2008 Book of Mormon Reading, #2

I have an 1830 edition.  So in reading Chapter I, it is very apparent that Genesis patriarchal imagery is set within a time period of Zedekiah and Judahs apostasy. 

But there is no mentioning of Jesus or Only Begotten.  So why is Jesus and reference to Him as Only Begotten in the JST of Genesis and not here in the opening chapters of the Book of Mormon?  I would have expected that.  Would anyone like to comment on this?

Chapter II brings out the opposite result of the Garden of Eden – desirable fruit to make one happy.  And interestingly, I have heard the term: “Rod of Iron” Mormons on the “straight and narrow path”.  Is this the description of those who hold fast to the LDS scriptures and do not listen to any “anti-Mormons.”  The dreaded antis seem to be those “mocking and pointing their fingers.”  If a “Rod of Iron” Mormon listens too closely to the message of “Anti”, he or she could “fall away into forbidden paths” and be “lost”?

Is this why some LDS in Idaho Falls say my blog is terrible without ever reading it?  They fear losing their grip on the rod of iron?

Upon careful reading of Chapter III, I have noticed references so far to Genesis, Isaiah, and the apostle John’s writings, perhaps, because this is exactly the three sources that I am studying with my church family.  Coincidence?  I don’t think so. 

I have a question about Jesus’ baptism at Bethabara.  Are all LDS scholars convinced that it is Bethabara rather than Bethany or somewhere unknown as the place of baptism?

Also, these statements stood out to me:

“the course of the Lord is one eternal round.”

“Hosanna to the Lord, the most high God; for he is God over all the earth” – Is this the Father?

“Behold, the virgin which thou seest, is the mother of God, after the manner of the flesh.” – Is Jesus to be identified as God?

“behold the Lamb of God, yea, even the Eternal Father!” – Is Jesus the Father?

“they became a dark and loathsome, and a filthy people”

“they have taken away from the Gospel of the Lamb, many parts which are plain and most precious . . . they might pervert . . . they might blind . . .” – Who are these people?

“that the Lamb of God is the Eternal Father and the Saviour of the world”

“that he might lead away the souls of men down to Hell” – Is this just a hyberbole and not to be taken literally?

“Behold, there is, save it be, two churches:  the one is the church of the Lamb of God, and the other is the church of the Devil; wherefore, whoso belongeth not to the church of the Lamb of God, belongeth to the great church, which is the mother of abominations; and she is the whore of all the earth.” – Who should be identified as the church of the Lamb of God and who should be identified as the church of the Devil?

7 comments

  1. The Book of Mormon is not a rewrite of the Bible. Expecting things in the same places in both volumes will not produce results. 1 Nephi is not to be equated with Genesis. They are books of scripture that were written by different prophets at completely different times and locations.

    The rod of iron symbolism is the word of God. It is the Bible, the Book of Mormon, D&C, Pearl of Great Price, and the words of modern prophets and apostles. And, yes, if we don’t hold fast to the word of God, we will be lost.

    Your noticing of principles and doctrines that are familiar to the Bible is no coincidence, you are right. Both the Book of Mormon and the Bible contain the fulness of the gospel of Jesus Christ. It is the same in one country as it is in another. But the Book of Mormon does help to clarify and extend doctrines that are ambiguous in the Bible.

    The location of Jesus’ baptism is not what is important. The fact that He was baptized, by immersion, and by one having authority, is what is important.

    “Hosanna to the Lord, the most high God; for he is God over all the earth” – this most likely is reference to God the Father (the most high), but since the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost are one in purpose and mission, and since Christ received all that His Father hath, it could in likewise manner refer to all three as the Godhead. They are all three, together, God.

    “Behold, the virgin which thou seest, is the mother of God, after the manner of the flesh.” Yes, Jesus is a God. He is one of the Godhead.

    “behold the Lamb of God, yea, even the Eternal Father!” Yes, Jesus is the Father in many aspects, but He is not God the Father (Elohim). Jesus is the Father by divine investiture of authority by which He speaks for the Father, by being the Father of our salvation through His Atonement, and by being the Father of all creation.

    “that he might lead away the souls of men down to Hell” – this is not hyberbole. Hell is real, and Satan drags men down to it.

    “Behold, there is, save it be, two churches: the one is the church of the Lamb of God, and the other is the church of the Devil; wherefore, whoso belongeth not to the church of the Lamb of God, belongeth to the great church, which is the mother of abominations; and she is the whore of all the earth.” – The church of the Lamb of God is the true church which possesses the true doctrines, principles, authority, and ordinances of salvation. The church of the devil is any church which does not possess all of the above.

    Hope that helps.

  2. I’ve always interpreted the “Church of the devil” concept very broadly. I think it refers to any thing that detracts from God whether it is in a church or not. On the other hand, I also interpret the references here to the Church of Christ in the same way, it is anything (whether part of the LDS Church or not), that is built around Christ.

    I suppose I’m somewhat of a heretic in this, though?

  3. No, you’re not a heretic. 😉 We know that all things that are good cometh of God, and that which is evil cometh of the devil (Moroni 7; Alma 5:40). In likewise fashion, that which persuadeth to believe in Christ, and deny Him not, is of God, and that which persuadeth not to believe in Christ, and to deny Him, is of the devil (Moroni 7:16-17). So, yes, the definitions of the church of the Lamb, and the church of the devil, can be defined more broadly in these terms.

    Although you could say that if an organized church does not teach the true doctrines, does not possess the authority of God, nor practice the correct ordinances, it is not leading people to believe in the true God nor come unto Him. A false gospel cannot lead one to salvation. If it is not leading toward Him, it can only be leading them away.

  4. btw, your 1830 edition has different chapter divisions than the editions we use today.

    when I think of the people mocking and pointing the finger in the allegory/dream, I think of my own experiences of being mocked for my faith. Mostly, that’s been by atheists–but your comments do make me wonder if growing up with Nephi’s dream has prepared me to be dismissive of anyone who mocks.

    I don’t think I’ve ever given any thought to where Jesus was baptized, other than in the river Jordan, so I guess I’ve never paid attention to 10:9.

    Yes, Jesus is God, and so is The Father. In my own study I wouldn’t bother teasing apart which person of the Godhead is being spoken of, since they are in perfect agreement.

    “dark and loathsome” is a description of the sinful practices of people who have not followed God for generations (dwindle in unbelief).

    The people who took away from the Gospel of the Lamb describes the long process of apostasy. Also, I see it as describing self-interested people passing themselves off as religious leaders, like Benny Hinn.

    yes, the line about hell is not a hyperbole, there is a real risk of an eternity of suffering separated from God.

    I’ve seen the the two-church language used to tar anything seen to be against truth. For example, I have friends who will apply these verses to Communism if you’re talking politics, but then turn around and apply it to Richard Dawkins, or the church down the street that’s having an anti-Mormon guest speaker. I’ve also seen it used in the goats v. sheep context: are you truly a follower of Christ, beyond affiliating with his church?

  5. Todd, it is interesting to see you make the Book of Mormon into a stumbling block for yourself.

    I would have thought that as someone who grew up among Latter-day Saints and claims to want to dialogue with them for the purposes of better understanding so that you can deconvert them from their testimonies of the New Testament Jesus Christ, you would have gathered by now that the Book of Mormon is not the Mormons’ Bible. Therefore, what Bruce said in comment # 2 is extremely important: the Book of Mormon is not a rewrite of the Bible but scriptures written by other prophets who were contemporary with Biblical prophets but living in different locations. Mormons believe God spoke to prophets among many other societies than just the people located in the Kingdom of Judah (and a couple from the Kingdom of Israel) as recorded in the Bible, and many of those other prophets wrote down their experiences with God and his instructions to them.

    Todd, you are aware that New Testament speakers and writers, including Jesus, often quote (sometimes at length) from the writings of Old Testament prophets, are you not? You find the same thing happening frequently in the Book of Mormon. If you believe that the Book of Mormon is a true record, then you believe that Lehi and Nephi were living and writing around and shortly after 600 B.C., in other words not too long after Isaiah himself had lived and written his amazing words of scripture. It is no wonder, for people who believe in the Book of Mormon, that Nephi quotes at length from Isaiah in his writings. Mormons as a general matter find particular relevance in the writings of Isaiah to the messages of Atonement and Restoration.

    Lehi’s vision of the Tree of Life is very meaningful for Latter-day Saints. To read avoiding discourse with anti-Mormons into it introduces a very banal aspect into a much more meaningful metaphor. The fruit of the tree represents the Love of God, as you will have read. Thus, this is not the same tree as the one we read about in the Garden of Eden. This is completely different tree signifying something completely different.

    The mists of darkness and forbidden paths represent religious error, it is true (i.e. invoking your reading of discourse with anti-Mormons into the text), but more predominantly they represent aspects of life, whatever they might be, that would distract people from devoting their lives to God and striving to return to live with him through accepting the Atonement. The filthy river represents the dangers of the world in destroying the soul by causing people to turn away from God and to reject the Atonement.

    1 Nephi 10, particularly the verse you cite about the way of God being “one eternal round”, is a wonderful chapter — one of my favorites in the beginning of the Book of Mormon, although it seems quite mundane at first glance. Hopefully you will pick up a modern version and read the chapter carefully. (Your insistence on reading the 1830 edition will make dialogue about it difficult because it doesn’t have the verse divisions and the chapters are divided differently. Your insistence on reading the 1830 edition is curious and betrays your distrust of your Mormon conversation partners and neighbors: you won’t read what all other Mormons read but rather the original version, even though detailed studies have been done by Latter-day Saints of all the minor changes that have been made to the face of the text since then, so that the Mormons can’t trick you about anything. Good luck beginning dialogue and deconverting Mormons from the New Testament Jesus Christ to the “one substance” Jesus on that basis.)

    Did you know that Latter-day Saints believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, the Only Begotten of the Father? Believing this is what the Bible requires of the followers of Jesus Christ. The philosophical gloss added hundreds of years later about the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit being One Substance is not required by the text of the Bible. Insisting that God insists on this extra-biblical gloss as a litmus test to determine whom he will torture in Hell forever is just as extra-biblical as the “one substance” notion itself. Mormons believe that the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit are One God. The Mormon understanding of the Godhead is in tune with the information about God found in the Bible.

    As to the Church of God and the church of the devil, most Latter-day Saints believe as noted in comment # 4 that those two designations are interpreted very broadly such that the church of God can include far more people than just Latter-day Saints, although all people will need to receive the ordinances that are found in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, whether during life or vicariously in the afterlife, in order to become like God, as promised in the New Testament.

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