of Mormon and Present First Vision
Richard Anderson document
Different Accounts of the First Vision
Modern statements about the First Vision
Understanding the historical context and use of the First Vision by Joseph Smith

Lesson 3:  Mormon doctrines of Salvation
God was once a man; did God ever sin; 
Praying for answers;
Do we need a prophet;
Mormon Trinity vs. Traditional Trinity;
Pre-existence of humans

Lesson 4:  Mormon Doctrines of Creation, Mormon Doctrine of Exaltation and its support in history. 
Evangelical acknowledgements of LDS scholarly approach
Matter eternal, Genesis 1 and other Bible verses on creation.
Heiser, Smith and Dever on the historic proof of the Hebrew belief in a plurality of real Gods

Lesson 5:  Mormon Archaeology Compared to Biblical Archaeology
Old World historic locations cited in the Bof M
New World items found which are spoken of in the Book of Mormon
Languages of Central America with Semetic roots

Lesson 6:  Church Leaders Character and statements;  Determining doctrine, speculative statements by leaders;  Feeling the Spirit.
Joseph Smith not wanting to be put on a pedestal, and being very public about his personal failings.
Recognizing leaders inspiration vs. personal wise counsel
Statements by leaders on recognizing doctrine.

Lesson 7:  Book of Abraham, Kinderhook plates, Joseph Smith Translation

Lesson 8:  Changes to the Priesthood

Lesson 9:  Brigham Young’s Era issues: 
Blood Atonement, Mormon Reformation, Adam God,
Mountain Meadows Massacre

Lesson 10:  Polygamy, polyandry

Wednesday, September 04, 2013

Training Classes

So this is a little embarrassing, but I was approach by a friend about teaching a series of classes on defending the Church.  My first response was no one would come, but I told him I would put a note on my blog to see if anyone in the Salt Lake area would find such a class a couple times per month interesting.  If there was interest I am sure I can get some of my friends who are subject matter experts to come in and teach different material as well.

My experience is that most people struggling with their faith have one of three issues:  1.  They have questions but don't bother to really study the matter out and seek God's help through prayer and exercising faith.  I believe God likes informed obedience based on faith, not blind obedience out of a lack of searching.

Second, many people stop doing the things which build their testimony.  They stop reading their scriptures, praying, serving others and sharing their testimony.  A testimony is felt and experienced, not discovered in a book.  If a person could for sure find God by reading the Bible alone there would be no atheists or people of different faiths.

Lastly, they are dealing with issues of sin.  Usually their own, but often a close friend or relative who is dragging them down, and they eventually either feel so guilty and confused, they talk themselves out of the Church.  I am not one of those who thinks everyone struggling or leaving the Church is a giant sin-sloth oozing through life.  But when I hear people talk about how they now have a "Biblical Faith", I can pretty quickly figure out which parts of the Bible they have decided to follow, and which to leave out. 

Understand, there is no question that some passages conflict with others.  Is baptism required for salvation (Acts 2:38; Mark 16:16, etc.) or just faith or confession.  The other day I was told by an anti-Mormon friend of mine that he could never be a Mormon because we had added so much to the Gospel.  I asked him to provide a verse that said obedience and baptism were unnecessary, because I could give him a bunch that say they are and he can only infer they are unnecessary because they are not specifically cited as unnecessary in the supposed "grace only" passages.  Of course he couldn't because they don't exist.

Well, if you live in Utah and would like to attend a series of classes on coping with people's questions of faith, drop a note.  If we get 10 people we will do it.  No charge, of course.  And I will actually concentrate on answering the questions behind the question, since most folks don't usually articulate the problem, only the symptom.