Kinderhook Plates – Part 2

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Following the discovery of the six Kinderhook plates in 1843 that supposedly had ancient writing on them, what ever became of those plates?

During the Civil War the plates were thought to be lost.  However, some time in the 1960’s, Wilford Poulson a professor at Brigham Young University, found one of the original plates #5 in the Chicago Historical Society Museum.  After examining the plate, Professor Poulson believed it to be a forgery. 

 

Welby Ricks, who was President of the BYU Archaeological Society, welcomed the discovery as a vindication of Joseph Smith’s work.  He wrote, “A recent rediscovery of one of the Kinderhook plates, which was examined by Joseph Smith, Jun., reaffirms his prophetic calling and reveals the false statements made by one of the finders.  The plates are now back in their original category of genuine.  Joseph Smith, Jun., stands as a true prophet and translator of ancient records by divine means and all the world is invited to investigate the truth which has sprung out of the earth not only of the Kinderhook plates, but of the Book of Mormon as well.” 

In 1980, LDS scholar Stanley P. Kimball was permitted to perform destructive tests on the #5 plate.  He described the results of the tests in the LDS Church publication, The Ensign, August 1981, pp. 66-70.  The article says, “A recent electronic and chemical analysis of a metal plate brought in 1843 to the prophet Joseph Smith appears to solve a previously unanswered question in Church history, helping to further evidence that the plate is what its producers later said it was – a nineteenth-century attempt to lure Joseph Smith into making a translation of ancient-looking characters that had been etched into the plates.  As a result of these tests, we conclude that the plate is not of ancient origin.  We conclude that the plate was made from a true brass alloy (copper and zinc) typical of the mid-nineteenth century; whereas the ‘brass’ of ancient times was actually bronze, and alloy of copper and tin.”

If Joseph Smith had not been shot and killed in June 1844, it is very possible he might have published a finished translation of all six of the counterfeit plates.  Wouldn’t that have been interesting?

What is the Church’s position on the Kinderhook plates, today?

The Church defended the authenticity of the plates and Joseph’s translations of them since their discovery in 1843 up to 1980 – 137 years!  Following the destructive testing, the Church backed off its claim that the plates were real.  Now the Church claims it was all a hoax.    

Smith made the claim that he could translate the ancient writings on the plates.  And in fact, did translate some of them.

It should be obvious that Smith’s work on these fraudulent plates casts serious doubt upon his credibility as a translator of other ancient records like, the Book of Mormon and the Book of Abraham.  We already know from the Church’s Gospel Topica Essay found on lds.org titled: “Translation and Historicity of the Book of Abraham” that the Book of Abraham isn’t a true translation of ancient Egyptian papyri.  The Church now admits that. 

After disproving the Kinderhook plates and the Book of Abraham translation, am I now supposed to trust Joseph Smith when he claims to have translated the Book of Mormon written in an unknown language in Reformed Egyptian from a – rock in a hat? 

 

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Book of Abraham – Part 4

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Gospel Topics Essays on LDS.org

There is an important one released in 2014 titled: “Translation and Historicity of the Book of Abraham”. 

It starts off by stating, “The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints embraces the book of Abraham as scripture.”

I’m surprised Church leaders embrace the Book of Abraham after all the problems I pointed out in our previous conversations.  The Book of Abraham is perhaps the biggest reason church members are leaving Mormonism. 

The reason is because there is plenty of evidence to show this LDS Scripture is fraudulent.

Honestly Elders, I believe the Book of Abraham is an embarrassment to the LDS Church.

The Book of Abraham is supposed to be evidence of the inspired calling of the Prophet Joseph Smith.  But it turns out, Smith never translated the ancient writings of Abraham like he claimed he did.  That has been proven beyond a doubt. 

But haven’t LDS scholars proposed a number, of theories to support the reliability of the Book of Abraham?

Yes, but none of these theories has been able to hold up when all the evidence is considered.

It would be worth your time to read “By His Own Hand Upon Papyrus” by Charles Larson for explanations of those theories.  He  shows that there is absolutely no support for Smith’s translation.

Egyptologists all agree that Smith’s translation was inaccurate and that his papyrus source was, in fact, of pagan origin, having nothing to do with father Abraham.

To put it another way – Not a single word, thought, or concept, including his explanations of his three facsimiles, is in any way related to the subject matter of the Egyptian texts from which they were supposedly translated.

It says in the essay, “The book of Abraham’s status as scripture ultimately rests on faith in the saving truths found within the book itself as witnessed by the Holy Ghost.”

So, the greatest evidence of the truthfulness of the book of Abraham is not found in an analysis of the physical evidence nor historical background, but it is primarily a matter of faith. 

The Bible is very clear that we must “prove all things” (1 Thessalonians 5:21).  We are supposed to “try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the word” (1 John 4:1).  The Bereans were considered nobler than the Thessalonians because they tested the truth of everything against scripture (Acts 17:11).  

It is completely unbiblical for the essay to say that facts ought to take a back seat to faith.

Here’s another thing to consider – There is no evidence a Jew like Abraham ever wrote in the Egyptian language. 

But one might notice that Abraham traveled to Egypt and stayed for a while.

But ask yourself – Why would Abraham have written in Egyptian hieroglyphics belonging to foreign pagans who worshiped other gods?   It is simply illogical!

The essay says, “Much like the Book of Mormon, Joseph Smith’s translation of the book of Abraham was recorded in the language of the King James Bible.  This was the idiom of scripture familiar to early Latter-day Saints, and its use was consistent with the Lord’s pattern of revealing His truths.”

It is clear, that Joseph Smith plagiarized the Book of Abraham from the Book of Genesis to make it sound biblical.

It is obvious why the Mormon Church needs to maintain the Book of Abraham as authentic.  As an intellectual leader and historian of the LDS Church, B.H. Roberts noted: “If Joseph Smith’s translation of Egyptian parchment could be discredited, and proven false, then doubt would be thrown also upon the genuineness of his translation of the Book of Mormon, and thus all pretensions as a translator would be exposed and come to naught.” (Comprehensive History of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Vol. 2 p. 138)

The essay concludes: “The veracity and value of the book of Abraham cannot be settled by scholarly debate concerning the book’s translation and historicity.  The book’s status as scripture lies in the eternal truths it teaches and the powerful spirit it conveys.” 

It is time for the LDS Church to de-canonize the Book of Abraham.  But, the Book of Abraham is so full of distinct LDS doctrines that it can never be discounted as inauthentic without throwing Joseph Smith’s reputation out the window. 

The Gospel Topic Essay regarding the translation of the Book of Abraham does not provide the answers necessary to stem the tide of defection among Latter-day Saints. 

I realize many members won’t care how Joseph did it.  All they know is that it was done.  If members begin to question, they are regarded as weak in their faith, so most never allow themselves to do so. 

As a, result they fall for another JosephSmyth.

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Book of Abraham – Part 3

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The original claim that the Book of Abraham had been translated from ancient egyptian papyri scrolls has been proven false when it was clearly shown that the scrolls where funeral text.

The Church allowed photographs of the papyrus to be published in the February 1968 edition of the Improvement Era magazine, along with an article explaining them.  Now that over a hundred years had passed since the book’s translation, there were many educated people both in and out of the LDS faith who understood the Egyptian language.

During this time, many articles ran in the Improvement Era from 1968 through 1970 regarding the translation.  However, the LDS experts completed work revealed – that not only did the papyri NOT contain the Book of Abraham – there was not even the slightest connection between their contents and Abraham. 

What was on them?

They were simply ordinary Egyptian funeral texts – prayers to pagan Egyptian gods – that had been buried with the mummies.

Unsatisfied with the outcome, LDS leaders extended the opportunity to several other non-LDS Egyptologists to examine and comment on the papyri.  Each one of them arrived at the same conclusion: the papyri were common funeral texts, all clearly dating 1500 years later than Abraham’s time – having no connection whatever with the biblical patriarch Abraham. 

What Joseph Smith claimed to be the Book of Abraham, was actually the Book of Breathings.  And, what was supposed to be the Book of Joseph of Egypt, was the Book of the Dead.  

Paul warns us that when we die, we will be judged not only by our actions and words – He will judge the secrets of men and women.  Romans 2:16 “In the day when God shall judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ according to my gospel.”    He’s talking about the hidden desires, secret lusts, unspoken passions, thoughts, and motives of all people.  The thoughts of the hearts.  And, only God through Jesus Christ can determine the human heart. 

Then Paul declares the status of all men, women and children.  Romans 3:10-12 “As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one:  There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God.  They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one.”  Wow!  How does that make you feel?  He is simply saying that man is universally evil.  Unprofitable – corrupt.  No one naturally seeks after God.  Our tendency is to seek our own interest.  We are born selfish.  The message is clear here – There has not been, nor will there ever be, anyone who is justified before God due to their good lives or their obedience to religious laws.  From Mother Teresa, to Ghandi, or the Dali Lama.  None!  Human corruption is universal.   Compared to the incomprehensible holiness of God who is eternal and unchangeable – how could any created human being ever be considered righteous for anything – especially when we consider the elements that hide within the human heart?  We are “unprofitable – there is none that doeth good – not one.”  This speaks of the failure of Man to DO good. 

This is the state of every person who lives and dies by laws, ordinances, and covenants.  We are totally screwed by our attempt to please God by any external approach – especially through religion.  And this is why Jesus was born, which allows Paul to describe the only solution to such a hopeless state.  Romans 3:23-24 “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God; Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus:”   Paul tells us in Romans 3:19-20 “Now we know that what things soever the law saith, it saith to them who are under the law: that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God.  There by the deeds (works) of the law there shall be no flesh be justified in his sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin.”  Paul is describing here the state of all men and women when they each stand before God and attempt to justify their lives by virtue of having done good.  There is no justification before Holy God through our works of righteousness and obedience to laws and ordinances.  That is why my friends, we need to completely understand that you can not have salvation by anything other than through grace.  Salvation comes only by and through God’s goodness, His righteousness, and His shed blood, and nothing from us.  We can’t go to the foot of the Cross and tell Jesus “Thank you for what you’ve done for me by paying for my sins – but it wasn’t enough.  I need to add my good works to the atonement.”  Try justifying yourselves before God on judgment day.  I repeat what he said in verse 20 “Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall be no flesh be justified in his sight.”  God’s Law is good, is righteous, is perfect.  We cannot get angry at God’s Law – for it comes from Him.  But the Law was a way for us to examine our hearts and to understand that we can’t keep the law perfectly.  The last part of verse 20 “for by the law is the knowledge of sin.”  It should be reasonably understood by believers that we are not saved by obedience to Law.  Gravitating towards the law, limits our freedom in Christ and puts us back into bondage under the law. 

Paul continues in Romans 3:21 “But now the righteousness of God without the law is manifested, being witnessed by the law and the prophets;”  It’s important to know that when Paul writes the sentence, “the righteousness of God” he is not speaking of an attribute of God – but instead how God makes Man righteous.  In other words we could read it this way, “But now, the way God makes man righteous without the law is made known.”  It was going to take a plan from God without including the law to save mankind.  That plan mentioned in John 3:16 “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosover believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”  How does that happen?  Jesus came and both fulfilled the law through perfect adherence to it and then magnified it in the lives of those who trusted and believed on Him.  Romans 3:22 “Even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe: for there is no difference.”  But faith is a matter of choice on our part.  Nobody can be saved by works; and all are dependent on the mercy of God found through the shed blood of Jesus Christ.  Why in this way only?  Romans 3:23 “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;” 

Now Paul goes into greater detail saying, Romans 3:24-26 “Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus: Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God; To declare, I say, at this time his righteousness: that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus.”  That is the good news of the gospel – that we are “justified freely by his grace.”  It is an absolute, totally free, unconditional and underserved gift.  Free to us through believing.  But the cost and price, was the highest of anything to ever be purchased in eternity.  Christ redeemed us – He paid the ransom for us. 

Paul then adds, Romans 3:27 “Where is boasting then?  Is it excluded.  By what law? of works? Nay: but by the law of faith.”   Where is the boasting? Jews? Mormons? Christians?  If it was by any works, at all, boasting would be in order.  But Paul adds “but by the law of faith” in the Son of God.  Then he concludes with this amazing statement in verse 28 “Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law.”  There is no other way.  To trifle with this doctrine is to truly present another Gospel – contrary to the biblical Gospel Paul is talking about.  A false gospel teaches that “people ought to do good works then saving faith will come.”  Doing good works in order to bring about salvation or saving faith is a tool centered in the flesh, not in faith.   

Then Paul ends chapter three by bringing us all the way back around full circle by saying, Romans 3:31 “Do we make void the law through faith?  God forbid: yea, we establish the law.”  By what means does the justification of someone by faith establish the Law?  Here’s a great saying “Grace teaches us to say no to sin.”  Where the law reveals and exposes each of us to sin – grace teaches us to say no to it.  The moral law is embraced by those who are justified.  The Law is established in those who have been saved by grace through faith.  Romans 13:8 “Owe no man any thing, but to love one another: for he that loveth another hath fulfilled the law.”  When Jesus was on earth he was approached by a lawyer, as recorded in Matthew 22:36-40 “Master, which is the greatest commandment in the law?  Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.  This is the first and great commandment.  And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.  On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.”  To love – God and others – is the result of those who have come to faith.  It is by and through this action – love – that the Law is established in the lives of those who’ve experienced God’s mercy. 

There are Latter-day Saints who go to James chapter 2 to say, “faith without works is dead.”  But If we go to James chapter 2 beginning in verse 14, we can put it all into context.  I think we’ll find that James is talking about this very point that Paul makes here in Romans 3:31. James 2:14 “What doth it profit, my brethren, though a man say he hath faith, and have not works?  Can faith save him?”  He is saying, “What good is it if a man SAYS he has faith, but has not the works of LOVE?”  Then James goes on and gives us some illustrations in Verses 15 and 16.  Love is a verb.  God so LOVED the world He gave us His Son.  Jesus so LOVED the world He gave us His very life.  Then in verse 17 “Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone.”  James is saying the same thing as Paul is saying.  James continues in chapter 2:18-20 “Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works.  Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble.  But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead?”  Just as love without action or application is dead – so is faith without works.  There is no difference.

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Book of Abraham – Part 2

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What became of the papyrus scrolls – that the Book of Abraham was translated from.

Once Joseph Smith was killed in 1844, the papyri collection remained in the possession of his widow, Emma.  Remember she refused to follow the leadership of Brigham Young, and remained in Nauvoo with her children while the Saints moved west to the Utah Territory.

In October of 1880, the Book of Abraham was included in The Pearl of Great Price which was officially canonized at the Church’s semi-annual General Conference in Salt Lake City. 

The Introduction to the Book of Abraham reads, “The writings of Abraham while he was in Egypt, called the Book of Abraham, written by his own hand, upon papyrus.”

Allow me to fill in a crucial time gap.  Nearly forty years passed from the time Joseph translated the Book of Abraham, until it was officially recognized as sacred Scripture of the LDS Church.  However, during that period something occurred which neither Joseph nor any of his contemporaries could have foreseen. 

After many years of dedicated work on the Rosetta Stone, scholars were able to decipher the ancient Egyptian language.  It was now possible for scholars to translate accurately Egyptian texts and to understand their contexts. 

Initially, it did not appear likely that this new development would impact the isolated Mormon Church in Utah. 

What happened to the papyrus scrolls that Emma had?

Those scrolls and mummies were eventually sold by Emma in 1856, making their way to the Museum of Chicago.  They were then presumed destroyed in the great Chicago fire of 1871.  But those papyri had not been destroyed.  Lost, yes – but not forever.  They were to one day reappear. 

One Spring day in 1966, a professor of Arabic Studies from the University of Utah entered one of the vault rooms of New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art, seeking material for a book he was writing.  Dr. Aziz Atiya came across a file that contained a forgotten collection of Egyptian papyri.  The papyri had been glued to stiff backing paper in the 19th-century in an, effort to preserve them.  The reverse sides of the paper contained such things as architectural drawings of a temple and maps of Kirtland, Ohio.

Was Dr. Atiya was nor a mormon, but he recognized the collection as having a connection with the history of the LDS Church.  Dr. Atiya arranged for the LDS Church to acquire this collection from the museum.     

On November 27, 1967 the Salt Lake Deseret Newspaper announced the discovery of the original papyri from which Joseph Smith translated the Book of Abraham. 

Questions quickly rose – Would the arguments of critics be overcome and silenced at last?  Would Joseph’s work finally be justified before the eyes of a skeptical world?  The Saints waited expectantly and held their breath.

We can only imagine the anticipation since the LDS Church had been criticized all those years for not having the Gold Plates to validate the Book of Mormon, and the ancient Egyptian papyri to validate the Book of Abraham. 

Finally there were highly educated Egyptologists who could translate the writings on the papyrus to let everyone know if it was truly what Joseph claimed it to be – the Book of Abraham.

Next time we meet, I will share with you how that turns out. 

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1 Corinthians 1-7 ~ Come Follow Me
I Never Knew You – Part 1
– If you have a modern-day apostle telling its members in a world-wide General Conference that the Bible is wrong and the Joseph Smith Translation is inspired – in spite of contradictory statements in the Book of Mormon – as a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, what do you do with that information?
Romans 9-16
This is not a simple acknowledging that He is God. This is a deep personal conviction that Jesus is our Lord. It includes repenting, trusting, and submitting to Him as Lord.
Romans 7-8 – Come Follow Me
Romans 4-6 – Come Follow Me
Romans 1-3 – Come Follow Me
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Book of Abraham – Part 1

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Have you ever prayed to know if the Book of Abraham is true?

Does the promise in the Book of Mormon – to pray and ask God if it is true – doesn’t apply to the Book of Abraham?

How can you trust that the Book of Abraham is the word of God?

Latter Day Saints believe they have to have faith that Joseph Smith is a prophet and that he had the gift to translate.

From ancient Egyptian into 16th-century Kings James English, no less. 

Are you aware that – what Joseph Smith claimed to be a correct translation of the Book of Abraham – has since been proven to be a fraud?

Let me begin, by sharing with you some of your own church history.

In 1835 a traveling showman – Michael Chandler – brought an exhibit of Egyptian artifacts to the Mormon town of Kirtland, Ohio.  Those artifacts consisted of four ancient Egyptian mummies and two papyrus scrolls.  Because the Latter-day Saints believed their prophet Joseph Smith had the gift to translate the Book of Mormon gold plates that were inscribed in “reformed Egyptian”, those same Mormons believed Joseph might want to see if the papyri were of any religious value. 

Joseph examined the hieroglyphics on the scrolls and declared them to be the writings of Abraham and the writings of Joseph, who was sold into Egypt. 

Despite the severe financial, problems the church was suffering at that time, the Mormons purchased the scrolls for $2,400 – a large sum of money in those days. 

Joseph immediately began the translation of the first scroll.  He stated, “I commenced the translation of some of the characters or hieroglyphics, and much to our joy found that one of the rolls contained the writings of Abraham.” (Joseph Smith, History of the Church, vol. 2:235-236)

Consequently, he never began the translation of the supposed writings of Joseph of Egypt. 

In the eyes of the church members, this translation of Abraham’s record validated Joseph as a “prophet, seer, and revelator.” 

Contained with in it were unique and distinct doctrines. 

the pre-existence of spirits

eternal progression, and

the plurality of gods. 

It also introduced the first and only scriptural basis for denying the priesthood to people with black skin.

You’ll find the “curse of Cain” referred to in Abraham 1:21-27.

The value and impact of the Book of Abraham was recognized at once by the faithful, and Joseph continued to expound upon its contents in lectures and sermons right up to the time of his death. 

When we meet again, I would like to tell you what became of the papyrus scrolls.  It’s an intriguing story that you’ll want to hear.

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