Jacob 2 and 3, Censorship, and Mormonism’s Avoidance of Stubborn Book of Mormon Truth, Part 2

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In Part 1 of this essay I included the excerpt below from the LDS Church’s Teacher Manual for seminary (i.e., high school aged) students.  This excerpt is taken from the Book of Mormon lesson wherein the content of Jacob 2 and 3 is addressed. Readers may wonder why I didn’t include material from the lesson covering Jacob 2 and 3 in the Church’s Book of Mormon Teacher Manual for Institute (i.e., college aged) students.  (I truly do hope readers wondered that.  It would mean the reader is intellectually engaged in the discussion of this topic, for one thing, and that question naturally inheres in a discussion about how the LDS Church teaches difficult subjects.  But in this case, the question also leads to a very interesting answer.) Continue reading

2 Nephi 4 and the Pain or Exhilaration of Learning What You Thought You Wanted to Know, Part 1

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One of my daughters, who loves math and majored in statistics in college, recently challenged me to solve a math word problem to which she had already figured out the answer.  Since I generally enjoy word problems, and believed careful thinking on my part  would reveal the solution, I had no reason not to accept her challenge.  I also assumed that the problem was tricky and the answer counterintuitive, because otherwise my daughter would have no reason to use this problem to test me.  So, with what I thought was the appropriate amount of confidence and wariness, I said “Sure, lay it on me.”

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What “Plain and Precious Things” did the “Great and Abominable Church” Keep Back from its Biblical Teachings?

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In two unique chapters of the Book of Mormon, 1 Nephi 13 and 14, the prophet Nephi, writing during the 6th century B.C., relates what an angel showed him in vision about the future history of Christianity in Europe and the Americas.  One of the most salient features of his vision is a description of what happens after the Old Testament Jewish scriptures and the New Testament Christian gospel have been recorded and written in their uncorrupted form1 by Israelite and Jewish writers of the Old and New Testaments.  Over the centuries, as these records and writings coalesce into what is known today as the Bible2,  they are then adopted and accepted by Christians as canonical.  Thereafter, the Bible comes into the possession and control of what the angel and Nephi refer to as the “great and abominable church.”  The result is that the biblical message, formerly pure, becomes corrupted in the way it’s taught to Christianity’s adherents.  Specifically,  the church’s teaching is observed to be missing “many plain and precious things” which have been “taken away” or “kept back” by said evil church.  See 1 Nephi 13:26, 28-29, 32, 34, 40. Continue reading

How We Know Shem Wasn’t Melchizedek, Part II, and What it Means for Christianity

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In a previous essay, I laid out the evidence demonstrating why Shem and the ancient high priest Melchizedek couldn’t have been the same person, contrary to popular Mormon belief.  See Why Melchizedek wasn’t Shem, and Why it Does and Doesn’t Matter, elsewhere on this website.  By reading further information on this subject, which was brought to my attention by a reader of this website, I have found what I consider to be another forbiddingly strong argument that further solidifies the case against Shem and Melchizedek sharing the same identity.  At the end of this essay, I’ll explain why I think this new piece of evidence has important ramifications for our study and understanding of not only the Bible, but all other books that Mormons accept as scriptural.

The “new” (to me, at least) piece of evidence is that Shem had been dead for 570 years when Abraham was born, so he couldn’t have been present when Melchizedek later encountered Abraham as the latter returned from the slaughter of the kings. Continue reading