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  1. Hey Tood, I made a comment on the T&S thread and figured I might as well re-post it here…

    McDermott writes:

    ”So the Palestinian Jesus seems to think of the coming Kingdom as a worldwide phenomenon not limited to one geographical part of the earth, while the American Jesus is fixated on America.”

    Obviously McDermott forgot about arguably the most important chapter for understanding the rest of the Book of Mormon – Jacob 5.

    Are you kidding me? The message of the Book of Mormon is to prove to the entire earth that God speaks (and has spoken) to ALL people and not just a small enclave in Palestine.

    I get the sense that while McDermott makes a valiant effort to take the Book of Mormon seriously, he just can’t get past that initial prejudice he has the whole thing is a crock. Bro. Porter was spot on when he pointed out:

    ”One reason may be that the moment Latter-day Saints cite the Book of Mormon as evidence of their Christian faith, animosity arises against the possibility that there could be any canon of Scripture beyond the Holy Bible. The issue then quickly descends into whether or not the Book of Mormon could possibly be an authentic ancient record. If attention were paid to the text itself rather than to theories of its authorship, we would at least have a dialogue focused what Mormons actually believe.”

    Of course, right after Porter says this, McDermott proceeds to – surprise, surprise – go off on a detailed discussion of why the Book of Mormon is a hoax. It’s like he didn’t even listen to Porter (he certainly never addresses Porter’s comment).

    Every time I talk to Evangelicals, it quickly becomes obvious that they don’t want to talk about the DOCTRINES in the Book of Mormon. Even with those who have read the entire book, it quickly becomes obvious they only read it with one hand, while holding a counter-cult commentary in the other. If they paid attention to the book at all, it was only to try and pick out inconsistencies that prove the book a fraud (or to prove that it contradicts later stuff Joseph said – as McDermott does in pitting the BoM against Joseph’s King Follett sermon). They simply cannot allow themselves to take the book seriously or read it and judge it internally on its own terms.

    So it\’s hardly surprising that McDermott goofed here and forgot about Jacob 5. Try as he might, he simply cannot allow himself to take the book seriously. If he did take it seriously, he would look for how some Book of Mormon passages are informed by other passages in the text. Most Evangelicals are unwilling to do this – proceeding from the assumption that the book is a hoax anyway, so taking it seriously would be a waste of time.

    What is really amusing about Evangelical attacks on the Book of Mormon’s authenticity is that the same critiques demolish their own faith claims in the Bible. McDermott smugly cites how ”historically verifiable” the Bible account is. A person named Jesus actually existed! We can historically trace the source documents to the time period! Jerusalem exists and is known to all!

    A charming bit of naivete. Less so when used as a club to beat Mormons with.

    What makes McDermott think that the historical record has anything to do with the Bible’s faith claims? Does the historical record verify that Jesus is the Son of God?

    It does not.

    The bare historical fact that a man named Jesus walked around the Jewish countryside at the meridian of time doesn’t make Jesus the Son of God anymore than the historical fact that a man named Joseph Smith lived in upstate New York in the early 1800s makes him a prophet.

    The faith claims of the Bible are every bit as extraordinary and unbelievable as the Book of Mormon. That Evangelicals constantly miss this reality shows a remarkable lack of self-observation.

    If anything, the position of the Bible is actually weaker than the Book of Mormon. Thus far the only criticisms against the Book of Mormon are arguments of absence. We haven’t discovered any evidence of this, or that, or the other… Or no one can verify this or that…

    News flash, the criticisms of the Bible are actually based on positive, discovered evidence. You can believe that evidence or not as you choose. But it isn’t just arguments from absence in the case of the Bible (though there are plenty of those too). People are digging up direct contradictions. If anyone is having a hard time explaining themselves, it’s the Evangelicals, not the Mormons. The very historical verifiability of the Bible’s characters and events makes the book MORE vulnerable to attack and discredit, not less.

    Many Evangelicals (especially those that make a hobby of attacking Mormons) seem to be unaware of the fact that while they point in derision at Mormons, their own fly is open. McDermott doesn’t seem aware of it either.

    Someone mentioned feeling a different spirit from Porter than from McDermott. I think that is because your typical informed Mormon approaches a conversation fundamentally differently than a your typical informed Evangelical. Porter came with the primary aim of bearing testimony based on his experience of the scriptures. McDermott came with the aim of picking a fight about formalized orthodoxy. It’s the same approach he takes in ”Claiming Christ.”

    Speaking of which, John Moorehead did a nice interview with a Mormon issues blogger ”Aquinas” reviewing the book ”Claiming Christ” and why it falls short of the benchmark set by Robinson and Bloomberg’s ”How Wide the Divide.” Check it out here:

    http://johnwmorehead.blogspot.com/2008/08/lds-perspective-on-claiming-christ.html

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