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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Mother in Heaven – Part 3

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Gospel Topics Essays found onLDS.org  – Mother in Heaven published on October 23, 2015.

We have been discussing the unique Mormon belief that there is a Mother in Heaven.  Or, even, Mother’s in Heaven.

Let’s read on where we left off in that essay.

“Latter-day Saints direct their worship to Heavenly Father, in the name of Christ, and do not pray to Heavenly Mother.”

But why shouldn’t she be worshipped?  If she did her part and “our heavenly parents work together for the salvation of the human family,” shouldn’t she receive some of the credit?

Do Mormons not worship or pray to her because she’s not worthy?  Or because LDS scripture doesn’t say they should?

Where in the Book of Mormon or the Doctrine and Covenants does it say not to pray to Heavenly Mother?

The essay says,

“In this, they follow the pattern set by Jesus Christ, who taught His disciples to ‘always pray unto the Father in my name.”

Come to think of it – Jesus MUST have known there was a Heavenly Mother!  If she really existed, why is she never mentioned by Him?

“Latter-day Saints are taught to pray to Heavenly Father, but as President Gordon B. Hinckley said, ‘The fact that we do not pray to our Mother in Heaven in no way belittles or denigrates her.’  Indeed, as Elder Rudger Clawson wrote, ‘We honor woman when we acknowledge Godhood in her eternal Prototype.’”

She’s called a “Prototype!”  How flattering!

“As with many other truths of the gospel, our present knowledge about a Mother in Heaven is limited.”

If there really is a Mother in Heaven and the regular LDS member’s knowledge is limited, shouldn’t the Church Prophet – with his ability to receive revelation – provide more details about this mysterious lady?

This short essay really doesn’t do her justice, if she even does exist.

“Nevertheless, we have been given sufficient knowledge to appreciate the sacredness of this doctrine and to comprehend the divine pattern established for us as children of heavenly parents.  Latter-day Saints believe that this pattern is reflected in Paul’s statement that ‘neither is the man without the woman, neither the woman without the man, in the Lord.’  Men and women cannot be exalted without each other.  Just as we have a Father in Heaven, we have a Mother in Heaven.  As Elder Dallin H. Oaks of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles has said, ‘Our theology begins with heavenly parents.  Our highest aspiration is to be like them.’”

If LDS theology “begins with heavenly parents,” then it seems more emphasis ought to be given to the other half of the couple – Heavenly Mother.

I just want you to know that when it comes to Christianity, the only real practice or belief that ties Christianity into the LDS view of a Mother in Heaven comes either from paganism and/or the Origin of Mary Worship.  Both of, these have ties to the notion of a Queen in Heaven, which is mentioned in the Old Testament.

Let’s look at Jeremiah 7:17-18.

“Seest thou not what they do in the cities of Judah and in the streets of Jerusalem?  The children gather wood, and the fathers kindle the fire, and the women knead their dough, to make cakes to the queen of heaven, and to pour out drink offerings unto other gods, that they may provoke me to anger.”

Here, God warned the Jews who had rebelled against God by honoring “the Queen of Heaven.”

In my estimation all of this Mother in Heaven and Queen of Heaven talk is just another means to get people to take their eyes off the One True and Living God.

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Mother in Heaven – Part 2

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Gospel Topics Essays found onLDS.org  – Mother in Heavenpublished on October 23, 2015.

We are continuing our review of the Gospel Topics Essays found on LDS.org.  This one is addressing the idea of a Mother in Heaven.

This teaching is very, unique to Mormonism.  So,  let’s pick up where we left off in the essay.

“While there is no record of a formal revelation to Joseph Smith on this doctrine, some early Latter-day Saint women recalled that he personally taught them about a Mother in Heaven.  The earliest published references to the doctrine appeared shortly after Joseph Smith’s death in 1844, in documents written by his close associates.  The most notable expression of the idea is found in a poem by Eliza R. Snow, now known as the hymn, ‘O My Father.’  This text declares: ‘in the heavens are parents single?  No, the thought makes reason stare; Truth is reason – truth eternal – tells me I’ve a mother there.”

The doctrine of a Mother in Heaven is not a minor belief.   If anyone should have been aware of this teaching enough to have it included in LDS scripture, Joseph Smith would certainly seem to be the man.   But, the hymn “Oh My Father” didn’t come out until after Smith was dead.

The essay goes on to say,

“Subsequent Church leaders have affirmed the existence of a Mother in Heaven.  In 1909, the First Presidency taught that ‘all men and women are in the similitude of the universal Father and Mother and are literally the sons and daughters of Deity.’  Susa Young Gates, a prominent leader in the Church, wrote in 1920 that Joseph Smith’s visions and teachings revealed the truth that ‘the divine Mother, is side by side with the divine Father.’”

Wait a minute!  That statement contradicts what was said in the previous paragraph of the essay which said, “While there is no record of a formal revelation to Joseph Smith on this doctrine,”

If there is no formal revelation of God giving this teaching to Joseph Smith – as stated by that sentence – is the Mormon really suppose to accept this was a true teaching of Joseph Smith?  What evidence is there?

Let’s read on,

“And in ‘The Family: A Proclamation to the World,’ issued in 1995, the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve Apostles declared, ‘Each person is a beloved spirit son or daughter of heavenly parents, and, as such, each has a divine nature and destiny.’”

“Prophets have taught that our heavenly parents work together for the salvation of the human family.  ‘We are part of a divine plan designed by Heavenly Parents who love us,’ taught Elder M. Russell Ballard of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles.  President Harold B. Lee stated, ‘We forget that we have a Heavenly Father and a Heavenly Mother who are even more concerned, probably, than our earthly father and mother, and that influences from beyond are constantly working to try to help us when we do all we can.’”

It is interesting that the, Heavenly Mother teaching, is rarely mentioned today by any LDS leader or in any church manuals.

It’s as if she is cut-off from her children.  We will find out in our next discussion that prayers from her spirit children will never be directed to her.  In, essence she is not allowed to have any contact with her spiritual off-spring.  And, they will not be encouraged by your church leaders to have a relationship with her.

Can you imagine a mother who is ignored and abandoned by her children in that way?

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Mother in Heaven – Part 1

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Gospel Topics Essays found onLDS.org  – Mother in Heavenpublished on October 23, 2015.

It starts out by saying,

“The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints teaches that all human beings, male and female, are beloved spirit children of heavenly parents, a Heavenly Father and a Heavenly Mother.”

Latter-day Saints believe the, human race lived in a premortal existence with Heavenly Parents and that all people are begotten spirit children of God.

One thing the essay doesn’t mention is the idea that there are plural mothers in heaven.   However, it has been taught in Mormonism that God the Father is a polygamist.

Mormon Apostle Orson Pratt taught,

“If none but Gods will be permitted to multiply immortal children, it follows that each God must have one or more wives.”

~The Seer, p. 158

He went on to say,

“We have now clearly shown that God the Father had a plurality of wives…”

~The Seer, p. 172

If that was true, there must have been many Heavenly Mothers giving birth to billions of spirits.  All humanity in the pre-existence must have had the same father but a different mother.  The odds are that we did not come from the same Heavenly Mother.  In fact, that would make us spiritual half-brothers and sisters.

And, if our heavenly parents are resurrected immortal beings, why were they procreating “spirit” children and not children with immortal physical bodies like themselves?

First, of all there is no biblical proof to support the notion that people existed as spirits in a previous life.  We covered this subject in depth during previous discussions.

Link to Eternal Families

The Bible teaches that humans were NOT children of “Heavenly Parents” in a preexistent state.  Rather, people become children of God through faith.  For instance, John 1:12:

“But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name.”

“For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus.” ~ Galatians 3:26

The next statement in the essay says,

“This understanding is rooted in scriptural and prophetic teachings about the nature of God, our relationship to Deity, and the godly potential of men and women.  The doctrine of a Heavenly Mother is a cherished and distinctive belief among Latter-day Saints.”

It’s interesting that even though “the doctrine of Heavenly Mother is a cherished and distinctive belief among Latter-day Saints”, nowhere is this doctrine taught in any of the LDS standard works, neither is it found in any of Joseph Smith’s recorded teachings.

However, Tenth President Joseph Fielding Smith explains,

“The fact that there is no reference to a mother in heaven either in the Bible, Book of Mormon or D&C, is not sufficient proof that no such thing as a mother did exist there.  If we had a Father, which we did, for all these records speak of him, then does not good common sense tell us that we must have had a mother there also?”

~Answers to Gospel Questions 3:142

But until this essay was published in 2015, how could a Mormon know for sure there is even such a person known as a Heavenly Mother?

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Gospel Topic Essays

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Are you Elders familiar with the Gospel Topics Essays produced by the LDS Church?

Elder Smith

Of course, they are found on lds.org.

Chris

Have you read them?

Elder Young

Honestly, I haven’t read any of them yet.

Elder Smith

I’ve read a couple.

Chris

It would seem important for you as missionaries to know what each of those essays had to say on the various gospel topics.

Elder Young

What specific topics do they cover?

Chris

Let’s look at them on the Church’s website:  lds.org > search > Gospel Topics Essays.  There are eleven of them.  And they are listed in alphabetical order:

Are Mormons Christian?

Becoming like God

Book of Mormon and DNA Studies

Book of Mormon Translation

First Vision Accounts

Joseph Smith’s Teachings about Priesthood, Temple, and Women

Mother in Heaven

Peace and Violence among 19th-Century Latter-day Saints

Race and the Priesthood

Translation and Historicity of the Book of Abraham

Elder Young

When did the Church produce these essays?

Elder Smith

Didn’t they begin publishing them in 2013 and through 2015.   It was in response to what members were finding on the internet about the history, doctrine, and practices of the Church.

Because the First Presidency was concerned that much of the information was coming from questionable and unreliable sources, they commissioned these essays to be written and made available on the Church’s own official website.

Elder Young

So, did our Prophet or Apostles write them?

Elder Smith

I highly doubt it!  Probably written by LDS scholars.  Perhaps from the Religion Department at Brigham Young University.

Chris

I think the reason the church came out with the essays at that time was because convert rates in the LDS Church had been declining greatly while a steady stream of members are leaving the faith.

I’m not sure these essays are designed to restore people’s faith as much as they are designed to lessen future disaffections.

With so much information readily available on the internet, the church can no longer hide its history and hopes to do damage control by reconciling the facts with what has been taught by church leaders in the past.

Elder Smith

So Chris obviously you have been reading these essays?

Chris

I have, and I would like to review some of them with you.  Perhaps next time we could discuss the essay titled – Mother in Heaven.

Cause if I have a mother in heaven, I should probably know something about her.  Don’t you think?

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