Thursday, July 20, 2017

Lost Mormonism: magic dagger, magic parchments, magic talisman and seer stones



 An artist’s rendition of the white seer stone.
Image copyright 2016, Deseret Book.

The above "white seer stone" was pictured on the front cover of the book I wrote about in my last post. Some recent online research has brought to my attention a website that has published images and brief introductions of other "seer stones" used by Joseph Smith, his relatives and close associates. The site also includes images and brief introductions concerning a number of other occultic items owned and utilized by the same aforementioned folk, which include a magic dagger, magic parchments, and a magic talisman: link to LOST MORMONISM.

Listed below are direct links to the above mentioned occultic items:





The "Tags" section on the right side-bar of the site has many other related topics on early Mormonism—topics that I suspect many folk will find to be quite disturbing.


Grace and peace,

David

35 comments:

theruteger said...

Some LDS apologists say some of the talismans, I know for example the Jupiter, are not occultic but masonic (which is not that much better)

David Waltz said...

Hi theruteger,

Thanks much for taking the time to comment. From my readings of Masonry (Manly P. Hall, Albert Mackey, Albert Pike, etc.) I would say that good deal of Masonry is occultic. As such, to argue that something is not occultic but Masonic is an exercise in futility.


Grace and peace,

David

Jensen Carlyle said...

And, even if Free Masonry isn't occultic, it's still a secret society, right? And to the extent that Mormon practices or beliefs reflect this, they're inimical to Christianity. It would be more like ancient pagan mystery cults instead of Christianity.

Jensen Carlyle said...

David, you don't happen to be the David Waltz who wrote this: https://publications.mi.byu.edu/publications/review/12/2/S00013-51b9ecf431e1713Waltz.pdf - A New Look at Historic Christianity?

David Waltz said...

Hi Jensen,

Thanks much for taking the time post. You wrote:

==And, even if Free Masonry isn't occultic, it's still a secret society, right?==

Yes, it is a "secret society".

==And to the extent that Mormon practices or beliefs reflect this, they're inimical to Christianity. It would be more like ancient pagan mystery cults instead of Christianity.==

Very good points. Some LDS apologists try to equate Mormon secret rituals with a practice used by some early Christians termed disciplina arcani. This attempt fails, due to the fact that after Roman persecution ended, so too the practice of disciplina arcani.

As such, the continued use of secrecy by Mormonism does indeed seem, "more like ancient pagan mystery cults instead of Christianity."

As for the question from your second post, yes, I am the same 'David Waltz'.


Grace and peace,

David

JimSpace said...

Hi, as one who researches various topics in Mormonism from time to time, I thank you for pointing out this website. As it states, Mormonism contains "weird and wacky things ... some absurdly bizarre, and some seriously troubling."

I've talked to Mormons online who believe that the Apostle John never died and is still alive somewhere on earth (per D&C 7) and that the Garden of Eden was in Missouri even though this is a contradiction of both the Bible and Mormon scriptures. (For the later, see Mormonism and the Eden Direction Dilemma)

David Waltz said...

Hi Jim,

Thanks much for taking the time to share some of your thoughts. In addition to their belief that the apostle John did not die and is still alive on Earth, the Book of Mormon teaches that three of the Nephite apostles/disciples (Joseph Smith stated that the twelve Nephite disciples were apostles under the authority of New Testament apostles), also did not die and are still alive on Earth. As such, a bit of a dichotomy exists in their understand of what they have termed the great/total apostasy—it really wasn't total for their scriptures teach that at least four apostles appointed by Jesus Christ did not die, and retained their authority as apostles, even until our own day.

Shall check out the link you provided right after I post this comment...


Grace and peace,

David

JimSpace said...

Hi David, thank you for sharing. While I was familiar with their 3 Nephites claim, I had never connected it with the Apostle John to their total apostasy teaching, which then presents a contradiction as you note. What I find even more alarming is why there is no explanation why John is in hiding somewhere and not acting as a Mormon Apostle. It's a real stumper.

I'm also reminded of the article on Lost Mormonism "Cain is Bigfoot" http://www.lostmormonism.com/cain-is-bigfoot/ where a claimed conversation is recorded between Cain and a Mormon Apostle in America! Then Mormons later identified wandering Cain in America as Bigfoot! :-( They seem to have forgotten that Cain is presented as later settling into a city named after his son Enoch.

David Waltz said...

Hello again Jim,

Thanks for pointing out the "Cain is Bigfoot" post—very interesting—I was totally unaware of this story until you brought it to my attention.

I am inclined to believe that David W. Patton did not invent his narrative from nothing; but rather, that he actually had some sort of real life encounter...

What do you think about this?


Grace and peace,

David


P.S. I just noticed a typo in my previous post; "understand" should be "understanding".

JimSpace said...

Hey there,
Yes I suppose it's possible that he noticed some kind of ruffian walking beside him, and then thought that this would make an apt illustration of Cain, and then possibly got carried away in his description. (Today I noticed a two rough-looking characters walking on the sidewalk as I drove my car.) Mormonism is characterized by an expansive imagination, to put it mildly.

David Waltz said...

Interestingly enough, at 2:20 PM (PDT) today (just a little over 2 hours and thirty minutes ago), two LDS missionaries dropped by. During our conversation, I pulled Spencer W. Kimball's, The Miracle of Forgiveness, down from the shelf and read to them his recounting of David Patton's encounter with Cain. I asked them if they had known about this story, and both said that they did. The second young man that answered my query then immediately followed up his affirmation with: "I have heard some members say they believe that sasquatch is Cain."

Now, I know that I read The Miracle of Forgiveness back in 1987, but did not remember the Patton/Cain narrative in the book until I reread it earlier today. I am getting old...

JimSpace said...

That experience is really incredible. Not only were you coincidentally visited by them, but you were prepared to discuss the Cain issue with them, not just from a potentially "anti-Mormon" website, but from one of their own books.

Now, Patten died October 24, 1838 at the Battle of Crooked Creek in Missouri.[1] Prior to that, he related his story encountering Cain. I imagine this is associated with Joseph Smith identifying Adam-ondi-Ahman in Missouri on May 19, 1838, "the place where Adam and Eve went after being exiled from the Garden of Eden."[2] I imagine then that Patten's account was crafted to support Joseph Smith's claim of Eden being in Missouri. Now while Mormons have a lot more to say about the Sethite Enoch than what's found anywhere else, they seem to have nothing to say about Cain's city Enoch.[3]

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Crooked_River
[2] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Adam-ondi-Ahman
[3] https://www.lds.org/scriptures/bd/enoch.html?lang=eng&letter=E

JimSpace said...

Oh well, according to Mormon Think, Patten "saw" Cain in 1835,[1] and the Wikipedia article says it was "seen" in Paris, Tennessee,[2] which is near Missouri.

If so, then Patten beat Joseph to the punch claiming that characters from Genesis lived in America.

[1] http://www.mormonthink.com/glossary/bigfoot.htm
[2] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/David_W._Patten#Story_of_meeting_Cain

David Waltz said...

Hi Jim,

A pretty good biography of David W. Patton in various digital formats can be read and downloaded for free via the following link:

Life of David W. Patten

In the first of the three editions of book provided, the Cain story can be found on page 50.


Grace and peace,

David

JimSpace said...

Thank you David for that link to a primary source. I will have to write-up a report on this topic.

David Waltz said...

Good morning Jim,

Let me know when your report is finished; I definitely would like to read it.


Grace and peace,

David

TOm said...


Hello all!

I am of course a LDS. I had heard of Cain as Big Foot. I also didn’t realize it was in Miracle of Forgiveness.

I have finished (for now) my comments on the other thread and I am quite solidly in the same place I was before I started my comments. There are many things that I find unusual in Mormonism. Some I feel no compulsion to embrace, “Cain is Big Foot.” Some do not cause me too much problems like seer stones or John and the 3 Nephites and their “non-public” continued ministry or …. And at least one I think is not well answered by LDS thinkers, but …

When it is all said and done though, I cannot right the obvious supernatural origins of the BOM and the CoJCoLDS with the explanations offered by our critics. I am a LDS for the best within the CoJCoLDS. Not because “donkeys speak,” “virgins conceive,” “the apostles cast lots to …,” or because there are “Pagan links to sacraments or holidays or ….”

What I think doesn’t need to be part of my faith, “Adam-God” or “Blood Atonement,” I reject. What I think needs to be part of my faith, “the origins of the Book of Abraham,” I accept. And what is glorious, I embrace, God created out of love for me and all of us. He hears and answers my prayers because I freely choose to offer them. He experiences my rebellion and love me anyway. He experiences my embrace of Him and loves me for this too.

The way I order the positives and the negative, being a LDS is intellectually the right choice before I seek God’s will for my life in prayer. Then God calls me to be a LDS and I am doubly blessed.

I wish Rory and I could have what I think Rory and I have and be in the same church. Alas I do not see that path before me or us, but God has parted seas before so perhaps…

Charity, TOm

JimSpace said...

Hi David, thank you for your interest.

Hi TOm,
I’m glad you do not feel compelled to believe that Cain survived Noah’s Flood outside of the ark and continues to roam the earth, with not even Hawaii being safe, now as a giant and shaggy Bigfoot creature menacing Mormons. (Are we to believe that “Cain” swam to Hawaii and back, like he evidently had to swim during the Flood? Or maybe he stowed away on a boat to Hawaii? Ridiculous!)

With that said, do you think the leaders of the LDS Church will ever put that ludicrous fairytale to rest since their predecessors started it? Or do you think it’s more likely that they’ll be content to let it wither away?

Respectfully,
Jim

David Waltz said...

Hi Tom,

So good to see a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints taking some interest in this thread—especially one as charitable and thoughtful as you. From your post we read:

==I am of course a LDS. I had heard of Cain as Big Foot. I also didn’t realize it was in Miracle of Forgiveness.

I have finished (for now) my comments on the other thread and I am quite solidly in the same place I was before I started my comments. There are many things that I find unusual in Mormonism. Some I feel no compulsion to embrace, “Cain is Big Foot.” ==

IMO the “Cain is Big Foot" notion is separate from whether or not David W. Patton saw Cain. The former is pure speculation, whilst the latter calls for some deep reflection to determine whether or not the event actually occurred. Having read Patton's biography, it is difficult for me to totally discount the experience he had with a being he believed was Cain.

==Some do not cause me too much problems like seer stones or John and the 3 Nephites and their “non-public” continued ministry or …. And at least one I think is not well answered by LDS thinkers, but …

When it is all said and done though, I cannot right the obvious supernatural origins of the BOM and the CoJCoLDS with the explanations offered by our critics. I am a LDS for the best within the CoJCoLDS. Not because “donkeys speak,” “virgins conceive,” “the apostles cast lots to …,” or because there are “Pagan links to sacraments or holidays or ….”==

As you know, I have been investigating the LDS Church for some 30 years now. I have read well over a dozen different theories advanced by atheists, Catholics, Evangelicals, et al., who have attempted to explain Mormonism via naturalism. IMO, all these attempts have failed to account for a good deal of the complexity of this movement.

==What I think doesn’t need to be part of my faith, “Adam-God” or “Blood Atonement,” I reject. What I think needs to be part of my faith, “the origins of the Book of Abraham,” I accept. And what is glorious, I embrace, God created out of love for me and all of us. He hears and answers my prayers because I freely choose to offer them. He experiences my rebellion and love me anyway. He experiences my embrace of Him and loves me for this too.

The way I order the positives and the negative, being a LDS is intellectually the right choice before I seek God’s will for my life in prayer. Then God calls me to be a LDS and I am doubly blessed.==

I am at a bit of a loss for words Tom, for I know that you are a very sincere, thoughtful, seeker of God's will. Whom am I to doubt what you have experienced...

God bless,

David

TOm said...

Hello Jim,

Thanks for your question.

There was a time when I wished the CoJCoLDS (Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) would address some of the more controversial topics in our history. I had been involved with LDS discussions of these topics for years and it was (and is) my opinion that well understood there are almost no large problems. Combine this with purely intellectual and/or purely spiritual reasons for belief and I was of the opinion that discussing problems would not be problematic. I would suggest if you don’t research and instead throw purely spiritual reasons/faith at problems a LDS would still be well served to echo Cardinal Newman and say, “Ten thousand problems do not a doubt make.” The essays on difficult topics published by the church are what I thought would be beneficial so that has largely been provided. For those looking to pursue problems with the intellect most problems are suitably small when properly understood.

If I was asked by church leaders if they needed to address the “Cain as Bigfoot” nugget, I would unreservedly say, “no.” It exists as Mormon folklore today. If it is true or if it is false there is virtually no bearing on LDS worship, beliefs, or truth claims. This essay while not mentioning Big Foot I think well explains how LDS and non-LDS SHOULD view this:

http://www.mormonnew​sroom.org/article/ap​proaching-mormon-doc​trine

From the essay:


Not every statement made by a Church leader, past or present, necessarily constitutes doctrine. A single statement made by a single leader on a single occasion often represents a personal, though well-considered, opinion, but is not meant to be officially binding for the whole Church. With divine inspiration, the First Presidency (the prophet and his two counselors) and the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles (the second-highest governing body of the Church) counsel together to establish doctrine that is consistently proclaimed in official Church publications. This doctrine resides in the four “standard works” of scripture (the Holy Bible, the Book of Mormon, the Doctrine and Covenants and the Pearl of Great Price), official declarations and proclamations, and the Articles of Faith. Isolated statements are often taken out of context, leaving their original meaning distorted.

Some doctrines are more important than others and might be considered core doctrines. For example, the precise location of the Garden of Eden is far less important than doctrine about Jesus Christ and His atoning sacrifice. The mistake that public commentators often make is taking an obscure teaching that is peripheral to the Church’s purpose and placing it at the very center. This is especially common among reporters or researchers who rely on how other Christians interpret Latter-day Saint doctrine.



I am presently unsure what to make of your position that LDS who believe that Bigfoot are evil fallen humans from Cain is untenable because they would have to have survived the world-wide flood not on (or on) Noah’s Ark. I currently lean towards the view that “The Flood” was a large flood, but not a world-wide flood. I not dogmatic about this though. Science and human reasons speaks far louder AGAINST a worldwide flood than it does against a creature such as Bigfoot being somehow linked to Cain who rebelled against his brother. That being said, science speaks against virgin birth and men who do not burn in fire. I absolutely accept the first and generally accept the second as being historically accurate.

I suppose my point is that one of my son’s friends seemed to believe the Cain-Bigfoot connection, but I am not willing to ridicule such a view in light of all the non-scientific (ie Supernatural) things I embrace as true. And I suggest that making hay about such a view held by LDS should be very uncomfortable for anyone who accepts the virgin birth and any number of other things (like the world-wide flood).

Charity, TOm

TOm said...


Hello David,

Thank you for the welcome and the kind words.

I do not see extraordinary and weird things from 150 years ago as being necessarily problematic for LDS truth claims in ways that extraordinary and weird things from 2000 and 2500 years ago are not problematic Christian truth claims.

I have not actually read the biography portion you reference. I do remember a discussion board where folks talked encountering the devil and/or Cain

President Monson spoke of a time when he received an impression to call on a brother to speak at a regional conference. President Monson knew the brother was at a meeting across town and was not going to attend. Eventually he asked this brother to speak. The brother had just arrived after his previous meeting ended early and he felt prompted to speed across town to join the regional conference late.

I look back on my day and find little things and occasionally big things where I do not think I acted alone. Little things and occasionally big things were God helped me in little ways. I almost never find supernatural things that I cannot rationally dismiss as coincidence or luck or …, but I choose to recognize that God might have been involved. Sometimes it is difficult for me to dismiss these things as not from God, and these are more powerful for me. But they are infrequent and still …

I have never spoken to a burning bush. I have never asked a man to speak who I knew was not present. I have never met a Cain figure. I approach the gospel with my head 90% of the time. Sometimes I wonder if that hampers my ability to receive the spiritual gifts God has prepared for me. Other times, I recognize that God made me this way.

I do not know what happened to David Patten. I do not know how President Monson became certain he should call a man he knew was absent. I do not know how an angel delivered plates to a boy. I do not know how Moses spoke to a burning bush. These are not the things that happen in my life. But, I will not disbelieve them just because I have not experienced them.

Atheist tell me that they have not received answers to prayers and have not received spiritual impressions. There lack of experience does not invalidate my experience. I believe what has happened for me and believe other things might have happened to other people.

Cont…




TOm said...


David, you said some nice things about me. Thanks! I love you and Rory. I do not think Rory has put in the time and effort to determine if he should become a LDS that you have put in. So it is you who reoriented my more simple view. Before I met you I did not find it difficult to believe that sincere seekers would become LDS in this life. After I met you, I believe God’s plan is more complex than I thought it was.

I also have a scale in my mind. On one side are all the things that point to the CoJCoLDS as God’s church. On the other side are all the things that point away from the CoJCoLDS as God’s church. The origins of the Book of Abraham is on the point away side. The witness statements for the BOM is on the towards side. Explanations for the origins of the BOA are in the scale. Explanations for the witness statements involving group hypnosis and … are on the scale. My mind orders these things and looks at the balance. The CoJCoLDS being true is way ahead as best I can tell. Sometimes it seems remarkable to me that every rational person cannot see this. What is wrong with their thinking? Or is it my thinking that is wrong? I think we bring our biases to ever decision and God made us such that we do. We try to become as a little child, and hopefully we succeed sufficiently to know the truth. Perhaps that is all it is.

Of course I do not want to rely on my judgment alone. While the scale is clear to me, I am fallen and wicked and fallible. I pray for God’s will. This also points me to the CoJCoLDS.

But, I can no longer claim that all true seekers will become LDS in this life. I actually do not know how our post mortal sorting will work either, but I have faith in the goodness of God. That is enough for me.

I guess I should ask you a question about this thread: Are you saying that the occultic aspects of LDS worship and origins are problematic in ways that “casting lots” or “Kyrie Eleison” are not?

I have regularly thought of Newman’s note “assimilation of type” when I think of LDS temple worship and Masonic connections.

Charity, TOm



Deleted and reposted because somehow two parts of post did follow one another.

JimSpace said...

@ TOm,

You said:

“I am presently unsure what to make of your position that LDS who believe that Bigfoot are evil fallen humans from Cain is untenable because they would have to have survived the world-wide flood not on (or on) Noah’s Ark.”

Hi there, you have been writing a lot here so you may have gotten some of your words jumbled up, for the above is hard to decipher and match-up with what has been previously presented. But definitely I lean towards being misunderstood. Regardless, Cain could not have met your Apostle Patten in 1835 for three reasons:
(1) There is nothing stating that Cain was to wander forever.
(2) As a child of Adam, he inherited a death sentence. (Romans 5:12-14)
(3) Lastly, the Noachian Deluge wiped the earth clean of prior wickedness, including Cain’s legacy. Even if Cain had survived to live to see the Deluge, outliving Adam and Methuselah, he would still have been removed during the Deluge.

Thus, Apostle Patten did the Mormon community a great disservice by claiming to have conversed with Cain, exposing his lack of thought on the scriptures.

This is my final comment.

David Waltz said...

Jim and Tom,

Very hectic day Tuesday, with no time for the internet. Have much to comment on, but it will have to wait until Friday for I am shortly heading out of town to visit one of my daughters. Until then, take care and God bless.

David

David Waltz said...

Hi Jim,

Wanted to let readers know that you have posted the "report" you mentioned above:

Raising Cain...

Found your "report" to be a very good introduction to an odd piece of Mormon history. I had not read the article from the journal you referenced, but did so just moments ago. The following caught my eye:

>>The Cain described by Patten and Eliza Snow, condemned by God, reigning in hell, and walking the earth, reflected religious assumptions of nineteenth-century Mormons. Philip L. Barlow has argued that Mormons of this period shared common Protestant assumptions of biblical literalism; Cain’s curse was therefore taken seriously and wedded with a more distinctive belief in what Brigham Young termed “spiritual warfare,” a supernatural struggle waged between good and evil over the well-trodden battleground of everyday life. As historian Paul Reeve has argued, the concept of a “spiritual battle between the forces of good and evil [was] manifest in nineteenth- century Mormon theology.” Nineteenth-century Mormon leaders embraced a Pauline conception of sin that identified evil as an external force, existing independently of God. A malignant, personified power, it threatened to grip humanity. Mormon leaders described this evil in tangible detail,moving the struggle out of the abstract and into the physical reality of everyday life. Supernatural conflict was for these men neither a metaphor nor very distant; indeed, leaders took care to bring it home to every Saint. Joseph Smith described the armies of Satan as “wicked men and angels of devils and all the infernal powers of darkness” that sought to destroy the Church, and with whom the Saints must be constantly “warring the Christian warfare.” Young claimed that “every person who desires and strives to be a Saint is closely watched by fallen spirits . . . they are visiting the human family with various manifestations.”>> [Bowman, Matthew, "A Mormon Bigfoot: David Patten’s Cain and the Conception of Evil in LDS Folklore", Journal of Mormon History, Vol. 33, No. 3 (Fall 2007), p. 67.]

The "reigning in hell, and walking the earth", sure seems like a dichotomy to me. For both to be true, it would mean that an evil/demonic spirit being who is "reigning in hell" is able to materialize at will and walk "the earth".


Grace and peace,

David

David Waltz said...

Hi Tom,

Back from my short trip, and ready to plunge back into the issues being raised in this thread. In your last comment, you wrote:

>> I guess I should ask you a question about this thread: Are you saying that the occultic aspects of LDS worship and origins are problematic in ways that “casting lots” or “Kyrie Eleison” are not?>>

To adequately answer you query, I feel compelled to create a new thread to do so. Will start working on this after my workout and lunch. I am sure it will take sometime to do justice to this endeavor, so I suspect it will be a couple of days before I publish my efforts. Sincerely hope that you will continue to check back in...


Grace and peace,

David

JimSpace said...

Hi David, thank you for recommending my article, and thank you for that excellent and revealing quote from Matthew Bowman. I like this quote from page 72:

(quote)
John Taylor, third president of the Church, preached in 1881 that Cain’s descendants were preserved through the flood because “it was necessary that the devil should have a representation on Earth as well as God.” (August 28, 1881, Journal of Discourses, 22:304.)
(end quote)

Mr. Taylor’s more complete quote is from “Duties of the Saints—The Atonement, Etc.” and is:
“And after the flood we are told that the curse that had been pronounced upon Cain was continued through Ham's wife, as he had married a wife of that seed. And why did it pass through the flood? Because it was necessary that the devil should have a representation upon the earth as well as God;” http://jod.mrm.org/22/297#304

Thus the premise is in error, that Cain’s curse was (1) a skin of blackness (2) that was hereditary. This is speculation on top of speculation, leading to institutionalized racism.

David Waltz said...

Hi Jim,

Thanks for providing readers another fascinating quote from Bowman's article. As I mentioned in my previous comment, I had not read the article until you referenced it in your blog post.

It was a little over one year ago that I downloaded all the issues of the Journal of Mormon History (homepage HERE), to my hard-drive, but I had not read past the first 10 volumes yet.

The particular issue we are discussing can be accessed and downloaded via THIS LINK.


Grace and peace,

David

David Waltz said...

Hello Tom,

I had hoped that I would be ready to post a new thread concerning certain aspects of the occult/supernatural as it pertains to early LDS origins and the Bible. I literally spent hours researching this important topic over the weekend, but I am not yet prepared to publish my research, and suspect that I will not be ready to do so until later this week.

So, until my post appears, I recommend that you check out THIS ONLINE ARTICLE, for it touches on a number of the issues that I have been researching.


Grace and peace,

David

David Waltz said...

Hello again Tom,

I am still engaged in research for that upcoming post I mentioned earlier. Earlier today, I received via UPS a book which pertains to said research. I ordered this book specifically for one of the essays contained therein:

Kerry Muhlestein, “Seeking Divine Interaction: Joseph Smith’s Varying Searches for the Supernatural,” in No Weapon Shall Prosper: New Light on Sensitive Issues, ed. Robert L. Millet (Provo, UT: Religious Studies Center, Brigham Young University; Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 2011), 77–91.

Now, I discovered this essay earlier this week; it is available online in an html format (LINK). Just moments ago, I finished rereading this essay in its book format. I am sure you will find this contribution to be highly informative. It is an extremely important addition to my ongoing research.

I am at least a couple of days away from publishing my new post, so if you read this essay before then, please feel free to comment...


Grace and peace,

David

TOm said...

David,

I have read through your two links and thought I would respond a little.

I do not begrudge the Stoddard’s their views in LDSAnswers, but my thinking aligns much better with Muhlestein (and Robert F. Smith).

I think there is too much evidence that Joseph Smith was involved in aspects of his culture that we call magic to try to claim he was uninvolved. My recollection of Bushman’s book (it has been a while) is that LDSAnswers suggest Bushman places much more emphasis upon Joseph’s involvement with magic than Bushman did. I am also very wary when I see the twice repeated assertion that Pres. Hinkley said, “the fact that there were superstitions among the people in the days of Joseph Smith is no evidence whatever that the Church came of such superstition.” And thus the nothing to see here from LDSAnswers is not only true, but the “inspired” position given by God. In context, I think Pres. Hinkley is merely saying that occultism does not explain the BOM. I agree. He is not saying that God has told him that LDS must reject the idea that Joseph Smith was involved in things common in his culture that the religious (farther more the atheists) of today would call “magic.”

Muhlestein and Robert F. Smith offer what I think is a much better read of history and the Bible. The first definition from LDSAnswer for magic is: “The art or science of putting into action the power of spirits; or the science of producing wonderful effects by the aid of superhuman beings ….” I say this is not untrue for Joseph Smith, Biblical prophets, or anyone who has receive answers to prayers or supernatural healing. The differentiation between God approves, God tolerated, and God condemned is in the source and purpose of the “wonderful effects.” The translation of the BOM is a “wonderful effect” that I think God inspired. Prophetic statements of Caiaphas and Gamliel are “wonderful effects” that are a little harder for me to know their source and their purpose. There are probably possessions or voodoo curses that I would not have any problem claiming the “wonderful effects” are amazing but evil. I think it likely that little whisperings combined with my pride and sinful nature contribute to poor behavior on my part and conflicts with my family. These are “wonderful effects” that are also evil.

So, I do not think the Bible teaches against “wonderful effects.” I think the Bible recognizes that source and purpose is important.

All that being said, I think it most likely the Stoddards are good and faithful members. I worry that their “fundamentalist assumptions” are opportunities to stumble, but perhaps I am the one who stumbles. My message to them if they decide the evidence directs them to hold the view they previously called a part of "new Mormon history" and in opposition to God's inspired message through his prophet, may their disillusionment be for their benefit for who wants to be illusioned.

Charity, TOm

David Waltz said...

Hi Tom,

Thanks much for sharing your thoughts concerning the two contributions that I linked to. You wrote:

==I do not begrudge the Stoddard’s their views in LDSAnswers, but my thinking aligns much better with Muhlestein (and Robert F. Smith).

I think there is too much evidence that Joseph Smith was involved in aspects of his culture that we call magic to try to claim he was uninvolved. My recollection of Bushman’s book (it has been a while) is that LDSAnswers suggest Bushman places much more emphasis upon Joseph’s involvement with magic than Bushman did.==

In his Rough Stone Rolling, Bushman does not devote a lot of pages concerning "Joseph’s involvement with magic". However, he does endorse a number of Quinn's conclusions, and pretty much avoids any direct criticism of his Early Mormonism and the Magic Worldview.

==I am also very wary when I see the twice repeated assertion that Pres. Hinkley said, “the fact that there were superstitions among the people in the days of Joseph Smith is no evidence whatever that the Church came of such superstition.” And thus the nothing to see here from LDSAnswers is not only true, but the “inspired” position given by God. In context, I think Pres. Hinkley is merely saying that occultism does not explain the BOM. I agree. He is not saying that God has told him that LDS must reject the idea that Joseph Smith was involved in things common in his culture that the religious (farther more the atheists) of today would call “magic.”==

Good points.

==Muhlestein and Robert F. Smith offer what I think is a much better read of history and the Bible. The first definition from LDSAnswer for magic is: “The art or science of putting into action the power of spirits; or the science of producing wonderful effects by the aid of superhuman beings ….” I say this is not untrue for Joseph Smith, Biblical prophets, or anyone who has receive answers to prayers or supernatural healing. The differentiation between God approves, God tolerated, and God condemned is in the source and purpose of the “wonderful effects.”==

The SOURCE of preternatural/supernatural experiences/practices is THE most important issue in determining whether or not such experiences/practices are of God or of the Devil. The Scriptures inform us that that "Satan himself" is able to transform "into an angel of light", and that his representatives are able to duplicate a number of the miracles, signs and wonders that God's true servants perform. IMO, the following warning from the apostle John is an important truism that we must never forget:

"Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world." (1 John 4:1)

CONT'D

David Waltz said...

==The translation of the BOM is a “wonderful effect” that I think God inspired. Prophetic statements of Caiaphas and Gamliel are “wonderful effects” that are a little harder for me to know their source and their purpose. There are probably possessions or voodoo curses that I would not have any problem claiming the “wonderful effects” are amazing but evil. I think it likely that little whisperings combined with my pride and sinful nature contribute to poor behavior on my part and conflicts with my family. These are “wonderful effects” that are also evil.

So, I do not think the Bible teaches against “wonderful effects.” I think the Bible recognizes that source and purpose is important.==

Well said. I would like to add an important conclusion that I reached a few years ago after reading the BoM cover to cover seven times (it is now nine), and the Qur'an cover to cover two times (now three)—both are in a very real sense "wonderful effects", and yet my whole being tells me that both cannot be true—if the BoM is from God then the Qur'an cannot be, and if the Qur'an is from God then the BoM cannot be. (Perhaps, neither is from God.)

==All that being said, I think it most likely the Stoddards are good and faithful members. I worry that their “fundamentalist assumptions” are opportunities to stumble, but perhaps I am the one who stumbles. My message to them if they decide the evidence directs them to hold the view they previously called a part of "new Mormon history" and in opposition to God's inspired message through his prophet, may their disillusionment be for their benefit for who wants to be illusioned.==

When you get a chance, could you elaborate on what you think their “fundamentalist assumptions” are?


Grace and peace,

David

TOm said...

I do not have much to say about Bushman’s adoption of Quinn’s views. I have not read Quinn’s book (I have read much or all of Origins of Power, but not Magic World View). So, you certainly are a better judge of this than I am.
I also do not have strong opinions about difficulties concerning the Qur’an and the BOM to BOTH being inspired from God. My weak and not radically informed position would be that I would not make such an assertion. I think most Christians have very little trouble believing that the New Testament and the Old Testament are both inspired by God. There are difficulties with this position too. I think Daniel Peterson is neither strongly for or strongly against the idea that Mohammad was inspired by the same God who inspired Joseph Smith. I also think many Bahai’s are strongly for the position that both are inspired by God.
Concerning “fundamentalist assumption” I guess I will offer a few examples.
1. The Bible speaks of a passible God, there is no chance God is impassible and the Bible is His book. Such certainty from the Bible IMO is unwarranted. As you know I believe that God is passible and the Bible is a book that teaches a passible God, but to declare it is impossible for the Bible to be God’s book and God to be impassible is IMO unwarranted. I would say unlikely .
2. From my LESS INFORMED position, I would also say that declaring with CERTAINTY that the BOM and the Qur’an cannot both be from God is a “fundamentalist assumption”. You do know about this than I do so it might be more clear AND perhaps you are not asserting with certainty.
3. Things like seven-day (24 hour) creationism being the ONLY read of the Bible would be other “fundamentalist assumptions.”
That at least is how I meant the term. I think people die on hills sometimes and God looks down and think it is unfortunate. I think the intricacies of right and wrong thinking about God are often hills where folks die and they should be places from which to grow and gain understanding.
I am not sure where fundamentalist assumptions end and my certainty that Christ died for my sins begins, but I do not currently feel much stress about this. I am also not sure that I am not susceptible to the criticism that certainties TOm doesn’t hold are “fundamentalist assumptions” and certainties that TOm does hold are just fine. Thus it might be mostly some form of hypocrisy on my part.
I hope that was an OK answer.
Charity, TOm

David Waltz said...

Hello again Tom,

Thanks much for your 11-12-17 response. Forgive my somewhat tardy reply—had the flu with high fever during the last four days, and I'm finally feeling somewhat normal again (I sincerely doubt I could have put together a coherent sentence, let alone an adequate reply, during that period). Now, you wrote:

==I do not have much to say about Bushman’s adoption of Quinn’s views. I have not read Quinn’s book (I have read much or all of Origins of Power, but not Magic World View). So, you certainly are a better judge of this than I am.==

Quinn's Early Mormonism and the Magic World View first came out in 1987, and an expanded 2nd edition in 1998. Since the publication of those editions, a good number of strong criticisms (though certainly not devoid of some praises) by LDS scholars were published. For instance, BYU Studies devoted three lengthy reviews to the 1987 edition in vol. 27.4, and FARMS Review another three for the 1998 edition in vol. 12.2. However, after 2000, one is hard pressed to find direct criticisms of his work.

==I also do not have strong opinions about difficulties concerning the Qur’an and the BOM to BOTH being inspired from God. My weak and not radically informed position would be that I would not make such an assertion. I think most Christians have very little trouble believing that the New Testament and the Old Testament are both inspired by God. There are difficulties with this position too. I think Daniel Peterson is neither strongly for or strongly against the idea that Mohammad was inspired by the same God who inspired Joseph Smith. I also think many Bahai’s are strongly for the position that both are inspired by God.==

I think the issue rests on how one defines "inspiration" and "revelation". I believe that in a very real sense God can (and does) 'inspire' men and women found in most religious traditions. But 'revelation' from God that can be classified as sacred Scripture is a totally different category. Certain, defined teachings from the BoM (e.g. atoning sacrifice and full deity of Jesus Christ, that the three persons of the Godhead "are one God") are explicitly denied in the Qur'an; which means, at least for this beachbum, that both cannot be the sacred Scripture they claim to be.

As for "fundamentalist assumptions", it was good to learn of your position/s on this, but I originally had raised the question to the following you wrote earlier:

==All that being said, I think it most likely the Stoddards are good and faithful members. I worry that their “fundamentalist assumptions” are opportunities to stumble...==

I was wondering what you thought the Stoddards “fundamentalist assumptions” are.

Personally, after reading the Stoddard's contributions on Joseph Smith and the occult, I would say that one of their “fundamentalist assumptions” is that God's condemnations concerning the use of occultic and magic arts found in numerous verses in the Bible and BoM hold as much weight today as they did back in former dispensations.

Shall end for now...


Grace and peace,

David