Ask a Mormon, Part 4

Eran of Arcadia

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I'm not sure why you are dodging this question. I'm trying to trap... I mean, see what Mormon thought is concerning salvation. The D&C, which I quoted earlier, clearly says murder is unforgivable, in this world and the next. Under that law, what would happen to a man who murdered himself in what must be his last act?

I was unaware that I was trying to dodge anything. But murder and suicide aren't necessarily the same thing.

Are we still talking about the same salvation? If murder and adultery according to your scripture results in destruction you are living under law, and to quote Paul if you live under law then Jesus died for nothing! I know murder sounds like an extreme example, but according to the rest of Christianity, God doesn't view sin on a sliding scale. All sins are equal (except for one).

Murder and adultery do result in spiritual destruction, yes. This is not because God insists on levying a punishment as such, it is that things like that have an effect on us.

And I am not sure that it means a lot to say "all sins are equal". I mean, the effect on your soul that lying has can't be equivalent to the effect that murder has, can it?
 
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I was unaware that I was trying to dodge anything. But murder and suicide aren't necessarily the same thing.

Technically it is murdering yourself.;)

Murder and adultery do result in spiritual destruction, yes. This is not because God insists on levying a punishment as such, it is that things like that have an effect on us.

And I am not sure that it means a lot to say "all sins are equal". I mean, the effect on your soul that lying has can't be equivalent to the effect that murder has, can it

Depends on what you mean (At least in my view.) Murderers won't lose their salvation (Assuming they really had it) by killing. All sin is deserving of death, but Christ had mercy. On this Earth though, God commanded different punishments for different offenses, which is needed for society to function (Otherwise, either liars would get lengthy prison sentences/death, or murderers would get off nearly scot-free.)
 

Eran of Arcadia

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Technically it is murdering yourself.;)

In a sense - but you have a greater claim on your life than anyone else's.

Depends on what you mean (At least in my view.) Murderers won't lose their salvation (Assuming they really had it) by killing. All sin is deserving of death, but Christ had mercy. On this Earth though, God commanded different punishments for different offenses, which is needed for society to function (Otherwise, either liars would get lengthy prison sentences/death, or murderers would get off nearly scot-free.)

Well, sure Christ had mercy, but do you think that sin has any effect besides the fact that sin of any kind keeps us from God? Is there any reason not to sin if we are confident that Christ has paid the price and we are sinned? And if so, does the sin matter?
 
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In a sense - but you have a greater claim on your life than anyone else's.

True.



Well, sure Christ had mercy, but do you think that sin has any effect besides the fact that sin of any kind keeps us from God? Is there any reason not to sin if we are confident that Christ has paid the price and we are sinned? And if so, does the sin matter?

Sin, first of all, limits our relationship with God, and its like putting up barriers between us and him. I also believe that "Rewards in heaven" (But not heaven itself) may be related to not sinning.
 

Eran of Arcadia

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Sin, first of all, limits our relationship with God, and its like putting up barriers between us and him.

Well, that's how we see it - but in a sense, the greater the sin, the bigger the barrier.
 
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Well, that's how we see it - but in a sense, the greater the sin, the bigger the barrier.

Sort of seems like it would be true, but it has to do with repentence as well. If you are cold-hearted enough to kill someone and not even be repentant, pretty big barrier indeed.

In short, the main "Consequences" are in this life, and while it probably has an effect on rewards in heaven, that's not so much a punishment as a lack of reward.
 

Stile

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Murder and adultery do result in spiritual destruction, yes. This is not because God insists on levying a punishment as such, it is that things like that have an effect on us.

And I am not sure that it means a lot to say "all sins are equal". I mean, the effect on your soul that lying has can't be equivalent to the effect that murder has, can it?


Apparently not.

; and those who are not pure, and have said they were pure, shall be destroyed, saith the Lord God. D&C 132:52b

And I don't think they're talking about self destruction, but Jesus actually doing the destroying.

54 And I command mine handmaid, Emma Smith, to abide and cleave unto my servant Joseph, and to none else. But if she will not abide this commandment she shall be destroyed, saith the Lord; for I am the Lord thy God, and will destroy her if she abide not in my law. D&C 132:54

I guess Jesus decided to throw the first stone in this case. What happened to grace? By the way, that's why most people don't regard Mormon's as Christian: different Jesus. I don't mean to say Jesus was meek and mild; he's capable of destroying, but his fire was always aimed at Pharisees, not the sinner in a tough situation. The Mormon Jesus sounds like a Pharisee, one preoccupied with making sure Joseph Smith has lots of women and power.

You can have the last word on this. I won't be around for a while.
 

Arakhor

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Some people regard Chick tracts as gold-plated humorous collectibles. :)
 

_random_

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Not when leaving the temple, but once found a Chick tract coming back from doing laundry on my mission, and stuff has turned up from time to time.

:lol: I looked up the tract on his website, and it brought up two big questions:
a) Why would somebody about to convert to Mormonism disapprove of mission work?
b) Who's seriously going to buy this? From reading these threads, Mormons seem to put a pretty big emphasis on educating their members, so shouldn't any decent Mormon be able to look through the blatant lies?
 

Plotinus

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I don't mean to say Jesus was meek and mild; he's capable of destroying, but his fire was always aimed at Pharisees, not the sinner in a tough situation. The Mormon Jesus sounds like a Pharisee, one preoccupied with making sure Joseph Smith has lots of women and power.

That's pretty harsh to Pharisees. And indeed the image of the Pharisees as Jesus' constant antagonists - which derives mainly from the Synoptic Gospels, particularly Matthew - is almost certainly quite distorted anyway. It owes more to the later Christians' disagreements with emergent rabbinic Judaism (which was heavily influenced by Pharisaism) than it does to the disputes that Jesus really had.

On the subject of the language of the Book of Mormon, I have to admit that I find it one of the hardest things to take seriously about Mormonism. It just seems to me patently ridiculous that a divinely authorised sacred text delivered in the nineteenth century should have been delivered in mock-AV English of the kind that nineteenth-century Americans presumably thought faithful to early-seventeenth-century literary English. To say it's the language that Smith and his contemporaries would have been used to seems to me a weak response. First, if this was a divinely authorised text, it was surely intended not just for that generation but for all the generations that would follow. And most Christians today, let alone most normal people, are not used to reading texts in early-seventeenth-century English or imitations thereof. Second, no matter how deeply versed in the AV Smith and his contemporaries may have been, they were surely not more au fait with early-seventeenth-century English than they were with the English spoken and written at the time they were living. I don't understand why a contemporary-style English translation of the text couldn't have been provided for them which would have been perfectly intelligible to them and which would have had a longer shelf-life for future generations before becoming unintelligible. It just seems to me that a much simpler and more plausible explanation for the style in which the Book of Mormon is written is simply that it was written by someone who really, really liked the Old Testament in the AV.

On that subject, let me ask another question. There exist plenty of Christians who are quite happy with critical biblical scholarship, and who accept the findings of mainstream scholarship such as the non-traditional authorship of most of the biblical books, the long processes by which they were written, the role of oral tradition in shaping the material, and so on, with the obvious corollary that a lot of the stuff in the Bible isn't true. Indeed some Christians are happy to regard the Bible as a purely human product testifying to people's understanding of the divine, and not as having any divine origin or intrinsic authority at all. Are there Mormons with a similar attitude to the Book of Mormon? Or is it the case that, to be a Mormon, you have to adopt a similar attitude to that book to the one that fundamentalist Christians adopt to the Bible?
 

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I don't understand why a contemporary-style English translation of the text couldn't have been provided for them which would have been perfectly intelligible to them and which would have had a longer shelf-life for future generations before becoming unintelligible.

Mysterious ways. Maybe God likes 17-th century style the best.
 

Eran of Arcadia

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Well, it was a translation from something written in an entirely different language; there are a huge number of writing styles that could have been used. Even if Joseph Smith chose the writing style in which it was translated, that doesn't mean it wasn't a translation. So it's not a matter of God liking 17th-century whatever English the best, but of that being the one that people would be most familiar with. And yes, it was intended to be for later generations as well, but later generations have been as used to that particular writing style as in Joseph Smith's day. It isn't unintelligible to us at all despite being written in a style we never use in everyday life, because it is a style that we use when reading scripture.

As far as the Bible - we can't really be inerrantist or literalist as that contradicts the view of the Bible that our other scriptures have, but we can't take it to the other extreme and say it isn't inspired in any meaningful way, either. We generally say the Bible is true "as far as it is translated correctly" but don't always have anything specific to point to; so individual members can have a pretty broad range of opinions on the matter, just not at the extremes; since we don't claim authority, or derive much doctrine, from the Bible alone, it kind of doesn't matter.
 

Atticus

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Didn't he mean how you view the Book of Mormon? Or do you include it in the word "Bible"? (Or did I misread something?)

Do you have any explanation why Joseph Smith wasn't given the text in English?
 

Eran of Arcadia

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Didn't he mean how you view the Book of Mormon? Or do you include it in the word "Bible"? (Or did I misread something?)

Plotinus asked me about both; my second paragraph was regarding the Bible (OT+NT) specifically,

Do you have any explanation why Joseph Smith wasn't given the text in English?

It was written in another language, by other people. The Book of Mormon is in our view, the record of prophets who lived in the New World around the time of Christ.
 

Plotinus

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Well, it was a translation from something written in an entirely different language; there are a huge number of writing styles that could have been used. Even if Joseph Smith chose the writing style in which it was translated, that doesn't mean it wasn't a translation. So it's not a matter of God liking 17th-century whatever English the best, but of that being the one that people would be most familiar with. And yes, it was intended to be for later generations as well, but later generations have been as used to that particular writing style as in Joseph Smith's day. It isn't unintelligible to us at all despite being written in a style we never use in everyday life, because it is a style that we use when reading scripture.

It's a style that only some people use when reading scripture, though (and those people are mainly American). Certainly most non-English speakers and probably most English speakers do not use such archaic translations and would be baffled by them. If the choice to present the Book of Mormon in this style really was a divine one, then it seems that God wanted to restrict the readability of the book unnecessarily. Compare the New Testament, which was written in Koine Greek and therefore comprehensible to anyone at the time. It wasn't written in a deliberately archaic Homeric Greek in order to restrict it to those people familiar with reading that sort of thing.

I'm also a bit confused about the status of the translation. I understand that the English text of the Book of Mormon is supposed to be a translation that Joseph Smith made of the original, which was written in a mysterious language. And that he required divine aid to make this translation (I take it that he was miraculously given the ability to translate from this language, rather as the Virgin Mary was miraculously given the ability to conceive a child). But am I right in thinking that the translation he produced was not simply the way he happened to translate it, using this divine gift? What I mean is: whatever special status the original text had, isn't it the case that Smith's translation has that special status too? There isn't the chance that he mistranslated anything; his miraculous ability to translate did not simply enable him to translate, but guaranteed that his translation was faithful. In which case, presumably the style in which he translated was or is significant, and it's not simply that Smith happened to translate in an AV sort of style but he could just as easily have used contemporary English.

My point is that if the choice of AV-style were Smith's alone, then that would make sense; I could understand why someone like him would instinctively translate a new revealed set of scriptures in that way. But if the choice of AV-style were divinely inspired, and Smith were merely the conduit by which the translation was given, then I find it much harder to make any sense of. Yes, this style of English is intelligible to us today and no doubt will remain so for another century or two, but it is not readily intelligible and comprehensible to most people, or at least, not as readily intelligible and comprehensible as contemporary English is. And speaking just for myself, I may understand seventeenth-century English perfectly well, but I am enormously put off the prospect of reading the Book of Mormon because of its style. I don't like reading the AV as it is, and that at least is an authentically early-seventeenth-century use of early-seventeenth-century English. To find a nineteenth-century book written in the same style just seems dreadfully pseudish, rather like Ossian, and with the same overtones of insincerity: it seems to be trying to make itself seem more epic, more important, and basically more scriptural by imitating the style of previous centuries. And that raises the obvious suspicion that its actual content does not live up to this promise, because if it did, there would be no need for the fancy language. That may be an entirely unfair and unfounded suspicion, but until such time as there's a version of the Book of Mormon in NRSV-style, I probably won't find out!

(I don't mean to sound rude there, but that really is my reaction to it.)

As far as the Bible - we can't really be inerrantist or literalist as that contradicts the view of the Bible that our other scriptures have, but we can't take it to the other extreme and say it isn't inspired in any meaningful way, either. We generally say the Bible is true "as far as it is translated correctly" but don't always have anything specific to point to; so individual members can have a pretty broad range of opinions on the matter, just not at the extremes; since we don't claim authority, or derive much doctrine, from the Bible alone, it kind of doesn't matter.

Thanks, but I might have been unclear - I did mean the Book of Mormon rather than the Bible. Is the range of attitudes you mention here applied to the Book of Mormon as well, within Mormonism? Or is only a much narrower range of attitudes to that book possible if one is to remain a Mormon?
 
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